Question about Lenses?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Ramesses, Mar 11, 2007.

  1. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi Everyone:

    I am about to upgrade the kit lens that comes with my D40 due to arrive this Monday. The one I have decided to buy is the Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX. However, before I pull the trigger, either tomorrow or Monday, I would appreciate your advice whether I’m making a mistake or not or just making the right decision. The main reasons I decided for the 18-70 lens are as follows:

    1. That is the lens that I liked the most of the ones I saw. In my opinion, the D40 is a better camera with it. I found that even the viewfinder is much better and sharper looking through the 18-70. To me, the viewfinder is the key to any camera and probably main reason that I picked the D40 over the D50.

    I consider the 18-70 an excellent all-around lens for the money. However, I know its limitations – it is not the 18-200 VR (probably the best Nikon all-around lens.) Coming from the world of film where I am used to f/1.4 (at 50mm) and 2.8 (at 24mm) it will take some kind of adjustment.

    2. I do not care much about the Nikon 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G ED II-IF AF-S DX not because it is made out of plastics (The next generation of battle tanks will be made out of plastics and Kevlar is plastics.) It is because of f/5.6 at 50mm or 82.5mm (35mm cameras.) I consider 85 mm a portrait lens or mainly an interior lens.

    3. I believe, rightly or wrongly, that the 18-70 is the better suited for a 6MP camera. The limitations of a 6MP are accentuated in cropping telephoto shots. The 18-70 insures that the camera stays within its limitations.

    4. The only problem with 18-70 is it lacks my other film main lens focal length 90mm (135mm – film.) I had three main lenses that I used the most: 24mm, 50mm, and 135mm. Otherwise, I would have purchased the lens already.

    5. Onedrawback with the 18-70 is that might be that it was introduced in 2004 and might be dated, with all the changes in technology even lenses.

    6. For some reason, I do not know why, I never felt comfortable with the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX even though it is the same price as the 18-70mm (money is not a consideration – I can get them for the same price.) However, the 18-135mm gives me a very nice focal range. In the long run, it might be the cheapest alternative, because I will not have to purchase a second all purposelens in the range of 55-200 or 70-300 and I will sell the 18-55 on eBay for around $100.00 – $125.00. However, it is not VR. I have a feeling that Nikon will announce soon the 18-135mm VR. In that case, money might become a consideration, at this time. The apertures for the 18-135 are:

    18mm f/3.5
    24mm f/4
    35mm f/4.5
    50mm f/5
    70mm and higher f/5.6 (The 18-70 is f/4.5 at 70mm.)

    A bit better that the 18-55 but not but by much.

    My alternatives are:


    1. The 18-70 (the one I favor.) Eventually I will have to get the 55-200 VR ($250.00) or 70-300 VR ($550.00.) This combination will able me able to purchase my main camera – body only – if I take to photography.

    2. Purchase the 18-135 and I’m set for now and in the future, whether I take to photography or not.

    3. Keep the 18-55 and purchase the 55-200 VR. This is what the Nikon Tech Rep advised me to do.

    What do you think?

    Thanks and best regards,

    Ramesses
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    1. I pick the 18-70 over the 18-200 anyday. Lenses should be fit for purpose and not allrounders. The 18-70 is sharper all round, cheaper, and from what I have seen as far as lab tests and experienced it is by far the best lens in it's price range.

    3. The sharpness of the lens outperforms a 6MPX sensor, remember that if you upgrade to a D200 or something newer in a few years.

    4. Buy an 80-200 next year that performs equally as well and for the added disadvantage of having to change lenses you will own far better lenses. Remember the larger the zoom factor the worse the final image quality will invariably be.

    5. My 50mm f1.8 AI was introduced in 1970s and since I know how to use a manual focus I don't find it dated in any way. The photos that come out of it are still fantastic.

    6. I personally do not like it either. 135mm is longer than a standard normal / wide angle lenses, but IMHO fails as a telefocal lens. I used to own a 150mm and would get frustrated when I only just hit the end of the focal range on my film camera. My personal view is if you need a telefocal lens buy one. something that goes to 200mm or even longer.

    2 thumbs up for the 18-70mm, although I am unlucky enough to have to send mine back on a warranty repair as it came with a aperature blade that didn't close properly :(
     
  3. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I can see you have been giving this a lot of thought. However, I think you would be foolish to make such plans before even receiving the camera with kit lens. Plastic construction or not, you should judge it by its results.

