Nikon 24-70 versus 17-55

Started Jan 6, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Joseph Lab Regular Member • Posts: 197
Nikon 24-70 versus 17-55

I am an amateur photographer with quite a few years of experience in digital and with film. I have a D70s with 18-70, 18-200, 28-85 (old but good), 50 F1.4 and an SB800 flash. I skipped the D200, but intend buying a D300 in the not too distant future. I am not short of midrange zooms!

I have twice had a 17-55 F2.8 zoom but returned it. Recently I looked through my pictures and it struck me how much better the images made with the 50F1.4 and the 17-55F2.8 were. I am again contemplating the purchase of the 17-55 F2.8. The improvements as compared with my other lenses are particularly noticeable with people pictures, and my main subjects are my children. I returned the 17-55 because I had the 50 as a portrait lens, and I found that the 17-55 produced erratic results for reasons unknown. It was also very prone to flare (but I did not use the hood). I also felt that the long end was a bit short, and of course, the 50 is much faster. However, some of the images from the 17-55 were superb and the handling, speed of focus and control over DOF was particularly welcome. Regarding 55 versus 70, I have now found that simply leaning forward turns the 55 into a 70 at least at typical portrait distances. Furthermore, there is plenty to crop on a D300 image.

There is of course now a new alternative – the 24-70. It seems that with regard to image quality this is the best there is. The problem is size and range. 36-105 is of course a classic range, but loses a great deal at the wide-angle end when compared to 25-82. On the other hand, I read that the quality of the bokeh is better and 105 will give me better isolation. The handling also may be better, and of course it is full frame compatible, although I have no immediate intention of buying an FX Nikon. If Nikon produce a canon 5D equivalent I might be interested.

I would particularly like to hear from those who have the 17-55 and the 24-70 on how they feel about the two lenses in the areas of bokeh, handling and image quality. If you are able, curb your enthusiasm for your new toy and be as objective as possible (difficult with a new lens I know!)

The question of range is trickier (for me) than many may think. If you are say a photojournalist you need the 17-55 no question. However, for others especially amateurs when confronting a situation in which 17mm may be used an equally interesting but different shot may be made at 24mm. I have become more and more reluctant to change lenses. At the beginning of the day I attach the lens that I think will be on average be most suitable, and make do with that. This is a useful discipline to one’s shooting. However, I do find the 50 restrictive and would like that kind of quality (or better) in a zoom.

I would appreciate any comments and advice particularly on the 24-70 range versus the 17-55 range. I have a 17-55 available at a very good price and need to make up my mind. When thinking about it all that I seem to do is go round in a circle. The price difference is relevant but not critical. I will also be posting this question in the Canon forum. Canon users have a much longer history of this choice on their crop cameras, and I would be interested to hear from those who have switched from the 17-55 IS to the 24-70 or vice-versa, how much they missed the 17-24 range etc.

Any observations, comments that would help me make up my mind would be hugely appreciated. I am sure I am not the only one interested in this comparison. Thank you in advance.

Joseph

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