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Author Topic: Best third-party lenses  (Read 15262 times)

Jayden01

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Best third-party lenses
« on: March 15, 2012, 12:21:31 PM »
Hi folks,

i`d like to know from experienced people which third-party lenses are better than the canon and nikon originals. Maybe there is none, but i`d love to hear your opinion, espiacially on primes.

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Best third-party lenses
« on: March 15, 2012, 12:21:31 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 01:16:02 PM »
I think there are likely very few, if any, 3rd party lenses that are better than the branded equivalents across the board.  Rather, 3rd party lenses fill two needs - lower cost than the equivalent, and different selection than the brand. 

For example, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 is a cost-effective substitute for a fast standard zoom for APS-C, the Sigma 70-200 OS is a cheaper substitute for the Canon/Nikon verisons. 

I think the latter is where 3rd party lenses are good choices.  There's no fast ultrawide zoom for APS-C other than the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8.  There's no brand equivalent to the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 OS, which is an excellent lens by most accounts.
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AJ

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 04:14:31 PM »
People say some Zeiss lenses are better than Canon's or Nikon's.  For example Zeiss 21/2.8 beats Canon 20/2.8 by quite a margin.  I have no experience with Zeiss myself.

Tamron lenses are generally cheaper.  I can't think of any Tamrons currently on the market today that are better or don't have a Canon equivalent.  Maybe Tamron 18-270, which is the zoomiest of the superzooms.

I have a Tamron 90/2.8 which is said to be equally sharp as Canon 100/2.8.  It's much lighter, which is why I chose it (I'm a traveler, hiker).  My Tamron 17-50/2.8 is also lighter than my Canon 17-55/2.8 IS, but optically the Canon is just a tad better.

Sigma makes some extreme wideangle zoom lenses (8-16 crop and 12-24 FF) that don't have a Canon counterpart. 

Sigma also has some unparalleled long glass, e.g. 120-300/2.8 OS that Neuro points out (on my wishlist), 300-800/5.6 (I played with it in my camera shop - this thing is HUGE and the tripod needed is even huger.  Then there is the ginormous 200-500/2.8

Some say Sigma 85/1.4 beats Nikon's 85/1.4, but it's not quite as good as Canon's 85/1.2  I'm just repeating internet hearsay, I don't have experience with this Sigma lens myself.

Similarly, Samyang 35/1.4 is said to edge Canon's venerable 35/1.4L, and their 14/2.8 gives Canon's equivalent a run for the money.  Again I'm just repeating hearsay.

Tokina makes some cool lenses.  I have a 10-17 zoomable fish-eye.  It goes from 180 deg diagonal fisheye to barrel-distorted wideangle (unlike Canon 8-15 which goes from circular fisheye to diagonal fisheye.  I have a love-hate relationship with Tokina 10-17.  It's very sharp and provides a unique perspective, but the chromatic abberations and purple fringing drive me bonkers.  BTW this is a joint Tokina-Pentax venture.

I also have a Tokina 50-135/2.8.  It's essentially a 70-200/4 for crop.  I really like this lens, and I wish that Canon would make its own version of it, with ring-USM and IS.

« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 04:18:56 PM by AJ »

ruuneos

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 04:31:01 PM »
Or one more use if you have crop sensor you may want get 30mm instead of 50mm for getting that 50mm lens on crop sensors like 7D.

AJ

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 04:40:10 PM »
Or one more use if you have crop sensor you may want get 30mm instead of 50mm for getting that 50mm lens on crop sensors like 7D.
Yeah but Canon 35/1.4 is better than Sigma 30/1.4.  Yes 35 mm isn't 30 mm, but it's close.

I know because I own a 30/1.4...  Super creamy bokeh but not the sharpest knife in the drawer.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 04:53:26 PM by AJ »

Axilrod

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 04:43:02 PM »
+1 for Zeiss lenses but mainly if you are doing video or can live without manual focus.  The 21mm f/2.8 and 100mm f/2 makro are incredible lenses, and all of them have excellent sharpness across the frame.  I'm about to make the switch but can't bring used to get rid of my L glass.  But everytime I play with the Zeis stuff I want it more and more, but at the same time I shoot video mainly so I rarely use MF. They are definitely super high quality, but they are pricey so that's no surprise really.
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wickidwombat

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 11:23:37 PM »
I absolutely love my Sigma 85mm f1.4
f2 is super sharp, noticably sharper than the 70-200 f2.8 IS II is at 85mm and f2.8

I chose it over the canon f1.2L due to considerably faster AF
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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 11:23:37 PM »

NiceShotSteve

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2012, 12:01:18 AM »
I know I'm going to get some flack for this, but the "best" lens is the one you carry with you to do the job you want. I have been using a Tamron 28-300 VC for international travel. It's easy on the shoulders when you're schlepping around the fifth cathedral of the day, and it produces very usable images across the range. Of course it's not the sharpest lens I own, but I get the shot while others are fumbling around changing lenses from wide to tele and back. It's also a bargain at about $600. Give it a try.

