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DHill

D800: your experiences with mid-range zooms, please

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My new D800 works absolutely wonderfully with my favourite lenses – primes and my 14-24/2.8. But I should really get a mid-range zoom for times when using primes just aren’t practical, such as when I’m with someone who can’t wait for lens changing and such. What I’m looking for is flexibility combined with sufficient quality to pass Alamy QC without drastic solutions such as resizing down to 24mb - which would probably get almost anything shot with good technique on the D800 onto Alamy!. My research indicates there are two candidates, which all have strengths and weaknesses (I’ve excluded the Nikon 24-70/2.8 because although it's otherwise the obvious candidate, there’s no VR, which is useful for certain effects I like such as blurring moving people while keeping the background sharp). These are:

 

1 Nikon 24-120 f4. Good focal length range. However, reviews seem to all say the same thing – on the D800, it’s plenty sharp enough in the centre, but a bit dodgy around the edges. As I photograph a lot of architecture, edge sharpness would seem quite important.

 

2 Tamron 24-70 f2.8. Good to have f2.8. I wouldn't normally go with non-Nikon lenses, but this one sounds much better than most third parties. Reviews say that it’s almost as good as the Nikon 24-70 f2.8, and much better than no 1 at the edges, though loses a bit towards the long end.  

 

So – my question: I’d love to hear people’s Alamy experiences (something reviews don’t cover) with either of these two lenses on a D800. Are there circumstances (e.g. wide open at the long end) where you’ve decided not to submit images to Alamy due to image quality issues, or have had to take drastic steps such as resizing to Alamy's minimum size? Issues such as that are likely to be a bigger deciding factor than whether to go for f2.8 or the extra length – though at the moment I’m swinging towards the Tamron for its f2.8 option.

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The 24 - 70 2.8G is a fantastic lens on a D800. I wouldn't worry that's theres no VR. Try one out first before you make your mind up.

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Thanks - I appreciate that the 24-70/2.8G is a great lens. But what I'm looking for is something with VR - honest, I do have good reasons for wanting this feature ;-)

 

Anyone with experiences with the Tamron (or the Nikon 24-120 f4)?

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Not really a recommendation, since I have a D700, not a D800, but, even though I could find no good reviews and almost no reviews at all on the Nikon 24-120 f/4 with VRII, I bought it. The sales person at Adorama had a refurbished sample on offer at a savings of $200. I bought it, then tested it, and found out two things. 1.) The 24-120 turned out to be very good indeed. And 2.) I thought to myself: always ask about a refurbished model, because that sample has been hand-tooled by Nikon technicians and not just off the assembly line. 

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Thanks, Edo. Wise words as always. I remember you saying elsewhere that your copy of the 24-120 was a good one, and your recommendation to go refurbished. Unfortunately I've yet to find refurbished anything on sale here in Australia - it's always been a bit of a mystery to me where to get them from!

 

Anyone using the Tamron 24-70 f2.8 on a D800 (or even D800E)? All insights greatly appreciated!!

Edited by DHill

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I have a D700 (sorry no D800) with the 24-120 f4.  I found mine to be very good. Not quite as sharp as my 14-24 2.8 but no complaints.  Used it for portraits, gigs, general walk around lens.  All crisp. Can hand hold very low with the VR (20th sec normally OK and passes Alamy QC). I know this may not help as the extra resolution of the D800 may reveal problems I can't see with the D700.  But I have no concerns using it (unlike the previous 4.5-5.6 model which was awful)

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Thanks, Jules! I'm beginning to get more confident about the 24-120, with two votes of confidence in it now. Maybe I'll end up with both lenses ;-)

 

Decisions, decisions ...

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I have a D700 (sorry no D800) with the 24-120 f4.  I found mine to be very good. Not quite as sharp as my 14-24 2.8 but no complaints.  Used it for portraits, gigs, general walk around lens.  All crisp. Can hand hold very low with the VR (20th sec normally OK and passes Alamy QC). I know this may not help as the extra resolution of the D800 may reveal problems I can't see with the D700.  But I have no concerns using it (unlike the previous 4.5-5.6 model which was awful)

 

Yes, I find that the corners are rather soft at 24mm (24-70m f/2.8) with D800.

