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Newbie - Too many lens choices

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Jill L, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. Hi there everyone,

    First timer here... I am an amateur photographer who wants to move from a point and shoot to a SLR. I've decided to purchase the D80 body because I don't want to buy something and then want to upgrade in the near future. Where do I start with lenses?

    I am (was?) considering the 18-200 VR due to its versatility and the lack of having to change lenses. I've been researching and see that while many really like the lens, it does have its short-comings. Is this a good lens to start with?

    The other option I've been considering is starting with the 18 - 70 (3.5-4.5G) for now and adding the 55-200 VR or 70 - 300 VR in the future.

    I've been driving myself crazy trying to decide what to do here. Please help.

    P.S. Should I invest in a Speed-light right away or can that wait?

    Thanks in advance for any and all advice!
  2. Welcome! Now, some people would have opinions on the 18-200VR, and since I do not have it, I will let them chime in. BUT, I do have the 70-300VR and highly recommend that for sure!!!! I also have the 18-70, which I got with my D70 and can recommend that too.

  3. Ask yourself two questions:
    1. What did I use my P&S for mostly? Find a DSLR lens that will allow you to continue to do the kind of photography you were doing.
    2. What did I find limiting about my P&S? In other words, what new, cool stuff do you want to be able to do with your new toy? Choose a lens that satisfies that desire.

    If there is one lens that hits the sweet spot for 1 AND 2, say hallelujah, buy the sucker and get going.

    The more likely scenario is that you will need at least two to hit both 1 and 2. If money is tight and you can't swing two new lenses plus the D80, pick 1 or 2 and go have fun.

    I started with a D200 and an 18-200 (mostly because the 18-200 was a bit cheaper in a "kit" with the D200). Used it for a month or so and got the itch for a wide angle (I like landscapes) and got a Nikon 12-24. It has been all downhill from there, at least as far as my bank account goes.

    You really can't go wrong with the 18-200 as a starter. It covers such a wide range of focal lengths and will let you experiment so widely that you will soon figure out which more specialized lenses are for you.

    Welcome to the Cafe and the wonderful world of hopeless photo addicts.
  4. Keep the responses coming! Appreciate all!

    Thanks Doug... what do I like to photograph? Depends on my mood and where I am. All of the following:

    - Landscapes
    - Architecture
    - Wildlife / My Dog
    - Family

    This probably explains my dilemma a little better.

    I just don't want to be overwhelmed with a lens that does too much at first. It will be a big learning curve for me as I never owned a film SLR, I plan to take a course in the Fall.

  5. cali-kid


    May 26, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    I have the 18-200 vr. It's a great lens. It's and all around light weight one lens solution. Just starting out as I did, I think you will not go wrong wth the lens.
    Later you will get bit by the "Lens Lust" bug and you will want to ugrade lenses at some point. It's a natural progression. Get the lens and start shooting. It's all about living and learning......:smile:

  6. Ahhhh.....
    Welcome to the slippery slope!

    We all are more than happy to help you spend your money.

    So much comes down to budget.

    The 18-200 is such a great range.

    As to the speedlight....maybe. Consider first a 50mm 1.8 first and work on composition and steady holds.
    I tend to hate flash, using it mostly for outdoor fill where it excels.

    good luck..you'll find plenty of free advice.....that is if you consider our propensity to talk up the joys of $1000+ lenses to be "free". Hah!

    Today a 18-200.....tomorrow a 17-35!
  7. I don't think there is such a thing as a lens that does too much.

    I would seriously start with probably the 18-135/18-55/18-70 and the SB-400 or SB-600. Work with that and see how it goes from there. If you find you need more range, the 55-200VR or 70-300VR are very good options, though there is a decent cost difference between them.

    The flash will really help indoors. A lens with a wide aperture is great for indoor/low light use but can be extremely frustrating at first to get used to since the amount of subject in focus at wide aperture can be very slim and it is easy to miss focus.

    Welcome to another fellow Canadian! I have loved every newfoundlander I have met. Mostly from St John's to Grand Falls Windsor.
  8. DBrim


    May 30, 2007
    Boston, MA
    For landscapes and architecture you might want to look into getting a 12-24 (Tokina makes a good one for $470). My suggestion is to get the 18-70 and <second lens choice> unless you do a lot of travelling, in which case get the 18-200. See where your limitations are after that, and if you find that you're wanting to zoom out further, by all means get the 12-24.
  9. TimK


    Apr 17, 2006
    Hong Kong, China
    The 18-200 is a good lens. It is the walk around lens for a lot of people that I know. If you are limited to one lens by all means get this one.

