Aftermarket Lenses.

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by DirtyDFeckers, Aug 8, 2010.

  1. DirtyDFeckers
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    DirtyDFeckers New Member

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    So I'm in the market for a few new lenses, and I can't help but notice the massive price difference between Nikkor lenses, and other manufacturers like Sigma or Tamron. My question is, are they quality lenses? I am a firm believer in the philosophy of "you get what you pay for," but we are talking about potentially thousands of dollars here. So, if it were you guys, would you save the money and go with the other manufacturers, or stick with the genuine Nikon product?
  2. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    LensRentals.com - Lens Repair Data 2.0
    Lens Annualized Repair Rate Typical Problems
    Sigma 120-300 f2.8 84.6% Zoom mechanism, calibration, autofocus
    Sigma 150-500 OS 45.5% OS, Autofocus, zoom
    Sigma 120-400 OS 44.4% OS, Autofocus, zoom
    Sigma 50-500 28.3% Zoom mechanism, autofocus
    Sigma 100-300 f4 22.2% autofocus
    Tamron 70-200 f2.8 22.2% tight mount (Canon), autofocus
    Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS EF-S 19.6% IS, Err99
    Canon 10-22 EF-S 15.8% barrel separation
    Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR 13.1% zoom mechanism, manual focus clutch
    Sigma 18-200 12.7% barrel separation
    Nikon 17-35 f2.8 12.5% calibration
    Canon 50 f1.2 13.3% Calibration
    Sigma 30 f1.4 12.3% calibration
    Canon 100-400 IS 12.3% Zoom tension ring, Err99, calibration
    Nikon 80-400 11.9% Electronic issues
    Canon 85 f1.2 11.7% Electronic issues


    LensRentals.com - Lens Repair Data 3.0
    Lens Annualized Repair Rate Typical Problems
    Sigma 120-300 f2.8 41% Zoom mechanism, calibration, autofocus
    Sigma 18-200 OS 37% OS, Autofocus, zoom, barrel separation
    Nikon 18-200 OS 31% OS, Autofocus, zoom
    Sigma 50-500 31% Zoom mechanism, autofocus
    Canon 300 f4 IS 25% IS, autofocus electronics, barrel separation
    Tamron 70-200 f2.8 27.5% tight mount (Canon), autofocus
    Tokina 12-24 f4 PRO 25% zoom mechanism, autofocus
    Nikon 17-55 f2.8 25% Calibration, zoom ring, motor burnout
    Canon 50 f1.4 22.5% AF motor
    Canon 35 f1.4 22% Calibration, focus mechanicals
    Canon 17-55 f2.8 EF-S IS 22% IS failure, AF electronics, ERR99
    Canon 10-22 EF-S 17.5% barrel separation, autofocus
    Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR 17% zoom mechanism, manual focus clutch
    Nikon 17-35 f2.8 17% calibration, electronics
    Nikon 80-400 15% Electronic issues
    Canon 85 f1.2 13% Electronic issues
    Sigma 30 f1.4 12.3% calibration
    Canon 24-70 f2.8 11% Calibration, zoom mechanism
    Canon 100-400 IS 11% Zoom tension ring, Err99, calibration
    Nikon 14-24 f2.8 10% zoom mechanism

    .."the Supertelephoto primes (300 f2.8, 400 f2.8, 500f4, 600 f4 from both Canon and Nikon) are our lowest repair rate lenses. Basically we’ve only had damage repairs for any of them.

