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Different Lens Manufacturers vs. Nikon

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Fallys, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. Fallys


    Apr 27, 2008
    Ottawa, Canada
    This may have been debated previously, and I'm sorry if it has, and it might just take some time on Ken Rockwell's site or dpreview for the real answers, but here is my question:

    If you do not have aspirations (right now) of going pro or semi-pro, but want to really jump into the "hobby", how much greater is Nikon glass than 3rd party glass in comparison to the price differences?

    I once read a post from someone that said "I bought Nikon for the Nikon glass." How true is this, and are the various 3rd party lenses compatible with say, a D700? If my goal is to own good glass first and build up to a D700, I'll want compatible glass.

    I'd love to be a Nikon "snob" and only have Nikon pieces in my bag, but if I can have twice or 3 times as many lenses because I'm spending less than half of the price on comparable quality lenses, I think we know what my choice would be! :) 

    Also, I find that VR helps me exponentially, as I've always had less than sturdy hands with pictures. How reliable and comparable are 3rd party VR (Sigma's OS for example)? If I'm going to be frustrated by the results, I might as well just save for a VR equivalent.

    Thanks for responding,
  2. Nikkor AIS

    Nikkor AIS

    Jun 5, 2008
    Hey Canuck: I feel that to answer your question you must experience some classic Nikkor AIS for your self, hands on so to speak. Sorry No VR for those. I hear tripods still work good:tongue:. Seperating the man from the glass in this world puts you miles away from that, which you seek. Get your hands on a D3/F4 and a fast prime and "feel" what can not be spoken. Look through the veiwfinder and see what can not be discribed. It is only than you will find what you seek.

  3. cotdt


    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    some 3rd party lenses match or exceed the equivalent Nikkor, and some 3rd party lenses have no Nikkor equivalent at all. that said, typically Nikkor lenses are indeed superior, especially for FX. I feel like Nikkor's DX lenses leave a lot of gaps though, and are nothing special.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 5, 2008
  4. Fally, I think there are many reasonable 3rd party lenses to work with. I think the VR capabilities of the Tamron and Sigma work very well. Sigma has been better able to integrate ultrasonic motors than Tamron. I am more of a Sigma fan, but that is more of a personal issue than anything else Sigma also has a fuller lineup). That said, if your eventual goal is the D700 then you will want the best glass possible and will need to research accordingly. No easy answers there. The FX Nikkors are excellent, and, mostly beat out the third party lenses, although in some particular comparisons, the advantages are slight and may not outweigh the cost differential. As you think to acquire a lens, do your research (photozone and slrgear provide good reviews - there are many other sites to consult) and figure out what works best for you at the time, and also with an eye to the future. Good luck!
  5. I think it is a balance of what you want to do and what you want to spend. I found myself shooting in very low light environments and went with the more expensive Nikon lenses - never regretted it. I have bought a couple third party (one Tamron and one Sigma) and not been overwhelmed with the results - perhaps I was spoiled. But, last weekend I had the chance at a workshop sponsored by Tamron to use their 28-300 VC (their version of VR) and the 180mm macro... macro tended to 'hunt' a lot and although the 28-300 was nice - I just have gotten used to constant aperture zooms... But I do know a pro who shoots exclusively with Tamron and speaks very highly of their glass.
  6. Wileec

    Wileec Guest

    It's about balance and priorities. Each lens has to be evaluated for it's own merit or lack thereof. It also depends on how deep your pockets are. If money isn't much of a problem, then you can afford to stick with Nikon, but you may be shooting with fewer lenses and missing some great lenses made by other makers.

    One example: the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 is around one-third the cost of the closest Nikon equivalent, yet for most shooters is nearly identical in what can be captured.

    At the end of the day, it comes down to both short and long term goals. Glass is the lifetime investment, but waiting to afford only the best glass may limit the picture taking you want/intend to do in the present. Taking pictures is about the best way to get better at taking pictures, so it makes sense to choose carefully - wisely and improve the glass, as you have the skill to make the most of it. Be great if we all could just choose the best glass available for the kinds of shots we want to take - but for very few is that an option, so it's about making the most of each lens and building ones kit wisely.

  7. All of the major third parties - meaning Sigma, Tamron, Tokina and especially Zeiss - make some excellent glass. Some of it is pretty much as good as anything Nikon makes, and in some cases people often think that the third party glass is better. This would especially be true of Zeiss, although each of the others has at least a few that fall into this category too.

    Sometimes the reason for going with a third party is absolute quality, for example the Zeiss 100/f2 Makro.

    Sometimes the reason for going with a third party is that Nikon doesn't make a product in that space, for example the Sigma 4.5mm DX circular fisheye, the 120-300/f2.8, 800/f5.6 or the 30/f1.4 DX, to say nothing of the 200-500/f2.8.

    Sometimes the reason for going with a third party is purely price/performance, for example the Sigma 150/f2.8 HSM vs the Nikkor 200/f4 macros. Arguably the Nikkor is "better" but there's no doubting that the Sigma is about half the price, focuses more quickly - and is still one of the top lenses available. Many folks say similar things comparing the Tamron 90/f2.8 or Tokina 100/f2.8 to Nikkor 105/f2.8 Micro, especially the older non-VR version. Especially for those with only occasional requirements for f/2.8, the Sigma 24-60/f2.8 gives even the Nikkor 24-70/f2.8 a good run for its money, at least in the sharpness category - and it costs 80% less.

    And of course any of these things might go Nikon's way too. There is no such thing as an independent 400/f2.8, 200/f2 or 200-400/f4; the Nikkor 16-85VR doesn't really have a competitor, and the 14-24/f2.8 is pretty obviously better than anything we've seen in a Nikon mount by a good margin (although one has to wonder about the new Zeiss 21/f2.8).
  8. 3rd party lenses will vary with regard to optical, image-forming 'quality', as has been stated, from sub-par to better-than-Nikon. If you made a numeric count, most would be sub-par, sub-Nikon to varying degrees. In terms of mechanical construction quality, which has direct bearing on how long(in years, or even decades!) the lens is going to last, few, except for Zeiss, are better built. The very worst ones will fall apart in your hands after moderate use.
    Try to find the 'good ones' that have nice imaging qualities AND are mechanically well made.
  9. Don't forget that some of the Nikons will fall apart, with some use too. I think that many of the lower-grade Nikkors are less well built than the lower-grade Sigmas, for example. (Case in point: the 18-200VR and 18-200OS.) The higher-grade Nikkors are close to bulletproof, though.

    > If you made a numeric count, most would be sub-par, sub-Nikon

    I generally agree with the sub-Nikon, although I suspect the difference is less than overwhelming.

    However, I disagree on the sub-par, if what you mean by that term is "not good enough to do the job." There are very few - if any, actually - of the current production from any of the vendors in question - Nikon, Zeiss, Sigma, Tamron, Tokina - that can't make a really good 11x14 print, and frankly that's all most of us need. A great example is the 18-200VR, which at the long end is clearly not as good as many other lenses. But it's still good enough to make a pretty nice print.
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