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Nikon D7000 Lenses for Travel and Daily Use

Gaby Ralph , Jan 24, 2013; 10:35 p.m.

I'm looking to buy a new camera in the next few months and have decided on the D7000. The far more difficult decision has been figuring out which lenses will best suit my needs!
I have a few reasons for wanting to upgrade my current gear -- a Canon 450D. My daughter is 3 and is getting into relatively quicker sports (soccer, gymnastics). I want to learn more about photography and become a better photographer. Finally, our family is going on a trip to California in late May and I'd love to get some great shots.
I understand that this model is near the end of its life cycle, and I'm seeing some great deals. For the most part I take casual pictures of family, plus some wildlife pictures here and there. The trip to California will include visits to Yosemite, driving along Route 1 to Big Sur, and whale watching off the coast of Monterrey. Here are the lens combinations I've been looking at:
- 16-85 and 70-300 -- Highest quality optics but the most expensive. I have concerns about switching lenses while out whale watching but perhaps the best plan would be to only bring the 70-300 along. The 16-85 looks like a great general walk around lens.
- 18-105 (kit) and 70-300 -- Lose 2mm on one end, lower optical quality but the kit has a coupon for $200 off the 70-300.
- 18-200 (kit) -- I've read the pluses and minuses, but the thought of not changing lenses is very appealing. I think I might miss the 70-300's extra range when it comes to wildlife photography.
I will also likely buy a 35mm 1.8G as I've enjoyed using a prime lens with my Canon, and have read that this focal length works well for the D7000. I've also looked into the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and the Nikon 10-24 as future purchases. My current budget for the D7000 and lenses is about $2,000. Image quality is very important to me, but I haven't developed an image larger than 8 x 10 so far.
I would appreciate your advice on which combination might work best, or any other suggestions. Thank you very much for your time!


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Howard Carson , Jan 24, 2013; 11:14 p.m.

If you're on a charter boat and whales are breaching between twenty and a hundred yards distant, the 70-300 should do well. Beyond that distance, you're going to be capturing more water than whale in your photos. Consider a longer, competitively priced tele-zoom such as the Sigma 150-500. In good light, it can be a very good lens for all sorts of wildlife photography including whale watching. The long end of the Sigma is very slow, but that's irrelevant in good light. Bring a circular polarizer.
The Nikkor 16-85 is a very good choice. AF is quite fast, and the lens produces sharp, contrasty, color accurate results. Personally, I think it's the best general purpose/walkabout/street shooter/travel shooter that Nikon makes for DX bodies.
I was hoping that Nikon's first lens announcement of 2013 would be something like an update of the 80-400 VR or a completely new zoom such as a 16-85 f/4 VR, but instead Nikon announced a rehash of the aging 18-35 FX wide-angle zoom.
The newer Nikkor 18-300 is also worth considering, but so far I'm not overly impressed with my copy. It's not a disappointment, but IMO it's also not quite as good as the 18-200 VRII. The auto distortion control update in the latest version of the D7000 firmware includes the 18-300, but the complex edge distortion produced by the lens isn't quite perfectly sorted out by even the current firmware version.
I've got the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 and the Sigma version as well. I like the Sigma better because I think it's a touch sharper than the Tamron and is slightly better in the corners and better wide open. However, the Nikkor 16-85 is just as sharp as either of these lenses, and sharper at some focal lengths too. The Nikkor build quality is slightly better than the Tamron or the Sigma, but both the third-party lenses are quite well built too. No complaints. The Nikkor is slightly more compact than either the Tamron or the Sigma if that's important to you.
The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 DX prime is amazing IMO, and can be used to produce wonderful images. It's yet another superb f/1.8 prime that Nikon seems to be able to design and produce at will and at vanishingly low retail prices.

nick baker , Jan 24, 2013; 11:21 p.m.

if you are firm on your $2000 budget then avoid the 16-85. If it is better optically than the kit lenses, and note the "if", then it is not by much. 18-200 is also expensive, and probably weaker optically. Regarding wildlife, 70-300 is preferred because of better AF, between 200-300mm it's not clear it's optically better than the alternatives. The cheap basic option of 18-55VR + 55-200VR is really not bad, except for lacking a fast aperture. None of these lenses are fast enough to suit indoor sports. You could consider getting the 18-105VR until you work out from experience whether anything more is needed, eg perhaps a faster prime.

Hector Javkin , Jan 24, 2013; 11:50 p.m.

I like the combination of the Nikon 70-300mm VR lens with the D7000. The quality-to-weight ratio of the 70-300mm VR is amazing. (Make sure it is the VR version, the non-VR is a very different lens.)

I don't know the other lenses you're considering--I've used the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 extensively. They are both excellent, but neither has VR. Of these, the Nikon is much heavier and much more expensive.

