Looking for everyday multipurpose standard zoom lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by bdmott, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. I'm in need of an everyday lens to take just about anything. Price is not really a big factor.
    I'm considering:
    AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

    AF-S DX VR Zoom- NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED

    AF Zoom- NIKKOR 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF

    AF-S VR Zoom- NIKKOR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED

    Any recommendations from this forum.
    I've read reviews and looked at specs.
    Seems the 24 -70 f2.8 is a favorite, but would i be losing alot by taking a f3.5 lens??
  2. Brian, just curious, what camera body do you have? I'll vote for the 18-200 VR. It is a tremendously versatile lens as a "walk around" do everything lens. That is it's major strength. Many people love it. Some have no use for it. It has served me well on my D300 for the past 15 months with no problems. I've traveled a lot with it, and although I have other special purpose lenses, if I'm just going out shooting for fun, it stays on my camera. I have not been disappointed.
  3. Ignoring for the moment the price issue, there are some other apples v. oranges things going on with that list.

    The 24-70/2.8 is a fantastic lens. But it's big, heavy, and doesn't get very wide on a DX body (which I have to presume you're talking about, since there are some DX-only lenses on your list). On the other hand, it's fast, has a consistent aperture, and will work on an FX body down the road. But for everyday walk-about? It wouldn't be, for a lot of people. And the difference between 18mm and 24mm on a DX is substantial.

    The 18-200 is terrific all-purpose lens, though it does have its compromises. I have a nice range of lenses to pick from, but it's my default walk-out-the-door lens. It's across the table from me right now, in my bag, on a D300.

    The 24-85 is too narrow a range to bother with for a variable-aperture lens.

    The 24-120 is again FX-friendly down the road, but simply not wide enough as a catch-all lens on a DX body.

    EDIT: Dick, have you sent in you 18-200 Fan Club Dues yet this year? I keep meaning to. :)

