Roundup: Third-party Lenses for Enthusiasts

Between them, third-party lens manufacturers offer a sizable array of optics, some of which compete squarely with models from major manufacturers while others fill a void of some kind within their ranges. By undercutting their bigger rivals in price while ensuring their products are competitively specified, these manufacturers’ lenses are an attractive option not only for budget-conscious novices, but enthusiasts and professionals, too. And, by occasionally trading away certain functionality for a significant proportion of the asking price, they’ve played a vital part in democratizing access to more exotic optics.

Here, we've examined ten of the most interesting third-party lenses on the market, arranged broadly by type, from wide-angle and standard zooms, through macro and prime lenses and ending with telephoto zooms. This article is not intended to be comprehensive, (we don't cover telephoto primes for example, or extreme telephoto zooms) and nor is it a review, per se. Where a lens has been tested by dpreview, we've included relevant observations and a link to the full review.

All pricing information is 'street' rather than MSRP, and where minor price variations exist between versions of the same lens, a representative average is given. Please note that if you click the 'check price / buy now' links you may still be a couple of clicks away from seeing purchase details for the lens mount that you're looking for.

The lenses: (click to jump straight to each lens)

Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm F2.8 DX

A short focal range maybe, but Tokina's AT-X Pro 11-16mm F2.8 DX offers a large constant F2.8 aperture

Tokina caters particularly well for wide-angle aficionados, and while this optic offers a narrower focal length range than its immediate competitors it has the advantage of a constant F2.8 maximum aperture. Indeed, Tokina’s reasoning for the lens’s short zoom range is that this upholds optical performance when used at its widest apertures.

The lens is only compatible with the cropped-sensor DSLR offerings from Canon, Nikon and Sony, where its equivalent focal length is closer to 18-26mm for owners of the former and 17-25mm for those using the latter two systems. Its reach ends, therefore, quite neatly at the point where most standard kit lenses begin theirs.

In addition to the multi-layer coatings on the lens’s internal elements, a water-repellant optical coating applied to the front element is designed to help keep water droplets from forming on the glass. Other features of note include an internal focusing system, as well as a One Touch Focus Clutch mechanism which allows the focusing ring to be easily snapped back and forth to alternate between auto and manual focusing operation.

An alternative wide zoom option from Tokina is the AT-X Pro SD 12-24mm F4 (IF) DX, a superb performer with excellent sharpness and low distortion characteristics. Since its release it has been updated with a Mark II version, which makes use of new optical coatings and is primarily aimed at Nikon users whose DX-format bodies lack their own focusing motor - elsewhere the two lenses are virtually identical. Another option, this time courtesy of Sigma, is the Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM, which by comparison to the Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm F2.8 DX trades a little of its maximum aperture for a slightly broader focal range.

Key Features/Specifications

• Constant F2.8 aperture
• One-touch Focus Clutch Mechanism
• Available in Canon EF, Nikon F (DX), Sony Alpha mounts
• Maximum format size: APS-C / DX
• Dimensions: 84 x 89 mm (3.31 x 3.51 in)
• Weight: 560 g (1.23 lb.)

Pros - Constant F2.8 aperture, internal focusing, useful range for those with standard ‘kit’ lenses
Cons - Narrow focal length range next to those of its competitors, available in only three fittings

Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM

An ultra-wide lens for cropped sensor cameras, the Sigma 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM is ideal for general-purpose landscape and architectural photography.

Despite its small form-factor and unassuming design, this lens has the honour of being the widest rectilinear zoom lens designed for cropped-sensor DSLR cameras. Its approximately 12-24mm equivalent focal length range provides users with an impressively wide maximum angle of view of 121 degrees, something usually only obtainable with full-frame DSLRs.

Four 'F' Low Dispersion (FLD) elements are positioned toward the rear of the optic, and according to Sigma, these elements are comparable in effectiveness to fluorite with regards to minimizing chromatic aberrations. Three aspherical elements are also included for managing distortion, spherical aberration and astigmatism, while Super Multi Layer coatings play the vital role of improving light transmission and minimizing reflections. The lens’s focusing system hasn’t been overlooked either, with a Hyper Sonic Motor providing full-time manual override over its autofocus functionality.

A relatively recent addition to Sigma’s stable, the lens joins the previous 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM model, which itself is a favourite among cropped-sensor DSLR users. Tamron’s SP AF 10-24mm F3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) is another sub-$500 alternative.

Key Features/Specifications

• Widest rectilinear zoom lens designed for APS-C/DX users
• Hyper Sonic Motor with full-time manual focus override
• Available in Canon EF, Pentax KAF3, Sony Alpha, Sigma SA, Nikon F (DX) mounts
• Maximum format size: APS-C / DX
• Dimensions: 75 x 106mm (2.95 x 4.16 in)
• Weight: 555 g (1.22 lb.)

Pros - Internal focusing system, useful focal length range for cropped-sensor DSLRs
Cons - Closest competitors around $200 less, slightly smaller overall maximum apertures than competition


Click here to read page 2 of our roundup of third-party lenses

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by dpreview.com or any affiliated companies.

