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17-55, really that good?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by big_jon, Jul 24, 2007.

  1. big_jon


    Jul 14, 2007
    Thinking of getting rid of my 18-200 VR (my main walkabout) as i have been offered a very good price for it. Considering getting a 12-24DX or a used 17-55DX as i usually take shots around the 18-50mm area....

    I'm not a pro, but would just like to ask what real difference will i see for colours and resolution in regard to the price/performance ratio.

    If i were to shoot the 17-55DX at the same focal lengths and apertures as the 18-200VR (i.e - 18mm 3.5 etc), would i see noticeable difference in terms of colours and sharpness?

    Or is the considerable amount of extra money all for the extra speed? Would like to ask about the bokeh for portraits, how do they compare to popular portrait lens such as the 85mm 1.8?

    personally, if i were to spend the asking price for the 17-55DX, i would expect a near perfect lens.

    Could some users please help me out by stating:

    1. Reasons to buy this lens, what can it offer that no other lens does? What are the reason it is so good?

    2. Reasons not to buy this lens or to carefully consider, what are the problems and shortcomings of this lens.

    3. How good is the Tamron 17-50? used, it is a quarter of the price of a used 17-55DX. What will 4 times the price get me that the Tamron cannot offer.

    4. Am i just barking up the wrong tree if im not earning a living off photography or am not a serious hobbyist? Are these 2.8's just meant to be used by pro's and people that are willing to pay for the best quality?

    THANKS! :biggrin:
  2. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Hello Jon,

    While a Nikkor lens will generally be more expensive than a third-party lens, I do believe that the quality of the product and the image quality that the lens yields is usually well worth the cost. I do not have the Nikkor 12-24mm or the Nikkor 17-55mm lenses, but I have shot with both and I have to admit that they are remarkable pieces of glass. Both are fast focusing and yield tack sharp images. I cannot comment on the bokeh that they yield since the subject matter that I was shooting was landscape and not portraiture. Additionally, neither one of these lenses are considered to be classic portraiture lenses. You mention that you are not a professional photographer, but as I recommend to every person who is interested in photography.....buy the very best piece of camera gear that you can safely afford. While you may not be a shooting pro, you still deserve the best image possible and that is directly influenced by the gear that you utilize. Will Tamron or Sigma or Tokina yield similar quality images, I am not sure? But it is rare to hear of someone who owns a Nikkor 12-24mm or 17-55mm say that the lens did not fulfill their expectations. Third party gear tends to be much less in price than Nikkor gear, there has to be a good reason why third party lenses are so much less in price....does it relate to quality? Others will chime in to help answer your questions, I'll be watching to learn what they offer.
  3. Mart61


    Dec 23, 2006
    Camberley, UK
    Hi Jon

    Like Frank I can't answer your questions directly. However I find myself in a similar position to you. I too have the 18-200 and keep thinking I should take the plunge on some "pro" glass.

    However, when all's said and done, I can't really justify it. Personally I feel I'm still learning the art of photography and, whilst I'm getting there, I've not yet arrived (if I ever will?).

    So, if I had the 17-55, would it make my pictures any better? No. It would make my bad pictures sharper but they'd still be bad pictures (well, hopefully not all of them).

    Similarly, if I was printing and enlarging my images to large-ish sizes, I'd also think I'd want better glass. But I'm not - most of what I produce, for the moment at least, stays on my PC or is displayed for critique and comments on forums such as this.

    So, I guess you need to ask yourself the question "Do I really need it?". And if the answer's no, then wait a while. However, I know the difference between want and need and, if you want a 17-55 and can finance the acquisition, then go for it...

    Confused? I am...
  4. Hi Jon

    This is one of my very rare posts as I lurk more than I post.

    When I first re-started my photography late last year after several years of inactivity I bought a D40 with its kit lens as well as the 55-200mm non VR lens. After that I found I had to have the 18-200mm as well as the Sigma 10-20 to have better lens and the complete focal range.

    I then realised that while the 18-200mm is an excellent all rounder for a walk around-travel lens I needed a faster lens to take simple family and other "similar non professional" photos in lesser light so I bought the 17-55mm.

    Let me say that I have not regretted it, its everything what other people claim, the colour renditions are so much better than the kit lens or the 18-200mm. You just got to buy and use it to see the difference.

    Its expensive but worth buying, if you are going into photography long term.