    A couple of observations.
    The Sigma 120-400 and 150-500 are no longer on the list because we no longer carry them. Both had failure rates of about 45% while we had them. New batches may be better (ours were all bought early), we don’t know.
    The failure rate for the Sigma 120-300 is still high, but much better than it used to be. We think this is because we’ve changed the way we pack this particular lens. We no longer see the very high failure rate after shipping that we once did.
    The Canon 300 f4 IS has leaped up this list. It was a lens we’ve never had trouble with in the past. It may be notable that we turned over a large number of copies (6) about the same time last winter and these seem to be the ones having trouble, despite being newer lenses. I have no certain knowledge, but wonder since the problems seem largely electronic, if there was a batch of bad circuit boards or connectors.
    The Tokina 12-24 f4 PRO also climbed up the list only recently. It may be significant that a number of our copies are now 18 months old, particularly since most of the failures seem to involve zoom mechanism mechanicals.
    The Canon 35 f1.4 is probably a bit of an outlier: when we started using a more sensitive tool (Lens Align Pro) for calibration checks we immediately found several copies that needed calibration which raised its repair rate significantly.
    Two lenses: The Canon 50mm f1.2 and the Sigma 100-300 have behaved so well they’ve dropped below the 10% repair rate cutoff.
  3. Overread
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    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member

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    Don't forget the all important most recent release of lens rentals repair rates:
    LensRentals.com - Lens Repair Data 3.5
    Also note that a large number of the sigma are the superzooms and that even canon has its 100-400mm superzoom in the repair listings - superzooms are hard to make and even canon can't get it perfect. Sigma show up more because they make 5 or more of these kind of lenses. Another point to consider is that sigma sell more lenses than canon or nikon so reports of higher numbers of poor copies is not always an indication of higher failure rates, but of higher volume sales and thus the increased number of possible failures (as well as possible user mistakes in assessing/using a lens)

    My view is that you can't stick a single opinion over the whole of the 3rd market brand - some are going to be lesser than canon/nikon/sony options some will be better and some will be unique lenses to the 3rd party company that the other brands don't make.

    The best approach is to decide upon the subject of your interest or the lens type and then compare the reviews and opinions of the lenses that fit into that selection from the various manufacturers.
  4. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Okay, let's add version 3.5 of the report:
    Lens Annualized Repair Rate Typical Problems
    Tamron 70-200 f2.8 41.5% tight mount (Canon), autofocus, manual focus, zoom mechanism
    Canon 17-55 f2.8 EF-S IS 29% IS failure, AF electronics, ERR99
    Sigma 120-300 f2.8 28% zoom mechanism, calibration, autofocus
    Nikon 80-400 23% electronic issues, zoom ring, autofocus motor
    Canon 50 f1.4 19% autofocus motor
    Nikon 18-200 OS 15.5% OS, autofocus, zoom
    Canon 100-400 IS 15% zoom tension ring, autofocus
    Canon 50 f1.2 15% autofocus, calibration
    Nikon 14-24 f2.8 15% zoom mechanism
    Sigma 100-300 14% zoom mechanism
    Nikon 24-70 f2.8 14% zoom mechanism
    Canon 28-300L 12.5% zoom tension ring, autofocus
    Canon 300 f4 IS 11% IS, autofocus electronics, barrel separation
    Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VR 11% zoom mechanism, manual focus clutch
    Sigma 50-500 10% zoom mechanism, autofocus
    Canon 35 f1.4 10% calibration, focus mechanicals
    Nikon 17-55 f2.8 Dx 10% calibration, zoom ring
    Fanboys love to misuse the list above, and one of the common things I’ve seen is,“Brand X has the most (or least) lenses on Lensrentals’ high repair rate list.” Lets keep it in perspective. There were 45 Canon, 36 Nikon, 17 Sigma, 6 Tamron, and 3 Tokina lenses eligible to make the list. The final makeup was 7 Canon, 6 Nikon, 3 Sigma, and 1 Tamron. Every brand seems to have some troubled and some trouble free lenses.
    The Tamron 70-200 f2.8 is joining the Sigma 120-400 and 150-500 (45% failure rate) in the Lensrentals Hall of Shame: lenses we no longer carry because their failure rate is so high we just can’t afford them. Almost half of them have failed, usually after 3 to 6 months in service.
    Two lenses, the Sigma 120-300 f2.8 and the Tokina 12-24 f4 Pro, have had much lower failure rates during the last 6 months. Both of them also have been renting much less frequently, so their “rental per copy” rate is a bit lower than other lenses. Also, we changed our packing method with the Sigma 120-300, which had lowered its failure rate during the previous 6 month period, too.
    The Canon 300 f4 IS has dropped back down on this list compared to our report from 6 months ago. Our initial thoughts, that we had received several from a batch with electronic issues during the last reporting period, were probably correct.
    The Canon 17-55 IS has always been a high repair rate lens, although it’s been more problematic during the last 6 months than previously. We don’t think anything is really different, since the types of repairs are the same as they’ve always been and the rate, while up a bit, isn’t hugely higher.
    The Canon 50 f1.4 joins the list this period. Autofocus motor failure tended to hit hard at about one year’s use, which is why it hasn’t shown up until now — we only started stocking this lens about 18 months ago.
    The Nikon 14-24 f2.8 and Nikon 24-70 f2.8 both made the list, and every single repair was the same: zoom ring stiffness to the point they are difficult to use. They both have a similar iinner-outer barrel zoom mechanism, so we assume there’s a common issue with them. These are rather recently introduced lenses, so we’re watching to see if the rate gets higher as more copies age — right now our average copy is only 9 months old
  5. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Look back to 2008..Sigma performed HORRIDLY. They stopped carrying Sigma's 120-400 and 150-500mm models because they were so bad. The Sigma 120-300 has gone from an average annual repair rate of 86 percent in 2008, to 41 percent,and currently is at 28 percent. Wow...that's not very reliable, is it...

