Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?

Started 11 months ago | Discussions
ammac12
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Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
11 months ago

So, I'm thinking of re-doing my camera set up and a d7100 is top on my list.  I've been trolling some threads here and hear similar gripes as Canon folks.  Pretty funny.  Anyway, I'm wondering if the Nikkor lenses are on par with Canon's L series?  I have the 24-105 and 70-200 f4, both L series.  I also have a Tamron 17-50 f2.8.  What are your opinions in the quality comparisons to Nikkor equilavent?  Additionally, I am considering dropping my 70-200 and going with either a 70-300 or 100-400.  I want reach!  What Nikkor would you recommend in comparison?  Thanks

adam

Nikon D7100
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DavidPonting
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

The impression that I get is that the gold ring on a Nikkor lens denotes the "latest and greatest" optical technologies - so it used to mean ED glass, and it now means the Nano-coating (which really, really works to reduce flare). There are a few quibbles as to which lens deserves the gold ring (e.g. the 60/2.8 macro has Nano and ED and a nice broad focus ring, but no gold ring), but in that sense it is a more substantive designator than L glass!

The 24-120/4 (gold ring) is probably the equivalent of the 24-105, though it occasionally gets comments about the corners at 24mm. The 70-200/4 (gold ring) is easily as good as the Canon L IS version, and probably better, as one would expect from a more modern design.

The 70-300 is OK but not spectacular at 300mm, but the new (AF-S) 80-400 beats a 300/4 prime + TC combo! Looking at the MTF curves, it should be a lot better than the (admittedly aging) 100-400.

Obviously the Tamron is the same for both!

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gatorowl
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

ammac12 wrote:

So, I'm thinking of re-doing my camera set up and a d7100 is top on my list.  I've been trolling some threads here and hear similar gripes as Canon folks.  Pretty funny.  Anyway, I'm wondering if the Nikkor lenses are on par with Canon's L series?  I have the 24-105 and 70-200 f4, both L series.  I also have a Tamron 17-50 f2.8.  What are your opinions in the quality comparisons to Nikkor equilavent?  Additionally, I am considering dropping my 70-200 and going with either a 70-300 or 100-400.  I want reach!  What Nikkor would you recommend in comparison?  Thanks

adam

Congratulations!

I too switched (sort of, there are just some things that Canon does better) and really enjoy my Nikon gear.

Nikon has not been as successful in creating a mystique around its pro-level gear as Canon has. Nonetheless, Nikon's equivalent to L glass are gold rimmed for the most part and are truly excellent optics.  So, to your 24-105, there is a 24-120, for your 70-200 f4, there is the new 70-200 f4, and Nikon also has a 17-55 pro-level crop-sensor lens.

If you want pro-level glass with reach, you should consider either the new and excellent but obscenely expensive 80-400mm G lens, or the 80-400mm D lens it replaced.

The G lenses tend to be more recent designs.  On the pro level, they also tend to be very expensive and generally more expensive than their Canon L equivalents.  However, the new 24-70 L lens is much more expensive than its Nikon counterpart as is the 85mm 1.2 L, which is significantly moreexpensive than the Nikon 85mm 1.4.  I own both 85mm prime lenses.  I picked up the L used and the 1.4 during a recent Nikon rebate.  Nonetheless, the new Nikon was still less expensive than what I paid for the used Canon version, and the Nikon 85mm is every bit as good IQ wise (I can't distinguish differences in bokeh wide open) with the advantages of faster focusing in a smaller package.

Good luck!

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gatorowl
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

ammac12 wrote:

So, I'm thinking of re-doing my camera set up and a d7100 is top on my list.  I've been trolling some threads here and hear similar gripes as Canon folks.  Pretty funny.  Anyway, I'm wondering if the Nikkor lenses are on par with Canon's L series?  I have the 24-105 and 70-200 f4, both L series.  I also have a Tamron 17-50 f2.8.  What are your opinions in the quality comparisons to Nikkor equilavent?  Additionally, I am considering dropping my 70-200 and going with either a 70-300 or 100-400.  I want reach!  What Nikkor would you recommend in comparison?  Thanks

adam

One more thing, Nikon does not have an equivalent to the Canon 70-300 L, which is a superb lens. When I acquired the 70-300L I no longer had use for my 70-200 L f4 IS.  The lenses are close in overlapping FLs but the 70-300L is very good at 300mm.  That is not the case for any of the other 70-300 lenses on the market.

