Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?
I have a D90. Though I am considering a DX body upgrade at some point (D7xxx? the mythical D400?), I have no interest in the weight or expense inherent in going to FX.
My go-everywhere 2-lens kit is the 16-85VR plus the 70-300VR. Depending on what I'm doing, I may add some combination of my 35mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8 AF-D, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, or Sigma 150mm f/2.8 macro. (FYI, my current -- and likely future -- shooting is likely to be mostly landscape/nature, travel and "urban decay" although with a grandchild on the way there may be more candids/portaits in my future...)
I am quite happy with my current kit and haven't given a lot of thought to why I might want faster glass for my two main zooms. However, Nikon's recent release of the D800 and D600 FX bodies suggests that there may be more used copies of the 17-55mm f/2.8 (DX lens) and 70-200 f/2.8 VR1 (reputed to be not as good on FX as it is on DX) on the market from FX upgraders and that the used prices for these lenses may come down a bit due to supply.
I'm aware of the obvious trade-offs between my current two main lenses and the f/2.8 zooms (VR vs non-VR and restricted focal length range for the 17-55, speed vs size and weight for the 70-200). However, I've never had any experience with the f/2.8 zooms so I have no idea what I might be missing. Do any of you DX shooters (there must still be a few of us left!) have any advice or insight help me decide whether I should spend more money on lenses? Do you think either of the f/2.8 zooms is a more compelling upgrade for me than the other?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts,
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#1. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0liupublic Registered since 16th May 2012Thu 20-Sep-12 05:52 PM
Here is my personal experience:
The basic issue w/ non-VR lens is the requirement for fast shutter speed to avoid shake. So for 35mm f/1.8, shutter speed needs to be faster or equal to 1/60sec. At 50mm, faster still. 1/80 or 1/100sec.
W/ VR, the difference is quite big. Easy to take sharp pictures at 1/15sec up to 50mm. That's a 2-stop improvement.
For example, I started with D7000 w/ 35mm f/1.8 only. Really enjoyed the little lens and etc. Purchased Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS about 4 months ago. I only put the 35mm f/1.8 back on once. So if subject is not moving, 35mm f/1.8 is actually not as useful as a 17-50 f/2.8 w/ OS.
The only time I use a 35mm f/1.8 is when a flash is not allowed and the subject is moving.
So I would suggest to take into account of your typical subject is and see if OS is needed or helpful.
#2. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0Ferguson Nikonian since 19th Aug 2004Thu 20-Sep-12 07:04 PM
I had a D300, and I had a 18-200, but still bought a 70-200/F2.8, and never regretted it. It's overlap, sure, but they are very different lenses. The 70-200 was incredibly sharp in comparison, it focused faster and more accurately, the contrast was better, and of course I had two stops more light. A little less obvious is the reduced depth of field you get, so (for example) you are shooting a sport, the background is more blurred and doesn't distract from the item of interest as much as a F4 or so lens.
On the other hand it was quite heavy, and even if it had the reach (down to 18) of the other, I would not use it for a walking-around lens. (Distantly related -- the 70-200/VR1 works just fine on FX, the vignetting is minor and automatically corrected, the focus speed if there is a difference is not significant as the VR-I is VERY fast)
Normally I'd say get the 70-200/F2.8 next, but given the 70-300 which is decent if not great, the wide end for landscape might benefit you more. The 50/1.8 is decent for portraits on the DX body, and decent for medium landscape, but you also need something really wide I suspect, and it's hard to go wide on DX. I don't know the 11-16, but that's a very nice range if it's a good lens. Another alternative albeit a very specialized and under-appreciated one in my opinion is Nikon's 10.5 fisheye. It's not rectilinear of course, but it can be de-fished. I bought one for fun, and found far, far more uses for it than I anticipated (admittedly all I had at the wide end at the time was the 18 of an 18-200). Not a substitute for a wide rectilinear lens, but something to consider for fun.
This is the Ringling museum with a 10.5 on D300, de-fished, in pretty awful light. That's F4 and the depth of field is still pretty much the whole room.
