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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    21

    Lens suggestions: Nikkor 18-105 VR vs Sigma 18-200

    I currently have the Nikkor 18-70 lens, which came with the D70. Had it since 2005, and it's been a great lens. I also have the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens which has taken many, many fantastic photos.

    I'm looking to increase my zoom range a bit on the 18-70. Primarily, I take portraits or group shots. Recently I took a picture with an old 70-300mm (non VR - very cheap lens), and loved how it turned out as far as photographing my then 7-month old. Could never get satisfactory results with the D70, but the D90 I was impressed!

    So that's my desire: increase zoom range, primarily focused on portraits. I don't want to sacrifice image quality over my current kit lens.

    I have enough hobby money that I could spend ~$400 without worrying about upsetting the wife. That places the controversial Nikkor 18-200 out of my range, but leaves the Sigma, Tamron, and less 'zoomy' Nikons available.

    So, my questions:
    1. What should I get?
    2. I've heard the D90 can auto detect when VR is on a lens, and adjust automatically. Does this work with non-Nikon VR as well (Sigma OS for example)?
    3. Is image quality of Sigma/Tamron lenses - especially the 18-200 ones - as good as found on Nikkor lenses? I've read varying opinions here. Really, it's a two part question: are 18-200 lenses sharp (not controversy on that question ), and if yes, then are the other brands as good?
    4. With a "general walk around lens, focused on portraits" frame of mind, are there other lenses you would recommend? For example, the Nikon 16-85 VR?


    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    6,931
    16-85VR every time unless you want to start spending big dollars. It's a great lens.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    21
    Thanks for the reply! I'm hoping you could answer why it's a great lens. It's both out of my budget & doesn't offer that much zoom range over my current 18-70 lens. However, budget & MTF aren't everything

    So, why get this over the Nikon 18-105 VR?

    I don't know how to read MTF charts, but they seem very similar:

    Wide open, 16-85 / 18-105:
    • 16mm: 2226 / 2196
    • 24mm: 2211 / 2171
    • 35mm: 2152 / 2113
    • 50mm: 2085 / 2091
    • 85mm: 2037 / ???
    • 105mm: ??? / 1980


    Is the 16-85 really worth twice the cost & less range compared to the D90/D7k kit lens? (A lens that I don't have yet, even though I shoot with the D90).

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Delfgauw, The Netherlands
    Posts
    2,207
    1. What should I get?

    If you want a longer lens, in my opinion you are better off buying a telephoto lens instead. The 70-300VR and the new 55-300VR should be in your budget. Both lenses can take rather nice portraits, particularly when zooming in a lot (you will need to be quite far from your subject, though).

    The image quality you get when using superzoom lenses like the 18-200 (of all brands) will be lower than when you are using two seperate lenses. That's the price you have to pay for the versatility that such a lens offers.

    A lens like the 16-85 does not offer that much extra reach and neither does the 18-105, really.

    2. I've heard the D90 can auto detect when VR is on a lens and adjust automatically. Does this work with non-Nikon VR as well (Sigma OS for example)?

    It will only adjust settings automatically if you are using full-auto or the scene modes.
    I'm not sure if it will work with third party lenses. Either way, I don't think this should be a deal breaker. If you use other exposure modes, like apperture and shutter priority or p mode it's quite easy to make these adjustments manualy.

    3. Is image quality of Sigma/Tamron lenses - especially the 18-200 ones - as good as found on Nikkor lenses? I've read varying opinions here. Really, it's a two part question: are 18-200 lenses sharp (not controversy on that question ), and if yes, then are the other brands as good?

    No, the Nikon is generally thought to be the sharpest lens in its class.
    Nikon D-50
    // Nikkor 70-300 f/4-5.6 VR // Nikkor 50 mm f/1.8
    // Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 ...// Nikon SB-600
    // Sigma 10-20 f/4-5.6......// Nikon Series E 135 mm f/2.8
    // Kiron 105 f/2.8 Macro....// Manfrotto 190XPROB + 488RC4
    // Nikkor 35 f/1.8..........// Sigma 500 mm f/8

    My website: http://www.dennisdolkens.nl

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Kanagawa, Japan
    Posts
    267
    I like my 18-105VR Nikkor - my kit lens. It's great for a wide range of duties - but not the best IQ. Also, it's not the sturdiest lens and doesn't have that much reach. The 16-85VR is much pricier (+250 USD right now), but has a higher IQ. If you can pick one up used, it might be in your ball park.

