Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

Started Feb 17, 2013 | Discussions
gdourado
gdourado Regular Member • Posts: 247
Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

Hello,

How are you?

I am seriously considering buying a Nikon D5100 or a D90, due to the latest price drops.

These are seriously good cameras and can be had for a sweet price.

I currently have no DSLR and no lenses...

So, I am currently wanting a good walk-around camera + lens combo.

My first choice would be the 16-85mm as a walk around zoom. But it is an expensive lens that costs 450 Euros...

I can get a D5100 body only for 340 Euros. With the 16-85, it adds up to 800 Euros.

The kit with the D5100 and 18-105mm is 500 Euros. So, the 18-105 can be had for 160 Euros if bought as part of a kit...

Is it worth it? How does the lens perform? Is it any good optically? Is the wide-end from 18mm to 16mm a big difference?

How is the feedback from users of the 18-105?

Thank you.

Cheers!

Nikon D5100 Nikon D90
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bocabum
bocabum Forum Member • Posts: 88
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

Hi,

Did you search this forum?  There are many questions regarding the IQ between the 16-85 vs 18-105 and you will find lots of opinions.  Here is the short comparison between them from what I have read on DPReview.

16-85 is a better built lens, has a metal mounting ring vs plastic on the 18-105.  It is a little wider at 16 vs 18mm and some folks prefer this to the long end.  IQ wise there does not seem to be much of a difference between the two lenses, especially to justify the large price difference between them.

I personally have an 18-105 and like this lens very much.

Good luck, Scott

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Guidenet
Guidenet Forum Pro • Posts: 15,748
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

I would much prefer the D90 over the D5100 for lots of reasons. The D90 is more of a semi-pro build whereas the D5100 is an entry level build. The D90 is a little bigger, has a real optical glass pentaprism viewfinder, top informational LCD and twin command dials. The D90 has the same good sensor which is in the more expensive D300S The D5100 has a slightly newer sensor.

As what was said, the 16-85 VR has a somewhat better build than the 18-105 VR but the IQ is pretty much the same thing. If you need that 2mm on the wide side, there's no choice. Otherwise, get the less expensive 18-105 VR. It is a superb lens. It might be the best kit type lens made by anyone in that range and at that price. It's a true bargain.

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Cheers, Craig
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shworl Forum Member • Posts: 62
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

I have the D90 and 16-85 as well as the 18-105. I bought the 16-85 for its reach, and I absolutely love it. I keep the 18-105 I originally got with a kit as my back-up travel lens. IMO, the 18-105 is the best value of any lens, and you will have to pixel peep to see much difference in image quality. I would not part with mine at today's prices.

The 16-85 is better built but costs about $250 more than the 18-105. For general use you will not go wrong with either of them. As for the D90 or D5100, I have never used the D5100, but the D90 is a good platform that does just about everything I want it to do.

Good luck with your new gear. You will enjoy whichever combo you choose.

Sam

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comoxbrit Contributing Member • Posts: 781
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

I have the 18-105 lens and it is very sharp at F8.

www.derekvallintine.com

inlawbiker Senior Member • Posts: 1,642
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

I'll tag onto this thread instead of opening my own that's basically the same question...

The reason I bought into Nikon was the 18-105mm rave reviews for the price, for use on my D5100. I also have the DX 35mm f/1.8, 70-300 VR, 85mm 1.8 G. I love ALL of these lenses except for the 18-105 which I find mediocre.

This makes me unhappy as you might imagine since I use the 18-105 for 75% of what I do. If you search for "18-105 vs 16-85" you'll find this question posted at least once per week. The consensus is the 16-85 is marginally better at twice the cost, but with better build.

Anyway with the 18-105, the images have no "pop" and the images look bland but I can't for the life of me figure out why. Even if I look closely I can see that it's getting focus correct. When I compare directly with the 70-300, it's no contest. The 70-300 is much better.

So I'm going to buy another copy of the 18-105 and compare them directly, if that doesn't work I'm going with the 16-85mm.

