Sigma 30 1.4, Sigma 28 1.8, Nikon 35 2

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by sleake, Jun 2, 2008.

  1. I have been scouring the threads here and at other sites trying to make up my
    mind on these lenses, but I am just about at info overload. I am hoping you can
    help me get to the bottom of this (money is burning a hole in my pocket!)

    First, I have a D300 and I am looking for a prime for low light, indoor family
    type shots mostly. I would also use it for museums and such when we go on
    vacation. The ability of the D300 with higher ISO and a fast lens would allow me
    to get most of the shots I want.

    I currently have a Tamron 17-50 2.8 that I use as my "walk around lens". I find
    that a majority of my pictures seem to be in the 24-30mm range (go figure, close
    to 50mm on film :) ). It is a good lens that I don't plan to part with, but I
    am looking for the even lower light abilities.

    While I would LOVE to have a Nikon 28 1.4, it would be the most expensive lens
    ever because not only is it hard to find and expensive itself, but it would
    probably cost me a divorce too! So that is out.

    I started looking at the Sigma 30 1.4 ($400), but it seems to get mixed reviews.
    Love or hate tends to be what I read. But from the shots I have seen, pretty
    nice in good hands. In those threads, others mentioned the Nikon 35 2.0 ($300),
    and in a couple of cases the Sigma 28 1.8 ($270). Are any of these not good
    options? For what I want to do, any stand out better than another?

    2.0 vs 1.8 vs 1.4..... How much difference are we really talking on a D300? I
    can imagine the 300 at 1600 (which can be tolerable) and a 1.4 lens would be
    something else.

    I like all of these for different reasons. Nikon quality, Sigma 1.4 for
    extremely wide open, Sigma 1.8 more of a standard filter size (I am trying to
    standardize at 77mm to avoid lots of the same type filters in different sizes).

    Any input would be greatly appreciated. I need to do something before I spend
    this money on something non-camera related (now THAT would be a tragedy!).

  2. hehe, like you said, the 28 1.4 is out of the question, i would suggest the Nikon 35mm. I'm not a pixel peeping kinda guy at all, but at f1.4, the Sigma lens is pretty weak, just like most super fast primes. Stop it down once and you're set. The 35mm f2 is essentially already stopped down. What i mean is that the quality of the 35mm at f2 is equivalent of the sigma at f2. So might as well go with a Nikon lens right?

    The sigma does have HSM (AF-S) which is nice, but still, the price doesn't justify it in my opinion. The 35mm f2 is a great lens, but it isn't much of a jump from the tamron you have now, i suspect you can get a crisper shot with the tamron at 17 @ f2.8 the then 35mm @ f2. So, maybe the sigma is worth it, since it is 2 stops from 2.8 to 1.4...

    Sorry about injecting just that more doubt, but hey, that's how it goes when buying equipment right?
  3. bmm


    This is not a comparative comment as I don't have even 2 of the 3 lenses, just the Nikon 35mm f/2.0

    I use it on D80, and even at ISO800 (I don't go any higher) it gives plenty of nice low-light performance.

    Can tell you that it is sharp, contrasty and the colours are great. Plus due to its small size and weight it makes for a really good walk-around / street lens and very easy to handle and carry. But it is still build pretty nicely.

    It is my second favourite lens after my 85mm f/1.4 overall. And at only 1/4 the price of the 85mm, that makes it by a long way the best lens that I own in happiness-for-the-money terms!