 

Sung

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i have a D800 (D700 as a backup) with legendary 28-70 f2.8 AFS and its fantastic! So i think that new 24-70 will be very good too. I have some bad experiences about 24-120 from other photographers. Little offtopic - using nikkor 28-300VR as a travel lens and results are very very good too (of course needed some distortion corrections)

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I have a D700 (sorry no D800) with the 24-120 f4.  I found mine to be very good. Not quite as sharp as my 14-24 2.8 but no complaints.  Used it for portraits, gigs, general walk around lens.  All crisp. Can hand hold very low with the VR (20th sec normally OK and passes Alamy QC). I know this may not help as the extra resolution of the D800 may reveal problems I can't see with the D700.  But I have no concerns using it (unlike the previous 4.5-5.6 model which was awful)

 

Yes, I find that the corners are rather soft at 24mm (24-70m f/2.8) with D800.

 

Sung

Thanks very much, Sung. Is that the Nikon or the Tamron?

 

And thank you also, Petr. 28-300 probably doesn't go wide enough for me, I'm afraid, but I had heard that it's practically as good as the 24-120 f4 - which is very impressive, considering the much greater zoom range (or not so impressive for the 24-120, depending on how you look at it)

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David, I forgot to mention here that I also own an FX Sigma 24-70 f/2.8, a very good lens. I stopped using it after getting the Nikon 24-120. If you want to have the very best street zoom for your D800, the Nikon 24-70 f/2.8 is it . . . if the price does not dissuade you. 

 

Going on a trip I would bring my Nikon D700, the Nikon 20mm f/2.8 AF, the 24-120 and the Nikon 60mm f/2.8 macro . . . and the D90 DX body as backup. But I'm planning no trips at the moment, so here in NYC I walk around with my NEX-6 or NEX-7 with the Sony Zeiss 24mm f/1.8 (36mm view) and two other primes. 

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I have a D700 (sorry no D800) with the 24-120 f4.  I found mine to be very good. Not quite as sharp as my 14-24 2.8 but no complaints.  Used it for portraits, gigs, general walk around lens.  All crisp. Can hand hold very low with the VR (20th sec normally OK and passes Alamy QC). I know this may not help as the extra resolution of the D800 may reveal problems I can't see with the D700.  But I have no concerns using it (unlike the previous 4.5-5.6 model which was awful)

 

Yes, I find that the corners are rather soft at 24mm (24-70m f/2.8) with D800.

 

Sung

Thanks very much, Sung. Is that the Nikon or the Tamron?

 

And thank you also, Petr. 28-300 probably doesn't go wide enough for me, I'm afraid, but I had heard that it's practically as good as the 24-120 f4 - which is very impressive, considering the much greater zoom range (or not so impressive for the 24-120, depending on how you look at it)

 

Hi DHill

 

Sorry I didn't say what it was.  It's Nikon.  I know you didn't ask the question about this lens in the first place but what I wanted to say was that the resolution of D800 isn't very forgiving.  If I want to go wider, I use my old manual focus 20mm f2.8.    It's really good.  The lack of autofocus doesn't bother me as I use a tripod most of the time.  The other issue with Nikon 24-70 f2.8 for me is the weight of it.

 

Sung

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The 24 - 70 2.8G is a fantastic lens on a D800. I wouldn't worry that's theres no VR. Try one out first before you make your mind up.

It is sharp as a pin - but there's notable Barrel distortion at the wide angle - used it once on a wedding without paying particular attention and increased the rear end of a female guest considerably. that does not count as a vertical with most software fixes! I tend to stick with 35mm F1.4 lens as standard.

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Funny story, Stephen! As for distortion, this article makes interesting reading: http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2013/01/you-can-correct-it-in-post-but. In summary, correcting distortion = loss of sharpness, and sometimes distortion correction is necessary. But - most mid-range zooms seem to have bad distortion at the wide end.

 

It's interesting that the old 20mm f2.8D came up - that was going to be my next question! Edo - I know you are very keen on this lens. It's a pity that Nikon don't seem to be in a hurry to update these very useful small older lenses. But the other one that I'm seriously considering is the 21mm Zeiss. It sounds excellent and manual focus doesn't worry me on a lens as wide as that.

 

My plan is to use primes (and the 14-24 f2.8) when I have the time to switch lenses reasonably frequently, and to reserve the mid-range zoom for when I have to work quickly to avoid trying people's (e.g. my wife's) patience or when I can only carry one lens. I'm rarely in a situation where I have to respond quickly to what's happening around me, which makes the situation quite different from a wedding or event photographer.

 

I also don't have anything with VR for full frame shorter than 70mm; that may further explain why I'm looking for something with VR in the mid range. It's funny - a few years ago, before I had any VR lenses, I also questioned the need for VR. But now that I've used it, I've found that I'm taking photographs that otherwise would be impossible, and now I wouldn't want to miss those opportunities.

 

David.

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