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Thread: Other lens manufacturers

  1. #1
    Fstop Manalo's Avatar
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    Other lens manufacturers

    I was walking in the mall one day and I saw lenses of sigma and tamron. I was wondering, what's the advantages and disadvantages of using those lenses on a nikon/canon camera??

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Advantages = cheaper, VR on some lenses where there isn't an equivalent in the Nikon range at least (if that sort of thing floats your boat)

    Disadvantages = cheaper with resale prices dropping far quicker than Nikon/Canon, quality control (try several samples of a lens to see if the lens performs well enough), in some cases not so popular filter sizes (thinking about the Sigma 10-20 f3.5 at 82mm, vs the 10-20 variable f, nikkor 10-24 and other wide angles at 77mm)

    There are some gems though - 150mm Macro from Sigma is a beauty as an example. Some people swear by the 85mm f1.4 (I picked one up and swore at it rather than by it, due to the focus inaccuracy on the sample in the shop, mind you)

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    Melkus's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    And there many that don't like to use 3rd party lens

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Love my Zeiss :-)

    Sigma 10-20 did the job until I went full frame, and then I managed to bag a pristine 2nd hand 14-24 for less than a 10-24 :-)

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    your best bet is not to generalize too much, since there is a wide variation in quality among the lenses made by any manufacturer, including Canon and Nikon. Instead, once you have a specific type of lens in mind--say, a zoom that is roughly 17-50mm, or thereabouts--read reviews and post questions about the specific alternatives.

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    ISTM that lenses need to be evaluated individually. I currently own three third party lenses and two Nikkor lenses. I am reasonably happy with all of them. My favorite lens is the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens. It is razor-sharp, even wide open, and light as a feather. The biggest potential drawback to the lens is that it is slower focusing than the comparable Nikkor, which weighs twice as much and costs three times as much, but is otherwise a very well-regarded lens. This lens is on my camera more than all the others combined, because it fits my normal shooting needs to a tee.

    The lens that I am probably least happy with is my other Tamron, the 90mm f/2.8 macro. It has a serious LoCA problem when used as a general-purpose lens, routinely misfocuses at distances of 20 feet or more, and trombones to a point that it has serious working distance problems as a macro lens. I would never buy it again, but it is good enough as a macro lens and portrait lens that I'm not inclined to replace it. Both of those applications are rare enough for me that I don't feel the need to have the perfect lens for those purposes, but common enough that I want something that fills those shooting niches.

    I used to have the Nikkor 55-200 f/4.5-5.6 VR, and was not unduly displeased with it. It was a terrific bargain, but had a coating that made every shot look like the lens was wearing sunglasses. It was also slow-focusing, and for me that was a bigger problem with the tele than it is with a standard zoom. So I got the Nikkor 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR and am considerably more content with it --although it is still pretty slow glass in terms of maximum aperture.

    The point is that the strengths and weaknesses of any given lens matter or don't depending upon your particular situation. Each lens involves a series of design choices, and whether those choices make for a good lens largely depends on how they fit your use model and financial situation.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    I have a mix of lenses built by the camera manufacturer (a.k.a. Original Equipment Manufacturer or OEM) and several third-party lenses. In every lens I own, it was purchased for specific characteristics, generally because the camera manufacturer's section did not offer the specific characteristics that I was looking for in their lineup. The ones that most people know are Tokina, Sigma and Tamron. The one thing to remember is that you do get what you pay for, and from a production cost standpoint any of the third parties are going to have similar costs to make the lens as the OEM. People are probably willing to pay a slight premium for an OEM product, but this is probably in the 5% - 10% range. If you find a third-party lens that is signifcantly less expensive, you can be fairly sure that you are getting something that is either less mechanically robust or of lower optical quality.

    I have the Tokina f/2.8 11-16mm lens and the reason I went for it is that the OEM lens offerings at the time; qualtiy both mechanical and optical meet or perhaps even exceed the OEM build quality. We have the Sigma 150-500mm lens because the my wife wanted a long lens for a trip to Africa and I already had a lens that went to 400mm, and we did not want two of the same lens. The build quality (it has been back for warranty repairs twice) is not even close to the OEM lens. I have looked at Tamron lenses as well, but they seemed have the least robust build. Depending on the model these lenses may or may not have autofocus or optical stabilization capabilities.

    There are also other less well known suppliers Samyang (Korea) which makes lenses under it's own name and for private label lenses make my 8mm fisheye. It was cheap, and I was not willing to invest a lot of money for a lens that I only use very occasionally. Mechanically and optically, it is superb. It does not have either electronic connection to the camera body or autofocus, but those are easy workaround. Cosina (Japan) makes lenses for Zeiss and markets under the Vogtländer brand. The Zeiss lenses tend to be superb and many of the Vogtländer lenses are getting very good reviews as well, but these are not autofocus. Lenses from some Russian manufacturers are out there and the Chinese are getting into this market as well. Schneider-Kreuznach turns out some very high end lenses in Canon and Nikon mounts as well. So far as I know all of the lenses from these companies are manual focus and are not optically stabilized.

