Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?

Started Apr 4, 2013 | Discussions
jtan163
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Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?
Apr 4, 2013

Is there a consensus (he asked, expecting the answer "no") on what is the best THIRD PARTY fast standard DX zoom.

As I understand it, the choices are:
Sigma
17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM $594
17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM $499

Tamron
17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] $499
SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF) $649

I'd specifically like to know:
a) which is considered the sharpest overall?
b) if the sharpest overall does not have OS/VC, which is the sharpest with OS/VC?
c) if any of the above are known "dogs"

By sharpest I mean generally, not the one with the highest resolution at one particular focal length, but the one that most people consider "on average" sharpest thought the range.

I know even second hand the Nikon is about $900 and I find it hard to justify as I keep thinking one day I'll go full frame (I like wide).

But in the meantime I'd like something I can use inside and in evening without bumping the ISO up.

Any other thoughts suggestions welcome.

Thanks

pixelless
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Sigma 17-50 OS...
In reply to jtan163, Apr 4, 2013

... is the sharpest, has great contrast and has OS. Just make sure you test for AF acuracy in Live View and through the view finder. Mine needs 0 fine tune and I can´t say the same about my Nikkor 35/1.8G!

The Sigma is sharper than the Nikkor 17-55 2.8 in the center and has OS. The Nikkor is sharper at the borders though.

http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Lenses/Compare-Camera-Lenses/Compare-lenses/(lens1)/377/(lens2)/173/(lens3)/186/(brand1)/Sigma/(camera1)/0/(brand2)/Nikkor/(camera2)/680/(brand3)/Tamron/(camera3)/680

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Overcranky
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Re: Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?
In reply to jtan163, Apr 4, 2013

I have used the non VC Tamron and now have the 17-50mm f2.8 Sigma. Sigma has a far, far better AF on a D7k. Tamron could not reliably focus in AF-C at all and was much slower in AF-S. That alone would argue for Sigma. Furthermore, Tamron was also very soft wide open. Sigma is obviously also a bit soft wide open but it's very usable (center of the frame is very good actually). To my eyes they were about the same sharpness wise at f5.6 but that not what we get f2.8 lenses for. Sigma's Bokeh is also very nice and OS works well -- you can't go wrong with it.

Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS @ f2.8

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chuhsi
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Re: Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?
In reply to jtan163, Apr 4, 2013

sigma 17-50

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jtan163
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Thank you - keep 'em coming.
In reply to chuhsi, Apr 5, 2013

Thanks folks.

Looks like the Sigma is clearly the favourite.

Sorta glad, I have an irrational preference for Sigma over Tamron.

I now need to get up off the floor. Not used to consensus in DPR.
I fell off my chair!

Still be happy to hear from anyone else who has an opinion they'd care to share.

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bseng
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Re: Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?
In reply to jtan163, Apr 5, 2013

I have the Sigma 17-50 2.8. I think the defining characteristic of this lens is that it's sharp. My Nikon branded lenses seem to have better contrast, but if you look at the images at 100%, it doesn't look as sharp as the Sigma.

On my computer, looking at the images as a whole (i.e. zoomed out), better contrast looks better than better sharpness.

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mabasa
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Re: Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?
In reply to jtan163, Apr 5, 2013

jtan163 wrote:

17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM $594
17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM $499

DxOMark has tested Canon versions and according to them new 17-70 is actually a little sharper or at least that compare lenses view suggests that. I don't know. There are not much reviews about 17-70 C yet.

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rhit
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i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to jtan163, Apr 5, 2013

Hi J,

I just bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS.

I currently have the Nikon 16-85 3.5-5.6, but I wanted something faster, able to deliver better bokeh, and sharper.  I did a ton of research both on the forums here as well as at slrgear.com and a few other sites, and I read Thom Hogan's in-depth review.  The general consensus appears to be that the Nikon 17-55 and the Sigma 17-50 about are equal in sharpness, while both the VC and non-VC versions of the Tamron are behind.  Additionally, both the Sigma and Nikon have slightly better build quality.

