Which to buy 17-55 f/2.8 DX or 24-70 f/2.8!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by eyad_mansour|1, Jun 11, 2008.

  1. Considering to buy either lens. The range that I need is the 17-55, but I am a bit
    reluctant to aquire a DX format lens as a long term investment.

    The question is: will the DX format stay in pro level cameras? with the cost of
    technology going down and cometition getting much higher, I am arguing that that
    the next camera after D300 would most probably include a FF sensor.

    This brings me back to my original question: Will the DX format lenses be
    redundant for professional grade cameras in a year or two?
  2. If you only have a DX camera the 24-70mm is an irritating range of focal lengths. DX cameras will be around for years so I would buy the 17-55mm - so long as you keep it in good condition the resale value will always be decent.

    Better to have a useful lens now then spend a lot of money on something that just stays in a cupboard.
  3. I`m afraid nobody know the answer. I wonder if Nikon knows it. It`s easy to think that the D3 sucessor will be FF, consumer cameras will stay on DX but the D300 sucessor... who knows. Probably a D400 with DX format could be highly disappointing for most Nikon users, it could be the only available key to think on a FX D300 replacement.

    Anyway, I suppose DX consumer cameras will increase gradually their performance, probably in a few years a D60 or D80 replacement could be better choices than current D200 or D300, thought. A 17-55 could be then as useful as now.
  4. I procrastinated for weeks on whether to get the 24-70 f2.8, and just went out and got it in the end. The DX and FX sensor is an agonising issue when it comes to purchasing lenses. I have a D300 and it's a great camera, and it deserves a professional standard zoom that opens up to 2.8, though because the D300 is DX then the you'll always be left with a compomise on the focal lengh. It's an irritating set of circumstances for Nikon owners, though what can we do? Blow even more cash on a D3? or just wait for the FX technology to filter down the Nikon product line? I live in hope
  5. Eyad writes [The range that I need is the 17-55]. Case closed. Buy what you need, not
    what you don't.
  6. Hello all,


    >> DX cameras will be around for years <<

    I agree, but what kind of cameras ? Certainly not prosumers and pro ones. Albeit APS-C format compacts capable of producing RAW files have already begun to appear with the Sigma DS-1 and might well be the new standard for top of the line compacts, which, when properly equipped with a good trans-standard zoom, might well negate the need to buy entry level reflex cameras for most people.

    Dou you really think the otherwise excellent 17-55mm f/2.8 DX trans-standard zoom (equivalent to a 25.5 - 82.5 mm in full format) will be considered interesting by an amateur who is generally statisfied with the original zoom from the kit (generally of say "indifferent" image quality) to the point to replace it with an obviously much better lens, but of similar zoom range, moreover if you try to re-sale it at its true value ?

    >> Better to have a useful lens now then spend a lot of money on something that just stays in a cupboard. <<

    So, for you a 24-70 f/2.8 FX zoom, the equivalent in DX format of 36-105mm f/2.8 zoom is condemend to stay in the cupboard ??

    Sorry, I neither understand your standpoint nor agree with it... On the contrary, the equivalent of a 36-105 zoom sems to me a much better field of view range on a DX camera than the one a 24-70 covers in FX format (too short at the tele end for a true portrait lens, almost uselessly large on the large side for current use).

    Jose :

    >> Anyway, I suppose DX consumer cameras will increase gradually their performance, probably in a few years a D60 or D80 replacement could be better choices than current D200 or D300, thought. A 17-55 could be then as useful as now. <<

    I agree (provided there will still be a market for entry level APS-C cameras destined to amateurs who could be satisfied with the new generation of compacts to come). But like what I said to James, who will buy such a second hand zoom, too good and having a high theoretical value on the amateur market ? While its original owner, a prosumer or pro camera level user will look for FX lenses to fit his FX body, as DX format will be no more used in this category ?

    Eyad :

    Your rationale is sound, for a prosumer camera user, my advice is to buy FX compatible lens only... If you want a larger field of view, buy the relatively economical Sigma 12-24mm (not so bad of a lens) in complement as it covers the FX format too... You will keep these lens forever.

  7. In my experience the 24-70 (at equal FLs) is quite a bit better optically than the 17-55. However, the latter at 17mm is a great wide angle for DX, whereas 24mm on DX is only a moderately wide angle.

