Lens advice needed

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jakemaryniak, May 12, 2020.

  1. I need some advice as to lens choices.

    I have recently bought a mint used Nikon D7000 with Nikon 18-200 VR (kit?) lens. I have also acquired the Sigma 17-50 F2.8 OS lens. I have already made up my mind that the Sigma will be my main go to lens as I believe it is better lens of the two. (even at the sacrifice of extra tele range) I am at loss as to what to do with the 18-200. Shall I keep it in case I need the extra zoom, or sell it an buy say 70-200 or 70-300 VR lens? I don't use the extra zoom that much and prefer to use my feet and get close to the subject when ever I can. So my question is. keep the 18-200, swap it for 70-200/300 VR or maybe sell the 18-200 and buy a 35mm F1.8 for the times I really want to experiment with low light. Any comments / suggestions welcome
  2. One thing I'd like to comment on is, you shouldn't lump the 70-200mm and the 70-300mm together as if they were roughly equal. Sure, the focal ranges aren't that different, but one (the 70-200mm) is a high-end, expensive, pro lens, and the other is a fairly cheap & cheerful consumer one. If, as you said, you don't zoom in all that often, the 70-200mm would be overkill in terms of expense (also carry weight and bulk).

    The reason to get the AF-P 70-300mm DX VR would be because it's a better telephoto lens than the 18-200mm. The 70-300mm DX is widely regarded as very sharp and a good performer. But, again, if you don't use the tele end that much, this may be wasted on you.

    I do like the idea of adding a fast prime to your mix. Everyone should have one of those.
  3. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    On the face of what you've written, there's not an outstanding reason to move to a 70-200/300 nor to buy a 35/1.8.

    You stated that you don't have an urgent use for the extra telephoto and in any case prefer to move closer if you can: and with a camera that does quite good to very good at High ISO, there's not that much real world difference between F/2.8 and F/1.8 for your experimenting with Low Light.

    I'd reckon that you need to establish how bad (or how good) is that 'kit lens' at satisfying your needs, before you spend any more money.

    Perhaps you need to more clearly quantify your needs, too.

    conrad_hoffman likes this.
  4. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member


  5. I see your point there. Perhaps I should be more specific as to what sort of photography I do. Mostly family photos and street photography where extra zoom is not needed. I get that adding a 35mm to my 17-50 F2.8 might be bit pointless. I would like at some stage photograph wildlife (birds etc.) where I think something like 70-300 would be sufficient for me without the overkill off 70-200 F2.8. So I could to some effect justify having 70-300 in my kit. The only reason I would now justify keeping my 18-200 was as a travel do all lens. So I guess my original question should read, taking into consideration that I already have 17-50 F2.8, should I swap the 18-200 for 70-300, and maybe add 35mm F1.8 for the sake of having a prime?
    William Michael likes this.
  6. Three reasons:

    (1) Occasionally being restricted to one focal length is liberating, and it will allow you to discover photographic ideas you might not have thought of otherwise.
    (2) With the fast aperture, you can get better subject isolation and bokeh than with almost any normal-range zoom (some Sigmas being possible exceptions).
    (3) You can more easily take photos of other people without their being intimidated by a huge lens.
    Last edited: May 12, 2020
    FPapp likes this.
  7. FWIW, I can count the good shots I've gotten at focal lengths greater than 105 mm on one hand. That's on full frame. That's also in 45 years of shooting. I don't do sports, so long teles don't get any use. I've also never seen an extended range zoom with the optical performance of more conservative designs. Though I haven't tried that one, I doubt any 18-200 would make me happy. The 35mm f/1.8 costs enough that I'd want to be pretty sure of having a use for it. I have a few fast lenses and it's rare that I mount them up anymore. Since you have the 17-50, I'd think a 55-200 makes sense and I wouldn't be surprised if you use it way less than the 17-50. I could also make a case that you might like something wider than the 17-50. I know when I use my DX camera I always miss the super wide stuff.
  8. Were you thinking along the lines of 10-20mm ?
  9. The 18-200mm VR is a good lens for general usage. I would take it to do street photography. In fact, I had.
  10. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    How much travelling do you intend to do - alternatively - how valuable to you is an all in one lens for travelling?