I decided to pull the trigger and picked it up for about $600 on Amazon.  Many reviews claimed that Sigma is notorious for quality control variability, so I was worried that I'd end up with a crappy copy of the lens.  Much to my pleasure, my copy is very very sharp, and the only "loose sounding" thing on the lens is the OS technology, which, from what I understand, is normal.

I've played around with the lens over the past few days, taking pictures of random things in and around my house such as my toiletries, food, my cats, text on white paper, the view from my house, etc.  (It's been pouring rain here in Seattle, so I haven't been able to go out.)  I've found that the lens is about as relatively sharp throughout the range, with sharpness especially noticeable between f5.6 to f8.  Colors are more pleasantly vivid and saturated, and the overall images are brighter, than those taken with my 16-85.  Bokeh is also very soft and nice with this lens.  You're quite easily able to blend out the background.

For a fully plastic and glass lens, it feels solid and well built.

The only complaints I have are: a) the zoom ring moves opposite to Nikon, b) the focus ring has very very little room to move, and c) there's no manual override for focusing, when in autofocus mode.  These are all issues I was aware of prior to my purchase.

Don't get me wrong, I love my 16-85, but I always wished it was a wee bit brighter, faster, and crisper - and the Sigma 17-50 2.8 delivers.

**I have the lens on a D7100.

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AdamT
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to rhit, Apr 5, 2013

Don't get me wrong, I love my 16-85, but I always wished it was a wee bit brighter, faster, and crisper

This is what the old 18-70 was for - it`s F3.5-4.5 and has Ring type AFS like the 16-85 - it`s smaller and a bit sharper from experience ........ this lens gets totally overlooked thesedays, I tried one on a D3200 and was stunned at how it held up , CA is a lot better than the plastic mount kit zooms of today, better than the 16-85 too if I remember rightly  (I never actually owned a 16-85, the stupid UK price and slowness put me off) ..

- and the Sigma 17-50 2.8 delivers.

Optically yes, but what`s the AF like - the old 18-50 F2.8 EX models were a joke with their slow noisy micromotors and rotating focus rings (Sharp though if you got the one in a million which wasn`t decentered or dud at the long end) ..... did they put Ring HSM into the 17-50 ? What`s sample variation like ?

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smw6230
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to AdamT, Apr 5, 2013

AdamT wrote:

Don't get me wrong, I love my 16-85, but I always wished it was a wee bit brighter, faster, and crisper

This is what the old 18-70 was for - it`s F3.5-4.5 and has Ring type AFS like the 16-85 - it`s smaller and a bit sharper from experience ........ this lens gets totally overlooked thesedays, I tried one on a D3200 and was stunned at how it held up , CA is a lot better than the plastic mount kit zooms of today, better than the 16-85 too if I remember rightly  (I never actually owned a 16-85, the stupid UK price and slowness put me off) ..

- and the Sigma 17-50 2.8 delivers.

Optically yes, but what`s the AF like - the old 18-50 F2.8 EX models were a joke with their slow noisy micromotors and rotating focus rings (Sharp though if you got the one in a million which wasn`t decentered or dud at the long end) ..... did they put Ring HSM into the 17-50 ? What`s sample variation like ?

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** Please ignore the Typos, I'm the world's worst Typist **

I make no apology. I picked up a brand new 18-70 last week off ebay for $150 shipped. Slapped it on a D7000 and it just purred. AF was really fast and the images that the lens delivered throughout were extremely sharp. Would I like 2.8 in this range? Sure. But right now I don't need it as most of my shots are outdoor scene/landscapes. More importantly I can apply the price differential that I saved, between the 18-70 and the 16-85 or even the 17-50, to a 300VR.

The 18-70 is by no means perfect but "value" wise with prices between $120-150 for a mint condition lens ($320 new), its almost impossible to beat.