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Comments

Total comments: 169
12
Clonkeen2
By Clonkeen2 (Nov 25, 2011)

Have to say I love the Sigma 17-50mm but recommend buy locally. I've never had any issues with a lens I've bought overseas but after buying this one wont do it again. After about a month the autofocus started hunting, particularly in low light conditions. Sent it back to Sigma under warranty, got it back supposedly fixed. It wasnt. Had to send it back a second time. Complete autofocus mechanism was replaced and now works a charm.

0 upvotes
lbrulhart
By lbrulhart (Nov 22, 2011)

I tested both of these objectives and they are both very good, the Tokina with my Fuji S5 Pro and sigma with my Canon 7D, it's true that the comparison is difficult.
Personally I prefer the Tokina for its robustness and the sigma for speed.
optical quality is well above average with these two objectives.
this is my experience

Excuse me for my english, i speak french.

1 upvote
spokelse
By spokelse (Nov 21, 2011)

am I missing something here, this lens is more expensive than the Nikon 105, what's the value added? And what's more, I returned my nikon and am very very happy with the Tokina 100 which cost about $400?

0 upvotes
exifnotfound
By exifnotfound (Nov 21, 2011)

I thought that the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 would have been included as it's meant to be an excellent alternative to the Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8.
That said it's a pretty good round up I reckon. :)

0 upvotes
NancyP
By NancyP (Nov 19, 2011)

SAMYANG / ROKINON / BOWER questions:

Manual focus is fine by me. I admit that I like focus confirmation though.

Are there any users of the 35mm f1.4 who would like to share their experience with the lens? I am particularly interested in Canon or other non-Nikon users - I understand that Nikon mounts are now chipped so that the focus confirmation info and EXIF gets back to the camera body.

Are there any users of the 8mm f3.5 fish-eye lens on a crop sensor body? Comments? At under $300.00, this lens could move up in the savings queue relative to its specialized use. (I also want a "normal" (for APS-C) fast prime lens 1.4 to 1.8, 28mm to 35mm range).

0 upvotes
globethrottle
By globethrottle (Nov 18, 2011)

Im lost, I thought the DX system was made for APS-C and that it would actually be 11-16mm on those system?

0 upvotes
Armando Areias
By Armando Areias (Nov 18, 2011)

I like these subject, but I wish that Dpreview could make DX format studio tests with these lenses to be able to compare, like, for example, with Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM and Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED.
Because in my opinion the quality of third-party lenses have to be better than they are know. The price is important but as the quality of the pixels is improved more demanding will be the quality of the lens.
But of course if you want to buy good lenses you have to spent at least $1000 and in my case, I just don't want to that... So which of these (on top) two lenses is the best?

0 upvotes
Low Budget Dave
By Low Budget Dave (Nov 18, 2011)

Dear Santa: Please ask Sigma and Tamron to make these lenses for Sony NEX e-mount. Bigger than the camera, yes, but at least you don't need software correction.

1 upvote
Stefan Stuart Fletcher
By Stefan Stuart Fletcher (Nov 18, 2011)

One of my many buying mistakes was the Sigma 50 mm f/1.4. My copy suffers from distortion, incredibly soft corners wide open (on a full-frame, admittedly) and short-focusing. Perhaps I was just unlucky with the copy and the 5DII is a harsh task master on below-par lenses. What _is_ certain, however, is that the lens is huge and bulky. It looks outsize on a 5DII and a 7D. I can't imagine how ungainly it must be on a smaller body.

I think you really need to test this lens before spending money on it. You really must need its optical qualities, such as they are, if you're ready to tout this monster around.

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 18, 2011)

think Sigma 50/1.4 is the best you can find.

0 upvotes
oysso
By oysso (Nov 18, 2011)

Corners Soft wide open? Is not the subject matter closer to center? Especially if shooting wide open.

Is it soft in the corner whatever you do? or how are you testing it?

0 upvotes
Jaelkay
By Jaelkay (Nov 19, 2011)

Stefan - My experience with this lens perfectly parallels yours. Mine was for Nikon mount. Dreadful lens.

0 upvotes
Anastasiadis Lazaros Thessaloniki Wedding

I was about to buy this lence too but scipped it.
After using a canon 50mm for a day, I noticed that the canon is very very soft and full of cromatic bleedings. Almost all the shots had a foggy feeling.
The sigma was fairly sarper than the canon and with more contrast but still had all the issues as seen on the previus posts.

I ended up buying the sigma 30mm f/1.4 and I am amazed with it, sharper than ANY canon I have used, even wide open it delivers beautiful sharp photos. Only problem I have noticed is that tends to miss the focus point very often.

Maybe it is hard for the canon focus system to cooperate with the 1.4 especially under dim light conditions. I never had focus issues with any of my other 2.8 lenses so I am sure is the lens and not me.

A weird thing I noticed on the sigma 30mm 1.4, is that near the corners of my photos, the bokeh from small lights forms in triangles and not circles as it normallly happends to other lenses. It is not something bad, just a bit unkomon.

0 upvotes
magicalweasal
By magicalweasal (Nov 18, 2011)

I think it would be nice to have an article comparing similar lenses, for example 3rd party 2.8 lenses with a similar focal range.

6 upvotes
Canyongazer
By Canyongazer (Nov 18, 2011)

What?! No mention of my beloved 35mm f9 Urinal Apochromatic?
I demand a refund of my DPReview subscription monies..

