Nikon 24-70 versus 17-55

Started Jan 6, 2008 | Discussions thread
OP Joseph Lab Regular Member • Posts: 197
Midrange zoom optimised for DX best on DX

Thanks Phil for all your time and trouble, a few more questions/comments.

Do you have a12-24 or similar? A bad thought occurs to me, that I could justify the 17-55 as my wide-angle, and have both lenses! The widest lens I have ever owned is a 24mm Olympus some years ago. I am not sure whether I would get any joy out of an ultra wide. Buying one just for the range between 12 and 17 and F4 to boot seems hardly worthwhile.

I was interested in your comments on the performance of the 24-70. If it is “only” slightly better than the 28-70, then how does it compare with the 17-55 in the F2.8-4 range? I think it is your opinion that the 17-55 was better there than the 28-70, so wither the 24-70? Some may think that we are splitting hairs here, but the extra quality of the primes and pro zooms (not just sharpness) can be seen at quite small magnifications once you have noticed it and want it. Of course you know all this better than I do.

It may be a crazy thought, but the conventional wisdom is that an FX lens will perform even better on a DX camera and outperform a lens specifically designed for that format. I am not sure that this is true in the midrange zoom category. It is much easier to correct for aberrations over the smaller image circle for a lens that goes from wide-angle to moderate telephoto. True you are not using the corners with the FX lens, but corner performance is only one thing and not that important to me. What I am suggesting is that the 17-55 may be as good as it gets in a midrange zoom for a DX because it has been designed specifically for DX. One or two of my 17-55 images are perhaps the best I have (technically), but then there are the inexplicably poor ones.

If I had the 24-70, I would be far more tempted to buy the 12-24, so buying the 24-70 will certainly be an expensive choice. I could buy the 17-55 and the 12-24 for almost the same money. I could instead throw in the 70-300 and have change in my pocket to put towards the D300. With regard to the latter, I am waiting for the beta testing to end and the prices to fall a bit. I have learned not to be an early adopter. With a pro lens from Nikon, I might just consider it.

If we look at Canon user’s many seem to think that their 17-55 IS outperforms the 24-70 on a crop camera, in fact that seems to be the consensus view. It does so despite the fact that the lens has the added complexity of IS and is not an L lens. Of course, that may just be peculiar to their specific designs. I know that there was a lot of trouble with the early Canon 24-70s. I suspect it is far from easy to design an FX lens with top performance over this range. It just may be that it is easier to design a crop 17-55 of given quality than a FF 24-70. I think that so far the superiority of the 24-70 in terms of mage quality on DX is unproven.

Do you know of any good portraits taken with the 24-70? If you have links, it would be much appreciated. There was nothing much on pbase.

With regard to the portraits missed with the the 85, I suppose I am wondering whether you could have come close with the 24-70 and still got most of your other shots without a lens change. The isolation and bokeh of the 17-55 just misses, the 24-70 may just do it.

I would love to be able to test the lenses. This is far more difficult in the UK, and in my view it should be. I cannot but wonder what happens to all those returned items. Are they restocked and sold as new? I would not wish to buy as new a lens that had been tested and rejected by somebody else. It is a bit like wanting to sleep with every woman in town and marry a virgin! For me new is untouched by any end users and preferably in a sealed box. I am amazed that there has not been a legal challenge to the policy of exchanging merchandise in this way. It amounts to selling second-hand goods as new. If a lens is not performing, it should be returned to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. End of sermon! Of course until the rules are changed I would take advantage of any opportunity to test.

Best wishes


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