Need kit lens replacement: Nikon 18-140mm or 16-85mm or sigma 17-70 C or ... ?

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rlyons
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Need kit lens replacement: Nikon 18-140mm or 16-85mm or sigma 17-70 C or ... ?
8 months ago

I'm selling my trusty D90 that I've had for several years and with it the kit lens (18-105) that I've been using on my D7000 for the past year.  So this will leave me without a workhorse lens.  I'm an amateur and so any money I put into lenses etc is just a sunk cost so I'm looking for budget but quality replacement.  To get an idea of what I use this for: I primarily shoot my son's sporting events (swim) but I enjoy landscapes, cityscapes and general family pics.

I've found the 18-105mm to be "adequate." My primary concerns in a replacement are zoom reach (for sporting events), speed and sharpness.  I'm trying to strike an acceptable balance between these three knowing that they are mutually exclusive to each other. My other challenge is my budget of <400.00. I know many of these lenses exceed that new but I'd likely be looking at used which opens the door to more choices.

The options and my (possibly inaccurate) thoughts on each:

Nikon 18-140mm - This was my first choice mainly because of the longer zoom. But reading DXOMark and others it would seem this lens doesn't offer much more than the 18-105 other than longer reach and a metal mount. It doesn't appear to be any sharper than the 18-105 which is too bad.

Nikon 16-85mm - This didn't come into my running until lately as I saw many reports that it's a really sharp lens and well-built. However, DXOMarks indicates it's not as sharp as any of the other lenses in my consideration scoring a 6P-mp compared to 8P-mp for the others. I'm sure the build quality is great (see that comment a lot) but build quality vs image quality are not the same. photo zone seems to indicate that it's sharper so maybe DXO had a bad copy. Confusing.

Sigma 17-70 OS | C - This lens is my top pick right now because it maintains some zoom reach but is faster at f/2.8-4.0.  The faster aperture is appealing and the lens seems to have a similar sharpness to others I'm considering - although I wish it was sharper. Reports do indicate it's likely the softest of the bunch at 17mm.

Other, distant considerations:

Sigma 17-50 f/2.8.  This lens would be my top pick but I fear the limited zoom range will be an issue. Sharpness wise and speed wise it's all here.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8. Similar to Sigma.

Nikon 17-55mm... not even a consideration, way too expensive.

I also have a Nikon 70-300VR which I rarely use because I find it too narrow on the wide end at 70mm to be useful at swim meets or family gatherings or landscape. I'm considering selling this and putting that towards a sigma 50-150 which I think would better fit my needs.

At any rate, this lens upgrade is killing me! I've read everything I can and now it seems it's just time to hear people's opinions that have used these lenses or who know more about this than I do.  Anyone have a crystal ball they can use to tell me which is the "right" lens to get?! (ha ha) Any thoughts on what I've laid out above?  Thanks.

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