First Post (hi!) and problem - Broken 55-200VR, D40, where to go?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by trevans, May 28, 2009.

  1. Hi Everyone,
    I've been a lurker for some time now, but I thought it's high time I got involved and now I've got a reason! I'd like some input from you if you don't mind.
    This past weekend I went down to the Chesapeake Bay on a camping/kayaking/canoeing trip with a buddy of mine, my girlfriend, and our three dogs. Wonderful time was had by all, except near the end of the trip I managed to break my 55-200VR lens but good and damaged my D40 (still works but shutter makes a different sound now, like something's rubbing). To make a long story short, they fell out of a (slowly) moving car going down a dirt road. (I can't say too much more without total embarassment!)
    Anyway, I think the VR lens is totally shot, as it separated the backplate from the zoom barrel, stripped out several screws, broke one of the mounting points on the main body of the lens, ripped one of the ribbon cables, and it looks like there's an ever so tiny scratch on the rear element of the lens. If I recall, that scratch pretty much totals the lens.
    I called Nikon but they guy who answered wouldn't even venture a guess as to how much it would cost, but I figure if it costs more than $100 or so to fix the lens I may as well buy a new one.

    (but should I just get the 18-200...? I am switching lenses a lot, but the 55-200 is a little faster, better bokeh, etc over the shared focal length...)
    Has anyone had experience with Nikon's repair? Any information on general prices, turnaround, success rate, etc. would be greatly appreciated.
    I hope I can contribute some of my (limited) knowledge for the betterment of the forum. Anyway, hello everybody and thanks in advance for your thoughts!
  2. Tim, Nikon repair is pretty solid for the most part. You just have to go through the motions of sending in your gear, getting an estimate and making the decision to fix or not.
    The 55-200 is probably not worth the repair cost. But your D40 is another matter.
    You mentioned you are switching lenses a lot. What other lenses do you have?
  3. Thanks for the insight, BW.
    I've got the kit 18-55, (had) the 55-200 VR, and my 35/1.8 that just showed up (it's neat!). I find I really take a lot in the 35-120mm range or so, which is why I tend to swap lenses often. In fact I have a very hard time leaving the house with just one lens on me.
    I was considering the other 18-xx lenses as well (maybe the 105VR). Then again, the time I spent with the 55-200 before I broke it I enjoyed a lot.
    I guess what I'm trying to say is, I've fallen into the habit of switching lenses to suit what I think would best fit the framing/perspective/etc. But this past weekend I used my 55-200 a LOT, and left it on most of the weekend and tried to discipline myself to just use what is attached and adapt my thinking and I liked that.
    At some point I think I'd like a nicer standard zoom, and I got it in my head that since I'm replacing the 55-200 range and I definitely want VR, maybe instead of getting the 18-55VR as I'd kicked around I could just get the all-in-oner. (I know, optical comprimises, etc). I did get to play with one for a brief period of time and it was pretty nice. I think distortions don't really concern me all that much, even perhaps adding a bit of charm (I like imperfections at times). I just don't know that I can justify the expense.
    Honestly for the money I'd pay for the 18-200, I'd almost rather have a 70-300 VR and some change leftover.
  4. Hi Tim, I dropped my D80 with a big zoom on it, and naturally had similar damage, althought the lens did not detach. I boxed it up, and fired it back to Nikon, got the estimate via email, and had it back in a week or two. Repair, including tax and shipping was 150 bucks.
    As BW mentioned, your lens is likely dead-weight, and the Nikkor 18-200vr would be an excellent choice, and was on my camera most of the time when I had it (traded it for an 80-200 2.8).
  5. You don't have any images posted to indicate what you shoot. But there are a lot of people here and elsewhere that love the 18-200mm for a myriad of shooting situations. I do not own one, but borrowed one when I had to have only one lens for the day and was pleased overall with its quality and results. It will give you the ability on the wide end, which your 55-200 and 70-300 do not.
