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Nikon 70-300 VR vs 18-200 VR

Brian Duffy , Aug 11, 2007; 05:43 p.m.

I currently own the 18-200 VR but was thinking about going back to a 2 lens setup using the Sigma EX 18-50 2.8 and the Nikon 70-300 VR. My question is does the 70-300 has better optics than the 18-200? If anyone has had both or has used both I would appreciate their comments. That is the main reason I am switching back to a 2 lens setup is the image quality. I love the versatility and how well the VR works on the 18-200 but the image quality if not that good.


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Bruce Margolis , Aug 11, 2007; 06:48 p.m.

Brian, I have no idea why the image quality of your 18-200VR isin't good enough for you. Maybe you could post an example.

But a thought.... maybe your lens just needs an adjustment. IMO, better to send it off for warranty repair than make a drastic change that might not improve your image quality.

Eric Arnold , Aug 11, 2007; 07:00 p.m.

gnerally speaking asking a lens to stretch as far as the 18-200--11x zoom-- is gonna result in some compromising. therefore splitting the focal range will almost always result in better images. reviews i've read of the 70-300 vr confirm this, although they are very similar lenses, both with 2 ED elements and IF. let's put it this way: the 70-300 isn't gonna be any worse than the 18-200. and handholding at 300 mm with VR enabled is a plus. but unless you absolutely need the extra reach that much, consider pairing the sigma 50-150 --only about $100 more than the 70-300 vr -- with the 18-50, for a fast, versatile, and sharp 2-lens kit. having 2.8 across such a wide focal range, while still maintaining relatively lightweight and compactness, is IMO better than VR. the 18-200 and 70-300's mortal weakness is their slow speed. the image quality on the 50-150 is excellent, and the non-extending inner tube and grippy zoom ring make it much snappier than either the 70-300 or 18-200. for quick af, it has hsm, compared to the nikkors' swm, but is much faster due to the larger aperture. really kind of a no-brainer if you already have the 18-50.

d80 w/ sigma 50-150 @ 50 mm, f/2.8, 1/640, ISO 100

Eric Arnold , Aug 11, 2007; 07:13 p.m.

here's another 50-150 pic:

d80w/50-150, f/2.8, 1/30, iso 800

Peter Hamm , Aug 11, 2007; 10:28 p.m.


Your lens might need an adjustment. My 18-200 is great. From what I've read (check out www.bythom.com for some great reviews of both of these lenses) the 70-300 will be WAY better at 200mm, plus it goes out to 300. I think it would be an excellent complement to the 18-200, which I think of as a great 18-70 with a reasonably good 70-200 attached that you can use when you must. I'm thinking of getting one myself. I doubt, from what I've seen and read, that the Sigma will be better than the Nikon, except of course a bit faster.

But please post an image that shows what you don't like, and describe it a bit.

Brian Duffy , Aug 11, 2007; 10:35 p.m.

Eric, I have noticed a significant difference between my old camera with L-lenses and my new camera D200/18-200. I have sent my 18-200 into Nikon and had the AF adjusted but it's still not as sharp as what I have been used to. It's the most noticeable in portraits. I know it's not a fair comparison between an L-lens and the 18-200 but once you've used quality glass you notice the difference. I would rather have a sharp lens than try to sharpen in PP. I will probably purchase the Sigma 18-50 for now and see how it goes.

Tze Weng Foong , Aug 11, 2007; 11:05 p.m.

Hi Brian,

I have the 18-200 and it is wonderful lens to carry around. but like you I have found that it lacks badly is some specific situations. I am looking for lenses to fill those gaps. I would also vote for the sigma 50-150 f2.8 for event and portraits and if you want wider. you should also consider the tokina 16-50 f2.8 . good luck with your decision.

Tze Weng Foong , Aug 11, 2007; 11:09 p.m.

And for the long end i am also like you considering the 70-300 vr but I am also thinking that the 80-400 nikon or Sigma may be a better choice. Also looking at the 200-500 tamron for the longer than 200 options.

s nathan , Aug 12, 2007; 03:09 a.m.

Not to sound like a jerk, but I think you should get opinions only from people who actually own both lenses and I happen to be one of them. There is no comparison between the two lenses. The 70-300 is much sharper than the 18-200 across the board. I suppose the sharpness will not make a difference if you will be printing 8 x 10 or smaller. However, larger images will be a day and night difference. The 18-200 is nice lens, but it has been hyped way too much, especially by guys such as Ken Rockwell. Also, I think many of the praises of this lens are from people who are upgrading from p&s cameras. Duh! Obviouslly the 18-200 rocks compared to any p&s. I love the 18-200 for its combination of convenience and image quality. If convenience is your number one priority, then the 18-200 is a great choice. If image quality is more important, then the 70-300 will be a better choice for the zoom range. Also, I don't think it's fair to compare the 70-300 to the 80-400 or 70-200 F2.8. Both those are heavy lenses. The 70-300 is at the threshold of what I would call a walk around lens in terms of weight. Good luck and if you really want to find out go ahead and buy a lense from a place like amazon.com that doesn't charge restocking fees. I won't comment on the Sigma since I don't own one.

Philip Partridge , Aug 12, 2007; 03:53 a.m.

The availability of the 70-300 VR is one reason I chose Nikon for digital. Weight, bulk and image quality are at the top of my lens 'must have' list. This number comes in at 745 grams, is slim, not overly long, and [especially] in the centre, delivers excellent results. I simply would not cart the monster, boat anchor f2.8 70/80-200s so many people love, together with a larger tripod, larger bags - it goes on; no good for my style of travel.

Consumer zooms are coming on in quality very quickly, something Ken R is right about. Good reviews of this one can be read on photozone and elsewhere.

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