    When travelling I seem to have gone full circle, over 40 something years: having originally typically taken three lenses: such as three primes (long ago), then later one zoom and two primes. Establishing what I actually used (by data and not what I thought I needed), one zoom was used about 87% of the time. Additionally, of the other 13% images made, at least 70% I could have either done without or made do with the Zoom. So I now travel with one Zoom and sometimes a Prime with it. Typically, on 135 Format Cameras (aka ‘Full Frame’) a 24 to 105/4IS adding occasionally a 35/1.4, the latter because I like simply like to use (read I have a fun using it) it for Street Portraiture, though, as I allude to below, the 24 to 105 can manage Street Portraiture very well indeed. I never have pined for longer than FL=105 when travelling. I have I always taken a second Camera when travelling - that has varied, it’s now typically a Fuji x100s.

    I think it can become a real pain in the butt carrying and changing lenses when travelling: on the other side of the argument that 'kit lens' has a very wide zoom compass and therein lies assumed a lesser IQ than having a better quality TWO zoom lens kit.


    Additionally, this comment above certainly caught my attention, because I use wider than FL = 24mm on my FF bodies very often. When travelling, sometimes I do wish for wider than FL = 24mm but I cannot commit to carrying even one of the Ultra Wide Lenses that I have. I think that's an advantage of APS-C (DX for Nikon) Format, there are quite a few good quality choices at the Ultra Wide, not too heavy and not too bulky.


    My bottom line advice -
    If it were me, I’d do nothing now and I’d have a really good play with the 18 to 200 over a month or so. I think you’ll either like it or not after using it expensively and in different circumstances for 4 weeks.

    DavidTriplett likes this.
  11. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for replying.

    With regard to the Opening Post, and noting that the OP already has a 17 to 70, my views are:

    1. one doesn't need a Prime lens to do that. A zoom can be set (and kept) at a range of Focal Lengths, acting as many Primes for discovery ideas.

    2. it is interesting to compare exactly what differences there will be apropos Subject Isolation (DoF) using FL=35mm Prime vs. Sigma Zoom set at FL = 35mm on a Nikon APS-C camera at F/1.8 and F/2.8. Bokeh is a different topic and (fast) Primes often will be more praised for their Bokeh than Fast Zooms, but all lenses are different when it comes to discussing Bokeh, which by definition, is Subjective.

    3. my observation is that if people do react badly to having their image taken, then it is more likely a result of the Photographer's: demeanour; attitude; action; body language; and words, rather than the size of the Camera/Lens being used. I observed no issues with this range of different Subjects in various circumstances, just as a few examples, of many -

    STREET (full frame of image) with 5D Series + Battery Grip + 135/2 + Lens Hood
    STREET (side crop of image to 1:1) with 5D Series + Battery Grip + 24 to 105/4 + Lens Hood
    STREET (side crop of image to 1:1) with 5D Series + Battery Grip + 24 to 105/4 + Lens Hood
    STREET (full frame of image) with 5D Series + Battery Grip + 24 to 105/4 + Lens Hood
    STREET (side crop to 1:1) with 5D Series + Battery Grip + 70 to 200/2.8 + x1.4II + Lens Hood

    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  12. There has been a lot of negative writing about the technical image quality of the 18-200, some of it parroted by me in a potentially misguided attempt to be helpful. It certainly may not hold up as well as the state of the art, particularly compared against lenses with smaller zoom ranges (or primes), especially as the image sensor count increases - but modern image processing software is pretty good at getting rid of lens aberrations, and as a "lens to have with you" it's pretty flexible. Mary has been very defensive of hers, and while I'm sure she has a "good copy", that does mean it can't be as bad as I've heard some say. As others said, at the least, I'd try it until you're sure about focal lengths. If "family photos" includes chasing small running children, a bit of zoom range is a good thing - but the available light might be an issue.

    For subject isolation, there's something to be said for a longer lens rather than a faster, shorter one - a fast, short prime limits the depth of field at the same background blur and, since a lot of aberrations depend on aperture, it may look worse. It depends how close your subject is to the background, of course. I wouldn't rule out a slow zoom at 300mm (or 200mm) instead of a 50mm prime, at least some of the time.

