This week I finally had a long discussion, sometimes more than a discussion it was almost bordering on arguments, with an old friend. As usual between geeks we talked “geekhood” topics. He’s Nikon, I’m Canon. You can imagine the conversation: Mine’s bigger than yours. Mine’s better than yours… And don’t forget the mine’s more expensive than yours.

So we spoke not only Nikon vs Canon but also Sigma, Tokina, Tamron…

I’m not here to slam down anyone, any brand name. I have used camera manufacturers’ lenses and third party lenses such as Sigma and Tamron. I have been happy with almost all of them. I’ve also learned my lessons, in other words: experience.

There’s a huge market for third party lenses like Sigma, Tokina and Tamron because Canon, Nikon, Pentax and all the others are as so expensive or because they have a wider aperture or even have a longer zoom range.

So what to look for in those lenses? Almost all the photo magazines do various test and reports that you can read or you can also take a look at Pixel Peepers to see actual photos for what you’d like to become your lens. But most people forget the following 3 points:

  1. Make sure that the third party lens zoom ring rotates in the same direction as your camera manufacturer. Some rotate clock wise, to the right, and some other rotate counter-clock wise, to the left. If it doesn’t rotate in the correct direction, I got confused and have lost many shots because I was going in the wrong direction.
  2. Make sure that the third party lens focusing ring rotates in the same direction as your camera manufacturer. If it doesn’t rotate in the correct direction, I got confused and have lost many shots because I was going in the wrong direction.
  3. Make sure that the third party lens focusing ring works even in the auto-focus mode.
  4. Lightroom doesn’t always recognize properly third party lenses, because often third party lenses are used under different models and brands. Or use a different identifier if it’s Nikon mount or a Canon mount. Tamron is so famous for that, that they’ve introduce their full line for Lightroom lens correction in LR3.

There’s another problem with third party lenses when on “higher end cameras”. “Higher end cameras” at least from Canon and Nikon, I don’t about the other manufacturers, have a database of their own lenses in the camera and will do some corrections in the camera, such as Nikon will eliminate almost all fringing if the Nikon lens is in their database, and Canon does correct vignetting for some of their lenses…