Comments welcomed on pictures: Http://captivephotons.com
#3. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0MotoMannequin Registered since 11th Jan 2006Thu 20-Sep-12 07:10 PM
The faster glass, besides generally having a more robust build, offers obviously the option for better subject isolation (shallow DOF) and faster shutter speeds. Also, you get a much brighter viewfinder which is an advantage you can enjoy even if you typically shoot stopped down.
On DX I really like the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS HSM. It's fantastically sharp and has a very effective optical stabilization. The only downgrade I give it is that it's not true HSM (focus ring rotates during AF, and there is no full-time MF override) and it's not quite built like the tank that the Nikkor is, but otherwise I consider it a bargain compared to the 17-55.
Interestingly I went through almost this exact transformation - 16-85 & 70-300VR were stolen along with the rest of my kit, and when I got my insurance payout I switched to the aforementioned 17-50 OS and 70-200 VRII. The 70-200 mostly because there was an attractive rebate on it at the time, and despite really liking the 16-85 I had an event shoot coming up where I thought I'd like having f/2.8 in my standard zoom. Bottom line is you'll be trading zoom range and light weight for better IQ, brighter viewfinder, option for better subject isolation and/or higher shutter speeds. Would I go back? Probably not, I'm quite happy with the new kit. However, there are times I'd like to pack a lighter backpack where something like a 70-200 f/4 would be a nice option to have.
Tokina makes a really nice 50-135 f/2.8 DX which might fit the smaller/lighter bill on DX but no VR and personally I'd miss the 135-200 range much more than I do my current gap from 50-70.
Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
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#4. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0Floridian Nikonian since 11th Feb 2007Thu 20-Sep-12 11:21 PM
Here are my thoughts, as an amateur hobbyist, D300 shooter, and firmly committed to DX. For much of my shooting I prefer the versatility and convenience of slow zooms. I use the 18-200 a lot, and at the longer end a 55-300. Sometimes I need faster glass, and for that, I use primes. I have a 35 f1.8, 50 f1.4, and 85 f1.8 that seem to fit what I need when I want faster lenses. I often use them at apertures wider than f2.8, so in this way they actually work better than the high-end zooms.
I've thought about getting a 17-55, but decided that most of the time I'd do better with my 18-200, which is smaller, lighter, and has a larger zoom range. And when I want fast, my primes are faster than the 17-55. I just don't think I'd use one much. You already have a 35 and 50. Do you think you'd use a 17-55 that much already owning these two? Are there times you wished you had the zoom for a fast lens instead of your primes?
I do have an 80-200 f2.8 for times when I need a faster telephoto, mostly for indoor sports. But the only time I take it with me is when I know I'll be using it, because it is a load to carry. So I use my cheap (and small and lightweight) 55-300 more than the 80-200.
Everyone has different preferences so I don't think there's a right answer for everyone, and I'm not saying what works well for me is the best thing for you. Nikon makes a lot of lenses because people have different styles, preferences, and subjects. But for me, the combination of slow zooms and fast primes seems to fit the bill. You already have this.
As to your specific question, my answer for the way I shoot is that a 70-200 would be a more compelling upgrade than a 17-55.
#5. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0Covey22 Charter MemberFri 21-Sep-12 11:05 AM
What you're missing is really build, weight, optical quality. I can tell which shot was taken with my 70-300 and my 80-200/2.8. It's not just the bokeh, it's the sharpness, contrast and color rendition. It's that noticeable to me, at least at mid-range casual portraits and event shooting.
Faster and more accurate AF performance (because of more light hitting the sensors) is more easily noted on lower end bodies (i.e., D70, D80, D100) than it is on units with more cross-hair sensors in the array.
Overall, you get those benefits, but you pay for it in terms of weight.
