Nikkor 18-200 Decision

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by travismcgee, May 2, 2010.

  1. Hello Nikonians,
    Can you help a Canon shooter with a Nikkor lens decision?
    A couple of years ago I purchased a Nikon D90 kit at Costco for my girlfriend. The body came with both a Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5–5.6G lens and a Nikkor 55-200 f/4.5-5.6G lens. She really enjoys the camera, but often has trouble deciding which lens to use when we stroll around shooting, so I’m considering replacing both of those lenses with a Nikkor 18-200 f/3.5-5.6G. The convenience would be great, but how about the image quality? Would it be better or worse or the same? Any comments would be appreciated.
    Many thanks,
    Dave
     
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    None of those lenses would be considered among Nikon's best lenses as far as image quality goes. The 18-200 is extremely popular because of its convenience. If convenience is what your friend wants, I would say go for it. For users of those lenses, I wouldn't worry about image quality; most of that is determined by the capability of the photographer, not the lens.
    I should point out that you do pay relatively a high price to have 18 to 200mm all in one slow f5.6 lens. Convenience comes with a cost, but I am sure you are well aware of that already. It is fairly well known that the 18-200 Nikkor is very good on the short end but somewhat poor near 200mm. The 18-200 has a metal mount, so you do get slightly better lens construction quality.
     
  3. I think Sigma makes one that is cheaper and has the Canon L type red ring around the lens! It could be very impressive to carry around! (see note below)
    Seriously, a lot of money for a not so great lens. You will note that most of the top end zooms rarely, if ever, break through a 3x barrier. Lens design gets very complicated the more ground that is covered and at some point it is all about compromises.
    note: that was totally a joke. I know nothing about this lens or its quality, but it can't be too good at that price!
     
  4. Hi Dave, id just like to add that i have this lens and i use it with my d300 in the daytime(lots of light) its pretty good quality, but as Shun said, its kinda slow in low light. It is great for travel, extremely versatile and fairly lightweight.
    I would highly recommend a circular polarizer, it seems to improve IQ.
     
  5. I get GREAT results with this lens on my D90. If you print 8 x 10 or smaller, you will get great results. The "weaknesses" of this lens don't show up as much in real photos (properly shot) as many of the detractors would like to say they do. I've had it for 4 years, and my very rough tests since I got my D90 show that for some reason I can NOT explain, it's a little sharper in an 8 x 10 or smaller than on my D50. Go figure. My other lenses are about the same on either camera, aside from the reo
    That said, for a little less money, the 16-85 is probably WAY better at every focal length, plus the 16-18 range is way more useful than the 85-200 range. Hear me out. If you shoot at 85mm and crop in to what 200mm would be, you still have enough resolution for a 5 x 7 or 8 x 10.
    Either lens is slow in low light. That's why I always have my 50mm f1.8 (started using it more lately) and my 35mm f1.8 in the bag.
     
  6. The problem lies in that David's left out what is needed to give proper advice, like what his GF uses her D90 for? Does she like working in low light levels? What's the biggest print size she uses?
     
  7. I have the 18-200 VR and like Peter it can produce great photos up to 8x10 at all focal lengths and apertures. The VR gives 3 to 4 stops so that helps if she shoots stationary subjects in low light. I wouldn't use it for fast moving subjects in low light. Its weakness is at 135-200mm, but even there it only shows up in prints larger than 8x10.
    It is a very expensive lens. The Sigma 18-200 OS and 18-250 OS and Tamron 18-270 VC are similar in IQ and much less expensive. The Sigma's weakness is that its OS is not as good as Nikon's VR. The Tamron's weakness is that it focuses slower than the Nikon and Sigmas.
     
