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Old Feb 11, 2008, 9:54 PM   #1
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I'm buying my first DSLR in advance of the birth of our first child, and I've decided on a D80. Now I need to figure out what lenses I want. B&H has several kits going -- none is perfect -- but I'm hoping someone can give me advice on what is -- and is not -- worthy of consideration.

I'll be doing a lot of indoor, available light pictures, especially as the baby gets older, as well as cityscapes. I should add that I'll definitely be getting a fast prime -- a 50mm 1.4 or 50mm 1.8 -- so with that in mind, here are my options:

D80 plus 18-135mm for $1044
D80 plus 18-55 AND 55-200 VR for $1009
D80 plus 18-55 VR for $949
D80 plus 18-55 for $879

My questions are these:
1) is the 18-135 a sharp, solid performer? Would it really negate the need for the 18-55?
2) is the 18-55 VR significantly better than the standard 18-55?
3) is the 55-200 VR worth what amounts to $130, especially as I don't see an immediate need for the longer focal length?
4) should I skip the kit options, and get something else to go along with the 50mm prime?

Thanks in advance for any guidance you can provide!
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 5:13 AM   #2
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It really depends on what you're going to be shooting.

The 18-135mm is a nice "walkabout" lens but like any zoom lens it is a bit of a compromise.

I'm not sure I really see the need for VR on an 18-55mm lens.

The 50mm f1.8 is a great value lens but I can't say I've used mine much.

It all boils down to the sort of pictures you like to take.

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Old Feb 12, 2008, 5:17 AM   #3
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1. The 18-135 is quite sharp, and is optically very good for it's long focal range. It does suffer a bit from purple fringing in areas of high contrast, especially when shooting wide open. You need to make sure your technique is sound at the long end because of lack of VR. This lens is on my camera most of the time. If you have this lens, I wouldn't think you would need the 18-55...you don't get any improvement at the shorter focal lengths, and the extra range is more useful (for me).

2. I don't know if the VR version of the 18-55 is significantly better. VR is always usefull, though not as important for these shorter focal ranges. If the costs are relatively close, I'd probably spring for the VR.

3. I think the 55-200vr is a good value, and again is a useful focal length. Most folks find the need to shoot at the 200mm focal range at some point in time. The lens is a huge value when you get it as part of a kit. I think eventually you'll want or be able to use this lens...buying it seperately will run you about $279.

4. I would stick with the kits for now until you determine what your needs are. You'll quickly find where your limitations are, and then you can base your next lens purchase on what you really need. I would opt for the 50 1.8 over the 1.4. The F1.4 is nearly twice the cost and not really optically better. Yes you get the advantage of f1.4, but this is a difficult aperature to shoot with, as DOF is very thin. It's also pretty soft at f1.4. The D80's high iso performance is very good, and reduces the reliance on fast glass (not eliminate). I own the f1.8, and although it's in my bag I almost never use it. Instead, I use either an SB600 or SB800 flash, or I can bump up the ISO. They are powerful, and will allow you to bounce the light and create even, natural lighting. They can also be used off camera which is great for portrait photography.
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 8:43 AM   #4
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My suggestion is 18-135mm.
Second place is 18-55 and 55-200VR.
But you will soon have baby at home so you will have less time for swapping lenses
Good luck
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Old Feb 12, 2008, 11:15 PM   #5
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Myself, I would put them in this order...





18-135mm.. I am not overly in love with the 18-135 as it has some noticable distortions throughout its range, BUT, it has a great usable range -more than the 18-55's (std or VR). I got this lens with the D80 when I bought it almost a year ago and I couldn't wait to get another lens. Even though it gave me some great practise and some reasonably good shots, it was hopeless photographing around buildings and tall straight objects as the barrelling gave me a headache, while at long focal lengths, it pincushioned enough for me to say "enough"...!!! Images were reasonably sharp/crisp though and its 18 to 135mm's,did give me lots of room to play. It just didn't suit my style of shooting, otherwise it would have been quite a good lens...

18-55mmVR.. If you can get anything VR, it has to be worth looking at. I would say that if Nikon decided to add VR to a lens, it is capable of giving a good image or they would be wasting their time, resources and marketing powers. I have never used or even seen an 18-55mm "VR". I imagine if it comes with D80 for less than it costs with the 18-135mm then it suggests it may well be a cheaper VR model, rather like the 55-200mmVR is. I would also imagine that the usable focal lengths of the 18-55mmVR would be better suited to a new user and farmore usablethan the 55-200mmVR. The 55-200mmVR is quite a nifty little lens for a cheapie though. I love it, but if I see an 18-55mmVR in the near future, I will buy one for sure. I would only place this lens behind the 18-135mm because of the extra focal length you get. I would only place it ever so slightly behind it too,, just a gnats whisker...

55-200mmVR..The instant I spotted a 55-200mmVR in the shops, I bought one. The very low price was out of this world. This was my first dip into VR and I am so glad I bought it as it really showed what VR is capable of for a very average photographer like me. Since then I have bought four more VR lenses and never looked back. 55mm to 200mm however, is not my ideal focal range as an all-rounder. It's way to high for wide angle shots and if you are wanting to photograph a new born, you might have to stand back from the baby to fit it in, whereas 18mm+would give you a nice wide view of mum and baby. Don't mess this opportunity up or wifey may never forgive you, ever. Mum will want to be included in the shot showing off her new baby...

18-55mm.. I have never owned or used one of these but often thought of buying one of them, even if it is a cheaper lens. The usable range is great and to me it's very "usable" indeed. I do most of my shooting below about 40mm but I just don't know much about this lens and my brother says not to waste my money. The VR equivalent of this lens will certainly make me want to spend...

I am not quoting settings as these seem to be a personal choice and different cameras yield different results. I can only give my opinions from my own experiences... Most of the lenses I have seem to act only similarly inmy D80compared to myD300, except for one which seems to be more fussy in the D80, yet it is great in the 300. The D80 is a great camera (I have to say that because I have one..!!!), and my personal choice would be between the 18-135mm and the 18-55mmVR. Toss a coin in the air...!!!


Late addition to this reply,,

Today I bought an 18-55mm VR lens and even though I quite like it for a real cheap lens, looking back I would have to say that the 18-135mm is the best choice for more reasons than just the extra focal length. It hasn't got the VR but it really is a slightly better all-rounder and beginners lens, especially once you got used toyour new camera. With the 18-55mm VR you may want to upgrade to a better lens a bit sooner than you would with the 18-135mm.
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