    I tried street photography a little while back, to stretch myself (and because I ran out of new ducks to photograph near my office). A big lens gets greeted with suspicion. People in the UK away from tourist areas seem to be pretty suspicious about the motives of photographers (everyone's a paedophile until proven otherwise). As a middle-aged white male, particularly from a single-sex private school background, I have an extreme sense of personal space and impinging on that of others (the COVID-19 lockdown hasn't done much to me - I never went within two metres of people I don't know anyway); that makes me worry about how others may feel if I photograph them, which make me look furtive, which makes people assume I'm up to no good... It probably doesn't help that I don't really do social media (too much training about computer security and privacy concerns), and so I come from the premise of "what do you mean you want to put a selfie on the internet?" Oddly I found an old Coolpix-A in a leather case (which was the smallest one I could find) seemed to get a better reaction from the average member of the public because people assumed I was arty, whereas my much more expensive dSLR roused suspicion. In the end I mostly gave up and photographed buildings and flowers, but I'm glad others enjoy street photography. :)

    Birding gets expensive (even as an amateur like me, if you want to put more than a few pixels on the bird), and unless you're very good and patient with a hide, basically a very long lens is good. And very long lenses are expensive. The 70-300VR would probably be a minimum, I'd have though; unfortunately it's not as good as the newer AF-P versions (from the reviews I've read), but the AF-Ps won't focus on the D7000. I'd say keep saving until you can get a big zoom (200-500, 60-600, etc.) but that may be a bit extreme. If you happen to spot a 300mm f/4 (even the pre-VR) going for a bargain, it's worth a look.

    TL;DR: Don't rush the birding lens, don't rush to a fast prime unless you're sure you want it (not because of the old "everyone should have a nifty fifty" advice - that applied more when every zoom was iffy, film sucked about ISO 400, and bear in mind that a 35mm f/1.8 doesn't isolate the background like a 50mm f/1.8), and I'd be sure before ditching the 18-200 - which isn't to say you shouldn't. Generally, I only buy a new lens when there's something specific I want to do that the old one(s) can't - then the question is "which version of the ... is better?" and that's possibly less subjective.
  13. According to Nikon the D7000 can still work with an AFP FX 70-300 lens, but not with the DX. Not sure why, but that's what they say.
  14. I think you should buy the lens you think you want to try, budget permitting. If you don't have a prime, you will be busy until the day you try one. Or a 70-300. Or whatever.
    The 18-200 and the 70-300 are lenses for different purposes. As is the 35/1.8. So I think it's more curiosity that any other thing (and/or NAS, why not?) , so I'd just start with the most different one to the gear you already have,
    When someone mentions the 18-200, I think of Richard Armstrong, a forum member that master this lens on his D300. He talently used to use it for everything, it doesn't matter how good the lens is, his images were just perfect. Check his oldest images in his portfolio (sadly, I have just checked that the gear data is not shown). I have never bought this lens, maybe because it is a "too much versatile for a highly serious photographer like me" lens, but my images with premium lenses has always been so far away from him`s.
    So personally, I´d start with the 35/1.8, that you can use as the classic standard prime. I like to go this way, although my most used zoom Nikon lens has been a 24-105/4 on FX (I also use a 24-7/2.8 but only for "serious" events, because the limited zoom, the size and weight seem to me a penalty for everyday use).
    Last edited: May 13, 2020
  15. Oops. Sorry, you're right - the FX 70-300 has slightly wider compatibility than the DX version. (It's also more expensive, of course.) According to Thom's tracking of it, on the D7000 it'll lose focus position when the meter turns back on, which is a little inconvenient but not the end of the world - whereas the DX version won't work at all. Which is a shame, because the DX version is supposed to be pretty good for the money. The older 70-300mm VR AF-S G works fine, of course, but is a little less sharp.

