Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...???

Started Feb 12, 2011 | Discussions
Brother A
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Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...???
Feb 12, 2011

Howdy Photo Friends,

I am brand new to DSLR photography. I have some basic photo skills but am still very in the "unknown" / learning stage about about all of the gear & glass.

As a first step into DSLR land (and after some research), I recently purchased the D3100 kit with the 18-55mm VR lens. I also opted to include the new Nikon 55-300mm VR too. (this is all a DX set-up)

After playing around with these a little as well as seeing some of the other options online, I am realizing I may want to opt for a lens that will have a wider range as is (ie 18 - 200). My main reasoning, is that it will give me more of an ability to capture a wide range of objects without changing lenses. I am also realizing from some reviews that the 55-300mm may not be a good choice for sharp zoom photos that can taken hand held with VR.

The main uses I am anticipating for my camera are:

  • Indoor: family, low light dancing, art, and music events, friend gatherings, etc...

  • Outdoor: panoramic scenes, general nature, birds, animals (when I see them), macro plants and insects, sunsets & night time sky

  • I like shooting natural light / without a flash when possible

My main questions:

  • Would a lens like an 18-200mm take away from any of the capabilities that an 18-55 might have (like better low light possibilities on the smaller lens?)

  • Would you recommend the Nikon 18-105 vs 18-200 (both are DX / VR). And, if I got the 18-200 would I even need a larger zoom option? If so what would you recommend?

  • For 300mm zoom lens, any feedback on the differences of these two is appreciated: Nikon 55-300 vs 70-300 (I realize the 70-300mm is not a DX lens and not sure if I should stay away from that option using the D3100)

  • If I had the opportunity to exchange both the 18-55mm and 55-300mm lenses that I have, based on the potential uses I have shared, what lens/es would you recommend (that would keep me under $1000).

I have a week to decided on this as I purchased this set up from Best Buy last weekend and have another week to possibly do an exchange. While it would be easy to return the 55-300mm, because the 18-55 is part of their basic kit I am not sure if I have the ability to exchange it as well.

Thank you for reading my book of a post and offering your input!
I LOVE THIS FORUM!!!

Brother "A"

RaymondR
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to Brother A, Feb 12, 2011

Where to start.

In no particular order:

do yourself a favor. take the 55-300 back and DON't get anything else. learn how to use your camera with the 18-55. figure out what you REALLY will end up shooting. buy more lenses when you figure that out.

Best Buy probably won't let you trade the kit lens back in without returning the kit.

when you are ready to buy a zoom, there no reason to avoid the 70-300 just because it is an FX lens. It works great on DX cameras and it is a superior lens to the 55-300.

the 18-200 is a good lens. lots of folks get results they like with it. but a zoom that wide in range is a compromise lens. it won't perform optimally at all focal lengths compared to group of lenses that will cover the wide range of subject matter you claim you want to shoot. don't fear changing lenses. for pete's sake, you bought an INTERCHANGEABLE lens camera! if you want to shoot indoors and not use flash (good luck with that), you will need a fast aperture lens, like the 35mm 1.8 or a fast 2.8 zoom like the 17-55.

VR is nice and often helpful, but if you want consistently sharp pictures, buy a good tripod and use it.

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Raymond R

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Brother A
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to RaymondR, Feb 12, 2011

Thank You Raymond,

I really appreciate your input. Here are a couple of more pieces of information that may help others offer feedback as well.....

  • I got a great deal on the 55-300mm lens with the package - buying it with the camera only cost me an extra $300USD.

  • I did take some photos with it today that seemed to come out fairly nice (but I of course do not have much else to compare that too).

  • I've never had a good zoom lens before and really like having that capability. So I will for sure want to start with a lens option that offers at least 100 - 200 mm

Many Thanks,

~ Antonio ~

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Jerry Fisher
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to Brother A, Feb 13, 2011

you can buy the 70-300 for a bit over $300. It is a very highly respected lens.

shot these with it on D90

with it

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scottwparker
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to Brother A, Feb 13, 2011

I am also a Nikon D3100 owner with the kit lens. I had a D40 and the Nikon 18-200 zoom lens before. For financial reasons, I sold the camera and lens. Then, 3 months later, I wanted a good camera again (I do love photography) so bought the D3100. I miss the Nikon 18-200 zoom as it was so usefull, and it took very nice pictures. I took about 2,000 photos on a trip to Europe 2 years ago. The zoom was very convenient.

In any case, I do wish I was able to keep that lens, as it filled pretty much every picture scenario. I know I can change lenses, but sometimes it is so much quicker to change the focal length on the lens, versus swapping the lens.

If you can afford it, do go for the Nikon 18-200, or (as I will do) buy the Nikon 18-105 zoom, as it is half the cost. With the high pixel density of the D3100 (14.6 megapixels vs. 6.1 for the D40) I can crop to get closer than the 18-105 will allow.

Scott

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Jerry Fisher
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to Jerry Fisher, Feb 13, 2011

the 70-300 will be just fine on a DX camera and does allow "freedom" if you ever decide to go full frame. It is a bit heavier but the IQ is quite good.

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fotowbert
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to Jerry Fisher, Feb 13, 2011

Jerry Fisher wrote:

you can buy the 70-300 for a bit over $300. It is a very highly respected lens.

By "highly respected" you have to be referring to the current model of the Nikon 70-300 with VR, but it sells now in the US in the low $500 (official USA non-gray market model). What am I missing here?

John

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fotowbert
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One lens or two, that is the ?
In reply to Brother A, Feb 13, 2011

Brother A wrote:

I am brand new to DSLR photography.......snip......