    Do you have a wide angle already for DX? If not, what will you use if you don't get the 17-55? How long do you intend to stay with DX? Do you intend to purchase a separate wide angle zoom? If you have the 12-24 DX Nikon then the 24-70 would be a great complement to it. Or if you don't have it there is a Tokina DX 11-16/2.8 which is cheaper than the Nikon and is 1 stop faster.

    If you buy the 24-70 you'll be future proof in terms of your standard zoom lens but you then need to do an investment to get the DX wide angle. If you get the 14-24/2.8 Nikon then you'll also be future proof for superwide but these things aren't exactly cheap! You might as well buy a D3 today if you're going to invest so much in lenses.

    The 17-55 is a solid choice though. It gives you a lot of versatility in a compact package (the 24-70 is significantly larger). I think there will always be people whose main interests are in telephoto work (and they will choose DX), and the 17-55 would probably be one of their top choices for the wide and normal range. So it will be possible to sell it if you want to. I have personally moved 99% to FX for my digital shooting, but I still keep the 17-55 because with the D200 it makes for a compact general purpose kit which I can take to places where I don't dare to take the D3.
  8. Francois,

    DX cameras of the calibre of the D300 will be around for at least 3-4 years in all probability so the amortised loss between new and second hand price over three years shouldn't be a deal breaker. There's little likelihood of the market for the 17-55mm disappearing overnight and risking suddenly being left with an ornament.

    There's also a good reason why 36-105mm lenses aren't made by anyone. It may well suit you to have a lens with those characteristics but it wouldn't work for me. Eyad says that 17-55mm is the range he needs so a two lens solution that may mean switching frequently in the middle doesn't sound perfect to me. If he means what he says then the 17-55mm is a good choice or perhaps the more economical 16-85mm is even better if he can live with the slower speed.

    There's no law on what you have to have - just personal preferences :)

  9. "I live in hope"

    Well, I don't. I simply live for today. This could be an endless thread of what *might* happen next week or next year but IMO, far too many people seem to be paralyzed by indecision because of what possibly could happen sometime in the future.

    Will Nikon release a less expensive FX body in the future? I suppose so but that will be then, not now. I am quite happy with my D300 and DX lenses now. If the future changes, deal with it then.
  10. "though because the D300 is DX then the you'll always be left with a compomise on the focal lengh. It's an irritating set of circumstances for Nikon owners, though what can we do? Blow even more cash on a D3? or just wait for the FX technology to filter down the Nikon product line? I live in hope"

    Compromise? I find it a strange notion, and I only find it regurgitated here, that the DX format is some sort of disability or compromise in our image making. It was no biggie for me and others to buy a wide prime or zoom such as a 12-24 or 17-55 for the DX format when we now have a faster and longer range.

    I grew up on "full frame" (whatever that is) and the 300mmf2.8 was a rented lens when I needed it. Now, I grin every time I mount my 70-200VR. My 300f4 is incredible on the DX cameras. Obtaining this focal length and speed on my F5's was really expensive. I'm one of the many that hopes the DX format never goes away.
  11. I too went through this recently, and I've decided on the 17-55mm f2.8. My reasoning is it will be awhile (years) before Nikon gets around to making a full frame camera at a price I will pay. I'm not all that convinced full frame is even such a big deal. I kind of like the advantages the 1.5x sensors give and they continue to improve. The 24-70 isn't all that versatile on a DX camera, and for me that was the clincher. As for a lens holding value over time, I don't see any of them as "investment" quality, LOL! Lens technology is moving quickly. The good news is that there's almost certainly going to be a market for a lens with Nikon F mount in the future.

    Kent in SD
  12. James, 35-105mm lenses were very common and popular at a time (up until mid-90s). A great number of digital compact cameras have approximately this range of field of views, so it can't be said that they aren't made.

    With SLRs, wider angled standard zooms have become quite popular. The loss is at the tele end, which IMO would be just as useful to have. There is even a gap between 55mm and 70mm in the f/2.8 zoom range for DX cameras. This missing range is very popular for portrait photography, so a lot of DX users have been using the 28-70 for that purpose.

    By choosing either 12-24 or 14-24, with 24-70 and 70-200 the gaps are gone. The 17-55 is good when minimal weight with still good quality is needed in a two-lens setup.
  13. James,

    You said :

    >> DX cameras of the calibre of the D300 will be around for at least 3-4 years <<

    I agree 100%

    >> in all probability so the amortised loss between new and second hand price over three years shouldn't be a deal breaker. <<

    And here I have to disagree...

