the dreaded lens question

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kira_greene, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. I googled this, and searched the forums here, and my suspicions were confirmed, when branching out from the kit lens for a D80, most people seem to suggest the 18-200 VR lens.
    I shoot mainly...gosh a lot: kids, dogs, wild animals (squirrels and birds, once a fox), zoo animals, landscapes, candid portraits, low light/night lights (think holiday lights), flora, architecture, and sometimes, general snapshot stuff. I keep telling myself I am going to get up and go shoot the local cemetary when the light is good, but I think that counts as architecture. ?
    I get one lens for Christmas this year, and I want to make it a good one. I have made my peace with not being able to go 'macro' for 2009, maybe in 2010 :)
    I find with my kit lens I can't get close enough, so I was looking towards a zoom...I don't know much about telephoto or fisheye.
  2. p.s. I prefer shooting in black and white or sepia, if that makes any difference.
    p.s. #2 - neat, now there is an edit link, so you don't have to do what I just did...
  3. First of all, what's your kit lens?
    I also will suggest in advance not to even think about a fish eye yet since it is a lens you won't use everyday.

    Let me try the edit thing!
    Cool! It worked! :)
  4. *tries out edit thing*

    edit: cool! Now all we need is a delete button. :D.
  5. personally, i think the 18-200 is the 'ultimate' snap shot lens.
    looking at what you like to take pictures of, variety says it all, and if you're looking for ultimate variety, then yes, the 18-200 would be awesome. The only problem would be night shots zoomed in farther then 35mm... even with VR, and ISO 1600, the aperture here holds you back. So i would suggest, maybe for your birthday, or on your own, you get a 50mm f/1.8. Cute, sharp and open, it would go well with the 18-200, and was a great combination when I was starting out with the D80.
    I'm assuming your kit lens is either the 18-55 or the 18-135, yes? You could always try to sell those afterwards.
  6. What do you want to do with your camera yet you can't do w/ your current lens? What's your current lens?
    The 18-200 DX VR will provide you w/ the greatest FL coverage in any available lens. But it's not fast, it has plenty of distortion, and its sharpness is a controversial topic. Most photographers may be able to get more out of faster zooms and high quality primes, assume you can exploit their optical adventages.
  7. Some will disagree with me, but I think purchasing a an 18-200mm VR lens would be a terrific lens choice for you. Taking advantage of the strengths of this extraordinary lens and avoiding the disadvantages will increase your knowledge of photographic technique.
    Also, ultimately, it will tell you the focal range within which you shoot the majority of your images by checking your image information data.
    Knowing your shooting habits will enable you to make a more informed decision about what specific lenses you might want to purchase for the majority of your image capturing endeavors.
    The Nikon 18-200mm is a general purpose walk-around lens that performs extraordinarily well, only in that capacity. It is a tool that I use for the vast majority of my photography. Specific needs will necessitate specific lenses.
  8. The Sigma 18-200mm with OS (Optical Stabilisation) is quite a bit less expensive than the Nikon 18-200mm, the main difference being that 200mm is at f6.3 vs. f5.6. I would take a look at the Sigma if you're set on getting an 18-200mm.
  9. Dave,
    Nikon DSLRs are optimized for an auto focus parameter of f5.6 at maximum. Even at f5.6, my D80 has trouble auto-focusing my Nikon 18-200mm in a majority of situations involving low contrast lighting situations.
    This alone is reason enough to go with the Nikon brand.
    There are other reasons, too, such as build quality and resale value. In the past, sample variation has been an issue with this lens, but I have been informed via reliable inside sources that Nikon has all but resolved this issue.
    How about it? What is the opinion of recent buyers of the AFS DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm F3.5-5.6G IF-ED?
  10. Quick answer: it does the job it was designed for. I have a friend who loves hiking, and he has a D80 and the 18-200. When you spend days walking in the mountains with a backpack, every extra ounce on your back is a pain. He knows this lens has limitations when compared to pro-class stuff, but for him weight was a concern and the quality is more than enough, even for publication, if you are not submitting to National Geographics. ;) I would say the same if you wander around in an urban area and you don't want to stop in the middle of the crowd, maybe in a not so nice area, to change your lens. As far as image quality is considered, well, we are getting really personal, here. I mean, what is more than adequate for one person, can be totally unacceptable for another. I could not use a 24-50 Nikon because the barrel distortion was unacceptable to me (I shoot a lot of architecture), but one of my teachers died few years ago at age 90+, many of his pictures went on books, and all of them were taken with a 1940-something Leica and a fixed lens. He exchanged the camera and the lens with some food from a Wermacht soldier in the last days of WWII and he kept using it until his last days. I guess the lens can be considered total crap for modern standards, but in his hands led to remarkable results, a couple of which are enlarged and framed in my living room. This to say that you have to think to cameras and lenses as tools, the best tool is the one that allows you to do the best job.
    Therefore IMHO the answer goes back to the fact that this lens has some disadvantages in terms of quality and maximum aperture, but, provided you can live with them, it offers you the terrific advantage of bringing just the camera, one lens and maybe an external flash, because the zoom range covers 99% of the photographic needs. If this is your case, then go for it and maybe save for a 35 mm or a 50 mm fixed lens, which will give you the extra speed and image quality when you need.
  11. >>I find with my kit lens I can't get close enough, so I was looking towards a zoom...
    For a cheap lightweight zoom, try the 70-300 G or the VR version for a bit more money. You will need to adjust for 1/300 shutter speed without VR, so bright light or flash helps. Add a Kenko extension tube and you can get Macro too, but a dedicated macro lens is better.
    For a good zoom, but heavy and expensive, try the 80-200 AF-S or 70-200 VR, both with TC-14E teleconverter, but I doubt this is what you're looking for. The 300mm AF-S is also in this general size.
    The 18-200 VR is great for walking around, but not impressive for wildlife since it's soft at the long end and has distracting out of focus characteristics.
    The only non-Nikon lenses I am happy with so far are the Sigma 30mm and Tamron 18-50mm, both are good natural light lenses, but get the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 first, or for more money, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 is great for natural light portraits.
  12. Robert, the Sigma 18-200mm has an integral motor, which aids focusing in low light. It also has great reviews and costs $250 less than the Nikon. It has good reviews and for many on a budget who want a zoom lens that will cover wide and telephoto, it's a very good option.
  13. I wish I could recommend the 18-200 but.... I used it just for a few shots and didn't like it. It seems to be a great walk around lens but the reason I don't recommend it is because I see many beginners who buy it and in a few weeks they are regretting it. For people more advance who know its limits maybe it is a great lens.
  14. "I see many beginners who buy it and in a few weeks they are regretting it. For people more advance who know its limits maybe it is a great lens."
    Couldn't agree more. It is a lens bought for flexibility and convenience in specific situations, not for absolute quality, and the people who buy it and are happy with, are people who knew what they were buying and for which reason. Actually, the fact that many people buy this lens and regret it, makes it available used at a very low price.
    As far as macro is considered, if some distortion is not an issue (it is not, for example, with flowers), if you can't get too close, maybe a close up filter is will do the job. My wife has thousands of slides of her flowers made with a 105 mm lens and a close up filter screwed on it.
  15. The 18-200 was my first DSLR lens and I used it for about a year. I got some really good pictures with it and it was really convenient. I'd recommend it for an all-purpose lens. It's not the sharpest lens in the toolkit, but it's good enough for pictures you're taking for family memories. I wouldn't use it for photos taken for paying clients, but most people aren't doing that.

