Nikon 18-200mm or Sigma 50-150mm?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by andrew99, Mar 18, 2008.

  1. andrew99

    andrew99 TPF Noob!

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    I'm looking for an every-day walking around zoom lens for under $1000. I've seen mixed reviews (and heated debates!) around here about the Nikon 18-200mm VR. The VR sounds nice, but I'm concerned that the speed is the same as my kit lens (I have a Nikon D40 with the 18-55, so I am limited to AF-S lenses, or HSM from Sigma).

    Sigma has a 50-150mm f/2.8 lens that looks nice, and is slightly more expensive than the Nikon 18-200mm. Has anyone tried this lens and have any opinions on it? I don't think I would miss the massive 18-200 range of the Nikon. I already have a Sigma 10-20 for wide angle, which I'm happy with, so I think these 2 Sigma lenses will cover any situation.

    I want to be able to shoot moving subjects in low light (kids running around, rock bands performing, etc), and also portrait photography down the line. I will upgrade my camera body in the next couple of years, so I am willing to buy decent glass now. So what do you think of these 2 lenses, and are there others I should look at?

    Here's the Sigma 50-150 at Anazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-50-150mm-Telephoto-Digital-Cameras/dp/B000HPOQKS

    Thanks!
     
  2. Socrates

    Socrates TPF Noob!

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    I have the 18-200 and I'm very pleased with it. However, based on your anticipated usage, you're probably better off with the Sigma. (I'm unable to address Sigma quality but you've indicated satisfaction with their products.) In any event, the VR reduces the effects of camera shake but actually increases problems with subject movement because you use a slower shutter speed than you would have used otherwise. On the other hand, if you're going to pan the shot, the 18-200 recognizes that you're panning and the VR in the panning direction is automatically cancelled!

    I wouldn't use either one for portrait work. If you're serious about portraits, get a 50mm f/1.4. Unfortunately, with your camera, you'd need to manually focus it.
     
  3. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You are not going to like my answer one bit, but I would not let the camera you own dictate the lenses you buy were I you... to me, that is like having the tail wag the dog.

    Lenses are something you will own LONG after the D40 is collecting dust, and (to me) it only makes sense to buy either the best lenses that you can possibly afford or the cheapest that will do the job.

    I would MUCH rather see you get the 55-200 VR for $180 bucks since you already own the kit lens. The combo of the kit lens plus the 55-200 VR will give you better quality pictures than the 18-200 VR will.

    I own all three lenses, and I know this for a fact.

    How about this? Take the other four hundred bucks you would save over buying the 18-200 and sell the D40 for a much more capable D80... which can fully use the excellent (and cheap) non AF-S lenses like the $100 50mm 1.8, the $120 Nikon 70-300, etc.

    Upgrading the body first allows you to move into some of the less expensive (but still excellent image quality) AF Nikkor glass.

    I have never shot with the 50-150. I own 2 Sigma lenses, one is good but not great (the 50-500 Bigma) and the other is complete and total crap (24-70 f/2.8). Sigma makes some good lenses, but they also make some really bad ones.
     
  4. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think that's pretty sage advice, Sabbath.

    But, if upgrading the body is out of the question for the user, I would think that the Sigma is the better choice based on his needs.

    I don't think the 18-200 is a terrible lens (I own it as well), its a wonderful walkaround lens, but the quality is not up there with the better lenses.
     
  5. andrew99

    andrew99 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks guys, I appreciate the advice.

    Sabbath, are you saying the 55-200 gives better quality photos than the 18-200? I realize that the manufacturer has to make compromises to get the 18-200 range, but given the price difference it's hard to imagine.

    If this is the case, maybe I am better off just getting the 55-200 (it is AF-S, so will work with my D40, and has VR, for $220), and switching lenses between the 18-55 kit lens I already have, and the 55-200. I also see that the 55-200 takes the same size filters as my kit lens, so I can use my polarizer, ND and UV filters. Another bonus! :)

    The Sigma 50-150 is a faster lens, though, which is really appealing. I wish I could take all these home and play with them for the long weekend! :)
     
  6. jlykins

    jlykins TPF Noob!