2 upvotes
Infared
By Infared (Nov 18, 2011)

+100 (I understood the mounts...did you understand the mounts????) jeeeezzzzz.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Canyongazer
By Canyongazer (Nov 18, 2011)

Dear Infrared,
Yes, I understand mounts.
It's your post I don't understand.
???
Your pal,
Canyongazer

0 upvotes
NetMage
By NetMage (Nov 18, 2011)

I think the Samyang lenses should mention they are manual aperture as well as focus - MF doesn't bother me too much, but I'm not interested in manual aperture as well. Definitely a con for me.

2 upvotes
Double Dust
By Double Dust (Nov 18, 2011)

What's con about manual aperture? Use the A on your camera and everything is fine. Operating a camera is too difficult?

0 upvotes
jquagga
By jquagga (Nov 18, 2011)

I agree with your sentiment that this shouldn't be that hard of a lens to use (hence why I want one) but I don't believe A mode on the camera will work. These lenses lack the ability for the body to set the aperture settings (as far as I know). So you have to use M mode, set the aperture on the lens, and the shutter speed and iso on the camera body. This rules out the use of Program mode at all of course. However it is still very workable. I mean before Program mode cameras this would be how you would have done it anyway.

0 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (Nov 22, 2011)

That is not the case with the pentax, sony alpha, and Nikon mount lenses; those ones have auto aperture, with the option of manual aperture.

0 upvotes
Snudur
By Snudur (Nov 18, 2011)

I do not understand why in an article like this one the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 would be chosen over the 30mm f/1.4 since most of the enthusiasts seem to have a APS-C sensor cameras where the 30mm would in many cases be more appealing. I'm not saying that this particular 50 mm shouldn't be on this list, I'm just saying that the 30mm in my opinion should be on this list as well. :)

3 upvotes
Roman Korcek
By Roman Korcek (Nov 17, 2011)

Perhaps it's worth noting that the Sigma 18-250mm is also optically stabilized (in-lens) in the Sony mount version.

Comment edited 27 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (Nov 17, 2011)

In the Pop Photo tradition all this information is already available elsewhere. At least dpreview doesn't ask you to pay to be advertised to. I do wish the pros and cons said a bit more about the quality of these lenses. To put the startlingly good Tokina wide angle alongside a Sigma and compare only size, weight and price does a real disservice.

7 upvotes
Michael Uschold
By Michael Uschold (Nov 17, 2011)

This is a great article - I look forward to more like this.

2 upvotes
zane80
By zane80 (Nov 25, 2011)

I do agree with you totally, this article might, might open up possibilities for purist who only use the N or C lens only.
Guess 3rd party lens-makers are giving the N and C companies a run of their money.

I wonder why Zeiss lens are not included.
I might consider another 3rd party lens for my next lens.

0 upvotes
Tony Beach
By Tony Beach (Nov 17, 2011)

I was floored by the price of the latest version of the Sigma 105/2.8 macro; I bought the older version last year for half as much and I'm very happy with it. Even though my A850 has image stabilization built in, I almost never use it, so I cannot imagine that added feature or any of the others justifying a $480 premium.

BTW, the old version is very good, and CA (presumably improved on the newer version) has not been a problem. My one peeve with the Sigma 105 has been its bokeh, which is not great, I'm not sure if that's improved with the newer version, but it's still a hard sell and the weight undermines one of the reasons I have made the switch to primes and bought the Sigma 105/2.8 in the first place.

Overall, I think the cons of this newer lens heavily outweigh its pros. I think DPR should have recommended the 90mm Tamron instead of this overpriced behemoth. Heck, for a little more weight and substantially less cash you could get the Tamron 180/3.5 macro.

0 upvotes
Ferpect
By Ferpect (Nov 17, 2011)

I just saw a revew of thens and on picture quality and distortion the Sigma performed better than nikkor 105mm f2.8
Usually I am skeptical of third party lensesbut from what I saw this is one of those rare brilliant lenses.

0 upvotes
Infared
By Infared (Nov 17, 2011)

I "usually" defer to Canon L glass...(although I wish a couple of Nikon lenses came on Canon mounts. LOL!), I do own one of the lenses in the list though...the Sigma 50mm f/1.4. Fun lens...the specs made me shun the Canon choices...and I am very happy with my Sigma. Great lens.
One lens on the list that I question for me as a Canon user...is the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG etc...etc...etc...LOL. I bought the Canon 100mm f/2.8L IS Macro. (The lens may be the sharpest I own..even better than my Zeiss 21mm). Same price as the Sigma 105mm... so if I am not saving any money...it is a no-brainer to buy the Canon Macro (its a great lens for a LOT more than just macro photography)...So ..am I missing something about the Sigma?????

Comment edited 58 seconds after posting
1 upvote
meltdown117
By meltdown117 (Nov 18, 2011)

I also have the 100mm f2.8L IS Macro. I don't see the point of getting the Sigma version for the same price.
Plus, the L lens is equipped with hybrid IS, which is supposedly superior to any of the Sigma OS.

1 upvote
Infared
By Infared (Nov 18, 2011)

This article intrigued me ...so i did some research..Not only is the IS better on the Canon, the CAnon is noticeably sharper in the center and edges, the lens has superior build, less flair and more important maybe than any thing above..the Canon focuses much faster!
So the Sigma should be selling in the realm of $600-$700. At the same price...it is a no-brainer to buy the Canon.

