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06-03-2011, 11:21 AM   #1
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Generally Speaking...

At what price point does lens quality really shift up? For instance, I currently have the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL kit lens and a Sigma 55-200MM AF lens. I would say both are comparable in terms of image quality and build quality. Both are in a similar price range. At what price point would the IQ of the lens take a decided step up from here?

I know it depends on the manufacturer and zoom range (for a zoom lens) but I'm guessing there are tiers for lenses just as there are for camera bodies and so forth. What's the consensus here??

06-03-2011, 11:41 AM   #2
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I'd say 300 dollars, 400 for a zoom.

You can overpay too, because you pay for things other than IQ (such as weather sealing, silent autofocus, all-metal construction).

Maybe the best bang per buck would be the Tamron 28-75 f2.8. About 400-450.

Also, buy used if you can .
06-03-2011, 11:48 AM   #3
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If we stick to zoom lenses, the next significant step up from the 18-55 would be the DA 16-45, which appears to be going for around $400 these days.
06-03-2011, 12:19 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by mdbrown Quote
At what price point does lens quality really shift up? For instance, I currently have the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 AL kit lens and a Sigma 55-200MM AF lens. I would say both are comparable in terms of image quality and build quality. Both are in a similar price range. At what price point would the IQ of the lens take a decided step up from here?

I know it depends on the manufacturer and zoom range (for a zoom lens) but I'm guessing there are tiers for lenses just as there are for camera bodies and so forth. What's the consensus here??
I would think that the real difference is that the $150 lens is sharp at F8 and above and the aperture for acceptable sharpness goes down about 1 stop for every doubling of price. a $300 les will be sharp at F5.6, a $600 lens at F4 and a $1200 lens at F2.8

06-03-2011, 12:41 PM   #5
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My current accumulation is 210 lenses. 10 of those are (mostly new zooms) AF, at an average cost of US$330 each. The rest are (mostly old primes) MF, at an average cost of US$20 each. So AF cost me an average of US$310 per lens. And the newest AF zooms mostly cost over US$400 each. So let's set US$400 as the dividing line for new glass.

For daylight and focal range coverage, a couple kit-type lenses are a good start. Other shooting requires other tools, and decisions as to the necessity of AF and cutting-edge optics. I try to ask myself, "What do I want to do that I can't do with what I have?" and then, "Is it a bargain?" My decisions have driven me mostly to old manual primes, with CIF (catch-in-focus) largely supplanting AF. I got faster glass fairly or very cheap: Komine 28/2, <US$20. Nikkor 35/2, <$50. Yashica 50/1.4 and Nikkor 85/2, $10. Tomioka 55/1.4, <$3. SMC-Takumar 135/2.5, $60. My favorite portrait zoom is an M42 Tokina 55-135/3.5 that cost US$8. A couple faster lenses cost more: Kiron 24/2, US$130. SMC-K50/1.2, $250. (Costs include shipping.) Getting ANY of those in AF versions would cost much much more, even used.

The convenience of new AF primes and zooms does not come cheap. How much do you need that convenience? With careful buying, superb older lenses can still be found for a pittance. Even quality older AF zooms can still be bargains. So that price-point dividing line relates to new glass. Go used! Or go broke.
06-03-2011, 01:42 PM   #6
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I guess it depends on the subject matters. For scenery where corner to corner sharpness is important, a truly good lens might cost a few hundreds to well over 1k. For portraits, even the kit zoom works great.
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