18-135mm vs. 18-200mm (Nikon) - worth the difference?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Shacklebolt, Dec 3, 2007.

  1. Shacklebolt macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #1
    Obviously, the later should be better - but the price difference in a D300 kit is almost 500 dollars, which is quite a bit of dough. No, I don't have any other DSLR lenses, as this is my first one, but what can I say: I happen to have the dough to afford one, and have been known (with worthy events) to take somewhere in the vicinity of 1400 pictures over a 4 day span with my S2 IS, and now photograph concerts for a magazine that you have (as of YET!) never heard of. I'd like to think I'm a quick learner, and do want a camera for which I wouldn't have to buy a replacement for a long, long time.

    And yet, the 500 dollar price difference makes me a bit queasy. Worth it, IYHO?
     
  2. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

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    #2
    I believe its very much worth it. Probably the best walk around lens Nikon has at the moment, in my opinion. It has the VR while not the end all be all, will help to make some of your images sharper, equivalent of shooting ~2 stops faster. Its great for traveling as you can have a wide range of possibilities with one lens, if weight or amount of items is an issue.

    Though most of my post is addressing the decision between the two lenses, I'm sure some of my fellow MR photography enthusiasts and professionals will have some additional advice and options for you
    :)
     
  3. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #3
    One sentence executive summary: I have the 18-200, and I really like it - I don't regret paying $750 for it back in the day.

    I'm not sure how to quantify whether you'll find it worth $430 more than the 18-135mm (based on B&H's prices).

    If the 18-135 had VR, it'd be a stronger candidate - but it doesn't. Depending on what you like to shoot, that lack of VR may limit the usefulness of that lens at the longer end (especially since it's at f/5.6). The 18-135 is quite sharp (or so I've read), but is worse than the 18-200 in terms of vignetting and CA. Looking at Photozone's distortion charts, the 18-135 doesn't appear to match up well EXCEPT right at 18mm. On my 18-200, the barrel distortion right at 18mm is quite hefty as per the Photozone tests; but even moving up to just 20mm or 22mm ameliorates that very nicely. Also note that pretty much every one of the 18-xxx lenses has hefty barrel distortion at 18mm; the 18-135 included.

    It also depends on what range you like to shoot. If you shoot a lot between 100mm and 200mm, then buying the 18-135 is going to mean a lot of lens changes are in your future. If you only rarely shoot in that range, then you're not really inconveniencing yourself all that much - and you'd end up paying $500 for a range you don't really use, if you buy the 18-200.

    My subjective opinion is that the 18-200 is very strong from roughly 24mm to around 150mm; and while it's somewhat softer above that it's still very usable even at 200mm. I don't really like it right at 18mm; but I have a Tokina 12-24mm lens for that focal length anyway. But having VR lets you catch some shots you'd otherwise miss; and not having to change lenses as often definitely has its benefits.
     
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #4
    Let me put it to you this way: I wish I had it. I didn't before, but now I do. If you can afford one, then get it. I think the VR is very useful. I don't know if it's worth another $500, but it's definitely worth a lot more than teh 18-135 mm. There's nothing wrong with that lens. After all, the 18-135 shares many of the flaws of the 18-200 mm VR. However, since the 18-200 mm has VR built-in, I'd be more willing to put up with the shortcomings of the 18-200 mm, but not the flaws of the 18-135 mm.
     
  5. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #5
    VR has been a revelation to me, totally underrated by the press and "pros". I would go that way anytime there is a choice. You will be happy.

    You are getting an expensive model camera. Are you sure you need the features of the D300 over those of a much less expensive model? You could save there and have more lens. The quality of the photos would be the same.

    The camera bodies will be obsolete every couple of years, but the lenses will be good for a very long time. Put your money there.
     
  6. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #6
    The D300 is an outstanding camera. The 18-200 VR is a nice walkaround consumer lens. It's also fairly slow, and if you are planning to shoot concerts, you will really need a different, faster lens. The D300 camera body has 12 MP and as such, will show the flaws in any so-so lens, as it really shines when working with professional, high-quality glass. The 18-200 does nicely in good lighting, but it is a slower lens than you will need for concert shooting. The 18-200 is an OK lens but does not have the keen resolution that a professional quality lens such as the 70-200mm VR f/2.8 or the 80-200mm f/2.8 lenses have, or the razor sharpness of, say, the 85mm f/1.4 or the 17-55mm....... To get the same range of the 18-200mm consumer lens, you're talking 17-55mm, 28-70 (or the new 24-70), and 70-200mm VR. Each of these is f/2.8 and each of these is expensive. The difference really shows up in the final images, both on the computer monitor and in print. If you are planning to shoot for publication this is something to consider.