    On the other hand, it has its limitations.

    Sometimes it is not wide enough for landscapes - it would be OK if you are willing to post process using something like Autostitch to joint several frames together.

    The barrel distortion at the wide side makes it not that suitable for architecture at close distance - you can, of course, correct that to a certain extend using post processing.

    While its range is good for pets and family, its max. aperture at 4/5.6 could be a bit slow except under sunlight. Especially if you get a very active dog and/or baby.

    The long end, 20mm, is a bit short for wildlife, esp for birds. As we all know, the perfect focal length for birds is 200mm longer than the longest one you get in your bag! (Seriously, you need around 400mm for birds)

    Having said that I still think the 18-200 would be a good lens to start with. You can use it for a few months and if you think you need something wider then get a 12-24. If you really want something longer then maybe get a 80-400. n any case, the 18-200 is in great demand and you can sell it easily if you want.

    I also think that you can pass the SB-800 now, but get a 50mm f1.8 instead. It would be a good, low cost lens for indoor or low light conditions.
  10. As a starter lens, the 18-200 will fit much of your desire. I have similar desires in what I like to shoot (landscapes/cities while travelling, but otherwise a lot of dog/daughter/birds and hopefully soon, sports!).

    The 12-24 is indispensible when travelling to cities, in my opinion. That extra 6mm (from 18 down to 12) really does make a big difference. However, if this is not one of your more major categories, hold off for a bit, and then consider the Tokina when you're ready.

    A GREAT lens to consider for family/dog work is the 35mm f/2. You can often pick up a good used one for $300-350. A fantastic place to buy used equipment is KEH. There are tons of people here who will vouch for them, and the quality of what they sell (including myself).

    Unless you're doing a ton of indoor family shots, I'd hold off on the flash. Most of the rest of what you list will not require flash often. Spend some time with the SLR learning curve, get a feel for what you really enjoy shooting, and then re-evaluate your needs. :smile:
  11. SP77


    Jun 4, 2007
    Rockville, MD
    I'd just start simple with the 18-55 kit lens, which is a fine little lens. From there learn the ins and outs of the lens and SLR cameras, develop a shooting style, see what you like and don't like, and then you can go from there as far as spending more money on better or more specialized lenses. The 18-200VR is nice, but compromising in a lot of ways. No sense spending that much money on a lens if you're not sure about it. I'd also consider the 18-70 lens, where the extra reach might come in handy for your dog. It's also a much nicer lens than the 18-55 is, and only US$100 more if purchased along with a camera.

    Since my 18-55, I bought a 55-200 non-VR for dirt cheap at US$169 just to see if I'd like a 200mm reach or if I'd want a bit more, and then I also got a 50mm f/1.8 prime for US$100 to see how I'd like a large aperture lens, all of this just to learn and play with. I loved the large aperture lens so much that I spent US$300 on the 35mm f/2.0D which is a bit more useful focal length and I've taken thousands of shots with that lens now. It's my favorite. I've also found that the majority of my shots with my 18-55 kit lens while on vacation are with the lens backed out against the 18mm stop and wanting to go wider, so my next purchase will probably be a wide angle lens (12-24mm). I don't shoot longer focals lengths much yet, so I'll hold off on getting a more expensive pro quality longer lens (like an 80-200 f/2.8) for another few years probably.

    IMO, there's no sense paying the huge premium on an 18-200VR only to find that 200mm wasn't long enough anyways, 18mm wasn't wide enough, it's too heavy, you don't like the bokeh for portraits, the falloff, etc. The general rule with "do everything" types of designs no matter what you're talking about (lenses, cars, etc) is that they're a "jack of all trades, but a master of none"
  12. Gandalf


    Nov 15, 2006

    I got the 18-200 and 12-24 fairly early when I became re-interested in photography (after around 30 years). I really like both lenses for reasons that other members have mentioned. I think I would have been frustrated without them, or at least I wouldn't have experimented and learned as much without them. They're not perfect, but they're very versatile. The members' shots using these lenses that have been posted on this forum have usually been very impressive.
  13. billg71


    May 4, 2007
    Atlanta, GA
    If you check around, I think you can get the 18-70DX and the 70-300VR for about $80.00 more than an 18-200VR. While you give up the convenience of the "one size fits all" 18-200 I think you'd be happier with the quality of the two. When you design an 11x zoom for the price point of the 18-200 there are bound to be compromises. And you get another 100mm of reach with the 70-300VR which can come in handy shooting wildlife.

