Best Nikon Lens for 400.00

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Abraxsis, Feb 18, 2010.

  1. Abraxsis macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #1
    So Im upgrading glass instead of my body since someone else paid for my D300 and Im getting the 80-200 f2,8D, and a few other things that will help me light on location. Ill have roughly 400ish bucks left over and I think maybe another lens would be in order. So ... what is the best Nikon lens for 400ish bucks? (I have a 50mm AF-D) I mainly shoot landscapes, portraits, and nature. Also alot of really strange artistic stuff. Opinions?

    EDIT: Sorry, I also own the 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 VR. I didnt realize I just posted the long end stuff.
     
  2. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

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    #2
    There are a lot of unanswered questions there... but I will note you're pretty heavily at the long end with the two lenses you list, especially considering you've got a DX camera. For landscapes you might consider one of the 10-22 or 12-24 lenses - a few years back I picked up the then-current Tokina 12-24 for a bit over $400.

    One way or the other, I'd think you'll want something wider than 50mm.
     
  3. pit29 macrumors 6502a

    pit29

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    #3
    Does it have to be a Nikon lens, or would a lens for Nikon ok? I have the Tamron 17-50 f2.8, it's great, and it was around 400.
     
  4. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    #4
    A wider-angle fast prime might do you some good. Sigma makes 28, 24, and 20 mm f/1.8 lenses priced at 350, 450, and 520 dollars, respectively, and a 35mm f/1.4 for around $450.

    Certainly more reasonably priced than the 24mm f/1.4 Nikkor.

    However, if you're shooting a lot of landscapes, 18mm DX => 27mm FX => could be wider. The Sigma AF 10-20mm f/4-5.6 is a nice option that is relatively well-regarded, and goes for around $470 new.
     
  5. spice weasel macrumors 65816

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    #5
    I was going to suggest this as well if you are into landscape photography. I just picked one of these up the other day, and so far I really like it. I hope to get a chance to play around with it some more this weekend, now that the sun has finally decided to make an appearance.
     
  6. carlgo macrumors 68000

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    #6
    Why do people always recommend wide angle lenses for landscape photography?

    Most often it seems that wide angles give that distant, boring look that requires a lot of cropping to give you a subject worth looking at. My results are almost always far better with a lens that can fill the frame with something interesting.

    I find wide angle better for architecture and interiors because you often cannot back off from those subjects. And, of course, there are many artistic possibilities as well.
     
  7. tompon1923 macrumors 6502

    tompon1923

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    #7
    I second the Tokina 12 24. It's a great lens (I'm using it on the D80). With a 12-24, 50mm and 80-200 you have everything from superwide angle to tele.
    That range could serve you for at least half a decade.
     
  8. spice weasel macrumors 65816

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    #8
    Because some people like to photograph mountain ranges. Or broad, sweeping plains. Or large stands of massive redwoods. Or sea cliffs with waves crashing into the bottom...

    Filling the frame is great, but there are times when a) you want to get the whole shebang in the shot, or b) you want to fill the frame with the "emptiness" for effect.

    To each his/her own.
     
  9. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

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    #9
    I don't think you're thinking of landscapes in the same sense that I am, or that others recommending wide angle lenses are. You can't appreciably affect the composition of a photo of a mountain range, for instance, by "backing off from the subject" - at most you can change a few items in the foreground. That might impact the framing, but won't change the perspective on the main subject of the photo.

    When I shoot landscapes, the sweeping vista is usually what I'm specifically trying to capture. If I want to shoot a rhododendron or a garden, on the other hand, I'll usually have my 70-180 out.
     
  10. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    You're right; I really prefer macro lenses for landscapes.
     
  11. Abraxsis thread starter macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #11
    I dont know if many of you know this, but apparently military personnel (including active, retired, and disabled) can get killer discounts by purchasing stuff through the PX. IM having a friend of mine check to see if they can order my 80-200 2.8. I heard a rumor that it sells for a little over 700 w/ military discount. Might be wrong info, but I hope not.
     
  12. Nostromo macrumors 65816

    Nostromo

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    #12
    I would sell the 18-200. These super zooms aren't very good.

    I shoot Canon, but you can see lens reviews at photozone.de.

    Nikon has at least one good budget zoom lens. I recommend something in the range of 17-55. Don't buy a kit lens.

    You have a very good camera. It would be too bad to put a bad lens on it.

    You didn't say what you are shooting. If you shoot portrait, the 80 - 200 might be a bit long. If you do landscape, you'll need a lens that goes more into the wider range.

    If push comes to shove, you can always sell all your lenses and get ONE REALLY GOOD ONE that exactly fits your needs.
     
  13. joepunk macrumors 68030

    joepunk

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    #13
    400 bucks could get you a nice Nikkor 28mm f/2 ai/ais manual focus lens :) I've got one and it is very nice.
     
  14. Abraxsis thread starter macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #14
    The Nikon 18-200 is an outstanding lens and is used and supported by many professionals.