1 upvote
deletedGregR1
By deletedGregR1 (Nov 18, 2011)

actually, the Canon has more flair, but possibly less flare (or i would hope)

hey, spelling counts! esp on a forum supposedly FULL of technical geeks discussing minutiae.

read / read / red. can YOU tell the difference? :P

Comment edited 25 seconds after posting
1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 18, 2011)

100/2.8L is great only it looks cheap (as an L lens).
think most macro lenses are over priced.

0 upvotes
David Kinston
By David Kinston (Nov 17, 2011)

I wish DPReview would review more lenses - especially standouts like the Tokina 116 f2.8.

Comment edited 22 seconds after posting
3 upvotes
Suzukiniek
By Suzukiniek (Nov 17, 2011)

I miss teh Tamron 28-75. A very sharp and optic great lens

1 upvote
rurikw
By rurikw (Nov 17, 2011)

The superb (judging from Photozone's tests and sample images) Samyang 14 mm is not mentioned.

1 upvote
DRNottage
By DRNottage (Nov 17, 2011)

My 2 cents: I'm a pro and I own the Tamron 17-50 2.8 VC. It's a truly spectacular lens which I highly recommend. I originally owned the Sigma, but rapidly discovered it had focusing issues with Canon bodies. The Tamron turned out to be superior in the end anyhow. Also highly recommended- the Tokina 12-24 f/4. Solid build, great optics. And hey, any chromatic- present in MOST aps-c lenses- is easily dealt with via Lightroom anyhow.
Best advice: TEST more than one of any of these independent brands at max aperture in-store, if possible. They DO vary in quality! Demand the pick of the litter.

2 upvotes
sh10453
By sh10453 (Nov 17, 2011)

Thanks ... Good & informative article, many alternatives & choices.

I can't imagine what Canon or Nikon would charge for their lenses if third party alternatives were not available.

I agree with some other comments that whining is not a good way to comment on other people's articles, although I do not agree with the usage of language that is not appropriate for pro's or enthusiasts (or for this fine site) in attacking "whiners".

Useful and objective critiques (not criticism), as we learned it in photography colleges, are good, but if we don't have something to say but a negative and subjective criticism, it's better to say nothing at all.

Better yet, write your own in-depth review and show us your great talents!

If you do not know the rules of "critique" in photography, maybe a photography 101 class would be of a great benefit.

1 upvote
jasonasselin
By jasonasselin (Nov 17, 2011)

why is it that every second person visiting this site has to be such a douche-bag? if you want new content all the time, why do you complain about it every time it is not a super in depth million word polished review? this is an ENTHUSIAST site. be ENTHUSIASTIC that you dont have to pay anything to read the great content here. being a paedantic ass doesnt make others think your some photo god either, they just think your and idiot. feel lucky you dont have to wait a week for something bew to look at. enjoy what is here and dont complain.

15 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Nov 17, 2011)

LMAO ...I just arrived on this thread and it's already worth attending. Thanks for taking my boring day and making it funny.

3 upvotes
skytripper
By skytripper (Nov 17, 2011)

This otherwise terrific website is well-known for attracting a high percentage of douche-bags to its forums. Why? It's one of life's little mysteries!

4 upvotes
lumiere
By lumiere (Nov 17, 2011)

spot on

1 upvote
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Nov 17, 2011)

Where's the article? This is just a list.

Also, "Samyang is one of the lesser known (and certainly less prolific)" is very wrong about the second part. Samyang makes *a lot* of lenses, but only over the past few years have they become visible selling some of the more impressive ones under their own name.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 17, 2011)

Samyang makes fewer lens models than Sigma, Tamron, Voigtlander or Zeiss - even if you count the cheap T2 mount preset telephotos and catadioptrics.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (Nov 18, 2011)

Samyang makes *LOTS* of lenses, including for security cameras, etc., and it seems most don't sell to consumers under their brand. Their WWW site claims that they had 40% of the world market in interchangeable lenses in the mid 1980s. That would make them literally the most prolific lens maker in the world.

0 upvotes
lifelibertyproperty
By lifelibertyproperty (Nov 17, 2011)

This is such a stooped article! No love for Rokinon/Samyang 85mm f/1.4?! BIAS ALERT! At $280 (seen as low as $240 in last few months) that lens is a bargain compared to the ones listed above. Also, the 35mm f/1.4 ain't bad for $500-600.

0 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (Nov 22, 2011)

If you read the article, they made a mention to those lenses.

0 upvotes
Thomas Kachadurian
By Thomas Kachadurian (Nov 17, 2011)

What exactly is the point of this? No real evaluation. Just a way to put up content without doing work.

6 upvotes
MaikeruN
By MaikeruN (Nov 18, 2011)

Do you work for free?

3 upvotes
dbo
By dbo (Nov 17, 2011)

Sigma is a very good manufacturer of even high end lenses (such as the 85/1,4 or the 70/2,8 macro and the 150/2,8 macro), but they seemingly have a problem with their quality level and the quality control.

Before changing to my Zeiss 24-70 I tended to save half the money by using the EX 24-70 from Sigma. I swapped three times due to decentering problems, and even with the correct working lens I was annoyed with the AF capability in difficult environments. Nothing of those problems I had with the Zeiss right from the start.