    Re. superzooms, I used my 28-200 (full-frame, not the 18-200) on my D700 a lot. It was pretty small and could act as a body cap until I knew what else I needed. On a D800, where I had more pixels to see what was going on, the newly-visible chromatic aberrations rapidly bothered me, and I traded it; it is very difficult to build a zoom lens that is well-corrected throughout the range, at least without spending TV lens money. (Similarly I suspect a lot, but not all, reviews of the 18-200 were on lower MP bodies, where it was fine.) I've since revisited some of the few raw images I shot with that combination with DxO, and it recovers enough detail that I vaguely regret getting rid of it. However, the 28-200 was a lot smaller than the 18-200 or the 24-120 (which I also had and disposed of). I don't mind carrying a big lens, but only if I know I want it, and a superzoom is a "just in case" lens. I used to carry the 28-200, a 50mm f/1.8 and the 135mm f/2.8 AI (for portraits) in a smallish bag, when wandering around.

    Getting rid of the 18-200 isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I'd ensure that you have a replacement - otherwise you're guaranteed to see a rare bird that you could capture at 200mm when you've swapped it for a 35mm prime or even a 200-500 that you've left at home. While manual focus of telephoto lenses is annoying (especially if the subject moves), if you do ditch the 18-200 for something shorter, you might like to seek out a cheap pocketable 200mm f/4 AI or similar, just in case...
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  16. My first DSLR body was the D5100, with the same sensor as the D7000. (I'm still sorry I didn't opt for the D7000.) I primarily do landscapes, nature, wildlife, and architecture. I very quickly realized my two kit lenses (18-55 and 55-200) were fine for most subjects, but did not fit the need for a lot of nature, wildlife, and architectural subjects. My first additional lens purchase was an 11-16mm UWA (for architecture, particularly interiors), followed quickly by the 70-300 VR and then a 150-600 Tamron (for wildlife). (The Tammy was fine on 16 MP, but quickly fell apart at 24 MP on my D7100.) With this collection I've been able to capture virtually any subject, within my own skill levels. I've upgraded further over time, but the principle still remains. There are some subjects that demand specialty lenses. When travelling I still rely on a basic zoom as my primary lens, for simplicity's sake if nothing else. 18-105mm on DX, and 24-85mm on FX, with other lenses in the bag depending on what I expect to encounter.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    There are three AF-P 70-300mm lenses. The two DX models are f6.3 on the 300mm end, and they cannot AF with the D7000 and many other older Nikon DSLRs. However, the D7000 can AF with the FX version.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  18. Caveat- I've never used one, but yes, I know I'd get a lot of use out of it and if you tend towards the lower end of your existing zoom, you probably would too.
    Re birds- We don't have much interesting in the backyard and they mostly poop on my car. Some of the bird shots people post here are spectacular, but I suspect it takes not only skill, but significant money, to achieve those kinds of results. Same with astronomy. The more time and money invested in equipment and software, the better the shots.
  19. Also the Tamron was historically considered to be quite good (at least compared with the AF-S G), and works with everything. Anything resembling a 70-300 from before the time of the 70-300G VR was likely awful, though - there was a jump in image quality from lenses in that class around the time Canon launched their version. Choices choices. :)

    I use my ultra-wide (14-24, in my case) for landscapes, but of course perspective distortion looks awful if you put people near the edges of the frame, so it's not a "fit everyone into the living room" lens, even if I've had to use it like one occasionally. (See my photos this Nikon Wednesday - my neighbours aren't that fat. I am, but I'm not in the shot...) For what it's worth, some fish-eye lenses are a lot smaller and cheaper than rectilinear ultrawides, and if you don't mind losing some pixels you can "de-fish" the result in software.
    DavidTriplett likes this.
  20. The 18-200mm VR is certainly not a bad lens. That said, people prefer to use certain lenses for a lot of reasons. But since OP already has the 17-50 lens, getting the 70-300 is not a bad decision.

    Anyhow, since some are talking about the quality or non-quality of the 18-200mm again, here are two videos showing how this professional wedding photographer uses the 18-200mm.



    It is very important, especially for beginners (and for some not-so-beginners), to understand that most bad and mediocre images have more to do with other-than-lens issues. I have seen many mediocre images made with expensive lenses.

Share This Page