Nikon Lenses - how to tell (other than price) if it's metal, weather sealed, etc.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by law guy, Sep 3, 2007.

  1. law guy macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #1
    All right, so the D300 has me thinking of moving over from my Canon 30D (that intro is bound to derail this but I thought a little context was appropriate). One of the many great things about Canon is that they have a very simple to understand way of demarking their lenses - L means it's metal and weather sealed. Some L's are expensive and others can be had for a little over $500 like the non-IS 70-200 f4L.

    Nikon on the other hand appears to give folks all sorts of information in the lens titles (type of glass, that aperture is controled in camera only, etc.) but I've never picked up on any sort of clue in the lens names that helps one identify right off if it's a metal lens or weather sealed. It also appears that only some Nikon lens in the metal professional group are sealed and others are not? I'm just going by Nikon descriptions. For example, the 50 1.4 is metal (I believe) but is it dust/moisture resistant? So, I'm wondering if there's anything in the Nikon lens names that tells you about its construction quality or sealing?

    Clix, Chip? Anyone. Thanks.

    Okay - also I was thinking of a 50 1.4, a 20 2.8 (sooner) and an 85 1.4 (later). I've heard good things about the 18-200 DX as a do-it-all wonder - but Rockwell knocked the bokeh - which wouldn't be a shocker. Is he right on?

    Thanks -
    LG
     
  2. jlcharles macrumors 6502

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    #2
    Not all L lenses are weather sealed. My 70-200 f/2.8 non IS is not. The IS version is. The 70-200 you mentioned is also not weather sealed.
     
  3. sjl macrumors 6502

    sjl

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    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    #3
    You misunderstand the meaning of "L" series. If a lens is weathersealed, it's L series (the sole exception is the 400mm f/4 DO, which is certainly priced like an L series lens ...) But the converse is not necessarily true. I have the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L IS, and it isn't weather sealed, for example; nor are the non-IS 70-200mm lenses, for another. If you want to know whether a particular lens in the Canon lineup is weather sealed, you have to look at its specifications - Canon don't hide this information, but they don't make it readily obvious at first glance, either.

    The other point: weather sealing doesn't mean anything worthwhile unless the camera body is also weather sealed. That means a 1 series body (in the Canon context), which most people wouldn't be prepared to purchase. I could see myself possibly getting a 1D mark III, but the 1Ds mk III is too expensive, and way more camera than I need or want.

    But apart from that nitpick, I'd very much like to know the answer to your question myself ...
     
  4. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #4
    First of all, the D200 and D300 have weather seals, so it makes sense to buy lenses which have weather seals, too.
    Then, not all L lenses have weather seals as was mentioned before. Weather seals are usually only included in the best of the best lenses that can be expected to be used outdoors. The top-of-the-line 70-200 zooms have them, the cheaper versions do not (and both, Nikon and Canon are selling cheaper versions of their 2.8/70-200 zooms). This makes sense as weather sealing is expensive and not everybody really needs them. A good, durable lens doesn't have to have weather seals.

    I've been taking pictures with plastic/metal and full-metal lenses in slight rain and it was fine. Right now, it's raining pretty hard outside of my window and I wouldn't take out my D80 to take pretty pictures.

    So the essential question is: do you really need weather seals? From your description, the answer seems to be no, as neither your current camera nor the lenses you have mentioned have weather seals. I wouldn't worry about it unless you really plan to take pictures outside in the rain.
     
  5. law guy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #5
    It is interesting that not all L's are weather sealed - SJL's got the essential statement down: all weather sealed Canon's are L's but not all L's are weather sealed. I've only really looked at my own lens specs and assumed they applied, but it appears that Canon is sealing IS versions, if I can try and pin down a trend from the Canon lens site.

    Well, no direct answer but I'll take that to mean that there is no hints in the Nikon naming system.

    Take heart SJL, there is some value to a sealed lens and "open" body. I've taken some comfort in having my 30D protected while my 24-105 f4 L was more exposed in weather. Limited comfort, but a bit!

