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Photography Question 
Andrea R. Siebert
 

18-200mm nikon lens


i am looking to upgrade my lens. i've noticed that my lens' aren't as crystal clear as they could be. i've been looking at the Nikon 18-200mm VR but its so expensive! if you have any suggestions on lens' that work just as well for a lower cost, that would be most helpful. I want to do some research before I buy. thanks!


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7/2/2008 9:46:13 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Andrea,

Lenses are not magical..MTF is meaningless to most photogs. The proof as they say is in the pudding.

Look around at some galleries shot with a wide array of lenses...some photos look great shot with this or that lens...some look lousy; shot with the same lens.
Often times it is not the lens that we should blame.

That being said, the 18-200 you mention is NOT an expensive lens when you look at the array of lenses offered.

I'd love to own a Ferrari F-50. Guess what? I do not. Why? Wayyyy too expensive. Am I disappointed in what I do drive? By no means.

Now; I do have a pretty nice sports car.
Guess what tires I put on it? The most I could afford..and they were expensive. In comparison to what the car cost, it was a wise decision.

I could have purchased cheap tires, but then what was the point of buying a great handling car if I install crappy tires on it?

Andrea, please accept this in the spirit intended.

I see this all the time in the forums; complaints about "how poor my photos are..soft etc..."

Probably the number ONE culprit of poor (out of the camera) images is the lens.
Number two would be lack of skills in post processing.

There is no magical formula to what price should be paid for a good lens.
A old adage rings true here; "Good lenses are NOT cheap, cheap lenses are not good."

The definition of expensive is relative.
The definition of what is good enough for me may NOT be good enough for another..and vise versa.

You will hear opinions after opinions how "great" my lens is. What this usually means is they have bought a lens, perhaps paid 500 or more for it; and are just too proud to admit it really is a piece of crap. Next year, they buy another; extolling it's virtues of greatness, while the lens of last year collects dust.

Finally, it must be the camera's fault. LOL So off they go to buy the next "I-Can-Do-It-All-omatic"
I call these type of individuals equipment junkies.

I've said this many times; Tiger Woods on his worst day could beat my butt using K-mart golf clubs.

Read the lens reviews..Look at photos taken with certain lenses.

More to your question. I personally have been shooting with the Nikkor 18-200 VR for over a year. No; it is not my only lens; but it is used often and for paid work. I think it was $750 when I bought it; to me it was a bargain!
Is it the best lens I've ever used? Hardly!

Here is what I consider a wonderful web site to begin your research.

http://www.nikonians.org/

They have actual user reviews from amateur to pro.

Final advice?
Save your nickels. The time spent saving and buying a good lens will be far less than the time spent with disappointing images.


all the best,

Pete


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7/2/2008 8:44:25 PM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   wow Pete! thanks for all of the info and for taking time to answer my question. can I ask what your favorite lens is?
i definatly agree that just because the price is expensive, doesn't mean it will do all I need it to do! one thing I liked about the 28-200VR is the VR function. i'm not a fan of the tripod.
my main function I want in a lens is great clarity. my pictures are never out of focus and blurry-i just notice they could be better and crisper.
i want a lens that is versitle for many uses. I don't want to have to buy 3 lens'! I want to be able to use it for my clients, for general snapshots,and for distance/action shots.
i will check out the site you mentioned. if you have any other tidbits of info, please send them my way!!
thanks again
andrea


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7/2/2008 9:01:16 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  "can I ask what your favorite lens is?"

What a great question; one that might receive many responses from many people for many different reasons.

My favorite lens for ME is the Nikkor 50mm prime. It is not the lens I use most often; yet it is my favorite.

A few reasons why for me:

1) It's such a small unassuming lens; yet produces super sharp images with awesome color and tonal rendition. Great contrast too.

2) It forces me to THINK about every shot. With it's inability to zoom, I find myself looking at the scene longer; scrutinizing every tid bit of light, every shadow, every possible angle. This lens stimulates my creative side.

3) The lens is more capable than I, but I love the challenge of trying to keep up with what it wants to inhale.

4) It weighs less than all my other lenses. LOL


all the best,

Pete


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7/2/2008 9:13:44 PM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   well, I have been looking at the 50mm too, the only thing for me, is that I want a lens I can use for everything-not just portraits. I want the option of manual and auto also. with the 50mm, that also limits the distance between my subject and I-what if i'm further away and need to get in closer on the subject? of course, I also want clarity too! so many decisions, which is making me think I need to buy more than one lens! one thing I like about the 18-200 is the VR-does that work really well on that camera?
sorry so many questions, but you have been most helpful (the most helpful i've come across so far...).
Andrea


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7/3/2008 7:58:57 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Andrea,

I fully understand your quandry.

If you notice I answered your question on what is MY fav lens. LOL..I did not say it was the lens I use most often. :)

"which is making me think I need to buy more than one lens"

Yep..sooner or later for most photogs, one lens is never enough, because we know one lens can't do it all.

You will not be disappointed with the Nikkor 18-200 VR.

Pete


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7/3/2008 8:09:38 AM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   do no discouragment on me buying the 18-200? and yes, I know i'll have to find my own favorite, but until then i'll have to hunt around I guess!
also, would you say the clarity of the 50mm is MUCH MUCH better than the VR or are they pretty close?


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7/3/2008 8:28:30 AM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   what is your opinion on the 18-135 nikon lens? I havn't read very many 'great' reviews on it-just wondering what your opinion is.


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7/3/2008 9:15:53 AM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Andrea,

I still highly recommend you look at the nikonian web page I mentioned. That way you will have many more opinions and not just mine. Besides, I am somewhat biased with Nikon..That does NOT mean Nikon is any better or worse than Canon.

