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Thank you all for very useful info! I appreciate it. I know the holy trinity would be the best choice, but that's both a bid above my budget, and too many lenses to carry around. I would like to have just one, or if really necessary two, lenses maximum.
The 16-85mm VR lens looks just like one I have been looking for. While looking at it, I stumbled upon the 16-35mm as well, which has this Nano Crystal Coat, that the 16-85 doesn't.
Does any of you know how much of a difference this Nano crystal coating actually makes?
I don't know much about the 16-85VR other then I have heard its a great lens but I do have the 70-300VR and its awesome. I think if you combine the two you have a great setup, maybe throw in the 35 F1.8 for low light conditions and you should be set.
I have no idea what advantage, if any, the nano coating gives you. I'm much more interested in the extra focal length between 35mm and 85mm. With a 16-35mm and a 70-300mm, you'd have a gap in a very useful focal range.
I upgraded from the kit 18-55 VR and 55-200 VR lens to the 16-85 VR and 70-300 VR 18 months ago. Both were significant upgrades. The 16-85 has better colors and contrast and the 70-300 focused faster and was sharper.
That said, I'm looking again to upgrade / augment my lens collection. I'm really feeling the ich for faster f2.8 glass. My next big purchase is hopefully going to be a used 70-200 VR1 or maybe the new Sigma.
We use also the 16-85 + 70-300mm set. It's a good "starter and travel light" kit. You don't spend too much money for sharp lenses (muchbetter compared to 18-200) and you con spike your equipment with the add. lens / range you will find out to need
Using prime lenses is a very different photographic experience that, for me, is captivating. So, I'm going to go completely against the grain of this thread by suggesting a 35/1.8 and an 85/1.8. They will cost less than an 18-200 zoom and their combined weight will be only 1/2 ounce more. The world of shooting at f/1.8 will offer opportunities that the limitations of some of the variable-aperture zooms suggested here can't touch.
Uncle Frank taught me years ago to ignore the notion of needing focal lengths that leave no gaps. Just the opposite, he suggested to base my kit using lenses in which the focal length of each lens is about twice the length of the the next longest length. Despite my skepticism, I rented some prime lenses for a weekend after having used zooms for more than 20 years and immediately learned that he was right. That was perhaps the best photographic advice I have been given in the last five years.
Just picked up a 70-300 at an almost new condition or $300 on craigslist to replace my plastic mount 55-200. I'm absolutely loving the sharp images and super fast focusing. Its a perfect match for the D7000 and I highly recommend it before stepping up to f/2.8 glass
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If I wanted a small kit, it would be the Nik. 12-24 (used $600), or the 16-85 + 70-300.
The 12-24 really is killer optic at and $600 used a very good deal.
My travel kit is the 12-24 and a 2.8 zoom. I'm thinking about adding a 70-300 to my kit for the weigh tfor travel as it is a very good lens. But there is just something about the 80-200 2r's images......