    Oreo, you assume a lot. I've been shooting now for 20-some years with all sorts of lenses, but the spirit of your advice is appreciated. Get within a 100 yds of a beach or a dusty location and I find you start to wish everything was sealed.
     
  6. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #6
    So do I ;)
    You haven't mentioned which lenses in particular you own. I wasn't really sure what kind of shooter you are. In my experience (as an ambitious amateur), I could do without weather seals. I'm not sure whether even my `big gun' (older 2.8/80-200 zoom) has them. So far, I've shot pictures at the beach, in the sandy desert of Nevada or Spain, in rain, etc. The worst that has happened was condensation on the outer lenses and the eyepiece of the viewfinder -- which is nothing weather seals can prevent either. I thought that you were more or less someone like myself.
    It gives you an extra degree of safety, that's right, a `nice to have' feature. But I don't think it's an absolute necessity for people like us.

    BTW, congrats on your soon-to-be new camera!
     
  7. Grimace macrumors 68040

    Grimace

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    #7
  8. law guy thread starter macrumors 6502a

    law guy

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    #8
    Grimace - thanks that thread was informative and fun to read. The comment about the classless society of Nikon lenses seemed a great metaphor. But now I crave a hamburger.
     
  9. dogbait macrumors regular

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    Feb 4, 2005
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    London, England
    #9
    AFAIK, none of the current Nikon lenses is 'weather sealed' in the way that Canon's lenses are. Canon guarantee certain lenses to be sealed from the elements (such as light rain) whereas Nikon make no such guarantee that I've ever seen either in their product literature or their website.

    Nikon do however seal the lens mount on some of their lenses, but they do not claim that this gives the lens any special capability. Also, there is no real price qualification for weather sealing in Nikon's range of lenses. For example, the 18-70mm AF-S lens has a weather seal (and that's a $250 lens).

    IThe five new Nikon lenses just announced also all have weather seals, so it's certainly the start of a trend for Nikon.
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    Of course some of Nikon's lenses have weather seals. Of course they work in light rain or what do you think `rubber seals' are for? All major manufacturers (Nikon, Canon and Olympus, for instance) know how to seal their lenses and bodies. Not all lenses and bodies have weather seals, but those which do, are protected. I don't think entering a debate which company has better weather sealing is very fruitful since I'm not aware of any tests (other than anecdotal evidence).
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Oct 5, 2006
    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    Even with a D2x and 400/2.8 a rain cover is the cheapest form of insurance you can get. I really like the FotoSharp ones for price.

    http://abetterphotoguide.bizhosting.com/index.html

    I was using the white ones originally, but these days I use the digital camo ones, and in a refreshing bout of trust, they'll send you the product and bill you later- so you can try them out for up to 10 days before you pay.

    They're easy to crumple up and put in a pocket or your camera bag, and the range of sizes makes it easy to pick up two or three for various configurations.
     
  12. dogbait macrumors regular

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    #12
    I'm not trying to get into a debate OreoCookie, I've already researched this in some depth and spoken with both Nikon and Canon USA about this. Canon officially state that some of their lenses are 'weather sealed to protect against dust and moisture'.

    Whilst Nikon state the same about some of their camera bodies, nowhere do they mention this about their lenses - even those with 'rubber seals'. It's a puzzling omission but I think Nikon's silence on this issue speaks clearly enough.

    And compuwar is right, rain kills cameras, be they Canon or Nikon - safety first, rain covers are cheap insurance.
     
  13. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #13
    I just chanced across this old thread, and since I'd been recently drooling over the new Nikon cameras and lenses...

    If you go to Nikon USA's website, the specs for every one of their new lenses includes the statement "professional-grade dust and moisture resistance". So apparently they've decided to be silent no more. :D

    But man, with all the letters and such Nikon puts in their lens names, you'd think they had doctoral degrees or something.
     
  14. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

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    #14
    LOL!!!! For the money some photographers have invested in their gear you could send a kid to college!!! (Well, maybe for one year, anyway...)
     

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