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Lens suggestion for a beginner; Nikon 55-200mm VR or Sigma/Tamron?

Mike Stoddart , Feb 21, 2012; 09:18 a.m.

I bought a D90 a few months ago with the standard 18-55mm lens. I'm completely new to DSLR and also to the fundamentals of photography beyond point and shoot cameras, but I'm very slowly trying to learn.

I would like to get a telephoto lens but I can't decide if I should get a lens that would also replace my 18-55mm or if I should get the Nikon 55-200mm VR to complement my 18-55mm. My budget is very low; I don't see any point in buying an expensive lens given my lack of knowledge.

I've read a lot about various lenses and I'm wondering if a Sigma or Tamron, e.g. 18-250mm, would suffice. Or is my best bet Nikon's 55-200mm VR?



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Matt Laur , Feb 21, 2012; 09:29 a.m.

Avoid the super zooms (especially those that are stopped down past f/5.6 at the long end - you'll have autofocus trouble to go along with having less light to use). Since you already have the 18-55, I think the 55-200 is a sensible and modestly priced next step. But depending on what you're planning to shoot, a 70-300 might make more sense, and they too can be had for pretty reasonable prices. The gap between 55mm and 70mm isn't going to hurt you too badly, but the 70-300 is going to look a lot better at 200mm than the 55-200 is.

Richard Thomas , Feb 21, 2012; 09:44 a.m.

I'm with Matt. The 70-300 is a better option. If a budget is a concern, try searching for a used one. Learning from my own experience though, I would stick with Nikon for less QA issues and better resale value.

Bruce Brown , Feb 21, 2012; 10:11 a.m.

Mike: Maybe stay with the Nikon lenses , if you possibly can:)! ... also very much look at Nikon 55-300, I think is has only been out for a year or so, is about $400, and is pleasing in many ways.

Peter Hamm , Feb 21, 2012; 10:14 a.m.

How are you using your photos? If you're not printing huge, any of these will do nicely if you're careful. I went with the 70-300, but it is kinda big (not real heavy though). The 55-200 is so nice and small and compact, if you're looking to stay small, it's a nice option. The 55-300 is better, but at that price, I'd skip to the 70-300 which I am guessing will be a superior lens, certainly in handling.

Mike Stoddart , Feb 21, 2012; 10:21 a.m.

Thanks. So you don't think using one lens is worth it over two? A lot of my pictures are on the spur of the moment and switching lens will be a pain. I can afford a 70-300mm through ebay but I'm not sure I want to spend that much. Resale value isn't important to me - I want to get a lens to keep for a long time.

How do I use my cameras? Typical family stuff around the house and out. Anything interesting I see when I'm out and about; nature, buildings, sky, rivers etc. The last time I needed a telephoto was taking a picture of my daughter sledging. My 18-55mm was too short and I couldn't get in close enough.

Hans Janssen , Feb 21, 2012; 11:03 a.m.

When you think about the 70-300 considder the Tamron version with USD and VC too. It is just a little bit better at the long end.

Michael O'Connor D700 + Tamron 70-300 USD VC

Richard Thomas , Feb 21, 2012; 11:29 a.m.

Mike, I will repost a quote from Matt again
"Avoid the super zooms (especially those that are stopped down past f/5.6 at the long end - you'll have autofocus trouble to go along with having less light to use)."
Most superzoom's long end are f/6.3 and @ 6.3, the lighting has to be really good or focus will be slow or useless.

Mike Stoddart , Feb 21, 2012; 11:50 a.m.

Thanks all. Richard, I know I'm supposed to understand your re-quote, but I'll have to hit the books. :)

Richard Thomas , Feb 21, 2012; 01:45 p.m.

Put your D90 on A-mode then dial up the f-stop to 6.3 then start shooting in low light conditions and you will see what I mean.

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