18-200 or 70-200 dilemma...

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by josheudowe, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. So, I know topic's like this have been discussed at nauseam, but I have a dilemma. I own the Nikon 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 VR and love it as a
    great all-purpose lens. I get some great pictures. However, I tend to shoot a lot candids in the 70-200 range and tend to have some
    issues indoors requiring me to shoot at very high speeds as an alternative to using a flash. I'm drawn to the 70-200 f/2.8, but I don't know
    if it's worth spending $1600 to overlap what I already have - especially without knowing the if the results will be noticeable.

    I also shoot a lot of landscapes and really would like the 17-55 f2.8 (but I own the 10-20 sigma).

    Any thoughts?
  2. Josh, the focal length may overlap but that's all these lenses have in common. I also have the 18-200VR and love it but this lens is just night-and-day compared to the 70-200VR. The 18-200 range is teriffic but if I planned to shoot in the 70-200 range and/or in low light and/or shallow DOF was important, the 70-200 is a no brainer.

    The only place you would really have any overlap might be something well lit where you are shooting f/8 or lower. Anything else, the 70-200 will blow away the 18-200. Different lenses for different purposes.
  3. I use both of those lenses. The 18-200 is quite versatile, but cannot hold a candle to the 70-200/2.8 in that focal range. But then, it's not nearly as heavy or as expensive... and with one twist, you're at 18mm.

    At 200mm, f/2.8 is quite a bit faster than f/5.6... and that applies to more than just the exposure. You're also going to get a much brighter viewfinder and more responsive autofocus with the lens hauling in all of that extra light. That the 70-200 is also a VR-stablized lens makes it all the more tasty in those situations.

    But light performance aside... the image quality at those longer ranges is just steller, even wide open, on the spendier lens. Which it should be, at that price and size/weight, to be sure. If I know I'll be working at 70+mm, it's always the 70-200 for me, unless I truly can't function with the large lens in place for some reason. The 18-200 is my toss-it-in-the-car carry-around lens... but the 70-200 (and that same Sigma 10-20) are always in the bag.

    In short: I really don't see the 70-200 as a lens that overlaps with the 18-200. They're meant for two very different roles. Mind you, I'm very pleased with the 18-200 when I used it within its naturally useful bounds, and with the right expectations in mind. It's marvelous piece of do-it-all engineering. But: once you've used the 70-200/2.8, your standards will be permanently changed.
  4. Josh,

    Like Bruce & Matt I have both lenses. The 18-200VR is a versatile lens. I bought it for travel. But reality has hit me. As versatile as it is, I know that I'll probably travel with the 24-70 & buy a 70-300VR. In the long run the 18-200VR (though I have a super sharp copy) will rarely get some camera time from me.

    There is just no way of comparing the 18-200VR with the 70-200VR. Oh, I can actually think of one reason the 18-200VR is better - - it weights a lot less. LOL LOL LOL


    Lil :)
  5. wow ... truthfully, I'm surprised to hear a unanimous opinion that there is no overlap and it's well worth the money! I think
    I'm going for it. I would say that 90% of my candid photos are 70-200, so if the difference is that apparent, and from what it
    seems, it is, then I'll be thrilled with this new purchase decision!

    Thank you so much for your thoughts!
  6. Josh -

    I too have both lenses and I can honestly say there is quite a difference between the two...and I'm a big defender of the 18-200.

    The 18-200 is a great travel lens, since it doesn't scream PRO! LOOK at ME!!! And as pointed out...it weighs a lot less. But, when shooting indoors or money shots, the 70-200 wins everytime.

    By the way - I also went for the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 for close up indoor work and haven't been disappointed with it yet.

  7. >> "I also shoot a lot of landscapes and really would like the 17-55 f2.8 (but I own the 10-20 sigma)."

    That would be a whole different issue. The 17-55 may or may not be a good choice depend on what you do with it and how you want to upgrade your system.

    As far the 70-200 goes, I think you've made a wise decision. As long as you got the budget, that lens should work like a dream (at least on DX). If you haven't used a pro grade nikkor yet, you would be pleasantly surprised by it.
  8. These are two totally different lenses that give two totally different results. IMO the 18-200mm is an okay all around lens but
    kind of mediocre for portraits. You'd have to ask yourself what you're going to be shooting and then check out some images
    taken with each of these lenses. You'll see that they are different beasts entirely.
  9. I am in a similar dilemma as Josh. Can anyone weigh in regarding the 80-200mm vs the 70-200mm? I know that the 70-200mm has VR and a faster AF but is that pretty much it? Is the IQ of the 2 lenses comparable? If so then that saves me some money for a 24-70 down the road.
  10. @ richard... i've shot with the 70-200 and own the 80-200... the 80-200's IQ is actually a little better I found... BUT... if
    you're shooting a lot of stuff with stationary subjects then the VR is going to come in handy and help you shoot at lower
    light if need be... ALSO... the AF is quicker and quieter which could help shooting sports or wildlife... all in all... the 70-200
    will get you a few more keepers than the 80-200... but the IQ will be about the same... i saved the cash for a solid wide..
  11. In regards to the 80-200 f/2.8 vs. the 70-200VR.

    I've owned both. I like the build of the 80-200, but my copy kept back focusing - - I could have sent it in for repair, but the lens was only weeks old & I expect a new lens to work. I would have had to wait a few weeks for a new 80-200, so I ended up trading up to the 70-200VR. Heavier & build is different. I still remember the build of the 80-200 as one I liked better. But I do love my 70-200VR.