    Look at the lenses that suffer from "barrel separation"....hmmm.

    Look at the Canon 17-55/2.8 and the Nikon 17-55/2.8 and their respective failure rates as of the most current data. The 17-55 EF-S has a 29 percent annual failure rate for either IS system failure, AF electronics failure, or Err99 failures. The AF-S model has a 10 percent annual; failure rate for calibration or zoom ring problems. However,at one point, Nikon's 17-55 AF-S had a 25% Calibration, zoom ring, motor burnout issue!

    There's lots to look at, but honestly, it's pretty clear that over the last three years, Sigma has had some exceptionally high rates of malfunction, and a few of Canon zooms are Error99-ing out...and the Tamron 70-200/2.8 in Canon mount is a problem that Tamron cannot seem to solve--the tight mount problem for Tamron in Canon mount has persisted since 2008...the Tamron 70-200/2.8 is now in their Hall of Shame...along with two Sigma zooms...so bad that they cannot afford to rent them out.

    It seems that, over the last three years, only Sigma and Canon have had barrel separation issues. Some of Sigma's 2008 repair rates are simply frightening. Lots to look at in the info they have.
  6. Overread
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    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member

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    Nikons Nikon 18-200 OS is also performing poorly year after year and nikon don't make any 100-400mm type zoom lenses - it appears no manufacturer can get these lenses to work perfectly so the only reasons sigma appears more is because they have more market options in this range than canon or nikon (50-500mm, 150-500mm, 120-400mm etc...).

    I'm also surprised that nikons 70-200mm VR appears year after year in the listings whilst I would have expected theirs to be of similar quality to canons (not one of which appears in the lists).

    ((and yes this is placing way too much weight on the lens rentals tests - they are only one company of many and whilst they provide a guildline they are not the be all and the end all. Furthermore not all the faults reported will be totally from lens error - note how changes in their packing (eg sigma 120-300mm) has lowered problems with that lens and I recall reading once that they suspected that curier problems between them and sigma lead to their early high slating of sigma's repair facilities in resolving lens issuse)
  7. subscuck
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    subscuck New Member

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    I'm not trying to start a flaming war with you two, because I'm always impressed with the knowledge both of you guys posess, but something I'm curious about; I have a cousin who worked in the rental dept. of Home Depot and he used to gripe about the high level of maintenance required on eqpt. due to customer abuse and negligence, as well as outright boneheadedness. Would you not expect to see any lens data from a rental place showing higher than normal repair? It seems to me that if you spent the money on the lens, you would take better care of it than if you rent it. Wouldn't data from the manufacturers repair centers be more accurate? That is, of course, assuming you could get it? I realize we are talking reliability here, but even so, something less reliable may fare better in the hands of someone who owns, rather than rents. Just my thoughts...
  8. usayit
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    usayit Well-Known Member

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    Have you guys found data regarding the cost of repairs between these manufacturers?