    Why are you choosing the D300 as your first DSLR? Do you have experience in shooting with film SLRs? Do you intend to just buy the one lens and stick it on the camera and never change lenses? If the answers to these questions include the fact that you're inexperienced at using SLRs and that you are planning to use just the one lens for everything, then I agree with carlgo and suggest that you look at a different camera body, such as the D80, for your first DSLR. It is significantly less expensive, yet still has many of the features that you'll need as you learn and grow into the camera, and will produce the same quality images with that 18-200mm lens. Buy yourself a D80, the 18-200mm VR. With the money you're saving, throw in a 50mm f/1.4 lens. Learn with these and then later on down the road you'll be ready for the D300 and additional, higher quality lenses.


    Believe me, a DSLR, especially the D300, is far different than using your P&S S2 IS.....
     
  7. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #7
    Oh, I know that it's different then using an S2 IS, but I'm not inexperienced using SLRs - I like to think I have a knack for them. About ten years ago, a friend of mine at a summer camp handed me his (film/quality (not just a Canon AE-1)) SLR, and I'd like to think that I got some shots out of that that he, nice guy that he was, couldn't/wouldn't think of.

    Every time I've been handed a DSLR on subsequent dates, I haven't had trouble using them, and seem to get great shots out of them. You're right though, a D300 doesn't seem to be the optimal camera for a beginner, but from what I've read, I like the shutter durability beyond the 40d/D80, the full-frame sensor, 51-point autofocus (I enjoy taking shots in manual, but it will be nice to have a good manual feature also), and the 12mp sensor. I would just hate to think, a few years down the road, that I passed up a great camera while I had the dough to afford one.

    Although I would be happy to hear if people still think the D300 is the wrong camera for me.
     
  8. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #8
    The D300 is a DX (1.5x crop) sensor, just like the D200, D80, etc. The D3 is Nikon's only current full-frame sensor camera.

    Also, the 18-135 and 18-200 are DX-only lenses - they will not work on a full-frame camera.
     
  9. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #9
    Nikon's DX lenses WILL work on the D3 -- in DX mode. However, one pays a price in resolution as it drops from 12 MP to 5.5 MP, I think it is.... Since the D3 is a $5000 camera designed for professional photographers and experienced serious amateurs and at the moment is in high demand and limited supply, I don't think that Shacklebolt will be getting one any time soon.

    The D300, on the other hand, is $1800 and shares many (not all) features with the D3. It is a DX camera and works with DX lenses or FF lenses at 12 MP. Like the D200, it is a camera aimed at the serious amateur who wants more features than can be had on the D40/x, D50, and D80 but who don't need everything that is provided with the D3 nor do they want that high price tag. The two cameras, D300 and D3, complement each other quite nicely and some people have actually purchased and are using both.

    Picking up a friend's SLR or DSLR occasionally and firing off a few shots is not exactly what I meant when I referred to "experience with SLR cameras."

    Personally I think you would be much better served to start out with the D80 and a couple of good lenses, work with that for a while and THEN move on up to a D300. I started out years ago with film SLRs, then eventually bought my first DSLR, the D70; from there I moved on to the D200, which I used for a couple of years before deciding that I was finally ready for the challenges and joys of using the D2Xs. I found that going from the D70 to the D200 was quite a jump but also was able to bring into play and to the next level my previous experience with shooting 35mm SLR film cameras.

    The D300 is really NOT a beginner's camera. You would be able to express your creativity quite nicely with a D80 and good lenses. Take the time to learn to walk before you start running....
     
  10. cube macrumors G5

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    #10
    If you want a cheap Nikon-mount full frame you have to get a Kodak, if you're willing to accept its shortcomings.
     
  11. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #11
    Hmmm... perhaps you're right. I'm leaning towards the D80.

    I do tend to shoot a lot between 100 and 200mm. Do you have any suggestions for the good lenses I could buy with the savings from the difference?
     
  12. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #12
    The 18-200 is a great lens to put on the D80.
     
  13. cube macrumors G5

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    #13
    You can get an AF-D 80-200 f/2.8 ED with all accessories in excellent condition for $650 - $800.

