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3rd party lenses- sigma, tamron, etc

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by hahnphoto, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. hahnphoto


    May 21, 2007
    Which 3rd party lenses are good, not so good, etc or is it all relative? I hear some good reviews about tamron but haven't heard much good about sigma. The big sigma zoom lens I have is very soft. I have a sigma super wide angle that is decent. I am thinking about getting some tamron lenses instead? Of course my nikkors are my favorites, but sometimes too heavy to carry.
  2. eng45ine


    May 11, 2005
    Chicago, IL
    Hi Heather,

    I think that it is generally safe to recommend Sigma, Tokina and Tamron lenses. I would have no problem purchasing any of these three brands with my first choice being Sigma. As with every recommendation that I give, spend every penny on camera equipment that you can safely afford. I say this because buyer's remorse is very unpleasant.
  3. SP77


    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    I think you have to judge on a case by case basis. Heck I've even heard that in some cases a lens is good if it was built in one place, but not so great if it was built in another. Don't forget Tokina. Their 12-24mm will probably be my next purchase, and I'm also waiting on some reviews of their 16-50 f/2.8 which is just coming on the market.
  4. Jeff Lee

    Jeff Lee

    May 16, 2006
    I have a Tamron 90 among my Nikkors, and it might be the sharpest of all. Light but tough and all in all a lens I love.
  5. There are several sites which review the various lenses made by most manufacturers(Nikon,Canon, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina. etc....)

    There is a fair amount of individual differences that occur between different lenses from the same manufacturer and in fact even with different samples of the same lens. I think it's best to read the various reviewers to see what feedback they have on the lenses you are interested in then test the one(s) you buy to validate that you have an acceptable quality one. This implies that you have the opportunity to easily get a refund if you are not satisfied. (Good camera shops will stand by this refundability if done within their stated return policy deadline).

    Uncle Frank has recently posted a list of most of the places you can get lens reviews (from a Nikon lens perspective). Suggest you search his recent posts.
  6. I am sure there are fine products out there from these manufacturers and there are plenty of reasons for considering them. I own a Tokina 12-24f4 and a Sigma 30f1.4 as well as a few Nikkor lenses and I think that they are great. The sample variation might be a little larger in a third-party lens, but the ones that I have make me very happy.
  7. There's also the matter that nearly all of the vendors offer multiple product families. The professional-grade ones (Sigma EX, Tamron SP, Tokina ATX) are usually very good indeed, and often are similar to their Nikon counterparts. Some of them are arguably better than their Nikon counterparts.

    On the other hand, Nikon also make some consumer-grade glass, and it's pretty safe to pick a Sigma/Tamron/Tokina pro lens over a Nikon consumer lens. I can't think of a circumstance where anyone would pick a Sigma/Tamron/Tokina consumer lens over a Nikon professional lens other than price, weight or bulk.

    And then there's Zeiss... they only make top-flight lenses, but they are expen$ive and manual focus only. And even more expensive than Nikkors - sometimes considerably so. Whether or not any particular Zeiss ZF lens is better than its Nikon counterpart, it's at least going to give a good account of itself.
  8. I think it really depends on the lens and the company, I've used/owned a variety from the 3 big ones (Tamron, Tokina, Sigma):

    Tamron - their 90mm Macros are among the best and easily rivals the 105 Nikkor Micro, can't say the same about their zooms though - used a 28-105 F2.8 and it was heavy, bulky, hard to handle, slow to focus, and very unsharp.

    Sigma - They have a good technology lead (non-optics wise) being the other other company other than Nikon/Canon to have UltraSonic motors and VR/IS/OS technology in their lenses. Their 70-200 HSM is almost as good as the 80-200 AF-S Nikon for about half the price when bought used.

    Tokina - very awesome zooms (28-70 F2.8, 12-24 F4), sharp lenses with industrial strength construction similar to Nikon. But then, what else would you expect from a company found by a group of maverick Nikon engineers back in the 70s :) 
  9. catspj


    May 16, 2007
    New England

    I agree. I have an assortment of Sigma and Nikon and a Tamron lens. Some I love and others not.

