Best quality/low expense lens for D700 (FX)

Started Aug 11, 2008 | Discussions thread
Mauro.B Senior Member • Posts: 2,486
Kent, I second you but (an interesting but) ...

Sometimes theory is subverted by facts.

I switched from D300 to D700 and so far only regretted the current lack of "medium range" Nikkors good enough for FX.

I started with a Nikkor 18-35 and a Nikkor 24-70. Even if the latter is the best lens I ever used on any camera, it is really too heavy for casual walking & shooting. I definitely needed a lighter lens.

I tested 6 (six) different 24-120 - all the same low quality from 24 to 70 mm below f11; a 24-85 f2.8-4; a brand new 28-105 f3.5-4.5 which I am about to return (fuzzy at 50 & 70mm in one side below f8); my old Nikkor 24-85 AFS (sold).

Then I had the idea of buying the Tamron 28-75 f2.8. Tested outside BH, ready to return if it was a bad sample - it was not bad at all.

Ok, 28-75 is slow to focus, it has more vignetting below f8, it is plastic, maybe it will not last for years but its sharpness performance was a shocking surprise.

Tripod, mirror lock up, remote. Shot a brick house across the garden (infinity focus) at 28mm, 50mm, 70mm & f2.8, f4, f5.6, f8, f11 with both lenses.

Last night I spent a couple of hours literally squeezing my eyes into 100% enlargements, side by side courtesy of Lightroom. Believe me, in frame center it was close to impossible to tell which lens was which. Possibly a 3% more contrast on 24-70 lead to a tiny tiny perceived sharpness advantage - but only peepable at 100%. Nikkor's corners from f5.6 to f8 were a bit more "tight", and definitely better at f11. But, surprisingly, at f2.8 and to a lesser extent f4, sharpness-wise one lens was the photocopy of the other.

As I told, vignetting was out of the equation, and color rendition too (the 28-75 has 2 "photoshop points" of red and yellow, returning warmer images).

It was hard for me to justify the 5x price in view of a very small performance difference.

With this story I wanted to highlight 2 things:

1) a "good" Tamron 28-75 f2.8 is a killer walkaround lens for the D700 (unless you got to have 24mm or shoot a lot of casual full face portraits);

2) general laws on lens - camera systems must be carefully coupled with sensible testing.

Happy to discuss further.

Kind regards,


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