Other "normal zoom" options to consider -

Nikon 18-200mm - never tried it, not interested. Too much overlap with my kit.
Sigma 17-70 OS - I used the older version of this lens (non-OS) and it was a good lens.
Nikon 16-85 VR - Interested but seems overpriced to me. Thom Hogan on this site says to "buy it now!" if that means anything (it's $100 off right now)

Any of the 17-55mm f/2.8's (Tamron, Sigma, Nikon) - I'd like to try one of them before I buy some day but for now they cost a bit too much.

Of course there's the 18-55mm VR, which I have also never tried but people seem to love.

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Leonard Migliore
Leonard Migliore Forum Pro • Posts: 16,279
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

inlawbiker wrote:

I'll tag onto this thread instead of opening my own that's basically the same question...

The reason I bought into Nikon was the 18-105mm rave reviews for the price, for use on my D5100. I also have the DX 35mm f/1.8, 70-300 VR, 85mm 1.8 G. I love ALL of these lenses except for the 18-105 which I find mediocre.

You must have a good 70-300 and a bad 18-105. I certainly agree with you about the 35 and the 85; I have both of them and they're very sharp indeed.

This makes me unhappy as you might imagine since I use the 18-105 for 75% of what I do. If you search for "18-105 vs 16-85" you'll find this question posted at least once per week. The consensus is the 16-85 is marginally better at twice the cost, but with better build.

Yes, that's what I've read. I have a 16-85 and am completely satisfied with it. Other than being slow, the lens is superb. So I just figured "wow, that 18-105 is a major bargain".

Anyway with the 18-105, the images have no "pop" and the images look bland but I can't for the life of me figure out why. Even if I look closely I can see that it's getting focus correct. When I compare directly with the 70-300, it's no contest. The 70-300 is much better.

Sounds like your 18-105 has weevils; the 70-300 is not really great.

So I'm going to buy another copy of the 18-105 and compare them directly, if that doesn't work I'm going with the 16-85mm.

Going by hearsay, that's a good move.

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Leonard Migliore

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Jim Trainor Regular Member • Posts: 270
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

I had the 18-105 and the D5100. I sold them both when I bought my D800. This was a huge mistake. Although I love my D800, the D5100/18-105 was an excellent, tack-sharp and very light kit. It would have made a great backup to my present system. On many days I wish I still had it. I have the highest regards for this system and have used it to make 24x30 prints that look great.

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paulski66
paulski66 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,339
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

inlawbiker wrote:

...

So I'm going to buy another copy of the 18-105 and compare them directly, if that doesn't work I'm going with the 16-85mm.

Wait...what?!? You don't like the lens so you're going to buy ´╗┐another´╗┐ copy to see if you like it better? What now?

Any of the 17-55mm f/2.8's (Tamron, Sigma, Nikon) - I'd like to try one of them before I buy some day but for now they cost a bit too much.

Of course there's the 18-55mm VR, which I have also never tried but people seem to love.

When I got my d80 (years ago, obviously), I got the much buzzed-about 18-135mm kit lens. It was a very sharp lens, but other than sharpness, I was never thrilled with it; I felt like most of the images I captured with it could have come from a compact. Basically, like you said, no real pop.

After about a year (during which I primarily used my awesome 50mm 1/8d), I broke down and traded it in toward a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (the original version). Great lens, that. What I lost in reach I more than made up in versatility and image quality.

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teddoman
teddoman Senior Member • Posts: 2,481
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8

paulski66 wrote:

After about a year (during which I primarily used my awesome 50mm 1/8d), I broke down and traded it in toward a Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (the original version). Great lens, that. What I lost in reach I more than made up in versatility and image quality.

How fast is the AF on the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8? Faster or slower than most? Thanks.

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paulski66
paulski66 Veteran Member • Posts: 3,339
Re: Tamron 17-50 f/2.8

It wasn't a speed demon, but I very successfully used it to take pictures of my older sons at cross country meets, so I always found it sufficient.

