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Nikkor 17-55 vs Tokina 11-16

gregory moreno , Jun 12, 2011; 05:50 p.m.

Hey y'all, I'm ready to buy my first serious lens for my d90. I'm leaning towards the Nikkor 17-55 or the Tokina 11-16. I'll probably get both eventually, but, for now, which would be the better investment?

I shoot mostly photojournalism, which i hear the 17-55 is ideal for. But I already have a 35 1.8 and the kit 18-55, which suits my purposes fairly well. Basically, i'm drooling over the thought of the possibilities of an ultra-wide angle lens. Since I do a lot of shooting indoors, and within close quarters to people, I think i can justify buying the Tokina. What do you guys think?

Any thoughts are greatly appreciated



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Peter Hamm , Jun 12, 2011; 05:53 p.m.

The 11-16 is one of my favorite lenses I've ever owned, and yet even then I use it for a ridiculously small percentage of my actual photography. And it is specifically bad, imho, for "people photography" as perspective distortion tends to make people look really weird with a lens that wide.

The 17-55 is way more useful to you I would think.

If budget is really tight, for the price of the 17-55 you could get the 11-16 AND the highly regarded Tamron 17-50 f2.8.

Hector Javkin , Jun 12, 2011; 06:03 p.m.

You said you're doing a lot of shooting indoors. With flash you don't need the speed of the 11-16mm f/2.8. Without flash, indoors, I don't know how you cope with the f/5.6 of the 18-55mm kit lens at its long end. It might be best to first purchase the 17-55mm f/2.8.

Shun Cheung , Jun 12, 2011; 06:05 p.m.

As Peter points out, the Tokina 11-16mm/f2.8 is a dedicated super wide zoom for a very specific purpose; moreover, it has no AF motor inside. I would get it only if you are really into super wide shots.

The 18-55 kit lens is not in the same class as the 17-55mm/f2.8 AF-S. Once Nikon sent me two 18-55 DX along with a couple of consumer DSLRs to review. I tried to use the 18-55 indoors and it drove me nuts since it is so slow. For casual beginner type photographers, the 18-55 is a good affordable option. When you get to a higher level and especially for low-light PJ work, the advantages for the 17-55mm/f2.8 should be obvious.

Michael Kohan , Jun 12, 2011; 06:57 p.m.

I suggest the same idea as Peter Hamm. I've been using the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC for many months now to shoot events and people, I'm extremely happy with it. I bought it at the same time as a Tamron 60mm f/2 macro, both for less than a Nikon 17-55.

Kyle West , Jun 12, 2011; 07:08 p.m.

The 17-55mm is a pro lens. But you say you've "heard" its great for photojournalistic type photography. Which suggests to me that you haven't personally yet experienced the limitations of you current lens covering that range. But you have nothing covering the ultra-fun/ultra-wide 11-16mm Tokina's range. So I would say get the Tokina. Expand you skills and photographic endeavors until you sense the limitations of your lenses and then add to them again. Don't buy just because people say a lens is great. Buy because you feel your current equipment is limiting your photography somehow. That's my two cents. I own both lenses and they are great, indeed.

Bill J Boyd , Jun 12, 2011; 07:21 p.m.

Another vote for the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC. A great lens.

Matt Laur , Jun 12, 2011; 07:24 p.m.

I likewise use the 17-55/2.8, but have a different ultra-wide (I use Sigma's 10-20 HSM). I find I actually do use it mostly at 10mm, or closer to 20mm. And I use it regularly, and almost never feel the need for it to be faster. That said ... I use the 17-55/2.8 far, far more often. That's a killer range for people/event work. It doesn't bother me that I've got faster prime lenses within the same range (30mm, 50mm) since I pull those out for more specific tasks/circumstances.

I'd miss the ultra-wide zoom if I didn't have it, but I'd really miss the constant f/2.8 wide-to-short-tele zoom that is the 17-55/2.8. If I had to choose one or the other for a short time, I'd let the ultra-wide wait a bit, since for most people it represents a very small part of their regular use.

Pete S. , Jun 12, 2011; 07:56 p.m.

I agree with Kyle West above. Get the Tokina 11-16 first because it allows you to do something you can't right now.

The 17-55 is a midrange zoom on DX. The photojournalists I've seen use a wide angle zoom on one camera and a telephoto zoom on their other as their standard lenses, not a midrange zoom.

For instance the 17-35 on FX and the 70-200 on FX. That would be 12-24 and 50-150 on DX. Unfortunately there is no 12-24 f/2.8 DX lens available. You either go with the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8 and loose HSM and some zoom range, or you go with the Nikon 12-24 f/4 where you loose the f/2.8 or possibly the Sigma 10-20 f/3.5 which I haven't tried.

Matt Laur , Jun 12, 2011; 08:21 p.m.

Pete: for what it's worth, Sigma's current 10-20mm ultrawide is a constant f/3.5. Which is pretty close to f/2.8, in the scheme of things.

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