Sigma 50-150/2.8 HSM II or Tokina 50-135/2.8 screw AFS for D7000

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ajay_ukidve|1, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. Hi Folks,
    I am in a dillima and want advise.
    I have recently purchased the Nikon D7000. I have the Tamron 17-50/2.8 A16 NII with the built in motor which is a superb lens.
    I have lined up these 2 lenses to compliment the Tamron for street photography and isolating people and faces in the crowd. I travel a lot.
    1. Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 II EX DC HSM about USD 500 in India.
    2. Tokina AF 50-135mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro DX which has a screw drive about USD 750 in India.
    I would like to buy the Tokina which has excellent reviews every where on the net. However I feel the price appears a bit more with a slow AF screw drive.
    The Sigma has mixed reviews. Many complaints about front focusing, softness at 150/2.8 and allied QC issues. However some reviews are very good.
    I want frank advise from those who have used both these lenses. Which one should I go in for. I would state here I do not mind paying the extra USD 250 if folks are convinced that the Tokina is really that good on all counts, I am not into sports photography etc so IQ is more important to me than AF speed.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Just to remind you that both lenses have been discontinued, and a new version of the Sigma with OS has been announced. So you may want to wait to get the newest thing ... Newer 3rd party lenses may work better with newer camera body in terms of AF consistency.
    Having said that, I did manage to find a copy of the Sigma to use on my D90. It does front focus and after being repaired by Sigma, it still does but to much less extent. When I called the Sigma, they said that they could adjust the lens to fit my camera, but they mostly recommend this to people who live close by as it may take a few trips to get it right. This was not an option for me, however. I also learned from talking to them that the equipment they have to calibrate the AF is designed to check at only 50 and 150mm, but not any where in between. So it is possible that while a lens is calibrated "properly", it can still have some issue, most likely at focal length different from the two extremes. Despite the small front focusing issue, which is evident when I tested in at night in my kitchen at about 70-100mm, it seems to be field irrelevant as I don't see this in most of the actual pictures I took when the light is relatively good. The lens is sharp with good bokeh and small and light for the fl that it covers. The "softness" that some people reported may be caused by inaccurate focusing, but not the glass itself. I heard fewer complains on the Tokina. If you plan to use this lens a lot indoors at close range, Sigma's AF accuracy may be a concern.
  3. i've owned both versions of the 50-150 and currently own version II, which i use with my DX kit. it's not overly-soft at 2.8, though it does improve noticeably at f/4 and is super sharp at 5.6 -- which is a characteristic shared by most lenses of this type. the sharpness is relative, though, because this lens has really great bokeh, so it's all about the contrast between in-focus and OoF areas. basically, the in-focus areas appear 'sharper' b/c the OoF backgrounds are rendered so nicely.
    QC has been fine on both my copies --no front-focus or AF issues. the zoom ring is really smooth on the 50-150, which makes it great for action. also, the 50-150 II is better at max zoom than version I and may be sharper at 2.8 as well. what's really interesting is that i find both versions of the 50-150 compare well to the thrice-more-costly nikkor 70-200 II.
    i see your dilemma. the 50-150 is perhaps more of a 'sports/action' lens, whilst the tokina is more of a 'landscape' lens, with non-removeable tripod collar and all. for portraits they both seem equally good, although not sure the extra 250 USD would be worth it to me, considering that the 50-150 is much faster to AF and has an extra 15mm wiggle room on the long end. the sigma also has instant MF-override.
    on the QC front, however, you have just as much chance of getting a bad copy with tokina as with sigma. perhaps i have been lucky, but none of my sigmas nor any of my tokinas have had issues. i suspect some of the widely-reported QC problems have to do with specific camera/lens combos. my sigma 17-50 OS seems to AF a little better on my D300s than my d90. i know sigma will calibrate EX-series lenses to specific bodies if you register the lens on the website and send it in. not sure if tokina will do this.
    bottom line is for street photography, i would get the 50-150.
    btw, judging by price can be a bit of a misnomer--in the USA, the sigma was the more expensive of the two when both were available new.
  4. My Dear CC,
    Thank you for your prompt reply. No I will not be using it much indoors. For that I use the Tamron 17-50/2.8 A16 NII. The sigma or Tokina lens is for evening street photography only. Like shop fronts and faces in the crowd for isolating objects. I travel a lot, I specially want one of these lenses because I found the Nikon 18-135 not good in low light. Though it is tack sharp. I was using it with the D70s which has poor low light capability. Beyond 400 too much noise so I have bought the D7000. So I think you are happy with the Sigma. gr8. Thanks for your input.