    EDIT II: If you ARE sticking with DX for now, the venerable 17-55/2.8 is no lightweight lens, but it's optically terrific, and has a consistent aperture. Might be a little short for a do-it-all. And then there's the 16-85 VR, which you might really want to consider. A little wider than the 18-200, but also a bit physically smaller and lighter, if you don't see yourself working out past 100mm much.
  4. Brian - we really need to know which camera you're planning this purchase for.
    The 18-200VR is a DX lens - all the others are FX lenses. I've owned the 18-200VR & have just sold it with my D200 as a package deal.
    I had the 24-120mm and it was OK - but kept my 18-200VR at the time as it worked better for me. I always need reach.
    I have the 24-70 & it's a fantastic lens. But it is a bit large & heavy.
    I don't own the 24-85 but have been considering it for a light weight lens set up.
    But I've decided against it. To me for a light weight set up a 50mm will probably do better. So I've decided against getting a light weight - I always want best quality & so I pay the price & carry the lenses I know I want to work with.
    So - in the long run I've decided that since I have the 24-70 I'm sticking with it. And if I want to be less conspicuous I'll go to a 50mm lens instead.
    Lil :)
  5. Matt(smiling), every time I think that I might have found something that is disappointing about my 18-200, I look again at my images, and yours(especially the one from the balcony in Italy) and I stay amazed and happy with the lens. I just hiked through the Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas. I had the 18-200 mounted on my D300 and I put the Sigma 10-20 in my jacket pocket. It was a four mile hike over rough terrain. I used the 18-200 for almost the entire hike and I was very happy to have it on the camera. So, just tell me where to send the dues:)
  6. I would like my evey day walk around lens to be small and light. Quality, Range and speed are less important. I use a 28-105mm in FX. I used a 18-70mm when I had DX. From your list I would look strongly at the 18-200mm but I have never used one. Sometimes I lust for a 24-70mm f2.8 but I would not need the speed and the weight and size keep the money in my wallet. I use primes when I want quality and just carry a few with me.
  7. Let's not forget the inexpensive by very sharp 18-70mm DX Nikkor kit lens.
  8. I have a 16-85VR lens that is my normal walk around lens. I really like it a lot, sharp, good build quality, and great IQ. If you don't need F 2.8 it's worth a look.
  9. For DX and non-professional purposes the 16-85mm VR lens is maybe THE contender (sorry if this sounds melodramatic). After using it a lot - often as a standard travel lens combined with a 70-200mm zoom- I come away very impressed and will probably stay longer with DX than I planned a year ago.
    Of course there are better fixed focal length alternatives for when the lights go low and for portrait use- the 85mm f1,4 AF that I am lucky to have comes to mind...
  10. All the basic DX zooms are good lenses, 18-70, 18-105 VR, 18-135 and 16-85 VR. Cost goes up with quality and features, but they all make excellent photos. The 16-85 VR is in my opinion the best, it is also the most expensive, and it is what I use. The extra 2mm on the wide end is very useful, and it has the best VR, which really does make a difference. It is also the pick of the lot optically, but mainly by splitting hairs.
    I would not use a lens that starts at 24mm on a DX camera. Maybe it would work for some people, but not for me. The 16mm of the 16-85 is genuinely wide, but 18mm is fairly wide as well; 24mm is not wide enough for many very ordinary shots.
    I would highly recommend VR for a walk-around lens. Very handy in dim lighting or to extend your depth of field: if you are careful you can shoot down to around 1/4 second fairly confidently with the 16-85 regardless of where it's set.
    No comment on the 18-200 as I have nothing to add to what's already been said.
    If you are actually using an FX or film camera then this and some of the above posts are moot.
  11. wow, great answers all around.
    I'm currently using a D100 and have been quite happy with it. my workhorse lens was a 28-105 f3.5-4.5 but it got wet a month ago and is not happy. - Instead of repairing it its probably time to upgrade.
    Sounds like for quality, price, ease of use, the 18-200 is the way to go.
  12. Brian: if I've figured out the PN tagging system correctly, this link should show you a filtered set of links to some of the stuff I happen to have posted here, all using the 18-200. There's more, but those were some I tagged specifically. It's a very useful one-lens rig. But if I even slightly suspect that I'll be getting more serious, I'll throw an ultra-wide, maybe a 30/1.4, and/or a 70-200/2.8 in the bag. But when I'm just running an errand, that 18-200 is my regular go-to take-along.
  13. Matt,
    thanks for the advice and great pics.
  14. Brian, one lens you might wish to consider is the AF--S Zoom-Nikkor ED 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G IF DX VR (what a handle...). I don't own this lens, but it seems to be getting a lot of attention from Nikon DX camera users.
    Here's a link to the review of this lens by Thom Hogan:
    I'm giving some consideration to purchasing the lens myself.
  15. bmm


