Nikon 17-35mm versus Sigma
15-30 (with Fuji S2)
I have them both and love
them both. However, after 2 days of serious testing on a Fuji
S2 Pro I have arrived at the
following conclusions - from a sampling of only one lens each. All test shots
were on a tripod, shot at 12 meg raw, and converted with EX. All shots were
taken at the same time of day, and in sunlight, by simply switching lenses.
Focal lengths were matched perfectly by matching area covered. Because of this,
15mm on the Sigma and 35mm on the Nikon could not be compared. However,
sharpness of the Sigma at 15mm was outstanding, especially at f11. The sharpness
of the Nikon at 35mm was also outstanding, with f8 being the sharpest.
SHARPNESS: This is going to be hard to take
for some. At 17mm the Nikon was sharper from f2.8 through f8. However, the Sigma
was shaper at f11 and f16 with f22 being a draw. We are talking small
differences here. At 30mm the lenses were pretty much identical from f8 to f22,
with Nikon again getting the edge from f2.8 to f5.6. Hmmmm. The stories were
true! Sigma has one heck of a lens!
COLOR: The Nikon was more natural with
better saturation. The Sigma had a strong warm tone (read yellow).
CONTRAST: The Nikon had considerably more
VIGNETTING: Nikon had less. Enough to see.
Sigma was a little hotter in the center.
FLARE: Whoops. The Nikon was far superior.
When any sunlight hits the protruding front element of the Sigma, flare becomes
ugly! On the other hand, I was able to include the sun with the Nikon with only
two visible and small sun flares.
BOKEH: Nikon was smooth and natural while
Sigma was a little stretched.
ASTIGMATISM: Both lenses showed almost none!
DISTORTION: About equal. Amazing. The Sigma favored 17mm while the Nikon
slightly favored 30mm.
BUILD: Of course the Nikon wins here.
Although physically smaller than the Sigma it weighs more. Probably due to the
PRICE: $560 verses $1,360 roughly.
Recommendations: For the average shooter, the Sigma will probably be an
excellent choice (just don't shoot into the sun)! The Nikon, on the other hand,
certainly is a pro lens in ALL respects. As it has legendary sharpness it is
amazing to see the Sigma do so well. I did make a 24" x 36" print from
the Sigma at 15mm at f11. Stunning sharpness. However, the Nikon STAYS on my
camera as my first choice! The 15-30 will be used for its extremely sharp 15mm
Remember, the Fuji S2 has a
cropping ratio of 1.5 so only the center 2/3 of both lenses were used. If full
frame were used I am sure the Sigma would not have fared as well. In any case,
the Sigma makes a good choice for DSLR photographers who can't afford the big
bucks for the Nikon.
Sure hope this helps a few folks. It was a good 16 hours work total. I would
love to hear from anyone else that has actually done a side by side CRITICAL
comparison. Lenses vary within models.
Here is a sample using the 17-35 hand held at 17mm with ISO 200. I have
included a blown up small section to show detail and minimal color fringing. The
small section is equivalent to a 5 foot wide mural!
Tamron 90mm f2.8 Macro
Although versions of this legendary lens
have been around for over 15 years, the lens performance is still as good as
anything out there. Strong words, I know. Having owned the Nikon 60mm f2.8 and
105mm f2.8 I see very little difference. At one time Camera 35, now defunct,
claimed it was the highest resolving lens they had ever tested. I am not
sure I would go that far, but it is an awesome lens for the money. Here is an
example of the resolution at 10' and f11. The first shot is full frame, the
second is a 100% at 72 dpi which is equal to a 48" high print. Shot taken
in studio with Fuji S2, ISO 200.
This sort of resolution pretty much carries from f4 to f16.