The same light and shadow in the wide range of Tamron lenses seems to apply. With the aim to save 400 Bucks by using the Tamron 70-300 USD instead of the Sony G I agreed to myself to reduce the haptic expectations to the tamron, but after testing it a whole day I almost went mad with this unreliable AF pumping around and around in low light environments.
This happened on my APSC as well as on my FF. So it seems that it's the lens not the camera.

0 upvotes
garyknrd
By garyknrd (Nov 17, 2011)

I have two Sigma lenses. One you will have to pry from my dead hands, the other I use as a boat anchor. What a muster cluck. I personally will never buy another one as long as I live. Now that I have changed to OEM. Never a problem. One of the Sigma s have been to the service center 4 times in 2 years. Not worth it...

1 upvote
Mtsuoka
By Mtsuoka (Nov 17, 2011)

As a Canon user, one reason I don't like third party lens is that the zoom/focus direction become opposite

I used to have the Tamron 70-300 USD but it had focus issues(AF miss all the time for the left/right-most points). My 7d focus well with my other Canon lens.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 17, 2011)

cannot understand why Sony label their lenses Zeiss, which means less quality. many of Sony lenses, for both DSLR and compacts, are made by Tamron I think. don't know 24-70/2.8 though.

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Nov 17, 2011)

I have the Tamron 70-300 VC lens. It's one of the SP lenses, and the AF is fairly fast, and quiet, nice bokeh and sharpness is very good. I use it on my 5D Mk II, and I couldn't be happier with it. Except for the Canon 70-300 L, it competes very well with the Canon equivalents. No issues whatsoever.

0 upvotes
Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (Nov 18, 2011)

yabokkie, Zeiss means (much) better quality not worse :)

2 upvotes
Adrian Flo
By Adrian Flo (Nov 17, 2011)

Nothing about Sigma 17-70 F/2.8-4 OS HSM?

2 upvotes
Stollen1234
By Stollen1234 (Nov 17, 2011)

Enthusiasts means to me looking for great lenses to use mostly not for business

i miss in this list some Zeiss lenes eg 50/1.4

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 17, 2011)

you mean Cosina?

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Nov 17, 2011)

I think he said Zeiss. The ZF and ZE lenses are made in Japan by Cosina, but are optical formulas and designs from Zeiss, and use the patented T* coating. They are superb, but as they are more expensive than manufacturer lenses, they don't come to mind as 3rd party lenses.

3 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 18, 2011)

> optical formulas and designs from Zeiss

Cosina did them and Zeiss has no access to the details or they will be able to make same good glasses as Japanese.

0 upvotes
CharlieDIY
By CharlieDIY (Nov 17, 2011)

I'd love something like the Tokina, though. I'm currently using the Tamron 10-24mm on my Pentax K20D, but the constant f/2.8 aperture would help on a number of shots. Unfortunately, Tokina thinks Pentax owners won't buy, I guess. Or they were afraid of being incestuous before Pentax because part of Ricoh.

0 upvotes
Meuh
By Meuh (Nov 17, 2011)

Tokina don't sell lens in pentax mount.. and in some cases pentax work with Tokina to make the lens (da* 16-50 and da* 50-135) I think many people were expecting a da* 11-66 version of the Tokina but it was around the time of the hoya take over.

I guess that had more to do with it not coming to pentax than anything else.

1 upvote
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 17, 2011)

think Pentax has to pay Tokina for that.

0 upvotes
wepwawet
By wepwawet (Nov 17, 2011)

Some Tokina lenses are rebranded by Pentax and sold at a much higher price point -- eg, the 12-24/4, a great lens which would deserve a place on this list...

0 upvotes
marike6
By marike6 (Nov 17, 2011)

The Tokina 12-24 is on this list.

0 upvotes
jenbenn
By jenbenn (Nov 17, 2011)

VEry true. For the same price of the SIgma 105mm you get the Canon 100mm L IS macro (at least here in Germany). Both are around 750 Euros. ( At amazon the Simga is even 50 Euros more expensive!!) Why would anybody choose the Sigma in such a situation over the Canon? To gain focus problems one wouldnt have with the canon? Really, for 100mm macro lenses it doesnt really make sense to buy third party alternatives

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
SiPat
By SiPat (Nov 17, 2011)

I thought Sigma, Tamron & Tokina lenses were supposed to cost less than their Nikon/Canon counterparts.

The Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM appears to be more expensive than Nikon's own 105mm Micro lens.

1 upvote
kff
By kff (Nov 17, 2011)

Key Features/Specifications - Available in Canon EF, Pentax KAF3, Sony Alpha, Sigma SA, Nikon F (DX) mounts !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

0 upvotes
kff
By kff (Nov 17, 2011)

Tamron 18-270mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD for Pentax ???

0 upvotes
photonius
By photonius (Nov 17, 2011)

For enthusiasts, the Zeiss 21mm should be on here.

0 upvotes
kff
By kff (Nov 17, 2011)

Tokina AT-X Pro 11-16mm F2.8 DX for Pentax ????

0 upvotes
Brian Wadie
By Brian Wadie (Nov 17, 2011)

I am using the sigma 8-16 on my canon 7D (replaces an earlier sigma 10-20 which I traded in some years ago). The more I use this lens the more I am impressed with the results it can give. With careful handling to keep the sensor in plane with the subject there is little parallax correction needed even at 8mm (but it is VERY sensitive to out of plane distortion). Images are sharp, colour is good and I'm happy shooting New Forest images that will be printed at 30" x 20" for sale via galleries and craft fairs. My copy is a first class tool and worth every penny

0 upvotes
Holger Bargen
By Holger Bargen (Nov 17, 2011)

Dear Tokina managers!