  8. Hi David,
    When I first got into digital I bought a D40. I also got a Nikon 18-200 and at first I thought it was really cool. All of that range. Then as soon as I figured out a little more about the camera I didn't feel so good about it anymore. I'm guessing I had it for about 3-4 months and all I got from it were decent snap shots. Sold it and never looked back.
    phil b
    bentron, ky
     
  9. The problem lies in that David's left out what is needed to give proper advice, like what his GF uses her D90 for? Does she like working in low light levels? What's the biggest print size she uses?
    Good point. She was a professional wedding and portrait photographer in the film days, but is now mostly a family and travel photographer, which means posed and candid portraits and then anything interesting she sees while on vacation. And, believe it or not, we seldom print anything. Right now, most of our images go into computer slideshows and email attachments or into dusty folders on the hard drive.
     
  10. Both the Sigma and Tamron are 6.3 at the long end, a further weakness with auto-focus.
     
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    During a trip to the Antarctic last fall, I had both the 18-200mm version 2 and 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S VR version 1 with me. I seldom print any image also, but even I merely look at JPEG images, I can easily tell which 200mm image was captured by the 18-200 and which was captured by the 70-200. The 18-200 is softer, and it has very serious chromatic aberration. The colors look unnatural from the 18-200 such that I have little trouble picking out images captured with it by just looking at the computer screen.
     
  12. The 18-200 is a good lens for daylight shooting. The only problem is around 135 mm it's great below that and good out at
    200. It sounds like it's just what your gf needs. Don't hesitate. She'll be happy.
     
  13. Since she currenltly has the exact same range in 2 lenses, why not check which range is most important? Use the EXIF data to see what matters most. Peter's suggestion for the 16-85VR could fit the bill if you're often at 18mm, and mostly between 18 and 70; if there is a lot of shooting in the ~70-200 range, in which case the 18-200 makes far more sense. Both are fine lenses, but for image quality, the 16-85VR does have an edge.
     
  14. I agree with many comments here. Even though the 18-200 has its IQ shortcomings (at low light, at the long end, zoom creep), its convenience and range makes it my most frequently used lens when walking around. After all, if I don't use a lens, it matters not how good it is.
    When I switched from film to digital, I had a heck of time digesting the 300 page manual, figuring out what all the AF knobs/switches and menu settings mean, and how they work in concert. For the longest time, I blamed the poor focusing on the lens, without realizing that the problem lied in my erroneous settings.
     
  15. Hi Dave. I have a similar suggestion for you as did Wouter. Why doesn't she just use the 18-55 for a while and forget about the 55-200 for now? I've read suggestions by photographers to go out and shoot for a day using only one lens, in order to get the know that lens' capabilities. When you think of it, 18-55 is really a pretty usable range.
     
  16. The idea of looking at the EXIF data to see the focal range where the majority of her pictures lie is a good one. If she could live with 85mm at the long end, the 16-85 is hard to beat.
    As to whether the 18-200 Nikkor will do, one way is to look at the Flickr users' pool for that lens:
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/nikon_18-200_vr/pool/
    In spite of the reviews one sees about the 18-200, Frans Lanting uses one for his walk-around kit.
    Good luck with your search.
     
  17. I am glad to see actual users of the 18-200 commenting on their experiences ( mostly positive ) While it may have its shortcomings, the convenience and relative quality make it a very attractive lens. I certainly love mine. Practically speaking, unless you are travelling by yourself, the time needed to change lenses can be a distraction and make the process of taking pictures less enjoyable.
     
  18. Save your money. It's no better than what you have (except for convenience). You are so limited by aperture, that your pictures will all look like they came from a point and shoot.
    I personally would rather have two prime lenses; 85mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/2. (Not as convenient as either option) AND, both primes will work when you eventually upgrade to Full Frame.
    With these two primes and a few steps forward or backward, I have noticeably better shots!
    Good Luck,
    Paul Michael
     
  19. Here's a shot at 180mm with the 18-200 lens. I don't see any problems. Check out the reviews on this lens on the internet. Some call it the "miracle" lens. For casual non-professional use it is way above the rest, I think.
    00WNh9-241193584.jpg
     
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Andrew, if you want to know why people say the 18-200 is soft on the long end, you need to capture some subject with sharp edges and contrast. Images of people under soft light can hide a lot of problems. See my A/B comparison against the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S version 1 here: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00VnWP
    The 70-200 version 1 itself is by no means the sharpest lens around to begin with.
    I personally do not own any f5.6 lens for good reasons; it is difficult to use them indoors as AF tends to hunt. Even though I don't necessarily shoot at f2.8, it is nice to have that for AF purposes.
    And, believe it or not, we seldom print anything. Right now, most of our images go into computer slideshows and email attachments or into dusty folders on the hard drive.​
    However, for the OP's stated purposes, using any cheap lens will hardly make any difference. Just keep in mind about the indoor limitations, which is shared by their existing 18-55 and 55-200 lenses.
     