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    I have the 18-200vr and quality doesn't seem to be a problem with it. I love the lens. The main advantage is being able to just take that lens and not have to worry about carrying other lens'. However if you are shooting in extremely low light, I agree with Sabath, upgrade the body and get a 50, or 85mm prime for this work. I shoot my low light with my 50mm 1.8 and I love it, it opens you up to a whole new world when you get into the 1.4-1.8 range.
     
  7. sabbath999

    sabbath999 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes and no.

    The 55-200 is sharper on the long end, has less problems with CA and pincushion distortion than the 18-200 does. AF speed is about the same (fairly slow compared to the better AF-S lenses).

    The 18-200 is MUCH better at VR, it is the best VR I have ever used (better than the VR in the 70-200 f/2.8 even... it is SPOOKY good). Not surprisingly, the 55-200 uses the "first generation" VR system eve though it is a newer lens.

    In short, image quality is better on the 55-200, with that turning in favor of the 18-200 the more VR you are needing to use (i.e. the 18-200 gives me 4 stops, the 55-200 gives me two stops).
     
  8. Tasmaster

    Tasmaster TPF Noob!

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    That leaves you only one option, the Sigma. The uses that you mention all require a large aperture. VR is nice, but it won't help you at all in what you are trying to do. I actually own the Sigma 50-150 (and a D40) but only got it recently and i am stil getting used to it so i can't give you a full opinion. So far it is nice :). I am not too sure about sharpness at f/2.8, 150mm, 1600 ISO but then again that's not exactly ideal settings for sharp photos. Apparently f/2.8 at 150mm is the lens' weak point. Not many other choices around to cover what you need though; then again i don't know every lens around, and consider Sabbath's comments too.

    Word on the internet is that some Sigmas have focus issues, so be sure to test the lens before you buy it.


    PS: Browsing through Flickr to see more photos from the Sigma, i noticed that out of five users, four were using a D40. This tells you two things:

    a) This lens is probably the only one that combines the zoom range (internal zoom and focusing too!), wide aperture, USM, and all that on a budget.

    b) The cult is growing! :mrgreen:
     
  9. andrew99

    andrew99 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again for the info, that helped with my decision! I went to my local camera store today and tried out some lenses.

    First I tried the Nikon 55-200 with VR. The store was fairly well lit (as stores go), but I noticed this lens still needed fairly long shutter speeds, especially when towards the long end. Even with VR, I was having a hard time getting sharp shots when zoomed in. Actually I found the VR to be very strange, it almost made me feel dizzy, as if the image was moving around in the viewfinder. I guess the image was still, it was my hands moving, but it was weird. I guess I would get used to it fairly quickly. Anyway, the lens seemed to produce good colours, but I had a feeling that I would be disappointed if I didn't get a faster lens.

    I didn't try the 18-200 because of the reviews I'd read. Too much distortion and softness in parts of it's range. I figure I got an SLR so I could take the best pictures possible, and if I'm spending that much money, I should get a lens that doesn't feel like such a compromise. Maybe I'm crazy, this is a popular Nikon lens, though. I didn't see Sabath's post about a new version of VR before going to the store, otherwise I would have tried it.

    Next I tried the Sigma 50-150. Right away I noticed it felt heavier and more solid. When I took some test shots inside the store, the shutter speeds were much faster, and the shots were much crisper, even without IS. Maybe I'm not used to the VR on the Nikon, but I think the faster Sigma glass will better suite the kind of photography I'll be doing, so I bought it.

    I'll post some tests soon, but I did spot some geese in a park on the way home the store. It was getting dark on a gloomy overcast day. This is a 100% crop from the middle of the frame, with no processing at all:

    Nikon D40 (RAW), Sigma 50-150@150mm, f5.0, 1/1600 sec, ISO 400
    [​IMG]

    I can't wait until sunrise tomorrow to take some shots!!
     

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