The main uses I am anticipating for my camera are:

  • Indoor: family, low light dancing, art, and music events, friend gatherings, etc...

  • Outdoor: panoramic scenes, general nature, birds, animals (when I see them), macro plants and insects, sunsets & night time sky

  • I like shooting natural light / without a flash when possible

Brother A,

You have listed a broad spectrum of photo taking situations but don't mention what you prior experience has been. Your post gives me the impression that you are overwhelmed by the DSLR field and don't know if you made the best choice. That is something only you can answer after you develop your own personal photographic style and preferences. But to do that you must start somewhere.

So what do I think about a D3100 with 18-55 and 55-300. My opinion only.

This is the typical entry level two lens kit which prior to the introduction of the 55-300VR would have used the 55-200VR telephoto. Dealers really like to push a two lens package with one being the 18-55.

While this does cover a good range you have to be willing to change lenses at the 55mm break (83mm effective field of view). My preference would be for the first lens go to at least 85 making for some shared focal length (overlap) which reduces need to change lenses.

Others will tell you that you should expect to be changing lenses with your DSLR, after all that's what you bought it for. Well unless you have lots of time and there are no other people involved, changing lenses becomes a big pain. If you agree, the 18-105VR on a D3100 would be my recommendation for a cost effective one lens kit.

Now you know why I chose the 18-200VR one-lens solution as the main lens for my first DSLR. (The 16-85VR and 18-105VR didn't exist at that time). I also got the 18-55 as a backup because when purchased as part of a kit it was dirt cheap.

With all typical f5.6 zooms expect to be somewhat dissatisfied shooting indoors unless there is plenty of light. I find an SB600 flash with with DIY bounce card works wonders indoors, far better that the built-in.

Start shooting and in time it will by your experience, style, and vision that dictates what you attach (with an unnatural CCW twist) to that Nikon lens mount.

Good luck with whatever you finally decide.

John

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Jerry Fisher
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to fotowbert, Feb 13, 2011

adorama shows one refurb. for $379.

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Hansa Yindee
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Re: One lens or two, that is the ?
In reply to fotowbert, Feb 13, 2011

.
A suggestion, change the 55-300 for a 70-300VR, money well spent.

.
Next get a Nikon SB700 flash gun, Creative Lighting System book and
start to enjoy shooting indoors, as well as a new avenue for out doors too.
.
.
I use the 70-300VR all the time. Also a 17-55 2.8 Nikkor and SB800.
.
.
--
Jon in Thailand

http://www.flickr.com/photos/af2899/
.

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Brother A
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to scottwparker, Feb 14, 2011

Thanks to everyone who has commented on this thread. Much appreciated!

Here is where I have arrived.... If I can swing it with BestBuy, I am going to return the 55-300 lens and get the Nikon 70-300. I am certain I will enjoy and use a higher magnification zoom (up to 300mm) on top of whatever "main" lens I use and it certainly seems that spending the extra $100 is well worth it.

I of course, am going to give it a try on the camera before I do so and also am hoping they will honor the exchange after I have already done a little swapping with this purchase already.

Regarding the other end of lens spectrum, I am stuck with the 18-55mm lens that came with the camera as it is part of a kit. I have seen that I could probably sell it online for around $100. So, I am thinking I am going to have fun with it and learn with it for a while and save up to choose either the Nikon 16 - 85mm or 18 - 105mm as my "main" lens. I will also be going to try both of these lenses out at a local photo store and will then seek out the best price online.

So, if anyone has any additional input on either of these lenses it is my next decision making frontier. I will also post another update here once the 70-300 swap is complete.

Many Thanks,

Brother A

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Brother A
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Re: Nikon 70-300mm on the way!
In reply to Hansa Yindee, Feb 15, 2011

Thought I would post one last update on this thread to let you know that I had success in exchanging the 55-300mm lens for the 70-300mm today. Before I did, I tried out the 70-300 and, while heavier, it actually felt more like a "real" lens than the 55-300 did. I actually liked the heavier feel and sturdier design. I immediately could tell the difference in AF speed from the 55-300 (which sometimes would hunt and take longer to lock onto an object). It was also a big difference (for me) to have the focus ring on the inside of the lens (closest to the body) vs the end of the lens.

I also took a few test shots in the store and felt like the IQ and VR were a noticably better as well (although I do not have a lot of comparison time to give that a full 100% certainty - it was more in the experience of the moment that seemed to produce more favorable results).

On a pricing note, for anyone looking to get a "package deal" on an intro level DSLR and a lens like the Nikon 70-300mm, I was able to purchase the D3100 with its 18-55mm kit lens with the 70-300mm VR lens for $989. With the D3100 kit being $599, that made the 70-300 lens only $390 which is a great price! Buying it in the package made it $200 cheaper than it would be on its own. ($590!)

So, thanks again for the feedback here from everyone. I will be posting again soon to seek some other feedback on my next step of seeking a different "main" lens (will be selling the 18-55 kit lens for whatever I can get for it) which right now is looking like will be the Nikon 16-85mm or possibly the Nikon 18-105mm. Looking forward to hearing all of your valuable input again when I gear up for this next step.

Bro "A"

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Mundy dot ca
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Re: Newbie D3100 Lens Help! Nikon 55-300mm vs. 70-300 / Nikon 18-105 vs. 18-200 or...
In reply to Brother A, Feb 18, 2011

Have you looked at the 28-300 VRII?

Samples on a DX:

http://www.mundy.ca/Miscellaneous/Tests

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Steve
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50(1.4), 105VR(2.8), 300VR(2.8), 28-300VR

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