  21. " that your pictures will all look like they came from a point and shoot." This is the type of poorly informed reply that I expected. Fortunately, in the reality based world, we have actual users reporting actual positive experience with this lens, myself included. The image quality is excellent and the convenience can't be beat, both of which were the OP's concerns. If he wanted to switch lenses back and forth he would not have posted! I don't recall any mention about switching to full frame, so what is the point in a reply that responds to non existent queries?
     
  22. Yes, it's become another consumer-lens-bashing thread. Fact is, a well shot photo at f8 (or f11, but not, I feel, beyond that) shot with this lens on a D90 can look as good as any same-focal-length lens printed at a reasonable size... Above 135, perhaps a bit soft in 8 x 10s, but I have printed and shot some lovely stuff with it, even at the long end.
    For on-screen viewing (the future, it seems, of photo viewing for many more of us than I'd ever have guessed), as the OP describes in his follow-up, this lens is certainly capable enough.
    If your girlfriend was happy with the lenses you mentioned, she will be okay with the 18-200 for sure.
    For pixel-peepers, it is obviously soft (edit: obviously soft at the long end), the difference in real-world photo usage is what you have to ask yourself. For me, it's good enough, although I long for some fast f2.8 zooms (which I can't afford) and would rather have the 16-85 today. (I bought mine when it was "the lens" for a trip like the one I was about to take. I'm so glad I did...)
     
  23. From the original post, it seems like convenience -- specifically not having to change lenses -- is the #1 goal.
    With that in mind, I would have to say that if the price is acceptable, then the 18-200 is a very, very convenient lens. I have taken literally thousands of images with mine, and I have taken it on trips as far afield as Bali and Iceland.
    If I am in a situation where I don't want to have to change lenses, and where I have good light (or can use flash) then it is the "swiss army knife" I would reach for. It is definitely a little soft at 200mm, and there is some distortion at 18mm, but overall, it sounds like it could be just the thing for David's girlfriend. If she wants a low-light lens, this isn't it, and it's not a great birds-and-wildlife lens, but given what she's replacing, I have a feeling she's going to be pretty happy with it...
    All the images in this album were taken with the Nikon 18-200 VR.
     
  24. Shun:
    The lens you are comparing (the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S) is selling for approx. $2,400, if I am not mistaken. I am sure the original question on this thread was not about which of the Nikkor lens is the best, regardless of price.
     
  25. Hello again.
    Thanks for all the great information. I've been teasing the girlfriend that she's "causing trouble on Photo.net" since this has turned into such an active thread.
    In reference to the focal length question, she and I have different starting points. I shoot a Canon 40D and almost always start the day with my Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS, which is incredibly sharp. As needed, I'll pull out my 70-200 f/4 IS, which is also incredibly sharp. My girlfriend is just the opposite. She always leaves the hotel with the 55-200 attached and the 18-55 in my backpack. I'm a "big picture" guy and she's a "fill the frame" girl.
    Cheers,
    Dave
     
  26. David --
    I had the VRI version of the 18-200mm and had great results. It's a great walk-around lens and produces good results for casual photography. What makes this lens really the "ultimate walk-around lens" is it's convenience.
    The lens does have a reasonable amount of distortion at both ends, but that's to be expected with anything that has an 11x zoom range.
    As for IQ vs the 18-55 and the 55-200...really, for casual shooters, I don't think you'll find much difference. In semi-scientific, controlled tests, you'll see a difference, but I don't pixel peep, so it's a non-factor for me. It boils down to the convenience of not having to swap lenses to get your extra length.
    As a side note, I'd buy the 35mm f/1.8 DX to go with this lens. It'll give you an "almost normal" perspective on the D90 and will give you great low light performance. My only complaint about this lens it that for a prime lens there seems to be a significant amount of barrel distortion on my copy...I just fix it in Photoshop if I find it detracts from the image.
    Hope this helps,
    RS
     