    As photozone review says, its not quite the perfect lens but it is very good - and, along with the 50mm f/1.8, it is one of the few clear "can't lose" options in the Nikon line-up.
  4. I am really very satisfied with my Sigma 30. I have the Tammy 17-50 too and I just can't part with my Sigma the reasons you mentioned above. I suggest you test it first before you decide.
  5. Indeed. You need to mount the Sigma 30/1.4 to get a sense of how it physically handles. I rather like its slight chunky build, and really notice how much quieter its HSM focus motor is than the screw-driven focusing on my Nikon 50/1.8. No, the 30/1.4 isn't perfect into the corners when you have it wide open... but that's never been an issue for the sort of circumstances in which I'd find myself wanting f/1.4 anyway (for background isolation, for example). It's JUST about the speed - that out-of-focus background is very pleasant on that lens. Good luck!
  6. honestly, i'd go with the sigma 30/1.4. it's the only one of the primes you mentioned with an internal motor, which helps AF in low-light conditions. i shot a concert last weekend with a d300 and the sigma handled available (stage) light @ 1.4, 3200 ISO, 1/125 very well, which isn't easy to do under those conditions.1.4 is usable for those times when you really need to shoot at 1.4, but f/2 is noticeably better and you can go to 2.2 before you hit 2.8. the edge sharpness isn't great at 1.4 but the good news is it tightens up by f/5.6-8, and at f/11 this lens is pretty good for landscapes. we should just admit that the biggest issue people have with this lens is, it's not a nikon. the knock on sigma has always been build quality, not necessarily optical quality--especially with primes--but the 30 is rugged without being too heavy, if you know what i mean. i'm sure there have been some front focus issues or bad copies, but in reality, the situation is not as prevalent as Internet posters would have you believe. i'd take the word of anyone who doesnt actually use/own this lens with a grain of salt, but i can say it's a staple of my low-light kit, i dont regret not having the nikon at all when i see the results; on a D300 it's practically unfair. oh yeah, unlike the 35/2, the sigma has never had an issue with "sticky aperture blades,"
  7. This hasn't been said yet but if you keep your lenses a long time I'd go for the Nikon 35mm f2 (& I did, on my D200) as it has great glass from wide open, is small & light, isn't 'very' much slower than the Sigma 30/1.4, has had the oily leaves problem fixed and (this is the clincher for me) with the AF instead of the HSM has precious little to go wrong with motors or plastic gears on the barrel.

    You probably wouldn't notice any difference between the lot of them in real world shooting.

    Good hunting .... so long as it's not hunting for focus :)

  8. Having been through a similar conundrum, I'm getting the Nikon 35/2 AF-D to use with my D80 as a smaller/lighter carry-around kit, along with the 24/2.8 AF-D and 85/1.8 AF-D.

    I use my zooms more with a D200: Nikon 12-24/4, 17-55/2.8, and 80-200/2.8 AF-D.
  9. Hi Scott, I own and use Nikon 35mm f/2 with a D300 and I am very impressed with
    sharpness and contrast at f/2. Really no issues. Beats the 17-35mm everytime
    easily! I bought a sigma 24mm f/1.8 and it was defective with gross front focusing on
    all my cameras. Not my user error! I was fairly sharp with a manual focus body, but
    not as nice as the Nikon 35mm. Also it was huge. It went back to the store. Never
    used the 30mm Sigma. It sound nice, but I would try to test this on in a store prior to
    buying it, to make sure you get a nice one.
    Still my vote is for Nikon.
  10. Nikkors, noise reduction program, tripod. Learn to use the strap to steady the camera with tension. Much has been written here on how to hold it like a rifle sharpshooter and it does work.

    Sigmas rank at the top for complaints about incorrect autofocus. If you were to look at Photozone test, Canon mount model , you would see the corners never get sharp, even at 11. They nicely repair the autoifocus when you send it in. But then again you don`t buy new merchandise to have to send it in for repair.

    All third party lenses are poor mechanically compared Nikkors except for the Zeiss ZF line.
  11. [All third party lenses are poor mechanically compared Nikkors except for the Zeiss ZF
    line.] Gotta disagree. The higher-end Sigmas are very nice mechanically, as are the
  12. I have a D200 and use the older Nikkor 28mm f2 AIS for normal low light work. Its a gem but manual focus. I think the one stop difference of the Sigma 30mm can make a difference with ISO or shutter speed and is worth strong consideration but I have not used it and if its not sharp wide open then I would rather have the Nikkor 28mm.
  13. Scott, I have the Sigma 1.4/30mm and it has been just great! It is definately worth the money...and a great value.
  14. I have the Sigma 28mm f1.8 and use it on a D80. It is a decent lens. I just don't see a 35mm f2 as giving much advantage over your f2.8. I did look at it, but just couldn't bring myself to buy & carry around a lens that only gives me about a stop more than f2.8. For what you are wanting, I think I'd at least try the 30mm f1.4. That lens has enough speed difference to make it worthwhile. I've been pleased with the 28mm f1.8 but will be selling it after buying the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8.