    The lens I like the best are no longer made
    Sigma 180 5.6 Macro bought it used and have been using it for over 6 yrs.
    Tamron 200-400 f5.6 ( had to send it in to reset the focus- now works fine)

    Some of my other Sigmas are nothing to write home about but when I bought them I did so because Nikon didn't yet make the lens I wanted or the cost was way out of my range.
    I just wish that someone would make a good 400 f4 with image stabilization for Nikon. I can't afford an f2.8 A friend has a Sigma one for Canon but, to my knowledge, none is made for Nikon.
  10. randyr5


    Jan 14, 2006
    I have a Tamron 17-50/2.8 that is razor sharp - a wonderful lens.
  11. Not all of the big Sigma zooms are soft. This is from the Sigma 50-500, f/8 (ie stopped down a half-stop):

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    This would be sharper (a little bit, anyway) if it hadn't have been so hot - as it is you can see a lot of heat haze rising off the track to the right. It was somewhere over 90 when I shot this and I'd guess the track temperature to be in the vicinity of 150...

    It does pretty well with spectators, too:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    And it doesn't even choke on Canon stuff:

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  12. When I had my D70 I purchased the Tamron 18-200mm lens. When Nikon finally came out with theirs, I promptly bought it and compared the two. Shortly thereafter the Tamron went out the door and I sold it, as there was a noticeable difference in IQ and of course the Nikon also had the advantage of the VR.
  13. patrickh41

    patrickh41 Guest

    There are plenty of third party lenses that can rival the nikkors in certain focal lengths. For example - nikkors are great on macro, but try the offerings from Tokina, Tamron, and Sigma new, or older lenses from Vivitar, Tokina, Tamron, Kiron, Lester Dine. Similarly, the Cosina made Voigtlander lenses are great as are the newer Zeiss lenses from the same manufacturer (albeit very expensive). Plenty of options out there worth looking at. However, the very great strength of the nikkors is the incredibly consistent color and contrast rendition between all the lenses.
  14. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    I've found this to be quite the opposite, my Nikon 12-24, 18-70 (sold) and 70-300VR (sold) had very different characteristics. The 18-70DX was rather uncontrasty wide open and gave quite muted colours, the 12-24 is very contrasty and gives bold, saturated colours (my personaly preference). The 70-300VR fell in between the two.

    Infact, if I didn't have the Nikkor 12-24, I would be using a completely 3rd party lens set :smile:, the Tamron 17-50 is an amazing lens if you have a good Japan made copy like mine, sharper than the Nikkor 17-55DX (see the MTF graphs on photozone) but the same size and weight as the 18-70DX. The Sigma 70-200 matches the 80-200 AF-D on IQ and price and beats it in AF speed, which is quite important as I mainly shoot sports with it. Saved me paying for the rather overpriced 80-200 AF-S.

    Other notable 3rd party lenses are the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 (for which Nikon has equivilent in production), Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8, Tamron 90mm Macro (one of the sharpest lenses around) and Tokina 12-24mm.
  15. Third party I have owned or used enough to be able to recommend them without reservation:
    (in no particular order)
    Sigma EX 12-24/4-5.6
    Tamron SP 90/2.8 Macro
    Sigma EX 150/2.8 Macro
    Tokina 12-24/4-5.6
    Sigma EX 24-60/2.8
    Sigma EX 24-70/2.8
    Sigma EX 28/1.8
    Sigma EX 20/1.8
    Sigma EX 70-200/2.8
    Sigma EX 120-300/2.8
    Sigma EX 70/2.8 Macro
    Sigma EX 10-20/4-5.6
  16. mematsu


    May 2, 2007
    los angeles
    The ones I've owned or own....

    10-20 sigma
    12-24 tokina
    28-75 tamron
    30 1.4 sigma - I really like this one:smile:
    90 tamron

    All excellent!
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