18-200/3.5-5.6G to 70-300/4.5-5.6G considered an upgrade or sidegrade?

SR_Saint

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Hello Photoforum! This has confused me for a while. Would getting a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 be a good idea? I ask because I've tried shooting birds in an open area, and most of the time I felt they were just too far away. I've read from some websites that you were better off with cropping pictures taken by the 18-200 rather than getting the 70-300 lens, but on some I read that the 70-300 at 300 was fairly sharp, better than the 18-200. Would the extra 100mm be worth it? Also, I've read the 200mm of the 18-200 isn't exactly 200mm. I saw there was a fair amount of difference with the 200 end of the 18-200 and the 200 end of the 70-200/2.8. What causes it to be like that? Thanks in advanced to any answer and I hope this cloud would clear up. :)
 

SCraig

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You have to answer the question of whether a 200 or 300 would be best for your uses. If you shoot primarily at the long end of the 18-200 and still wish for more then the 70-300 would probably be a better choice. If you use the 18mm end a good bit then the longer lens might not be such a good choice. If sharpness is your primary consideration then a 300mm prime would be a better choice.

That said, I have the 70-300 and love it. It is probably my most-used lens and the one I reach for more often than all the others.

The 18-200 lens has an 11:1 zoom ratio whereas the 70-200 only has a 2.85:1 zoom ratio. The higher the zoom ratio the easier it is for distortion to creep into the lens. I try to limit my choices to about 3:1 or 4:1 since in my experience they tend to have less distortion throughout the range.
 
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SR_Saint

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You have to answer the question of whether a 200 or 300 would be best for your uses. If you shoot primarily at the long end of the 18-200 and still wish for more then the 70-300 would probably be a better choice. If you use the 18mm end a good bit then the longer lens might not be such a good choice. If sharpness is your primary consideration then a 300mm prime would be a better choice.

That said, I have the 70-300 and love it. It is probably my most-used lens and the one I reach for more often than all the others.

The 18-200 lens has an 11:1 zoom ratio whereas the 70-200 only has a 2.85:1 zoom ratio. The higher the zoom ratio the easier it is for distortion to creep into the lens. I try to limit my choices to about 3:1 or 4:1 since in my experience they tend to have less distortion throughout the range.

Right, I mostly use my camera for traveling and have just started to get into the whole sharpness/great image quality thing and hope to capture a lot more great subjects wherever I go.

But is the IQ on the tele end of the 70-300 that much better than the 18-200? I've seen the 18-200 compared to better, more expensive glass like the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 and Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8 and they look too good. Much much better than the 18-200. I found the colors more vivid and bits more detailed. The difference was really noticeable.

Does the 70-300 have a good zoom ratio as you mentioned good lenses have?

EDIT: It makes sense now, just figured out what zoom ratio meant. :) And 70-300's pretty low, so it means distortion is less? Is chromatic aberration also reduced?
 
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SCraig

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I don't claim to be an expert on optics, but it's always been my experience that the higher the zoom ratio the higher the level of distortion in the lens. Based on the lenses I've used that has held pretty true. Lenses with higher zoom ratios that I've used tend to be slightly less sharp than lenses with lower zoom ratios. I don't know why, I'm sure someone here can explain it but I'm not the right person ;)

I don't have an 18-200 to compare it to so I can't really say whether or how much better the IQ is between the two. I do know that the 70-300 is regarded as a very good lens and from my point of view it does live up to that reputation. I've had mine about 3 years and if it failed today I'd order another one just like it.

All of the photos on these pages:

2011 Renaissance Festival
2011 WERA Motorcycle Roadracing
2011 Great TN Airshow
were shot with it (there are many others on other pages of my site but these are three pages that I know all of the shots were with that lens).

I've never noticed any chromatic aberration at all with that lens, anywhere along the zoom range. I don't always look for it but as many shots as I've taken with it I think I would have noticed by now. The lens does have low-dispersion glass which is supposed to help minimize CA. There probably is some minor amount in the lens, I'm not sure if CA can be completely eliminated or not, but if there is it's pretty minor since I've never seen it.
 

MLeeK

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If it's to be a walkabout lens, not a high quality lens I'd probably go with the 18-200. Neither are stunning in the sharpness department but the longer range gives you the ability to walkabout for everyday things with ONE lens.

CA is a result of the glass in the lens, not the amount of zoom, etc.
 
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SR_Saint

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Thank you SCraig and MLeeK for your replies, I think I should stick with the 18-200 as per what you guys have said. Even though those 70-300 shots are really beautiful, it would be wiser to keep one lens for traveling. :)

And thanks for the small lesson about chromatic aberration, I truly have lots to learn. :)
 

KmH

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Which Nikon 70-300 mm you are talking about matters. The 18-200 mm is a convenient and good selling lens, but it gives up a lot of image quality to achieve it's 11x+ zoom range. For many the loss of image quality is trumped by the convenience.

Of the 2 Nikon offers, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras is miles better than the

Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor SLR Camera Lens.

When I travel for pleasure, I usually take 2 camera bodies, 4 lenses, a couple of speedlights, some radio triggers, a tripod, a monpod, and the diserata to support it all.
 

digital flower

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Which Nikon 70-300 mm you are talking about matters. The 18-200 mm is a convenient and good selling lens, but it gives up a lot of image quality to achieve it's 11x+ zoom range. For many the loss of image quality is trumped by the convenience.

Of the 2 Nikon offers, the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor Zoom Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras is miles better than the

Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6G AF Nikkor SLR Camera Lens.

When I travel for pleasure, I usually take 2 camera bodies, 4 lenses, a couple of speedlights, some radio triggers, a tripod, a monpod, and the diserata to support it all.

I was wondering that myself. The VR version is an ok lens but I would never want it as my only lens.
 
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SR_Saint

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Hi KmH, I was referring to the 4.5-5.6G version. And that's probably a growing problem (if I could call it a problem), I'm starting to show concern about sharpness and IQ(previously was marveling about how dSLR's capture so quickly coming from PnS). Further research about it doesn't help and neither does discovering this very talented community lol. :)

The pics SCraig put up with the 70-300 shooting bikes are really already good in my opinion.

As I don't really have photos that compare to SCraig, I couldn't make a comparison to decide whether the 70-300 actually has better overall IQ than the 18-200, but depending on what both of you said it does seem it is better.

And wow on your travel gear! Guess I shouldn't complain about having a speedlight as extra weight on trips. :D
 

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