I don't know if Nikon sees a need to produce a high quality 70-300mm, but if it did, I would be all over that lens. Instead, I have a Tamron 70-300mm, which is comparable to both the Canon non-L and Nikon versions. It's decent through 200mm but just okay at 300mm.

If you want high quality reach, you either need to go with the 80-400 zoom or a prime.

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

All I can comment on there is reach.   Many people have gone through the usual lament - 'long lenses cost too much', with the occasional 'long lenses are too big/heavy'.

Typical choices:

70-300vr - great bang for the buck, and in my opinion pretty light.

Sigma xx-500 zooms.   Not bad IQ at 400, stopped down, on a tripod.

Tamron 200-500 - very light, no VR, decent IQ stopped down.

AF-D 80-400vr - reasonably light, packs small, very good IQ to 300mm or a bit more, but needs a lot of stopping down at 400mm to get really good results.  VR poor.  AF slow.

** the above zooms give good results at their best, but make you work at it and have a fair amount of limitations **

Next step up in IQ is a 300F4, which is a very fine lens indeed without a TC.  With a 1.4TC, it's at least as good as the best of the above zooms, and generally better at a lower f-stop.

*** after this, you exceed $2000 ***

Personally, based on posted images mostly, I think the best of the under $2000 zooms is probably the 50-500 Sigma, either stabilized or non-stabilized.

Lately, there is the AF-S 80-400vr, which is clearly in a class above the under $2000 zooms.   Just how good it is remains to be decided, in terms of internet reputation.  I have one, and I'm a fan.   Still learning my way around it.  I also have the 300F AF-S and the AF-D 80-400.

I'd say that at it's worst, the IQ of the new 80-400 (wide open at 400mm) is up there with the best IQ of the zooms and somewhere around the 300F4 with 1.4TC.   It seems to me to be better than the prime + TC, a little.    It has two flaws:

1. poor tripod collar

2. price is high, and people freak at a variable aperture zoom costing more than $2000

I don't consider the variable aperture or F5.6 wide open at 400mm as a flaw, just a compromise to keep the size, weight and price down.

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RBFresno
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Nikkor vs Canon L... Too broad a comparision
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

ammac12 wrote:

So, I'm thinking of re-doing my camera set up and a d7100 is top on my list.  I've been trolling some threads here and hear similar gripes as Canon folks.  Pretty funny.  Anyway, I'm wondering if the Nikkor lenses are on par with Canon's L series?  I have the 24-105 and 70-200 f4, both L series.  I also have a Tamron 17-50 f2.8.  What are your opinions in the quality comparisons to Nikkor equilavent?  Additionally, I am considering dropping my 70-200 and going with either a 70-300 or 100-400.  I want reach!  What Nikkor would you recommend in comparison?  Thanks

adam

HI!

One cannot simply state whether "L glass" is better or worse than Nikon. Too much variability within the "L" series" and Nikon's "L glass equivalent" (whatever that is !).

RB

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ammac12
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to PHXAZCRAIG, 11 months ago

PHXAZCRAIG wrote:

All I can comment on there is reach.   Many people have gone through the usual lament - 'long lenses cost too much', with the occasional 'long lenses are too big/heavy'.

Typical choices:

70-300vr - great bang for the buck, and in my opinion pretty light.

Sigma xx-500 zooms.   Not bad IQ at 400, stopped down, on a tripod.

Tamron 200-500 - very light, no VR, decent IQ stopped down.

AF-D 80-400vr - reasonably light, packs small, very good IQ to 300mm or a bit more, but needs a lot of stopping down at 400mm to get really good results.  VR poor.  AF slow.