    Kent in SD
  15. I've got a Sigma 28/1.8 and is really happy with it. Great sharpness and it doesn't hunt that bad in low light. It's bigger than the 30/1.4 and 35/2 which gives more stability when shooting hand-held imo. Only downside I guess it that it doesn't have any HSM and is a bit slow on the focus, at least when going from 0.25m to infinity. If you're shooting between 1m and infinity it isn't really a big deal. 77mm filters are kinda expensive, but I guess you already got some.
  16. I had, but sold, the 30mm when I upgraded to the D3. I used it on both a D200 and
    D300, and it performed very well. It focused quickly (and accurately) on both
    cameras, and had very good image qualities... center sharpness, color, contrast &

    Sure the corners are soft at wide apertures, which works GREAT for people shots as
    long as you keep them away from the edges of the frame. Same applies to portraits
    of other centerpiece subjects... flowers, candy canes, etc.

    For your museums or vacation (scenic) shooting, why not just keep using your
    Tamron 17-50... with a tripod (or monopod) when you have to.
  17. Always put in my two cents' worth on this one :)).
    My attitude toward my Sigma 30 f1.4 is more complex than "love or hate." My copy was flawed (TERRIBLE front focus) and had to be sent to Sigma for correction. Even Sigma told me that this was a significant problem with this lens, at least at that time.

    Once the lens was properly calibrated I was/am happy. It's a well-built lens (though people complain about peeling paint) and the optical performance is excellent. I also own the Nikon 35mm. f2. I actually prefer the Sigma in low-light situations. Again, people nitpick at f1.4. But come on; who is scrutinizing every detail at the extreme corners of the frame in every photo? The lens has provided some terrific low light shots wide open that I otherwise would not have been able to get (I suppose I could ramp up the ISO at f2, but that's a loss of a different type).
  18. I am a fan of the Sigma 30mm. I also own the Nikkor 35mm f/2 in both AF-D and Ais versions and the 35mm f/1.4 in Ais. the Sigma more than holds its own with the others. Having said that, I'm selling my copy of the Sigma to help finance a canoe. Let me know if you're interested.
  19. I also have both the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. I love both lenses. The sigma is VERY sharp in the center at f/1.4 and is very usable at f/1.4. To me it wouldn't be worth it to purchase a lens in that range that didn't go to f/1.4. Two stops faster than my Tamron is definitely worth it, but only one stop difference would make me leave the Nikon 35mm f/2 at home.
  20. "Sigmas rank at the top for complaints about incorrect autofocus. If you were to look at Photozone test, Canon mount model , you would see the corners never get sharp, even at 11. They nicely repair the autoifocus when you send it in. But then again you don`t buy new merchandise to have to send it in for repair." @Ronald: have you ever used the 30mm sigma? or do you just look at test charts, which may not be reflective of real-world shooting? the corners do get sharper stopped down, and it's not like no nikkor has ever had to be sent in for repair. also, i'd expect a Zeiss to be sharper than either a nikkor or sigma prime. it had better be for that price. i would personally rather have speedy AF for low-light, PJ, street, and candids than manual-focus, but to each his own. must you continually bemoan a lens you have never used that works for some people's shooting styles? why not just accept the fact that not everyone is like you? seriously, we go through this every week, and every week you say the same thing you said last week. why not at least get some experience shooting with the sigma if you're going to comment on it with such regularity? anyway, here's a landscape shot taken at f/8 or f/11 with the 30mm and a d80 which looks pretty good to me, especially considering it was handheld.
  21. I love my Sigma 30mm f/1.4! I'm a newbie, and I use this lens for everything. But my absolute favorite thing about it is the great photos I get indoors with very little light.

    Don't know how much my opinion is worth, since this is the only lens I own, but you can check my portfolio to see some shots with this lens.

    Note, the shots of the dogs with the black background was taken in a very dark place in my house, using what little natural light was available.
  22. "I also have both the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. I love both lenses. The sigma is VERY sharp in the center at f/1.4 and is very usable at f/1.4. To me it wouldn't be worth it to purchase a lens in that range that didn't go to f/1.4. Two stops faster than my Tamron is definitely worth it, but only one stop difference would make me leave the Nikon 35mm f/2 at home."

    Well said Justin.

    I favor the Sigma 30mm also. I do love the 35mm F2 for it's very small size, but like you said the one stop difference just doesn't make it in my bag too often. The close focus is nice.

