AF 50mm f/1.4D vs AFS DX 18-200mm VR Zoom


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Sep 4, 2007
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Heaven
#1
Hi,

I'm planning to get a new lens to enjoy taking sharp photos over which my D80 Kit Lens couldn't deliver, can someone point me to any forum links here or anywhere.. where these 2 lenses were compared in terms of general use for travel photography as well as for low-light situations?

I know this is comparing apple to orange (as some might argue), and though I intend to own both someday, BUT due to a tight budget I just want to know which one to buy first. In w/c I can generally use to get clear/sharp images for both travel & low-light photography where I would also have the liberty of not bringing along a tripod with me (for convenience sake, hehe).

I have a bit of a shaky hands so shooting with my D80 kit lens doesn't give me any good photos unless placed on a tripod.

I saw reviews from Ken Rockwell's website, and in his tests he is somehow recommending 18-200VR for newbie photographers who wants sharper images. Other site reviews of this lens is quite convincing. While on the other hand, users of 50mm f/1.4 says this is the lens they love using for "general purpose" as it delivers quite sharp images in anyway & even in low-light situations than any other lenses. While still some argues 18-200VR can perform the same in low-light conditions (though in terms of DOF the 50mm 1.4 wins).

I love taking shots outdoor and also on parties/social gatherings (which is ofcourse held at night, hence the challenge for low-light shots). My question, is the all-around 18-200VR lens would be a perfect companion or this fast lens 50mm f1/4 be my angel on getting good images? Please help advice on the pros & cons of these 2 lenses in the lines: as "general-purpose lens" and for "low-light conditions."

Really tough to decide if you're on a tough budget since good glasses can somtimes cost an arm & leg, hehe.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

Ciao! c",)
 

V

vince123123

Guest
#2
The 50 1.4 would be sharper and would probably give you better low light usage. The VR in the 18-200 only compensates for your camera shake, but not your subject movement in low light. And I don't think the VR can go so far as being a 1.4.

The 18-200 wins out in terms of focal ranges, which the 50mm would lose out on.

So take your pick :)

If it was me, I'll get the 18-200 first, and the 50mm later. But thats a personal choice.

If you're on a very tight budget and do not pixel peep or require super high quality greater than 5R size, then the Tamron/Sigma/Tokina superzooms (18-200 or 28-200) would be a cheaper alternative.

Hi,

I'm planning to get a new lens to enjoy taking sharp photos over which my D80 Kit Lens couldn't deliver, can someone point me to any forum links here or anywhere.. where these 2 lenses were compared in terms of general use for travel photography as well as for low-light situations?

I know this is comparing apple to orange (as some might argue), and though I intend to own both someday, BUT due to a tight budget I just want to know which one to buy first. In w/c I can generally use to get clear/sharp images for both travel & low-light photography where I would also have the liberty of not bringing along a tripod with me (for convenience sake, hehe).

I have a bit of a shaky hands so shooting with my D80 kit lens doesn't give me any good photos unless placed on a tripod.

I saw reviews from Ken Rockwell's website, and in his tests he is somehow recommending 18-200VR for newbie photographers who wants sharper images. Other site reviews of this lens is quite convincing. While on the other hand, users of 50mm f/1.4 says this is the lens they love using for "general purpose" as it delivers quite sharp images in anyway & even in low-light situations than any other lenses. While still some argues 18-200VR can perform the same in low-light conditions (though in terms of DOF the 50mm 1.4 wins).

I love taking shots outdoor and also on parties/social gatherings (which is ofcourse held at night, hence the challenge for low-light shots). My question, is the all-around 18-200VR lens would be a perfect companion or this fast lens 50mm f1/4 be my angel on getting good images? Please help advice on the pros & cons of these 2 lenses in the lines: as "general-purpose lens" and for "low-light conditions."

Really tough to decide if you're on a tough budget since good glasses can somtimes cost an arm & leg, hehe.

Thanks in advance for any recommendations.

Ciao! c",)
 

staz

New Member
May 4, 2004
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#3
i feel it's quite hard to start with a 1.5 crop using 50mm unless you r quite used to it. for travelling i think 18 200 will give u more range and therefore have a better coverage on your tour.
 

sky6108

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May 26, 2007
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@ Sing@pore
#4
I have try both lens on a D80 and there is a weight different. 18-200 is heaviler than a 50 on a D80 therefore to stead it w/o a tripod- abit of a problem.
But for travel purpose, suggest taking the 18-200 as it gives better range coverage as compare to a 50.
 

waileong

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#5
There's no need to choose between the two lenses.

