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17-55 vs. 28-70

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Pa, May 5, 2007.

  1. I can't get the 18-200VR off of my wife's camera these days, and she does get some wonderful shots with it. Thus I am left with my newest acquisitions: 12-24/4 and 70-300VR. That leaves a big hole in the middle.

    My principal photo interests are landscapes and flowers, so I'm about 90% convinced that my next purchase should be the 17-55/2.8.

    Does anyone think I'd be better served with the legendary 28-70? It does cover the "hole" better :wink: .

    p.s. whichever one I decide on, it will probably stay on my camera 80-90% of the time.
  2. Falter


    Feb 26, 2006
    It depends a bit on your shooting habits and many probably will say 'get the 17-55' but I say:

    You already have a 12-24, get the 28-70! A marvellous lens and the longer reach is good for portraits. I have both and I have it on my cam most of the time.
  3. Jim
    It would be hard to beat either one of them but with your lens line up I would opt for the 28-70. There is hardly anyhing I can think of that it is not good at.
  4. RexRoy


    Jan 4, 2006
    New York
    ditto on what the two gentlemen above have stated and suggested.
  5. Actually, I have heard that many landscape photographers prefer the 17-35.... In your situation, though, I'd go for the 28-70, as it is such a versatile and wonderfully sharp lens. "The Beast" is one of my favorite lenses.
  6. People seem to regard "landscape" and "wide angle" as synonyms, but, just as in the case of "portrait", there are diifferent styles, each calling for different focal lengths. One of our forum mates, Randy Forshey, is a successful professional landscaper, and he's comments very favorably on the 28-70. In fact, he was extolling its virtues quite recently on this thread:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  7. Thank you all for your advice. I'm surprised at the unanimity of opinion!

    Here are my reasons for leaning toward the 17-55:

    1) 17mm vs. 28mm on the wide end. I really think it would force me to swap out for the 12-24 much more often, and I hate lens changes in the field.

    2) The 28-70 is 10% longer and nearly 25% heavier. It would be a bit of a load for a walk-around lens.

    3) Price. Isn't the 28-70 about $300 more?

    p.s. (added in edit) I find that the price difference is only $235, hardly significant in this price range.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2007
  8. cadman


    Dec 4, 2006
    Johns Creek, GA
    a dissenting vote

    I love my 17-55. The main thing I am sold on is the range for the 1.5 crop factor. I use the 17-28 range ALOT and when I need more reach than the 55, I reach for the 70-200.

    I don't put much stock in "overlap or gap" in focal length... it's which lens suits you're style. I love that extra 17-28 f2.8 lens I get with the 17-55 and I have no problem with my "gap" when I have to go to the 70-200. As far as IQ, AF, and build quality; I saw no difference between the two.

    Just my fairly uneducated opinion.
  9. I tend to agree with you; in fact you are reflecting my thoughts almost exactly. Of course, I've never used either lens, so can't speak from experience.

    On the other hand, I could just a buy an 18-70, fill the gap completely, and save some money.
  10. cadman


    Dec 4, 2006
    Johns Creek, GA
    I really had great results with my 18-70!

    It now stays on the D40. It is a wonderful lens. For the price it is hard to beat. When the price of the 18-200 drops, I will replace it on the D40. However, I sold my original 18-200 because all it did was add FL to my 18-70 and I wanted more.

    I used the sale to push me into the world of pro glass. Wow, what a difference (or mistake if you look at the bank statement). There is no comparison in build quality, auto focus performance, low light capabilities, etc., etc.

    IQ differences are subtle but definitive and the feel of the 17-55, 28-70, 70-200, is sooo nice and confidence inspiring.

    Oh well, I made my choice. I could never go back.

    Before my new glass I was an occassion photographer. I loved taking pics but it was all around something else taking place. Now, I love to grab my little kit and go shoot.

    Maybe one day I will capture images worthy of my equipment. For now, the money was well spent as an anti-depressent without the need for prescription. I'm sure that prosac and zolaf, etc. are probably expensive enough that I could figure out a relatively short amortization of my photo indulgences.

    I like the sound of this... could be another lust justified.... maybe 85 1.4?
  11. On your first point, I think you are dead on the money. At first blush the 12-24 / 28-70 / 70-200 seems the *perfect* setup and, in a manner of speaking, it is perfect. The trilogy was my intended first 3 lenses until the 17-55 came along and muddied up the water. If you are doing "general purpose" or "walk-around" (whatever that is) shooting, I believe you would wear your mount out swapping from the 12-24 to the 28-70 and back. I know I would. I attended a street arts fair last weekend and was basically just snap-shooting or "general purpose" like on vacation. Of the shots I took with my 17-55 (I carried it and the 70-200), 74% of them were wider than 28MM. That seems to be the case most every outing unless it's a people only shoot.