    Gents (especially Matt and Dick) - once again, even though my normal preference is for primes, I have returned from travels armed solely with my 18-200 and it has been an absolute KILLER lens when versatility and flexibility is needed. So everything that you say above was once again confirmed for me last week in the canyons of Petra, on the banks of the Dead Sea, and in the ruins of Jerash. I look forward to selecting an posting my photos to prove this and more importantly just to convey my joy at these travels. I specifically note that this trip was as part of a professional conference group and that no other lens combination would have allowed me to take the range of images that I did within the constraints of being 'herded' around for much of the time and having limited independence, time to pause and set up, etc.
    As James Cloud and others have said, the 16-85 seems to be ther other 'preferred contender' for a consumer grade DX lens and I am sure I would be equally satisfied with that choice were it my 'one lens / no changes' solution in my kit. In fact it is meant to have better image quality than the 18-200. The downside of course is lack of reach compared to the 18-200.
    My bottom line Brian is that you won't lose by going with one of these two (that is unless you have plans to go FX in the very near term). They are great multi-purpose lenses, fine quality wise, and even if you do decide to build a bag of primes and faster glass in the future (just as I have done) you won't regret having one of these as a back-up, for travels, and for those days when you just need a damn good 'happy snap' option. Go for it!
  16. And what if the OP (or me) were looking for a sub $700 FX zoom? What would the collective recommendations be?
  17. Bernard: Wonderful! I'm very glad to hear that, and do indeed look forward to seeing some Petra-ness as soon as you get a chance to post a few. Perfect timing for Brian's question.
  18. Mike, I would give you 3 choices.
    1. The 24-85/3.5-4.5 AF- S G if you want to go really light. It's very compact.
    2. The 24-120/3.5-5.6 AF-S VR G if you want VR. It has more reach but you give up some speed to get the VR at the long end and it's a physically longer lens.
    Both of these perform nicely when stopped down appropriately and used within their respective limits. Check Bjorn Rorslett's reviews for details.
    3. Save up about $300 more and find a used 28-70/2.8. It's a big lens but a stellar performer. You're talking another league. The 2.8 speed gives you isolating capability for portraits that you just don't get with the other lenses. You really don't lose much on the wide end due to the barrel distortion between 24-28mm making these focal lengths less desirable in the #1 and #2 options. In this day and age, an experienced photoshop user might tell you that is easily fixed.
    They all involve compromises, just depends on which ones you're willing to make.
  19. On FX I know I would be happy with the 24-85/3.5-4.5 - after all, I purchased it specifically for that purpose to be used on my F5.
    On DX, I am still struggeling. On paper, the 16-85 VR would seem to fit the bill but the performance at the wide end isn't all that great and the 5.6 at the long end bugs me - in particular considering the price tag. I almost regret selling my 18-70 - it would do most of what I want from a walkaround lens - but I too often I find it limiting at the wide end. So, the 12-24 needs to go in the bag too. And that made the 18-70 obsolete - as I might as well throw the 24-85 in there instead. The specific reasoning was that once I have both lenses, I might as well use them in their best ranges - and the 12-24 does better than the 18-70 in the ranges were they overlap. I didn't find a difference between the 18-70 and 24-85 in their overlapping ranges - so the 18-70 went out the door.
    I had a 18-200 on order for almost a year when the waiting lists were long - amazon cancelled all orders at one point and I had to start over at another company. When I realized that I didn't really need the lens, I took my name of the waiting list - still feel I am not missing anything.
    When I want more range, I either add the Sigma 150/2.8, the Leitz 180/3.4, or the 80-200/2.8 to the bag - I rather carry some more weight than have the feeling that the lens I am using involves too many compromises.
  20. Mike, great question! Even though that isn't the subject at hand here, there is currently no FX equivalent in the Nikon offerings that would compare to the 18-200 for the DX format. So...
    AF-S 24-70 f2.8 G ED plus...
    AF-S VR 70-200 f2.8 G IF ED
    As a high quality combo with similar coverage.
    I'm sure there are other options, nothing as versatile as the 18-200 for DX.
  21. I think you already listed them in the correct order
  22. Stay away from the 24-120 Vr its a very soft lens - wish I never got one.
    On the other hand, the 18-200 Vr gets great reviews and may be the best general purpose lens. since you , mentioned the 18-200 I assume you have a DX body.
    if you shoot in low light go for the 24-85 D. I'm happy with mine
  23. i took over 500 pics with my family during our last visit to DisneyWorld. I would have thought that with all the different shots from family groups to landscape i would have focal lengths all over the 24 - 105 spectrum. Well it turns out that with all the very different composures they were >80% all around 35 mm focal lengths on the zoom I as carrying.
    Since I really like working in low light conditions with ambient light and flash fill etc, now i'm thinking that the 16-85 f3.5-5.6VR or the 24-70 f2.8 are better choices. Significant price difference though of a thousand dollars between them.
  24. If you're primarily shooting at the 35mm focal length, and would like a larger aperture zoom, you might want to consider the Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8D zoom lens. This is a very sharp, fast zoom lens, that can be obtained for a cost that is well below the 24-70mm or 28-70mm Nikkor pro zoom lenses.
    I own this lens and consider to be a gem, it's mostly metal construction and very pro level. Something to think about.
  25. You mentioned a daily lens that takes about everything! There is only one on your list and it's the 18-200. It makes my cheapo D50 give great results..Hal
  26. I've used the 28-105 Nikkor since about 2003. It's the lens that's on my camera most. Small, light, not too slow (not a max f5.6), and inexpensive. I find my sample to be very sharp and certainly versatile. I once compared the 28mm setting wide open to a prime 28mm AF non-D wide open, and the zoom was much sharper. Good luck w/ your decision.
  27. If 80% of your shots are about 35mm then maybe a 35mm f2 Nikkor would be better. Cheap (relative) fast, small and light. It is one of my primes I use with my D700.

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