    My only complaint is that I wasn't able to do macro well with it. I got some helper lenses and tried them out, but it didn't work for me. One other thing: I had a clear filter to protect the lens and a polarizer. If I put them both on, I would get vignetting at short focal lengths/wide angles. To use the polarizer I had to remove the clear filter. Then there was no problem.

    There are different opinions on whether the clear filter as protection is necessary or whether it can produce flare. I had no flare problems with it and I thought it was useful because I take a lot of photos on the farm, and it can be a very dusty environment.

    I agree. The edit feature is nice.

    Can I edit twice? Yes.
  16. Another vote for the 18-200mm, particularly for someone starting out. I have the SIgma brand, and I'm quite pleased with it for what it is... a walk around lens. For traveling, it can't be beat. It is a little sharper than the Nikon version at the long end, and has a close up mode that works well. The OS lets me take sharp pictures at 1/15 sec - 200mm.
    The best part of using the all-in-one zoom is the ability to go back and see what focal lengths you use most. If you find yourself using one area of the lens more than others, you will know which lens should be next on your list.
    I love fast glass, and have f1.4 primes and f2.8 zooms to use when I want. But they, in turn, are limiting with their weight/size and narrow scope of use.
    I do think that the 18-200mm is limiting once you know how to use a camera effectively, and for that reason I don't use it if I have a particular poject in mind when shooting. That said, you just can't beat it for lightweight general shooting.
  17. With a D80 body, you could look at the 'old' AF 75-300mm f4.5~ Nikkor lens. It has a tripod mount as part of the lens. It will focus fine with your current camera body. For low-light shots, a tripod and f11 will give you good results.
  18. It really sounds like you want several lenses!

