Which is best? Sigma, Tamron, Tokina?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by landrum_kelly, Oct 16, 2014.

  1. Of those three, which company makes the best lenses for Canon, Nikon, Sony, etc.? Which lenses in particular (zooms or primes) have you found to be truly outstanding? (Feel free to post some samples, or even one hundred percent crops)
    In general, I have avoided third party lenses, but going with top of the line lenses does get expensive-and I don't expect to get any richer as I get older and older.
    (For the record, I regularly shoot the D800E, the D3s, and the D7000. I realize that what might work alright with, say, the D3s might not be so great with the D800E. The only thing I have left with Canon is the T2i--itself a fine little instrument with good glass.)
    P.S.: For what it's worth, these questions are inspired by having stumbled onto this review by Shun Cheung of the Tamron 70-300.
  2. My honest answer: yes.
    It's impossible to say, as each of the three brands has some excellent lenses in their line-up, and some duds. Sigma recently stunned nearly all with their 35 f/1.4 and 50 f/1.4 Art lenses. Tokina has the 11-16 f/2.8 APS-C lens, which has a large loyal following, and I'd say their 100mm macro is an unknown little gem. Tamron's 70-300VC is an awful lot of lens for the money; their recent 150-600 seems to fit in the same tradition and their 90mm macro remains a solid recommendation.
    Choosing one of these three brands without further indication of the sort of lens, the budget and the priorities is either fanboyism or the reverse. Not something that will enlighten you a lot.
  3. Choosing one of these three brands without further indication of the sort of lens, the budget and the priorities is either fanboyism or the reverse. Not something that will enlighten you a lot.​
    Thanks, Wouter. I fully agree. That is one reason that I would like to hear about some specific performers at specific focal lengths--preferably from people who have actually shot the lens(es) in question for specific applications.
    As for my own applications, most of what I shoot lies in the middle focal distances, but I have been known to shoot the occasional macro of flowers or bugs, or the very occasional long focal distance shot (long = 300mm and above) of just about anything interesting. I have owned one ultra-wide zoom, and so I am pretty omnivorous in what I feast my eyes on.
    I have been playing withe lenses since I was eight years old as a kid in Akron, Ohio, and I was always enamored of telescopes from my earliest years--and especially enamored of great resolution in refractors--before I developed a strong interest in photography as an adult In other words, for me it has always been about glass. Splitting double stars was one of my early compulsions as a young teenager--and so resolution was always very important to me.
  4. Lannie, is your need for highest quality justified? I don't mean to be facetious in saying that. Are you printing your photos at large sizes (12 x 18, 16 x 24, or greater) where from the pure resolution viewpoint the better optics could make a small difference? There are other factors than resolution and contrast, of course, like various aberrations or distortion or light fall off at the edges, but most consumer lenses seem to be fairly good in those regards, except perhaps at maximum aperture (which, pray tell, do you really use all that regularly?).
    To recognize the duds or poorer performers in any line-up (even the best Zeiss optics designed for Canikons can have one or two less good performers) you might be best to brush up on your 2nd language and sample some of the generally rigorous European photo magazine tests of lenses that in my experience are good guides to choosing a fine lens, zoom or prime, OEM or 3rd party. The French magazines "Réponses Photo" and "Chasseur d'Images", have quite complete tests, in lab and in field, that show weaknesses and strengths, and can be accessed at most international magazine stores. As for the Internet independent reviewers, I usually take them with a grain of salt. They provide comparisons with little critical data and it is not easy to see points claimed on a 72 or even 100 dpi monitor.
    You may get information that helps from other photographers, but most of us cannot produce data that supports our lens critiques, except in really clear cases (as the case of the important light fall off from my 3rd party 12mm lens, or the dated resolution and veiling of my 1936 50 mm lens which I use mainly for "romantic" renditions of subjects).
    But to come back to my first key, do you really need highest possible quality? Your D800e would likely be overkill in most of my own shooting, although there are some times when I would seek a detailed 16 x 24 print and be glad to have that extra quality. (Often then, and as I shoot often for B&W, I would switch if time allowed from my digital camera to a modest but very capable MF film camera).
  5. They all have their duds, but it seems Sigma is doing the most development of the three you
  6. I have 17-50 2.8 Tamron. It is the only non Canon that I own. It is light, short compared to other like lenses. Photozone classes this lens as quite sharp and I agree: better than one of my former L lenses. It is non VC (IS), it squeaks when it is focusing and the focusing is partially external. It goes very well with my Rebel SL1 which is small and light. I use it occasionally and it makes extremely good pictures colorwise.
