Nikon 18-200 or Sigma 18-250
Nikon 18-200 or Sigma 18-250
Apr 18, 2013
I currently own a Nikon D3000 with a 18-55 and 55-200 lens.
I am looking to purchase a lens to minimize switching out lens. I am looking at the Sigma 18-250 and Nikon 18-200. The price difference is about $400 which is pushing me towards the Sigma, however, I don't want to end up with a poor quality lens.
Keep in mind, I am taking pictures as a hobby/memory keeping. I am taking pictures of my family, at birthday parties, soccer games, and vacation etc. I obviously want quality results but I need to know if the price difference to the Nikon will give me that.
Additionally - Should I keep the two lens I currently own or trade them in. Husband seems to think I should keep the 55-200 even though I am looking at the 18-200/18-250.
Thank you for your feedback!
1. If you are dead set on an all-in-one lens, buy the Nikon 18-200. If it turns out that you don't like the pictures, at least you can say that you bought the best available. If you buy the Sigma and don't like the pictures, you'll always wonder if you should have bought the Nikon. Sigma also is reputed to have more variable quality control. There are surprisingly many published pictures in American photography magazines which were taken with the Nikon, despite even more expensive exotic Nikon glass.
2. Keep the 18-55 for sure, since it really is very convenient, very light, and you won't get much for it as sale or trade-in. I'd keep the 55-200; it's lighter than the 18-200 and very good value. That too won't get much in trade.
Based on my experience with the lenses you have listed, I believe you can meet your goals with an all-in-one, and you will be happy to leave the lens swapping behind.
I had a similar kit that you have – 18-55/55-200, but on a D3100 body. Using that kit while traveling in Europe, I found myself frustrated with the need to swap lenses, not because I hate the act, but rather because it was forcing me to ask my traveling companion to wait while I swapped. I eventually grew tired of that and ended up just not getting certain shots. After that trip I vowed to look into a “travel zoom.”
I then sold that kit and moved up to a D7000 with an 18-105. While the 105 was nice, I still wanted more at the telephoto end, so I bought a Sigma 18-250 OS Macro four weeks ago. My neighbor was gracious enough to loan me his Nikon 18-200 VR at the same time, and I’ve been busy comparing the lenses.
My short summary is that both lenses have about the same IQ, with each having strengths & weaknesses. It’s possible to get good shots either way. In fact, I’d say when you are shooting outside in direct sunlight, the Sigma has the edge, because you can stop it down to f11 where it is very sharp edge-to-edge between 18 & 100mm.
Above 100mm, both lenses are only sharp in the center of the frame. But the good news is, at least with the Sigma, you can get that good center sharpness wide open, which is where you really need to be when shooting telephoto anyway.
The Sigma also has fast autofocus – I use it to shoot my dogs in the dog park and it works fairly well, given the chaotic motion. I will say that in this situation, there is no substitute for an all-in-one. I need to shift from wide angle to full on telephoto in a matter of seconds. I’d never go back to a dual-lens setup in that circumstance.
So to me, I have no regrets with the Sigma as compared to the Nikon 18-200 VR. It’s lighter and cheaper, and fulfills the role of convenience/travel zoom very well. About the only thing I like better on the Nikon is that it has slightly better bokeh. If it were my only lens I might pay the extra $$$ just for that, but I have primes and other lenses I use to get my subject isolation kicks.
Now, as for whether or not either lens can replace your existing pair of lenses, only you can decide that. But I think you’ll find a similar set of IQ compromises at the long end (soft corners) and I actually believe the Sigma is a better lens than the 18-55 in the ranges they overlap. It’s only a little heavier and larger than the 18-55 to boot.
A two-lens solution would give better IQ than the Sigma, but I think you need to go to a 16-85/70-300 pairing to do it (I’m sure I’ll have that pair sooner or later for use when swapping lenses is a pleasure as opposed to a bother). I’m on the fence on whether or not I keep my 18-105, and I certainly would not take off the Sigma to put on an 18-55. Keeping an 18-55 around as a backup lens isn’t a bad idea, but I predict that once you have the Sigma on the camera, you won’t put your existing lenses back on.