    As for the build quality of third party lenses, they are not built like the Nikkors but are priced and weighted accordingly.

    Of the thirty or so lenses I've owned, I own four third party lenses now, I don't have any reservations on how long they might last or if their mechanics will fail.

    Nikkors have their place and so do the others.
  23. I've been using the 30/1.4 for about two months on my D300, and I love it. Here are some low-light shots I took a few hours after I opened the box: Revolution Fashion Show
  24. I purchased a Sigma 28mm 1.8 lens to use on my D70. I had persistent problems with back focus with this lens. -- I've used a bunch of Nikon & Sigma lenses on this body and only had the problem with the 28mm 1.8. This was an older model lens so I attribute the problems to this. I found the lens to be pretty good wide open.
    I sold it and got a NIKON 28MM 2.8 autofocus lens. I know, I know, it's not 1.4 or 1.8 or even 2.0, but I've found it to be great for available light work. The smaller size and lighter weight (as opposed to zooms) really make a difference.
    Compared to the other choices you listed this lens would be quite affordable used. It's not one of the "sexy" lens everyone raves about in forums.
  25. Just since it's a slightly different type of subject for this lens... while reading this thread, I grabbed my multi-tool from the camera pack, and stuck it on the chair next to me. Sigma 30/1.4, wide open. Sure, you'd reach for a macro lens for this sort of thing if you were fussy, but it's not too shabby for off-the-cuff low-light shots on things like plates of food. Or, multi-tools.
  26. And here's some of the detail. It's not from the very corners of the image, but it's not dead-center, either.
  27. Wow! I was hoping for some input, but you folks are awesome! Great points and things to think about.

    For me, when you are talking about low light, it really is about getting the shot vs not. You have to be willing to sacrifice some things for other things. Edge sharpness is easily forgiven if I am able to get my child in a band concert where flash is distracting. Or of the kids playing without them knowing I was peeking in their room. There is no such thing as a perfect lens at ANY focal length. They all have pros and cons and we each have to decide what we are willing to put up with. For me, as stated and was well put above, it's about getting the shot vs not. And when getting it, doing it at a reasonable cost.

    I didn't have access to this site today, but I had all the notifications showing up in my email on my Blackberry. Even though I couldn't see the pictures, I could read the input. Nice break from a stressful day. Nice enough that I took another break to order the lens!! Sigma 30 f1.4 on it's way! I'm looking forward to getting it and playing with it.

    Thanks for all the great input!!

  28. What about a VR lens? You said you want a lens for family and vacation and museum shots. You can go on the cheap side of the 18-55mm VR lens ($180-$200) or the more expensive 16-85mm VR lens or maybe the 18-200mm VR if you just want one lens for a trip.

    With my D300, I have Auto-ISO to start at 1/8s and go up to 1600 ISO. And, if you want, you can set a shutter release so the camera waits about a sec after you depress the trigger.

    I also have the 35/2. Which is a great lens, but, I just don't see it as an all around vacation lens to me. Plus, say you wanted to snap a pic of a painting in a museum with dim light or some furniture, you'd have to shot wide open, which would really decrease your DOF, making it hard to get al of what you want in focus. A VR lens at its widest aperture of 3.5 will have enough DOF to get what you want on focus and with VR you should be able to get any shot.

    I really don't like to say how many "stops" VR will "add" to a picture. It's more like extending the capability of the camera/photog. Since not all people can even hold a camera steady let alone not jerking/rotating the camera as they depress the trigger. But, if you have a steady hand then with VR you can get down to some really long exposures and actually have a picture.

  29. Yuri: those are definitely considerations... but BR will never do that other important thing: help you with the shutter speed that freezes subject movement. Opening up to f/1.4 buys me some shutter speed, and as mentioned above, gives me the option to isolate subjects from the background if a choose. A crisp shot of a painting is a museum is, to me, a rather specialized situation - and I can prepare for that one (VR, or tripod). I've got VR lenses, and like them. But nothing beats 1.4 for certain things.
  30. My vote goes for the 35/2. The 30/1.4 is hit & miss. I tried 3 at Samy's camera in LA and all three mis-focused, and the AF seemed slower than the 35/2 even though the Nikon uses the older "screw-drive".
    The 28/1.8 is a piece of junk.
  31. I had the Sigma 28mm F1.8 for my Sony Alpha before. It's OK but I will not get it again for my Nikon. It's quite cumbersome like the 30mm. I presently use the Tamron 18-50 F2.8 (New with motor) and have been very satisfied with it. I sold my Nikon AF24mm f2.8 with no regrets. I also had the old 35/2 in AI, it's satisfactory. One lens you might want to consider is the Nikkor AF 50mm f1.8, this is a very undervalue lens. You can get it for around $100 used. Very good bokeh and resolution.
  32. bmm


