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 Nikon9992317
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II26992315
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD Nikon16992316
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO Macro HSM II Nikon9492112
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR13992113
Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM S Nikon35992116
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM Nikon16992012
Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED18501911
Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 EX DC APO HSM Nikon4691811
Tamron SP AF 70-200mm F/2.8 Di LD (IF) MACRO Nikon770176
Sigma 70-200mm F2.8 EX DG APO HSM Nikon8801610
Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED196168
Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 APO-M DG Macro Nikon209159
Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED669159
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR2700159
Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED249149
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR365148
Sigma 70-300mm F4-5.6 DG OS Nikon359149
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Nikon16591410
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED170138

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.