    I hope that this clarifies things a bit.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    To me, the main advantages of going third party are to pick up a lens that's not in your native lineup, and generally good quality at lower cost, although, you do need, as Dan said, to consider lenses individually, and not assume anything holds across an entire line of lenses. Painting all 3rd-party lenses as "lower quality" isn't exactly taking Zeiss into account.

    The main disadvantage to going 3rd party is possible future compatibility. 3rd party makers tend to reverse engineer the electronic communication protocol between the camera body and the lens. They are not privy to the actual design details--only what they can see from testing the contacts or taking a lens apart. So when you buy the lens, it's likely to be compatible with the mount as it currently stands. But if the OEM (original equipment manufacturer, 1st party) decides to modify the mount communication protocol to support a new feature in the system, they are likely to only make sure this new change is backwards compatible with their own products, not the 3rd party products.

    For example, when Canon went digital, and added EF-S and EXIF information communication to the mount protocol, some Sigma lenses lost autofocus capability, and had to be rechipped. This is one reason you want to be super-careful when purchasing used 3rd-party lenses. And this is also one of the reasons some 3rd party flashes (Metz, Nissin) allow for firmware updates. The OEMs can always tinker with their lens mounts and flash hotshoes.

    This is the main difference between 3rd party lens makers that are outside the OEM development loop (Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, etc.) and those inside it (Zeiss for Sony and Leica for Panasonic). This is also why manual lens makers like Samyang/Rokinon, Zeiss, and Cosina Voigtlander have better chances at future compatibility: if you don't include any electronic communication at all, you can't become incompatible.

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Kathy Li:

    Very good post.

    Glenn

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    Fstop Manalo's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Just curious though. Is there a good third party wide angle lens out there that's cheap and durable and somehow reliable?

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Fstop Manalo View Post
    Just curious though. Is there a good third party wide angle lens out there that's cheap and durable and somehow reliable?
    I own a Tokina (the 12-24 f/4 DX II). They make a couple of very well-regarded UWA lenses (DX-only) that are built like tanks and optically superb. By my lights, they are the equal of Nikon's DX lenses (the Nikon 14-24 f/2.8 is in a class by itself, but the DX lenses seem to me to be pretty much the same quality at twice the price of the Tokinas.) FWIW

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    I haven't used it, but all the customers I've sold a Sigma 10-20 to have been extremely happy with it.


    How do you guys rate Samyang and Bower? We're going to be carrying them soon, and I know very little about them.

  13. #13
    xpatUSA's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Sigma gets consistently good reviews for their (true) macro lenses. I use a 50mm f/2.8 EX on a Nikon D50 and it is quite satisfactory, not that the D50 is the sharpest camera in the world . .

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    dubaiphil's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Fstop Manalo View Post
    Just curious though. Is there a good third party wide angle lens out there that's cheap and durable and somehow reliable?
    The Sigma 10-20 is good value - not the fixed f3.5 but the variable aperture.

    If you're shooting architecture or seascapes you'll notice some wavy moustache distortion which is difficult or impossible to correct. Otherwise you won't notice anything significant. Build quality is good, and it should be cheaper than the superior but less versatile Tokina 11-16.

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    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Fstop Manalo View Post
    Just curious though. Is there a good third party wide angle lens out there that's cheap and durable and somehow reliable?
    Depends on whether you want to deal with manual everything and wave distortion, but there's the Samyang/Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 which covers full-frame.

    The Tokina 11-16/2.8 for crops has a good reputation, if you wanted fast and ultrawide.

    Quote Originally Posted by blakemcguire View Post
    How do you guys rate Samyang and Bower? We're going to be carrying them soon, and I know very little about them.
    Samyang is the Korean manufacturer. The lenses get rebadged as Rokinon, Bower, Phoenix, Pro-Optic, Vivitar, etc. etc. etc.

    The lenses have great reputations. They're all-manual which is why they cost so little, but optically, they're rivalling OEM lenses, and have terrific build quality from all reports.

    I own a single Samyang lens (Rokinon branded), which is the 7.5mm f/3.5 fisheye for my micro four-thirds camera, a Panasonic G3. It's tiny. Only slightly thicker than the fabled pancake Panasonic 20mm f/1.7, and the build quality might actually be more solid. It's a joy to operate. And optically? The thing is a wow. The corner sharpness and C/A control, especially for a fisheye, is mighty impressive. And it was a mere $300 vs. the $630 Panasonic asks for its fisheye.

    Other lens manufacturers

    They've apparently slightly modified the design for the 8mm f/2.8 NEX version.

    The 85/1.4 has been side-by-sided with Canon's 85/1.8 and FD 85/1.2L, and the Nikkor 85/1.4, and shows comparable image quality, if a slightly more boring character. The 35/1.4 is now wowing manual focus lens geeks, and the 14/2.8 is a welcome ultrawide option for full-frame users. Overall, they have a very good reputation and pricetags that can't be beat. But you do have to educate purchasers about all the side effects that not having electronic communication with the body means (empty EXIF fields, no aperture control (i.e., shooting only in M/A modes), stop-down metering use (which for entry-level Nikon users means losing accurate metering altogether), and all--it's not JUST manual focus.