My .02. Good luck and have fun, whatever direction you go!
One point I forgot to make, however, is that for whatever reason, the 18-200 VR tends to expose about 1/3 of a stop brighter than the Sigma 18-250 Macro. On a D7000 this isn't a big deal - dial in a little more iso, or push the raw file a little more in PP, and you are done.
But on a D3000 you don't have as much to work with in that regard, and thus the 18-200 might be the better choice for you. You'll need to weigh that against the added reach of the Sigma, which can be nice for those sport events.
After doing a little more indoor shooting, I want to make two more additions.
First I’ll clarify that I am comparing the Sigma to the Nikon 18-200 VR, not the VR II.
Second, there is one area where the 18-200 VR, and probably the 18-55, is plainly superior to the Sigma 18-250 Macro: Indoor, available light shooting (no flash).
The problem with the Sigma is that, below 100 mm or so, it is very soft wide open.
So, for example, I can get a perfectly serviceable shot out of the 18-200 inside my house kitchen or living room (typical can lighting) by shooting, say, 1/10 or 1/13 of a second, wide-open, ISO 500-640 on my D7000.
On the Sigma, the shots are plainly soft at these settings – no need to pixel peep. I can stop the lens down, but the higher required ISO negates most of the resolution gain, and the 18-200 still has the best shot.
Now, for candid shots in social gatherings, this difference isn’t significant IMO. 1/13 sec is too slow to avoid motion blur of people who are milling about in a party, so a flash is needed either way with these lenses, which allows you to both increase shutter speed and stop down the aperture, in which case the difference in IQ between the two lenses is minimal. Since I’ve discovered the effectiveness of a bounce flash, I do pretty much all of my indoor social gathering shots with a flash, unless I’m using a prime. In fact, it’s worth observing that the price difference between the Sigma & the Nikon gets you most of the way to an SB-700, or a SB-400 with cash left over. Either setup will give much better indoor candid shots than a 18-200 with the on-board flash, assuming you have white ceilings that are under 10 ft.
For indoor shots where flashes are not allowed or desired, like churches, museums, the 18-200 is plainly the better choice. But then this is where the advice to have the 18-55 as a backup could be a viable alternative.
Hope this helps.
I suspect the Nikon is a bit sharper, but superzooms have their weak points.
I've used an 18-200vr a lot over the years, on 10 and 12mp cameras. (I've owned three of the lenses since 2007, one for me, one for my wife, and another that replaced my first one.)
Whichever lens you get, you should do some real testing before you take it on vacation to find the weak points. You may want to avoid those weak points, or at least lower expectations when you shoot there.
For instance, the 18-200vr is quite good when used close up and more toward the wide end. It's clearly weakest at long zoom - people have often said from about 135mm to 200mm. I find it also weakest at long distances. You'll want to know that if shooting a nice scenic and zoomed out - stop it down to where it gets sharpest. Not sure if turning off VR would help it more or hurt there.
Here are some travel shots done with 18-200vr's my wife and I have taken. Should give some indication what to expect, but higher megapixel cameras could make the lens look worse, particularly if you crop much.
I fall right in the middle of the poster and George.
D3100 with 18-55 and 55-200 VRII. Got tired of swapping. After some research, I got the Sigma 18-250 Macro OS about a month ago just in time for a trip to Vegas. I didn't want to carry the whole camera bag around the strip and have to swap out lenses. Also, birthday parties, soccer games, just like others have said.
The pincushion distortion on the sigma in normal ranges like 40-80 is noticeable if you are looking for it, and your shots are geometric. But having reviewed photos taken so far, of like people and life, you don't even think about it. I just use ViewNX so no distortion control once it's out of the camera.
In low light, I do tend to widen back to 200 to get back to 5.6. The difference in the frame between 200 and 250 is fairly insignificant. IMO it's better to zoom out, get wider aperture, and lower ISO, and then crop, than it is to zoom in, have one less stop of light, and have to increase ISO.