  27. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The lens you are comparing (the 70-200mm/f2.8 AF-S) is selling for approx. $2,400, if I am not mistaken. I am sure the original question on this thread was not about which of the Nikkor lens is the best, regardless of price.​
    Andrew, unfortunately, you are indeed mistaken. The lens I was using for the comparison is the version 1 of the 70-200. I paid $1400 for it about 5 years ago; recently it has gone up to about $1900. And as I explained to you in the Wedding Forum earlier today (see http://www.photo.net/wedding-photography-forum/00WNJq), that lens is expensive mainly because it is an f2.8, which is 2 stops faster than max f5.6 for the 18-200 @ 200mm, not because it is particularly sharp, which the 70-200 version 1 is not. Version 2 and a lot of fixed-focal-length lenses around 200mm will easily beat it in sharpness.
    What my A/B comparison demonstrates is that even though you stop down to f8, there is still a noticeable difference between good (but not the best) and consumer lenses. $700+ is a lot of money to pay to achieve such mediocre results at f5.6 and f8. If you go further down to f11, diffraction starts to become an issue for DX, and 200mm f11 is just too slow to be practical in a lot of situations.
    During my Antarctic trip, a number of people had the 18-200 Nikon with them, but those are serious photographers who also had higher-end lenses. All of them point out that the 18-200 is poor on the long end so that they only use that lens for casual photography. Incidentally, I attended Frans Lanting's seminar a year ago. He indeed indicated that the 18-200 is good enough. I explicitely asked him about that, and he further explained only for casual images.
    Again, for the OP's stated purposes, the 18-200 is just fine as long as you are willing to pay for convenience. It happens to be one of Nikon's all time best selling lenses. So clearly a lot of people like it. When you project digital images in slide shows, the projector lens will mask any sharpness differences anyway.
     
  28. I have an 18-200 lens for a D80. Also, I have a Nikon 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 70-200 f2.8 for a D700. The problem I've experienced with the 18-200, beyond its slowness, is barrel and pin-cushion distortion, which are only noticeable depending on the subject.
    For a general purpose, walkabout lens, say for street photography and informal family events, the 18-200 lens is great. It is small and light weight and gives you a lot of flexibility compared to the other lens I own, which have their own advantages and disadvantages. I think for your girlfriend, and for what she is going to use the lens for, the 18-200 lens should be terrific.
     
  29. I have an 18-200 lens for a D80. Also, I have a Nikon 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 70-200 f2.8 for a D700. The problem I've experienced with the 18-200, beyond its slowness, is barrel and pin-cushion distortion, which are only noticeable depending on the subject.
    For a general purpose, walkabout lens, say for street photography and informal family events, the 18-200 lens is great. It is small and light weight and gives you a lot of flexibility compared to the other lens I own, which have their own advantages and disadvantages. I think for your girlfriend, and for what she is going to use the lens for, the 18-200 lens should be terrific.
     
  30. I have the lens and I have shot and sold both landscape and cityscape prints up to 16x20 using a D300. So I would not limit this lens to 8x10 and smaller.
     
  31. I think the 18-200 would be perfect for her. I get tired of people always blasting this lens. For the money it's a great lens.
    It's a great walk around lens and is capable of capturing great images. I took mine to China last year and used it most of the time........even in museums and darkened places.
    I dropped mine a few months ago onto concrete and the glass in the protective filter broke all to pieces. It hit with such force that I can't remove the remaining filter metal rim but the lens IQ is unchanged as far as I can determine.
    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  32. "It happens to be one of Nikon's all time best selling lenses. So clearly a lot of people like it. When you project digital images in slide shows, the projector lens will mask any sharpness differences anyway."​
    Shun,
    So to be sure are you saying that when we are talking about superior image quality i.e. lens A is "sharper" we are talking about what we will notice on say 16 x 20 or larger print?
    Assuming that there is a trend where exhibition grade prints are no longer the medium of choice for displaying photographs ( this is a purely hypothetical situation ) will a lens that has some sharpness deficiencies be less noticeable or indistinguishable from a high end lens because of characteristics of projection compared to printing?
    The reason I ask is I still print a lot of my favorite photographs but I find myself doing more slide shows because it is much much easier to make a coherent story of say a vacation or location by slide show than building a portfolio of 30 prints and I never considered the image quality factor you mentioned.
     
