Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup

Started May 17, 2012 | Discussions
BlackMagic
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Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup
May 17, 2012

I got a DX format Nikon camera as my first DSLR, and now I'm thinking about acquiring lenses. I'm a little curious about the choices in Nikon's lineup of DX lenses.

Excluding the specialist lenses -- the primes, fisheyes, and macros -- I would assume that Nikon would make a series of lenses that would complement each other.

The 18-200mm I understand is a one-size-fits-all lens that will give you a wide angle to moderate telephoto in one lens, so you don't have to swap it out.

Since the kit lens is 18-55mm, it makes sense that a bunch of their DX lenses start from 55mm on the low end, so you can get one lens from 18-55 and another from 55-200 or 55-300.

But what about the 18-70mm, or the 18-105mm? What is the thinking behind those? The focal length ranges don't seem to fit in very well with the other DX lenses.

Why is the 12-24mm ultrawide $300 more than the 10-24mm? They are both IF lenses, both with VR... the 12-24mm has a fixed max aperture of f/4 over the entire range, while the 10-24mm varies from f/3.5-4.5... is that it? The extra half a stop on the long end of the focal range is worth $300?

The $1500 17-55mm f/2.8 I can also understand by that same reasoning... fixed max aperture, pretty fast lens, so it's almost a fast prime over the entire range of focal lengths from moderate wideangle to portrait -- is that right? Ditto the 16-85mm f/3.5, which is obviously not quite as fast, and less than half the price?

Guidenet
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Re: Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup
In reply to BlackMagic, May 17, 2012

Ok, for starters, you'd be way better asking this in the Nikon SLR forum where more people would know. Let me take a shot here. For starters, which camera do you own?

There are a lot of 18 to something zooms. Every one of them is a kit lens of some sort. They were all packaged as kit lenses at one time or another. The 18-55 is the least expensive. If you want more range, back when the D70 was about and similar aged cameras, you could opt for the 18-70 kit as an option over the 18-55. When the D80 came out, they upped the optional kit lens to the 18-135 or for the D200, you could choose the 18-200 over the standard kit. When the D90 came out, they shortened the 18-135 slightly and added VR for the 18-105 as the optional kit lens.

I think you can still buy a new 18-70, but not the 18-135. Nikon's 18-200 was mostly sold not in a kit, but was bundled in several cameras at different times. That longer 10x range meant that though convenient, was not as sharp as some of the less ratios.The 18-70, 18-135 and 18-105 are all very sharp lenses.

So, they are not meant to fit together. Consider them all as options over the kit lens and a darn good option that most other companies don't pay as much attention to. So, you can opt for the 18-55 or get the 18-105 when you buy the camera, or the 18-200. I think that's the progression these days for the D7000. That should answer that.

Now with ultra wides. When Nikon first brought out crop sensor cameras (DX) because of the crop factor of 1.5 it was hard to get a wide angle lens. 35mm was normal. 28mm was pretty normal too. That left 20mm and 24mm as moderately wide angle lenses. The kit lens could get down to 18mm but that is more like a 28mm lens or moderately wide. People who liked really wide angles were stuck. So, Nikon came out with a professional grade 12-24 f/4 constant aperture zoom. This is a more expensive pro-grade lens. Constant aperture is much harder to build but you don't have to worry about recalculating exposure as you zoom.

Because of the high price and people wanting a little wider, Nikon released a consumer grade 10-24 variable aperture lens for less money quite a bit later.

Nikon's big huge 17-55 f/2.8 is the other pro-grade DX zoom. It's a wide to slightly long normal zoom for professional photographers who up until the D3 came out could only buy DX bodies from Nikon. The 16-85 is a better than normal consumer grade variable aperture normal zoom that goes around 15% wider than kit zooms.

When you move into more telephoto lenses, there's really less reason to make separate DX and FX lenses. The DX starts not being that small compared to FX. Even when you go fast, this starts not to be true. That fast 17-55 is certainly not a small lens.

As time marches on, I think crop cameras will be regulated more and more to entry level cameras. I think the top enthusiast gear will be full frame as will all the pro-grade cameras, so I think Nikon will and have been concentrating on less expensive DX lenses. I don't think there will be another DX 17-55 f/2.8 or equivalent. I think Canon will also move in that direction, offering sub-$1800 full frame models in time. Maybe sub $1200 full frames a little later. Nikon already starts FX at around $2100 brand new. That's down considerably from last year.

