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Thread: Third party lenses?

  1. #1

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    Third party lenses?

    I've been looking at third-party lenses (Tamron, Sigma etc) for my Nikon D5000, as I'm not keen on spending a load of money at this stage - I'm still only at the learning stage.

    Do you lose anything by going with these third-party lenses - except perhaps the quality of the lens? e.g. Can you still get things like auto-focus and VR functionality - or would I need to stick with Nikkor lenses?

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Hi Niall,

    I can't speak for Nikon, but in the Canon world, 3rd party lenses often have inferior build quality and often larger sample-to-sample variations in optical quality (ie "do you feel lucky today"). I know that some people swear by off brand lenses - and some swear at them; personally I just avoid them altogether -- just my personal choice.

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by niallc99 View Post
    I've been looking at third-party lenses (Tamron, Sigma etc) for my Nikon D5000, as I'm not keen on spending a load of money at this stage - I'm still only at the learning stage.

    Do you lose anything by going with these third-party lenses - except perhaps the quality of the lens? e.g. Can you still get things like auto-focus and VR functionality - or would I need to stick with Nikkor lenses?
    Hi Niall,

    My personal experience with a Sigma 18-250mm wasn't great, eventually after months, I managed to negotiate a part-exchange for a Nikkor 18-200mm - cost more for less focal length, but it was the right decision.

    AF was the problem, and on a D5000 - it focused well behind the thing I had the single active AF point on. It wasn't just the one lens either, and it went to Sigma with the camera for 'calibration'.

    I have only bought Nikkor lenses ever since (I own 3 now).
    That's probably 'enough said', although I am but one person, others seem happy.

    Cheers,

  4. #4

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    I would suggest that a cheap lens will give inferior results irrespective of manufacturer.

    Some of the 'better end' third party lenses do produce good results for a slightly reduced price. How much extra you pay for a brand name is something of an unknown quantity.

    However, offhand I can't think of any third party lens which is actually superior to a similar branded lens.

    Apart from that, a third party lens from a recognised manufacturer (providing you specify your camera brand) should operate perfectly as well as a brand lens.

    Whether buying a cheapie lens will work out more expensive in the long run depends on exactly what you want to do with it. They will have little resale value so if you soon decide to upgrade to something better, you might as well save a bit longer and put that money towards what you really need.

    It's really up to you to decide, and tell us, exactly what are your expected plans. Just remember, the learning curve soon changes as you rapidly gain initial experience; but you never stop learning and wanting to produce better results!

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Niall, I use three third party lenses on my Nikon D80. They are the Tamron AF 90mm Macro f/2.8, the Tamron SP AF 28-75mm f/2.8 and the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6. As a strict amateur, I've been pretty happy with them. The Tammy 28-75 is a very distinct improvement on the kit 18-135mm that came with the camera in terms of colour rendition and sharpness. (It is the older screw-type) I'd like to be able to afford better glass, but on a low budget, these are better than nothing or only having one top line lens.

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    I simply say no to them because as an amateur theres no way one can tell its good or bad ( you have to compare it with something) , especially i understand that nikkor lenses are great if not perfect ( of course not every one of them ). in case of sigma the price isnt of much difference for high end lenses, maybe 10% cheaper ( it isnt worth risking) .
    in my opinion get one perfect lens ( nikkor! which is definitely the best ) at a time and literally exploit it by the time you can afford another one to overuse again!

  7. #7
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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Lets compare the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 VC with the Canon 17-40mm f4 L.

    Tamron f4 at 17mm 2494-2098 LW/PH with 3.32% barrel and best CA control over 35mm at 0.31 pixels.

    Canon f4 at 17mm 2427-2020 LW/PH with 2.5% barrel and best CA control around 24mm at 0.35 pixels.

    Of course you can actually focus the canon but it doesn't have VC or IS and only goes up to 40mm, nevertheless it is much better build and costs loads more.

    Barrel distortion has to be corrected in both so any loss in quality is the same for both, rounding errors are the same for large corrections as smaller ones, anyway I don't plan on testing it.