    I'd do a search on the Fred Miranda forum's Alt. Gear section to see what folks are posting about the Samyangs if you want to get a better feel for the individual lenses.
    Last edited by inkista; 30th August 2012 at 09:27 PM.

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    I did not know enough when I bought my Tamron 28-300 six years ago to care that it was not a Nikon. After being happy with it, I have more recently purchased the Tamron 70-300 vc and two Sigma's, the 17-70 os and the 70mm 2.8 Macro. Every lens has its idiosyncrasies so I don't think many lenses from third party companies are a complete and cheaper replica of a Nikon. For example, my 17-70 os can be compared to the Nikon 16-85 vr but, obviously, the range is different as are many other factors. I just thought the Sigma satisfied more of my photographic needs. The Tokina 11-16 2.8 is quite different from Nikon's offering--the 10-24. One area that they are cheaper replicas is the 70-200 2.8 zoom. Nikon's is the most expensive and rated the best. Sigma's is less expensive and rated lower. Tamron's is less expensive still and is noted for a less able autofocus system. In terms of range and speed, they are identical. Many refrain from buying third party lenses. My Nikon lens is the only one I do not use (would love to have the Nikon 70-200 so I am not anti-Nikon).

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    Fstop Manalo's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Is using a third party flash also good? Like the Nissin and yongnuo?

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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Fstop Manalo View Post
    Is using a third party flash also good? Like the Nissin and yongnuo?
    To my understanding, you need to be careful with third party flashes, especially with Canon. I don't know all the details, but there's something called a trigger voltage, which is how powerful the signal between the flash and camera is, and sometimes it's possible that the flash can ruin the flash control system in the camera.

  19. #19
    inkista's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by Fstop Manalo View Post
    Is using a third party flash also good? Like the Nissin and yongnuo?
    Depends on what you can afford, and what you're willing to give up. Just as with 3rd party lenses, future compatibility can be a concern. The Nissin and Metz flashes, however, allow for firmware updates, which might help stave off this issue for a bit longer. But none of these flashes typically have the same feature set, build quality, or 3rd party and service support that the OEM gear does, so whether it's "worth it" is up to you.

    Personally, I tend to say that going Youngnuo is only worth it if you're willing to gamble on getting a good copy and you can't afford anything better, and most particularly if you're going manual for a Strobist setup, rather than on-camera TTL. To me, 3rd party cheapies are best as 2nd, 3rd, or 4th flashes.

    I have a Yongnuo YN-560 that I love to pieces and use the most of all my speedlights. But it's my 4th flash, it's manual only, cost a grand whopping $65, and I own a Canon 580EX for those times I need to go on-camera with eTTL.

    Quote Originally Posted by blakemcguire View Post
    To my understanding, you need to be careful with third party flashes, especially with Canon. I don't know all the details, but there's something called a trigger voltage, which is how powerful the signal between the flash and camera is, and sometimes it's possible that the flash can ruin the flash control system in the camera.
    This is a bit of folklore that proliferates around the internet because the very first generation of Canon dSLR bodies (basically the original Canon dRebel (300D), 10D, D60, and D30 [note where that D is placed!] could only withstand 6V across the hotshoe, and it's been stated as gospel ever since, particularly on this (very old) webpage. Anything newer than the 300D can, according to Chuck Westfall (the Canon tech spokesperson) take 250V across the hotshoe (250V, btw, is also the voltage limit Nikon states in its manuals for their camera hotshoes).

    Most modern TTL-capable flashes are in the 10V or under range. Where you have to exercise caution is with older vintage film flashes. The Vivitar 285 and 283 in particular, are notorious for delivering very high (>300V) voltages. The newer 285HV was specifically designed to be safe on the digital dSLR hotshoes.

  20. #20
    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: Other lens manufacturers

    Quote Originally Posted by blakemcguire View Post
    To my understanding, you need to be careful with third party flashes, especially with Canon. I don't know all the details, but there's something called a trigger voltage, which is how powerful the signal between the flash and camera is, and sometimes it's possible that the flash can ruin the flash control system in the camera.
    Both Metz (German) and Nissin (Japanese) have been around for years and I dare say that they have been in the flash business longer than either Canon or Nikon. I think Metz started building flash units in the early 1950s and Nissin in the late 1960s. I've never used a Nissin, but from a quality and performance standpoint, my old Metz CL45 is top notch. The main reason I went with Nikon for my DSLRs is simply one of caution. If I have a problem with a Nikon camera and a Nikon flash, guess who I turn to if there is a problem... With a third party, I would never be sure if it were a camera or a flash issue. I had a very hard look at the Metz Mecablitz 45 CL-4 before going with the Nikon SB900 (which was about half the price of the Metz, albeit the Metz has a GN of 45 while the SB900 has a GN of 34)

    With the cheap Chinese knockoffs; I've heard people sing their praises and I've heard other people curse them. I agree with Kathy - they are cheap enough to look at them as throw away units, but I'm not sure if I would ever trust them as my prime units. To keep the prices as low as they are, corners have had to have been cut in design, materials and manufacturing. How much of a risk taker are you?

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