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New to DSLR photography and would like some advice. What would be a good all round lens for the Nikon D3100? I have got the 18-55 one from the kit, any recommendations?

Also are there any other items you feel are a needed bit of kit?

UPDATE (From comments below):

I would like to have more zoom, I was looking at these 2 lenses Nikon 55-200mm f/4.-5.6 AFS DX VR and the Nikon AF-S 55-300mm f4.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens - DX Format. I take pictures of scenery and my kids obviously - got some great pics of them at the beach at the weekend. But could not zoom in as they were playing in the sea :) Maybe i need to buy a good book which can help with all the setting etc, as with most people i never read the manual

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Based on your edit, yes please read the manual haha. –  dpollitt Jul 17 '12 at 1:07

2 Answers 2

There is no such thing as an all-round lens that would suit everybody.

Typically though most DSLRs come with a kit-lens in the range 18-55, and that's a good starting point. From there you can make your own choice - i.e. Do you want a similar range but wider aperture, or do you want to look at primes or zooms?

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I would like to have more zoom, I was looking at these 2 lenses Nikon 55-200mm f/4.-5.6 AFS DX VR and the Nikon AF-S 55-300mm f4.5-5.6 G ED VR Lens - DX Format. I take pictures of scenery and my kids obviously - got some great pics of them at the beach at the weekend. But could not zoom in as they were playing in the sea :) Maybe i need to buy a good book which can help with all the setting etc, as with most people i never read the manual lol –  thatuxguy Jul 16 '12 at 11:09
    
I think that if you want some zoom, 55-300 would be better for you. I have 55-200 and i would like to have something "bigger". But it of course mean more money. –  zacharmarz Jul 16 '12 at 12:15
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@thatuxguy: your comment above is helpful information that should go into your question. The more you tell us, the better we can help you! –  Dan Wolfgang Jul 16 '12 at 12:51
    
@DanWolfgang added update to main post. –  thatuxguy Jul 16 '12 at 13:45

I consistently recommend a lens when asked this sort of question which is different from the usual. I use one as my "walk around" lens and am extremely happy with it. The lens covers 18-270mm which is too wide to be able to do as well as lower range zooms of equal price BUT it's performance is superb given its flexibility and general capabilities.

It's the (take deep breath) Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) MACRO (or some variant thereof). (Mine is the 18-250mm earlier Sony badged, Tamron-manufactured equivalent)

Approximate competitors include. Canon EF-S 18-200mm F3.5-5.6 IS,
Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED AF-S VR DX, and
Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS,

This lens represents a substantial jump in optical performance compared to earlier wide range zooms - their desultory performance making people think that all "superzooms" must be equally bad. Here are 56 user reviews on the Sony 18-250mm which is the Tamron lens with Sony badges plus faster AF gear ratio plus more rounded aperture petals. 56 users on average rate it (out of 5)
4.39 Sharpness
4.48 Color
4.32 Build
4.32 Flare
3.93 Distortion
4.29 Overall (4.38 excluding distortion)

Distortion is partially a consequence of the vast zoom range, relates mainly to overall image shape (see reviews) and is largely correctable by various software modules (and is in most cases 'acceptable enough' as is).

The f/3.5-6.3 is "slow" compared to eg a constant f/2.8 that you'd love to own BUT not appreciably different from the f/4-f/5.6 lenses that you mentioned.

DPReview are, in my opinion, amongst the most demanding of review sites. Some may disagree but many agree with this - in my experience, if a product has a weakness, falls short in any measurable way or just "isn't right" for whatever reason, they'll tell you. I've heard claims in recent years of partisan behaviour on their part but so far I'm happy with their reviews (fwiw).
Their review of the Tamron 18-270 is here ](http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/tamron_18-270_3p5-6p3_vc_n15)

They by no means give it a glowing report in every aspect. They make it clear that it makes compromises due to the ultra wide zoom range, and they note that it's AF speed is poor if you concentrate on moving subjects. But, given how 'hard' they are on anything they test, this represents a very good result.

They conclude:

  • These minor niggles aside, we were overall quite impressed by the Tamron 18-270mm. Where it's good, it's actually very good indeed, and even where it's weak it's not too far behind the competition. And that remarkable zoom range is a draw in itself; this is a lens which will have you shooting the same subject from the same position at both 18mm and 270mm, just to see how it looks. If you often find yourself shooting things which move then this may not be the ideal choice, but if you're willing to put up with its somewhat sluggish focusing it's a remarkably rewarding lens for the money.

I own the older 18-250mm Sony version of this lens.
While I agree that faster or even much faster AF would be nice, it's far better than many older lenses that I've used and is very usable in action situations as long as you are prepared to work harder than you'd do with a crisper focusing AF lens.

For a "universal lens" you'll be unlikely to ever regret buying it. When you can afford to buy a constant f/2.8 do so. Until then you'll enjoy this. 18-270mm on a DX body = 27-405mm! equivalent. My 18-250mm is f/4.5 or less up to about 70mm. That's 1.3 stops worse than a constant f/2.8

Useful re3view and comparisons here

Brief but useful user discussion

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