    What i shoot is in my post and the 70-200 is a go to lens for the modern portraitist, the 80-200 is also a favorite for this as well. You can really fill up the frame.
     
  15. Abraxsis thread starter macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #15
    Just an Update.

    I went with the Nikon 80-200 f/2,8 and the Tokina 12-24 f/4 PRO, should be here day after tomorrow.
     
  16. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #16
    ^^^^ Good choices. I also got both of these when I upgraded my glass, and added a D300 body. Absolutely stellar lenses for the money. Watch for some flare in the Tokina with direct sun contacting the front element, but when you get to know the lens it's easily dealt with. The 80-200 is a classic...
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #17
    No, it's not an "outstanding lens." It's a very good lens for its extreme focal range. At 18mm, it's very sharp, but at the 200mm end the sharpness rolls off pretty quickly- and the 4.1% distortion at the 18mm end is very heavy- in fact it appears to be the distortion king of any rectilinear Nikkor lens.

    The MTFs are for DX- look at resolution out past about 7mm from center:

    http://imaging.nikon.com/products/i.../dx/af-s_dx_18-200mmf_35-56g_ed_vr2/index.htm

    Now, compare that to the 70-200mm at 200mm which is a flat line out past the edge of the DX frame:

    http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/lens/af/zoom/af-s_vr_zoom70-200mmf_28g_if/index.htm

    One of these two lenses is outstanding at 200mm, and it's not the first one.

    The newer 70-200 VR2 gives up some sharpness in exchange for vignetting control:

    http://imaging.nikon.com/products/imaging/lineup/lens/af/zoom/af-s_70-200mmf_28g_vr2/index.htm

    It's still sharper than the 18-200 out to the edge of the DX frame. Note that at 200mm, the 18-200 is stopped down to f/5.6- if you stop down pretty-much any of the constant aperture Nikkor zooms to f/5.6, they'll be sharper than the 18-200, their MTFs are for f/2.8

    If you look at a professional lens like the 70-200mm compared to the 18-200 consumer zoom, here's what you'll see in Photozone's resolution tests:

    18-200mm resolution @200mm:


    Aperture Center Border
    f/5.6 1945.5 1724.5
    f/8 2010 1730.5
    f/11 1880.5 1706

    70-200 (VR-I) resolution @200mm:

    f/2.8 3366 3194
    f/4.0 3815 3376
    f/5.6 3935 3284
    f/8 3775 3221
    f/11 3613 3102

    When you consider the DX vs FX differences, it's pretty clear that the 18-200 has a ways to go to be considered professional quality glass- in fact almost twice as far.

    Very few professional photographers shoot with variable aperture lenses mostly because they're too slow to shoot in most conditions, and they don't offer enough depth of field control under those conditions. A super-zoom like the 18-200 is a lens of convenience for travelers and those who don't want to change their lenses in a variety of shooting conditions- that's not normally a professional photographer trait.

    Paul
     
  18. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

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    #18
    I'd like to know which pros and I don't mean Jimmy I got a nice camera last month and I'm awesome pro. Real pros.

    If you think it's "outstanding" then really read below and then read why MTFs are important to understand.
     
  19. kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #19
    Can't argue with any of this. The 18-200 is a convenience lens. It isn't a good lens. All depends on what you consider acceptable for the use you intend to make of the image. It may work for you which is great. Relatively cheap, huge range, decent images. The alternatives may not be acceptable (regarding price, weight, number of lenses to lug around, etc.). If you are happy with the results from the 18-200 then don't let anyone talk you out of it. But better results could be had with other lenses (both primes and professional zooms). You get what you pay for. Don't fool yourself. It's always a tradeoff. Convenience vs quality. You are the only one that can decide if the money spent on "good glass" is worth it for you.

    To the OP: You made good choices. Both are good lenses. You will be happy with the results.
     
  20. Abraxsis thread starter macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #20

    Thanks for that in depth technical outpouring of technical like stuff.

    1st, I said it was an outstanding lens, not that it was pro level, or that it would be used on a Pro shoot. I said Pros endorsed it and used it. With that being said Joe McNally, Scott Kelby, David Hobby, Bill Fortney, Bob Krist and Chase Jarvis have all pitched the 18-200 as an outstanding lens for a "do-it-all" reasonably well lens. I believe Scott Kelby even made the decision to use that lens as his sole lens on a trip to Italy, a fact that was much discussed on various photo forums. He also routinely mentions it in his podcasts as a great lens. Chase Jarvis uses the 18-200 as a regular scouting lens.

    Yes, a lens can be outstanding in design and function across a given range and not be sheer perfection. Especially in a do-it-all lens. If I had to choose between a 80-200/70-200 f/2.8 and the 18-200, obviously I would pick the pro glass (which I did). If I had to pick between the 18-200 and kit lenses, then yes ... the 18-200 is an outstanding lens comparably.

    Further, there are probably quite a few people here who are stoked at having an 18-200, or stoked that they are saving for one. I know I was excited when I first got mine last year. Lets try to not completely demoralize them by telling them their 700-ish piece of glass just isn't going to cut it and they should sell it and buy a 2000 piece of glass.
     
