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I have two lens currently for my camera. An AF-S DX VR NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G (kit lens) and a AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED lens. I have found that there are cases when the 18-55mm is too short and the 55-200 is too long. I have looked at a 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II Nikkor Telephoto Zoom Lens but I cannot currently afford to pay 1300 (USD) right now. I have also looked at cheaper options like a Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 for $300 but then I get concerned about the quality. (Note: I am not printing my photos)

So my questions are this: First are lenses like the Tamron really worth anything? And if I was to purchase a lens with the range of 18-200mm why/when would I use the other lenses? Or does it come down to I should learn to switch my lens faster?

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possible duplicate of Why choose an 80-200mm over an 18-200mm lens? –  mattdm May 7 '12 at 10:21
    
That lens is $847 brand new on B&H. Although I would reconsider getting an all-in-one as you might end up with an optically inferior results. –  Jakub May 7 '12 at 14:17
    
I have a friend who was advised to buy an 18-200 instead of two separate lenses to avoid the chance of getting dust inside the system. The advice was from a professional photographer, and surprised me a bit; while I'm certainly not a professional, I go through phases of changing lenses several times a day, and I don't think I've been harmed by it. Opinions? –  khedron May 12 '12 at 13:14
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Remember, "professional" doesn't mean "best of everything". It means "trying to make a living from this", which often means taking a practical approach, which may be very different from what's best for 1) an enthusiast, 2) an artist, or 3) a professional working in a different space — let alone different from what's best for the casual vacation photographer. –  mattdm May 12 '12 at 16:33
    
@mattdm - Great Observation! –  Lynda May 12 '12 at 16:43

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It sounds like you don't like having to switch between two lenses, so you believe having a single lens would be a better solution, right?

I would encourage you to keep working with the two lenses you have. With more experience you'll have an easier time switching lenses quickly, and you'll have an easier time recognizing which lens will be most useful for a given shot. Also having a two-lens kit gives you the opportunity to only take one lens for a smaller kit when you know you don't need the full range. For example, shooting indoors with family I bet the 18-55 will be often used and the 55-200 almost never. Save some weight and size and take just the 18-55. If you were to get a bigger and heavier 18-200 you'll always have to carry it with no easy way to lighten the load, should you want to.

The lenses you have are actually very good, optically. Learn to use them well and you'll get fantastic results -- better than the Tamron, I bet. And as Pat also wrote, a lens with a larger the zoom range will have more compromises.

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Having been in precisely the same situation as the OP, I would like to interject my thoughts. Optically, the 18-55 is superb. The mount is plastic and not designed for any abuse. Ditto for the 55-200. Swapping lenses is time consuming and depending on your subject, annoying. Swapping lenses also exposes your sensor to dust. The 18-200 is heavy, as Dan mentioned, really heavy actually. The 18-200 also has a healthy dose of distortion at the extremes. The 18-200 doesn't focus as fast as the 18-55, but faster than the 55-200. I bought the 18-200 and haven't used the other lenses since. –  Therealstubot Aug 6 '12 at 20:48

Cheaper lenses are worth less than the expensive ones, but can do well for folks that don't need the n'th degree of image quality.

In general, the wider the lens' zoom range, the greater the trade offs in other areas. Its very hard to have a huge range and keep the image quality. the 18-200 is more than 10 to one zoom range.

Try it and see if it makes you happy.

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I would suggest you try to do more with what you have. A lens with more with a greater zoom (such as an 18mm to 200mm) will have more elements. A lens that has fewer elements would have less compromise in the design.

Have used to with these lens and the scenario of switching lens is as same as told by Dan.

I would go for 2 lenses rather than the one, but then you will have the problem of having to switch lenses. It's your choice

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Welcome to Stack Exchange. I'm trying to understand this answer, and can't make head or tails of the sentence starting "Have used to with these...". Can you expand a little bit? Thanks! –  mattdm May 12 '12 at 16:36
    
I'm wondering where you got your data that says a lens with fewer elements has less compromise in the design? I have a 70-200 f2.8 ( 21 elements ) that has fantastic optical performance, way better than my 55-200 ( 15 elements ). Sharpness, focus speed, distortion, bokeh, contrast, color... all better on the 70-200. The only drawback is the close focus distance is 5 feet on the 70-200 vs. 3.6 feet on the 55-200. The 55-200 also has more ghosting, flares, and coma. In my experience, fewer elements == more compromise. –  Therealstubot Aug 6 '12 at 21:17

I own both the Nikkor 18-55mm (VR) and 18-200mm (not the version 2 one, but I think the only real difference is the lock switch based on what I've read).

It is convenient having the whole range on one lens, and it also has a focus distance gauge which is nice. But when taking some shots to compare the quality, I noticed that the 18-55mm is usually better...

  • At the wide end, the edges on the 18-200 get a bit blurry.
  • Also at the wide end, the edges are distorted a little bit, like a fisheye lens.
  • The 18-55 seemed to have sharper detail.

Check out some comparision samples here (not mine): http://www.dcresource.com/forums/showthread.php?38582-18-55-vs-18-200-Sharpness-Test

I was actually a bit disappointed when I got 18-200mm. I bought mine second hand from ebay for $415. I haven't decided if I'm going to keep it or not yet. I'll need to do more real world shots and see if I'm generally happy with the quality. I hate switching lenses (paranoid about dust), which is why I bought it, so I'll probably end up keeping it for travel anyway and keep the 18-55 for certain occasions where I don't need much zoom.

I can't say much about the Tamrom and Sigma 18-200mm lenses apart from what I've read online says that the Nikkor is better.

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