18-200 vs 200?


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Feb 20, 2012
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I see variable lenses and I see lenses that have one option. I don't know why someone would choose a 200mm over a 18-200mm. Do they essentially have the same function with the only difference being(I'm guessing) the 200mm is likely higher quality?
The ultra-zooms like that one will sometimes be worse then the already rather bad (mediocre at best) kit lens that comes with the camera. Fixed (prime) lenses are as good as it gets, so, you're really comparing 2 worlds that aren't comparable. Also, a big prime will likely have a big apperture (F/2.8, or F/4) while a lens with a big range like the one you mention will end up being a F/5.6 or F/6.3 at the 200mm end.

There's really no comparison.
Actually that is the comparison. It is exactly what I wanted to know. You gotta understand I'm new, so when I see 200mm and 200 mm I don't know the difference. The difference is quality and aperture.

But are we talking about a warping of image or just lower resolution?
I'm not sure what you mean by warping and resolution is probably the wrong term to use here but yeah, that too. The prime lens will be sharper both in center and in corners, it will also (due to the mentioned wider aperture) let in more light so to get the same shot you got with the prime using ISO 400 in the camera you might need to push it to 1600 or 3200 on the 18-200 lens which will result in a lot more grain, artifacts and loss of detail.

Bigger aperture lens (smaller F stop number) will also produce a shallower area of the image that's in focus and more blurring of everything else.

There's nothing wrong with zoom lenses but keep the range of the zoom as short as possible.
You'd want at least 2 lenses covering the range from 18 to 200mm.

If this is too much info, google the words I bolded in the 1st paragraph.

tl;dr - If you already own a camera you probably already have a 18-55 kit lens. On the Canon side you can add the 55-250 IS F/4-5.6 to get more range and figure out where you want to go from there. I would never recommend a big zoom like the 18-200. If someone absolutely must use only one lens (I have a friend with a 18-270 tamron), I'd suggest not buying a DSLR in the first place.

You obviously don't need a prime (fixed focal lenght lens) or you'd already know that you need it. That time might never come though.
Question is.. what gear do you have now, and what does it NOT do for you that leads to asking about other lenses?
I have a Nikon D3200 and a 35mm which I take portrait shots and anything in low light with. I also have the 18-55 which I never use, it does basically nothing better other than the one time I needed a wider field of view and I couldn't get the camera farther away.

I want an auto focus that will allow me to zoom in to certain areas in landscape photography. I have found some great vantage points, perfect angles from areas that are too far away with what I have. But my budget is limited. I m thinking a 200mm AF at the cheapest is somewhere under 300$...... Please let me know what direction you think I should take.
Landscapes are usually shot with a wide angle lens (35mm and wider). Longer lenses are usually used for portraits and compressing the background, I don't see a situation where I'd want a 200mm lens for a landscape, but a 200mm lens would be great for portraits. 70-200 F/4 or F/2.8 is what 90% of people would use if/when on a budget (not being able to afford expensive primes).

Check out landscape shots on Flickr or 500px and look at the EXIF info. You'll see that most landscape shots are in the 10mm to 35mm range (when used on a crop sensor camera like yours, it's actually 15 to 52mm). You need to get closer to the stuff you want to take pics of. :)

I think you need to borrow a lens with a range like 18-200 to figure out if you really need that or not but expect it to be a lot worse then the 35mm lens (and the 18-55) that you already have.

Shooting a landscape with a 200mm lens will make you stop the aperture down to like F/16 or less and would look strange compared to walking closer to the subject and shooting at 18mm. So, yeah, I'd look at the complete opposite stuff, something like a Sigma 10-20mm F/3.5 and something longer then 35 that you have for portraits, like a 50 or 85mm. Oh well. :)

Landscapes that I do are usually at 17mm on my 17-50 lens, and most portraits are done in the 150+mm range on my 55-250mm lens.
You can see my shots on the links in the signature line.
General zoom lenses, or lenses with variable aperture are great for a "general" lens.
If you go on vacation and want to carry ONE lens. A 18-200 or 18-300 might be perfect for the "convenience".

The general lens is also smaller than more "faster" and "higher quality" lenses.
Great for compact traveling and general shooting.

If you need a lens for evening Sports though, a variable zoom is now going to start having issues( all else kept the same) to the more professional f/2.8 fixed aperture zooms). It' not "fixed" in a sense but it allows f/2.8 through the entire zoom range of say from 70mm to 200mm. But you can still do f/5.6 or f/22 if you want. The variable aperture gets smaller the more you zoom. Thus this affects your exposure control as you shutter speed will slow and/or ISO will increase.

"PRIME" lenses, or fixed focal length lenses usually offer the widest open apertures, such as a 50m f/1.8 or f/1.4, or 85 f/1.8 or 1/.4. But the f/1.4 usually are several steps up in costs (generally speaking).

Then the pro zooms offer a f/2.8 through the entire zoom range of say 70 - 200. You will notice that the pro zoom only goes down to 70 as the technical requirements and cost would skyrocket to make a pro 18-200/2.8 lens with the image quality in that entire range. Thus you get a 2nd lens of 17-50/2.8 to accommodate under 70mm.

But also not the larger apertures decrease the focusing depth of a subject dependent upon it's distance. So there are tradeoffs all over.

There are also f/4.0 zooms out there, not as big as f/2.8 and less costly.

I have primes, Pro zooms and a few standard zooms.
Many larger zoom such as a Tamron (or Sigma ) 150-600 is a variable zoom. As creating a f/2.8 or f/4 zoom of that wide range would be cost prohibitive.

It all comes down to what you want to do.
Having a 28-300 variable zoom is really not a problem as long as you know the image quality won't be as sharp on the long (300mm) and or short end (28mm) as the lens was designed for lower cost and convenience not utmost image quality and image/exposure control.
I see variable lenses and I see lenses that have one option. I don't know why someone would choose a 200mm over a 18-200mm. Do they essentially have the same function with the only difference being(I'm guessing) the 200mm is likely higher quality?

yes, the 200mm prime is very likely to have a "higher quality" - i.e. larger aperture and sharper
You have an 18-55mm lens already, so to keep costs down it is better to go with a 55-200mm or 55-300mm lens instead of the 18-200 or 18-300mm (unless you just want one lens and it sounds like the 35mm is covering most of what you need right now).

For low light with the 18-55mm, pick up a flash unit (or use the camera on a tripod if the subject is not moving).

For the lenses that cover the telephoto range of 200mm there are at least a few models that will autofocus on your camera that are around $300:
55-200mm VRII and the older VR that is cheaper
55-300mm VR
70-300mm (non-VR) probably the cheapest of the bunch, but no Vibration Reduction.
70-300 VR (would have to be used to get down to $300)
I don't see a situation where I'd want a 200mm lens for a landscape
I do, and I shoot that way very often. Landscape images don’t have to be the cliche wide scenic view. There are marvelous images hiding in there. Here’s an article on the Luminous-Landscape with some great examples: A New Perspective On Landscape Photography - Luminous Landscape

Let the creative photographer decide what kind of image he/she wants to take. The OP said he wants a longer lens than what he already has, and knows that it’s what he wants from his own experience. No one — not even the greatest, most experienced photographer in the world — has the right to tell him he is wrong.

To the OP: Nikon makes an excellent budget-friendly telephoto zoom lens, the AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II. If you want a longer lens, my recommendation is the AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR — the reason it’s my second recommendation and not the default is that it’s bigger and heavier, and also costs about $50 more.
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Read all his posts.
He doesn't know what he wants.
Otherwise I agree with what you said.

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