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Best lens for D80

amy ko , Nov 25, 2006; 09:09 a.m.

I am getting my first serious camera and plan on taking up photography. What is the best first lens (or lenses) to go with the camera. I'm debating between getting a all-in-one 18-200mm vs 2 lenses. If getting 2 lenses is the way to go, please recommend. Planning on spending around $2000 including D80. THANKS.


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Dave Lee , Nov 25, 2006; 09:18 a.m.


Welcome to the Nikon forum. You are smart to buy a D80. I absolutely love this camera and it is pushing me to abandon slide film once and for all (well not really, I just won't shoot it nearly as often).

I would recommend the two lens option to you. I have the 18-70mm and the Tokina 12-24mm and use them both frequently. Also, I've not noticed a dust problem so far on the D80 sensor compared to my old D70s, which had dust on it from day one (or so it seemed!).

Of course, if you would like the VR function, the 18-200mm is a nice lens. But it feels rather big to me, and I much prefer the size and handling of the 18-70mm for a general walkaround lens with the D80. And the Tokina 12-24mm is a real gem, it has been a must for me.



Peter Hamm , Nov 25, 2006; 09:30 a.m.

I HIGHLY recommend the 18-200 lens from Nikon. It's a GREAT lens for that camera. It takes wonderful pics and the VR is outstanding. I have one and I love it.

I bet others on this forum will agree with what I'm about to say, though. I'd recommend starting with a more "limited" lens, and therefore learn more about composition, et cetera before getting something that will "do everything". When I started out I had only a 50mm f1.4 for a while. It helped to take photos only through a "standard" lens.

I'd recommend a middle ground. Get the 18-200 AND get a 50mm f1.8 (which is a little longer than standard, but still a great option). Shoot with the 50mm f1.8 for a few weeks or whatever (while you're waiting for the elusive 18-200 VR) and learn about your camera, about apertures and shutter speeds and white balances and such... THEN when you get the 18-200 you'll really be ready. (btw, if you can get the 18-200 and don't like it, you will probably be able to sell it for what you paid...)

Your other alternative is to get something like the 18-70 or the 18-135 kit lens and a 70-300 zoom... AND the 50 f1.8... if you don't mind swapping lenses, which I avoid more with Digital... You'll get the same results with either scenario if you have a good eye...

Read some good reviews here. There are no reviews of the promising new 70-300 VR yet, but should be very soon...

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/18200.htm Ken Rockwell's 18-200 review, his favorite lens

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/18-135.htm His 18-135 review

http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/1870.htm His 18-70 review

http://www.bythom.com/18200lens.htm Thom Hogan's 18-200 review

http://www.bythom.com/1870lens.htm Thom's 18-70 review

Also check out Bjørn Rørslett's reviews of some of those lenses...



You are about to get pounded with a LOT of different opinions, some for zooms, some for primes (lenses that don't zoom, in other words), so read them all and especially read those reviews above. You might make a totally different decision that I would, but if you do it knowingly... you'll be fine...

Knowledge is power...

Shun Cheung , Nov 25, 2006; 09:31 a.m.

Amy, since you are new to photo.net, you need to tell us what you'd like to shoot with the D80. If it is mainly casual shooting, the 18-200 VR may indeed be a good choice. Essentially that is a "one size fits all" do everything lens. If you are more demanding and have specific needs, e.g. shooting portraits, landscape, macro ..., there will be more specific recommendations.

If you are not sure, a good starting point would be the 18-70mm AF-S DX zoom. That is another general purpose lens that is less expensive. I would use that for a few months first and then add another lens depending on which area you want to strengthen. It is not necessary to buy everything at once.

Edward Ingold , Nov 25, 2006; 09:40 a.m.

Until you find what best fits your shooting needs, the 18-70 kit lens is flexible and inexpensive. The 18-200 is like a Swiss Army Knife - does everything, nothing well, and is expensive. The 18-70 gives you an effective range of 26mm to 105mm, which works well for nearly all situations. You may later decide to get something faster, sharper, shorter or longer, but you are covered in the meantime.

The D80 is an high-resolution camera - better sharpness, you will find, than 35mm film by a substantial margin. You need good glass to make the most of it. In general, the shorter the zoom range, the better the performance. The Nikkor f/2.8 zoom lenses are more than fast. Nikon incorporates the best optical and mechanical design features, with little regard to cost.

amy ko , Nov 25, 2006; 11:08 a.m.

THANKS EVERYONE FOR GREAT INPUT. I will be taking everyday pictures inlucing outdoor (day & city nigit views - going to Hong Kong in 3 weeks), parties, portraits (babies and doggies) to begin with and planning on taking photography classes. From everything I read, I really like the 18-200mm but it seems great not to have to switch lenses. But I think Peter has a great point about starting off with a "less limited" lens to build up my skills and go with a 18-70mm and get 18-200mm few months from now. Anyone else has any thoughts on that? Also, any suggestions on good books for beginner DSLR person like myself? For photography classes - community college best place to go? (I live in the South Bay area in Los Angeles)


Dave Lee , Nov 25, 2006; 11:14 a.m.


You can't go wrong with the 18-70mm AF-S DX. It is a fantastic lens and is worth every penny. You might want to, however, consider the Nikon 18-135mm DX lens that comes with the kit version of the D80. It is also (from what I've heard) excellent and has the added option of a longer zoom which you may like. It has the *disadvantage* of a plastic lens mount, which could be a problem if you mount and unmount it often. Nikon put the plastic mount on the lens as they feel this lens will probably remain on the camera most of the time, not to mention as well it saves Nikon money!

I wouldn't recommend the 50mm f1.8 lens to you as this focal length is already covered in the 18-70mm (or 18-200mm) range. The 18-70mm or the 18-135mm are both good starter lenses.

Have fun on your trip to Hong Kong! I just got back from Japan and had a blast.


Shun Cheung , Nov 25, 2006; 11:39 a.m.

A "Swiss Army Knife" lens is a very appropriate description for the 18-200mm VR. When I go camping or travel, I carry a Swiss Army Knife too. But if you hire an electrician or plumber, and they show up with no more than a Swiss Army Knife, what would you think?

If you shoot at night a lot, you'll need some faster lenses that go to at least f2.8 and preferably f1.8 or f1.4. That is something those super zoom will never achieve.

To me, there is absolutely no point to get both the 18-70 and 18-200. One of them can get you started. Once you become a better photographer, you'll understand their limitations and move onto better and more specialized lenses. I have about 20 different Nikon lenses but do not own any one of the 18-xxx DX zooms.

Hiro Matsu , Nov 25, 2006; 01:41 p.m.

Maybe not the most popular suggestion but, I would get the 18-70(general use), a 35mm f/2(lowlight/general), and an 85mm 1.8(short tele). Without knowing what you want to shoot, that would give a pretty good, high quality, and all-around kit. With a sd card(s), extra battery, mb-d80 battery grip(I really like mine but not essential), an sb-600/800(highly recommended), and a bag to carry it. It pushes the $2k mark. Stuff adds up quick. After a while, you could add wider (maybe a 12-24) or longer (70-200/300 zoom - 180 2.8) or maybe macro as your preference dictates.

Ramon V (California) , Nov 25, 2006; 03:42 p.m.

start with the 18-70mm kit lens. it's a very versatile tool for your kind of photography. a 50mm f/1.8 will complement it well in low light and night scenes. how about an sb-800 (or sb-600 if on a budget)? you can get all these gear for half the price of the 18-200mm vr.

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