    First, within what delay do you consider you "amortize" a lens ? (in the way a non-professional can speak of amortizment)...

    Personnally, I consider the actual time to amortize a lens this way as totally indefinite... As long as it performs well enough from day 1 and it is still performing the same an indefinite number of years, it is still under "amortizment process" for me.

    For example I have a 55mm f/3.5 pre-Ai Micro Nikkor (and the dedicated extension tube)... With a simple Ai'ing job it will be ready for duty on a D 300 or a D3 (or its successor)... It is still a remakable lens and still a useful one... I don't remember the date it was bought, But it will save me buying another macro lens for years...

    Buying today a 17-55 DX lens might well lead to a re-sale within the 2 to 3 years you mentioned. Anyway, it will be unavoidably at some loss.

    But who will want this kind of lens (one of the few DX of professional design) when only amateurs will use DX format and most of them are happy with the kit lens ? Moreover if I pretend to sell this lens at its true value ?

    I think it will eventually sell but with a massive loss in value.

    If I buy a 24-70 f/2.8 it will cost me more initially but if no accident happen it well be still operational 30 years from now and when I will switch from the D300 I hope to buy soon to an FX format body (and this is a move I'm decided to take as soon as I will be able to proceed so), I won't have to sell a lens, lose money and spend another (big) amount to get the 24-70 I will need then.

    >> There's little likelihood of the market for the 17-55mm disappearing overnight and risking suddenly being left with an ornament. <<

    Nobody said it will disappear overnight, but it may lose a large part of its value overnight for lack of demand if Nikon decides to abandon DX format for prosumer cameras like they did for pro cameras.

    Now, I understand you like to work mostly on the wide side of of the lens range... But I sincerly doubt it is the most efficient way for most people.

    For a wide angle under 35mm I prefer manual prime lenses (manual for DOF control, primes for the same reason and the fact only a small move of the photographer can easily replace any zoom most of the time. But for fast operations from 35 (small wide) to 105mm (portrait) I appreciate the advantage of a zoom lens with a large fixed aperture and AF capabilities (to operate wide open if required).

    I'm not convinced by wide angle AF zooms (whatever is the IQ) ... On DX format cameras my main complaint is the total lack of prime wide angle lenses and one reason I would have preferred an FX camera from the start is to use "old" Nikkor manual WA instead (big savings in money by the way).

    But you're right about personal preferences... Too bad the personal preferences of each of us cannot be satisfied.

  14. I guess we all have our pain points in terms of how much of a loss we are prepared to take over a given length of time - I do accept that I am somewhat more pain resistant than many!