  33. As usual there seems to be a certain snob element participationg in phorums, those who believe any consumer lens is not good, well, I have the Sigmas 18-200 and it could not e a better all-around lense, great results from it and while I keep shooting, others are too busy changing lenses and trying to look impressive in the process. Go with the Nikor 18+200 for her camera,she'll love it.
     
  34. To me all the images posted in this thread look like they were shot through a window or some such obstruction that reduces the clarity of the images. If it can be seen in a 700 pixel wide image, a good video projector should show it also, and without doubt any printed image.
    You could argue that I'm picky but in my opinion the problems of the 18-200 are sufficient that they cloud the message of the photos.
    I'm a "big picture" guy and she's a "fill the frame" girl.


    For someone who prefers to shoot frame-filling details, one of the 80/70-200mm f/2.8 lenses would not be a bad place to go. While the newest version is always the most expensive, the older ones are very good also, and much, much better than any -f/5.6 zoom. Of course, they're heavier also. A 105mm f/2.8G AF-S Micro-Nikkor is a much lighter and somewhat less expensive lens that works well for tight shots and details and on DX it has good reach. Rather than the superzoom, consider these lenses.
     
  35. Personaly I don't like the 2 zoom setup. I never like having a 28-70 2.8 and an 80-200 2.8 when I shot film. I found I either had to carry 2 bodies or swap lenses way to often. I also found I did not care for the size and weight of an 80-200mm 2.8. Very often I would take my slower 35-135 to avoid two bodies or lens swapping. Now with digtal DX bodies I am very happy with a Tamron 28-75 2.8. I find it just works well for me. Great for portraits and also nice for holiday snaps.
     
  36. I have owned a 18-200MM for some time now and I find it to be the best all around lens for my D300. It has limitations but if as mentioned set at F8-F11 it provides some high quality pictures in a wide range of situations. It does one thing great, versatility. The picture quality is good and great is some situations. It is not fair to compare this lens to F2.8 lens. But if you want a single lens for all around use the 18-200vr is the lens to buy.
    I keep it on my camera as a default lens. I shoot a very eclectic group of pictures and find it has suited my needs now for well over 3 years. I think your girl friend will be very happy with the lens based on what you mentioned she wants to use it for in her photography.
     
  37. Mel's China images of people are good examples of the softness at the long zoom end. There could also be focusing problem, such as the bird cage being more focused than the white gown model's eyes. The last one is also challenging to focus well. Both are in defused lighting and probably at the long end. These are the situations I had the most problems with until I settled with the AF settings that work somewhat better for me. This lens loves high contrast under bright lighting, at the wide side.
    Sorry, comments not meant to be criticisms, just illustrations.
     
  38. This shot was taken @ 62mm, F10 2.5 sec on a D80. I'm quite happy with it.
    00WOC3-241489584.jpg
     
  39. No offense taken at any comments on my pictures. I'm not a professional photographer but I'm proud of my photos. If I were shooting for National Geographic I'd have a reason to own professional, more expensive lenses.
    The point it that I tried to illustrate that the 18-200 is a flexible, good, walk around lens. I'm thrilled with the photos I've taken with it and highly recommend it to anyone considering a good walk around zoom lens. I think that anyone who considers themselves a decent photographer, should be able to get great shots from the Nikon 18-200.
     