    I am now looking to get the 85mm 1.8 as well as the 70-200VR as well as I now realise it does not pay in the longer run to get cheaper third party lens
    especially in regard to servicing probelms in Malaysia ( I came originally from
    Singapore so I know whats it like when you try to get a lens serviced)

  5. Despite the weight it is my most used lens. I've frequently considered selling my 18-200 to save up for the beast.
  6. Anytime I'm looking at lenses I refer to our old friend Bjorn Rorslett. His reviews are some of the best in the world IMO

  7. I can offer some experience.

    The 17-55 is my main lens...I use it almost every day. When I first purchased my D200, I still had my kit lens from the D70s. To be honest, I wasn't that impressed by the increase in IQ from the D70s to the D200. Sure it had better ergonimics and 5fps, but the IQ was still pretty constant...until I put the 17-55 lens on...WOW>>>

    I noticed an immediate increase in IQ...I could sharpen the file to my desire (always got those weird artifacts on the 18-70)...it was tremendous...well worth every penny.

    Fast forward to this past Feb...took a trip to Disneyland and borrowed a friend's 18-200. While it was very convenient in focal length, I was back to the same good IQ (good, not great like the 17-55). I sure did miss my 17-55 in terms of IQ, but didn't miss carrying the 17-55 and the 70-200. It was very convenient, but at the expense of IQ.

    Don't get me wrong...I didn't expect the 18-200 to be better in terms of IQ...so I was not disappointed...nor am I saying that the 18-200 should be better than the 17-55...they are very different lenses for very different purposes, IMHO.

    On portraiture...I only rarely shoot this in the studio...the FL is a little too short for my style...I almost always use the 85 for portrait work...where I am shooting kids that move, then the 17-55 gets the call...the perspective at 55mm is OK...but I prefer the look at 85mm.

    I don't have any experience with the Tamron, so I can't help you there.

    I don't earn a living off photography, but I am very demanding in my expectations of my equipment in producing images of my family. In this sense, the 17-55 is worth every penny to me.
  8. big_jon


    Jul 14, 2007
    thanks for all the replies, as a walk around am bordering on the idea of selling off the 18-200VR (USD670) to buy a 12-24DX (USD950) or saving up a while to buy a 17-55DX (USD1350)... another alternative option is to keep the 18-200VR and get a used tokina 12-24 (USD350)...

    will watch this thread and other 17-55 threads closely to determine my course of actions :biggrin:
  9. I own the Nikkor
    12-24 f/4
    17-55 f/2.8
    70-200 f/2.8 VR
    and 18-200 VR

    I bought the 18-200 for traveling with one lens and for that purpose it is fantastic. It doesn't have the IQ of the others but it's great for having such a wide range.

    If I had to keep only one it would be the 17-55, it's on one of my cameras 100% of the time. It's perfect for people, weddings large groups, and general purpose.

    The 12-24 is excellent for achitechure and landscapes, sometimes for people it can give a distorted look especially at the wide end.

    The 70-200 is another excellent lens, however it is large and heavy. Bokeh at f/2.8 is outstanding.
  10. yoyo


    Nov 9, 2006
    The Netherlands
    I found the 17-55 to be too big and too heavy. I sold it and kept the 17-35. IMHO the 17-35 is a better perfomer overall. Handling included.
  11. big_jon


    Jul 14, 2007
    Just to throw another curveball, someone in my area is selling an "alright" condition 28-70 2.8 for a very reasonable price, slightly less than a new 12-24DX. So i could sell my 18-200 and add USD350 to get it, would this be a smooth move?

    How does the 28-70 (or the BEAST as many guys here have dubbed it :biggrin:)  stack up to against the 17-55?
  12. I think "nykonian" just sold his 28-70 in favor of the 17-55...you might want to PM him.

    I used the 28-70 for a little bit before I bought my 17-55, and it is definitely a beast...I found the 17-55 a little better balanced for me. That said, I do wish I had the extra reach of the 28-70, as I hardly ever shoot at 17.
  13. Yes it is really that good, the question is do you dhoot mainly 18 to 60mm with the 18-200 or 70mm or more?

    Edward has made a great suggestion, the 35/D2 prime to add to the 18-200 however this said the 17-55 is that good, I had an 18-200 and sold it a while back, great lens and I had great results with it (I will certainly buy another one in the future)

    This said the 17-55 is a true keeper a little like the 85/1.4

    Click here to see some images captured with the 17-55/2.8: A few Pictures Taken with it this weekend
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  14. big_jon


    Jul 14, 2007
    hmmm... good food for thought there. I already have a 50 1.8 and a newly acquired 105VR, i thought with the 105 i wouldnt have to worry about telephoto needs as 100mm is usually the max i will go the majority of the time.

