Should I buy Tamron or Sigma for my Nikon D90?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by angelica_virgen, May 12, 2010.

  1. Hello everybody!!
    I am so unsure as to what lens to buy for portraits. I started out shooting weddings and now have been getting a lot of work doing engagement session and portrait sessions, both indoors with lighting equipment or without and outdoors. I rent both the Nikkor 17-55 and 70-200mm f2.8 lenses for weddings, and I LOVE them!! I have some money, but not much, to invest into buying me at least one good lens. However, I'm aiming towards Sigma or Tamron lenses...the Nikkors are way out of my budget right now. I'd like to know what kind of lens you would recommend for portraits. I find myself shooting mainly with my 55-200 f4.0 than with my 18-55mm f3.5. I know those aren't good quality, which is why I need to invest in a good quality lens. Please help!! =)
    Thank you!
  2. you can buy nikon 35-70 2.8 used for portraits or 18-70 50mm1.8 i would buy nikon only
  3. Obviously that lens is capable of taking a great pic! WOW! Your work is GREAT! It deserves a great lens. I honestly suggest you up your price and invest in the great Nikkor glass that you're renting! Not everybody has your eye.
  4. If it fits your focal length needs look for used Nikkor 35-70mm f2.8. You can probably find a great one in the same budget range.
  5. I agree with the advice Peter already offered. But if you still want to buy now a good lens for portraits, I'd recommend Sigma 50-150mm f2.8 or a prime like Sigma 50mm f1.4, Voigtlander 58mm f1.4 MF or Nikon 85mm f1.8. I'm sure that with any of the above listed glass you will have great results.
    Another idea, you can get a macro lens like Tamron 60mm f2 or 90mm f2.8 - this have some lovely applications in weddings and also could be used for portraits, even some people consider them unforgiving because macro lenses are too sharp... Despite this opinion I saw many nice portraits done with macro lenses, so it is always the photographer nor the gear...
  6. I'm very satisfied with my Tamron 17-50 2.8. It doesn't feel and look like the Nikkor, but the advantage of this that it weights a lot less. With the screwdriver AF it is very fast, but with a BIM(Build In Motor) I think it is a lot slower(I always read in Canon Topic that the 17-50 and 28-75 are slow).
  7. for portraits you might want to consider the tamron 28-75/2.8. the sigma 50-150 is also really good.
  8. I know those aren't good quality, which is why I need to invest in a good quality lens.​
    How do you 'know' this? The 55-200 in particular is very sharp. The 70-200 f2.8 gives you better performance in low light, and a 50 f1.4 or 85 f1.8 would give you better low light performance yet, if you don't need the zoom range. There is NOTHING whatever wrong with Tamron or Sigma f2.8 zooms. I have seen a lot of shots from the Sigma 50-150 and the Tamron 50-135, and they both do an excellent job.
    Great shot from Fairmount Park, BTW. We live a bit west of Philly, and don't get in to the city enough.
  9. Nikon, 'cause Tamron is sloooooow to foucs.
  10. I'm a Nikkor Glass Only guy...had too many bad experiences trying to find good copies of Sigma/Tamron Glass...
    I suggest looking at Adorama's Used/Refurb'd section. You can get some great pieces there for several hundred less than the same piece of glass new.
    You can also check KEH and B&H...they also have expansive used selections.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    EXIF data from the OP's attached image indicates that the camera is a D40. Assuming that is the camera the OP uses, it cannot AF with the 35-70mm/f2.8 AF/AF-D.
    I also don't particularly like that lens for FX because its zoom range is too limited for a wide-to-slight tele type zoom.
  12. I use the Sigma 50 1.4 for portraits on DX and it works great. I have a Tamron 17-50, but it is better suited to walkaround. It just doesn't have the super pretty bokeh of the 50.
  13. on my D90 that i use for weddings and other events, indoors and out, i use a combo of the sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 and the sigma 50-150mm f/2.8. they are fast, sharp (at least my copies) and light. both excellent for portraits and candids.
    and btw, the attached photo proves that the D40 ad the kit 18-55mm are great (following shun's comment).
  14. Angelica did say D90. Angelica, did you upgrade to a D90 since taking that? A D90 can AF with any Nikon-compatible AF lens but a D40 requires lenses with built in motors to use AF.