Please give us your lenses with Pentax KAF3 mount!

3 upvotes
MPA1
By MPA1 (Nov 17, 2011)

Would not spend my money on any of them. The only two makers that I will use are Nikon and Zeiss.

You never regret buying high quality glass, which outlasts camera bodies by decades.

2 upvotes
wepwawet
By wepwawet (Nov 17, 2011)

Some of the recent Zeiss are less than stellar, and the Nikon lineup also has a few duds. OTOH, some 3rd party lenses are hidden gems...

3 upvotes
Dan Ortego
By Dan Ortego (Nov 17, 2011)

...'You never regret buying high quality glass, which outlasts camera bodies by decades.'

Very true and I'm still kicking myself for selling my Leica glass.

2 upvotes
Miwok
By Miwok (Nov 17, 2011)

Technology is changing quickly now. Not sure than your freaking expensive Nikon or Zeiss lenses will have any value in 10 years

0 upvotes
skytripper
By skytripper (Nov 17, 2011)

Technology is changing, but quality lasts. There is a very active enthusiasts market today for Nikon manual-focus lenses that have been around for decades. The pace of modern technology may give younger people the impression that the latest is always the best. Nothing could be further from the truth, but one needs the benefit of considerable hindsight to understand this.

4 upvotes
Miwok
By Miwok (Nov 17, 2011)

Sure! Like many writers still use their old typewriter ;)

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Kfrog
By Kfrog (Nov 18, 2011)

Never discount quality manual focus lenses. Take for example Asahi Pentax Takumar lenses. I have several and fine them to be excellent lenses. Some compare favorably with Zeiss glass back in the day. Quality does indeed last.

0 upvotes
JakeB
By JakeB (Nov 18, 2011)

@skytripper

Be careful about fetishizing "old stuff." When people reach a certain age they begin to believe all that "things were better in my day" nonsense.

I've seen tests of lenses from the 1970s and 80s, for example. They simply do not compare OPTICALLY to their modern equivalents.

Believing so is no doubt a comfort for the old, but does not stand up to analysis.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Nov 17, 2011)

To me enthusiast lenses are lenses that enthusiasts buy, i.e. lenses with exceptional qualities or other extreme properties. To me a "roundup" is a rather complete summary of something. Neither of those objectives are met by this article IMHO.

Fun reading nevertheless.

4 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 17, 2011)

Are you suggesting no enthusiast would ever buy any of these lenses? From a selection which includes the widest rectilinear zoom for APS-C, the fastest wide zoom for APS-C and the fastest macro lens for APS-C?

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Barbu
By Barbu (Nov 17, 2011)

Andy, this is something like a (very mild) rephrasing of marketing materials. Instead of highlighting actual usage benefits, the „article” emphasizes various construction features; sure, those (the last ones) are welcome, but it doesn't do anything else than grouping in the same place various claims made by manufacturers.
No personal touch, no real-world examples... An indulging view of this: pleasant reading for the morning coffee. But nothing more.

4 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 17, 2011)

We specifically state that this article is a roundup, and not a review. It's a list of ten of the third-party lenses we think are most interesting. Take it or leave it.

10 upvotes
Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (Nov 17, 2011)

Andy, I don't think anybody suggests "no enthusiast would ever buy any of these lenses". If this would be true, this would be the worst article ever written anywhere and this is not the case (fortunately). However this is definitely not the the "most interesting" third party lenses list. Not for enthusiasts, not for anybody. You can check all the stats you want and you will find other lenses.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (Nov 17, 2011)

I also don't think these are the the most popular enthusiast focal lengths but I can't really prove that. I see the "enthusiast" as somebody who doesn't use the 18-270 zoom (at least not anymore) and is not really interested in the 60mm macro.

Using the stats from pixel-peeper (I already mentioned Fred Miranda and Flickr! groups tell a different story) you can see that:
-Tamron 90mm macro is the most popular Tamron prime and it's 100x more popular than Tamron 60mm macro (you might argue this one is intended more for full-frame but then...
- Sigma 30mm f1.4 is the most popular Sigma prime (and a great one for enthusiasts as we have APS-C sensors).

Comment edited 55 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Scott Nicol
By Scott Nicol (Nov 17, 2011)

Andrei,
whilst I believe your quoted stats, its worth noting that both the lenses you mention are older designs than the lenses in the round up, thus are more likely to turn up in user reviews / stats etc.

RE the 60mm tamron, this macro has got very good reviews and has not been around as long / is not as widely available (here in the UK anyway) as the 90mm Tamron which is basically quite an old design (still a fantastically sharp macro lens though).
Re the 1.4 sigmas, I have both the 30 and the 50 - whilst the 30 is cheaper and more common, the IQ on the 50 has far superior sharpness corner to corner, suffers from less CA and purple fringing and is sharper wide open (the 30 mm stopped down a bit is certainly sharp in the centre though).
Scott

0 upvotes
Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (Nov 17, 2011)

Scott, I'm not saying the Sigma 50mm f1.4 is not good (actually I never saw one but I'm sure it is). I'm sure it's sharper than the 30mm f1.4 (at least the corners should be much sharper on APS-C since it's designed for full-frame). I am only saying that these 10 lenses are not the "most interesting" for enthusiasts. This is how I feel.