  5. My Dear Eric,
    Thank you for the very informative reply. Things are quite clear to me now. I am going in for the Sigma. The best I can do is take my D7000 to Mumbai where the lenses are located ( I happen to be located in Pune so can easily drive down). Fit it to my camera and do a quick test with pencil cells for front and back focusing and select the best. Incidentally the dealer has 8 new pieces and only 2 of Tokina. He has kindly agreed to allow me to do that, in case I get a bad copy first time or the second etc. D7000 has a front and back focusing correction so should not be difficult to test. With respect to cc's advise The OS version is too expensive so that is out.
    Thank you once again Eric.
  6. Great picture Eric !! Confirmed I go with Sigma.
  7. Hi Eric, Do you think that the lens actually focused on the bracelet instead of the face of the singer? If so, it front-focused.
  8. I will second all what Eric said about the Sigma 50-150mm. The extra stretch of 15mm is very useful at times. I have one and I use it from weddings and other events (street and indoors) to sports. I got lucky with my copy.
    Hello, CC. I think the focus is more on the cheek and/or nose. I could be wrong. The knuckles are more focused than the bracelet so I guess it didn't front focus. It might have just looked that way because of the contrast of the bright and blue metal on the skin tone of the performer. But my set of eyes are getting old.
    Good luck in your choice, Ajay.
  9. no. what you're seeing there is a reflection of stage lighting which hit the bracelet (made of iridescent/sparkly material) but not the face. if you look closely at the bracelet you can see a yellow stage light reflection on the left side and a white stage light reflection in the middle. the white light is more washed out. you're seeing more glint from the subtler yellow light which in your mind was sharpness but that's not the case--its not even across the entire bracelet because the white light overexposed.the other thing too is that his hat is covering his face, shielding him from the stage lighting. so his hand, which isn't covered by his hat, is better-lit, which again, could give the illusion of mis-focus, though that's clearly not the case.
    in the full-size, full-rez version (resizing and compressing/stretching for posting robs some visual acuity) the face is clearly in focus. also, other shots in that same sequence are pretty much spot-on.
    shooting live concert shots is pretty tricky btw, because you're dealing with a moving subject and constantly-changing lighting conditions. if you have to shoot at wide apertures to get a fast enough shutter, the plane of focus can shift ever so slightly, giving the appearance of missed focus when it's actually not. so it's a matter of technique and shooting conditions more than lens error. i've used the 50-150 enough in those situations (and gotten enough keepers) to report with confidence i dont have a front-focus issue with that lens.
  10. another phife shot...
  11. if you're trying to test whether a lens front-focuses or not, it's better to do so with a static subject under stable lighting conditions. stage lighting in particular can give weird results which sometimes mask what the lens is actually doing and what it isn't.
  12. Eric, I agree with your observation. I ended up keeping the lens and I do like it. It is hard to imaging how small and light it is and the color, contrast and soft bokeh all make it a wonderful lens for events, candids, etc. I still hope that some day Nikon can make its own version to show off the advantage of the APS-C format in allowing for a smaller camera/lens system.
  13. CC, i've said this before, but if that exact same lens was Nikon-branded and had the exact same characteristics, it would be a lot more popular than it is. (all else being equal, i couldn't see a nikkor version selling for under $1000) agree with you that color rendition, contrast, tonality, and bokeh are all really good. the range in particular is great for DX, covering the entire portrait spectrum. also that the compactness is a huge plus (especially for travel, where a 70-200 is overkill; the 50-150 is about the same size as the 70-300 VR) -- one reason why i'm not so thrilled about the addition of OS to version III, which now makes it far more bulkier. IMO, version II is a keeper, and while i'm sure the tokina 50-135 is also a good lens, i have no hesitation in recommending the 50-150.
  14. Thank you everybody for your inputs, a great help since this is unchartered territory for me. I just used to make do with my 70-300 VR. Now I will have something nicer and better suited. So Saturday I go to Mumbai and get the Sigma. Thank you all once again.
  15. Tokina. Much better quality. Period.
  16. Hi,
    Mark could you qualify that please. I have the option open as both are available at Mumbai new, but as of now have decided to go with the Sigma after all the above inputs.
    As I said I have seen a Tokina wide and its build quality has really impressed me. Apart from that I have not used any Tokinas so not a clue about IQ. I am going by what experts have advised as above. Even attaching it and shooting in the shop with both lenses will really not match up with the opinion of experts who have actually used this lens over time.