    The 55-300 VR might also fit the bill for the price, but 55-200 VR could work as an inexpensive substitute for your telephoto needs. You probably will like your 50mm 1.8 for portraits. Unfortunately, that leaves your short focal length needs in the lurch.
    "No matter where you go, there you are."
    -Buckaroo Banzai


    Nikon D90 | Nikkor 18-105VR | AF Nikkor 50 f/1.4D | AF Micro Nikkor 105 | AF Nikkor 20 f/2.8D | AF Nikkor 70-300VR |
    Canon IXY 810IS | Canon UW Housing


    My Picasa Site

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,929
    Whats with all the links in your initial post? Reminds me of Ken Rockwell(that's not a good thing)....
    Jason

    "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once."-2Pac


    A bunch of Nikon stuff!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    21
    Thanks for the recommendations! I'll take a closer look at the 16-85. I've been very happy with the IQ of my 18-70, and thrilled with my 50mm. I don't know if I need to give up range for increased IQ if the 18-105 is on par with my 18-70, but I'll still check out the 16-85.

    Quote Originally Posted by jcon View Post
    Whats with all the links in your initial post? Reminds me of Ken Rockwell(that's not a good thing)....
    Well... first, there's a number of lenses with the same zoom range (70-300, 70-300, 70-300). Since I didn't want to list the full name/specs of the lenses, I linked to a review of them so people could see exactly what I was talking about. Trying to avoid misunderstandings.

    How's this different from the links you see everywhere? Like Penny Arcade, Engadget, SLRGear, or Jeff's news articles. Did I do it in some "Ken Rockwell-y" fashion? I linked to sites that don't pay for referrals, and I did it with links that don't have any referral tags on them. I certainly don't agree with everything that Ken Rockwell says, but in this case it seems you're dropping his name in an unrelated topic just to throw dirt on him.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Wisconsin
    Posts
    2,929
    Check the Forum rules, #3 states no commercial links. And how is it different than Jeff posting them in his articles? He's the site owner... He's allowed to do as he pleases.
    Jason

    "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a soldier dies but once."-2Pac


    A bunch of Nikon stuff!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    21
    Hmmm... I'll have to be more careful. I've seen plenty of links on this forum to other sites. There are a few ads where I linked, but there's no "buy" ability on that site, just reviews. As I said, the links I used didn't have any referral tags, and I highly doubt that review site has a referral program anyway.

    For the "How's this different" I was asking how linking reminded you of Ken Rockwell specifically. I see links everywhere, on almost every website. Just wondering if there's a hidden "6 degrees to Ken Rockwell" game I don't know about

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Posts
    21
    I had a chance to play with the Nikon 18-200. My guess is if I didn't like it then I probably wouldn't like the Tamron or Sigmas either. If I did like it, then I could spend more time and hunt down the other lenses to try, or even save up money to buy it.

    Obviously Ken Rockwell's reviews of it causes a lot of blood to boil, even causing people to randomly throw dirt on him in unrelated forums with only the flimsiest of reasons. Heck, even Ken Rockwell is split about that lens, both recommending it and not. I realize he flip flops on most of his recommendations, but I don't think others do...

    Anyway, I didn't like the 18-200. I'm not a pixel peeper at all. I thought that was the primary measure of IQ. The colors were very muted after ~100mm. I was firing with a remote flash setup, portraits of my year old boy. No matter what I tried, the colors were very muted compared to other lens' and compared to the 35-100mm range. I am confident in the tests I performed, though I'm not confident that this lens wasn't a dud.

    So no one here recommended the off brand 18-200 anyway, but those are now off the table. Guess I'll just save up some money and look into the 16-85.

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