Bennymiata

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2012, 05:50:10 AM »
Sigma 150mm F2.8 Macro with OS.
Unbelievable!

One of the test reports I read about it said it was the sharpest lens they ever tested, and the colour and contrast are pretty good too.
The bokeh is also very nice.


dilbert

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 06:34:53 AM »
Tamron lenses are generally cheaper.  I can't think of any Tamrons currently on the market today that are better or don't have a Canon equivalent.  Maybe Tamron 18-270, which is the zoomiest of the superzooms.

The Tamron 70-300 VC Di is much better than the Canon 70-300 IS USM (non-L).

Sure, at three times the cost of the Tamron you can buy the Canon 70-300L, but you don't get three times the lens. In this category, the Tamron lens is heavier than the Canon non-L and significantly lighter than the Canon L.

Quote
My Tamron 17-50/2.8 is also lighter than my Canon 17-55/2.8 IS, but optically the Canon is just a tad better.

How do those two compare on price?

What hasn't been mentioned is the Sigma 50mm/1.4.
That's another Sigma lens that is quite clearly better than the Canon counterpart (50mm/1.4.)

bdeutsch

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2012, 10:58:22 AM »
I absolutely love my Sigma 85mm f1.4
f2 is super sharp, noticably sharper than the 70-200 f2.8 IS II is at 85mm and f2.8

I chose it over the canon f1.2L due to considerably faster AF
I've been thinking about that lens -- seems like a great alternative to the very expensive 85 1.2.  I'm also eager to see reviews on the Tamron 24-70 2.8 vc.  It's been announced, but as far as I know, there's no release date on it yet.

RichATL

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2012, 11:26:13 AM »
Sigma has been stepping up it's game...

Their 24-70mm is quite an awesome lens...
very noisy...but really sharp and great resolving power

I personally only own the Sigma 20mm 1.8... and I LOVE IT...(using it on a crop sensor)

Does vignette quite a bit on ff, but it's also a very very sharp lens.

wickidwombat

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 06:26:56 PM »
Sigma has been stepping up it's game...

Their 24-70mm is quite an awesome lens...
very noisy...but really sharp and great resolving power

I personally only own the Sigma 20mm 1.8... and I LOVE IT...(using it on a crop sensor)

Does vignette quite a bit on ff, but it's also a very very sharp lens.

Really? Since I got the 85 and saw how good it was I was considering this but the reviews are realt great
http://www.thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-20mm-f-1.8-EX-DG-Lens-Review.aspx
i wonder if a update is in the pipeline, if it came out in the same build quality as the 85 i would snap it up
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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 06:26:56 PM »

underjammer

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2012, 01:01:52 AM »
Sigma has been stepping up it's game...

Their 24-70mm is quite an awesome lens...
very noisy...but really sharp and great resolving power

I personally only own the Sigma 20mm 1.8... and I LOVE IT...(using it on a crop sensor)

Does vignette quite a bit on ff, but it's also a very very sharp lens.

Really? Since I got the 85 and saw how good it was I was considering this but the reviews are realt great
http://www.thedigitalpicture.com/Reviews/Sigma-20mm-f-1.8-EX-DG-Lens-Review.aspx
i wonder if a update is in the pipeline, if it came out in the same build quality as the 85 i would snap it up

Have you ever seen / read any of lightrules' (previously known as fstopjojo) lens tests?  They are mostly years old, but he was pretty thorough comparing lenses, and he showed good results from the Sigma 20mm 1.8.  He called it "El Hombre".

Here's the page of lens tests:
http://www.pbase.com/lightrules/lenstests
The Sigma 20mm is tested in Popeye vs El Hombre and the 20mm shoot out.  Maybe another one, too?

And to the original question, I'll agree that third party lenses are more of a compromise, rather than some of them being particularly "better" than a Canon or Nikon equivalent.  Price vs performance or something that Canon/Nikon doesn't offer.  If you buy one, and it turns out it doesn't work for you, the nice thing about lenses is you can buy them and sell them without much of a loss, if you're not afraid to buy used.  Or you can rent one, if you want to buy new, and are looking at a big ticket lens..  For renting, just make sure you'll be getting enough hands-on use with it in the rental time-period.

A good compromise lens, if you ask me, as others have also mentioned, is the Sigma 85mm 1.4..  it's a pretty excellent lens (I have one).  It's cheaper than the Canon by a LOT, but it doesn't have weather sealing.  I don't need weather sealing, so that's not a problem for me..  Also, the bokeh comparison at the-digital-picture between it and the Canon 1.2 show that the 1.2 definitely has a leg up on the Sigma.  But sharpness, they are pretty similar.  I've never used a Canon 1.2, either, so I have no idea for sure..  But I reeally like my Sigma 85mm.