  17. mark, i own a bagful o' tokinas too, all AT-X: 17/3.5, 12-24/4, 35/2.8 macro, 100/2.8 macro. they have better build quality than sigma in most cases, and all those lenses are pretty sweet, but my sigma HSM lenses focus faster. also, tokina glass isn't automatically better than sigma glass, especially if your camera doesnt auto-correct for CA. IMO you kind of have to evaluate each lens on its subjective merits and objective quality. in the 50-150's corner, it has longer range and faster, smoother AF. build quality is very good. lack of tripod collar is a plus for street shooting. tokina's one-touch mechanism is handy for landscape shots, but could get in the way with action, where instant m/f override is less of a gotcha. also that tripod knob can get stuck in a bag, causing you to miss shots. if the tokina glass was far superior, that would be a point in its corner. as it is, i would rate this category even. to me the sigma wins on its other qualities, price being one of them in the OP's case. for landscape, it might be a dead heat, but IMO, for street candids, screw-drive lags behind HSM.
  18. Thank you Eric. I think I will stick with my decision of buying the Sigma. I will certainly check it for front/back focus in the shop. Plus he has 8 pieces to choose from if required!
    Further in Indian Rupees the difference is nearly 13k which I can use to get the Sigma 30/1.4 with a little addition.
  19. being able to choose from 8 different copies sounds like a big plus. you can be assured of getting the pick of the litter there.
  20. I don't know about all the picking and choosing. I think the tolerances are tighter than people give credit. This is from my Sigma 50-150mm.
  21. One more for the road:
  22. whoops here it is:
  23. 8 samples to choose from?!
    You are one lucky buyer. You can't go wrong there.
  24. nice shots, james. as you can see, the sigma is an excellent portrait lens as well as a action/sports lens...
  25. This legendary genuine Nikon version can be had for less than $100 on eBay.
  26. Hi Folks,
    Thank you so much for all your inputs. Just returned from Mumbai a half hour ago. This evening I am the proud owner of the Sigma 50-150/2.8 type II. The dealer is the authorized distributor for Nikon products for Mumbai and greater Mumbai. He himself was keen to check all his 8 Sigma 50-150/2.8's. Since I am no expert, so he himself along with me checked all the lenses thoroughly on my D7000. Off course not professionally but for general focus on a brick wall, back and front focus with pencil cells from 50to150 at 5 focal lengths and 2.8 to 4, CA in the near by garden, general shots, portrait shots, isolating faces in the street. Checked the HSM motor for close to infinity and back. Also checked the focused area and where the Camera was showing the focus in replay. (D7000 has that setting). Unfortunately he kept his 4 gb card to show other customers which was recorded with all the lens numbers. What I want to state here is "THAT NOT ONE LENS OUT OF THE 8 SHOWED ANY FLAW IN ANY DEPARTMENT". There was a minor incidence that I think due to improper fit one lens failed to focus just once (HSM did not work properly was giving alternate left and right arrows in the view finder), I removed it from the camera and fit it again. After that one incidence nothing more, no trouble for about a 100 different shots. Thank you everybody once again. I will post some pictures once I get the chance to do so next week.
  27. I have the Tokina 50-135 - and have really enjoyed it. Its built like a brick (not sure how it compares to the Sigman, it might be a bit heavier), and seems plenty sharp, especially stopped down a bit but seems to perform pretty well wide open too. The best focal lengths are in the middle of the zoom range I think. I can't speak about the Sigma as I've never used that but the Tokina doesn't seem to have blazing fast AF so if you need that for action this may not be your lens. I do like the clutch mechanism for going from AF to manual focus though until you get used to it.. sometimes you forget and wonder why the heck your lens isn't focusing... (this lens allows you to pull back on the zoom ring to go from AF to manual focus capability). Overall I think this is a good solid landscape lens - and thats primarily what I use it for.
  28. thanks for the report, ajay. enjoy your new lens and be sure to post some shots, 'k?
  29. Hi,
    Sorry for the delay in posting images from the Sigma 50-150/2.8 type II. All of the images have been shot at 2.8 except for one image. Most of the pictures are "Faces in the crowd" for which I required a lens and I went in for the Sigma.
    I have also included 1 picture from the Tamron 17-50/2.8.
    This Sigma is awesome!!!. Thanks to all of you I have made the right choice.
  30. Sorry i am unable to post a link to the rest of the photos at this moment.
    I will do it by this evening.
  31. Another one.

Share This Page