You are right about the stats not including the new lenses. Fred Miranda doesn't even include the 2 year old Tamron 60mm f2. I still feel that enthusiasts would see the Sigma 30mm in the top 10 list and most enthusiasts would go for the much cheaper Canon/Nikon 50mm f1.8 instead of the 50mm f1.4 and also most would stay away from the 18-270 which is not really enthusiast level.

0 upvotes
Paullubbock
By Paullubbock (Nov 17, 2011)

I completely agree, and would probably take it even further in considering a true enthusiast would not be using a crop sensor system anyway except for maybe as a backup. The title of this article is misleading.

0 upvotes
sandy b
By sandy b (Nov 17, 2011)

"a true enthusiast would not be using a crop sensor system anyway except for maybe as a backup"
Hmm, a Little bit of elitist BS going on here. OK, no, a lot of elitism. You cannot be serious. The new crop sensors push the FF pretty hard, the sony 16 mp sensors at least match FF at base ISO, in color, DR and resolution. What a load of BS.

1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (Nov 17, 2011)

Andy, why are you getting so defensive? Most of us are being polite and most of us like DPReview. We're not normally complainers. This article is just not up to the type of articles known for this site in past years, IMO. In the past, your Round Ups have often been reviews. The domain you use suggests reviews. Even if an article is not a review, it ought not to be nearly cut and pasted from a typical press release and a roundup might not suggest such obscrure items as a Samyang fisheye in the ten lenses represented.

The main thing that is surprising though is the anger the staff seems to be having over some folks who are giving their honest opinions in a non-confrontational way. Isn't that what the comment section is for? I'm a little perplexed.

0 upvotes
Roland Karlsson
By Roland Karlsson (Nov 17, 2011)

Thanks Andy for explaining what the article tries to do - give a roundup (summary) of the 10 most interesting enthusiast lenses.

I dont agree and many other here dont. This is only examples IMHO.

Why you think that I have claimed that no enthusiasts buys those lenses I have not the slightest idea. Please dont put words in my mouth.

BTW - I can understand that it is not fun at all to take criticism from a bunch of whining readers of your forums. It happens now and then with your articles though.

And actually - I have an advice. Dont take yourself so seriously. If it is list of 10 lenses then its not a roundup of enthusiast lenses. Then dont call it thus. Call it - "we look briefly at ten enthusiast lenses" - instead. Call it what it is.

1 upvote
WoNHUSA
By WoNHUSA (Nov 17, 2011)

I have the Sigma 17-50 and Tamron 70-300 and I am very happy with both. I cannot compare them to the comparable Canon lenses but both of these lenses are quite happy on my 7D. From the Sigma; constant F2.8, fast and accurate hypersonic focusing, Optical Stabilization, lens hood and a lens case for under $700. From the Tamron; fast and accurate Ultrasonic focusing, very effective Vibration Control, lens hood for a final, after rebate cost of $350. Both of these lenses are in my bag for less that the Canon 17-55. At this time (a single income family), these were the best options for me and I am very satisfied with my lenses. So much so with the Sigma, that their 70-200 f2.8 may be next, unless Tamron updates theirs, and then I'll have a tough debate.

These Third Party lenses are great options and have made it possible for me to get some high quality glass without totally breaking the bank. I would probably not have a constant f2.8 if not for the Sigma--a great option.

0 upvotes
Picturenaut
By Picturenaut (Nov 17, 2011)

plus, the Canon EF 17-55 mm/ 2.8 collects a lot of dust even with a filter screwed on it - at least my copy does it, and I heard that from other users. I need to get my copy about every second year to Canon's service for cleaning. I have many Canon lenses I am happy with but this one dissapoints me - given its high prize. So I think the Sigma or Tamron 17-50 are both better for your budget and your mood.

0 upvotes
dcperspective
By dcperspective (Nov 19, 2011)

Plus- just to be fair I've had mine for 2 years, it's out of the bag every day to use, and I've never had a dust issue.

0 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Nov 17, 2011)

whats that ? amazon adds ?^^

2 upvotes
Smiffy442
By Smiffy442 (Nov 17, 2011)

An Amazon Christmas shopping promotion, very disingenous to present as round up.

2 upvotes
Greg VdB
By Greg VdB (Nov 17, 2011)

Whenever someone makes a list of 'best xx', what they actually mean to say is 'my personal favorites of xx', and this one is no exception. Of course using 'best' instead of 'favorite' always leads to controversy... [edit: actually the author speaks about '10 of the most interesting 3rd party lenses', so it's rather us readers misreading the article and assuming that the author sees this as a definitive list of the 10 best ones]

That said, I think the main message of this article is that third party lenses can be every bit as good and interesting as those of major manufacturers, and I wholehartedly agree with that.

As for my personal 3rd party favorite: definitely the Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8!

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Stollen1234
By Stollen1234 (Nov 17, 2011)

be more opptimistic..for sure there is no "the best" but at least the expert can establish a minimum standard and based on that they can choose some good lenses...