    I own and love the Nikon 18-200. I use it along with a Canon 500D close up attachment/filter when I want to get close and it does a great job. It would be far from a poor choice for you.

    But you might be better off with a 70-300 VR if you have the 18-55 kit lens. You can use extension tubes or close up attachments for macro and you'll have more focal length to work with. And because it's cheaper than the 18-200 you'd be able to pick up a 50 f1.8 for low light stuff.
  19. My only problem with the 18-200 VR is size and weight. I took it on a trip to China. When I got back I discovered there were very few shots I couldn't have got with my 18-70mm (left it home) which is smaller and lighter.
  20. <p>Wow, thanks. :) Dave L., you are 100% correct, I want several lenses! :)<br>
    The kit lens I have is the 18-135mm, no VR. I feel like it is a pretty good 'walk around' lens, and I get some really
    crisp shots with it.<br>
    I am looking to go 'professional', meaning I want to submit my photos to magazines for publication. It sounds like
    the 18-200mm isn't what I am looking for then, based on the cons talked about here, and how I feel about my current
    I have to ask, do I need any kind of converter to use the Sigma lenses suggested? I kind of cherish the idea of
    sticking with Nikon lenses, but if Sigma has my answer, then I am willing to look into it.<br>
    I don't want an extremely heavy lens, but also, I am not backpacking :), so a little extra weight is ok, but, I don't
    want to be tied to a tripod all the time, I need something I can walk around with.
    What can't I do with my 18-135...take crisp night shots (this could be the body, or me though), zoom in c
    lose enough to my far away subjects...
    I think I really want to enhance my own knowledge, so I don't want just a walk around lens, I want something
    that I feel like will help me expand on my creativity. I am drawn to shooting wildlife, nature, and architechture, mostly.
    Maybe the 70-300 VR is a good choice for me? (Then maybe I could get the 50 f1.8 too!) A friend of mine got
    his daughter the 55-200 VR and she really likes it, but I don't know what other lens she has, the 55-200 VR is
    her zoom.
    I know it is tough suggesting this stuff, especially when the asker (me) isn't specific about my needs.
    When asked 'What do you like to photograph?' my gut response is 'everything that moves me', and that is too broad. I re
    ally appreciate all the suggestions, and will look closely at each lens suggested
  21. I worked for a year at a magazine when I had my D80 and 18-200/50mm 1.8 combo. Filled 4 page spreads every issue, with 3 cover shots using the 18-200. Did K-Swiss Parkour (free running) events with it, band photoshoots, restaurant shots... man, good times.
    Personally, i think it's still a great combo.
    Sadly, the lens was stolen, and moving to the D300 with a bunch of fast primes, i just haven't needed to buy it again. The fast primes get expensive though, and having that zoom range, IMO, is very useful.
    but again, thats me. :D Just offering some contrast to the 18-200 hate. lol
  22. Whatever you get - I suggest you get a f/2.8 or faster if you get the 50mm
  23. Kira, you don't need a converter to use the Sigma lenses, if you buy them in the Nikon F mount.

    I have the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 and am very happy with it. I also have an older Nikon 50 f/1.8 that I picked up for $60, and am also very happy with it (except for the loud/slow autofocus).

    Don't be afraid to venture into your local camera shop and take a look at a few used lenses. Some of the older Nikon lenses are very sharp and are built like tanks. They might not have VR, but if you get a 2.8 or faster its still better than having VR at 5.6 IMHO.

    Also, you might consider a tripod. Putting a tripod under your camera (especially with a longer zoom) is going to give you much sharper images than hand-holding.
    Whatever you decide on, I hope you enjoy it.
  24. Since you have the 18-135 I suggest getting a longer zoom like a 70-300. Its still slow but you will have a longer range. Personaly I would happier with a 300mm f4 prime. Lens speed can be a very good thing to have. A good tripod and head are also very handy.
  25. If you often feel that the 18-135mm is slow for you, then I would suggest you to get a 2.8 constant lens instead of 18-200 which is quite slow.
    If you don't mind to 'downgrade' your reach, you can get either Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or Tamron 28=75mm f/2.8, both, providing you get a good copy, will give you excellent results and perfect for walkaround.