  40. I own the lens, and luckily, I bought the lens before I read about it on the forums. It takes such a beating by reviewers that I probably would have passed on it.
    I rarely see a photo taken with this lens that wows me based on image quality. That is not its forte. Its forte is be being on the camera with the right focal range, and the right weight, so one can take casual photos as opportunities pop up.
    It's the best zoom I have - I'm not sure that even if I had the 70-200 VRII that I'd want to drag it around when hiking, or doing other activities that aren't photography centric.
    But in the end, I'm usually using it to take photographs of subject matter that in an of itself is unique - like family on location for example, or a moment in time shot. It's the subject matter that makes those photographs valuable to me, not the technicals.
    When a photograph needs to be something other than a casual shot, there is a *lot* more that goes into the shot, not just a better lens - it's a whole set of equipment & techniques. This includes lighting, planning and/or staging the shot, post processing/retouching, etc.
    But when I don't want to make a production out of things, the D90 and 18-200 does just fine :)
     
  41. I have (and use) the 18-200, as well as some "better" glass like the 80-200mm 2.8 and the 35-70mm 2.8. While I like the faster zooms, and think i can get somewhat superior photos with them given a little time, when I am wandering around with my wife, or on vacation with the family, the 18-200 is perfect. The photos are not point and shoot quality (selective focus is easilty possible), but the convenience is point and shoot like. A great lens.
     
  42. Michael S wrote: "I rarely see a photo taken with this lens that wows me based on image quality."
    I would modify this slightly, to say I rarely see a photo taken with any lens that wows me based on image quality.
     
  43. Why don't you take a look at the www.photozone.de site they objectively give information about lenses based on MTF-charts, Cas and vignetting. I was very pleased with all the information they provide and on those bases I've decided to buy a 16-85 for my D2X.
     
  44. Why don't you take a look at the www.photozone.de site they objectively give information about lenses based on MTF-charts, Cas and vignetting. I was very pleased with all the information they provide and on those bases I've decided to buy a 16-85 for my D2X.
     
  45. Why don't you take a look at the www.photozone.de site they objectively give information about lenses based on MTF-charts, Cas and vignetting. I was very pleased with all the information they provide and on those bases I've decided to buy a 16-85 for my D2X.
     
  46. Ok it should be expected that a $2000 lens will produce sharper photos at 200mm but the Nikon 70-200mm is hardly a carry around lens, costs 3 times as much and weighs 3 times as much. That said in my humble opinion the Nikon 18-200mm lens is possibly the perfect travel lens especially when you are going to be carrying it around all day. My wife thinks my D200 with the 18-200 lens is "too heavy" and the 70-200 adds a further kg to the kit. They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating so I'll submit a photo taken at 200mm wide open @ F5.6, NO PS Sharpening as produced by the camera. Judge for yourself.
     
  47. The query is a very specific one. It is this:
    "The body came with both a Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5–5.6G lens and a Nikkor 55-200 f/4.5-5.6G lens. She really enjoys the camera, but often has trouble deciding which lens to use when we stroll around shooting, so I’m considering replacing both of those lenses with a Nikkor 18-200 f/3.5-5.6G. The convenience would be great, but how about the image quality? Would it be better or worse or the same?"
    ie. would the 18-200 be better, worse or the same as the other two lenses Dave's girlfriend already has.
    I truly believe that the only response to the question, based on my experience at least, is a big YES.
    Nobody doubts that there are many lenses that are better than the 18-200 etc. etc. But the 18-200 cannot possibly be any worse than the 18-55 and 55-200 listed above.
     
  48. going beyond the specific question posed by dave, the 18-200 really is a "unicorn" - an impossibility just a few years ago.
    there is a real danger of talking at cross-purposes here, so:
    1. if one is making money through photography, the 18-200 lens is obviously not the way to go.
    2. if one wants to actually enjoy photography and get reasonably good pictures that can be shared with friends, on online sites etc. quite obviously, this is the lens. given the high ISO capabilities of the D300 and D700, the not so good aperture issue is taken care of...for those who just want to experience the joy of capturing the moment and sharing it.
    3. if one's hobby is driven primarily by incurable angst over MTF charts, pixelanxiety etc. then it would seem that no lens or camera body would ever be good enough.
     
