Looking for expert recommendations!


TPF Noob!
Oct 4, 2015
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I've been shooting with a D3200 for about a year and have been using the standard lens it comes with, the AF-S Nikkor 18-55 mm 1:3.5-5.6 G. I've outgrown this lens because of it's limited range, exterior focal mechanism, aperture limitation of 3.5 on the low end, and overall average quality. I was looking at the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II but the limit of 3.5 being the lowest f stop turns me away because I shoot at low light settings and natural lighting a lot. I've also read a lot of reviews that say it is an amateurish lens and I'm looking to really advance my photo practices at this point.
I would love to hear any recommendations for an upgrade, so this is what I'm looking for:
-versatility of focal range (not looking for huge range but a lens that does not require me to bring along a bag of lenses everywhere)
-aperture range dipping below my current 3.5
-good ISO capability
-internal focus

Are you looking to upgrade your lens or your body or both?
If I can get away with just upgrading my lens that would be ideal! The body is still in good working condition but maybe the problem is that it's not advanced enough for what I'm looking for??
Yes! I don't use automatic very much.
Well--- ISO handling is in the body entirely, not the glass.
You aren't going to find a fast super zoom--- not like an 18-200 2.8. I'm reasonably sure that doesn't exist.

To get fast glass with all of the focal lengths that you are going to want to shoot, you are going to end up with a bag full of lenses. Just the nature of the DSLR.

To recommend lenses, I'd like to know more about what you want to shoot, what you find limiting now and what areas you want to improve.
Thanks for your help so far!
I guess what I find limiting in my current lens is the focus ability and not being able to shoot well in low light. Shooting with my current setup, it feels like it's geared towards people who just want to point and shoot using automatic focus. This is partially because the focal mechanism is oriented around the tip of the lens, as opposed to focal mechanisms built into the body of the lens. I like having a wide range of ability to manipulate focus. I don't shoot a lot of landscape or action-oriented activities, so I don't really need a wide focal range. I shoot a lot of street photography and portrait, as well as exteriors and interiors of buildings and structures.
Does that help articulate my situation?
Thanks for the rec! That Sigma appears to have all the specs I'm looking for, but what is your opinion of Sigma lenses overall? I've read and heard mixed things about their quality compared to others in the game.
This is the lens Thom Hogan carries and uses, over the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8...that tells me a lot about this lens.

Sigma has come a long ways in its lens making and lens performance over the last half decade. For the price of $429, this lens is a bargain. A $429 lens these days is a low-priced lens. Sigma has a reputation that it has worked hard to change.
I don't understand what you are saying about the focal mechanisms. Maybe its a Nikon thing and I shoot Canon, or maybe I'm just not getting it..... but autofocus has come a long way and manually focusing is only reasonable if you are doing macro or shooting in extreemly low light without focus assist IMO. But if you prefer to manually focus, then that is what you should do.

I think Derrel recommends a good lens. I'm more of a Tamron person myself but Sigma and Tamron have both come a long way from what they used to be and are offering some really good glass right now. I keep a Tamron 28-75 2.8 on my camera most of the time. I also have a wide angle and a 70-200 2.8. These three lenses make up the majority of my work. I also have a 50mm 1.8 that I really like to use as well. That's just me and my bag. Glass is more important than your body so keep that in mind.
And just like the Nikon-vs-Canon rivalry, you also have the Sigma-vs-Tamron debate.

I own the Tamron AF 17-50 2.8 and it is incredibly sharp. The newest version of this lens offers VC (Tamrons version of VR) and is also quite good. Used prices for the version I have are right around $300 at KEH.com which is THE place to buy used lenses as they offer a 6 month warranty on everything they sell as well as a 14 day (no questions asked) return policy.

My OCD won't permit me to use a Sigma zoom lens as most of their lenses rotate the opposite way from Nikon lenses.

Both Sigma and Tamron in recent years have really begun to step up their game with regards to making lenses that are of good optical and mechanical quality. Tamron especially in the past 2-3 years has made some lenses that rival or in a few rare cases exceed the performance of some of the best glass Nikon has to offer at typically 1/2 the price.

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