Auto focus noise 5 lens test / by Bennett Photography

Given the number of lenses at my disposal, and a recent purchase of a motor driven lens, i decided to do a brief video test of each (with the exception of my Nikkor 40mm Micro F2.8 as it is used to film these videos)

2 of the lenses on test are motor driven so are naturally far louder, or rather the motors in the camera bodies are

Any one looking to buy any of these lenses can get an idea from this small test as to what the lens will sound like, also how quickly it will focus from infinity to its closest focusing distance


First up is the Sigma 17-50mm F2.8 EX DG HSM OS, a DX format fast medium zoom

It is quite enough, fast and accurate with some minor hunting in low light, or objects that are seemingly bright, the issue i found after using this lens for over a year is that its front focusing ring rotates when AF is in operation, however the focus is internal, and therefore nothing rotates on the filter thread

Moving onto the next lens

The Nikon 50mm f1.8G 

This lens was by far the most silent, with Nikon's esteemed silent wave motor mechanism, and such few glass elements to shift, the nifty fifty is a quiet operator, with no rotating element to worry about, nothing sticks out either, it offers full time manual override also

Here is the Nikon 35-80mm F3.5-5.6D

Motor driven, there is no surprised to find this is the loudest lens i own, cheap and cheerful (despite being pleasantly sharp!) this F50 kit lens from 1995 is clunky and scratchy during operation, the front element protrudes during focusing, it also rotates, the manual use it unrefined due to the tiny and feeble grip

Now heres my new addition, the Sigma 24-70 F2.8D EX DC

New kid on the block for myself, but ive quickly found its personality, you do after shooting with various lenses, and being motor driven much like the far cheaper Nikkor 35-80mm, its a noisier AF operation, but outside in real world shooting conditions you have to listen for it to spot it, which i can live with, inside a concert, sure it might make that slight effect if youre shooting by someones head as you shoot (not that my D700 has quiet shutter release)

The focus is fast, sharp and accurate, the front element extends during operation, but does not rotate, no full time override however, and a clunky "duel AF system" which, unless you want to manually wind that motor in and out, only works when you switch both camera and lens to MF

my workhorse, Sigma 70-200 F2.8 EX APO

One of my favorite lens i own, amazing build quality, robust and a strong performer, ive shot out in the rain for over 2 hours at a rugby game with this and it never batts an eyelid

fast silent auto focus with just a hint of screeching and contact from inside, however this is how mine alone acts, it didnt when i had it a year ago, bare in mind these lens can be up to 16 years old now

full time manual override for focus, no switch however, internal zoom, focusing and naturally no rotating elements.. just a fantastic lens

Sigma 24-70 F2.8 fitted to a Nikon F50 film camera

As a comparison to how different bodies offer more or less noise from their internal focus motor, i recorded the F50 as it uses the same motor driven lens as earlier on the D700, both low and high end bodies and the noise difference is substantial 

Nikon 35-80mm on F50

As before, to demonstrate the difference the body makes to a motor driven lens, still fast and accurate surprisingly for a 20 year old film camera, but it shows its age in the noise it makes during focusing

Nikon D300s w/Nikkor 40mm F2.8 Micro, stereo microphone mounted in front of the camera recording the Nikon D700 and in this case Sigma 70-200 F2.8