UWA to Short-Tele Zooms - Nikkor or Third-Party?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by steven_s|4, Dec 8, 2012.

  1. I recently upgraded to a used D3 from a D70s and I need some new lenses on the wide-normal end. The upgrade to FX in the distant future was anticipated since I got into photography, but I came across a great deal on the D3 and impulsively bought it - spending almost all of my photography funds. The lenses I have are nothing spectacular, and some faster and sharper lenses have been on my wishlist for a while. I now have little cash to spare and desperately wanting some great FX glass, but on a tight budget. I am re-evaluating my current gear, and considered selling my D70s and 18-105 VR for some extra cash (an optimistic $300). This would give me about $500-$600 to work with for new lenses.
    My photography is all over the place. I have done a wide variety of projects, but my favorite has been portraiture/acting photography. (some samples in my photo.net portfolio) I always bring my camera with me when I travel or visit the zoo or aquarium, and I also go out with photographer friends and walk downtown or cool places we found on Google maps and snap away at architecture, landscapes, still life, portraiture, etc. It also doubles as location scouting for my planned shoots. It's mostly for fun, and seldom paid or trade for prints. Paid and TFP work has been product photography and portraiture.
    Anyways, here is the list of my current bodies and lenses:
    Nikon D3
    Nikon D70s (might sell for FX glass)
    Nikkor AF-D 50mm f/1.8
    Nikkor AF 70-210 f/4
    Nikkor AF-S 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR (might sell for FX glass)
    I would really like to cover the ~17-70+mm range with very sharp and fast f/2.8 zooms, but I can't afford that combination in Nikkor glass. If I give up on the fast aperture, the Nikkor AF-D 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 and Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G Non-VR come to mind and fit my $600 budget. Neither of these lenses have a lens profile built into Lightroom (distortion correction). This might not be a big deal - I think I heard you can make your own profiles, or even download community made ones.
    If I stick with the very sharp and fast f/2.8 zooms requirement, it sounds like there might be some good offerings from third-party lens mfgs like Tamron, and in my price range. I have read a ton of reviews on Nikkor lenses and very familiar with the line up, but I am completely unfamiliar with third-party lenses. I've been reading a lot of reviews, forum postings, and looking at photos from different lenses on flicker, and still don't feel like I can make a good decision. The thought of adding a cheap Tamron or Sigma lens to my D3 makes me cringe a little, but if the optics are excellent, then I will go that route. After hours and hours or online research, it looks like the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 and the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 are very good lenses that perform on par with Nikon equivalents and fit my tight $600 budget. And surprisingly, Lightroom has both these lens profiles built into Lightroom.
    Which of these lenses would you recommend? Is there something better that I overlooked?
    A quick note on zoom overlap: It's a good thing (for me). A 17-35 is a lens I would use when I want to go wide, and the zoom will allow me to choose from UWA to wide-normal. A lens from 24mm to 70+mm would be a lens I would use for the normal range, but could go fairly wide if needed without swapping lenses (35mm would not be wide enough in many cases, like in a small room and a wall keeps you from stepping back further).
  2. Let's get our terminology right first Steven. A 17mm lens on DX is nowhere near "Ultrawide". To be considered ultrawide you're talking about a 14mm or shorter lens on DX, and anything shorter than 20mm on full-frame. Many people these days would consider 24mm to be their standard wideangle, although it used to be in the "superwide" category (on full-frame) a few years ago.
    You won't get 17-35mm and xx-70mm f/2.8 zooms that'll cover full-frame new and within your stated budget, so forget that. I'm afraid you'll either have to stretch your budget, buy used or lower your expectations.
    Anyway, as a starting point I don't think you could do any better than to look at Tamron's 28-75mm SP f/2.8 zoom. IMHO it provides superb image quality for the money, as well as being the most compact and lightweight f/2.8 mid-range zoom around.
    Of course if you're willing to give up AF there's a world of good Nikkor MF glass just waiting to be picked up for comparative peanuts. I just dug out my old 80-200mm f/4 Ai-S Zoom-Nikkor. Holds up really well on a D800, and easily beats the 70-210mm AF Zoom-Nikkor that replaced it - sorry to say.
  3. It's okay, your terminology is correct since you are in fact referring to full frame cameras, like the D3.
    In my opinion your two best options within your budget are the Nikon 18-35/2.8 D ED AF and Nikon 35-70/2.8 D AF. Both are readily available used and will fit your budget, with the more expensive lens being the 18-35. If you are in a tight space just switch lenses, not a big deal. Both are much smaller than todays wider zoom range fast lenses, so much easier to carry both. Image quality is excellent and only surpassed by the latest Nikon lenses in their range/speed. 18mm is plenty wide and even at that it will take you awhile to learn how to compose images with it well.
    Don't worry whether a lens is in lightroom or not, you can make minor adjustments yourself.
    Since you have a 50/1.8 and a 70-210/4 my only personal concern is that I would not be considering a mid range zoom like the 35-70 or 24-70. I would take the money saved and consider a well used Nikon 17-35/2.8 ED AF-S.
  4. I'll agree, the 28-75 Tamron is an
    excellent lens and you won't go wrong
    with it. If you can live without AF look
    into some AI and AIS Nikkors. Superb
    lenses, they will meter properly on
    your D3 and are available from KEH
    and others for nearly nothing. At the
    least they would carry you through
    until finances allow more current gear.
    I'd keep the D70, you won't get much
    for it and a backup is always good.