    I keep both these lenses in a Pelican case for my "boat kit". They produce very good results, not as good as the 17-35/28-70/80-200 combo but I'd much rather see the 18-70/70-300 float off down the river than the Magic Trio....

    Anyway, just thought I'd offer my $.02/worth. Whichever you end up with you won't be disappointed.

    Best of luck,

  14. Jill I think with your priorities (are they in a particular order?) the 18-200 will do a good job. With family photos though, I don't think you'll like the 18-200 unless you are already in good light, or you have a flash.

    Now completely off topic do you have any photos of your area, and is it too cold to visit in October?
  15. tasnim_fahim


    Oct 2, 2006
    Don't fall for the hype...Nikkor 50/1.4


    welcome to Nikoncafe and the right forum to cause you confusion!!

    My suggestion is simple:

    get yourself a 50/1.4 ( or 50/1.8 ) now. It can do:

    -Landscapes ( There might be better lenses out there but not at 50mm)
    -Architecture (There might be better lenses out there but not at 50mm)
    -Portraits/Family ( There might be better lenses out there but not at 50mm)
    - Dogs..yes, Wildlife ( behind bars..yes..in the zoo )..yes.

    This is a fast lens..FAST. It is the sharpest AF-D lens bar none. Did I say
    it is a low-light lens? try moving subjects with a slow VR.

    Did I mention it was a relatively inexpensive lens?
    Did I mention it has contrast, sharpness,color rendition, DOF control equal to the best there is?
    Did I mention it weighs less than all zooms and most primes?

    This is one the best Nikkors made..no question.

    Above all you will one day need a fast,sharp prime when light levels fall
    and you need a one lens solution. You can retain this one.

    Most importantly, by using it now, you will know what you FLs you are missing
    and why. In the process you will come to know a lot about photography
    and very likely become a much better photog than most of us.

    I wish you well in your decisions and may you see the light, however
    low it might seem.

  16. We all have our favorites and some times we need different a lens for different shots. The 18-200mm is an acceptable lens, but as you said it has its short comings. If you are looking to spend money, I recommend the follwoing: 10-20mm f?. 28-70mm f2.8 (my personal favorite) and 70-200 f2.8 G-VR. My general purpose lins is the 24-85mm G.
  17. kwork


    Jun 8, 2006
    The 50mm f/1.8 is an excellent starter lens, as is the 18-55 or 18-70.
    One thing I discovered when I rented the 18-200 (renting is a nice option to see if you like/need a particular lens) was that when I tried to use it indoors, it was terrible with the pop-up flash. If you get it (color, contrast, sharpness are superb outdoors) I would definitely recommend a flash upgrade.
  18. I guess I can add my 2cents:rolleyes: . I was in your shoes about 6 months back. I found this place and asked a bunch of questions about DLSR's and lenses. I decided to go with a used D70, and save my $$ for the glass. It is a different approach to yours, but it did allow me to get the D70 with a 18 month warranty (used from a shop), a 18-55 and all the goodies to get me going. I have since aquired a 50mm f/1.8 and have a SB-600 flash that will be here any day now, and my total investment is about $700 Can!:eek: , much less than a new D80 body, and I could probably sell it all for about what i have into it if a have to. If I want to upgrade the body in the future, I will likely keep the D70 as a backup, or as a vacation camera.

    Oh, I picked up the 50/1.8 so that I could play with and better understand DOF, well worth the $100 it cost me.

    Good luck with your decision.
  19. First, get a 50 1.8 or 1.4. Either is a give away. Sharpness and Contrast and Low light capability. Best bang for the buck. After that, you will fall in love with good glass, and your bank account will never be the same.

  20. Welcome Jill,

    The d80 is a great choice! It's a truly full featured camera, that you can grow into. It will do just about everything the d200 will. Lens choice? Hard to see how you could do better than the 18-200 VR. Plenty of range and pretty good IQ given the huge range available. You will eventually want faster glass, and better IQ, but you will learn lots with this combo. You might consider one of the 50mm's, or my favorite, the 35mm f2, for more speed, and very good quality at reasonably low cost. BTW, you can expect to recoup most of the cost of the VR lens when you decide to trade up. A bonus.

    My bride is currently shooting and learning with her Christmas D80 and my 18-200. I'll never get it back, I suppose. Thats OK.

    But beware, you're on a slippey slope. Fun, but very slippery.


    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 14, 2007
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