There is some corner and edge softness at f2.8 and a little less resolution at
f22 and f32 (yes, it goes to f32 but bumps into some diffraction limiting on
100% crop at 72 dpi
Tamron f2.8 28-75mm
Here is a sample taken with the
Tamron f2.8 28-75 taken at ISO 100 using the Nikon D200. (75mm at
f11 and 1/60 second with fill flash)
Click on for a 100% version.The Tamron
28-75 has proven to ne an outstanding performer. At f2.8 it is a little
soft, especially in the corners, but by f4 things greatly improve and by
f5.6 the lens is very, very sharp, rivaling the sharpness of the
outstanding Nikon f2.8 24-70. This version of the lens used the D200
in-camera focusing motor so focusing was only a little slower than my
Nikon f2.8 24-70.
An interesting side note is that
at f11 (the aperture for this photo) the lens is actually experiencing
some diffraction limiting on the smaller pixels of the D200. And yet, it
is almost impossible to detect.
- Excellent sharpness from f5.6 to f11. Very good
at f4 and acceptable at f2.8. Light weight and small. Very good flare
control. Great value!
- Not as solid as the f2.8 Nikon 24-70. Some air pumping on zooming
which might limit its use in an unfriendly environment (dust, rain). Not
as sharp as the Nikon f2.8 at f2.8 and f4. Focuses a little slower than
the Nikon f2.8 24-70.
Nikon F2.8 105mm
This portrait was taken with the Nikon f2.8 105mm VR at
ISO 100 with the Nikon D200. (105mm at f11 and 1/60 second with
fill flash). This lens was tested on the Nikon D200 body so it's cropped
field of view would be equal to a 158mm lens. I found this lens to
be exceptionally sharp and very well built. The VR is very helpful when
used with a DX body (like the Nikon D200 or D300). I found that instead
of having to hand hold at 1/160 of a second I was able to easily use
1/40 with consistently good results. Heck, I was even getting a 50%
success rate with 1/20. The bad part about this VR is that it loses
effectiveness as you move into the macro or micro mode. In fact at 1:1
magnification it is totally useless.
PRO - The
newest Nikon f2.8 105mm is all it claims to be. Excellent resolution
from f2.8 to f16 (although when used with the DX Nikon bodies there is
some diffraction limiting starting at f11 - although it would be hard to
detect in this photo.) It is solidly built and focuses rapidly for a
macro 105. It does have an option to limit the focus range to prevent
excessive focusing time.
CON - This is a
heavy lens! Solid, but heavy. The VR becomes less and less effective the
closer you get. That's too bad, because hand held macro photography is
almost impossible anyway.
Nikon f4 16-35mm
(coming 1st week in March
Well, this is a preliminary report
as I think I might have a bad copy. This wall is one continuous color
but is rendered in a very weird way by this lens. I just finished
testing this lens and generally agree that it is very sharp - up to a
point (more on that later). However, my sample had a serious problem.
Shooting a medium tan/brown building side in direct sun I was amazed at
the corner color shift at f4 on 35mm and less so on 16mm. Using the Info
tool in PS CS4 I went from 194-192-188 at f11 to 184-194-205 at f4 (same
identical area). That's a very noticeable color shift!!! This was on the
left side mostly, but also on the right side. Then testing 16mm I got
the same weird results. There was some vignetting, as would be expected,
but not this color shift! I will call Nikon and then try another sample.
35mm at f4
35mm at f8
16mm at f4
16mm at f16
The second sample pretty much had the identical
problems, except slightly less so. Frustrated, I opted for the
Nikon 14-24. What a huge difference.
Nikon 70-300 worse case
This squirrel shot was made to
test a worse case
scenario for the Nikon 70-300. Most tests give the 70-300 high praise
for sharpness in the 70-200 range so I decided to test for worst case
2- Wide open - f5.6 at 300mm in
3- ISO 500 using an older D80
which is NOT noted for low noise. Just the opposite - and noise destroys
4- Hand held on a wild critter.
EXIF is intact. f5.8 at 1/350, ISO
viewing at 25% approximates a 13 x 19
enlargement. This photo opens at 100% so you might want to view a little
smaller. Feel free to download and print at any size.
Here is a 72 dpi version for looking at what a 13 x 19
print would look like.