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I have been looking at various lenses and I found that that the 18-200 mm lens is pretty expensive (be it Canon or Nikon) when compared to the combination of the lenses 18-55 & 55-200.

Is there anything special about this lens, other than focal length?

Would it be a good solution (in terms of image quality, in terms of price, in terms of quality/price ratio) if I were to buy the 18-55 and 55-200 separately, which turn out to be cheaper than a single 18-200mm lens?

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I won't recommend you to get 18-55 and 55-200 separately. It is a pain to change lens and carry two lens at all time. Having said that, I am not a great fan of 18-200 either. If you want a general walk around lens then, why not consider 18-135 Canon or 18-105 for canon. I found it not very useful those extra tele distance at least on 18-200 lens which is anyway a slow lens –  lawphotog Sep 19 '12 at 22:26
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"One lens to rule them all" is always handy, if you can get it. If DX and not overly high budget do try the Tamron 18-270mm. Extremely good for the money and suprisingly good all considered regardless of money. –  Russell McMahon Sep 20 '12 at 3:21
    
Russell, really? I was considering tamron 18-200 and saw a review with image comparisons versus Nikkor and sigma, similar focal range, and Tamron looked pretty much unusable to me, even if it was free I would never put it on my camera, while sigma was almost as good as the Nikkor. Is Tamron's 18-270mm really better than their 18-200mm? Edit: yep, the samples look pretty nice. Also, the 18-200mm I talked about is not the DX line. –  Michael Nielsen Sep 20 '12 at 6:45
    
I had a Sigma 18-200 Sony/Minokta mounbt and it was an "OK" walk around lens. I used it extensively due to its flexibility. I was happy with what it did for me but I do not recall recommending it to anyone though :-). THEN I got a new Sony SAL18250 with a new A700 camera. This is a Tamron 18-250 in disguise - Sony have increased the focus rate and rounded the iris blades somewhat more but is otherwise the same. I utterly love it. Certainly you can get better for more or much more money but do try it. I spent some hours in Sonystyle HongKong trying out all Sony's best lenses ... –  Russell McMahon Sep 20 '12 at 10:06
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I recently bought an old Nikon mount Tamron 28-300mm FX lens as a get me going lens for my D700. After the marvellous 18-250 Tamron the 28-300 has to be at least OK. Right? No!!! :-(. The 28-300 is a heap of junk, relatively, or there is something wrong with it. While it can be used in a general purpose sort of way, there is absolutely no comparison between the Tamron 28-300 and Tamron 18-270. Amazing. –  Russell McMahon Sep 20 '12 at 11:56

3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You would understand this if you compare these lenses, they have different focal lengths and many other different features... build quality, sharpness, focus motors, image stabilizer... there are many factors for their different prices...

One of the good sources to find comparison and reviews about different lenses is photozone.de

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-1 different focal lengths? The question clearly describes a lens that exactly matches the combined focal lengths of two other lenses. –  Kirk Broadhurst Sep 20 '12 at 2:19
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+1 to combat Kirk's erroneous downvote. The sum of the parts in no way equals the whole when you try and make a single lens perform as well as several individual lenses. 18:55 ~ 3.06:1. 200:55 ~=3.64:1. 200:18 ~=11.1:1 The difference is utterly immense when it comes to maintaining MTF & minimising various distortions & more. 50mm is in that range. I've seen it estimated that to match a sub $200 entry level f/1.8, 50mm for sharpness you need to spend about $1800 or more on a zoom. To say that 50mm is in the range of an 18-55mm zoom so the focal lengths " are the same" would "be misleading". –  Russell McMahon Sep 20 '12 at 3:18

That is the price because that is how much enough customers are willing to pay for it.

While they are complex lenses, they are not high quality ones (the Nikon is sharper with more distortions) and both are quite dim on the long end.

The price is for convenience of changing lenses less often, or not all all. After all, comfort and convenience are very valuable aspects.

On the other hand, the 18-55mm lenses you mention are cheap, low quality and not convenient either. If you pay more for less coverage, you will get much better quality of out your camera. You can always by more focal-length later by adding new lenses rather than buying disable ones.

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It is hard to make a zoom lens that is sharp and open enough the entire focal range without tunnel vision and lens distortion. So the larger the range span is the more difficult it is to keep the quality equal. That's why the fixed focal length lenses still exist. You can get amazing quality compared to your zoom lenses for a small price, at the cost of convenience of the zoom. Another aspect that makes the design of a lens complex and thus expensive is to keep the aperture equal through the entire focal range in a zoom lens.

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