    WHen I used to deal with used equipment, I would occasionally see an opportunity to buy lenses with failed AF motors and such. I would shy away from them because of the time effort and possible cost of repairs.

    I'd like to see the raw data from lensrentals.com.. especially for lenses that don't appear on their report (for various reasons).

    A couple significant improvements it seems...

    Sigma 50-500 31% Zoom mechanism, autofocus
    to
    Sigma 50-500 10% zoom mechanism, autofocus


    Nikon 18-200 OS 31% OS, Autofocus, zoom
    to
    Nikon 18-200 OS 15.5% OS, autofocus, zoom
  9. Overread
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    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member

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    A very good point and one I totally forgot to mention! Yes indeed there is the case that some of those errors are going to be from sources other than the lens itself - I mentioned the packaging and courier services as one area where damage could be caused, but yes damage can also be caused by user error whilst the lens is being rented out. This could of course be light damage that might not show up for some time and might be mistaken for general lens ware and tear when in fact its the result of some past negligence on the part of a previous user.
    You are indeed very correct in that when people own something they tend to take far better care of it than if they are simple loaning it from a "faceless company".
  10. Derrel
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    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Your point is a good one. However, do you not agree that there are many people who will rent a lens and take **extremely good care** with it, because it is a rental, and they do not wish to damage it and rack up a repair bill that will automatically be charged to their credit card number?

    I think many people are very cautious with rented gear, while being rather complacent with their own gear. Boneheadedness and ham-fistedness...I don't think that's all that big a factor in lens breakdowns. Reading between the lines of the Lensrentals.com articles, I think they are stating that shipping damage is a huge,huge issue. Shipping damage is where they say that camera bodies are most often damaged, and I think the stress of shipping lenses via commercial haulers is pretty taxing on lenses, and on the packaging and protection systems Lensrentals uses. Fork lifts, dropped pallets, hurried delivery men, bumpy landings, loose cargo, all that's pretty hard on lenses,and bodies.

    Abusing of hand and power tools is one thing; it's easy to "abuse" a floor sander, or to run a power tool off an inadequate extension cord and brown-out it and burn the motor up...happens all the time...but abusing a lens? Not sure that's as likely to happen as with tools from Home Depot.

    Unlike many tools, lenses do not need regular maintenance,per se, just occasional cleaning and checking of screws for looseness--which usually only happens if you pack the gear frequently on high-vibration places like aircraft or aboard small boats,etc. Manufacturer repair info would be nice to have.

    One thing I will say: the internet has been a huge innovation. A book called The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business as Usual was seminal in teaching companies that they absolutely MUST pay attention to their products,and to what their customers are saying,and sharing on-line. Sigma's improvement of from 80-some percent to 41 to 20-some percent of annualized repairs on their 120-300mm lens is no surprise: that lens is widely purchased by serious sports users,the kind that hang out at Fredmiranda or robgalbraith or sportsshooter.com or other high-clout forums. In the mid-2000's I read multiple stories of multiple examples of the 120-300mm being bought and immediately malfunctioning. That lens was also one of the FIRST big lenses to absolutely rocket up in price from $1799 to $2300, which was a cool $500 uptick in prices years before other lenses went up to that price range,and I think with a higher per-lens wholesale price, Sigma was able to improve QC on the lens, significantly. Again, though, the web has made it very hard, impossible really, for companies to B.S. or snow-job customers...widespread malfunctions used to be kept quiet...if there is a problem now, in the web era...thousands of customers or potential customers KNOW about it. At the speed of light,world-wide. Lensrentals divulging of repair rates by brnad,model,and percentage is the very first I have ever heard, ever. In 37 years in the hobby.