    As for the lack of wide angle DX lenses I definitely agree with you as I would like to have such lenses myself.
  15. Get what you need for today's shooting requirements, Eyad. Digital photography is an
    exponentially changing technology and I don't believe any equipment you buy today
    (regardless of the format) is a long term investment.
  16. Each person has to puzzle out what fit's their needs. For me I also worry about the future of the DX format. What I decided to do is purchase the 12-24DX Tokina pro because I need a wide angle. All other lens purchases will be in the FF design. I am perfectly happy with the DX format but maybe I will change my mind in a few years. I don't really know what Nikon will do or even what I will want to do.
  17. If you want that range get that range. THere are very good third party offerings that perform as good as the Nikkor for half the price. Like that you don't feel bad about investing into something that might not stick around.
  18. I would also have preferred to use prime wide angles on DX, but there aren't any really good ones for this format! On the other hand the DX wide angle zooms such as the 12-24 and the 17-55 produce really good image quality at wide angle settings. I don't think you should be concerned about that. I've managed excellent results with the 17-55 at the wide end even at f/2.8. The long end of this zoom is a bit soft compared to a 50mm prime - it's great for portraits but for maximum detail you want something else, like the 24-70 or a 50mm prime. The DX zooms bigger than old primes, true. For a lot of people there isn't that much of a problem. I can understand Nikon's point of view: prime lenses have low volume sales and this means that they R&D needs to be recovered over a longer time frame. Hence they essentially skipped making DX primes since they thought that the prime people would mostly jump to FX ASAP. Pentax has made a comprehensive range of "limited" prime lenses for the smaller format, which is commendable but I don't feel that the image processing from their cameras is on par with Nikon's. I was thinking about buying a K10D - amazing compatibility with manual focus lenses and new Limited prime lenses, but then I realized that I preferred the image quality from my D200 and then came out the Zeiss primes and the D3 which changed the picture for me. I abandoned compactness (for the time being) for the magnificent available light capabilities of the D3. I still favour my 28/2 as wide angle on FX. It's compact, fast, and sharp. Doesn't flare easily.
    Nikon hasn't abandoned the DX format in their pro cameras. The D300 is a pro camera - it has all the essential features of the D3 except the sensor size and there is nothing wrong with its build quality. I would say it has the advantage of the removeable vertical grip (which is of better construction than the D200's grip) which makes for a compact kit when needed. It has the same autofocus system and excellent resolution which tells us that Nikon didn't in any way hold back on features or quality on that camera. I think there will be a considerable market for this camera and its successors because for many telephoto users the FX format is just not a sensible choice, even when it gets to 24 MP in the anticipated "D3X" you still have to look at a small patch of a viewfinder to frame your DX crop shots. I suspect that a lot of close-up and macro photographers also prefer the D300 and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The 200mm macro is expensive - 105mm with DX is more practical. The 600mm f/4 is also expensive and probably causes unnecessary medical problems.
    I still feel Nikon should make at least one compact and fast rectilinear DX prime wide angle so that there is an alternative for the wide angle zooms. A 18mm or 20mm f/2 AF-S DX would be super, and then update the 35mm f/2 to a higher optical standard and AF-S. This would complete the pro DX line in my mind. I don't ask this for optical quality reasons - I think e.g. the current DX wide angle zooms are fine, but to realize the so much advertised "compactness" of the DX format which in my opinion is never truly realized without short primes.
    the fact only a small move of the photographer can easily replace any zoom most of the time
    This is just not so!
  19. When Canon came out with the 5D a couple years ago, there was a carbon copy discussion that DX was dead. After all, Nikon had to release a FF comparable. Since then, Nikon has yawned all the way to the bank selling the 17-55 and other DX lenses.

    Fast forward a couple years, Nikon releases the D3. Now surely there will be a rush to abandon DX. Hardly. Last I looked, the D300 outsells the D3 8 to 1 but it could be more.

    Even *if* Nikon comes out with, say, a $3000 FX body, there will still be new DX releases (D400, 500, etc) and a glut of DX users for many reasons that include price, size, and weight. As prices come down for FX, I am sure more with switch but DX is here for a long while.
  20. Thanks for the advice.
    I truly belive that the real investment for photography is in Lenses. One look at eBay proves my point regarding the resale value of on of the good prime classics.
    However, given the huge difference in price between the two lenses, even if the 17-55 loses half its value, its less costly than getting the 24-70 now. There is also the fringe benefit of the size.

    So, I will stick to the 17-55 for now.
  21. I really love my DX format camera for the extra reach it gives me without having to shell out huge dollars. It's good to have the choice of sensor size, imho. Don't forget, not all the lenses made recently work well with the D3, the 70-200 comes to mind.

    I go with the 18-70 for a total walk around lens, but I'm having the same question too between these two lenses. For general work, the 17-55 is nice, but for portrait material and getting in tight, the 24-70 is a much better choice. What is your work flow? If I want wide angle, I put on the 12-24 and have a grand old time.
  22. Bruce, where is the 8:1 statistic available? Worldwide?
  23. Ilkka, when Nikon made their D3/300 announcement last year, I seem to recall they were looking at 10:1 production numbers. I think it was a couple months later, they revised with increased production and the ratio moved to 8:1.

    I haven't seen any numbers revisions since that second announcement but Shun is pretty good about keeping up with this stuff. Maybe he can add some insight.

    Anyway, the answer is yes, this was worlwide production.
  24. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The initial production numbers for the D3 and D300 were 8k and 70k per month, respectively. They up them to 10k and 80k after a couple of months.

    Back to the original question, I would suggest buying lenses that match your current needs. The future is unpredictable; I wouldn't look too far ahead. Last year a lot of people asked a similar question, but it was the 28-70mm/f2.8 AF-S intead of the 24-70, which hadn't been announced at that time. Those who bought the 28-70 a year ago for the future now have an old model that has already been superseded.
  25. how about a 17-35mm f/2.8. It works on FX and is almost same as 17-55 on DX..
    Almost same price as the other two lenses mentioned. The IQ is not as good as the
    Nano coated Digital lenses, but I think good for most people.
  26. Depending on what you are shooting, you may find that the 17-55mm works well for you. I had it and did not like the distortion under 20mm I replaced it with the 24-70mm and am very pleased with it throughout its zoom range.