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rhit
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to AdamT, Apr 5, 2013

AdamT wrote:

Don't get me wrong, I love my 16-85, but I always wished it was a wee bit brighter, faster, and crisper

This is what the old 18-70 was for - it`s F3.5-4.5 and has Ring type AFS like the 16-85 - it`s smaller and a bit sharper from experience ........ this lens gets totally overlooked thesedays, I tried one on a D3200 and was stunned at how it held up , CA is a lot better than the plastic mount kit zooms of today, better than the 16-85 too if I remember rightly  (I never actually owned a 16-85, the stupid UK price and slowness put me off) ..

Yeah, I wouldn't have bought my 16-85 if it weren't for Craigslist.  I bought mine several years ago from a guy who was selling his entire kit.  instead of $700, I paid only $400.  Couldn't resist.

- and the Sigma 17-50 2.8 delivers.

Optically yes, but what`s the AF like - the old 18-50 F2.8 EX models were a joke with their slow noisy micromotors and rotating focus rings (Sharp though if you got the one in a million which wasn`t decentered or dud at the long end) ..... did they put Ring HSM into the 17-50 ? What`s sample variation like ?

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**Typos ignored.  

I've found the AF to be very quick.  I haven't experienced it hunt, even in low light.  Yeah, the focus ring turns as you focus, but since there's no manual override, there's no reason you should have your hand on it.  Sometimes I don't pay attention one of my fingers on the zoom ring hits the focus ring.  No big deal.  It isn't as quiet as the Nikon AF (i.e., you do hear some clicks), but it's quiet enough.

Also, the OS is quieter than what you'd find on a Tamron lens with VC.  I used to have the 70-300 VC, and while it was amazing, I felt the sound was definitely noticeable.  The OS on this 17-50 Sigma is very quiet.  It's also effective.

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demarren 123
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Re: Best mid/normal range fast zoom for DX?
In reply to jtan163, Apr 5, 2013

I have the 16-85 vr and tested on my Nikon D90 and D3200

It is about the same for sharpness as the kit lens 18-55

But colour is warmer Ca is lesser and the view is 24 mm instead of 27mm

The corners are cleaner to.

But the weight is 3 times more.

It is a good walk around lens better build also Bit more zoom,but not sharper.

Afcours sharpness is where you set sharpness in camera standard it is at 3

And I feel I have it to set to 6 just like the kit.

The 16-85 focus bit faster to,what is normal for an lens that cost $650

And VR is bit better to.

For the rest is about the same as the 18-55

And I prefer the 18-55 it is super light and portable.

And to be honest I do not see the $500 difference the lens cost.

Have Fun Shooting ducks ;p

jtan163 wrote:

Is there a consensus (he asked, expecting the answer "no") on what is the best THIRD PARTY fast standard DX zoom.

As I understand it, the choices are:
Sigma
17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM $594
17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM $499

Tamron
17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD Aspherical [IF] $499
SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF) $649

I'd specifically like to know:
a) which is considered the sharpest overall?
b) if the sharpest overall does not have OS/VC, which is the sharpest with OS/VC?
c) if any of the above are known "dogs"

By sharpest I mean generally, not the one with the highest resolution at one particular focal length, but the one that most people consider "on average" sharpest thought the range.

I know even second hand the Nikon is about $900 and I find it hard to justify as I keep thinking one day I'll go full frame (I like wide).

But in the meantime I'd like something I can use inside and in evening without bumping the ISO up.

Any other thoughts suggestions welcome.

Thanks

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pixelless
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to rhit, Apr 5, 2013

rhit wrote:

For a fully plastic and glass lens, it feels solid and well built.

Mine is all metal, and so is every other sigma 17-50 2.8 OS that I ever saw. Except for the rubber grip off course!

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pixelless
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to AdamT, Apr 5, 2013

AdamT wrote:

Don't get me wrong, I love my 16-85, but I always wished it was a wee bit brighter, faster, and crisper

This is what the old 18-70 was for - it`s F3.5-4.5 and has Ring type AFS like the 16-85 - it`s smaller and a bit sharper from experience ........ this lens gets totally overlooked thesedays, I tried one on a D3200 and was stunned at how it held up , CA is a lot better than the plastic mount kit zooms of today, better than the 16-85 too if I remember rightly  (I never actually owned a 16-85, the stupid UK price and slowness put me off) ..