  49. I've owned probably three dozen lenses over the years. There's only one that I absolutely HATED: Nikon's 18-200 mm VR (original version). The infamous lens creep drove me nuts. The complex distortion is difficult to repair in Photoshop. And although the lens is quite sharp, sharpness seemed to vary across the frame. The VR never impressed me either (The VR in the 70-200 mm f/2.8 G VR works much better).
    Suggestion: Buy her a 16-85 VRII now and save up for a 70-300 VRII later on.
     
  50. My guess is that the OPs girlfriend will not be shooting line charts or be pixel peeping. The 18-200 lens is quite capable of producing awesome images. Ask Tom Mangelsen, who grosses millions of dollars a year and used this lens to win a photo of the year competition:
    http://californianewswire.com/2008/01/02/CNW841_235447.php
    I use the lens (and have sold many photos produced with it. albeit not for millions of dollars) and have yet to hear anyone say "geez, nice photo, but the distortion is horrendous" or "those chromatic aberrations would cause me to lose sleep at night." I think even the gear heads know that what's most important is who's behind the camera, not what's in front of it.
     
  51. Go for the 18-200, it's plenty sharp for most uses outdoors and definitely the do it all for amateurs. Yes, you'll find bigger,better, sharper, faster, but no one will be as fast when needed to capture the right angle at the right moment - I'm assuming you don't want to use it for weddings indoors, though.
     
  52. Ask Tom Mangelsen, who grosses millions of dollars a year and used this lens to win a photo of the year competition:
    Is that for real or just hyperbole? Can a landscape/nature photographer really gross millions? If so, I'm going to take this photography stuff a little more seriously.
     
  53. Dave: Here's a financial report on Mangelsen, Inc.
    http://www.manta.com/c/mmf6wnj/thomas-d-mangelsen-inc
    His company does more than just his photography, but he is considered one of the best nature photographers around. I've been to his gallery in Jackson Hole, WY and his work is breath-taking. I believe he had one image there that noted he waited three weeks to capture it. Talk about the patience of a saint...
     
  54. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Regardless of which famous photographers use the 18-200, what type of award they win using this lens and how much money they make overall, it does not change the basic facts about this lens.
    The 18-200 is an extremely convenient, one-size-fits-all lens. If convinence is what you value, it is hard to beat this lens. There are 3rd-party lenses that may even reach 300mm or so on the long end and perhaps at half the price, but once the maximum aperture drops below f5.6, Nikon's AF system works very poorly.
    Personally I do not like f5.6 lenses. 200mm or 300mm @ f5.6 restricts your ability to shoot action because it limits the high shutter speeds you can use unless you are in "sunny 16" situations. Indoors it simply becomes very difficult to use.
    The 18-200 is a fine lens on its wide end; I have captured some very good landscape images with it below 50mm. However, near 200mm it is so poor, even @f8, f11, that I would rather not use it. We expect even cheap "Coke bottle" lenses to perform ok @ f8. So when we pay a not-so-cheap $700, it should be at least ok in its entire zoom range @ f8. Keep in mind that the 18-55 VR and 55-200 VR are about $400 together, so you are paying a major primium for convenience.
    The 18-200 has slightly better construction than the plastic mount 18-55 and 55-200. At least you get a metal mount. But it extends out in two sections when you zoom to 200mm. The lens barrel is a bit vulnerable when extended, but it collapses to a reasonably small lens. Again, it is optimized for convenience.
     
  55. Thanks, everybody. Your comments and opinions have been extremely helpful. I'm not sure I'll shell out the money for this lens right now, but, based on your inputs and her needs, it would be a good thing for her.
    Re: Mangelsen - $20-50 million a year. Wow! Where's my camera?
     
  56. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I don't know how much money Thomas Mangelsen makes; he is certainly an excellent wildlife photographer. I have been to three of his galleries: Hong Kong, Santa Barbara, and La Jolla (near San Diego, California). They were all in expensive tourist areas and he is clearly catering to high-end customers, buying those $2000, $5000 large prints. As far as I know, 2 of those 3 have closed down.
    However, there are a lot of other excellent wildlife photographers, many here on photo.net. I think in that line of business, marketing and promotion are far more important than just technique and equipment.
    But that is another topic, probably belongs to the Photo Business Forum.
     