  7. But to come back to my first key, do you really need highest possible quality?​
    Arthur, what can I say? I want the highest quality I can get for the dollar. I like high resolution in part because it allows me to crop and still have good quality with the pixels that remain, that have not been cropped out. I want those lenses that are as crisp wide open as I can get, in case I have to shoot them wide open--as I often do with my night photography. I want lenses that are sharp at the edges and in the corners, etc., etc.
    If Nikon or Canon, for example, are not giving me more bang for the buck, why, then, am I spending bucks on them? I am simply looking for the best quality for the price. Never mind whether I need that quality. I can decide that, based on my own needs--and I am in the best position to evaluate my needs.
    As financial resources dwindle as I approach seventy years of age (next spring), I want lenses that deliver without costing an arm and a leg. On the other hand, if, say, either Nikon or Canon does provide exceptional quality, then I may indeed decide that they are worth the extra quality--that is a judgment call that only the consumer can make depending on his or her needs, and those needs are for the photographer to decide.
    My printer has a 17-inch carriage, but I do anticipate the possibility that I might at some point print even larger.
    In any case, as a constant cropper, I am going to want to have the quality to pull the most detail out of every photo. I cannot predict in advance which photo might require such a crop in order to bring out something that perhaps I did not see when I framed it through the viewfinder.
    It seems ridiculous to me to shoot 36 mp with inferior glass--but that is precisely why I am asking. What works (among the third party offerings) to take advantage of all that resolution? There is no point putting an inferior lens on that camera. There are better ways to spend my money--whether for lens or for camera.
    Resolution is not the only thing I look for in a good lens, of course, but it is at or near the top of the list. I hate soft lenses. If your implicit argument is that I won't be able to tell the difference at the sizes that I view and print, then I have to ask you what even I do not know: at precisely what size will I wind up printing? Which photos will be cropped and by how much?
    The general premise for the thread is that there probably are some good third quality lenses out there that are good enough for ANYONE'S purposes, and good enough the most out of the D800E. Other lenses might be good enough for the D3s at twelve megapixels, but not good enough to resolve the pixels on the D800E sensor.
    On the other hand, I am one of those people who does walk around at night with the D3s. I can shoot it hand-held at ISO 12800 and get pretty good results, but, if I can use the lens wide open, I might be able to cut back to ISO 6400, for example, and get even better low-light shots.
    Here is one that I shot with the D800E with a tripod, and here is one that I shot with the D3s without a tripod.
    My needs vary with the shot and with what possible uses that I might make of the shot in post. I cannot always know that in advance. Therefore, of course I want the best that I can get for the money.
  8. I have 17-50 2.8 Tamron. It is the only non Canon that I own. It is light, short compared to other like lenses. Photozone classes this lens as quite sharp and I agree: better than one of my former L lenses.​
    Thank you, Dick. That is precisely the kind of specific information that I am looking for. My own Nikon 17-35 f/2.8 (bought over a year ago on eBay) has developed quite a squeak that is not likely to be benign over the long haul. I might have to look soon at an alternative of the sort you are suggesting.
  9. In addition, there is sample-to-sample variation on top of design differences.
    Review sites like Photozone.de are a good place to start for any specific lens....
    These "third-party" lens makers are often ahead of the camera manufacturers, if only a little; their niche in lens ecology is either to beat the price or beat the features of the current manufacturer lenses.
  10. None of those companies has what I'd call a complete line. Sigma has a decent 17-50, those recent good primes, some
    gimmicks and a whole lot of meh. Tokina has a few really excellent wide zooms and that 100mm macro that's as good as
    anything in its class. Tamron has a strong selection of pretty decent though not mind blowing zooms.

    Put the three companies together and you have a great selection.
  11. I was doing pretty well with the Tamron 18-270, due to its versatility primarily. Then the barrel loosened to the point that turning the camera even 15 degrees downward caused the lens to extend all the way. My guess is that this doesn't speak very well for the quality of this lens.
  12. I'll throw two very different suggestions at you: First would be the Tamron 28-75/2.8. I keep calling it my money lens but it delivers excellent quality on everything I use it on be it digital or film. Works on my D300, works on my F2AS and whatever I have in between. If I lost it I'd buy another immediately. Second is quite the reverse, an old manual focus 80-200/4 Nikkor. Found it at KEH in EXC condition and there wasn't a scratch on it. $88 delivered next day. It delivers some of the sharpest images I've ever gotten with a lens in that class. Excellent contrast and color, superb detail, I love this thing. Doesn't bother me that it is MF, I can still see to focus thank goodness. Another that I would replace immediately. I can use these two lenses for 90% of what I do and have less than $500 invested. I could spend a lot more on newer glass but having tried some of it it hasn't shown me much if any improvement over what I now use. Your results may be different but I doubt it.
    Rick H.
