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Old Aug 23, 2015, 3:08 PM   #1
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Default Looking for help understanding Nikon lens quality levels.

This is really a question about lens quality and how I determine the difference between a pro lens, a good lens and a not so good lens, (other than just by price) but I have also detailed the background to my question too.

I am looking into the expected cost of a Nikon body and assorted lens(es). The use would be entirely for photos of my family doing whatever they do as they grow up. I had thought of a zoom and a fast prime, eg someone here recommended the Nikon AF-S VR 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED for this very same purpose. I had then thought of a fast prime, e.g. Nikon 50mm F1.4G AF-S Nikkor Lens for use indoors, without flash. On Amazon UK now these two would cost about £675 together.

I had thought of using these with something like a D750 or D7200 the price for all of these is really a bit high so I am definitely not spending more than this, if anything way less. But at the moment I am just trying to understand the lens quality issue. I understand the difference this will have on the lens effect when crossing from FX to DX.

Do you think I would need something wider, like if I wanted to get into a tighter space like a playroom and still be able to photo what was going on? Probably!

The question I really have is about the quality of lenses available. While I am no pro I still want a good lens, and I donít really get this idea that some people seem to mention, that the package lens included with a body may be poorer in quality. How do I know which is which when I look at a list of lenses on, say, Nikonís website?

E.g. what makes the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 58 mm f/1.4G Lens 4 to 6 times more expensive than the 50mm version? Is the Nano coating really that good and the photographs taken with the 50mm really so poor? Or am I missing something really basic here?

Thanks for your thoughts on this guys, really much appreciated.

TM
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Old Aug 23, 2015, 4:58 PM   #2
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First, every lens manufacturer makes some gems and some duds. Generally, price is a good indicator of quality, but not always. I use the independent, objective test results published in SLRGear.com and PhotoZone.de and occasionally in DXOMark.com to judge the quality of a lens. The authors of subjective reviews may be looking for exactly what you're looking for, but they may be looking for something entirely different, so I tend to give them less weight than the objective test results.

The Nikon AF-S VR 70-300 f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED is a very good lens, but for indoor shots a 50mm lens may not serve you well especially on an APS-C (DX) body. I'd look at the Tamron unstabilized (non-VC) 17-50/2.8 or the Sigma stabilized (OS) 17-70/2.8-4.0 instead. They're both very good lenses, have large angles of view (essential for indoor shooting), large apertures (essential for available light shooting) and are within the range of most flashes (if you need a flash.) If you want the larger aperture, you might consider the Nikon 35/1.8 instead of the 50/1.4 as a more indoor-friendly focal length.

As for the difference between the 58/1.4 and the 50/1.4, the former has less chromatic aberration and less vignetting. Is it worth 4X? Not in my opinion.
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Old Aug 24, 2015, 5:27 AM   #3
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And it seems SLRGear.com thinks so too:
Quote:
Conclusion
Overall, the Nikon 58mm É/1.4G AF-S Nikkor is a bit of a strange beast. Compared to its 50mm cousins, the 58mm É/1.4G lens is very large and very expensive. And despite the very high $1,700 price tag, we found the image quality results a bit disappointing for a lens at this price point. Wide open, the lens is not very sharp, even in the center, although it manages to show some impressive center sharpness when stopped down (and especially on a sub-frame camera). On other optical characteristics, the 58mm É/1.4 does display some favorable results with very low CA and distortion, though there is some vignetting at the wider apertures (perhaps that's a deliberate design choice by Nikon, though?). However, given that this new lens is more than four times the price of the Nikon 50mm É/1.4 with only an 8mm increase in focal length and not much improvement in image quality, we find new Nikon 58mm É/1.4G lens a bit of an odd addition to Nikon's lens lineup.
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Old Aug 24, 2015, 7:27 PM   #4
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BTW, the D750 and D7200 are both fine cameras, but for what you want to do, the D750 doesn't buy you anything that you wouldn't get with the D7200. So save some money on the body and put it toward the lenses.
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Old Aug 25, 2015, 1:16 AM   #5
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Thanks TCav for your continued thoughts and input on this, it is very much appreciated.

