Nikon 18-200mm VR lens query

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Greenbrightly, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. Hi, I've been using a Nikon D40 for a while and have since bought a
    55-200mm VR lens. This seemed to be quite good value but I'm starting
    to think it might have been better to spend the extra and get the
    18-200mm VR lens. So I could effectively do away with the 18-55 kit
    lens and the 55-200. Is this something I should be thinking about? I
    don't have that much experience with DSLRs or lenses in particular, so
    I am not sure what people normally do. Is it better to have a lot of
    different lenses or try to whittle them down to a few 'all
    ecompassing' lenses for multi-purpose.

    Any advice would be great.


    Greenbrightly, Jan 23, 2008
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  2. Neil,

    I think that, had I been able to, I would have got the D40 and the
    18-200mm VR. That would have served me very well. As it is, I have the
    same combination as you, and have recently also bought the 70 - 300mm as
    my interests also lie at the telephoto end. In some respects, I could now
    sell on the 55-200 VR, and live with the gap between 55 and 70mm, but I
    think I'll hang onto it as spare.

    You undoubtedly do loose some pictures if you are changing lenses and, for
    my style of photography, the 18 - 200mm VR would have been ideal. Light
    and simple suits me best so the 18 - 55mm wins on weight and compact size,
    but the 18 - 200mm wins on simple!

    David J Taylor, Jan 23, 2008
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  3. Greenbrightly

    flambe Guest

    I have the Nikon 18-200VR.
    It is a very heavy lens that is optically no better than the Sigma 18-200
    non stabilized. I had both these lenses for awhile, I got the Nikon because
    I needed the VR, and in my many sided by side comparisons the Nikon did not
    win many if any and none at 18mm.
    If you are not squeamish about distortion at the wide end you could use an
    18-200 as an everyday all purpose lens as it is convenient to rely on one of
    these SUV sized lenses for their zoom range. The 18-200s are great for
    travelling/trekking. Mine have survived better than I did in a variety of
    locales. But you will be toting around a behemoth camera/lens combination-I
    believe the Nikon 18-200 is larger and heavier than the D40 camera body.
    I would not get rid of your 18-55 as it is a visibly better performer at the
    wide end of the zoom.
    Before you tithe Nikon for an expensive, tanklike lens with mediocre optical
    performance but excellent VR check out the Sigma 18-200 OS for a few hundred
    dollars less. I own and have used the Nikon extensively and I strongly
    recommend you check out the Sigma.
    flambe, Jan 23, 2008
  4. That totally depends on what _you_ want to do.
    - a single zoom with a large zoom range is typically more convenient. At the
    low bugdet end typically it is also cheaper than several individual lenses.
    - multiple lenses with shorter zoom ranges typically have better picture
    quality with less distortion, in particular at the short and long ends of
    their respective zoom areas.

    Designing a zoom lens is always a struggle for compromise and much more so
    when the zoom range is large like the 11x for the 18-200.

    Highest quality and fastest lenses you can typically still only find in
    lenses with fixed focal length.

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 23, 2008
  5. Greenbrightly

    Guest Guest

    it's not 'very heavy' and it's much better than sigma's 18-200. look
    at photozone's reviews, for instance.
    only slightly. the 18-200 is 560 grams and the d40 is 475 grams, and
    the d40 is wider than the lens is long (when retracted).
    the stabilization on the sigma is noticably worse than the nikon (it's
    even visible in the viewfinder) and the lens is slower at the long end
    (f/6.3) which can affect focus in non-ideal conditions. the price
    difference is small, now that the nikon version is not hard to find
    anymore. also, the sigma is even *heavier* than the supposedly 'very
    heavy' nikon lens (610 grams versus 560 grams) as well as slightly
    longer in length.
    Guest, Jan 23, 2008
  6. I went through the identical situation and decided to take the cheap way
    out. The 55-200 was only $200, and the two lenses may have better
    optics, although I really can't vouch for that.

    The 70-300 was interesting, but it left a gap. Apparently there is an
    18-70 that avoids that gap. Also, I figured if I ever really needed
    anything beyond 200, which is about the same as a 300 on a 35mm camera,
    I could always get a tele-converter. I've used them before, and while I
    don't much like them, they are useful in an emergency.

    Finally, if you decide to go with the 18-200, not only do you have to
    spend a lot of money, but you have to get rid of the 18-55 and the

    People say DSLRs are more prone to dust problems than SLRs, so you want
    to avoid changing lenses as much as possible. I think it might be
    better to just try to avoid dusty locations as much as possible or be
    prepared to have the right lens on your camera when you go in. So far I
    haven't had a problem, but maybe it is because I have been able to avoid
    changing lenses in dusty locations.
    Robert Peirce, Jan 23, 2008
  7. Greenbrightly

    Tony Polson Guest

    The best optical quality of all comes from fixed focal length lenses.
    The best pro zoom lenses come close to the performance of fixed focal
    length lenses, but they cost a lot of money.

