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Best 3rd Party Manufacturer: Sigma, Tamron, Tokina

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by paulskimcb, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. Sigma

    39 vote(s)
  2. Tamron

    21 vote(s)
  3. Tokina

    13 vote(s)
  4. Other (non-Zeiss, please specify)

    3 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. paulskimcb


    Feb 12, 2007
    In your experience, which of the 3rd Party manufacturers produces the best lenses. I am regularly impressed with reviews I read for Tokina lenses, though they seem to produce fewer lenses than the opther two and generally get less press/shelf space.

    And I know that "best" is subjective: obviously, build quality and optics spring to mind, but also QC, maybe design uniqueness, etc.

    What have been the experiences of people in dealing with these 3rd Party lens manfacturers?

    Thanks in advance for your input,

    P.S.: I am excluding Zeiss from the above discussion, as their lenses seem more directed at a specialty market...
  2. My vote goes to Tamron. I never owned a Toki, so can't say anything about it. However, I have owned Siggys before, and had to get rid of them.
  3. For pure optical nouse, I'd have to say Tamron.
  4. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    Tamron have made some cracking lenses recently (90mm Macro, 17-50, 70-200), so I have to say they're the best. However Sigma are making big inroads, especially with their new 30mm and 50mm primes which are in a league of their own (for Nikon F).
  5. Phillip Ino

    Phillip Ino

    Nov 26, 2007
    I have one of each and I love them all :biggrin:
  6. thebac


    Jul 23, 2007
    Specialty: Zeiss probably, considering that they're a rather atypical third-party manufacturer, selling lenses at a premium compared to Nikon counterparts, with better build and often better optics.

    Between S/T/T, it's clearly Sigma for me.

    Tokina lenses are always superbly built, and the optics are sometimes great as well (the 12-24, 11-16, and the older 28-70/2.6-2.8 are all highly regarded).

    Tamron optics are sometimes great and often on par with the Nikon counterpart (see the 28-75, 17-50, 90, 180, the new 70-200, even their 17-35), but the build isn't all that.

    However, neither has anything like Sigma's HSM (or Nikon's AF-S), and both of their lens selections are quite lacking. In addition, I consider Tamrons to be rather poorly built (probably not all of them, but I had a bad experience with a 17-50).

    Sigma, on the other hand, has many different lenses. In fact, you could get by on Sigma lenses alone if you wanted to. They often fill gaps and come up with new innovative lenses (granted, Tokina's 11-16 and the 10-17 are also quite innovative) such as their ultrawide 12-24 (on FX), the Bigma, the so-called Sigmonster, the 30/1.4, the DX circular fisheye, and the list goes on and on.

    Of course they also make some duds, but both their variety and the sheer number of good to great lenses makes them, IMO, the best third-party manufacturer.
  7. RainyDays


    Aug 19, 2008
    Annapolis, MD
    I have all Sigma lenses now. Have had some duds in the past but the newer EX lenses are great. I recently purchased a 120-300mm f2.8--it is a big piece of glass but great images result!
  8. Hokum


    Jun 20, 2006
    Pennines UK
    Sigma, no one else makes a lens like the 500mm f4.5 EX
  9. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    I think its a toss up

    each maker has a few great lenses, and a few stinkers

    right now it seems Sigma is in tune with what holes are in the Nikon line up, and beating them to market
  10. Glaudus


    Aug 6, 2008
    Sigma or Tokina

    I like some Sigma EX lens (10-20, 150mm macro).
    Nice build and excellent optics.

    Tokina's lens are probably the most solid (I have the 16-50 and had before the 12-24). Build is superb and optics are very nice but they tend to suffer from CA.

    I do not like the build quality of Tamron even if they have some great optics (17-50, 28-75, 90mm macro).

    Zeiss is for me clearly above the three others.

    It is of course a personal opinion.

  11. I'm a big fan of all of the 3rd parties and have owned all at one point in time. That said, for putting together an entire system, Sigma offers equivalents to nearly everything Nikkor offers as well as filling holes where they do not have an offering. HSM also puts them a step above Tamron and Tokina in terms of comprehensive competition to Nikkor.

    Tokina's build quality is amazing, sometimes surpassing Nikkor, but their best built normal zooms (both the 16-50/2.8 DX and 28-80/2.8 FX) seem to have consistent sharpness and front/backfocus issues. On the other end of the spectrum, Tamron's optics tend to be stellar while lacking in the build quality department. Sigma seems to offer a solid balance with a wider selection and the addition of HSM.

    The main reason I moved to Sigma EX zooms was due to Nikkor's lack of f/4 prosumer zooms. There seems to be a large gap in their consumer zooms and their pro lenses... it's either fairly inexpensive variable apertures or expensive constant f/2.8s, but nothing in between. VR options can go so far to close the gap but doesn't fill it in all sittuations... a 16-85mm or 24-120mm f/4 would have far greater appeal to me than the variable-aperture VR versions that are offered. For this reason, I've taken up Sigma f/2.8 zooms as the value-oriented middle-ground between consumer zooms and pro Nikkors... and it's a very good middle-ground to be in.
  12. InLimbo87


    Jul 30, 2008
    Orlando, Fl
    Tamron just doesn't have an acronym for it, but I know the 17-50mm f/2.8 and several others have a built-in motor.
  13. thebac


    Jul 23, 2007
    I'm referring to the true AF-S/HSM, with manual focus override (i.e., not the AF-S in the 18-55/18-135/55-200).

    The micro-motor in the Tamron 17-50 (and I believe their new 28-300) is not that powerful and doesn't offer FTM.
  14. Tamron does have a micro-motor, but it's the ring type found in low-end Nikkor AFS lenses like 18-55mm, 55-200mm, and 18-135mm as well as non-USM Canon lenses (don't all Canon lenses require AT LEAST this type of motor?). HSM is an ultrasonic motor like higher-end Nikkor AFS lenses and Canon USM lenses.
  15. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    Not all HSM lenses are ultrasonic either. All of the lenses that have had it bolted on afterwards (18-50mm f/2.8, 55-200mm, 17-70, etc.) don't have ultrasonic and is the cheaper and poorer ring type.

    Ring type AF offers no real advantage over screw driven, infact in many cases its slower and you still don't have manual override, just compatibility with the D40, D40x and D60.
  16. The point is Sigma does have an ultra-sonic motor offering and it appears in most of their best lenses (10-20, 12-24, 30/1.4, 50/1.4, 50-150/2.8, 70-200/2.8, 100-300/4, 120-300/2.8, etc). Tamron and Tokina have no ultra-sonic motor offering.
  17. cleoent


    Dec 21, 2007
    San Jose, Ca
    Build quality - sigma

    Image quality - tammy/tokina both have great optics

    Focus speed/compatibility - sigma, their HSM in my limited experience is just as fast as nikon's AFS

    Availability and selection - Sigma

    I did choose tamron though, because i love my 17-50 so much :) 
  18. weiran


    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    Yeah, although the 18-50mm f/2.8 doesn't which is a shame, as optically its almost as good as the Tamron. I found the HSM in the 12-24 to be fairly slow, although it doesn't really matter as much in an ultrawide. The Nikkor 12-24 has the fastest AF out of all the ultrawides. The 30mm also has fairly slow HSM focusing, and none of them are as fast as the Tamron 17-50mm screw-driven AF on a D80+ class camera.

    I wish Tamron would create their own AF-S motor to put on the 70-200 though, it's sorely missing as optically its one of the best out there.
  19. paulskimcb


    Feb 12, 2007
    Wow! Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I'm a bit surprised that Sigma ran away as it did, tho'...
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