  57. Shun you summed it up well it is what it is as a lens goes. It has it's purpose. I enjoy mine but I also enjoy my others lens as well, they all have certain qualities based on what I want to use them for at the time. You make some very points in this thread.
     
  58. I don't know how much money Thomas Mangelsen makes; he is certainly an excellent wildlife photographer. I have been to three of his galleries: Hong Kong, Santa Barbara, and La Jolla (near San Diego, California). They were all in expensive tourist areas and he is clearly catering to high-end customers, buying those $2000, $5000 large prints. As far as I know, 2 of those 3 have closed down.
    I used to live in the ski resort of Park City, Utah and I believe he had a gallery there too for awhile.
     
  59. I believe that since this is such a complicated lens design that there are a lot more sample variations than perhaps any other Nikon lens. It's an 11x zoom! Any tiny component the least bit off or out of alignment is going to effect performance. Reviews for this lens seem to be all over the place and anecdotal accounts vary like night and day.
    The horrible results posted by some of the images taken at the telephoto end of this lens do not coincide with the results I get with my lens. Images taken at telephoto focal lengths of this lens are certainly not as great as the mid to wide angle focal lengths, but with my lens, I don't see the dramatic differences some people do. I think when you buy this lens, it's a toss of the dice as to whether you receive a good one or not.
    Also, I suspect this lens is probably very susceptible to impact, whether surrounded by padding or not. If you order this lens online, I would pay for next day, or at least second day service to minimize time in the shipping tumbler. Furthermore, some notable online stores could also pack their items with a little more care, in my opinion.
     
  60. Dave, this lens will save your friend the pain of having to change lenses. Yes it is more expensive than the two she has put together, and it's nowhere in the running when it comes to muscle-busting and pocket-busting professional lenses that serv their purpose for those who make millions (or dream of it) from their images. However, in the real world, for folks who want reasonably good images, you may want to look at what a professional who does make a lot of money through photography, has to say about it.
    Thom Hogan's views on this lens:
    For US$750, Nikon DSLR users get a do-it-all lens. Everyone wants to know if it's worth the money. Short answer: it is...
    Performance
    I alluded to it earlier, so let's cut to the chase: on almost every performance parameter this is an excellent lens. Not perfect, but quite good at almost everything.
    http://www.bythom.com/18200lens.htm
     
  61. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As I said, we have gone thru this discussion back in February: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00VnWP
    And Robert Hooper wrote there:
    Robert Hooper [​IMG][​IMG], Feb 23, 2010; 03:18 p.m.
    Hi Shun,
    I have just read Bjorn Rorslett's review and I totally agree with his assessment. I also stipulate that the 200mm end of my Nikon 18-200mm is the weakest part of the focal range, performance wise.​
    You can read Bjorn's comments here: http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_zoom_02.html
    And this was what Thom Hogan wrote in his review:
    From 18-100mm my lens was everything most people would ever want in terms of sharp on the 6mp to 12mp DX DSLRs, so the way I look at it is that you get a decent mid-range zoom that can give you a usable long telephoto in a pinch.​
    Unfortunately, Thom Hogan somewhat contraditcs himself in another part of his review, but all of our observation is quite consistent: the 18-200 is fine on the wide end and weak on the long end. And I have personally used three copies of this lens: one version 1 and two version 2; both versions are optically identical, of course.
    Dave, this lens will save your friend the pain of having to change lenses.​
    If that is your attitude, the 18-200 is the perfect lens for you, but that is what I have already been saying all along in this thread: if you want convenience, it is hard to beat this lens. However, I thought most of us buy SLRs mainly because of the huge advantage of interchangeable lenses. I have been using SLRs since 1972 (gosh, that was 38 years ago) and haven't noticed that changing lenses is a pain, but that is just me.
     

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