The original version, which is widely considered optically superior, has no focusing motor, but it was snappy enough on my d90. If AF speed is a critical issue (or if you have a camera without the built-in motor), you could try the newer version, which does have Tamron's version of AF-S, though everything I've read is that it's a step back optically.

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teddoman
teddoman Senior Member • Posts: 2,481
Re: Tamron 17-50 f/2.8

paulski66 wrote:

It wasn't a speed demon, but I very successfully used it to take pictures of my older sons at cross country meets, so I always found it sufficient.

The original version, which is widely considered optically superior, has no focusing motor, but it was snappy enough on my d90. If AF speed is a critical issue (or if you have a camera without the built-in motor), you could try the newer version, which does have Tamron's version of AF-S, though everything I've read is that it's a step back optically.

Thanks for the tip. Interesting that the older one gets a much better review at slrgear but is actually a cheaper lens by about $150. I'll be using it with the D7000 so don't need the newer version. I guess the other feature on the newer version is vibration control. I guess stabilized would be ideal, but this is quite reasonably priced compared to the Nikkor zoom and hopefully stabilization isn't needed at the shorter focal lengths. Anyway, the Nikkor zoom isn't stabilized anyways either.

Frankly, it's either the Tamron, the 18-105 kit, or the 35 mm f/1.8 prime as a first lens. I'm heavily leaning towards the Tamron right now, since it gives the widest angle, f/2.8 max aperture through the entire zoom range, a pretty good walkaround zoom range, and slrgear review was quite good.

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Bailey151 Senior Member • Posts: 1,144
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

As with everyone else - used both, can't really tell the difference. The metal mount might be an issue depending on how/when/where you take the camera? Never had an issue with the 18-105 but I don't put it to much stressful use.

There is however a difference between the D5100 & the D90 - the D5100 having a hands down better sensor. While I can't tell the difference between the two lenses I can tell the difference between the two cameras - every time. Look through my PC & I can almost always tell which one is which.....................AND..........given the D5100's price? No brainer.

Unless there is one specific feature you absolutely need on the D90, can't live without it.

inlawbiker Senior Member • Posts: 1,642
Re: Nikon 18-105mm kit worth it? Or is it better to go body only?

inlawbiker wrote:

So I'm going to buy another copy of the 18-105 and compare them directly, if that doesn't work I'm going with the 16-85mm.

I'm replying to myself as a message to the people of the future, in case anybody reads this later on.  I did end up buying another 18-105mm refurbished.  I figure a refurbished lens has been proofed before it was sent out.

I tested it out walking around and on tripod vs my old copy.  This was not a scientific test but I found that they pretty much performed the same.  If anything my old one was a little more sharp.

Is it worth the $200 I spent on it?  Yeah for sure.  It's not a great lens but it's a good lens if you don't expect miracles and the value is really good.  I can send back the new one I got and I'm out shipping but it was worth it.

I also tested my 70-300 VR on the same subjects just for fun.  I was right, I have an exceptional copy of this lens.  I'm not even envious of the new 70-200 f/4 at this point.

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Photog74 Regular Member • Posts: 398
Have a look at this review

Have a look at this review - it has lots of full-res samples taken with a D7000+18-105mm lens:

http://www.photographyblog.com/reviews/nikon_afs_dx_nikkor_18_105mm_f_35_56_g_ed_vr_review/

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Brian in Montana
Brian in Montana Regular Member • Posts: 442
Re: Have a look at this review

18-105: good lens; not Nikon's best, but a good place to start.  Save the extra money you could spend on the 16-85 (not really a better lens) and use it towards your next lens purchase.  You will be buying more lenses!

D90 better than D5100 IMHO.  Easier access to features and settings.  D5100 requires heavy use of menu system (= less convenient).  My wife shot with the D90 and 18-105 combo for quite a while and did very well with it - excellent for learning and capable of producing nice images.

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