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Old Jul 17, 2006, 10:39 AM   #1
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I'm buying a new Nikon D200 and need a couple of lens' to go with it... It has been some time since I've used a SLR camera. I've been using digital point and shoot for about 5 or 6 years now and want to really improve the quality and artistic content of my images. Let me tell you a bit about what I want to do and maybe you folks here can help me decide on some mounts.

1. General Photography...
Taking pictures of the kids doing.. well kid things. I figure a wide or super wide is probably best here to give me good depth and plenty of room to fit the subjets in. I can always crop it later if I need to...

2. Sports.
I love going to sporting events; both local and professional. I've tried to take pictures at my kids soccer games, but the point and shoot just doesn't cut it. I'm assuming telephoto is the way to go here; with it's short depth of field and fast motors. I'm really looking forward to getting some great shots this season.

Now.. cost is always an issue. With the camera body running about 1600.00 US I probably need to keep the lens cost between 1400-1500 US for both. I can't afford to break the bank with a 5000 lens.

Normally, I like to do all my research up front before making such a purchase. However, I started down the path and there are so many choices it's hard to narrow it down to a few to look into. That's what I'm looking for here. People's opinions to help me narrow it down.

Thanks Everyone.
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Old Jul 17, 2006, 12:54 PM   #2
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If you're getting the D200, you have to get it with Nikon's 18-200 VR. Lucky for you, it's easier to see those two packaged together than the 18-200 lens by itself. Packaged together, they're about $2400. I suggest you try that combo first and see what other lens you may need. If you need a wider lens, Nikon's 12-24 is a good choice. I don't have those two lenses, as I can't afford them yet, but I'm looking forward to getting them in the future.

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Old Jul 17, 2006, 3:45 PM   #3
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The 18-200mm VR is great for general purpose. The VR makes it much easier to handhold at lower shutter speeds BUT doesn't help at all with fast moving subjects (which kids can be). For this reason I'd give strong consideration to atleast one faster non-VR lens with a large constant aperature. I'd say a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 would make a good general purpose lens for when you don't need much range. The large constant aperature will also help in bluring backgrounds to isolate the subject. These lenses are available around $400 new, 1/3 - 1/4 the price of a similarly priced Nikon lens. From there I would decide how much reach you really need. If you think can make by with 200mm then I would go with a Nikon 80-200mm f/2.8 ED AF-S. Its speed at a relatively long focal length (300mm equivalend on DX) along with being extremely sharp is a great combination and is what most people go with if they can't afford or justify the 70-200mm VR. It's available under $1000 new and various versions can be had as low as $600 - $700 used. If you need more reach then I'd reccomend the 80-400mm f/3.5-5.6 VR. As you gain reach you lose speed. The VR will help overcome this but again doesn't help with fast moving subjects. I picked one of these up for $700 shipped in pretty good condition but they normally go closer to $1000 used and upwards of $1500 new. The Sigma 80-400mm OS is thought by many to be opticly superior and goes around $1000 new (not many used copies are available). That said, for sports you're likely to get more keeper shots from the 80-200mm f/2.8 since it will do a much better job stopping action even if you do lose the zoom range.

Many will point out the 50-80mm range missing. I doubt you'll miss this range much if any. You can easily shoot at 50mm and crop without much if any loss in quality (especially if you're not printing poster-size). If you can't at all deal with that much overlap then maybe a Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC would be a better (and cheaper, $350 new) primary lens. Though you lose constant aperature it's still reasonably fast and is supposed to be as sharp as the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4 (D70 kit lens) with the small speed advantage at the wide end (though without AF-S).

Alot of people are crazy about the 18-200mm VR. While it has a great range and the ability to more easily hand-hold at 200mm i really don't think it's worth $750 new, much less up to $1000 since they're not readily available. If you really think you want a VR walk-around lens I'll reccomend the 24-120mm VR. You'll read alot of reviews saying it is soft. This was true early in the production run however Nikon quietly shut down production for 6 months and remedied the problem, unfortunately with no differentiation between older and newer versions. It might not be worth the price to you at $600 new but i picked one up for $325 like new in box on eBay and i really like it. If I had pick, however, i'd still take a constant f/2.8 17-50mm w/out VR because you can shoot at higher shutter speeds and get the same exposure (taking care of hand-shake and moving-subject where VR just covers hand-shake).
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