  13. Whoever of the 3 is rumored to build the 12 - 24mm f4 for Pentax (APS-C) did a pretty good job.
    I did not entirely warm up with my Sigma 24mm f1.8. - It might be "as good as they get" (in that price range) and its surely not fair to compare that FF lens on a crop body to a 35mm f2.0 but doing so I am not entirely blown away. - But I say the same about my Pentax 50mm f1.4.
    A 50 Euro Sigma 18-50mm "kit" lens served me well so far, of course with lowered expectations towards it. - I should do a shootout between it a later Samsung and a Fuji but couldn't be bothered yet. - The only long zoom I am coping with these days is my consumer range Fuji, which appears to perform better than the rest of my seasoned collection but not "like a prime".
    My Tokinas & Tamrons are too old to mention them here and unfortunately no gems. - Most testing done on a 6MP body, some 14MP shooting too.
    If I was shopping for something I would read reviews comparing the offered range. When I bought recent lenses they seemed the only ones there at all. - 3rd parties tend to do not very much of their line in Pentax K mount.
  14. ..rumored to build the 12 - 24mm f4 for Pentax (APS-C)..​
    That lens is the Tokina 12-24 f/4 with a Pentax exterior. I've had the Nikon-mount version, very good performer considering its price especially.
  15. I have a couple of Sigma offerings - the 85/1.4 and the 15mm fisheye. Both are good lenses. The 85mm is as good as it gets except for the Otus 85mm, BUT AF is not 100% reliable. The 15mm is good, but not as good as the Canon 15mm fisheye, as I have just found out. My proviso here is that the fisheye was bought s/h (as was the Canon) and one never really knows what goes on with s/h lenses. I had the 28-75mm Tamron zoom that was good optically, but the AF I felt was not so good >50mm, the Canons in this range have no issues.
    Sigma used to be notorious for AF issues, but there are many people who have had good experiences with them. The new line of Sigmas (with the USB dock) may have solved this concern, but I have little experience of these. Certainly optically they can be very impressive and quite match or better the Canons on paper at least.
  16. FWIW--I have used several Tamron Adaptall lenses on the Leica R bodies I own, and am very impressed both with the interchangeable mount system, and the quality of the images. I used these, because Leica glass was out of my price comfort zone. I do agree that it is probably a matter of all three having duds and wows, but I have never been dissatisfied with a Tamron. And just because my uncle owns the company, this is not a biased view.
  17. Landrum maybe the focusing noise I described for the Tamron 17-50 sounds more like a mosquito buzzing around ones year. It is normal. The reason I mentioned it is because it would show up when shooting video. I wouldn't you to try and swat it if you hear it.
  18. Robin, I also have the Sigma 15mm fisheye (EX DG Nikon-fit version) and it is a good lens. I find it benefits from sharpening during post-processing but it does deliver - any problems seem to be user error. It's my only Sigma lens (never really been a fan before).
    I have two older Tamron lenses and they are both excellent by the standards of the day. The 90mm macro still delights and my 17-35 zoom is a real "sleeper". I must have got a very good copy because it really delivers, although obviously not to the standard of today's nano-coated monsters. Had some Tamron Canon-fit manual zooms before that - they weren't quite so good, but I am a bit of a Tamron fan.
  19. Back when the Canon EOS 20D was still new, I got a Tamron 90mm AF macro. I'll second Peter on it still "delighting" as I have bought additional cameras from APS-C- to 35mm-sensor.
    Along with my old Sigma 10-20mm (APS-C) ultrawide, these are lenses that I still use frequently.
    When I added 35mm-sensor to the lineup, I actually searched out the old Sigma 15-30mm 35mm coverage lens and have been equally pleased with it. All three of these lenses give me quality images at a price far below the Canon equivalents.
    If there is a little more barrel distortion at the wide end on the Sigmas than on their Canon equivalents, it is magic how easily this is fixed in post-processing. Most of the time, you'd never notice.
  20. Guys, these suggestions are great. Keep 'em coming.
    Thank you!
  21. Since you seem to be using mostly Nikon professional F2.8 zooms, I don't think that any third party alternative zooms would likely provide you with any optical or mechanical improvement. Photographers who are attempting to extract the best image quality out of 36mp DSLRs seem to be looking at Zeiss primes (including the $4K Otus lenses) and/or the Sigma Art lenses. Very good glass, a good tripod and head, plus rock solid technique seems to be the key to extracting all that a D800 is capable of.
  22. You're probably right, Kenneth. The question is what I can afford, plus the fact that I would really like to have a fast lens in the 24-70 range and cannot afford the Nikon. There are other focal lengths that interest me, though.
  23. The Tamron 24-70/2.8 is pretty damn good. It pretty much lives on my D600. I've used the Nikon 24-70 before, but the
    weight and lack of VR (unlike the Tamron) just didn't justify the cost for me since I'm not a pro.

Share This Page