    So it looks like they perform about the same and the Tamron is loads cheaper, and if you haven't got any dosh (money) you can still take a pretty decent picture. The choice is between no picture or third party lens because canon cheap lenses are CHEAP, apart from the nifty 50 which looks like it will fall apart if you blow on it.

    figures:
    http://www.photozone.de/

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    ... apart from the nifty 50 which looks like it will fall apart if you blow on it.
    But if you treat it with love and affection it will reward you (such as here)

  9. #9
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    Re: Third party lenses?

    yep.

  10. #10
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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Cheap lenses are cheap lenses no matter what label they are wearing and they will most often provide you with performance commensurate with the price. However, some of the top-line third party lenses can give the OEM lenses a run for their money.

    I presently use two third party lenses: 90mm f/2.8 Tamron Macro and 12-24mm f/4 Tokina. I consider the IQ of either of these lenses right up there with my best Canon glass (which are mostly "L" lenses).

    I purchased the 100mm f/2.8 Tamron Macro, used for $100 (USD) on a whim while perusing eBay one afternoon. The lens was sitting there and there were no bids on it. I "E-Sniped" it at a hundred bucks and was very surprised that I got it at that price (plus $10 USD for shipping). The IQ of this lens is nothing short of magnificent. It is light in weight and a joy with which to shoot macros. If it has one down side, it is that the auto focus is a bit slower and more hesitant than Canon OEM lenses when I am shooting non-macro subjects. However, I normally shoot my macros in manual focus so that is no problem for me. It is also, quite a nice portrait lens since the eight bladed diaphram provides creamy bokeh and I don't need fast auto focus when shooting portraits. I would not, on-the-other hand recommend this as a general purpose short tele lens. I would expect that the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro with USM focusing would be better for that purpose. But, its specialty purposes, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens is terrific.

    I absolutely adore my 12-24mm f/4 Tokina. I have the original model which is supposed to have flare problems. However, I have experienced no great flare problems when using this lens. I always use the lens hood and seldom shoot into the sun. This lens is built like a tank and the image quality is just great. I love the constant f/4 aperture and also love the fact that while this lens is designed for 1.6x format, it is not an EF-S lens and thusly I can use it with my older Canon 10D and my even older Canon D60 which has been converted to full-time infrared. Tokina has replaced this lens with a Mark-II edition which is supposed to have reduced flare. I have found no need for this replacement but, would be interested in trying the 11-16mm f/2.8 Tokina.

    On the other hand, I once had a 400mm f/5.6 Tokina ATX lens which produced excellent IQ if stopped down a bit. Again, this was a whim purchase from eBay and I also got this glass for $100 USD. However, the auto focus of this Tokina was not up to par with it's replacement (400mm f/5.6L) but, few lenses have the crisp AF of that "L" lens. Additionally, while the IQ was excellent at f/8 or f/11, it wasn't quite as good wide open. I bit the bullet and replaced the $100 lens with a lens which cost me nine times as much. Is the Canon nine times better than the Tokina? Hardly, but it does do what the Tokina could not do - capture very fast moving subjects and produce excellent IQ wide open.

    These are just three lenses of the third party community with which I have personal knowledge. I am sure that there are a lot of third party lenses out there that are inferior. What's new? Canon produces and has produced some great lenses and some not so good glass.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 7th August 2010 at 03:42 PM.

  11. #11
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    Re: Third party lenses?

    My point was that Canon is unreachable to ordinary people like me. At school I was spoiled with medium format quality, and don't see any reason why my 50D cannot attain the quality of a sixties medium format, using a little juggling with cheaper primes and third party zoom.

    The 17-55mm efs IS IS a stupid price at even more than the ef 17-40mm L, and I've not ever been able to get one of these L types used for a used price; who is stupid enough to pay 500 for a used ef 17-40 L when new can be got for 550, and if I bid then the price goes silly but if I don't then they go for 400.

    I know there is a third party lens better than a Canon and I think it is a Tokina for sharpness, I read review somewhere that claimed as much.

  12. #12

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Niall, I am a Canonista, so YMMV. The higher end Sigma glass has served me pretty well, even though I am an "L" lens snob of sorts. The Tamrons I have seen (and used) left me less than impressed. A friend had a horrible customer service issue with Tamron.

