Nikon APS-C Lens Discussion:

APS-C camera can use traditional full frame 35mm lens. However, whenever possible, use APS-C lens since lens lens weight increase as the square of sensor size, using an full frame lens on APS-C camera will incure a 50% weight penalty. You can argue that since you are only using the center portion of the picture on a full frame lens, image quality is better since center image is sharper than outer edge image. However, the gain is small, and not worth the weight penalty.

The three major aftermarket lens you can get for Nikon are Tamron, Sigma and Tokina. Zeiss are more specialized and more expensive with manual focus. Tokina are heavy and well build with nice handling. Sigma has nice optics for the Art series. Tamron has the most compatibility with Nikons. With Sigma and Tokina I found exposure to be way off at times.

Nikon 17-55 f2.8

This is the gold standard for standard zoom. It is heavy at 755g. Is about the same weight as the D7100 camera. Is also somewhat big , and use more expensive large 77mm filter. Cost is high at $1300. You can usually find used ones for around $800. Per Photozone, the MTF resolution at 55mm is 1952 at f2.8. That is about the same as Tokina 16-50mm lens that has MTF at 1954 at 50mm wide open. Much cheaper Tamron and Sigma 17-50 f2.8 has even a higher MTF at 2435 and 2491 respectively. Tamron and Sigma costs $450-$600. Some people describe the expensive and large Nikon 17-55 as a complete disaster. Other describe the Nikon as fantastic, and would get another one in an instant if it were to break. I find the pictures taken with the Nikon to be fantastic. This is an attempt to describe why the Nikon is a great lens despite what MTF suggest. Below are two pictures taken with the Nkon 17-55 and Tokina 16-50. Both taken at 50mm f2.8. MTF number said they have the exact same resolusion, but actual picture looks different. The immediate noticeable difference is the purple fringe on the Tokina. On the Tokina, anytime there is a bright white surface against a dark background there will likely be a purple fringe. At certain light is worse than others. The Nikon on the other hand has very sharp edge between light and dark area. Light is difficult to control, different color of light with different wavelength, and do not behave the same way in glass. It takes a lot of precision glass work to bend all the light wave just right so they all fall in the right area to form a sharp edge. When some light wave do not behave, you get spill over, and in this case, purple fringe around the objects. No matter what MTF say, Nikon got this one right, and the lens is brilliant.
Emperical evidence has shown that is very difficult to make a 16-50mm f2.8 type lens without chromatic aberation. Tokina has it, Samsung 15-50 f2-2.8 has it. Pentax 16-50 also has it. Sony 16-50 also has it.

See review here on focus issue.


Nikon 16-85mm F3.5-5.6

Would say this is as good as the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8. Nice to have the 16mm. But is a slower f3.5-5.6 lens. At 85mm, aperture climbs to f5.6, so is only good for outdoor. Will have to crank up the ISO for indoor sports or fast action, and accept poorer quality image quality. Missed the f2.8 with this lens. Otherwise, is as good as the 17-55mm f2.8. Click below for larger picture.

Nikon 35-70mm f2.8

This is a tempting legacy lens to get. Fast speed, and very sharp even at wide open f2.8. You can also use it when upgrading to full frame camera. Can be found used for $400. However, 35mm is really not wide enough to be used as a wide angle lens. 70mm is good, but not good enough as a telephoto lens. Only higher end Nikon camera bodies with a build in auto focus motor can use this lens. Otherwise, there will be no autofocus. As with other legacy Nikon lens that was made before digital cameras, the autofocus does not match perfectly with the camera. It works, but in chaging lighting condition, there will be changing focus. It may be perfect in one lighting condition, but will be slightly off in another lighting condition.

Tokina 11-16mm f2.8

Very wide angle lens, very sharp and very good quality. Sharp even at f2.8. Good for taking wide angle photos.

Nikon 35mm f1.8

Is the lowest cost lens Nikon makes for APS-C sensor. $120 used or $200 new. Must have lens because is low cost, good normal focal length, very fast f1.8 and very sharp. Nikon should include this in their camera instead of the kit lens. Good as a walk around lens.

Nikon 10.5mm f2.8 and Samsung 8mm f3.5

See links

50mm f1.2 AI-S

- Why? Very nice bokeh. See below. Fastest lens Nikon makes, and very sharp lens.

Very cool image by Carsten Pauer 2 posted here.





Good description of considerations to take into account when eavluating a lens.