Which superzoom lens for d3100?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by danny_shapiro, Feb 5, 2011.

  1. I plan to buy a Nikon D3100, mainly for my 17-year old daughter. She takes a LOT of photos on our old Canon superzoom, and we feel it’s time to move up to a DSLR. I have decided to buy the Nikon body and a compatible 18-200 or 18-250 lens, either Tamron or Sigma. I know I am sacrificing quality, but the convenience factor wins out for us (we live in a very dry and dusty country…).
    I’d like to keep the lens purchase (which I will buy in the U.S.) around $300 – 350. I’d like to hear recommendations. Also, I am a little confused about which models have a motor, and how much difference this makes in focusing. Advice is appreciated.
    Thanks, Danny
     
  2. If the lens doesn't have a built in focus motor, it will still meter but won't autofocus on the 3100, focusing will have to be done manually...Here's a link to a Wiki on lenses for the camera...BTW Sigma's designation is HSM & Tamron's is USD
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nikon_compatible_lenses_with_integrated_autofocus-motor
     
  3. The D3100 does not have a built-in autofocus motor, so if you want AF to work, you must use lenses that have the AF motor built in. These would be any of the Nikon "AF-S" lenses, or Sigma's "HSM" or their Tamron and Tokina counterparts.

    On the superzoom front, avoid any that are slower than f/5.6 at the long end. All of them are variable aperture, meaning that the lens can have a wider (faster, more light gathering) aperture when used at shorter focal lengths (say, 18mm) than at longer focal lengths (say, 200mm). That camera's autofocus system (indeed, pretty much every Nikon's) needs enough light to work, and slower than f/5.6 will reduce performance.

    On the dustiness issue ... none of these less expensive lenses are particularly well sealed. They're going to "breath" some dust in as the zoom mechanism is operated, regardless. Don't be afraid of changing lenses - all you need is a proper blower device (not compressed air- ever!) to periodically clean out the camera. It's not hard, or dangerous - it's just part of owning a DSLR. Even an actual wet sensor cleaning is standard - if careful - business.
     
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    When you buy a D3100 in the US, it always comes with the 18-55mm lens as a kit, unless you buy gray market or somehow the dealer is willing to break up the kit and sell the body separately. Your best choice within a $350 budget is to add either a 55-200 or 55-300 lens.
    Otherwise, any super zoom will overlap with the 18-55's range. The best choice is Nikon's own 18-200mm AF-S VR DX, but that is way over your budget. Those cheaper 3rd-party super zooms can only reach f6.3 on the long end. It is acceptable outdoors under the sun. Indoors it will be hard to use. In fact, I find f5.6 lenses difficult to use indoors.
     
  5. Here is the D3100 body-only: http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-D3100-D...FV5Y/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1296918878&sr=8-2
    The convenience issue is not only dust, but carrying extra lenses. My daughter really needs a setup that is easy on the go. The Tamron superzooms get really good reviews, but I am concerned that indoor photography will not be good enough. The alternative is to pay half the price of the camera and lens and go for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100........
     
  6. I love my 18-200 on a D40. Keep in mind that it's quite a heavy lens. And if you don't use the long end THAT much an 18-55 or 18-105 might suit your daughter, and wallet better
     
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Danny, I am afraid that those stores that split up a D3100 kit are giving you a bad deal. Cameta is selling you a D3100 body only for $500, but B&H sells the kit for $597: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/730210-REG/Nikon_25472_D3100_Digital_SLR_Camera.html
    The lens by itself is $180: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/532521-USA/Nikon_2176_18_55mm_f_3_5_5_6G_VR_AF_S.html
    You are probably getting a slight break when you buy the kit, but I think you are overpaying to get the body only.
     
  8. If you only ever intend on having one lens then seriously consider a point-and-shoot. They will perform just as well as an SLR with a third party superzoom. Be sure to research and try the shutter lag time though.
    If there is a possibility that your daughter will take photography more seriously then buy a Nikon body with a built in motor, even if that means buying used to stay within budget. Many Nikon lenses, and many of them quite cheap, that a serious user may wish to use simply will not autofocus on the bodies with out motors.
    Also note that Canon bodies do not have this problem. Any Canon body will take, and use, any Canon EF lens. I say Canon EF lens since many older third party lenses will no longer autofocus on newer Canon bodies.
     
  9. If you want a one lens solution, the 18-200mm by Nikon is your best choice, although it is more than $350 new. You can get one used in the $400-$450 range. If you end up getting the kit lens (which gives excellent IQ), you can sell it to reduce the overall cost of the 18-200mm.
    If you want a little extra reach and are willing to change lenses once in a while (its really easy and takes just a few seconds), consider the kit lens plus Nikon's 70-300mm VR lens which is available used (and perhaps refurbished) for about $350.
     
  10. if you want to do low-light/indoor photography, a P&S hi-zoom camera will be worse than an entry level DSLR.
    personally, if i wanted an all-in one zoom lens i'd get the tamron 18-270 or the nikon 18-200. your budget is going to make this choice difficult, i'd probably just go 18-55 and then add a 55-200 VR for tele and a 35/1.8 for low-light.
     
  11. I understand the want for a single lens solution, but I don't see how your budget will allow it.
    If you purchase the kit, your daughter will likely find the 18-55mm on the camera most of the time if she is shooting people and landscapes. If it's birds, wildlife or sports, she would benefit from the 55-200mm that is the companion to the 18-55.
    Please keep in mind that the 18-55mm is equivalent to a 28-85mm (or close enough to it), on a 35mm film camera.
     
  12. I'm not keen on the single lens solution, having had mixed and ultimately disappointing experiences with the Nikon 18-200mm. The D3100 with kit 18-55mm is a fine start and I, like Shun, would recommend either the Nikon 55-200mm or Nikon 55-300mm as a second lens. An alternative, given the cheapness of the 55-200 would be the 55-200 plus the 35mm f1.8 as a low light solution.
     

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