    I've found this discussion most interesting to follow. Whatever the arguments put forward I'd be interested in the amount of you who would (perhaps sheepishly) put up their hands and admit its all about the following choice when we're really honest with ourselves....

    prestige of having fastest possible lens Vs the prestige of having nikon-branded product

    the sigma 30/1.4 wins the former, the nikkor 35/2 wins the latter. And lets face it both are superb products especially for the reasonably modest price.

    For me, with my touch of OCD it was the latter that won. If I am 100% honest with myself I only used the front-focusing issues with the Sigma product as a rational justification for my non-rational choice, which was actually much more about having only Nikon stuff in my bag... I'm sure if I'd gone the other way I could have found some problem with the nikkor to justify why.

    Is this true of others or is it just me thats mildly crazy? I suspect not... :)
  33. Bernard, good point about speed versus a Nikon product.

    Also, for me, I've never gotten over a Sigma zoom lens that literally fell apart in my hands. I vowed never to buy an other Sigma product, and I haven't.
  34. Huh, Bernard. It never occured to me to think of f/1.4 as a "prestige" issue, per se ... I tend to think of "getting the results I want and not over-extending on the purchase" to be the primary motivation. If there's any social baggage here, it could be the minor pleasure of being a contrarian. I'm quite pleased with every Nikon product I own, but don't consider their rather spendy 70-200/2.8 to have been a vain indulgence (it's just THE tool for that job, given what and how I shoot)... but Nikon simply doesn't manufacture a counterpart to Sigma's 30/1.4, and if they did, it would certainly be no less expensive.

    But the actual, practical reality of having f/1.4 at your disposal (about which, I suppose, one could brag - !?) dictates the purchase decision, or did for me, anyway. Yeah, I'd probably prefer a Nikon product, just to be absolutely sure that the onboard lens brains are going to work with future bodies. But, not an option, today! Either way, yes... we are all slightly crazy, of course.
  35. 35 f/1.8, 35 f/2, 30 f/1.4
    Among them, which has the best:
    1. Optical ?
    2. AF Speed ?
    3. On paper specs (I mean things like widest focal, largest aperture, yes/no focal scale window, MF override, aperture ring, ..) ?
    4. Compatibility (with Nikon bodies) ?
    5. Build ?
    6. Price ?
    To my experience with 35 1.8 and reviews that I've read, here are the winners:
    1. Optical - I think 35 f/1.8, then 35 f/2 and finally 30 1.4
    2. AF Speed - I think 35 f/2 then 35 f/1.8 and then 30 1.4
    3. On paper specs - Hard to say...Sigma has significant wider and larger aperture. 35 1.8 has MF override and AF silent. 35 f/2 has focal scale window which is good for MF, it also has aperture ring. I would pic sigma for it's most practical advantages, 35 f/1.8 next and 35 f/2 last
    4. Compatibility (with Nikon bodies) ? 35 1.8 and Sigma has built in motor to use with Nikon non screw drive series while 35 f/2 is compatible with FX bodies. I would pick 35 f/2 then 35 f/1.8 then Sigma
    5. Build - Sigma clearly the winner. However to many people the heavier is the worse. It really depends. So Sigma first then 35 f/2 and 38 1.8 last...the 35 1.8 is a bit toyish
    6. Price ? First come 1.8 then f2 and sigma last
    Ok let's sum them up..
    • Sigma best at: BUILD, SPECS. If you you're not a pixel peeper then this Sigma fit your need with f/1.4 and a bit wider than competitors.
    • 35 F/2 best at: AF Speed, Compatibility. If you need a reliable 35 lens and planing to go FF, here's your choice
    • 35 F/1.8 best at: Image Quality, Price. Simply looking for IQ at a reasonable price. This must be your best bang. clear winner !!

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