Also agreed about the bokeh. It's ok for some distances, and a little edgy for others.
My wife does cakes on the side so it's nice to get a macro for icing flowers, etc. I will say though, I have a 35mm 1.8 for indoor low light and situations where I want the best IQ I can get. And that focuses about a foot away, so I'm not convinced Macro is all that critical.
The zoom is fast, and the VR is very good.
Adorama wanted nothing to do with my old lenses. I could craiglist them for a few bucks, but..might as well just store them away in case I need them.
I've been meaning to do a shot/zoom/aperture comparison of the 55-200 and the sigma. Some time soon.
Good point about distortion. I use DxO so I sort of forget about that. Shooting JPEGs or using ViewNX means the distortion could be an issue for architectural shots. But like you say for most shots it's not a huge issue either way.
FWIW, I posted a slightly more detailed write up here:
Thank you so much for your replies. We are taking a trip to Paris and I just have been annoyed with the need to change lens so frequently.
I am still up in the air with what to do.
It does seem that any all in one regardless of brand requires a little image quality compromise, so I guess I need to decide what I'm comfortable with giving up.
I don't know that I will notice some of the issues you talk about simply because I am just looking for some fun shots during our travels and everyday life, but it does cause me some concern.
I do see that keeping the two lenses I currently own is a good idea because A - I won't get much for them and B - I may find the desire to use them later on.
Thank you for your thoughts. I have a big decision to make.
For every negative user review of the new Sigma 18-250 OS Macro, there seem to be 10 or more positive ones. My experience mirrors the overwhelming number of positive user reviews found online at, for example, Amazon or B&H.
With the more formal tests, the charts don't always seem to complement the positive narrative that generally accompanies them. That concerned me.
At the current price, the Sigma 18-250 Macro is an absolute bargain and a true no-brainer. Mechanically, it's compact but sturdy. Optically, it's perfectly acceptable for everyday photographic applications. Just shoot smart and know that VR or OS is not a wholesale substitute for minimum shutter speed (particularly if your subject might move): prudent use of auto ISO can help in variable lighting conditions. Understand how internal focus affects effective focal length at near vs far focus. For what this lens does -- which is a lot -- it does surprisingly well.
Anyway, when I ordered a Sigma 18-250 Macro, I had my concerns. You should, too. It's always possible to get a dud but I'd say the odds are strongly in your favour of a happy outcome if you are looking for an all-in-one wonder (convenience lens).
FWIW, overlapping the focal range of just this one lens, I have used at least 14 other FX/dx lenses (zooms and primes/ Nikon, Tamron and Sigma incl. the Nikon 18-200 VRI (which I couldn't stand past 100mm)) on 6 digital SLR bodies. Previously, I shot film (35mm & med format). The Sigma 18-250 Macro is definitely satisfactory. In fact, it's stellar considering all it can do.
IMNASHO the one lens worth considering as an alternative is the Nikon 18-300mm VR but it's in a substantially different price bracket, it's bigger, it's heavier and it doesn't quite get to quasi-macro to the same extent (although it's close).
As always, YMMV!
Nope - sorry, the Sigma 18 - 250 I bought is going back this Friday.
I tried every camera setting that I can work with, even some I can't because what I normally take pictures of. Not at all happy with the final image.
I should say I've been a Canon user since the DSLR came out, and yes, that's what I'm comparing my new 5200 to....final image wise. I bought the 28-300 Nikon lens to go with this body. It's good to about 200mm then it start getting fuzzy, but even out at the full 300mm, it's still better (cleaner, sharper, nicer color images) than the Sigma. I just wanted to try something that may be better in the Sigma. The Sigma isn't.
I don't like having to shoot F8 or more to get a sharp image. Espicially as the sun starts setting.
I guess I'm a 1 lens person for my Nikon. Though I have thought seriously about the Nikon 18-200, I'm not yet convinced.