If DX users want a pro-grade lens, they can opt for an FX lens. There's no reason not to except they are a little larger. Of course they cost more, but if you're looking for a higher grade lens, you'd expect to pay more.

I think I answered all your questions.
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Cheers, Craig

Follow me on Twitter @craighardingsr : Equipment in Profile

 Guidenet's gear list:Guidenet's gear list
Nikon D300 Nikon D700 Nikon D3S Nikon D800 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF +23 more
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digitalization
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Re: Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup
In reply to BlackMagic, May 17, 2012

But what about the 18-70mm, or the 18-105mm? What is the thinking behind those? The focal length ranges don't seem to fit in very well with the other DX lenses.

18-70 came as a kit lens with my first dSLR - the D70s. Logic behind it? There's a large number of 70-300mm consumer level lenses to complement it, ranging from the Sigma 70-300 pseudo-macro (1:2) doorstoppers to the moderately priced Nikkor 70-300 VR. And then there's the 70-200 F2.8 lenses as well.

2004 Jan - 18-70 G
2005 Apr - 55-200 G
2005 Nov - 18-200 G VR
2006 Aug - 18-135 G
2006 Aug - 70-300 G VR
2006 Nov - 18-55 G
2007 Mar - 55-200 G VR
2007 Nov - 18-55 G VR
2008 Jan - 16-85 G VR
2008 Apr - 18-105 G VR
2009 Jul - 18-200 G VR II
2010 Aug - 28-300 G VR
2010 Aug - 55-300 G VR

To each their own conclusions.

 digitalization's gear list:digitalization's gear list
Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM
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Barry Fitzgerald
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Re: Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup
In reply to digitalization, May 17, 2012

I like the 18-70mm range it's an equivalent of 27-105mm on full frame which is a very useful range to have. Much more interesting than those zzz inducing 18-55mm's IMO

As for the range not everything makes sense the 18-55mm is the standard kit not just for Nikon but everyone (please someone get motivated!) 18-105mm is found with some bodies as a "super kit" option, and not a bad option it is either a very decent lens, so is the 18-70mm

Prices wise forget it because the variation between makers is quite a bit, Nikon might be considered pricey for the UWA lenses and zooms, Canon have a dated prime range where Nikon have updated quite a few. Pro's and cons good and weaker spots across makers.

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Deleted1929
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Basics
In reply to BlackMagic, May 17, 2012

I got a DX format Nikon camera as my first DSLR, and now I'm thinking about acquiring lenses.

If you don't already have a lens then get an 18-105 VR ( new or used ). It's one of the best lenses out there optically and it's embarrassingly cheap. It's an excellent general purpose lens.

If you already have a lens then buy nothing else until you identify something that your existing lens or lenses do not do. Going on a buying spree because they think they need more lenses is the first mistake many beginners make. Wait until you know what your existing equipment does not do and then see if a lens exists that can help with that. It might turn out a different lens is not what you need, but to develop technique, or a tripod or a flash.

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StephenG

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BlackMagic
Junior MemberPosts: 25
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Re: Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup
In reply to Guidenet, May 17, 2012

I think I answered all your questions.
Cheers, Craig

Yes, that was about as thorough a response as I could have possibly hoped for; it could be its own Wikipedia article. Can't thank you enough!

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MrMojo
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Third Party Lenses Are Worth A Look...
In reply to BlackMagic, May 17, 2012

I've been using Nikon gear for 30+ years and I own a bunch of fast Nikkor primes and zooms.

But when it came time to buy a wide-angle zoom for my DX Nikon I went with a Tokina 12-24. Money was not an issue: if the equivalent Nikkor was worth the money I would have bought it.

The Tokina has a more robust build and smoother zooming/manual focusing than the Nikkor. Except for having more chromatic aberration in some situations (easily fixed in post processing) it is nearly as good optically as the Nikkor. And the Tokina costs 50% less than the Nikkor. If your camera has an internal auto focus motor you can save $100 buying the Tokina that lacks an internal AF motor.

I've been using the Tokina for almost five years. It's my only third party lens and I haven't regretted the purchase.

Regarding variable aperture vs. fixed aperture lenses: If you shoot in manual mode, use an incident light meter or non-TTL strobes a fixed aperture is more convenient than a variable-aperture lens. Since I do all three a fixed-aperture lens is a No Brainer purchase.