    In the consumer price range, shorter zoom ratios tend to give better
    optical quality. Longer zoom ratios tend to give poor quality. The
    11X ratio of the 18-200mm is way past the point where you can expect
    decent optical quality.

    If you want to throw away the optical advantages of an DSLR over a
    point and shoot, go buy an 18-200mm lens. They are all optically very
    poor, so buy the cheapest 11X zoom that you can find. That way, you
    will waste the minimum amount of money.

    Sorry to be so terse, but after 10 years of reading people asking the
    same questions in online forums, there has been no improvement
    whatsoever in the optical qualities of 11X zoom lenses. So I get a
    little impatient with people who think that they are worth buying.

    Tony Polson, Jan 23, 2008
  8. Greenbrightly

    HankB Guest

    Hi Neil,
    One drawback to the 18-200 is that it blocks the built in flash at
    wider angles. You might wish to keep the 18-55 to cover that situation
    and perhaps be useful when weight is a concern.

    HankB, Jan 23, 2008
  9. Greenbrightly

    Jay Guest

    The 18-200 is a good lens. Excellent walk around lens.
    If you're sensitive about the 18 mm distortion it is easily fixed in most
    I've shot horse shows and jumps with it and it really keeps up with the auto
    focus very nicely.
    I can comfortably freeze a horse running or in the middle of a jump at
    1/500th or more, outside, no problem.
    Good VR that works.
    Do I wish it was 2.8? Sure but it isn't, and shooting horse shows with just
    one lens in places where there's lots of sand and mud flying around in the
    wind and never have to change a lens is a pure luxury.

    Who cares if the lens is bigger than the camera?
    Have you seen this lens: ?
    ? ? ?

    Now, is the 18-200 as good as the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G at 200?

    Hell No!

    You decide what is important to you.
    Perhaps buying the 18-200 will keep you going for a while, or at least until
    they make a camera that's bigger than the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G.

    Jay, Jan 23, 2008
  10. Depends on how much you hate changing lenses. I have all three of those and
    like them all. In my opinion while the 18-200 VR is a wonderful lens to
    have, it does not really replace the 18-55 kit lens and the 55-200 VR. The
    18-55 is delightfully compact, light weight, sharp and exceptionally close
    focusing. The 55-200 VR is also relatively compact and light (the 18-200 VR
    is substantially heavier), very sharp and takes the same filter size as the
    18-55 -- and filters in that 52mm size are much less expensive than the 72mm
    ones the 18-200 requires. I don't really find most filters as important with
    digital as they were with film, but I think a polarizer is a good thing to

    So whether or not you buy the 18-200 VR or whatever, I'd keep the 18-55 and
    55-200 VR if I were you. That's a very nice pair of lenses. And selling them
    would not bring you half the price of an 18-200 VR.

    Neil Harrington, Jan 23, 2008
  11. Thanks v much for the advice everyone, I wasn't expecting to get all
    this information it's great. It's good to know that people have been
    in the same situation as me. I guess I'm just getting started with
    DSLRs which is why I bought the D40, as the price appealed to me; I
    suppose that is a factor. I wanted something a bit longer so I went
    for the 55-200 VR, I do like the lens a great deal. So it looks like
    the best thing to do would be stick with what I have for the time
    being and I think that's good advice, certainly in terms of cost
    rather than nothing else, as the 18-200 lens is quite a bit more
    expensive. Maybe in a few years time if I think about getting a better
    Nikon like a D80 or something I could rethink the lens situation.

    I also recently bought a Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens, I paid around £60 for
    it which to me even though it wont auto-focus with the D40 was great
    value. I'm really enjoying using that prime lens as I like the bokeh
    type shots, even though focusing is something a bit of a hit-and-miss
    affair I love the wide aperture stuff too. So that is another lens to
    my arsenal if nothing else ;)
    Greenbrightly, Jan 23, 2008
  12. Greenbrightly

    Tony Polson Guest

    That lens has just about the worst, harshest bokeh of any Nikkor,
    indeed of any lens I have ever used in the last 35 years.

    You need to learn what "bokeh" actually means before you start
    sprinkling it in sentences like sugar on your corn flakes.
    Tony Polson, Jan 23, 2008
  13. Yes indeed, the 50/1.8 is a great little lens and a great bargain. If you
    find focusing uncertain with it, are you aware of the focus indicator in the
    lower left corner of the viewfinder? While of course not as convenient as
    autofocus, it does permit very accurate manual focusing.

    Just FYI, "prime lens" does not mean fixed focal length lens, even though
    lots of people here in the newsgroups misuse it that way and the misusage
    has even occasionally spread to the printed page. "Prime lens" really means
    the camera lens (whether fixed focal length or zoom, it's still the prime
    lens) as opposed to some other lens or optical device used with it, such as
    a closeup lens or tele converter.