    Here is a set of photos I shot recently: <click> They were on film and scanned but same basic idea. Mix of Tamron 28-75/2.8 AF (not built-in motor; good budget solution, I paid $250 used and it's lighter than most 2.8 zooms) and Nikon 50/1.8 AF-D. The Tamron is quite good all around but I find at 2.8 it's good but not great, and it doesn't get really sharp until f/4.
  15. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Sorry, I overlooked the title, but does the OP also have a D40 that needs to be compatible with?
  16. Angelica,
    Invest in Nikon. Figure out a way. Your talent deserves the best.
  17. i figure out a way to buy a nikon 17 55 2.8 lens you can fine good used one and a 85 1.8 good luck you have a nikon camera so buy a nikon lens
  18. You could do very well with a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and a Sigma 50-150 f/2.8. The Tokina 50-135 f/2.8 is less expensive than the Sigma but I don't know if it will autofocus on a D40. B&H has the Tamron for $499 and the Sigma for $749. They are not cheap, but they are excellent lenses (I have both) and far less expensive than comparable Nikons, especially those that will AF on a D40.
    You can go to or and get reviews for these lenses as well as for the Nikons.
  19. If you want a short focal lenght, the Sigma 18-50 2.8 EX, if you find a good deal (it's just been superseded by the new Sigma 17-50 2.8 stabilized) is amazing value.
    I used it, and it's got a great feeling, nice construction, and a wonderful out of focus rendition (and it gets to a "macro" 1:3 mode great for flowers); the Tamron 17-50 is said to be very sharp, but with a harsher bokeh.
    But if you love portraits, you might go for the portrait kings in the DX format: 50-135 2.8 Tokina (which we have and love) or the 50-150 2.8 Sigma (amazing glass as well). When you try the 50-135/150, you'll love it. 70-200 is a "relic" of the old full frame days, and it is really long on DX to shoot people (unless you have special tastes). We (me and gf) never use the 80-200 2.8 on the D90, as it is not tele enough (300mm equivalent) nor "short" enough (120mm eq), and it's instead great on the D700. But I understand why you loved such a piece of engineering (it's amazing :) but focal lenght wise, many are waiting for nikon to "double" the 17-55 with a nice 50-150 on DX...
    We bought the Tokina for 500$ at B&H, and it's a great lens for results, construction, and built :) So, it's better to point directly at DX lenses for practicality and weight and cost, and if and when you decide to go full frame, you'll start again with what you need.
    Good luck!
  20. What are the key differences between Tamron and Sigma, in general, and specifically about the short and mid zooms discussed here? Bokeh is mentioned a couple of times and is important for portraits. Do one maker's lenses have better bokeh than the other in general, or the difference is lens by lens?
  21. With Tamron, based on my experience and that of others' I've read here in these forums, you have to get lucky with the copy you get. Unlike with Nikon, there is a good chance that you will get a lens with some sort of defect - and if it's a hard to detect defect, it's even worse because you can never be sure if the lens is good or not. (Remember that I am talking relatively. The percentage of defective Tamrons may be a low number, but it's still high compared to the Nikon experience)
    I bought a lens in December, had problems, got an exchange, had problems with the exchange, and finally returned that too. Now I am waiting for a while and then I'll buy Nikon and only Nikon.
    If I have 3-4 lenses then it may be safe to have one Tamron in there. But if I am going to have one main lens that I am going to use for the majority of my shots I'll always have a Nikon there.
  22. If it's a hard to detect defect, it's even worse because you can never be sure if the lens is good or not.​
    Huh? If you can't detect the problem by looking at your pictures, then there IS no problem. Tamron lenses have a five-year warranty, so there's plenty of time to sort things out.
    Bokeh is mentioned a couple of times and is important for portraits. Do one maker's lenses have better bokeh than the other in general, or the difference is lens by lens?​
    'Bokeh' is a term like 'giclée'. The latter means 'inkjet' and the former means 'blur'. Background blur is mostly dependent on aperture, ratio of lens-to-subject distance to subject-to-background distance, contrast of the background, etc. True, under certain conditions some lenses MAY have more pleasing blur than others, but this will vary. Lens 'A' may be better in one case, where lens 'B' is better under different circumstances.
