Kevin Good over at CrisisLab has recently published a comparison of both higher end (Canon and Nikon) and less expensive (Sigma and Tamron) lenses common for various types of DSLR shooting -- 24-70mm f/2.8 zooms. The test compares overall clarity, both at the center of each lens as well as at the edges, the quality of bokeh, the amount of vignetting, and the ability for internal optical image stabilization. The results of each test were weighted against the going price for each lens, in order to determine which possesses the best overall value. Read on to check out the video -- and which lens may have the most bang for your buck.
Calling this NSFW would definitely be a stretch, but there's a bit of a visual innuendo in the video -- pretty harmless, but I have to mention it, just in case. Here's the test:
Video is no longer available: www.youtube.com/watch?v=xat-cF1Aess
As demonstrated, here are the lenses in question:
- Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 -- $2,300
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 -- $1,890
- Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 -- $824 (there's a few varions of these available, but they're all $824 and include autofocus)
- Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 -- $1,300 (there's variations of these available too, but they're all $1,300 and include built in stabilization and autofocus)
The clarity test was conducted by shooting high res stills and scaling down to 1080 resolution, which Kevin Good at Weapons of Mass Destruction contends illustrates the ceiling of sharpness capable with each lens. Perhaps not surprisingly, the Canon and Nikon fair better, particularly around the outer edges of the image. It's a bit tough to tell whether the Tamron beats out the Sigma or vice-versa, but it's pretty clear the more expensive pieces of glass here are more, well, clear (check out the video in 1080p for the best examination).
Interestingly, the vignetting test -- which was shot wide open at 20mm -- produces pretty miserable looking stuff from each contender, and the Sigma lens is pretty obviously the worst culprit. The very outer corners on the Sigma look almost black -- but as Kevin rightly points out, the vignetting from each is essentially unnoticeable in the shots from the forest test! This is something to take into consideration, because, although you can't excuse the failure of your shooting technology outright, I'd say there are definitely moments in which laboratory-style tests can be virtually irrelevant to real-world shooting conditions.
As for optical image stabilization, the Tamron is the only lens to include the feature, which -- again, well pointed out here by Kevin -- exists in this far less expensive lens, but for some reason, is not included on the heavy-hitters. Why this omission? Maybe Canon and Nikon just don't feel obligated to provide you with anything but high-quality glass for those prices. So with all these things in mind, and with the short-comings of the Tamron taken into account, it wasn't a Canon or Nikon that was chosen as the ideal solution for the working DSLR shooter on a budget. As for the rest, well, if you didn't see the end of the video, you're missing out! (By the way he's done this sort of destruction before with his other tests.)
How do you guys feel about the test? Would you agree, that the Tamron's value is superior for its price? As an investment, would you rather spring for the highest quality glass, or be perfectly happy with 'acceptable' quality? What about the big company's denial of optical stabilization in more expensive lenses?