For low light the requirement is 1.4 or less...

For general shooting requirements, I'd urge you to consider 2-3 separate zoom lenses rather than the 18-200. Image quality is suspect with such a large zoom factor,
 

cheersjy

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Jul 1, 2003
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#6
If you need something that is more versatile than 50mm, sharper than 18-200mm VR (which is pretty good already), not too expensive, and able to take some action shots in low light condition, try out Tamron 17-50mm. It's good!
 

theRBK

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May 16, 2005
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#7
get the 18-200 and a 50 1.8... plenty of reasonably new 50 1.8s floating around in the second hand market if you don't mind second hand and will cost you $140-$180...
 

Sep 4, 2007
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Heaven
#8
Thanks a whole bunch to those who gave their insights. It seems most were inclined to 18-200VR for general purpose use.

But looking at these aspect..

General Purpose and Travel:
50mm f/1.4D - lightweight a definite advantage but limited to 50mm focal range
18-200VR - heavier but covers both short or longer focal ranges

Low-light shots:
50mm f/1.4D - superb, can go wide open @ f/1.4 and deliver sharp image starting @ f/2.8 (as per most reviews)
18-200VR - average, still delivers acceptable image at low-light situations.

Without Tripod and not using flash:
50mm f/1.4D - I'm not sure how this perform without tripod, but I've read in several reviews that it's great if you don't intend to use flash to capture actual lighting/surreal images.
18-200VR - performs well even w/o tripod (a definite advantage) but I'm not sure how this perform without flash.

I guess I just may have to live with what I cannot have at the moment once I made my purchase between these two.

Thanks again.
 

Sep 4, 2007
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Heaven
#9
There's no need to choose between the two lenses.

For low light the requirement is 1.4 or less...

For general shooting requirements, I'd urge you to consider 2-3 separate zoom lenses rather than the 18-200. Image quality is suspect with such a large zoom factor,
Hi Waileong, thanks for this. But I'm a person who prefers 1 versatile lens over 2-3 separate zoom lenses. For 2 primary reasons: (1) i'd rather not change lenses while on travel as keeping 1 versatile lens will enable me to capture various moments and saves me from getting dust in sensor caused by frequent changing of lens; (2) I have the kit lens 18-135 and a 70-300 zoom lens, these two covers 18-300 focal ranges but taking great photos requires me to use tripod, which I deem not convenient if I move around places. But I really do appreciate your suggestion.

get the 18-200 and a 50 1.8... plenty of reasonably new 50 1.8s floating around in the second hand market if you don't mind second hand and will cost you $140-$180...
Hi the RBK, thanks also for this. I've read somewhere that most users of 50mm f/1.8 would rather go for 50mm f/1.4 if they can only redo their purchase, meaning they would've rather waited to save for 1.4 as they've seen their friends who owns 1.4 captures better shots than 1.8. Since I get to keep lens for a longer period, I'd rather make a wise purchase, do you agree? :)
 

waileong

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#10
1. Fear of dust on sensor is not a reason for just using one lens.

There is a school of photography that says one should learn to shoot with just one lens for a period (say 1 year) to master the basics. However, the lens most often recommended is typically 50 mm, not a 18-200.

2. Use of tripod also not a reason for just using one lens.

Your 18-200 will undoubtedly need tripod too once you hit low light.

Anyway, it's your money, your time. You'll learn in time whether you've made wise choices.

Hi Waileong, thanks for this. But I'm a person who prefers 1 versatile lens over 2-3 separate zoom lenses. For 2 primary reasons: (1) i'd rather not change lenses while on travel as keeping 1 versatile lens will enable me to capture various moments and saves me from getting dust in sensor caused by frequent changing of lens; (2) I have the kit lens 18-135 and a 70-300 zoom lens, these two covers 18-300 focal ranges but taking great photos requires me to use tripod, which I deem not convenient if I move around places. But I really do appreciate your suggestion.
 

lsisaxon

Senior Member
Nov 29, 2004
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#11
I love taking shots outdoor and also on parties/social gatherings (which is ofcourse held at night, hence the challenge for low-light shots). My question, is the all-around 18-200VR lens would be a perfect companion or this fast lens 50mm f1/4 be my angel on getting good images? Please help advice on the pros & cons of these 2 lenses in the lines: as "general-purpose lens" and for "low-light conditions."
Just one question.. what makes you think that these 2 lenses are able to deliver sharper images than your 18-135 kit lens?
 

