Nikon 18-70 f/3.5-4.5? Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by elemental, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    My first digital SLR was a Pentax K100D with the 18-55mm and 50-200mm. I hated the 18-55 because it was slow, built like it came from Toys 'R Us, had horrible vignetting at 18mm, and was slow (did I mention slow?). The 50-200 didn't even leave the bag often enough to provoke my scorn, though I'm sure I would have hated that too.

    When I move to Nikon with my D200, I planned to never buy a cheap zoom again. I had visions in my head of a system built solely of fast, sharp primes. It was wonderful. However, now that I have the D200 and only the 50mm f/1.8, things are less rosy. 50mm is irritating for most of my shooting (though it will be great once I get some portrait stuff going), but I can't afford a 35mm, an 85mm, and a 20mm all at once to get my system going.

    With this in mind (and my prime tail between my prime legs), I am considering picking up a cheap zoom. At first I thought something like the Tamron 17-35 f/2.8-4 might be nice, since wide to normal is 99% of my shooting and it would leave the 50mm for light telephoto and portraits. I'm also hearing great things about the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5, which does cover that last 1% of my shooting past 35mm (though the 50mm already does that to some extent).

    It looks like the Nikon really struggles with vignetting, which was one of the things I hated about my Pentax lens (although now I know how to control it). It's also slower than the Tamron (another pet peeve from my zoom days of yore, though I know I shouldn't use them wide open), and produces a little more distortion at the wide end. They're both very sharp for zooms.

    I guess I'm not seeing the magic of the 18-70 on paper. Am I missing something? I guess the range is an improvement, but it doesn't seem like it performs all that well. Is it really a cut above a normal kit zoom, or is it just a little faster and a little longer?


    Also, for some laughs, read what Ken Rockwell has to say about the 18-70 and his thoughts at the bottom on how superior everything Nikon is to everything else. Somehow saying a Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 is like a Hyundai with more radio presets to a Nikon 55-200 f/4.5-5.6's Mercedes seems a little off . . .
     
  2. Mike_E

    Mike_E No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have an 18-70mm and really like it. I would go ahead and get one while saving for a 12-24mm or something like it and a 24/28-70mm f/2.8 something or other.

    If you find that you can do with out it the resale value is about whatever you paid for it.
     
  3. LuckySo-n-So

    LuckySo-n-So TPF Noob!

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    If you can put up with doing everything manually, I would suggest looking strongly at Nikon Series E AIS lenses. I recently purchased a 100mm 2.8 E lens for about $100 from Adorama. It is easily as capable as the Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AF-D. As an added bonus, the "E" lenses will meter on your D200, whereas they will not on my D40 or D90. Don't be afraid to look at "legacy" lenses--they are extremely good and are a fraction of the cost of the newer AF-S lenses.

    Think of them as a 1963 Corvette compared to a 2008 S500 AMG (if we are to continue with the car analogy).

    Sample pic from 100mm AIS E:

    [​IMG]

    100% Crop
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2009
  4. epp_b

    epp_b No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I second this motion.

    If you're shooting things that don't move, move slowly or move predictably, the Series E lenses are an excellent choice.

    Take a look around eBay for the 35/2.8, 100/2.8 and 135/2.8. That bit of range between 50mm and 100mm should be easy compensate for with a few steps backwards or forwards.
     
  5. elemental

    elemental TPF Noob!

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    I literally received a 35mm f/2.8 AIS in the mail today (the Series E is an f/2.5). It's trashed, so I'm sending it back. I have no problem whatsoever with manual operation- I had only manual 35mm SLRs for a few months while I was in between digitals and they were great. Part of the appeal of buying a zoom is that I can just have it covered now instead of having to track down a bunch of old lenses in decent shape (it never ceases to amaze me how Murphy's Law old gear can be). I'll definitely look into these recommendations though.

    The other thing about that is I really want something wide/superwide, which is hard to come by (for obvious crop factor reasons). Other than the 20mm Nikkors (which aren't cheap), my options on that end are limited, and a large part of what's pushing me toward a zoom. I could live without covering he 100mm+ range, but if I can't get below 35 I'm going to get frustrated quickly.
     
  6. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    Manual focusing can be a real pain sometimes, so I would recommend a high quality zoom. The 18-70 is an excellent kit lens. However, it is a kit lens. The 17-35 F2.8-4 is more of a semi-pro/advanced amateur lens. For quality, the 17-35 is the way to go. I also believe it is a full frame lens, which will work on any film bodies you have and also a FF camera, should you decide to upgrade.

    If you have no interest in FF, I would go with the Sigma 18-50 F2.8 HSM, and professional quality landscape and portrait lens.
     
  7. anubis404

    anubis404 TPF Noob!

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    If you're looking for a superwide, the Tamron 14mm F2.8 goes for around $600 used. I hear its a very high quality landscape lens, although the front element protrudes like crazy, making filters a no-no and damage very likely in the event of a drop.
     
  8. JustAnEngineer

    JustAnEngineer TPF Noob!

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    Something in the 17-55mm range could be very useful. See if you can find a good deal on a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8. There's even a Promaster badged version of the older (non-BIM) Tamron model that has been seen for under $200, new.
     
  9. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    i got the 18-70 recently to replace my 18-55kit, and i like it better...here are the improvements i can see so far.
    1. better range
    2. faster AF
    3. slightly faster at 70mm
    4. build quality
    5. when focusing, the outer ring doesnt rotate so if you set your CPOL position, you wont lose it if you adjust focus.
    6. the M/A mode is nice for fine adjustments without having to switch over to M mode on the lens.
     
  10. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I have the Nikon 18-70. It came with my D70. It's a great lens. Fast focus, pretty sharp, but the 3.5-4.5 aperture is too slow for my style of shooting. Yes, it's a "kit lens" but it's not "cheap" it's a quality lens IMO.

    With that said, I replaced mine as my main lens with the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8, not because of quality, but because of the constant 2.8 aperture on the Tamron. The Tamron is sharp too, but the focus speed isn't quite as fast as the Nikon. If the aperture speed isn't an issue, then the 18-70 can be found cheap and is definitely worth the prices they're going for used.
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  11. SrBiscuit

    SrBiscuit TPF Noob!

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    i could be wrong, but i believe it's actually 3.5-4.5.
     
  12. bhop

    bhop No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Whoops, you're right, my mistake.
     

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