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coxxcomm Aug 6, 2003 10:04 PM

Variations in lens quality?
Has anyone else found that the same model/brand of lens can vary in quality from great to unacceptable? Could a good Sigma vs a poor Nikkor account for the reason the images from my Sigma 28 - 105 appear far superior to those from my Nikkor 35-105? Could the quality of the individual lens make D100 images through my 28mm f2.8 superior to those shot through my 50mm f1.8, both Nikkors? If this is a legitimate concern, how does one deal with it?

eric s Aug 6, 2003 11:21 PM

It is certainly a legit concern. This is why I buy lenses from a place that I know I can return them.... and even way after their actual "return policy" says I can. I build a relationship with them and they treat me well. That is how I like it. Yes, I pay a little bit more, but it is worth it to me.

But realize that not all lenses are intended to be equal. I know more about canon lenses, so take this example. The 100-400L is a professional grade lens. It costs around $1,499USD. The 28-135 is not a professional grade lens. It is not fair to compare the picture quality at 100mm. I could do it, but the 100-400 should be much better (all other things being equal.)

Are you comparing similar quality lenses between the Sigma and the Nikon? Is the Nikon a "kit" lens that is cheap and sold with camera bodies as a starter lens? (for example.)

Also, you should really only compare the lenses in exactly similar situations. How are you comparing quality? You should have the same subject, same lighting (not the sun, you can't control the sun) using a tripod, using mirror lock up, remote trigger or a timer. Everything you can do to remove the human element. Take several shots to make sure it isn't that your refrigerator turned on while doing one of the shots (and therefor shook the floor.)

Comparing lenses, if you want to do it right, is hard to do. If the lens is really bad, then itís usually easy to tell something is wrong. But if itís subtle, it could easily be masked by bad technique.


coxxcomm Aug 8, 2003 1:23 AM

Thank yo Eric
I shoot the same photos every week of the same subjects under about the same lighting. I'm the track photographer at a local dirt racetrack. I shoot about 1.5 gig each weekend. My collection of AF lenses is relatively low budget and they range from 18mm to 400mm, mostly fixed, and I feel the need for a single variable lens that will shoot everything so that I don't have to risk changing lenses at the track and getting dust in the CCD, again.

Your points are well taken, and I expect my best bet will be a serious discussion with the only local dealer.


eric s Aug 8, 2003 12:06 PM

Is the track well lit? If so, you might seriously consider the 80-400 VR. It is slow focusing, but you know what the cars are doing and where they will be, so that isn't as much of an issue. The VR has a pan mode that will work very well (Iím told.) Try renting the lens and see how it works (some places offer a portion of the rent against the purchase price... saving you some money.)

Since you seem to take this seriously, I would search for advice on the forums at After searching around, ask for advice (they are getting sick of the same questions coming up all the time.) There are people who shoot races and know a lot. Oh, the ďNikon Pro LensĒ forum is fairly new, so you should search both Nikon Pro forums for the answer.

If you could wait, the new VR lens which Nikon is releasing by the end of the looks amazing on paper.

AF-S VR 200-400mm f/4G IF-ED lens

That might not be wide enough on the short end, but f4, AF-S, and the new generation VR should be a killer combination.


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