  21. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

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    #21
    When I was shooting a crop-sensor camera (D70) I had the rev. 1 18-200. I thought overall it performed pretty well for what it is, and can't say I regret having bought it - I got a lot of good use out of the lens. It all comes down to having reasonable expectations. It's not a pro piece of glass by any stretch of the imagination; but I think it performs better than anyone could reasonably expect an 11x zoom lens to perform. :D

    I didn't like to use it below 24mm (plus I had the Tokina 12-24 anyway), and somewhere north of 100mm it got a touch soft for sure - but certainly still usable for vacation or whatnot, especially if the alternative was not getting a shot at all.

    Maybe I'm a bit jaded - I've seen a fair bit of razor-sharp and very boring vacation images lately taken by people who own pro glass. :p They're certainly sharper images than they'd have been with the 18-200, but pro glass doesn't come with a "suck the boring out of the frame" feature unfortunately. :cool:
     
  22. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #22
    If you're shooting stopped down (say f/8) and in the 24-70 range, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between the 18-200 and 24-70 f/2.8. It is a pretty solid performer under certain circumstances. Does it give optimum results anytime, anywhere like the pro lenses? Certainly not, but to pan the lens as a mediocre compromise is just as inaccurate as labeling it unequivocally "outstanding".

    Paul's MTF analysis, while excellent, also hints on the fact that reading MTF charts is not the end-all of measuring a lens' performance. I would take issue with the statement where the 70-200 VRII gives up sharpness in trade for vignetting control. Edge sharpness was one of the things that the VRII model was designed to fix, and I think it's pretty accepted that the VRII model is sharper into the corners than the original. For example, have a look at Thom Hogan's review, with sample shots.

    http://www.bythom.com/nikkor-70-200-VR-II-lens.htm

    Anyways, to get back on topic, I guess it's a little late but I was going to suggest the 10.5m fisheye. Might make for some fun shots especially of the artistic type which you say you like to shoot. :)

    Ruahrc
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #23
    When you use terms like "outstanding" without qualification, then it stands to reason that such exuberance should be offset with a does of reality.

    Let's also not try to set their expectations too high with hyperbole. FWIW, I never said anything for or against buying the 18-200, I just said it's not an "outstanding" lens in my book. I supported my statement with factual data.

    Nikon's sold as many as they could make for several years in a row, they hardly need cheerleading or hyperbole, the lens does quite well on its own merits, but it's hardly "outstanding" until you add a bunch of qualifiers like "for its range in a single lens," and "other than distortion at the wide end," and at this point probably "for its time" since it's out-performed by the Sigma 18-200 OS (with the loss of 1/3rd of a stop at the long end.)

    People considering the purchase might find folks who own both say that the ~$220 55-200VR easily beats the 18-200 through its range- does that make the 55-200 a "super outstanding lens?" Maybe you're advocating rating all lenses "outstanding" just in case we hurt anyone's feelings?

    Paul
     
  24. pdxflint macrumors 68020

    pdxflint

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    #24
    To the OP: If you're still looking for a lens to buy to add to your 12-24, 80-200 f/2.8 and 18-200 f/3.5-5.6, I'll make some suggestions...

    1) Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 micro AF-D (can be had used/mint for <$300.) This is a sharp, fast lens and will give you macro options as well as really decent portraiture if you choose.

    2) Nikkor 300 f/4 AF (original screw drive version, can be found for $400-550 used/excellent.) Outstanding optical performance, very durable. Probably the best long telephoto you can get for the money. Will AF with Kenko converters. Much more affordable than the later AF-S version, and while it is not as fast at autofocusing, it's every bit it's equal at image quality, right up there with the 300 f/2.8 (which will be 5-6 times the money for a 1 stop difference.)

    3) Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 (can be had used/excellent for $750-900) but it's a stretch on your budget (unless you sell your 18-200.) Going this route would give you the 12-24, 17-55, and 80-200--all very good lenses that perform extremely well wide open. The obvious 24-70 f/2.8 would probably be way out of your price range.

    Beyond these first suggestions, look at 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8 or for less money the 35mm f/1.8 AF-S. The 35 f/1.8 will give you a very light package for a "normal" walkaround lens.

    Eventually as you shoot more and more with the better glass you'll be leaving the 18-200 at home.
     
  25. Abraxsis thread starter macrumors 6502

    Abraxsis

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    #25
    Thanks for the advice. I am already in the process of selling the 18-200. Not that it was a bad lens (Ill avoid my flowery "outstanding" since it is apparently based purely on conjecture), but I can use the proceeds to further my lens collection. Until then, I decided, that for now, the 12-24, 50, and the 80-200 will serve about 85% of what I shoot on a daily basis.

    Your suggestion of the 60mm macro was actually a lens I have been considering. Although, there is no reason I can't sell the 18-200 and save up the rest for the 24-70, at which point I would be pretty much set for the range.
     

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