18-200 v 18-55 + 55-200 - what do you lose?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Hello.there, Apr 17, 2008.

  1. Hello.there macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #1
    I'm tempted by the idea of replacing my Nikon D40 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens with an 18-200mm lens, purely for the convenience (Ken Rockwell persuaded me :)).

    I'm still struggling to learn the technical side of all of this so can anyone help me understand what - if anything - I would lose by making this switch?

    Individually do the 18-55mm and 55-200mm lens offer more quality-wise (insert knowledgable lingo here) than the 18-200?
     
  2. zirkle2007 macrumors 6502

    zirkle2007

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    #2
    Is your 18-55 the kit lens that came with the D40?
     
  3. Techguy172 macrumors 68000

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    #3
    I Would think the 18-200mm VR lens would be better as it got very nice reviews and you would only have to carry around one lens however I think the two would end up costing less.
     
  4. nissan.gtp macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I have the 18-200VR. So far, it's a great lens, although I haven't used it a whole lot. Very versatile, and not too heavy. A perfect "take only one" lens for me.
     
  5. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #5
    You are comparing the 18-200 to the two lowest price lenses in Nikon's line

    in the Nikon line the 18-200 is really a "second tier" lens in terms of quality. The 18-55 is actually quite good. The 55-200 is not top teir either. That said most people do not have the critical eye to notice. None of the three are as good as Nikon's better lenses.

    The thing is that all three of those lenes are f/5.6 and are a bit "slow" for some subjects
     
  6. Hello.there thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #6
    Yep, that's the one.

    Thanks Techguy172 and nissan.gtp.

    Thanks ChrisA, advice appreciated. I know the two lenses I have aren't top tier, that's how I could afford them!

    I don't make a living from taking photographs, I'm fortunate enough to be able to do it only for the sheer joy it provides, so commercial considerations don't get in the way of my enjoyment or determine what images I shoot. I'm lucky that way.

    My lack of technical knowledge, like most of my fellow DSLR newcomers on the board, is woeful, but I certainly have the critical eye to notice the difference in quality of images - you don't have to be paid to take photographs to have that talent. :)
     
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #7
    One has Vibration Reduction, while the 18-55 and 55-200 mm do not. You can get both those lenses with VR now. The VR versions of both these lenses is excellent, and optically should be better than the 18-200 mm VR lens. Sure, there may be a coating missing. I don't know. However, the 18-200 mm is supposed to go quite soft (ie: not sharp) at 200 mm, while the 55-200 mm is supposed to be quite good. After all, there are less design considerations to worry about with the 55-200 mm lens because it has a shorter focal range.
     
  8. Hello.there thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #8
    Thanks for that Abstract, I wondered about the sharpness of the 18-200 mm at 200 mm so the 'softness' you mentioned is making me think twice.

    I wasn't too sure about the 55-200 at first but have been really thrilled by some of the photos I've taken with it recently, I find the sharpness blissful!

    So, definitely, I'd be reluctant to abandon it, it's just (as I said) the convenience of the 18-200 appeals to me, no more swapping lenses, which I have to do quite a lot.

    Hmm, decisions, decisions....

    Thanks again.
     
  9. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #9
    There are tradeoffs with the 18-200, just as there are with the 18-55 and 55-200.

    For the 18-200, you've already heard the main one - it's a bit soft out toward 200mm. It's still quite decent, but the 55-200 will be somewhat sharper at the long end.

    On the other hand, the lack of a useable focus ring on the two latter lenses is a big deal to me. Also, the fact that you don't have full-time manual override on the focus (although with those crap focus rings, you probably wouldn't want to anyway). They really are meant to just be point-and-shoot lenses. Additionally over the lower end, the 18-55 has the same shortcoming as the 18-200 - significant barrel distortion right at the wide end. And the 18-55 is much slower at 55mm (f/5.6) than the 18-200 at that focal length (f/4.8).

    Really the 18-55 is the significantly weaker part of the 18-55/55-200 pairing.

    Since we're talking about consumer zooms, personally I think it's a no-brainer to get the 18-200 assuming you have the money. But then I have the lens so I'm biased.
     
  10. zirkle2007 macrumors 6502

    zirkle2007

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    #10
    I'm going to have to agree with this. The focus rings on these lenses suck. Not so much for the 18-55 (though its still small), but on the 55-200 its annoyingly undersized.
     
  11. bld44 macrumors 6502

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    #11
    There is a VR version of that lens.


    I enjoyed making the switch to the 18-200 lens, but keep in mind that its a big lens compared to both of the ones you currently have and is a lot heavier. In addition, the 18-200 will develop creep over time which may become an annoyance, which neither the 18-55 or 55-200 have.
     
  12. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    Recently I've come to the conclusion that zooms are generally pants. I'd always thought things like the 18-70 that came with my D70 were ok. Having spent some time with sigma's 50mm macro I see the error of my ways. Primes all the way!

    On this topic though, you gain quite a lot with the 18-200 not least a permanently closed body. Less dust! Disadvantage - weight, cost. You may as well go for it if it does what you want.
     
  13. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #13
    I'm not sure the 18-200 would keep dust out of the camera. When you lens extends outward and get longer it sucks air inside. when it goes short it pumps the air back out. A bit like a fireplace bellows.