    I am not sure how often you need the 75mm+ range, but if you rarely need it, I suggest you to concentrate on better lens within the zoom range you use more often instead of trying to cover all the range even though you hardly need it. In the film days, lots of people do street with just 1 prime (eg. 50mm 1.4), so there's no reason you feel 17-50 or 28-75 is too limiting unless you shoot mainly telephoto stuff.

    You mentioned that you feel that 135mm is not close enough - is it very often or only once in awhile? If it's often then scratch the lenses that I just mentioned because they won't do good for you. For long zoom, I think 18-200mm is very practical due to size and built-in VR.
    If it was me, I personally would rather go for 80-200mm f/2.8 (if I also already got 18-135mm) but it's very big and not discreet at all, plus there's no VR so it's a difficult lens to handhold unless you don't mind tripod. But it's really only if you don't mind carrying heavy gears.

    Or plan B: Sell your 18-135mm, buy a 18-200mm VR, and also buy a used Tamron 90mm f/2.8 from eBay for your macro/portrait or Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Ais if you prefer shorter range and cheaper price.
  26. from the subject matter you have described, i don't see why you would need such a wide lens.
  27. Dave Lee writes [Robert, the Sigma 18-200mm has an integral motor, which aids focusing in low light.] Nope. No motor in the world will help your camera when there is not enough light because the lens is smaller than 5.6. Don't buy a lens that is smaller than 6.3. Don't do it.

    The 18-200 is a wonderful lens, the distortion is not a big deal in real photos, and used correctly, takes wonderful photos. I'll ask this again (I'm so tired of being the first person who asks this)... HOW are you using your photos. If you are only viewing on screen and printing 4 x 6s, anything will do. If you are printing up to 8 x 10 and take photos well... you will see no difference in virtually all photos you take and print, even if, with your D80, you crop up to 50%, which leads me to recommend you look at the slightly better 16-85 VR.

    You will want a dedicated macro lens to get closer, but don't fret it, that's a separate lens no matter what you get.

    Oh, and the new editing feature does, indeed... ROCK!
  28. If you want to spend the money get the 70-200/2.8 VR. Personally I think the whole VR thing in any brand is overrated. The 80-200/2.8 would save weight, batteries and money and is a great lens. Given what you already have I'd go with that and pick one of the micro-nikkors next.

    Rick H.
  29. >> "Personally I think the whole VR thing in any brand is overrated."
    If you want to shoot a relatively static scene under poor lighting, perhaps at longer shutter speeds due to a stopped down aperture to allow greater DOF, the VR can do wonders at conpensating for camera shake. At 200mm, the camera shake really gets aggrevated, even if you're steady.
  30. I''m going to push back a bit on the one lens requirement. In my opinion, everyone should have the sub-$100 50mm prime lens that most or all manufactures offer. They are usually offer the smallest and nearly the best optifcs of their entire line, My EOS 50mm is the one of the best lenses I use (85mm f1.8 is a bit nicer). If you need the range, go ahead and get the long lens. Make sure you buy a tripod also. Tough to hold long hand held lenses wven with VR.The lens quality is anly as good as the tripod underneath it.
  31. I have an 80-200 ED AF 2.8. Its a great lens, although it focuses pretty slow. I picked mine up, refurbished with a warranty for $399. I'm strongly considering a 70-200 2.8 though for a couple of reasons. 1) the 80-200 I have can't use a normal tripod collar (there is one ring for focus and zoom, which leaves no place for a tripod collar to attach), and the autofocus is really slow. I'm not sure how much better the AF-S version is (I'm guessing it is considerable) but I don't see any reason not to spend the extra dollars on the 70-200 because from what I have read it is one of Nikon's best lenses.

    As far as the 80-200 weighing less than the 70-200 goes.. that might depend on which 80-200, but mine is a heavy sucker, heavier than the 70-200 I have played with.