    In Malaysia 35 f2's don't come by used often, when they do they are quickly snapped up. I do not feel they are "that" cheap in the big picture, almost a fifth the cost of the 17-55 or a third of the 12-24.

    But i do like the extra light feeling of detaching my D80's battery grip and walking around with just the body + 50 1.8, love the simplicity combined with portability.

    if one were to put it into a percentile (if possible), how much more noticably better is the 17-55's IQ in comparison to:

    50 1.8
  15. Based on my limited experience I would say the 17-55 has 500% better IQ(totally unscientific) than the 18-200 this said I am left wanting for more reach with the 17-55/2.8 as such yes better IQ but limited reach I now have to zoom with my feet a lot more...

    Now the 50/1.8 is tack sharp and has probably better IQ than the 17-55 but the 50 has no zoom capability and is not weather proof, heck I even think the 50/1.8 is a hair's width above the 50/1.4 in term of IQ wide open up t'ill 2.8 ... But what do I know.

    I now wish I still had the 50/1.8 and the 18-200 to go along with the 17-55 but it is not to be, in regards to the 105vr... I wouldn't know never had one or even tried one of course I could pull a "Ken Rockwell" and tell you something about it but... That's just not me.

    In the end it comes down to what you shoot, I can hand hold and shoot 1/8 of a sec and sometimes 1/6 of a sec without camera shake as such the 17-55 will work wonders indoors for me as long as I have a static subject.

    On a bright sunny day at F6 or F7 I would be hard press, for what I do, to say which lens between the 18-200 and 17-55 takes better images truth be told however I shoot in the city mainly where there are a lot of shadows and having the extra wide 2.8 aperture on a lens makes a world of difference to me for the style of shooting I do hence I find the 17-55 500% better than the 18-200 for me for what I do but I could pull it off with the 18-200 no problemo.

    At one point it comes down to using the equipment we have and pull everything we can out of it and once we master it then, maybe, let's try something more expensive, rated "pro" and see what kind of images I can get with it... That's where I am.

    This said I can live without an 18-200 dunno if I could live without a 17-55, by the way hold on to that 50/1.8 - some of the best images I ever took were with a 50/1.8 :biggrin:

    P.S.: But then again there is something to be said about an 11X zoom lens ...
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 24, 2007
  16. Nuteshack

    Nuteshack Guest

    killer lens, Dude....and u certainly know how to work it...;-))
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  17. nykonian


    May 4, 2007
    New York
    Yes, I just sold 28-70/2.8 which I love so much. It's slightly better than 17-55 quality-wise, but 17-55 fits my shooting style better. As I said before, I might regret about this one but I know I can always buy another one if needed. :)  After all, it's just a matter of shooting style and personal preference. Either lens is just about as good as it can get for a zoom.
  18. Hi Jon,

    I echo what Frank says and would add the following. I have been using Nikon equipment for the last thirty years and have never been truly happy with 3rd party lenses. I own the 18-200, the 12-24 and the 17-55 and have also given much thought as to if I want to keep the 18-200. First, I find the 17-55 to be a superb and very sharp lens; the cost (besides actual dollars and cents) is that it is heavy, has no VR and the benefit is f2.8, making it very bright with great bokeh. It’s a great lens for landscapes and general walk-around photography, however it often does not have quite enough telephoto for me. Accordingly, I will often use it in conjunction with the 70-200 VR f2.8 (a great 1-2 punch, but a heavy combination) when hiking or walking around the arboretum. Lastly, I find the 18-200 to be a bit soft; although the convenience of it’s 11:1 zoom range compensates for it being a little soft and the 18-200 is a great lens for me to take to work and keep on the ambulance when working as a paramedic. The VR is a great function on the 18-200, but it will not let you shoot at a faster shutter speed as a f2.8 lens would. Therefore, I would consider how you intend on using the lens and suggest keeping the 18-200 and shopping for a used 17-55. Buying quality used Nikkor lenses is almost always a safe investment because you should be able to sell them for close to what you paid for them, assuming that you treat your equipment well.

  19. I am one of those who had the 17-55 and sold it to get a 28-70 2.8. I also have an 18-200 and a 70-200vr. All of these lenses are excellent lenses and it really comes down to your shooting style. I like to zoom more than go wide. For the little times I go wide, I use the 18-200 (I wouldn't sell as it is very flexible and convenient). My own personal exprience, I noticed that the regular lenses (not DX) seem to be sharper than the DX lenses. I love the 28-70 and the 70-200. I put up with the inconvenience of carrying 2 bodies rather than one body with the 18-200 on it.

    My 2 cents.
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