** the above zooms give good results at their best, but make you work at it and have a fair amount of limitations **

Next step up in IQ is a 300F4, which is a very fine lens indeed without a TC.  With a 1.4TC, it's at least as good as the best of the above zooms, and generally better at a lower f-stop.

*** after this, you exceed $2000 ***

Personally, based on posted images mostly, I think the best of the under $2000 zooms is probably the 50-500 Sigma, either stabilized or non-stabilized.

Lately, there is the AF-S 80-400vr, which is clearly in a class above the under $2000 zooms.   Just how good it is remains to be decided, in terms of internet reputation.  I have one, and I'm a fan.   Still learning my way around it.  I also have the 300F AF-S and the AF-D 80-400.

I'd say that at it's worst, the IQ of the new 80-400 (wide open at 400mm) is up there with the best IQ of the zooms and somewhere around the 300F4 with 1.4TC.   It seems to me to be better than the prime + TC, a little.    It has two flaws:

1. poor tripod collar

2. price is high, and people freak at a variable aperture zoom costing more than $2000

I don't consider the variable aperture or F5.6 wide open at 400mm as a flaw, just a compromise to keep the size, weight and price down.

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Craig
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Really good input here.  Sounds like I wouldn't miss a beat.  One concern I'm getting from this is to gain reach, I'm going variable aperture.  That's not going to be good for speed when trying to reach across the lacrosse field and catch my son taking a shot.  This hobby keeps getting more and more expensive!  Thanks again Craig.

adam

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wasserball
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

Really good input here.  Sounds like I wouldn't miss a beat.  One concern I'm getting from this is to gain reach, I'm going variable aperture.  That's not going to be good for speed when trying to reach across the lacrosse field and catch my son taking a shot.  This hobby keeps getting more and more expensive!  Thanks again Craig.

adam

I'm going to jump in here not to provide opinion on glass, but about positioning for your son's lacrosse game.  I shoot HS sports, and in soccer, I move around the sidelines to capture shots of the players from different angles.  There is no one position that is the "best".  Have you tried positioning yourself behind the goal line (?) in lacrosse?  In this location, you can catch your son coming towards the goal, rather than speeding across the field and your camera.  In this location, you have a better chance of getting a sharp photo because there is less side to side motion of the player, and you will definitely see the facial emotion of his shot as he is coming towards you.

Expensive?  Wait until you start toying with 300mm and 400mm f2.8 lens.

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narddogg81
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

ammac12 wrote:

So, I'm thinking of re-doing my camera set up and a d7100 is top on my list.  I've been trolling some threads here and hear similar gripes as Canon folks.  Pretty funny.  Anyway, I'm wondering if the Nikkor lenses are on par with Canon's L series?  I have the 24-105 and 70-200 f4, both L series.  I also have a Tamron 17-50 f2.8.  What are your opinions in the quality comparisons to Nikkor equilavent?  Additionally, I am considering dropping my 70-200 and going with either a 70-300 or 100-400.  I want reach!  What Nikkor would you recommend in comparison?  Thanks

adam

the nikon 24-120 f4 looks to be very comparable in IQ to the canon 24-105 with a little more reach, as does the new nikon 70-200 f4 compared to the canon equivalent.  On the 70-200, the nikon version measures somewhat sharper, especially in the center, and the canon is more even from center to corner.  Both perform so well that it would probably be impossible to distinguish between them in real life.  I can vouch for the new nikon, replaced a 70-200 2.8 VRI with it and could not be happier.  The VR3 on it is spectacular....  photozone is your friend in these circumstances.  they have these lenses tested on 2 bodies with similar resolution (5dmkii and d3x).

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D Knisely
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

Up until the past year, there have been some tradeoffs (mostly in favor of Canon).  However, the Nikon 24-120/4, 70-200/4, and the 1.8 prime series seem to almost tip the balance in favor of Nikon.  Nikon's 28-300VR is better an cheaper in every way.  Canon's tilt-shift lenses are still clearly superior.  Canon is clearly ahead if digital cinema is your goal, although much of the gain is had by using legacy Nikon lenses with an adapter (which you can't do the other way around).

Also, a number of Sigma 3rd party lenses are excellent for both, thus leveling the playing field.