#6. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0GiantTristan Nikonian since 08th Jan 2006Fri 21-Sep-12 01:34 PM | edited Sat 22-Sep-12 07:52 AM by GiantTristan
I got the 70-200/2.8 VRI more than seven years ago, since I was not happy with the IQ achievable with the 18-200VR. Since then I have used this lens quite extensively with D70, D200 and D700 for travel, landscape, wildlife, people etc. Aside from its resolution, the micro contrast and color rendition of this lens are outstanding. The lens performs well wide open and reaches peak performance around f/4. For a zoom lens, it works well with TCs, especially for close ups. Obviously, the f/2.8 aperture permits focus isolation and low light photography. The oof bokeh of the lens is very nice. I also have not noted any problems when using this lens on a FX camera.
I have no opinion re. the 17-55/2.8, since I had the 70-200, 24-70 and Tokina 12-24/4 when I was using a DX camera.
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#7. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 0Pouncer Nikonian since 22nd Jan 2009Sat 22-Sep-12 01:17 AM
A couple of thoughts come to mind. Glass is a better investment than a new camera. What is limiting your photography? The D90? Lenses? Neither? Both? Simple NAS at work? What do you shoot? What focal lengths and apertures? Do you need f/2.8? Or VR?
For years I shot a D300 with a 17-35 f/2.8, 35-70 f/2.8, and 80-200 f/2.8. The size, weight, and price "penalty" of FX is primarily in the zooms. I suspect the size and weight of the mythical D400, D7xxx, and D600 will be roughly the same. Carrying and shooting a 17-55 f/2.8 will be an easy transition. You probably won't even miss the 55m to 85mm range. If you've never held a 70-200 f/2.8, the weight will surprise you.
When shooting "serious" photos I use 2.8 zooms. For family and travel photos I have a 24-120 f/4 VR. Sometimes the quality and ability of the 2.8 zooms is needed; other times I prefer VR or simply don't need 2.8.
If you have the money, and don't mind the size and weight, the FX 2.8 zooms are fantastic on DX cameras, regardless of whether you migrate to FX or not. And if you do, you won't need new lenses.
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#8. "RE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 7DaveSoderlund Nikonian since 29th May 2010Sat 22-Sep-12 01:33 PM
>A couple of thoughts come to mind. Glass is a better
>investment than a new camera. What is limiting your
>photography? The D90? Lenses? Neither? Both? Simple NAS
Great questions, Garrett--
My planned "body upgrade" is based on the need for a backup body before setting off on the first of what I hope to be many once-in-a-lifetime photography trips (to Iceland next year with Tony Sweet). My wife and I both have D90s, and I envision mine becoming the backup for both of us. Obviously, I could just get another D90 on the used market, but it seems to me to make more sense to upgrade rather than just duplicate. I like the D7000 for its next-generation sensor, its high ISO advantage, and the fact that it is a direct design successor to the D90. (We took Steve Simon's D80/D90/D7000 workshop last year -- it was a nice introduction to the similarities and differences between the D90 and the D7000.) Like many others I'm intrigued by the prospect of a D300 replacement, but if I'm honest with myself I do not need whatever it is likely to offer over and above the D7000.
My original lens question was rooted in primarily in my chronic NAS, coupled with a sense that the prices for the two f/2.8 zooms might be coming down a bit. The absence of VR on the 17-55 is a problem, because when I travel I seem to find myself in situations where I have to shoot hand-held in low light and the extra stops provided by VR moderate my need to push ISO too high. This line of reasoning makes the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 with OS (or the corresponding Tamron with VC) perhaps a better choice in a faster midrange lens for my needs.
For now, all the varied responses in this thread leave me satisfied that the thought and care I put into assembling my current array of lenses were not wasted and that I should just get out and shoot more with what I have. (That's usually the right answer to most questions like this, isn't it?)
Thanks to you and all the others for taking the time to read and comment,
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#9. ", since the lightRE: Nikkor f/2.8 zooms on DX: What am I missing?" | In response to Reply # 8GiantTristan Nikonian since 08th Jan 2006Sat 22-Sep-12 06:08 PM
> the first of what I hope to
>be many once-in-a-lifetime photography trips (to Iceland next
>year with Tony Sweet).
Just for the record - I was in Iceland a few years ago and found the fast AF and large aperture of the 70-200/2.8 rather useful.
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