0 upvotes
Superka
By Superka (Nov 17, 2011)

Where is SIGMA 30/1.4 ????????????????????????????
???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

5 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (Nov 17, 2011)

It's mentioned alongside the Sigma 50/1.4, if you read the article.

4 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 17, 2011)

may be because 30/1.4 isn't that good?

1 upvote
Snudur
By Snudur (Nov 18, 2011)

I would say that it's unfair to say that the 30mm isn't good. Granted that Sigma did have some kind of quality control issues, but the lens has character and does produce beautiful colours in my opinion. My 30mm came with a backfocus issue that was ridiculous, it took a couple of days to fix it. After I got it back it is sharper than I had imagined it could be. Definitely one of my favorites.

1 upvote
Superka
By Superka (Nov 18, 2011)

The best standart lens for APS-C: fast, sharp and with beautiful bokeh.

0 upvotes
Andrei Todea
By Andrei Todea (Nov 17, 2011)

I don't understand how they chose these lenses.

They didn't choose them by POPULARITY (at least not based on Fred Miranda views or number of members on Flickr! groups).

They didn't choose them by PRICE (an "enthusiast" could do very well with a 50mm f1.8 or at least with the still cheaper, smaller Nikon/Canon/whatever f1.4)

I also don't understand how they chose the focal lengths. One of the most popular zooms is the 28-70mm (24-70, 28-75) and they don't even mention it while they prefer 8-16mm instead.

So how did they choose them?

2 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Nov 17, 2011)

they chose what in stock on amazon :)

6 upvotes
slimandy
By slimandy (Nov 17, 2011)

I'm suprised you chose the Sigma 105 rather than the 150.

3 upvotes
NoFunBen
By NoFunBen (Nov 17, 2011)

yes, the new 150 OS has lots of people posting good photos.
but maybe it is too new and this list was made some months ago.

I do think people make a mistake when they dont look at 3rd party lenses. some are great.

0 upvotes
digital age 2002
By digital age 2002 (Nov 17, 2011)

Third Party lenses are sometimes very good, and this round-up is excellent, but due to the inconsistency of third party lenses and low brand equity, we need a detailed review to set our expectation right so avoid a purchase and a return.
Thanks dpreview, we need more of that.

8 upvotes
idbar
By idbar (Nov 17, 2011)

Best comment here. I appreciate this because I'm not a professional in any way. I want to jump into a fast 24mm< and I see that Nikon Nikkors are above the $1500 line.

I greatly appreciate the effort on the list (despite its simplicity). Perhaps the guys at dpreview could start adding tables with prices/features for different classes, i.e. the fisheye, the ultra-wide-angle, the high zoom. But more importantly, it would be nice if dpreview do a further job of discovering brands that are not well known. We know Nikon, Sony, Canon, Leica are expensive quality products, but some of us would like to hear from another brands, such as you did on this article but exploring a larger group of brands.

Thanks indeed and I'm hoping to get more of this. I sincerely don't care if it's in Amazon's stock (everyone is free to get them or not), but the knowledge that they exist seems relevant to the entry-level people like me.

0 upvotes
NoFunBen
By NoFunBen (Nov 17, 2011)

sigma has a 24mm 1.8
have not used it but i use the sigma 20mm 1.8 a lot and am happy with the photos i get with it

0 upvotes
Steve 316
By Steve 316 (Nov 17, 2011)

For tables, try the lens comparison tool on dpreview -- an excellent relatively new feature. Go to Lenses / side-by-side lens comparison.

0 upvotes
Noogy
By Noogy (Nov 17, 2011)

I have used the Tokina and love its results :-)

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 32 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
dbo
By dbo (Nov 17, 2011)

Third parties are in some cases a very good choice. For me it is the Sigma 8-16. A lens that produces brilliant images around all settings - with a fast and accurate AF.

In many cases these lenses can also annoy a lot. In my case (SonyDSLR user) it was the Sigma Macro 105mm which is ok from image quality point of view, but the AF system is a pain in the a...
Another candidate is the Tamron 18-270. I tended to use it as the vacation-one-for-everything, but in the end it was flop as well. Distortion an Vignetting issues at the wide end to 25mm, and at the tele end beyond 240mm simply unusable images. In order to avoid (too) soft corners you need to stop down at least 1,5 to 2 stops.

1 upvote
pocky
By pocky (Nov 17, 2011)

My first DSLR was a Nikon, bought partly because the internet said there was all this "great glass" available. Two years later pretty much all I need is the Tokina 11-16mm, Tamron 17-50mm (the non-stabilisted version), and the Tamron 90mm macro (although I do like the 70-300mm Nikkor too). Nikon lenses are mostly too heavy and too expensive, two things which reduce the fun of picture taking, and the three I mentioned above have just brilliant IQ (IMO)!

2 upvotes
inevitable crafts studio
By inevitable crafts studio (Nov 17, 2011)

nikons are too heavy? ^^ did you ever hold a 50 1.4d in your hand?

iam only buying original nikon, because, third party lenses are too heavy, too big and still feel cheaper than nikon lenses

0 upvotes
Almeida
By Almeida (Nov 17, 2011)

Thety feel cheaper because they are cheaper. ;)

5 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (Nov 17, 2011)

Nikon makes some brilliant lenses now, like 14-24/2.8. they perform way better than before. cannot believe. like the company suddenly learned how to make mordern lenses and make the best of them.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 169
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