  32. Kira - I know this isn't the most popular choice nowadays, but why not consider a couple of used primes for the price of your VR zoom? I'll bet you could pick up either a 28 or 35/2.8 + 50/1.8 for maybe less than the price of the 18-200 VR. You'll have coverage from slightly wide or normal to short tele, which are good general purpose focal lengths, and which will probably cover 75-80% of what you'll do, and you'll still have your kit lens for those times when you just need a zoom lens. Primes have fast apertures to make up for the lack of VR for low light shooting and you can also focus pretty close with any of these lenses if you don't have a macro for 1:1 image size. Image quality of most prime lenses will (far) outpace all but the most sophisticated professional zooms. Prime lenses, read: limitation of working focal length, will do great things for your eyes as well, and can set you up on the fast track to improving your compositional and "seeing" skills. Most people stick to zooms anymore for their all-purpose, stay on the camera, walking around lenses, but many haven't given a good quality, single focal length prime enough time in front of the shutter to really appreciate it's significant advantages over zoom lenses. Try sticking a 50mm lens on your camera (and leaving it there) for a month or two and see what happens, you might be pleasantly surprised! Just something to think about; good luck with whatever you choose.
  33. I have been quite happy with my 18-200 mm VR. Here are two examples. Of course, my requirements to lens quality are very modest.
  34. And here is the second one. Not National Geographic quality, of course, but seems to be quite OK for a consumer lens
  35. And both photos were handheld. My name is on the photos not because I don't know how to tell LR NOT to put it there...
  36. As you can see, Kira, we dread the lens question like a lush dreads a bottle of Jack Daniels.
  37. @ Joe - LOL! :D
    @Mikhail - I have my name written for my image comments, and when I view my pictures in View NX I see it, maybe that is the case with you?
    I do have a tripod, and a nice one at that, I just don't want to always have to use it, so I was looking for a zoom that I could walk around with, and not have to use the tripod 100% of the time.
    I am feeling overwhelmed, there are just so many good options! I am back to considering the 18-200 VR, but I really really like the idea of getting several different lenses for that price.
    Right now I just look at my photos on my computer, and post some on my blog, and so on...but like I said, I am working towards being a pro, and my goal/dream is to be published. I don't even care if I don't get paid, well the first time LOL, but eventually I want to see my pictures in a magazine or newspaper...or book!
    I know not to depend on VR, so that isn't a deal breaker for me, I can live with a non-VR lens, and I have taken some night shots of holiday lights that were twenty second long exposures that have come out crisp and clear from using, well, I didn't have my tripod, so I set the camera on my car, but still.
    I like what people say about primes (I still have to look that up, what is a prime lens) but am attracted to a zoom lens because, like I said, sometimes I am far away and want to get in close. This happened to me at a ball game, shooting a wild hawk, shooting lake views, I couldn't 'get to' the ship that was out there, shooting other birds, and I am often frustrated by that.
    BUT, after considering the wisdom given here, I am definitely leaning towards a prime lens. I don't want to just stick one lens on my camera and think it will do it all, I got a DSLR for the simple reason of you can change the lens. LOL!
    So, I am thinking a 'cheaper' zoom, and a prime, if I can get the right prices. But, how much difference will I see between my 18-135 and a 70-300? Is it that drastic? As in, worth it to invest a 70-300, or even the 70-200 that Keith mentioned?
    I don't have a decent camera store near me, but I think I will make a trip to one soon. I am in Michigan, anyone know a good one (NOT ritz, the guy who works at mine is shadier than a forest!).
    Thanks again! You guys are great!
  38. hmmm. I found this:
    but am skeptical of how good it is. the numbers and letters don't match up exactly to any nikon lenses I can find on nikon's website.
    Is it worth it?
  39. Shuo I suspect that I am in the minority concerning VR or IS or whatever the term. Too often this feature is marketed as some kind of miracle and it just isn't. It may help here and there but I've found other techniques long ago for slow speed/low light work. For me it isn't worth the expense, the battery drain and what I percieve as a weight increase in the half dozen lenses I have used with it. OTOH autofocus still hasn't impressed me much either. My opinions, or maybe biases is a better term, are based on many years of everyday use and using several generations of technology since Ford was in office. A lot of people around here can say that though. The best part though is no matter what Kira chooses it will be a very good lens.

    Rick H.
  40. I have the D80 and the 70-300 G lens and find that the combination rarely works out. If you want an uber-cheap lens for memories of a safari, go for it. Rarely doe I manage to take a very crisp, sharp photo with that lens. I don't recommend it. My favorite lens so far is the 50mm 1.4, btw.

  41. >>like what people say about primes (,,,) but am attracted to a zoom lens because, like I said, sometimes I am far away and want to get in close.
    Kira, the cheap zoom is ok at the ballgame in daylight, and I have been somewhat please using it with an extension tube.
    But, if you are leaning toward primes, you really should consider the (big) 300 mm AF-S, and the 85 mm AF, but why stop there. Keep your kit 18-135 mm for every day. Have fun!
  42. Ok, I am sold, I am for sure going to get a prime lens, now it is just deciding which one. :) I still yearn for a zoom though...oh well, my birthday is just five months after Christmas! Thanks, I am so glad I posted this, I never would have looked at primes if were not for the wonderful opinions here.

Share This Page