    To the OP. I have NEVER heard of a bride refusing to pay for pictures because of 'bokeh'. Missed expressions, blown-out whites, blinking? Yes.
  23. Don't buy your lens twice! Why do you want to pay for anything twice???
    If you buy a cheap lens, you will eventually realize that the cheaper lens isn't what you want and you will end up buying the lens that you feel is the best. Cut your cost in half, save up and buy the lens that you feel is the best for you.
    I only buy Nikkor f/2.8 or faster. I've tried other cheaper brands and ended up returning, selling or shelving them. For manual focus I have a few Hasselblad lenses with a nikon adapter and I love the look, but hate the manual focus part. Nikon cameras can focus better than my eyes can, and Nikon lenses are just as sharp.
  24. Angelica, I also vote for the Tamron 90mm.
  25. I use the Tamron 28-75 2.8 on my D200 and D300 for all my portraits and get fantastic results. Mine is the version with the built in focus motor and I paid $425 for it at B and H. I have been using it for almost a year and I have got my money out of it. It was my first Tamron lens and I was reluctant but there is now way I could come up with the two grand for the Nikkor so I gave the Tamron a shot. Absolutely no regrets.
  26. I also think that the Tamron 28-75 is a great portrait lens...the 42-112mm equivalent range is very useful (and flexible) for portraits.
  27. Angelica: you may find the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 review from Thom Hogan handy
    I think it's reasonably fair to say that the man knows what he's talking about :)
  28. Never buy Sigma, I've witnessed TWO Sigma lenses break their HSM motors, a 150mm macro and a 10-20mm (the new one). My lesson learned: if it ain't a real brand lens (Nikon, Canon or above) apply the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple Stupid)
    For that reason I've chosen Tokina aka Tankina as my go-to lenses. 16-50 f2.8 and 50-135 f2.8. Extremely sharp, beautiful colours, yeah some classic Tokina purple fringing but easily correctable. Most importantly (for me) no AF-S or VR that will break up anyways.
    I also have the Tokina 11-16, the 10-17 fisheye, the 100 macro and I'm waiting to get the 80-400.
    My $0.02, KISS for anything not Nikon or Canon. That means good ol' reliable screw-driven focus and no OS gadgetry.
  29. Javier: Aren't new Tokina 17-55 Di lenses internal-motor driven? If so, does that mean you'd recommend against it?
    IMO, buy something from an authorized dealer. IIRC Tokina has a 5 year warranty and I think Sigma does as well. I'll have to check my card for my Sigma 10 - 20 :)
  30. I've witnessed TWO Sigma lenses break their HSM motors​
    Care to tell us under what usage and condition? Lenses self destructing sitting on a shelf is news to me.
  31. BJ: I am unaware of that lens but for long term reliability I would still vote for mechanical lenses, IMHO.
    Robert: the 150 macro was being used by my brother in his 50D taking some flower shots. After about 8 months of worries-free operation the focus ring started getting stiffer in the shorter focus distance. Mind you, my brother shoots indoors so dust or grit was not a concern. That particular day a loud whining noise and it wouldn't autofocus anymore. Since then the focus ring has gotten more and more decoupled in distances <1m, where it actually matters!
    The 10-20 I saw in the street. This guy shooting and as I walked by I heard him curse the lens. I offered some help and he let me check the camera settings (450d I think). Again no signs of abuse, just a hsm motor gone bad.
    I may have generalized a bit, but in the grand scheme of things I'd place my money in lenses that have the least amount of "stuff" that can go wrong". If Sigma and Tamron have such a reputation for having lax optical quality control, I doubt their electro-mechanical systems would be any different. Therefore, KISS
  32. Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 is the lens I use most of - the rest being Nikon. I am extremely happy with it - sharp wide open with good bokeh super sharp at F4 and beyond. Great focal length for portraiture.
  33. save and buy Nikon. If you dont you will just end up replacing your Tamron/Sigma/whatever with a Nikon further down the line.
  34. I've always felt Tamron has an optical edge over Sigma. Build quality about equal. I try to stick with Nikon too. I have a Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 SP Aspherical full frame zoom which is superb. I shot it with my D700 all the time with superb results. Will never part with it, got it locally second hand for $150.

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