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motobloat
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Re: Nikon's NIKKOR DX lens lineup
In reply to BlackMagic, May 17, 2012

Already a lot of good advice in this thread, but I will add my own thoughts just for kicks.

BlackMagic wrote:

I got a DX format Nikon camera as my first DSLR, and now I'm thinking about acquiring lenses. I'm a little curious about the choices in Nikon's lineup of DX lenses.

Excluding the specialist lenses -- the primes, fisheyes, and macros -- I would assume that Nikon would make a series of lenses that would complement each other.

First off, Nikon's DX lens lineup is kind of weak in terms of primes, so it's a good thing you aren't looking at DX primes.

Many of Nikon's DX lenses were created because they are similar in angle of view to some full frame counterpart.

17-55 f/2.8 on a DX camera is the same angle of view as a 25.5-82.5 on an FX camera. Or, close enough to Nikon's 24-70 f/2.8. "Close enough" is the important point here.

  • 18-55 x 1.5 = 27-82.5, very similar (angle of view) to the FX 28-85 lens.

  • 18-70 DX, very similar to the old 28-105 FX lens

  • 16-85 DX, very similar to the 24-120 FX lens

  • 18-200 DX, very similar to the 28-300 on FX.

  • 12-24 DX, very similar to the 17-35 on FX

  • 18-105 DX, sort of similar to the old 28-200 on FX

  • 40mm DX macro, 60mm FX Macro

  • 35mm DX 1.8, 50mm FX 1.8

But what about the 18-70mm, or the 18-105mm? What is the thinking behind those? The focal length ranges don't seem to fit in very well with the other DX lenses.

Well gets at another reason lenses are made -- to compete with similar lenses from other companies. Oh Canon has an 18-70 kit lens with their cheap DSLRs? Well, we better make one too.

Why is the 12-24mm ultrawide $300 more than the 10-24mm? They are both IF lenses, both with VR... the 12-24mm has a fixed max aperture of f/4 over the entire range, while the 10-24mm varies from f/3.5-4.5... is that it? The extra half a stop on the long end of the focal range is worth $300?

Neither the 12-24 or the 10-24 have VR. The 12-24 is a constant aperture; you always pay more for that. Also, it has a gold ring; you always pay more for that. Also, it is a bit better made on the inside (or so the legend goes). Also, the difference between f/4 and f/4.5 is 1/3 of a stop, not a half stop: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-number#Standard_full-stop_f-number_scale

The $1500 17-55mm f/2.8 I can also understand by that same reasoning... fixed max aperture, pretty fast lens, so it's almost a fast prime over the entire range of focal lengths from moderate wideangle to portrait -- is that right? Ditto the 16-85mm f/3.5, which is obviously not quite as fast, and less than half the price?

Also it has a gold ring It's not actually as great of a lens as it once was. Nikon really needs to update it - performance at 55mm is pretty dismal compared to more recent offerings from Canon and Sigma. Plus, it has not stabilization...

There are rumors that the 16-85 f/3.5-5.6 is going to replaced with a 16-85 f/4 VR, and since that lens is hard to find in stock, this might be a good lens choice - I know I will buy one. http://nikonrumors.com/2012/03/04/patent-filed-for-the-rumored-new-nikon-16-85mm-dx-lens.aspx/

Don't worry about getting a "perfectly matching focal lengths" kit of zooms for DX. That is only really possible with FX (14-24, 24-70, 70-200, 200-400). For Nikon DX, the closest you can get for f/2.8 lenses is the 17-55 and 70-200 plus one of the slower ultra-wides.

If you are dead set on this matching game for DX, Sigma makes a 17-50 f/2.8 OS, 50-150 f/2.8 OS, and 120-300 f/2.8 OS. For the very wide end, you can get the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, or, if you don't mind giving up f/2.8, you can get one of the Nikons, on of the many Sigma, Tamron, or Tokina lenses that cover this range. If you want to stay with Sigma, the Sigma 8-16mm would pair well with the above three Sigma lenses.

Speaking of Tokina, they used to make a full f/2.8 kit for Nikon -- 11-16 f/2.8, 16-50 f/2.8, 50-135 f/2.8... But the latter two lenses are no longer available (although they can be found used sometimes).

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