Yes, the 50mm Nikon prime lens is far sharper than the 18-200, but then again, it is not being asked to do as much work...it has only one job in life; shoot at 50mm.

Pete


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7/3/2008 7:42:32 PM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   oh...no, you are not the only opinion I have gotten-one of many! I just like to ask questions =)
thanks again! I won't bug you anymore =)


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7/3/2008 8:11:05 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  If I may supplement Pete's excellent responses here:

Aside from looking at purchasing new glass, look at your shooting technique, including camera speed, f-stop you're working at, ISO, what you're shooting, and it might not hurt to make sure you're seeing properly.

Camera shake can occur at any speed, but it gets worse with larger, somewhat heavier lenses at slower speeds working at wider f-stops. I shoot a lot of 35mm work both with very old Nikon F2A's and Leica M-6s. My personal favorite lenses are 21 or 24mm, followed by the 35's and for portraits, a tack sharp Nikkor 105mm and an 85mm f 1.4.

I don't like zooms because I don't think they're nearly as sharp as fixed focus lenses, especially in edge/corner sharpness at higher magnification, over say 8x10. But that's my own preference.

And if I'm using anything more than 135mm, I usually use some kind of camera support like a monopod, tripod, or the head of the guy standing in front of me. I like the 50mm too, but shoot a lot more with the 35 or 28 because I need the wider framing and greater depth of field.
Take it light ;>)
Mark


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7/3/2008 11:17:07 PM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   thanks for that info.
can I bug you with another question. I am planning to purchase the 50mm 1.4 lens in the near future, but just ran across while researching that you can get that lenas in AF. is there a big difference between the two (in your opinion) because one if AF and one is not? does the AF 50mm work manually as well? I just don't want to buy a lens and then not be happy with it.

thanks!
Andrea


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7/4/2008 2:14:54 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Andrea, other than the cost, both perform the same.

VR is nice as you can hand hold at slower speeds.
The 50mm is a great lens.

Pete


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7/4/2008 6:25:03 PM

 
W.   
Zoom lenses are very convenient. That convenience comes at a considerable price, though. The price you pay is optical image quality.

Andrea, you want the convenience of a zoom lens and the clarity/sharpness of a prime lens. That, however, is impossible: you can't both have your cake and eat it...

Life is full of choices. This is one of them.


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7/5/2008 10:12:49 AM

 
David Van Camp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/27/2008
  As already said... if you want best possible sharpness, a prime is the way to go.

However, I bought the 18-200VR and love it... but I do get disappointed with it on occasion. The VR is great but it's easy to get lazy, resulting in blurry shots. The zoom range is wonderful, but you do get some bowing @ 18mm and vingetting @ 200mm. Like all zooms sharpness is best @ mid zoom / apperature values.

Another advantage: no need to change lenses, so less fear of dust on the sensor :)

Tameron has a couple of competitors I looked at (at the time... they might have new offerings...) but neither had VR & according two in-depth reviews I read, the Nikon performs better in most areas. So I paid the extra cash for the Nikon :)

If interested, you can see the results I've been getting on my gallery.

Good luck & have fun!
dvc


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7/6/2008 10:44:47 AM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   David-
what do you mean by 'bowing'? just curious =)

Andrea


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7/6/2008 12:13:34 PM

 
Pete H
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/9/2005
  Andrea,

David is referring to "barrel distortion" effect. It is a distortion seen with wide angle photography. Horizontal and vertical lines appear to "bend".
Vertical lines curve outward, especially at the edge of the frame, and horizontal lines "bend" either upward or downward depending if they are located above or below the centerline of the frame. It tends to get worse the further the lines are from image center.

Good wide angle PRIME lenses eliminate almost all of this, but at the expense of price..VERY expensive.

Barrel distortion and pincushion (the opposite in telephoto) can be corrected with photoshop; although the distortion produced by the 18-200 at wide angle is somewhat complex; though not so bad as to ruin a image. It's known as a "Distortion Signature" and all lenses are a bit different in this signature.


Pete


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7/6/2008 9:19:26 PM

 
David Van Camp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 1/27/2008
  Yes, Pete is correct.

Barrel distortion is pretty easy to correct in software.

Vingetting is a bit harder, which I sometimes find problematic in long zoom shots (200mm)... however, one can just zoom back a bit, then crop in, eliminating the problem. The other choice is to select an oval in the center of the image with a large feather value, invert the selection and apply a levels and/or brightness/contrast layer, but this can be tricky to get right.

dvc


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7/6/2008 9:37:52 PM

 
Christie R. Bielss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/23/2007
  Hi Andrea. My two cents worth - although these guys know waaayyyy more than me. I have the 18-135mm and the 70-300mm VR Nikkor lenses. You had asked about the 18-135mm - to me it is a decent quality stock lens. It has some good clarity to it - but not like the photos shot with the 50mm, 60mm or 105mm lenses. My 70-300mm VR I like - but it's not something I walk around with on my camera all the time. It's heavy. Also, both lenses at their max/min have a tendency toward the problems David/Pete talked about. The VR is nice (especially with my sometimes shaky hands), but it is slower when shooting multiple shots (burst) - and can be a hair bit frustrating due to that. Just my opinion, for what it's worth.
Christie


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7/7/2008 8:17:12 AM

 
Andrea R. Siebert   thanks Christie! finally a response that I actually understand =)i have just bid and bought a 50mm 1.8 AF on ebay for $74. was that a good buy?


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7/7/2008 12:37:13 PM

 
Christie R. Bielss
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/23/2007
  A new one at BH Photo Video would run you about $104-110 - so it sounds like you got a good deal.


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7/7/2008 12:46:32 PM

 
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