    18-55 would take you from a proper (28mm equiv.) wide angle to a short portrait telephoto. The 18-70 would give you the full telephoto range, but wouldn't really add much (if anything) to performance. The extra telephoto it gives you is not worth spending the extra money, in my opinion.

    A lens design from 2004 is not dated. One of my favorite lenses is the 40mm f/3.5 Zeiss Tessar in my Rollei 35. That lens design is over 100 years old now, and has been copied hundreds of times since then. Thanks to modern lens coating technology, it is better than ever. (mine is

    Apparently, you have come from 35mm. Which focal lengths did you find yourself using the most? For the end photographs that you liked the most, which lens were they taken with?

    Slow down a bit. Keep saving money. Shoot for a while with the kit lens and see what you find yourself missing. I have a feeling it won't be the extra 15mm of telephoto. You will either want a LOT more telephoto, more wide angle, more macro, more sharpness, less depth-of-field, etc. Then, you can make an informed decision.
     
  4. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi Garbz:

    Thanks for your advice. Yes, I really like the 18-70 a lot. I just bid on a demo in eBay but it sold for $230.00 and I went up to $220.00. To me the price people pay, in eBay, is too high. This was a demo – 3 month warranty and no hood. If you add the cost of the hood (~ $30.00,) the lens comes to $260.00 and a brand new one – with hood and 5 year factory warranty is about $310.00. I rather purchase the new one in the box for the difference in price!

    I already set my sights on the f/1.8 50mm AF (I do not know if it is compatible with the D40 although I believe so,) which goes for about $115.00 (Isn’t this hobby a bottomless pit?) However, I will not buy it until I absolutely and desperately need it. I will not make the same mistake of getting a lens that “I cannot live without,” wreck my checking account, and end up using 3-4 times in my lifetime ($115.00 is not bad but same limitations as with a $500.00+ lens)

    Thanks and best regards,

    Ramesses
     
  5. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi Jeremy:

    Thank you for your very sound advice, which makes a lot of sense. One reason that I’m rushing (and I am indeed rushing as you pointed out) is because I want to go on eBay and honestly state that the 18-55mm is brand new – never used. I just can’t get away from the fact that it is f/5.6 at 50mm. It could be that I’m still making the transition from film and f/1.4. There is a variable in digital that I might not be considering, which is the ISO setting.

    In film, when you traveled, you got films with either 200 or 400 ISO (If I remember correctly – 15 years) and you were stuck. In digital you can change it for every photo, if needed. That I do not know until I get my camera and play with it.

    Another thing is that the 18-55 does not come with a hood, which is about $20.00. Therefore, the difference between the 18-55 and 18-70 is about $120.00-$150.00 after I sell the first one. In addition, in the 18-55 you focus manually with the “knob” in front of the lens, and with the hood on (primarily for protection) it makes it hard.

    When it comes to focal length range, I agree with you. I consider the 18-55 and 18-70 as the same with the latter with a slight advantage, if that.

    What you said makes a lot of sense and it is a very viable option.

    Thanks for taking the time and advice,

    Ramesses
     
  6. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Remember that 50mm is not 50mm on a digital camera. The crop factor means you should be looking at a 33mm value.

    I forgot to also mention the 18-55 has double the chromatic abberation of the 18-70. I personally find CA more irritating than most of the other problems of a lens.
     
  7. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    That's backwards. it is actually a 75mm. (I think you divided instead of multiplying)

    The 18-50 won't be worth much on ebay anyhow. It is a kit lens, sold with the body for about $60-80. What you get for it if you sell it on ebay will be very little. Do a search on completed items for that lens on ebay and see what they're going for. I bet it's about $30 or something.
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    I don't think Garbz got the 'conversion' backwards as he was saying one should look for a 33mm lens if one wanted on a D40 the same FOV as a 50mm on 35mm film; not that a 50mm lens on the D40 would give the same FOV as a 33mm lens on 35mm film.

    Ramesses, I understand what you mean about the f/5.6 at 50mm on the kit lens. Of course it being a cheap zoom you probably wouldn't ever want to use it at f/5.6 either... one might consider it 'effectively' an f/8 lens. If you're going to be shooting at 50mm a 50mm prime is obviously the way to go. Unfortunately I do not think you will have autofocus with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF on the D40 as it is not an internal-focus lens, though any Nikon folks please correct me if I'm wrong.