    With the 18-200 your gain convenance but you...
    • have to deal with a slow f/5.6 lens
    • have to accept some minor geometric distortion
    • do not get the image quality or "snap" that the better Nikon lenses can provide

    I think if you can only cary one lens you should decide in advance what kind of pictures you want then cary a lens that is good at that and just don't shoot the other stuff.
     
  14. theBB macrumors 68020

    theBB

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    #14
    Think of all the times you'll feel too lazy to bring the second lens with you or too lazy to swap the second one and miss the picture you could take. Besides, as an enthusiast, you probably do not carry a tripod with you most of the time, so the optical image stabilization in 18-200 might improve your pictures in low light situations a lot more than the improvement you might observe when you take pics of some test patterns. Of course, as long as you have the money... :)
     
  15. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #15
    FWIW... I have seen some recent photos by Freebooter using the 18-200 that have been stunning in their overall beauty, including sharpness. Undoubtedly, the VR has more to do with the overall results than the actual lens "sharpness." Most folks who don't use tripods all the time don't even realize how much sharpness they lose just by shooting hand-held, especially on the long end.

    Personally, I don't have the lens, but I do have the 18-55 and 55-200 combo (non-VR, unfortunately.) These are the original versions, and yes, they're plastic and somewhat consumer grade in construction and feel, but they are both sharper than I ever thought they'd be. My issues are with speed, so I probably would never opt to exchange them for the 18-200 VR, but instead start accumulating a few "pro" lenses down the line.

    Having said that, the convenience of the one-lens setup is a huge factor. I have missed, or just not bothered with some shots because of having to change lenses. Get the 18-200. I think you'll be happy with it, and perhaps shoot more pictures. Give it a good run-through, and if you find you don't like it in the long run, you should have no trouble getting most of your money back on it, as it is an extremely popular lens.
     
  16. numbersyx macrumors 65816

    numbersyx

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    #16
     
  17. termina3 macrumors 65816

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    #17
    The 18-200 is a much better starter kit because, as mentioned, you don't have to "choose a lens" or focal length (ergo you don't have to choose/limit your shots).

    As you get more interested in photography, you might miss some shots because of low light – shots that a constant (and expensive) f2.8 would get. When you're that far along, you can get the pro lenses––but still have a one lens setup when you just want to go out in broad daylight and shoot.
     
  18. Hello.there thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #18
    Great advice Termina, many thanks.
     
  19. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #19
    I just got back from a Hawaii vacation where I shot over 800 pics. The 18-200 was fantastic, covering *most* of the range I needed. Got some great hand-held pictures of whales breaching that were much sharper than I was expecting. The convenience of one lens is nice when traveling (less weight and less time spent fiddling/more time spent shooting). If you need a fast lens for low-light, I'd think about a 50mm 1.4 or 1.8. Very affordable supplement to the 18-200. I also use a Tokina 12-24 quite a bit, but I'm a wide-angle freak.
     
  20. soms macrumors 6502

    soms

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    #20
    The 18-200 is a great all around lens, I've used it on a number of occasions and its always worked great for me. Usually I carry a variable and then a couple primes as well.
    Oh and also, Ken Rockwell imho is annoying. He's got good insights, but a lot of people take his words as the gold standard.
     
  21. Hello.there thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #21
    I'm convinced - so convinced I've ordered my 18-200 :)

    Thanks to everyone for the advice, hugely appreciated.

    PS Will I ever use my 18-55 and 55-200 lenses again :confused:
     
  22. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #22
    Personally, I would doubt it.

    The Nikon 50mm 1.8 is a fantastic lens that can be had for under $100. Don't be fooled by the price, it is an amazing lens. The 1.4 is around $300 and is one of the best lenses Nikon has made. Have to decide if the extra speed is worth the extra money though (both lenses get very sharp about 1 stop above their max aperture). For $100 it's almost a no-brainer to at least have the 1.8 in your arsenal: it's sharp, contrasty, and light weight. Being a prime, you have to move your feet a bit when composing, but it is an amazing (and inexpensive!) tool. For low-light shooting (or for more artistic options) having a fast lens can be very nice. The 2.8 zooms don't come cheap. I have found that having a fast 50mm is very nice creatively and is very affordable. Something to consider....
     
  23. reallybigafro macrumors member

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    #23
    I'm looking to pick up a 50mm 1.8 but i can't find it for under $100. If you can suggest such a place that would be great. My local camera shop sales it for $110, and Amazon has it for $110 as well. Thanks.

    As for the OP I am looking at getting a 50mm and the 55-200 VR. I had the kit 18-55 but the cheap plastic lip on it broke, and I'm looking forward to the quality metal housing of the 50mm 1.8

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  24. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #24
    I've seen it for just under $100 on Amazon in the past--their prices vary depending on their resellers.
     
  25. Hello.there thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Hello.there

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    #25
    It arrived :) I took a chance on a Hong Kong seller on Ebay and it worked out perfectly....well, apart from being caught by customs for e44 :eek:. Never mind.

    First impressions? Love it - and it's not as heavy or bulky as I expected, I can use it quite comfortably.

    The range is fantastic, I just don't see myself dusting down my 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses again. I'm not sure they're even worth selling though, we'll see.

    Any way, hope to get out and about the next few days to really try it out, but so far the 'test' photos look great, I'm well happy.

    Thanks again for all the help.
     

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