    Of 80-200 f/2.8 you have the following versions:
    - 1 non-D
    - 2 D
    - AF-S (more expensive than the above)
     
  14. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #14
    Get the 70-200mm VR and a D40 where you're not diffraction or technique limited. 6MP is a good place to learn, and you won't notice the difference unless you can't get the shots or you want to print over 11x14. Once you know what you're doing, there'll be a newer, better body out there and you'll have a convenient backup body for a wide angle lens.

    Seriously, you're going to be changing bodies in about 2 years anyway, but that lens will last several bodies.
     
  15. cube macrumors G5

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    #15
    Not D40, as he wouldn't be able to autofocus with the many good plain AF options out there. Used D50 or D70 *with accessories*, yes. $400 in excellent condition when at a good price.
     
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #16
    The 18-200 has a great range but it is slow with it's f/5.6 max aperture. Take a look at the 80-200 f/2.8 you can find good used examples of this lens for $650. the 80-200 is by far a better lens.

    But do buy one of the "kit" lenses. they are such great bargins. The 18-70 is good. It is slightly faster then the others, has "true AF-S" and a non-rotating filter ring. You do want something the goes out to 18mm

    In the end it comes down to what are you going to shoot? 200mm is a very long lens and yu normally do not need one that long. The best option is to buy a lower priced lens and shoot a lot. Then later design what to get bast on what shots you missed. You may find you do not want a 200mm lens and would prefer one of the f/1.4 or f/1.8 lenses
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    The D40 has less noise at higher ISO and if he's mostly shooting between 100 and 200mm, he's not going to miss much by not getting a screwdriver focus body.
     
  18. cube macrumors G5

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    #18
    The D50 has great noise characteristics. No need to go for the crippled D40.

    The D50 is hard to find. I prefer the D70 anyway mainly because of the illuminated control LCD.
     
  19. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    You're talking about this bad boy? I have this one, the 18-200, as well as the 18-70, and I can say that I use the 18-200 nine times out of ten. I probably use it more than all the dozen of other lenses I have... combined.

    I love the bokeh of the 80-200 and it is solid as a rock. But it's huge. It weighs a ton. I wouldn't even consider going on a walk with it. It's my "stay at home and shoot birds at the feeder" lens. ;)

    I'd buy two 18-200s before I bought another 80-200, and I wouldn't get the 18-70 again (it lives on my old D70). Sure, I wish it were faster, with less LCA, a bit sharper.. But the fact it's portable enough to always have it means I get the shot.
     
  20. cube macrumors G5

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    #20
    Avoid AF-S. It breaks more easily than plain AF. It's so expensive to fix, that it might be better to just throw the lens and never buy one like it again.
     
  21. ab2650 macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    If you're buying Nikkor lenses, (not grey-market) you have a 5-year warranty included. That being said, I have 4 AF-S lenses and about 8 "D" lenses - I'm not especially gentle on equipment - and I've never had one break down.

    Even after I smashed through a filter on the front of one.
     
  22. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #22
    You clearly proved Clix Pix wrong. :p

    Buying a D80 and 70-200 mm f/2.8 would be better than buying a D300 + 18-200 mm VR. You're going to be jealous of the photos coming from the guy shooting with a D80 + such a lens. You'd never be able to keep up with your D300.

    Believe me, it doesn't matter what camera you have. You're making the right choice by buying a D80. I used to shoot concerts, and I was asked to shoot for a (low circulation ;) ) magazine, although not for concerts. The only thing that will be important is how well your lens focuses in low light, particularly with the side focus (ie: non-centre) focus point, and even then, the D80 is better than the camera I used.

    Besides, from your lens choice, camera choice, and experience, I think you should learn more about photography, cameras, and lenses before you just buy the 18-200 mm VR because you heard it was good. "Good" for what?
     
  23. cube macrumors G5

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    #23
    My 17-35 AF-S totally broke down after the warranty expired (very lightly used), payed a fortune to fix it, only to behave weirdly a couple of years later with basically no use, and Nikon wants again to replace everything for even more as before. This time I said no.

    I have older AF lenses with no problems.
     
  24. Shacklebolt thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Shacklebolt

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    #24
    Jesus - that 70-200 is a beast. Costs as much as the body of a D200. Is it that transcendentally great?
     
  25. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #25
    When using a 70-200 mm, you can take a photo in 4x less light than you could with an 18-200 mm, and the 70-200 mm will still take a sharper photo. Does that give you an idea? Personally, I would even go for a Sigma 50-150 mm f/2.8 lens than an 18-200 mm. It doesn't have VR, but you won't need it when shooting bands.
     

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