- and the Sigma 17-50 2.8 delivers.

Optically yes, but what`s the AF like - the old 18-50 F2.8 EX models were a joke with their slow noisy micromotors and rotating focus rings (Sharp though if you got the one in a million which wasn`t decentered or dud at the long end) ..... did they put Ring HSM into the 17-50 ? What`s sample variation like ?

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** Please ignore the Typos, I'm the world's worst Typist **

AF is plenty fast and "quiet". Yes it has HSM. It can easily track dogs, bikes, runners, cars, boats and is quite fast to lock target. I do find it (a lot) noisier (and a lot torquier) than my 35 1.8G, but it´s not loud. It does ok in low light in my experience. Meaning that it won´t hunt much, but I can see the Nikon 17-55 being better here.

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rhit
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to pixelless, Apr 6, 2013

I stand corrected.  It is metal.  I'm not sure why I thought it was plastic.

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jtan163
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Re: i JUST bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS
In reply to rhit, Apr 7, 2013

rhit wrote:

Hi J,

I just bought the Sigma 17-50 2.8 OS.

I currently have the Nikon 16-85 3.5-5.6, but I wanted something faster, able to deliver better bokeh, and sharper.  I did a ton of research both on the forums here as well as at slrgear.com and a few other sites, and I read Thom Hogan's in-depth review.  The general consensus appears to be that the Nikon 17-55 and the Sigma 17-50 about are equal in sharpness, while both the VC and non-VC versions of the Tamron are behind.  Additionally, both the Sigma and Nikon have slightly better build quality.

I decided to pull the trigger and picked it up for about $600 on Amazon.  Many reviews claimed that Sigma is notorious for quality control variability, so I was worried that I'd end up with a crappy copy of the lens.  Much to my pleasure, my copy is very very sharp, and the only "loose sounding" thing on the lens is the OS technology, which, from what I understand, is normal.

I've played around with the lens over the past few days, taking pictures of random things in and around my house such as my toiletries, food, my cats, text on white paper, the view from my house, etc.  (It's been pouring rain here in Seattle, so I haven't been able to go out.)  I've found that the lens is about as relatively sharp throughout the range, with sharpness especially noticeable between f5.6 to f8.  Colors are more pleasantly vivid and saturated, and the overall images are brighter, than those taken with my 16-85.  Bokeh is also very soft and nice with this lens.  You're quite easily able to blend out the background.

For a fully plastic and glass lens, it feels solid and well built.

The only complaints I have are: a) the zoom ring moves opposite to Nikon, b) the focus ring has very very little room to move, and c) there's no manual override for focusing, when in autofocus mode.  These are all issues I was aware of prior to my purchase.

Don't get me wrong, I love my 16-85, but I always wished it was a wee bit brighter, faster, and crisper - and the Sigma 17-50 2.8 delivers.

**I have the lens on a D7100.

Thanks rhit for your detailed reply, it sounds like we have the same problem too - I have the 16-85 - love the 16m wide end, but the slow aperture leaves a lot to be desired.

To date my research has said for the most part said Nikon or Sigma. And for a $3-600 having and OS the Sigma seems to be the better buy.

And thanks every one else for your comments and thoughts too.
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rhit
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One week in, issue becomes apparent...?
In reply to jtan163, Apr 11, 2013

So, I've had my Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS for about two weeks now, and I've noticed that there's abnormal softness in the top right area of my photos.

I'm unsure if it's my copy of the lens or if it's how I'm holding the camera.  This softness isn't apparent in my other lenses.

I've put up a posting here in the Third Party Lenses forum with 9 photos to display my issue.

Here's the link:

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51272547

If anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them.  I know Sigma is notorious for quality control issues so maybe I received a flawed copy of the lens.

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