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Vibration control vs. just a faster lens

Paul Cohn , Oct 25, 2008; 10:55 a.m.

I have a D300 and am currently using a 24-120mm 1:3.5-5.6D lens. It's terrible in low light, so I either need to get a faster wide zoom lens or a VR lens. I have the added constraint of shooting in very dusty locations, so I'm looking for as close to an all-in-one lens (let's say effective 24 to 150) as possible, rather than switch lenses and risk filling the camera body with dust.

All the reviews I read for VR lenses - Nikon as well as Sigma and Tamron - indicate that these lenses have significant distortion problems. I'd like to minimize the amount of correction I have to do (and with the film lens I've actually found very little distortion). So with all that, does anyone have a recommendation on a versatile fast and/or VR zoom lens?


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Alvin Lim , Oct 25, 2008; 11:19 a.m.

If I do not remember wrongly, I think your best bets for that effective length are probably only the VR version of the 24-120mm and the Nikon 18-105mm VR.

Though both are versatile lenses, they are not exactly the fastest of lenses. I have tried the 18-105mm VR and found that in terms of picture quality, it is not too bad (it is pretty much a value for money lens). Not sure if this will hinder your kind of shooting, but one problem I personally find with the 18-105mm VR is that the auto focusing is a little slow.

David Craton , Oct 25, 2008; 12:09 p.m.

Nikon does not make a fast zoom in the 24-150mm range. Wish they did. But if they did, I might tip the scales a bit. So, if you don't want to change lenses, you will probably need to get a VR lens. I have one and it works fine. It's the cheapest lens on my shelf and no real distortion problems.

Not to offend you, but many here have found the 24-120mm to be lacking. I went through 3 copies then finally returned the lens. However, I have a friend who has a great copy of that lens.

Not quite long enough on the far end, but the 16-85mm VR is a well built lens and is very sharp. You have a nice cam bod, you might want to drop a bit of dough and get a nicer lens. Or, find a nice copy of the 18-200mm VR II.

We all want that all in one zoom. Problem is: compromises.

Good hunting.

Carl Becker , Oct 25, 2008; 12:41 p.m.

While taking the dog for a walk this morning with my D200 and 18-70mm I had some thoughts about this. I should have taken my tripod or a body with better high ISO or just taken a couple of fast primes like my 20mm f2.8 and 85mm f1.8. I don't want to spend more for a D300 (I really want one though). I wanted to travel light with the dog. It was raining a bit but my solution should have been two primes. If you have the funds look at the 24-70mm f2.8. I would have been real happy with a D700 at ISO 1600.

Hans Janssen , Oct 25, 2008; 01:12 p.m.

VR does nothing for moving subjects, so if that your kind of photography go for a faster lens. When you use DxO 5 as Raw-converter you don't have to correct the distortion, the program is doing that for you(it has the charastics of cameras and lenses). Suggestions: 17-55 or 28-75 2.8 Tamron with a Sigma 70-200 2.8

Kris Heylen , Oct 25, 2008; 02:56 p.m.

Also, a faster lens will give you a brighter image in the viewfinder.

Johnny Anderson , Oct 25, 2008; 02:58 p.m.

You will get 2-4 f stop advantage going to the VR lenses. I have the 16-85VRII and 70-300VRII lenses and the VRII works great on both. Plus the VRII lenses have two modes of VR normal and active. Normal mode stops camera shake in either the verticle or horizontal direction. The active mode stops shake in both directions, very useful for things that fly or when shooting from a moving vehicle. If I could afford the price I would probably have a couple 2.8 zooms but the prices are out of my budget range.

The other thing to consider with the 2.8 zooms is the bokeh. It may be better with the faster zooms but I'm happy with my two lenses so it's a non issue for me.

Edward Ingold , Oct 25, 2008; 04:13 p.m.

If you want a fast VR lens and are willing to pay for it, it's hard to beat the 70-200/2.8 AFS VR. I get useable results down to 1/15 second (i.e., good enough) and at 1/125 as good as with a tripod. VR may not reduce subject motion, but you can anticipate the motion or organize the shot to minimize it, whereas camera shake is always with you. You'd need an f/1.0 lens to get the same effect as VR, and a wheelbarrow to carry it.

Mike Earussi , Oct 25, 2008; 05:43 p.m.

Wider apertures are better for moving subjects or where you want a shallower dof, such as rock concerts or stage plays. VR is better for still objects like inside of buildings. The best, of course, is to have both.

Dave Perkes , Oct 26, 2008; 02:03 a.m.

Vibration Reduction; no substitute for a fast lens

If you are wanting a wide angle zoom get a fast lens as image stabilization VR is less important with a shorter focal length lens. If you are using a 12 or 17mm lens for example, you can shoot at 1/15th sec without support and get away with a longer exposure if you are really steady or use monopod .

For longer lenses VR is a lot more important; but be aware that if you are taking pictures of moving people or animals, you will need a high shutter speed. A lens like Nikons 18-200 F3.5 -5.6 VR is useful in bight conditions but if you are using filters a lot or shooting in darker conditions; you will not be able to get a shutter speed high enough to freeze movement. A fast lens is more or less essential for low light. VR is nice to have, but is no substitute for a fast lens,

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