Best lenses for the 24M-Pix Nikon D7100: Part I

By Kevin Carter - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Anti-aliasing filter: How useful is it? | Nikon D7100 results: ultra high performance | Best prime lenses for the D7100 | Best Zoom models for the D7100 | A decade of evolution in sensor design and image quality

As with the primes, a number of zoom models have also seen their sharpness scores improve dramatically with the D7100. At the top of the rankings, the upgraded DX format only Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC APO HSM and the current AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II full-frame model sit beside the new Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD with a DxOMark score of 23 points. The Tamron had the slightly higher (averaged) sharpness score before we amended the list, adding the updated Sigma 50-150mm to our findings. We’ll look more closely at the individual performance of those lenses at different apertures and focal length settings and reveal how they affect the rankings in part III. If based on sharpness alone, though, the Sigma is the better performing model of the three and claims the top spot in this group of focal lengths. It also happens to be very modestly priced, but bear in mind it’s not a full frame lens and can only be used on APS-C bodies, potentially limiting its usefulness in dual format systems.

 
Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8 EX DC APO OS HSM Nikon 999 23 17
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II 2699 23 15
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Nikon 1699 23 16
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II Nikon 949 21 12
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR 1399 21 13
Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon 3599 21 16
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM Nikon 1699 20 12
Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED 1850 19 11
Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO HSM Nikon 469 18 11
Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) MACRO Nikon 770 17 6
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO HSM Nikon 880 16 10
Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED 196 16 8
Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO-M DG Macro Nikon 209 15 9
Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED 669 15 9
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR 2700 15 9
Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED 249 14 9
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR 365 14 8
Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG OS Nikon 359 14 9
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Nikon 1659 14 10
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED 170 13 8

It’s no secret that third-party lens makers, Sigma, Tokina and Tamron have established a wide-range of zoom models in Nikon mount and they continue to perform well against their Nikkor branded counterparts. We’ll compare the best performers against the Nikon models to see how they differ in optical quality.