    My suggestion - test them both out for yourself.
  27. I find myself in the same quandary.

    I asked myself if I went on a trip to India tomorrow with my D300 and wanted to
    carry one or two lenses at very most what would I do? Both of these lenses draw
    beautifully and I need the 2.8 speed regardless of VR on some slower DX zooms.


    The near-term rational answer is the 17-55 DX. I could get the wide (24 and 28
    effective at least) and medium portrait shots I want. However, what if I want to go
    wider? The 17mm (24 true) setting on this lens has barrel distortion from what I can
    tell from decent non-post corrected images. Still, this DX lens may be my rational
    choice...a great choice...now. I have NOT used it yet so this is all speculation.

    Then the other demon pops up on my other shoulder....


    I am an obsessive compulsive, and will want a Nikon compact "Son of D3" FF as
    soon as it comes out <$3k. Plain and simple. That is my nature and I admit it.

    I don't want to debate here, but I think that will happen before year's end for the
    simple fact that the Nikon will be exposed by an imminent Canon 5D Mark II. If the
    difference in price between a DX D300 and this new FF Canon is <$700-1000, I
    would believe many would go to Canon, especially new buyers into high-end DSLR's.
    Images on these full frame sensors are tremendous, and frankly, I find crop factors
    totally annoying. If a DX lens is not optimized for FF, then call it what it is - 17-55
    DX lens a "DX 25 - 82.5mm".

    So you can see where I am leaning - and yet, I still I agonize. I may go the route if
    the 24-70 and a pick up a used dedicated wide that does not look like a fire hydrant.

    We all know the truism (that I avoid so I can play gear games) is our eye and
    creativity make a good picture. Glass helps, but I have seen stunning pictures from
    lenses on the used market for $50 at every funky FL there is out there. I am having
    most fun with a beat up 50 1.2 AI-S then anything else right now with the D300. Out
    of limits comes true creativity. Thus, the funky FL's of the 24-70mm with the D300
    are a challenge. ...so what (I am alluding to the advances amateur - not pro who
    must earn a living and use some standard FL's for their clients.)

    I also looked back through many of my favorite shots over the last couple years,
    though a slight majority are in the true 35-100 range, it is basically a split decision.
    The true 24 FL is important to me.

    So 24-70mm for today. I have one to try out for a couple of days. If not, I'll try the
    other, and if not, I'll stick to my old primes until something comes along that fits the

    And lastly, I am truly humbled by the knowledge in these forums. Thanks....

  28. The 24-70 is a "ultra-high quality" lens, it's excellent both optically and physically. It's an excellent portrait lens, but its range feels very awkward for landscape and architecture. It's not that sometimes you can't "step back"; the real problem is that you can't get that wide angle prospective/look you can get with a wider lens.

    The 17-55 is obviously a standard DX zoom, but in my opinion, it's not nearly as perfect as the 24-70, in terms of optical quality.
  29. 12-24mm + 24-70mm + 70-200mm should work seamlessly for most situations. All high quality lenses.
  30. jbm


    I'm going back to film.
  31. Eyad, aren't you glad you asked? ;-)
  32. The 24-70 works on both formats.
  33. Diane, I never expected my question would stirr so much good debate.
    I am truly happy that I asked, though, as its been a true learning experience. Thanks for all.
  34. To throw another question at this very useful thread - what would you recommend if I were to buy the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 instead! This will minimize potential apparent loss! Yes?
  35. 17-35mm 2.8 and a 50mm 1.8. My opinion is that a DX lens is a waste of money. In five years time, you will be lucky to give them away.
  36. I hate to dig up an old thread but I was also comparing these two together prior to my purchase of the 17-55..and the way I see it is that the 17-55 is the "24-70" for the DX body as with the 1.5 crop factor it make it a 25.5-82.5 (24-70).
    I know we want the 24-70 but your DX is made for the 17-55, hence the DX on the lens. Also the range can't be beat, whereas with the 36-105, I mean 24-70 ^__^, I think you lose some of the creativity you would've had with the 17-55. Buy the shoe that fits I say. It's a bitchin' lens, nothing to worry about.

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