    Granted, "fixed focal length" is an inconveniently long thing to write,
    which is why the nice, short but ignorant "prime" has become so popular. A
    useful abbreviation for the correct term is "FFL," and its use is to be
    strongly encouraged.

    If we got rid of smallpox and polio we ought to be able to end the misusage
    of "prime" as well. That's not happening yet, but hope springs eternal.

    Neil Harrington, Jan 24, 2008
  14. Greenbrightly

    acl Guest

    An easy precaution you can take is to use a blower brush, with the
    brush removed, to blow on the sensor every few weeks, or if a dust
    spot appears. Simple and quick, and I've been doing this for almost 2
    years with my d200 and have had no problems with dust (and I change
    lenses a couple of times a day at least). But it's not too dusty here.
    Humidity might also have an effect, I don't know.
    acl, Jan 24, 2008
  15. Greenbrightly

    Roy Smith Guest

    Designing anything from airplanes to laptop computers to desert toppings is
    a struggle for compromise. Make it better in one way, and it's got to
    become worse in some other way. Nothing magic about optical design which
    exempts it from that law.
    Roy Smith, Jan 24, 2008
  16. True. Maybe I should have been more specific: the larger the zoom range the
    more the designer has to compromise and accept weak performance in at least
    one area.

    Jürgen Exner, Jan 24, 2008
  17. I'll take it on board thanks.
    Greenbrightly, Jan 24, 2008
  18. Greenbrightly

    Sosumi Guest

    Getting a lens that outperforms your camera can be a good idea if you plan a
    better camera later. Don't get me wrong: I had the D40, D40x, D80 and now I
    have the D300, so I think I know (within reason ;-) what I'm talking about.
    The first thing I would do, is replace the D40 with the D40x. Going from 6
    to 10 MP is a big difference. I also found the D40x better with light
    metering, even better than the D80 (now comes the storm of objectors). In
    ergonomics the D80 would be a better choice for a man; a woman may prefer
    the lighter D40x.
    But if you want to start with a lens, forget about the hype of the 18-200
    VR: it's very over rated and not really as good as to be expected for the
    A much better lens is the 18-135. No VR but much better and sharper than the
    18-200. Matter of fact, SLRGear rates it 9.25 for image quality versus 8.19
    for the 18-200. It also scores better than the more expensive 18-70, adding
    almost twice the zoom.
    You save quite a lot of money, better lens and much less weight and volume
    (380 versus 560 grams!).
    After long searching and reading I got it myself for the D300 and I'm very

    Maybe you'll save up some money and get the 70-300 VR later. That one is on
    my wish list, next.
    Sosumi, Jan 24, 2008
  19. Greenbrightly

    Steve Guest

    Just about everyone who uses the 18-200 VR loves it. That should tell
    you something. That being said, I think you'll notice the weight
    difference between the 18-200 vs. either the 18-55 or 55-200 more with
    your D40 than with my D200, which is already a much heavier body. The
    18-200 weighs a tiny bit little more than both of those lenses
    together. But it sure is fast and convenient to be able to go through
    that zoom range without changing lenses.

    If the 18-135 had VR I might go with that if it were significantly
    cheaper then the 18-200 VR. That's because there isn't nearly as much
    difference in the field of view between 135 and 200 than say between
    55 and 135. But the 18-135 is only maybe $200 cheaper and it doesn't
    have VR, which you already know you really appreciate with a slow long

    But, the best person to answer your specific question is you. When
    you're taking pictures with your 18-55 and 55-200, how often do you
    feel the need to change lenses? And how much more convenient for
    *you* would it be if you could just twist the zoom ring vs. switch the
    lens? If the type of photography you do doesn't require much lens
    switching or there isn't much of a problem to change them, keep what
    you have. Otherwise, get the 18-200VR. You'll love it.

    Steve, Jan 25, 2008
  20. Greenbrightly

    Tony Polson Guest

    It should tell you that the world is full of undiscerning people who
    don't understand the meaning of "optical quality", and instead buy on
    the basis of laziness. The only reason to buy an 18-200mm lens is so
    that you won't ever take it off your camera. In which case why buy a
    DSLR at all? Why not buy a point and shoot camera or bridge camera
    with an >11X zoom?

    There is no such thing as a good 11X zoom lens, unless you go into the
    world of television and pay tens of thousands of dollars. Just as
    with 28-300mm lenses on 35mm film cameras, these consumer grade
    superzooms costing a few hundred dollars are all junk. Some are
    slightly less bad than others, but they are all optically poor.

    But that won't stop them selling in their millions, because there is
    no shortage of undiscerning people who have low expectations and will
    therefore not be disappointed.
    Tony Polson, Jan 25, 2008
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