I also have the Sigma 120-300 2.8 (non OS).  I bought it used and cheap, and I love it.  It has a major weakness, though...  chromatic aberration.  I probably would be more annoyed about that if I had paid full price, but that's just me..  I otherwise love the zoom range and f/2.8 separation at 300mm.

I also have the Tokina 50-135 2.8, which I also got used and cheap (I can never say no to checking out a different lens, especially if I'll make money if I don't like it..  : D).  It's autofocus is loud, but otherwise pretty good.  And it's nice and sharp wide open, but I noticed some focus shift when stopping down around f4..  By f/5.6 it's fine, if I recall.  Pretty much I just use it wide open.  I love it's size, and it's available for pretty cheap used.  I didn't know what to expect when I got, and I was pleasantly surprised by it.  : D  The crop-version of the 70-200's are a nice alternative to the full size thing.

I also have the Sigma 8mm f/3.5 fish eye..  When I bought it, it was the only one available.  Now there's the manual focus Samyang, which is SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper..  And you really don't need autofocus at that focal length.  : D  I know nothing else about the Samyang other than I can probably never sell my Sigma without taking a huge hit, because of it, hehe.  : D

There was also mention of Zeiss lenses and the Samyang 35mm.  The Samyang 35 is on my list of lenses I'd like to randomly acquire at some point..  The main compromise with those guys is that they are manual focus..  The Samyang is nice and cheap.. don't need autofocus?  Want to have a go with a beefy aperture prime and get comfy with manual focus at the same time?  Then thumbs up to that Samyang!  Just remember you need a proper focusing screen, and don't expect to take sharp pictures of moving subjects til you master manual focus.  (They have an 85mm, too..  They also have a 14mm, but it has the wavey distortion..  which is hard to remove from hard lines.. architecture, and umm, maybe that's it?  hehe..)  The Zeiss lenses, on the other hand, are NOT cheap.  So that's a serious decision to get a Zeiss lens.  I've never used one.. but they have a serious following..  And they LOOK dang sexy, I won't lie..  But I have no idea how they perform.  Even if they destroy a Canon L lens, you're still stuck with manual focus.  Which is perfectly fine for some situations!  Just the right situation..  Maybe people like Zeiss for video, too?  Now I'm just making stuff up..  : D

The lens descriptions at lensrentals.com I find to be particularly excellent for comparing 3rd party to Canon / Nikon.  They give a no-nonsense write-up of what to expect.  They also specifically don't offer some 3rd party lenses..  I'm not sure if EVERY case is because of poor performance, but some of them are..  For example, there are stories in the descriptions how they dropped previous versions of some lenses because of unacceptable levels of malfunctions, etc etc etc.

Everything's a compromise!  But I sure can say that my Sigma 85mm 1.4 is worth every penny I spent on it (which I didn't get used and cheap..).  Will it stop working some day?  Beats me, but I haven't spent 1 second even worrying about it..  (But I've had my 8mm fisheye for 5 years, and it's been 100%, so that's where I'm coming from..  I believe that lens had just come out, so it was kind of a "new" Sigma, rather than their older more-horry-story-lenses.)

Interestingly, I see a LOT of Sigma 50mm macro lenses on eBay that are listed as "autofocus does not work"..  I have no idea if those are older lenses or what, but I see more of those than not.  Maybe everyone with a working 50mm just loves it and holds onto it for dear life!  A Sigma macro lens, for the right price, is also on my list of lenses to acquire..  If I were going to buy one new, I'd probably get the Canon 100mm IS L, but those Sigmas can go for $200-400, which is pretty hard to pass up for the performance..  I used to know the working distances of all the macros, but I don't remember..  I think when I fell in love with the Canon 100mm macro IS, I just stopped caring about the others, haha..  : D  But still I wouldn't pass one up for the right price.

And really this needs to be put in perspective..  None of the lenses I listed are general-purpose lenses (OK, the Tokina is fairly general purpose, but I would say it's not nearly as versatile as the canon 50-250).  But they all have their place.  And the journey of picking that best lens for your situation sure can be enjoyable, but don't lose sleep over it, hehe.  Been there, done that, haha.  Seriously, whatever you have, you'll use and love.  And if you don't love it, you'll probably get rid of it, and get something different!  : D  Everything's a compromise, really, haha.

Drizzt321

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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 01:48:21 AM »
I've heard some good things about the Sigma 50-500mm, aka the Bigma is actually quite good. Maybe not the absolute best in terms of sharpness/IQ throughout the entire range, but quite good for being basically a superzoom. I'm quite tempted to rent one once it warms up here in SoCal and hit the beach ;)
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Re: Best third-party lenses
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2012, 01:48:21 AM »