    Rick H.
  5. Nikon 18-35/2.8 D ED AF​
    What lens might that one be? There is either a 17-35/2.8 AF-S (which is way out of the OP's budget) or the 18-35/3.5-4.5 that the OP mentioned himself. I owned it for quite some time and was quite happy with it - so for the budget-conscious it is highly recommended. Also read good things about the 28-75 from Tamron; both should be within the OP's budget.
  6. Sorry about that, it is indeed the Nikon 18-35mm f3.5-4.5 D ED AF lens I was referring to.
  7. Another vote for the Tamron 28-75. It's my standard zoom on my 5d Mark II and it's a great lens for the price. I do wish it went down to 24mm, but if you use an ultrawide to cover that range, like I do, then it's not much of an issue.
  8. your best bet for that budget is the tamron 28-75/2.8.
  9. Thank you guys for the recommendations.
    Mid-range zoom:
    It sounds like the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 is pretty well favored here. I have considered the Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8, but 35mm is not wide enough - I almost feel like it wouldn't offer much for me if I had a wide 17/18-35mm, 50mm and 70+ zoom lenses. I am accustomed to my 18-105mm VR on my D70s (27-157mm FX equiv.), and felt it really fit my use for it. I could live with a 28mm+ zoom (24mm would be awesome), but you lose quite a bit going to 35mm when you are indoors. The purpose or use for a mid-range zoom for me is to not have to switch lenses. If I am able to switch lenses, have space to move around, and/or want to use a wider aperture, then I would opt for my 50mm prime, or a future 35mm & 85/105mm prime. I am looking to get a better mid-range zoom lens for my D3 than my 18-105/D70s combo, in both sharpness and wider aperture, which will sadly come at the expense of VR and the tele-photo range with my budget.
    UWA zoom:
    It appears that the Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 is favored over the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4, which has a slight edge being 1mm wider and slightly faster aperture at the wide end. I have read good things about both lenses, and I am a little more familiar and comfortable with the Nikkor. I have played with the 18-35mm in a store along side the AF-D 20mm f/2.8 on my D3, and was pretty happy with the 18-35. I was surprised how much light fall-off there was with the prime, though at f/4, both lenses were about the same.
    So it sounds like I will be shopping for the Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 (~$275) and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 (~$200) to cover the hole in my lens collection. Now I just need to bring myself to sell the D70s and 18-105 - it's a tough one. I think I might be able to get $300 for the combo. The value of the D70s has really dropped the last couple months.
  10. Correct me if I am wrong, but there seems to be two different versions of the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - one with and one without a Built In AF Motor (BIM). So far it looks like they are the same optically, but the BIM version AF performance is poor. I will be shopping for the original non-BIM version, which also has the aperture ring on it, and the new one does not.
    Thank you,
  11. I use a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 and Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8 with my D700 and am quite happy with both. High value IMHO. Higher res bodies may make this not so high a value.
  12. Have you considered Sigma lenses? I use a 24-60 f2.8 and 15-30 f3.5-4.5 lenses with my D700 and I'm very happy with both. The image quailty is excellent. Both lenses could be picked up for less than $500 with money left over for a SB-600. The 15-30 is really wide, only way to go wider is with the ultra expensive Nikon 14-24 or the Sigma 12-24. The 24-60 also gives you something wide at 24mm and 60 is only 10mm shorter than expensive 24-70's. I'd check out KEH before eBay, they have a great 14 day return policy and a 6 month warrany too!
  13. Hi Mark,
    I have considered Sigma lenses, but they tend to be softer than the Tamron counterparts (so I have read). I did find a Sigma 24-60mm f/2.8 here locally for $225, and a Sigma 17-35mm f/2.8 for $150, but the reviews pushed me away. It sounds like both are fairly soft at f/2.8, and only comes close to matching the Tamron equivs at f/4-f/5.6+. I am looking for the best glass within my budget.
    I will take a look at the 15-30 Sigma - never heard of it. I keep my eyes open for used SB-600's and 800's, I have one of each now, but I could really use a SU-800. I have been tempted to try one or two of the Mieke knock-off SB-900's as CLS slaves too. If only money grew on trees. :/
    Please keep the feedback coming! I think finding the 28-75 non-bim and 18-35 will be a test of patience. My first priority is the 28-75, and I will have to push myself to sell my D70s and 18-105 to afford the 18-35.
  14. +1 on the 15-30 on FX. i got mine for under $200 with pristine glass and a scuffed body.
    28-75 non-bim isnt that hard to find.

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