    Just my experience with these lenses.

    Lil :)
  12. bmm


    Josh - rather than dropping all the money on the 70-200 zoom why not consider a couple of fast primes to give you indoor options in the range... for example you could probably pick up good condition 85/1.8 and 180/2.8 glass (both very well regarded lenses) second hand for $600 or so. Just a thought...
  13. I have both the 18-200mm and the 70-200mm. As it was mentioned before the 18-200mm is a superb walk around
    lens which is very useful indeed and I am very happy with it.

    However, quality wise I would rate it at best "medium" compared to the "excellent" performance of the 70-200, which
    is significantly faster, sharper and has a supeb IQ.

    I am not sure you can compare them both since they should be used for very different things. Anyway it is nice to
    have them both.
  14. Thanks everyone... Bernard, great suggestion, but with me taking so many candid photos, I need the flexibility of a zoom
    to frame the right shot. That's always my problem with prime lenses. I love my 105mm f2.8, but again, in a candid setting,
    it's hard to frame the right photo and not always leave yourself with a ton of post production work.

    So, I ordered the 70-200 f.2.8 last night. Should be here tomorrow. Thanks again for everyone's excellent thoughts!
  15. I have both these lenses - the 18 - 200 for everyday snapshots is fantastically useful with occasional use of its
    200mm end. The 70 - 200 is a quite different and serious lens, noticeably better IQ, and I use mine a lot with
    x2 extender, which you can't do with the 18 - 200
  16. at


    Yes its worth it...I prefer the 80-200 f2.8 but the reason is the same...a candid shot at 200 f2.8 appeals to me
    much much more than the same candid shot at 200mm f5.6. Its a function of background control.

    My own side note...Nikon needs more f2.8 VR lenses...not f5.6 VR lenses....they completely disregard the
    flexibility of a f2.8 lens. Something that is not physically possible with a f5.6 VR lens.
  17. I couldn't agree more with you. This perhaps is due partly to my lack of full understanding, but if Nikon has the VR
    technology, why not embed it in all of their lenses? Furthermore, is there any reason that Nikon can't make an 18-200 or
    24-300 f/2.8 VR? Outside of simply making people buy more lenses, of course.
  18. The 18-200 is a VR lens. A 24-300 f/2.8 VR would be one marvel of technology but near impossible to design and build and I'm sure the size would have to be massive - look at and pick up the 70-200 f2.8 VR lens - it's pretty heavy.
  19. Josh,

    I own the 18-200, as well as the 18-70 and the 80-200 ED IF. I use the 18-200 on assignments where I can only take one lens with me (luggage weight/space), and it does a great job as a generic travel lens for all situations.

    On specialized assignments however, I always choose either the 18-70 (landscape/outdoors, sometimes in conjunction with a Tokina 11-16) or the 80-200 (sports/wildlife). Both lenses perform clearly better than the 18-200 on the wide resp. tele end, and the difference in IQ is readily apparent. I can even use a Tamron 1.5x converter with the 80-200 to gain additional reach, which would not be feasible with the 18-200.

    So my suggestion definitely would be to consider the 70-200, which is comparable to (but more expensive than) the 80-200 and has VR in addition.
  20. Nikon 18-200 VR is an excellent ! lens for everyday use - Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 is a pro lens fast and sharp amazing !

    i have them both and i'm happy
  21. Thanks for the excellent feedback. Looks like I'll be getting a 70-200. Sounds like its going to make me want to
    shoot even more!
  22. Josh You have made a good choice in the 70-200 having both lenses give you a lot more flexibility as the 18-200
    has much better close focus ability . The 70-200 is tough; 18-200 is relatively fragile; I reckon my 2006
    version is will be be falling apart by the end of 2009 but My 70-200 will probably last for decades.
  23. It's being delivered today, so I'll have some time later on to play around with it. I'll post some feedback, but I can't imagine
    it'll be anything less than spectacular!
  24. So, Josh... did it show up in one piece? Looking forward to hearing how it treats you.
  25. So my first impression - awesome! I didn't get a lot of time to play around with it, but will use it today for a while. I can't
    wait to really get out there and start shooting.

    I've had great luck with my 18-200 (just about all of my shots at www.jmephotography.com was with the 18-200... Keep in
    mind, I'm an amateur!)

    But this new lens seems like it's going to be spectacular.
  26. I'm an amateur

    ... which doesn't change the laws of physics! Meaning, you're going to have a ball with they way that lens handles photons, and the way it physically handles. Also, measure your biceps now, and again in a month. :)
  27. You're not kidding. This is an awesome lens, but whoa. It's a beast to lug around. However, weight aside, from the
    experience thus far - outstanding. Glad I bought it.
  28. You get used to it. Mine's almost always in my go-bag or pack. I also use a Think Tank holster that can carry it, mounted to a body. The trade-off for that size and weight shows in the results, as you'll quickly discover. You're also going to find out how shallow the DoF is at 200mm and f/2.8 (which can work for, and against you - you'll evolve a strategy, and quickly).
  29. Well, I've had a few days to use it and wow - it's incredible. I great move to add to my bag. But man, let me tell you - this
    thing is a beast to carry around for those quick shots of the kids or just running around looking for a new photo opportunity.
    I wish they could make these things half the size!

    Excellent lens though, no doubt. Thanks for everyone's suggestions!

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