Sun 05-May-13 12:51 PM | edited Sun 05-May-13 12:52 PM by VictorSuarez
For use on a 7100 all things being equal. I realize the 17-55 will have the ability to shoot w/o flash indoors and the 24-85 won't but what about outdoors from f4 on up? Seems to be more positive press on either the 16-85 and the 24-85 vs the much more expensive 17-55 which confuses someone on the learning curve such as myself! Thank you in advance.
Here's a quick summary of the three lenses you mention:
17-55mm: Constant f/2.8 aperture. Designed for DX-format dSLR's such as the D7100. No vibration reduction. This lens was first made 10 years ago to provide a "professional grade" standard zoom for digital.
16-85mm: Variable aperture. At 16mm, it's only 2/3rds of a stop slower than the 17-55mm, but by 55mm it's 1 2/3rd stop slower. Designed for DX-format dSLR's such as the D7100. Covers the widest range of focal lengths of the three. Includes vibration reduction. This lens was first made 5 years ago as a "mid-range" offering comparable to using a 24-120mm lens on an FX dSLR or a film camera.
24-85mm: Variable aperture, but about 2/3rds of a stop faster than the 16-85mm in the same focal length range. Designed for FX-format dSLR's, but equally at home with DX-format dSLR's and even many 35mm film cameras. On a camera like your D7100, 24mm is more of a "wide-normal" field of view rather than a wide-angle. Includes vibration reduction. This lens was released recently as the "kit-lens" Zoom-Nikkor for FX format dSLR's.
Used at common apertures and focal lengths from a tripod, I would expect the 17-55mm to offer slightly better optical performance at wider apertures, with differences all but vanishing by f/8. Handheld, though, VR acts as a partial substitute for a tripod, so at slower shutter speeds you may get better results.
The 16-85mm and 24-85mm offer more "reach" than the 17-55mm, but their smaller maximum aperture can't let you limit depth of field as much. Your primes, in turn, offer no focal length flexibility at all, but offer even more control over depth of field.
So in summary, any of the three could be a reasonable purchase. It simply depends on what you are looking for in a lens.
"There is no real magic in photography, just the sloppy intersection of physics and art." — Kirk Tuck
Regarding the light gathering of the 17-55 over the 24-85, there are very few conditions where f/3.5 will not get the shot but f/2.8 will. If you need low light performance, use the fast primes that are such a bargain. The 28, 25, 50 and 85 f/1.8 will help at the cost of depth of field which is very narrow at f/1.8.
After having the 17-55(still have it but never use it), I can say it is a competent lens with no really bad traits but no great traits either. It is a well made, reliable predictable lens that costs more than the level of satisfaction I have gotten from it. Getting a 24-70 pretty much assigned the DX only 17-55 to the spare camera bag that never leaves the closet. Nothing wrong with it but there are too many other lenses in the main bag which are more desirable for my subjects. But you might find it perfect for your needs with different shooting priorities and different subjects. Stan St Petersburg Russia
I re-bought the 17-55 today, never should have let it go the first time...lol! Thought real hard about the Tamron 17-50 and both Nikkors the 16-85 and the 24-85, however the build quality fit and finish and focusing speed on the 17-55 is far superior. This time she stays. Thank you for the input, much appreciated.
Victor, good decision. I've had my 17-55 for a long time and it is very sharp and my favorite DX lens. Some say it's in the same class as the older AF-S 28-70 and the newer 24-70. People ask if I'm a PRO when they see that lens mounted on my D2x or D300s. Only gripe, it gets very heavy but it's still managable.
If not for full frame body, nikon 17-55 is my most used lens. I even tried it on d800 coupled with a 1.4x TC and got decent results. With d800, 70-200 is my most used now. My mid range is now a fixed 50 1.4 to make room for the tele lens.