Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alternative Full Frame Lenses for Nikon

Updated: 4/14/12

The successor to the D700 is anticipated to be released this year.  I'm one of those who are looking forward to that as an opportunity to move up to full frame, either by getting a good price on the current D700, or getting the successor. 
Of course, one of the deterrents to upgrading to full frame is the cost of the lenses compared to similar DX lenses.  Fortunately, even without considering third party alternatives, there are relatively less expensive full frame Nikon lenses that still perform fairly well.  Have a look (unless otherwise noted, lenses are Nikon and prices are for new lenses):

Wide angle zoom
Small sensor: 10-24 ($900), 12-24 (~$1000), Sigma 8-16, Sigma 10-20, Tokina 11-16 2.8, Tokina 12-24 f/4.
Ideal full frame: 14-24 2.8G ($1800), 17-35 2.8D ($1769),  16-35 f/4G VR ($1259).
Decent full frame alternative: 20-35 2.8D (~$700? used), 18-35 f/3.5-4.5D (~$600), Sigma 12-24 ($900), Tokina 16-28 2.8 , Tokina 17-35 f/4

Standard zoom
Small sensor: 17-55 ($1479).
Ideal full frame: 24-70 2.8G ($1829).
Decent full frame alternative: 28-70 2.8 AF-S (~$1000), 24-85 3.5-4.5 VR ($599), Tamron 24-70 2.8 VC ($1299), Tamron 28-105 2.8, 24-85 f/2.8-4D ($680), 24-85 3.5-4.5G (~$300 used)

Telephoto zoom
Small sensor: 55-300 VR ($345), 55-200 VR ($235), Sigma 50-150 OS (TBD)
Ideal full frame: 70-200 VR II ($2600)
Decent full frame alternative: 70-200 VR I (~$1600 used), 80-200 ($1225),  70-300 VR ($540).

Walkaround lens
Small sensor: 16-85 VR ($700).
Ideal full frame: 24-120 f/4G VR ($1200). 
Decent full frame alternative: Tamron 28-105 2.8, Nikon 28-105 3.5-4.5D (~$200 on ebay).

Portrait prime
Small sensor: 50 1.4G ($485), 50 1.4D ($369).
Ideal full frame: 85 1.4G ($1700), 85 1.4D ($1220), 105 2.8G VR, 105 f/2 DC, 135 f/2 DC
Decent full frame alternative: 85 1.8G ($499), 85 1.8D ($470)

4/1/12: I will be reviewing the Nikon 28-70 2.8 and the Tamron 28-105 2.8.


  1. LOL

    Still can't get it out of your head, can you?
    I wish you the best.

  2. Sadly no! It's like a song stuck in my head :)

  3. Do you really know why I keep defending the crop sensor? Other than what we discussed before, I am afraid to be tempted to do the same after I see people all around me "upgrading" to full frame.

    Currently my head, logic and bank account are winning, but I am afraid that one day the new-gadget-desire will win over.

  4. :)) We need to start a support group...

  5. Hi Mic
    I'm going to NY next week and I'm thinking to update my lenses.
    I own a 85mm f1.8 and a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8. Although that is a great lens, it is heavy and expensive to be walking around.
    I'll buy a 50mm 1.8 and maintain the 85mm 1.8. Also I'll buy a 24-85mmn VR to go around. When I need the best quality I use primes.
    I've got two questions. Wich tele to buy and which macro to buy.
    About the tele, I also want a light to be able to put in the bag and walk around. I think the 70-300mm VR is the best option, also has the Tamron. Any other ideas? The Nikkor 70-200 f4 should be excellent but it is expensive for me.

    About Macro, Nikkor 105mm VR looks like to be a no brainer but it is expensive. I'm thinking of the Sigma 105mm without OS or Sigma 150mm without OS used. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Marcel. I think for your needs the Nikon 70-300 VR or Tamron 70-300 VC are good choices. There are optically superior telephotos out there but they are more expensive and/or much larger.

      According to DXO, the Sigma 105 non-OS is just as sharp as any available macro lens for Nikon (17 perceptual megapixels on a D800) so I think it is a good choice particularly given the price. However, I don't shoot macros so pls. take this with a grain of salt.

      Have fun in New York!!

      Best regards,


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