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Just because it is a Nikon or Canon lens doesn't mean it is great. Similarly, just because it is a Sigma or Tokina doesn't mean it is bad.

    All make lenses of varied quality and performance. However, if you line up all the Nikon lenses and all the Sigma lenses and, blindfolded, selected one lens from each lineup you would be far more likely to get a good lens from the Nikon range than the Sigma range.

    Some good advice told to me was to get the best lens you can afford from your camera manufacturer unless a third party lens is a real stand out. I have done a lot of research starting with third party lenses because they are cheaper, but ended up buying Nikon anyway (I have nothing against third party lenses and have a Sigma 105mm macro that is about 10-12yrs old and still going strong). You can get some great second hand deals too. I just bought a used Nikon 12-24mm f4 in mint condition for less than a new Tokina.

    But if you do buy Sigma you will need HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor which is Sigma's version of AF-S) and they do make OS (Optical Stabilization which is Sigma's version of VR).

    Be careful of analysis paralysis!

    Good luck

  14. #14

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Thanks for the advice - as I suspected, there's no simple answer

  15. #15
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    Re: Third party lenses?

    A secret to bidding on eBay

    Arith wrote: "if I bid then the price goes silly but if I don't then they go for 400"

    I don't know if Esnipe.com is available when bidding on items auctioned on the UK eBay but, Esnipe is the only way that I will bid on an eBay item in the U.S.! Using Esnipe, you select the item in which you are interested and enter that item's eBay identification number with Esnipe.com and choose the maximum amount you desire to bid. Esnipe will then enter your bid on that item six seconds before the close of bidding. This will prevent the bidding from escalating into a bidding war with resultant higher prices.

    You can also select auctions for several items of the same type and group these items. Esnipe will bid on the first item and if you win that item, Esnipe will cancel the bids for the remaining auctions. If you do not win the item, esnipe will enter your bids on successive items until either you win an item or the items you have selected have all been bid upon. I will sometimes select several auctions for the same type of item and enter bids of increasing value on each successive item.

    There is, however, no free lunch! In order to use esnipe, you must subscribe to the service. The is no charge for using Esnipe if you do not win the item. However, if you do win an eBay auction, the charge is 1% of the bid. I know that I have saved far more than 1% on the items I have won using Esnipe. In the U.S. I subscribe to Esnipe by depositing $15.00 (USD) into my Esnipe account. The Esnipe charges are deducted from that deposit until you have exhausted the $15.00 which would happen after $1,500.00 of successful bidding. There is no service sharge. You only pay oif you are successful in your bidding.

    http://www.esnipe.com/

    That said, I believe that a photographer should use the very best glass that the photographer is comfortable in buying. However, it is IMO ludicrous for a person to spend the maney on top-line lenses such as the Canon "L" lenses if that photographer is only going to make small prints or to email images of the kids and Rover, the dog, to the grandparents (unless, of course, money is no object to the photographer). All decisions regarding camera equipment should be made with the needs of the final product in mind.

    On the other hand, if the photographer is serious about attempting to shoot for pay, then he or she should purchase the best glass available at the time. Wanting to shoot professionally "on the cheap" is not the way to go.
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 13th August 2010 at 03:06 PM.

  16. #16
    arith's Avatar
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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Cheers Richard. I will look into that.

  17. #17

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    Re: Third party lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    A secret to bidding on eBay

    I don't know if Esnipe.com is available when bidding on items auctioned on the UK eBay but, Esnipe is the only way that I will bid on an eBay item in the U.S.!
    Out of interest, here in New Zealand we have a big site called Trade Me (I dont think anybody really uses eBau here in New Zealand, whereas Trade Me is (I believe) THE most visited site (barr none, for any category). With Trade Me auctions, the finishing time is extended by 2 minutes everytime there is a bid in the last 2 minutes (and the minimum bid amount is increases by a certain step depending on the current price, so you can't wear someone down by bidding 0.01 every 2 minutes etc).

    I've always wondered why eBay doesn't do this ... it results in higher auction prices which equates to more success fees.

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