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kjeal May 9, 2009 7:08 AM

Walkabout f2.8 Lens for D90??

Been pondering on a walkabout lens for my D90. Almost all of my photos are either 50mm f1.8 or 18-35mm f3.5-f4.5

I'm going to a few small outdoor festivals and would like to combine both my lenses into one.

I would like advice between a several 18-50mm f2.8 lens around the 320 range. All Sigma/Tamron/Tokina. I'm unsure which brand to go for!

Also, would a third party f2.8 lens be better than the the Nikon 18-105 VR kit lens for non-flash low-light performance?


thebac May 12, 2009 1:46 PM

First, yes a third-party 16/17/18-50mm/2.8 lens is generally a better choice for low-light performance than an 18-105 VR. One exception would be if you're shooting at 18mm and you're shooting low-light landscapes. In that case, you're losing less than a stop (f/3.5 compared to f/2.8), you get VR, and nothing moves.

Otherwise, the f/2.8 zooms will probably present a better solution--at the long end, you're losing up to two stops (f/5.6 compared to f/2.8), and even if VR compensates for that, a) you can't stop subject movement and b) AF in low-light is worse at f/5.6 than at f/2.8 (and your viewfinder will be darker, too).

I've seen rather lackluster reviews of the Tokina, so I don't think it worthwhile (in the US, it's also noticeably more expensive than the other two). The duocam design on an f/2.8 zoom is also disappointing.

The Tamron has received stellar reviews (and I like mine a lot). However, the build quality isn't all that great. It also suffers from an issue with fill flash at close distances where it tends to overexpose.

The Sigma has also gotten good reviews, at least for the Macro version (72mm filter size); the older version is allegedly not as good (67mm filter size).

I'd go with the Tamron if build quality and the fill flash issue aren't dealbreakers for you. If they are (or if you're getting a great deal on the Sigma), get the Sigma, but try to get the Macro version (either with or without HSM).

JimC May 12, 2009 3:37 PM

One of our members (NHL) seems to like the Tokina on his D300.

NHL spends much of his shooting time at longer focal lengths for birding (using mostly a Bigma on his D300 and various Canon lenses on his Canon dSLR bodies). But, you'll see him mention the Tokina 16-50mm f/2.8 he got for his D300 in some of his posts here:

From what I can see of it's review at, CA at wider zoom settings and apertures is it's primary weak area. But, then again, most other zoom lenses with that general focal range don't go quite as wide and none of them are CA free. Also, I think the D90 may have CA correction built into it's image processing. I know the D300 does, but I haven't looked at the D90 that closely yet. If it does have CA correction, then the CA problems mentioned in it's review at may not be as much of a problem on a newer body (they were using a D200 for testing it).

conor May 12, 2009 4:53 PM

What about the Sigma 28-70 f2.8 (250 GBP but it's discontinued) or the 24-70 f2.8 (450 GBP for the non-hsm model)?

you'd lose the very wide range though... but how often do you actually shoot under 24mm?

NHL May 12, 2009 10:53 PM

Here's an example of my Tokina @ 16mm (widest) when I first got it: ;)

-> Most of my takes with this lens is in the landscape section:

conor May 13, 2009 1:22 PM

NHL, was that flashed to make the flowers stand out like that?

NHL May 13, 2009 2:13 PM


Originally Posted by conor (Post 968479)
NHL, was that flashed to make the flowers stand out like that?

Yes - I put the camera on long exposure and walked over the various blossoms and painted them with a flash: :rolleyes:

conor May 13, 2009 2:33 PM

They're gorgeous pictures.

I've used the same trick to take pictures of people with a sunset behind them...

long exposure with the people standing as still as possible, manually fire the flash at them towards the end of the exposure to make them pop in the foreground. its amazing how much they can move without creating an unclear picture.

i'd post one, but i don't have permission from the subjects - perhaps i'll do one of myself one day with a remote.

JimC May 14, 2009 7:23 AM


Originally Posted by conor (Post 968322)
What about the Sigma 28-70 f2.8 (250 GBP but it's discontinued) or the 24-70 f2.8 (450 GBP for the non-hsm model)?

you'd lose the very wide range though... but how often do you actually shoot under 24mm?

Keep in mind that you'll have a narrower angle of view for any given focal length on a dSLR with an APS-C size sensor.

For models like the D90 using a Sony APS-C size sensor, you need to multiply the focal length of a lens by 1.5x to see what focal length it would compare to on a 35mm camera from an angle of view perspective. For Canon models using Canon APS-C size sensors (which are slightly smaller than Sony's APS-C size sensors), use 1.6x instead.

So, if you are using a model like the D90 with a Sony APS-C size sensor, a lens starting out at 24mm would give you roughly the same angle of view you'd have using a 36mm lens on a 35mm camera. 24mm x 1.5 = 36mm. It's actually a slightly higher multiplier, but it's usually rounded to 1.5x.

Using a lens starting out at 28mm, you'd have the roughly the same angle of view you'd get using a 42mm lens on a 35mm camera. 28mm x 1.5 = 42mm

In many conditions, that may be a bit long to fit your desired subject into the frame (as you can only back up so far in many conditions).

I usually shoot with a 24-85mm as my primary walk around on a Sony A700, which I've found to be a good compromise for the types of shots I take more often. But, in closer quarters (or trying to fit some landscape type shots into the frame where I can't back up far enough), it can present a problem. For example, just a few days ago when we had relatives visiting, I ended up switching to a wider lens to get a group photo indoors because I couldn't back up far enough to fit them in.

The narrower angle of view with dSLR models using an APS-C size sensor is the primary reason that most kit lenses start out at around 18mm (and on a D90, that gives you roughly the the same angle of view you'd get using a 27mm lens on a 35mm camera model).

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