Regarding the cameras, the D7200 is certainly newer and cheaper, but when I saw how good the review was for the D750 and how short the list of "Cons" was, then I became interested, especially when I saw it had the adjustable/movable LCD screen.

On a secondary note, I don't know if this forum is for Lenses for Nikon Cameras or Nikon branded lenses. But assuming it is the former, does anyone know why Sigma sell the usb hub/port for their lenses? Why isn't the lens capable of working properly straight off, like a Nikkor lens would be? And if this really is such an important tool, why do Nikon not have one available for Nikkor lenses?

Thanks again.

TM
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Old Aug 25, 2015, 5:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taxed Mind View Post
Regarding the cameras, the D7200 is certainly newer and cheaper, but when I saw how good the review was for the D750 and how short the list of "Cons" was, then I became interested, especially when I saw it had the adjustable/movable LCD screen.
The D750 is a 'Full Frame' camera body, which means it has a larger image sensor which is approximately the same size as a 35mm film exposure. It adds size, weight and cost to the camera with only minor improvements in image quality, and places greater demands on the lens, limiting your selection and frequently reducing image quality. In addition, a tilt/swivel LCD Monitor requires additional moving parts to an already big, heavy, complex device, reducing its expected reliability.

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On a secondary note, I don't know if this forum is for Lenses for Nikon Cameras or Nikon branded lenses. But assuming it is the former, does anyone know why Sigma sell the usb hub/port for their lenses? Why isn't the lens capable of working properly straight off, like a Nikkor lens would be? And if this really is such an important tool, why do Nikon not have one available for Nikkor lenses?
Sigma is a third party lens manufacturer. Over the years, camera manufacturers alter the firmware of their cameras which often affects how they work with lenses. Sometimes those alterations adversely affect how Sigma lenses work with those cameras. Sigma's $59 USB Dock allows users to update the firmware in their Sigma lenses themselves, instead of having to send them in for service. In addition, users can use the USB Dock to tune how the lens works. (BTW, of Sigma's 42 current lenses, only 13 can use the USB Dock.)
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Old Aug 26, 2015, 1:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taxed Mind View Post
... I don't know if this forum is for Lenses for Nikon Cameras or Nikon branded lenses. But assuming it is the former ...
Correct.
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Old Aug 26, 2015, 1:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taxed Mind View Post
... Why isn't the lens capable of working properly straight off, like a Nikkor lens would be?
It is. The USB Dock is to update the firmware in the lens in case Nikon (et al) update the firmware in their cameras that conflicts with the firmware in a Sigma lens. This doesn't happen often, but it does happen.

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And if this really is such an important tool, why do Nikon not have one available for Nikkor lenses?
Nikon knows what's in the firmware of its lenses, and so knows how not to screw things up with them. They don't know what's in the firmware of Sigma's lenses so they don't care if they screw things up with a Sigma lens. But Sigma does, so they created the USB Dock so you can fix any problems yourself.
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Old Aug 27, 2015, 1:11 PM   #9
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A very thorough and informative reply. Thank you very much for your time spent on this.

TM
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Old Sep 10, 2015, 6:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Taxed Mind View Post
On a secondary note, I don't know if this forum is for Lenses for Nikon Cameras or Nikon branded lenses. But assuming it is the former, does anyone know why Sigma sell the usb hub/port for their lenses? Why isn't the lens capable of working properly straight off, like a Nikkor lens would be? And if this really is such an important tool, why do Nikon not have one available for Nikkor lenses?
While I do own quite a few Sigma lenses (also Nikkor, Canon, and Sony lenses... see my postings ), I have yet to find a lens that have a focusing issue with my cameras... It's a closed loop feedback system so most of the time it's the familiarity of the user on how each AF work!

Notice that the Sigma USB dock only works on a handful of their high-end lenses, which I happened to use quite a lot:
1) With this USB dock you can set the micro AF at multiple zoom settings for example which are not offered with the OEM (i.e. only one micro AF setting usually on the camera only from Canon or Nikon).
2) You can choose on each Sigma lens whether to optimize the AF for accuracy or for speed, which is really useful if you shoot in the studio or sport.
3) To speed-up AF for action or BIF shots, you can also pick your own focusing range to limit the AF travel range so the camera can limit its search.

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/440...quick-review/3
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