  6. The 18-200 will solve your problem of changing lenses frequently but of course, you are limited to 200mm. If you go with the 70-300, you get longer range but you need another lens, maybe the 18-55. The 16-85VR is another option but more expensive.
    BTW, all of these lenses are 'optical compromises' of one sort or another.
    Personally, I like the 18-200 but yes, there are times I would appreciate the longer range of the 70-300. Really, more about personal choice here.
  7. ouch - if it makes you feel any better, your not alone. Years ago when I got my 2nd nikon body a new nikkormat, I put the strap on wrong. I had just gotten the camera, unpacked it, put on my prized 50mm 1.4 lens and went outside to try it out. It came off the strap and bounced down a full flight of concrete steps before I even had a chance to shoot 1 frame with it. Was a total loss and took my lens with it.
    Nikon repair can work miracles- try them first
  8. Ah sorry. I just created an account last night so I don't have any up on here but you can see them on my flickr page if you like.
    There's a lot of random stuff in my photostream so I think this set might be a good representation of what I like to shoot:
    And yes, I know all lenses have compromises but I'm also not so naive as to think the quirks of a lens are the limiting factor in my photography. :) I currently have the 18-55 and am quite satisfied with it (though VR might be nice). The 35/1.8 looks like it's going to work out well (although agonizing between it and the Sigma 30/1.3, I've had it all of 12 hours now and took some shots on the subway this morning, they came out nice, in fact the bokeh is much better to my eye than in examples I saw in other threads on here...).
    I suppose in my head, it would be really nice to have the 16-85, the 70-300, this 35/1.8 and a macro, but I'm on a realistic budget (and carrying capacity) so I have to stick with the kit lens for now. And I don't feel the need to have every focal length covered... I'm playing with my film camera (early 70's Ricoh TLS-401) and all I've got is a 28/2.8, a 55/1.4, and a (seldom used) 135/2.8. Most often I've got the 28 on there, followed by the 55. I leave the 135 at home unless I've got something in mind for it.
    So I dunno. In all likelihood I'm just going to buy a new 55-200VR to replace the broken one and then perhaps sell it along with the kit when I feel the need to upgrade. Maybe I should rent/beg/borrow an 18-200 to try out for a while, but I have a hard time spending the $650 or whatever it's down to now when I could have more lenses that cover more range (not just mm but aperture and even function). I realize this is the same dilemma rehashed on PDN several times a day so let's just table this part of it. :)
    Anyone with the 70-300... do you ever find yourself missing that 55-70 range, or the shorter focusing distance, the smaller/lighter lens, or the extra $300?
  9. The 55-200mm VR repair cost will exceed what it's worth. I bought one a couple of weeks ago on e Bay for $149. I too like to photo subways. The lens you need to do that is the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. It's fast, it's wide. Might not be AFS for your D40 though. Between the Nikon 35mm f1.8 and Sigma 30mm f1.4, get the Sigma. I bought a used one on e Bay for $250 recently. It's most definitely fifty dollars better than the Nikon. I think it's a hundred dollars better, myself. The Nikon 70-300mm VR would give you 50% more reach, and is worth looking at if you photo some wildlife etc.
    Kent in SD
  10. Tim.... Regarding your "missing that 55-70mm range" comment: Don't get hung up on needing every single millimeter of length in your bag. The 7.5mm up or down from each lens can be covered with some slight foot motion. My "serious" kit is the 17-35, a 50, and the 70-200, and I've never missed those two "holes" when shooting, not even the 20mm gap from 50 to 70. We shot for decades with primes that jumped from 35 to 50 to 85 to 105 to 135 to 200 (if one were lucky). My kit was a 28, 50 and 135mm for a long, long about holes!