    As for the ISO being a variable when it comes to lens choice... I'm not so sure. I think the sensors and the software by now are capable of producing better images at high ISOs than fast colour film... but IMO you would still be better using a faster lens and keeping the ISO as low as possible.
     
  9. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Hi ZaphodB:

    Thanks for your response.

    The whole thing about a camera started when I decided to upgrade my present P&S Kodak DC290. In a year or so, I’m going to Egypt – that is something I always wanted to do. Therefore, I needed a better P&S travel camera. I zeroed in on the G-7, Panasonic FZ50, or the Leica V-Lux. However, I did not like the viewfinders, at all.

    Somewhere along the line, my love for photography got rekindled. My problem is that I still need a P&S-travel camera (In Egypt, I’ll concentrate in history and archaeology and not photography) and now a more serious camera – two opposite end requirements. I decided, then, to go for the D40 and see how things go with photography. If I get into the hobby with both feet, I’ll find the money for a D80, D200, or D300 (rumors.)

    This time around, I got married, for better or worse, in sickness and in health with the Nikon system. I remember when I got my beloved AE1, I walked into the store “decided” to purchase a Nikon and walked out with a Canon. The reason is that the AE1 made more sense as a travel and all-around camera (I took my AE1 everywhere. It is a fairly good camera but I have a deeper emotional attachment. We almost circled the world together, including both coasts of the US and Canada. It never gave me any problems and still works.)

    My preferences for cameras have always been:

    1. Leica (A dream)
    2. Nikon
    3. Canon
    4. Pentax

    I must confess that when I was reading up on cameras, I read a review that compared different cameras. The best pictures, in my opinion, was not the Canon, D40, D50, etc. It was the Pentax KD11, but I went with Nikon, this time around.

    I consider camera bodies as disposable. The investment is in the lens system, especially with the technological advancements that are coming. I remember when I got my first PC (IBM 8088.) It came with two 10 MB disk drives. It cost me around $4,000 with PC, Screen, Printer, Word Perfect, Lotus, and DB-IV. I was on top of the food chain with that system. Today, we are talking not in MB or GB, but Tera Bytes (1000 GB.) The same thing is going to happen with cameras. I do not know what’s in store – I do not have an imagination big enough.

    We agree about the 18-55 lens with f/5.6 (or as you pointed out f/8) at 50mm. What do I do with that lens and aperture? It is basically a portrait focal range. Indoors, I’m in trouble with my built in flash at that range. I need a better flash or $200.00. I can use it outdoors, in the sunlight. Hell, in the light, I can take photographs even with a disposable cardboard camera. Therefore, keeping with my philosophy of money invested in the lens system, I’ll go with the 18-70 (or the 18-135 for its practicality.)

    I understand that the AF lenses do not auto focus with the D40. What am I doing with the D40, then? It is a long story. I did chase the D50 for some time.

    I love night photography or photographs with not too much source of light. For that reason, I’m thinking about f/1.8 50mm (35mm – film) to start out with. However, I’ll be in manual mode when I use those lenses for the special effects. My AE1 was always in manual.

    Tomorrow, I get my camera, hopefully, and I really have to get back into photography. Digital and film are two different mediums, in my opinion, and I have a lot to learn. I have time - lots of time.

    Thanks and best regards,

    Ramesses
     
  10. Ramesses

    Ramesses TPF Noob!

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    Garbz:

    I followed your advice and I just purchased the 18-70mm.

    I agree with you except in one minor point. I do think that the 18-70 is a perfect match for a 6MP camera. It was the kit lens for the D70.

    I went to see both lenses, before the purchase, and still do not care for the 18-135. I believe is trying to do too much for that compact lens. I decided on the 18-70, because I believe, rightly or wrongly and even with half the focal length range, it is a better lens. The maximum aperture of the 18-135 at 70mm and above is f/5.6 while the 18-70 is 4.5 – that is a big difference. The price of lenses increase exponentially compared to slight increases in aperture. Therefore, the decision was between getting a better lens or better focal range. When I put it in that context, it was not that difficult a decision to make.

    I could have gotten the 18-35 $5.00 dollars cheaper than the 18-70. For all practical purposes, it was the same price. I have the feeling that Nikon is coming out with Version II of the 18-135 with VR. However, they will price it between Version I and the 18-200 VR. That is my feeling and the reason for the price drop, recently. I might be wrong, though.

    Thanks and best regards,

    Ramesses
     

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