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Nikon 18-200 VR vs. Tamron 18-200, is it worth the extra $ ?

Al Peterson , May 08, 2008; 08:32 p.m.

I purchased a used Tamron AF 18-200 F/3.5-6.3 lens for my D80 camera. Going in, I knew it was slower than the Nikon 18-200, and no vibration reduction. I've been using it a lot and I've captured some nice shots with it... especially at close to mid range. At 200mm and waning daylight it gets challenging for me to get good exposure and many photos are dark or blurry. I contribute this to slow shutter speed shooting in Program mode, and no tripod.

I'm still an amature photographer but enjoy the hobby. I take my camera with me almost always when traveling. We hope to vacation in the Yellowstone this Summer. My lenses include the Tamron 18-200, Nikon 18-55 kit lens, Nikon 70-300 VR , Nikon 50mm 2.8 .

I have almost enough money saved for a new Nikon 18-200 VR , since used ones bring almost new price on Ebay. Before I spend $700 for this lens, I'd like to hear opinions whether I'll notice the Nikon lens being faster at 200mm.

Perhaps I need to practice technique, such as shoot in A or S priority instead of P mode ?

Perhaps I should get used to shooting at higher ISO levels, such as 400-800 ?

Thanks in advance for your help.


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Shun Cheung , May 08, 2008; 08:43 p.m.

First of all, the Nikon 18-200mm AF-S VR should be below $700 new, but since you already have the 70-300mm AF-S VR, I don't see why you also need a better 18-200. Would you consider selling both the 18-55 and 18-250(?) Tamron and get the new 16-85 AF-S VR? That will get you a bit wider and overlaps nicely with the 70-300.

Nikon's AF system is designed for lenses that are f5.6 or faster. That is why I am strongly against those Tamron 18-250mm lenses that are f6.3 on the long end.

Dave Wyman , May 08, 2008; 09:24 p.m.

>I'm still an amature photographer but enjoy the hobby<

An amateur is someone who loves what they do, Al. Do sell yourself short because you don't earn your living from photography. You enjoy photography because you want to, not because you have to.

As for the lens, you'll receive all sorts of opinions. Just know that it won't work miracles for you when the light is low and you're using the long end of the lens. You'll still need a way to support the camera. Personally, I love my 18-200mm VR lens.

Frankly, you've got it covered with the lenses you already have. I'd put your money you've saved into backup camera, if you don't already have one. If you have your heart set on the lens, I'd sell the redundant 18-55 and the Tamron, and hang onto the 70-300mm for those distant bison and elk and bears (oh, my!) in Yellowstone. In fact, you'll be close enough to many animals with 200mm in the park.

Sheep in Yellowstone

MARCUS ANDREWES , May 08, 2008; 11:40 p.m.

I love that Nikkor. It will be a real classic, I think.

Have you tried a carbon fibre monopod? Much cheaper (and lighter!) than the Nikkor and would probably improve things noticeably. I use one a lot, even with the big 200- 400 Nikkor (see attached elk shot from Winter 08 in Canada)

MARCUS ANDREWES , May 08, 2008; 11:44 p.m.

Sorry - that doesn't work very well at that size! This should be smaller.

Attachment: Elk 2008-01-27.jpg

Shuo Zhao , May 09, 2008; 12:41 a.m.

You might gonna have problems withy AF at the Tamron's telephoto end with f/6.3. Also, if you're trying to shoot a telephoto lens without the blur due to hand shake, yet still wants to use reasonably slow shutter speeds, the VR is a must.

Lil Judd , May 09, 2008; 02:07 a.m.


I found myself having a dilemma as I wanted a walkabout travel lens for when peopl come for a visit & when I travel. I had the 24-120mm & even at Disneyland I found it too short. I got the Tamron 28-300mm, but I don't feel it's really a super lens. It's perfect for when I go riding the horses & want to bring a camera. The camera will survive things & I won't be out the cost of an expensive lens.

I bought the 18-200VR to test against the other two. The 24-120 is sold, the 28-300 goes on trail rides with the horses shooting from horseback. I've kept the 18-200VR. Now, I've not had reason to use it until last week, got it in September last year. I had a friend come for a visit for a week & that's the only lens she had & her D80. I spent the week working the 18-200VR in order to help her with her D80 as I wanted to be able to see what she saw. I am presently going through near 1000 shots taken with it. It's shots of people, landscapes, birds, flowers - - - you name it. I'm rather impressed with it. Granted it's not my 70-200VR, nor my 300mm AF-S f/4..... But it's a pretty great little lens to have for convenience. I find mine sharp enough that I barely sharpen my shots of my daughter & friend as neither she nor I are getting any younger & wrinkles are not what I want to see..... I have shots where I can see the pores of my 21 year old daughter from that lens.

I'd spring for the VR personally.....


Lil :-)

Rene' Villela , May 09, 2008; 02:14 a.m.

Al... have you thought about getting a really good tripod? that would do the trick. Also another good lens would be 180 f/2.8 you can find it used. It is not a zoom but for long shots it is great and you can also add a converter. Just a thought! Rene'

Peter Hamm , May 09, 2008; 08:30 a.m.

What if you did this with your money instead.

Don't get the 18-200 (which I have and love btw and think is worth every penny), but instead, get a used D40 with an 18-70! Now you have two cameras around your neck. One with the 18-70 and one with the 70-300 VR. You will, imho, want the extra 300 reach for animals in a national park. No lens changing, cause you just switch cameras. That's the way I used to do it with film.

I love VR on my 18-200, but it's much more useful past telephoto, and you already have that covered better with the 70-300.

You might sell the Tamron 18-200 at that point.

Eric Arnold , May 09, 2008; 11:23 a.m.

al, to answer your question, no it is not worth it since you already have an 18-200, and 18-55, and most importantly, a 70-300 VR. the 18-200 VR doesn't give you anything you don't already have, except for VR between 18-70, and it still has a slow variable aperture. the difference between 5.6 and 6.3 is not enough to work well in dim light without a flash. in fact the 18-200 you have now is already redundant.

for $700, my advice would be to get a decent lightweight tripod and a good wide-angle, like the tokina 12-24 or sigma 10-20, which would be great for wide vistas, etc. also, if you're still shooting in P, practicing technique and upping ISO would obviously be a good idea; you might want to pick up "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson, it's one of the best learning tools out there for improving basic photography skills.

happy shooting!

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