    If you like long, go for the 70-300VR. But I'd like to point out the realities of shooting at 450mm effective with the 70-300. It's a super lens, but you do have to have great technique at the long end (or a good tripod). VR helps a lot, but it's not miraculous. Remember, a quality image shot at 200mm beats a soft one at 300mm every time.
    Don't rule out the 18-200mm point blank, as that one lens may suit your "carrying capacity" out on hikes and such. At the same time, if you're on a budget, the 18-55/55-200 are a fine pair, so never feel pressured outside of your price range. The 18-200 is the convenience version of your two-lens kit, that's all.
  11. Kent-
    Thanks for your post. Do you have some sort of estimate as to what a lens costs to fix? I've got no frame of reference here and the guys on Nikon's service line were of absolutely no help. Rather disappointing, really.
    I was hoping someone could more speak for the short end of the lens who has or does own one (and preferably also has owned a 55-200mm), as yes 300mm is indeed 50% greater than 200mm and as I shoot often at 200 I think 300 might be nice (but unsure if the 200-300 gain is worth the loss of 55-70).
    Have you experience with the Nikon 35/1.8? I'm curious as you seem sure it's $100 inferior to the Nikon. I don't know if you saw my earlier post where I mentioned the bokeh, but after the shots on the subway this morning (I'll post them up tonight on Flickr if anyone's interested) the out-of-focus isn't nearly as harsh and ringy as the big long 35/1.8 thread on here last week showed.
    As I tried to indicate before, I want to get good, functional lenses that make sense and don't necessarily have to be top of the line (like 17-55/2.8) DX so long as they do what I'm looking for. I also was concerned about the seemingly inconsistent (not the same thing as poor) build quality of the Sigma lenses, as many people have posted they had to have them sent back for calibration and while I understand manufacturing tolerences and things don't always line up, I'd rather not deal with that unless it's far and away a better lens. Then again, it may well be. The biggest difference they really seem to have is the
    Not sure what happened to the last part of my message... no matter.
    Joe, thank you, that's truly helpful. I hadn't considered the ramifications of the long end of the lens as right now I really prefer handheld to carrying a tripod (this may change).
    Don't know if you saw my earlier post but my film camera's got a 28, 55, and 135 and I really don't use the 135... so yeah, I'm starting to understand that gaps aren't necessarily a detriment. :)
    Thank you everyone for your help... I think the only thing I need to decide now is 55-200 or 18-200 and we all know what a dead horse that is. I'll pick one out on my own.
  12. Before you replace the 55-200, try giving the folks at Precision Camera in Connecticut a call and see if they will give an estimate over the phone. Nikon Service kept my 18-200VR for 6 weeks and failed to improve it, despite replacing "major parts." Precision Camera got it back to me in 6 days and finally got it up to spec.
    I own both the 18-200 and the 55-200VR. FWIW, the 55-200VR has significantly better IQ in the shared focal lengths, at least compared to my twice-repaired and twice-calibrated 18-200 VR.
  13. Tim--
    I've had my 80-400mm VR fixed twice. It doesn't like to be dropped! Seems to me the price was $400. You could almost buy three 55-200mm VR for that.
    Kent in SD
  14. if i were you i'd skip the 18-200 and get the 70-300VR. or sell the 18-55 and scoop a 18-105VR.
  15. David,
    Fantastic first-hand experience. Thank you. I'm still leaning towards a new 55-200 and saving for something else (maybe a proper Macro lens, or hell, tires on the car...:) )
    Why the 70-300? Just because of the extra reach?
  16. I would take the 55-200 VR over the 70-300 VR any day, personally, for what I shoot. The 55-200 is so light and compact that it's a super easy-to-use lens, and other than focus speed it doesn't give up anything to the 70-300 except that last 100mm, at which my 70-300 didn't perform well anyway.
    That is of course only my personal opinion and others' needs will obviously differ, but I want to make the point that the the 55-200 is a very good lens, a terrific bargain for the money and you needn't lose anything important by choosing it over its more expensive bigger cousin.

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