    Anyway...shipping rental gear is hard on it. Gear that is designed "tough" does not break down as often as gear designed with less inherent toughness.
    One camera that used to break down was the Pentax ME Super...film advance system was weak,and would often break...ask anybody who ever used one for more than a year or two...busted film advance with a Canon F1n--not on your life! Back to the OP's specific question--are NIKKOR lenses worth the extra money over 3rd party lenses. Not Canon, but Nikkors, are they worth the dough versus 3rd party. Well, Lensrentals gives an idea of the breakdown rates over a year's annual rental period, which I think is the equivalent of 5 to 10 years of one-guy, amateur usage...Nikon's worst lens seems to be the 18-200 VR...no surprise there. Their "pro" zooms seem to be pretty good, and notice that there are no problems with Nikon's regular primes on that list...no AF motor issues in their 50/1.4 or their 85/1.4 or their 105 f/2 or 2.8 or 135 or other "normal" primes.

    Fact is, Sigma and Tamron do not really compete head-to-head with Nikon except in a few very instances. Sigma tries to find niches where there is little competition, or where the big boys have $$$$ options, like the 150 and 180 macro category,and the 10-20 ultra-wide zooms. I have had more problems and issues with the handful of Sigma lenses that I own than with all of my other lenses combined...but their 180/3.5 macro and 100-300 f/4 are simply not offered by Nikon. And there was no equivalent for the 18-125 Sigma DC available in Canon when I bought that Sigma lens. So...are Nikkors--which have a Five Year USA warranty--- worth the extra cash over 3rd party lenses? I think so, if you want to use the stuff hard and not worry much. Or if you use gear in a pool, or professionally, or use it hard, I think the extra money is worth it. For lighter use, careful use, with no air travel or professional assignments, the 3rd party lenses with 1 year warranty make a lot of sense.
  11. subscuck
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    subscuck New Member

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  12. VeteranNPhotographer
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    VeteranNPhotographer New Member

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    I have the Sigma 24-70 f 2.8 and while it's acceptable in most scenarios (I find it sharper than the 18-70 and 18-200mm VR I owned prior I personally wouldn't recommend it. It has bad lens flair issues compared to other lenses I have owned, and it is soft enough at f2.8 throughout the center of the frame that I never even use it below F4. Its not just my lens and calibration (doesn't matter if I focus manually using live view). I would go to TWIP.com and search for the review of the Canon Sigma and Tamaron 24-70 f2.8 lenses. (it was fairly recent and I thought complete) Canon was the best (And I suspect Nikon would be the same with Tamaron being a very close second in most aspects of its performance and sigma being a somewhat distant 3rd. In the future if you are ever looking for how a lens performs this site is a great resource. Canon & Nikon Digital SLR Camera & Lens Comparisons This site allows you to compare lenses side by side. So if price is a concern at least with this lens, I would at least spring the extra few hundred for the Tamaron, but at that point, why not go for a Nikorr.
  13. MLeeK
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    MLeeK New Member

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    In short, on the ones that are GOOD, the trade off in dollars vs the compromise it is often well worth it.

    HOWEVER the top rated ones right now? You can buy the older version of the name brand lens for about the same price as the off brand one new. SO... I'd then go with the previous version of the Nikon. THere are a couple that the full testing results aren't out there yet and that is something that I'd want to see. If it was enough to blow me out of the water then I'll be all for buying those off brands.

    I have several off brand lenses. When I purchased there was no older version option for me to go with at the same price as the off brand. THe trade off was an outstanding option. THe savings was far more than the compromise.
  14. dbvirago
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    dbvirago New Member

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    "Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS EF-S 19.6% IS, Err99" This. No excuse on a $1,000+ lens.

    As I said in another thread, happy with the Tamron 17-50. I have the Tamron 90 2.8 and love it.
  15. KmH
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    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish

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    I love smelly old dug up 2+ year old threads. :lol:

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