Nikon 70-300mm VR

Eric Arnold , Jan 25, 2013; 12:11 a.m.

adorama has the d7000 at $900 body only, $1200 with 18-105. if you go for the second option, that leaves $800, enough for a 70-300 VR ($400 refurb, $600 new) + 35/1.8 ($200). the 16-85 might have slightly better IQ than the 18-105 but is just as slow and you lose 20mm off the wide end. in terms of total photographic capability, it's actually somewhat of a lateral move. also, the overlap between 18-105 and 70-300 is actually a good thing in the field, since you'll switch lenses less in practical use. personally, i'd pass on the 16-85 and save up for an UWA or 2.8 standard zoom, which are lenses which do things the kit lens can't do.

Kyle Bybee , Jan 25, 2013; 05:31 a.m.

I shoot with the D7000 and my lenses are the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 with VR and the Tamron 70-300 with VR and USD and the Nikkor 35 f/1.8. The 17-50 stays on the camera 90% of the time, its sharp and good color rendition. The Tamron 70-300 (newer version) is probably the one that always amazes me. the VR is awesome for hand holding, I've taken shots where I thought the photo would turn out blurry and when processed it was sharp. This cat was shot hand held about 75 yards away (guessing), ISO 100 @300mm f/11 @ 1/250. It is slightly cropped.

barn yard cat

Wouter Willemse , Jan 25, 2013; 06:08 a.m.

You seem set on the D7000, but if I am honest, I see nothing there your EOS 450D cannot do. Now I have no idea how much money you have put into your Canon system, but you'll loose money selling off - switching brands can be expensive in this sense. Did you consider the EOS60D too? I'm not saying the D7000 makes a bad choice (far, far from it!) but switching brands will do nothing to make you a better photographer.
Anyway, that wasn't your question.

I've had the 16-85VR, and it is really an excellent lens. It is also expensive for what it is, and if you're treating your gear normally, I think the lower construction quality of the 18-105VR should not need to be a problem. For quite a lot less, it's optically really close to the 16-85VR, and as such a much more attractive offer. The 70-300VR or Tamron 70-300VC both will make a fine choice as the long lens.
The 35 f/1.8G, and at its price, it is really almost a no-brainer. But almost. Not entirely. I've had it, as I always had one or 2 primes alongside the 16-85 in case speed was needed. For this use, it makes a lot of sense. But.... you're contemplating a 17-50 f/2.8. Now, instead of getting a 18-105VR and a 35 f/1.8, getting either Sigma or Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 straight away is do-able too in your budget. It's a bit a different trade-off, and f/2.8 isn't f/1.8, and you'll end up with a gap between 50 and 70mm (which doesn't really matter)... Odds are you'll buy a 18-105VR now, a 17-50 f/2.8 later, ending up with a 18-105 you won't use no more. So, worth considering skipping the prime and kitlens entirely, and get the zoom you want from the start.
Another thing with the prime: don't buy it yet. People tell you that 35mm is very useful, and I also think it is. But whether it really is, depends on your style of photography. So, first get a zoom, see which focal length you use most and where you'd want a faster lens, and then decide which prime to get. Could well be 35mm, could also be a 50mm, or a 24mm....
(And yes, the fact I did not mention the 18-200VR so far is intentional, it's not a bad lens, but all the above discussed lenses are better)

Elliot Bernstein , Jan 25, 2013; 06:25 a.m.

" the thought of not changing lenses is very appealing"

The idea of changes lenses on camera body IS EXACTLY what makes DSLRs appealing.

But if you really don't want to change lenses, the 18-300mm may be your best one lens solution. At the print size you mention, uncropped images from any of the lenses listed will likely look pretty much the same unless you get out a magnifying glass when viewing them.

Choose your lenses wisely - you will likely have them for a long time.

Shun Cheung , Jan 25, 2013; 08:33 a.m.

I would split the focal length range into two lenses. For a mid-range zoom, I would get an f2.8 for indoor use, perhaps something like 17-50mm type. Most likely we are talking about a 3rd-party lens since the Nikon 17-55mm/f2.8 DX is very expensive.

For the long end, Nikon's 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR is very good. The Tamron version is optically excellent, but the construction quality is barely acceptable.

You can add an f1.8, 35mm or 50mm, later on for dim-light work.

On a D7000, the long end of the 18-200mm AF-S VR is somewhat a bad lens. Its wide end is quite decent. If you are getting a D7000 for better image quality, I wouldn't put a super zoom in front on it.

Peter Hamm , Jan 25, 2013; 09:57 a.m.

If it was me buying a D7000 today I'd get the Tamron 17-50 and the Nikkor 70-300 and probably be real happy for a long time.

But it depends on what you have now. If you're the slightest bit invested in lenses and bodies from Canon, I don't see a compelling reason to switch.

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