    On your second point, I believe you would get used to whichever you choose. That said, the thing that makes the difference between the two is the barrel diameter close to the cam body. The 17-55 is a good bit smaller in diameter from the zoom ring back to the body and that makes it easier to handle.

    On your third point, once it is paid for the difference becomes moot.

    Obviously I like the 17-55 (a LOT) but I will say your decision should be intended use based. Nothing -- absolutely NOTHING -- beats the 17-55 as a general purpose, walk-around, and event/PJ lens. The 17-55 does a good job on landscapes but is topped by the 17-35 in that venue. The 28-70 is a far better "people" lens than the 17-55 due primarily to the extra focal length. The combo of the 12-24 and 28-70 would be a better "general purpose" set than the single 17-55 if only because sometimes 17 isn't wide enough but you WOULD be changing lenses like crazy -- many of my shots seem to fall between 18 and 35MM for some reason -- and there is the weight of the two to consider.

    At the end of the day there will be compromise whatever you choose. Take a hard look at your intended use in an attempt to minimize that compromise.

  12. That's why I decided for it too. I am a prime lenses person, but the 17-55 is the lens for the 1 camera / 1 lens combo (if you prefer not changing lenses).
  13. That's very true, Jordan. It's an easy matter to choose other lenses that will do a better job when you have a specific use in mind but there is NO lens that does a better job at *everything* than the 17-55. Since I have always been a telephoto kind of guy, getting a wider zoom was a rather fortuitous choice for me that has worked out VERY well. Others might be better served by a different lens but for me the 17-55 was the perfect choice. Although I think I want others, the 17-55 has kept me from having to buy any other lens in the range, prime or zoom. There have also been several thirrd party pretenders to the crown that, while nice lenses in their own right, can't come close to the 17-55 in build or image quality. As of this point in time, it's a one horse race.

  14. Glad to hear a few folks weigh in on the other side of the argument, and to find that some others think like I do.
  15. Jim,

    I'll weigh in on the 17-55 side too. Exactly for the same reasons as Phil Y. If I had to pick a single lens for all my photography (i.e. not knowing in advance what I'd be shooting), it would be the 17-55 hands down.

    Theses days, when going out with a single lens, I either pick a prime (manual focus 28/2 or 35/1.4, or AF 35/2 or 50/1.4) when I want to concentrate on image taking, or the 17-55 as a general purpose lens, particularly at event (parties, etc...). When the light is good (i.e. on a sunny day), I may also go out with the 24-120VR on a smaller body, D70. The 24-120VR is is similar to your (wife's :eek: :wink:)  18-200VR, but with a much shorter zoom range, so you already know how comforting it is to handle everything with such a lens.

    The best 2 lens combo is 17-55 + 70-200, IMHO: your 70-300VR will serve you well as a second member of that 2 lens team! The 12-24 does a nice job to complement the pair, but it would be a real pain (to me) to switch lenses all the time, between a 12-24 and a 28-70. In many cases, I would mostly stick to one end or the other of whatever zoom is on my camera at the time, yielding less than optimal captures...
  16. gadgetguy11


    Nov 16, 2005
    17-55 all the way. Philippe (and others) said it well. I own both. The 17-55 stays on one body all of the time. The 28-70 gets occasional use.
  17. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Jim :

    Have a look at the shots that you've taken with the 12-24mm. If the vast majority are in the 17mm+ range, the 17-55mm will probably do the job. OTOH, if there are a substantial number in the 12-14mm range, it won't. I probably shoot something like a third of my photos with the 12-24mm lens at the wider end.

    Personally, I'd rather have the WA capability and change lenses, than otherwise. The wider aperture of the 17-55mm wouldn't make much difference in my WA shooting, frankly, as I tend to stop down for better DOF; and when I'm shooting at (somewhat) longer FLs, I really enjoy the IQ of either the 28-70mm or the 35-70mm f/2.8 lenses. The latter, BTW, is an extremely affordable lens compared with the 17-55mm and the 28-70mm f.28 lenses, as well as having fairly decent macro capability - a greatly underappreciated lens in the Nikon lens line.

    The "One Lens to Rule Them All" concept is a neat one, but in my experience, it always comes with some substantial compromises. The best and most palatable set of compromises for me came with the 24-120mm AFS/VR lens, where I could stow the camera and lens in a bag easily, not be as obtrusive as a lens like the 18-200mm VR/AFS, and get real flexibility in shooting in a city context for a pretty good price on the lens.

    YMMV, of course... :wink:

    John P.
  18. I own both and I can tell you the 17-55dx stays mounted on my camera most of the time.

    Either choice will give you a quality setup.
  19. This is an interesting statement. Why do you hate changing lenses in the field? I've been shooting for 20 years and it never crossed my mind to avoid changing lenses, unless I was in a dust storm or some other adverse conditions.
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