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Old Mar 11, 2008, 8:09 PM   #1
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I want to get a good lens for general outdoor/nature photography, as summer is coming up and i will be spendinga lot oftime outdoors with my D80

Is it worth saving up a monthto get the nikkor 18-200vr?
or.. should i just get a nikkor 55-200mm VR right now, along with a used 18-55mm

Are there any other good qualitylenses out there for general outdoor photography for a decent price?
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Old Mar 12, 2008, 4:04 AM   #2
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When I first bought my D80, one year ago, it came with the 18-135mm kit lens. Since then I have bought quite a few more lenses, some fixed lengths and others zoom type,, some quite cheap and others getting to be a bitexpensive. Not one of them has turned out to be a dog,, BUT,, some are definitely better than others. The only thing is,, I can't really say which is the best, simply because I have tried to buy each lens to do a specific job, even ifone of thosespecific jobshas tobeas an all-rounder lens.

At first I thought the kit 18-135mm lenstook quite good clear shots but suffered from too much barrelling and pin-cushioning, so intially I tried to replace this with another workhorse type lens but I got sidetracked into buying more dedicated lenses. I did however stumble across what I consider to be my most usable lens,, the 18-200mm VR, which surely is a great lens, but not perfect. It is the lens I leave on my camera, until I need to change it for a particular shot. Just today I decided to give the 18-135mm lens another tryout, since for the last 8 months it has been sitting around doing nothing. It's amazing how much your perspective can change, as I was unpleasantly surprised as to how "not so good" this lens now is, compared to say the 18-200mm VR or the 24-120mm VR. The shots are acceptable, just not 'great' anymore,, yet,, even compared to a couple of other lenses at certain focal lengths, the 18-200mm VR can be made to look a little ordinary... It all hinges mostly on what I want to photograph. Some lenses seem to do abetter job than others when pointed at different subjects,, and that is the low-down truth of the matter...

What am I trying to say...???

1). When choosing a lens, you can't really choose the one lens tophotograph all the subjects all of the time,, but you can choose some lenses to photograph some of the subjects some of the time. You simply have to compromise.

2). Time honoured sayings like "you get what you pay for" never seemed more suited than to Nikon lenses. Although you can get a few basement bargains, generally, as the price tag gets heavier, you start to find out what quality can be like.

The 55-200mm VR is relatively cheap and takes quite a reasonable photo but 55mm is not vary wide and you may soon curse the fact that you keep having to stand back from the subject to fit it in. Either that or you might miss out in some scenic shots where 20mm or lower would fit more into the shot. The 18-55mm (the new VR model just released) is also extremely cheap and again takes a neat little photobut I am not in love with the physical feel of this lens as you soon see why it costs so little. The 18-200mm VR is quite a good performer and as an all-rounder, may be hard to beat. You get good crisp photos and quite a good range of focal lengths, but it does suffer a bit from barrelling and pin-cushioning at various lengths and its cost is starting to get a bit high, not excessively high, just moderately high, about three times the price of the 55-200mm VR, depending on where you live. Personally to me, in the 18-200mm VR, the good outweighs the not so good. This is the overall best all-rounder that I have. I would rather have just the 18-200mm VR than both the 55-200mm VR and the 18-55mm VR. It does outperform the other two on both my D80 and D300. I think it is worth the wait and saving for...

The D80 is a good capable camera and you would be well advised not to undercut its perfomance with lenses which "appear" to be the answer to a maidens prayer. Afterall, you may go out and do something foolish like I did - and buy a D300, thinking it may actually improve 'your' capabilities - just kidding... Since owning the D300, I have been forced totry to extract good shots from every little setting you can make on the camera as this camera is very much a hands-on camera. This in turn revitalized my interest in the D80 and I am only now finding just how much further the D80 can go from where I thought I had take it before...

Save,, salofixx, save...!!!
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Old Mar 12, 2008, 4:11 AM   #3
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What kind of nature pics do you like to take? Landscapes? Wildlife? For either of these I don't think the 18-200 will help. I think this lens is a bit overrated..it suffers from a good bit of distortion (as expected for its range) and since you've got the focal lengths already covered, it's redundant. Unless you sell your current lenses, your not gaining anything except maybe convenience.

If landscapes are your thing, I'd look at one of the ultra wides. The Sigma 10-20 or tokina 11-18 are both good deals. For wildlife, at the very least you'd want to look at the 70-300VR. Generally, to go longer is going to cost you a lot more.
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Old Mar 12, 2008, 8:43 AM   #4
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What are you using for a General Purpose Walk around lens now?

Although it doesn't have the range from wide to long that the "super zoom" type lenses have (18-200mm, 18-250mm, etc.), the Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 is a higher quality lens compared to most of the walk around lenses around (for example, reviews I've seen indicate the 18-70mm has less in the way of chromatic aberrations/purple fringing compared to the 18-135mm or 18-200mm).

Anytime you have a lens with a lot of range from wide to long (as in the newer all purpose lenses), you will tend to see optical compromises compared to a lens with a less ambitious focal range from wide to long.

So, you need to weigh the convenience a single lens, versus the higher quality results you can get using more than one lens to cover the same range. Any lens choice is a compromise in one area or another (size, weight, focal range, optical quality at various focal lengths and apertures, AF speed, etc.).

If you really want a single lens to cover a greater range, in addition to the Nikkor 18-200mm, you may also want to look at the new Sigma 18-200mm OS lens (it's stabilized), as well as the Tamron 18-250mm lens (not stabilized).

If you are more concerned with the longer end, the new Tamron 28-300mm VC (Vibration Control) AF lens may also be worth taking a look at (they've released a new stablized version of their 28-300mm). Here's a recent review:


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