It was a sad day when I parted with my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8, which had become one of my favorite lenses over the last few years. Purchased originally for a European trip, I figured I would have to have a wide angle to capture all the spectacular architecture I’d be seeing. After some research (taking into consideration the fact that I’m relatively cheap when it comes to glass), I opted for the ultra-wide angle Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Pro DX Digital Zoom Lens. It’s a become a bit cheaper now since Tokina released an updated version (to be honest, though, I can’t tell what they’ve changed with it to justify the $200 price increase).
I took some great shots with it during that trip, and continued using it pretty much everywhere when I got back. It was my go-to lens for HDR work, not to mention a great way to capture groups of people at parties and weddings! It had some issues with chromatic aberration on the far edges, but the overall IQ was pretty good for such an inexpensive lens.
A great number of the shots on my portfolio pages were taken with it. So why part with it now? Unfortunately, it’s a lens designed specifically for APS-C sensor (or crop sensor) cameras, namely Nikon’s DX line. For my D90, it worked like a charm. This isn’t to say that it won’t work properly when mounted to an FX camera, though there is horrible vignetting (even at the 16mm range the vignetting is pretty bad) and the distortion is pretty unforgiving. It was time to say goodbye to my first UWA.
So for me, there was only one way out…
I needed to find a suitable wide angle lens for my D600. The problem was, I had become so spoiled by the Tokina that there really didn’t seem to be too many great (read: inexpensive) alternatives out there. I had read some great reviews about a Tokina 17mm prime lens (and almost nabbed one off eBay), but I really wanted the versatility afforded by a zoom lens. The Nikon 14-24 was way out of my price range. Luckily, by scouring eBay I was able to find a great alternative that I had read about on Digital Photography Review’s site. They actually had a head-to-head between the Nikon 14-24 and the Tamron 17-35 (read it here). While, of course, the review sided with the Nikon 14-24, the huge price differential was something I couldn’t overlook considering the 14-24 is around $2,000 last time I checked.
The Tamron 17-35 got good marks all around from the reviews I read, and it could be found relatively inexpensively on eBay. I got mine for $275 (so yeah, quite a difference in price there). It had the focal length versatility like the Tokina and it’s built for full frame cameras. While the Tokina was capable of a constant aperture of 2.8 throughout the focal length, the Tamron varies from 2.8-4. Not a huge deal, though, since most of the work I do with it is more in the f/8 range (at least). It’s performed admirably so far, and though not quite as wide as the 11-16mm, it’s hardly noticeable given the field-of-view afforded by the full frame sensor. And for under three bills shipped, you can’t argue with the savings.
Check out my portfolio and flickr for more examples of the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 in action (and more to come!). If you’re looking for a versatile and inexpensive wide angle FX lens, try eBay and happy hunting!