Doug

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JOrmsby
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

I've had a chance to test and review images from the 70-200 f/4 from both Canon and Nikon as part of my recent search for which to go full-frame with. Viewing 100% at f/4, the new Nikon was marginally shaper across the frame in the samples I had. I tested both the short and long end of the zoom ranges and there was a slight, but consistent edge for the Nikon. Both lenses are very, very sharp.

The most noticeable difference however, was in the VR/IS, with the Nikon's working much more effectively to reduce camera shake. Put the lens on a camera at your local shop and you'll see the difference through the viewfinder. Again, not that the Canon was bad, but the Nikon (being much newer) was excellent.

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Steve Bingham
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In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

Canon 70-200mm vs Nikon 70-200 f4. Nikon FINALLY caught up - maybe passed Canon (I think so).

Canon 300mm f2.8 vs Nikon 300mm f2.8. Call it a tie. Fantastic glass from both. Expensive and heavy!!!

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Steve Bingham
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to D Knisely, 11 months ago

D Knisely wrote:

Up until the past year, there have been some tradeoffs (mostly in favor of Canon).  However, the Nikon 24-120/4, 70-200/4, and the 1.8 prime series seem to almost tip the balance in favor of Nikon.  Nikon's 28-300VR is better an cheaper in every way.  Canon's tilt-shift lenses are still clearly superior.  Canon is clearly ahead if digital cinema is your goal, although much of the gain is had by using legacy Nikon lenses with an adapter (which you can't do the other way around).

Also, a number of Sigma 3rd party lenses are excellent for both, thus leveling the playing field.

Doug

Well said, Doug.

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PHXAZCRAIG
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Re: Nikkor vs Canon L glass... Equal?
In reply to ammac12, 11 months ago

There's nothing wrong with variable aperture, except perhaps for video?

You have these choices in long lenses, and by that I mean lenses without TC, and at least 400mm.

F5.6 (F6.3 if you look at some Sigmas)

F4

F2.8

OK, let's say you rule out F5.6 as 'too slow'.

F4 - you have nothing affordable.    Choices include 200-400F4 zoom.  Go price it, and consider the weight.    You also have 500F4 and 600F4.   Even pricier and heavier.

F2.8 - OK, you have one of the best lenses on the planet, the 400F2.8.  Hugely expensive and heavy.

If you add in teleconverters as options, you have 300F2.8 or 300F4, perhaps 200F2.   All will take a 1.4TC and look pretty darn good.  The 1.7 gets a lot of mixed reviews.   The older 2.0TC wasn't good, but the newer one is.   Still, you lose a lot of magic going the teleconverter route.

Basically you have a bunch of stuff between $1000-2000, and only the 300F4 with 1.4TC is priced in that range and not variable aperture.

Then you have the new 80-400, which in reading Ming Thien's review looks almost as good as his older 400F2.8.

And then you have choices over $5000.

I can't imagine that Canon mount lenses are much different.   Lots of stuff under $2000 with variable aperture, and similar IQ?   And some really expensive stuff.

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inasir1971
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What's wrong with variable aperture?
In reply to PHXAZCRAIG, 11 months ago

This prejudice against variable aperture doesn't make any sense today. There is nothing about variable aperture per se that impacts anything and it's easy to set aperture to f/4 or f/5.6 in M or A mode.

In fact I think people may be willing to pay a premium for fixed aperture for inexplicable reasons that it might make sense for manufacturers to stop down a lens to maintain a constant aperture. Who's to say, maybe the 24-120 f/4 is actually an f/2.8-f/4 but at the shorter focal lengths where the aperture could be wider, the manufacturer has set the lens to stop down to f/4 - I believe the aperture blades are partially closed at shorter FLs. Why else would aperture blades not be fully open? (I am going by what people have reported as I don't have the lens)

I'm not saying that they are doing this but it seems that people would pay more as an f/4 than as an f/2.8-f/4 even if the f/4 is achieved by stopping down.

The big difference for video would be were the lens parfocal but I don't think any of the current zooms are - change focal length and you will lose focus.

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