Sep 4, 2007
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Heaven
#12
Just one question.. what makes you think that these 2 lenses are able to deliver sharper images than your 18-135 kit lens?
As I've said, I'm trying to take some photos without the use of tripod and flash, and among Nikon lenses, these two can compensate for above-mentioned situations. They also received a lot of credits from both users/lens reviewers and manufacturer, in terms of versatility.
 

lsisaxon

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Nov 29, 2004
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#13
As I've said, I'm trying to take some photos without the use of tripod and flash, and among Nikon lenses, these two can compensate for above-mentioned situations. They also received a lot of credits from both users/lens reviewers and manufacturer, in terms of versatility.
Hmm.. would not bringing up the ISO to, say, 800, give you a little bit of assistance with the kit lens?

Like many have mentioned, both lenses have pros and cons. Although the 18-200 has VR, it is just slightly longer than your 18-135 and not faster. Even VR allows you to handhold to a slower shutter speed, it only allows you to capture inanimate object which will not blur due to slow shutter speed. I am able to handhold shots for night scenes with this lens without much problem, even going down to 1/4s at 18mm, (it's harder if you zoom longer due to the higher magnification). If you're shooting people with this, then I'd say you're out of luck. Many people, especially children cannot keep still for 1/4s... so what if you can handhold down to that shutter speed?

50mm is a good lens, fast (f/1.4), about 2.5 stops faster than f/3.5. Downside is when you're use it with a DSLR, because of the 1.5x crop, the FoV is like that of a 75mm lens on a 135 format. This makes shooting night events a bit hard because the angle is usually not wide enough, unless you just want to capture half body portraits of the people, otherwise, IMO, it's not practical because 1) there may not be enough space at the venue, 2) you are standing too far away to interact comfortably with your subjects.

Unless it's absolutely necessary to go for a Nikkor, I'd say a good bet would be the Sigma 24/1.8 EX. Just half a stop slower than the 50/1.4, 24mm on a DX crop gives the FoV of a 36mm on 135 format, this is the adopted length for most compact cameras because it is the most versatile. You can go up close to your subjects if you need to also.
 

Aspect

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Dec 2, 2004
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#14
Hi jefkinetics,
Since you already have 2 zooms, you may want to get a 50mm first.

I've read somewhere that most users of 50mm f/1.8 would rather go for 50mm f/1.4 if they can only redo their purchase, meaning they would've rather waited to save for 1.4 as they've seen their friends who owns 1.4 captures better shots than 1.8.
I'm not sure why you feel that the 1.4 captures better shots than the 1.8.
The DOF at 1.4 is pretty narrow so focussing may be problematic, especially in low light. I own the 1.4 and seldom shoot at 1.4 (unless I'm already at ISO 800 and still too slow to handhold). I usually try to stay at f/2.0 and above.

On holiday, I use my zoom (18-70mm) much much more than my 50mm.
 

lsisaxon

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Nov 29, 2004
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#15
Hi Waileong, thanks for this. But I'm a person who prefers 1 versatile lens over 2-3 separate zoom lenses. For 2 primary reasons: (1) i'd rather not change lenses while on travel as keeping 1 versatile lens will enable me to capture various moments and saves me from getting dust in sensor caused by frequent changing of lens; (2) I have the kit lens 18-135 and a 70-300 zoom lens, these two covers 18-300 focal ranges but taking great photos requires me to use tripod, which I deem not convenient if I move around places. But I really do appreciate your suggestion.
Unless your hands are really that shaky.. I do ok with f/4-f/5.6 and if lighting doesn't permit, just push iso up to 800. The images at ISO800 for D80 are still very clean and very useable. Unless you're going for big blowups all the time, you'll probably hardly notice the noise if you print 4R.

Here is a handheld shot at ISO800 using D2X with 300/4 at f/4. Lighting wasn't very good but I was able to manage 1/500s at ISO800, good enough for handheld. D2X at ISO800 is more noisy than the D80.


Here is the 100% crop, it's not that bad, isn't it?


What I feel is that you need to understand your equipment and how you can overcome the limitations. Otherwise, you'll just keep spending money and still will not be satisfied with you stuff. As far as I know, the 18-135 should not be the limiting factor in what you're able or not able to shoot, it is just as versatile as the 18-200.

I mostly travel with just one lens, the 18-200 and I'll just have to make do with what the lens can do and try to overcome the limitations of that lens. If you don't already have the 18-135, I would recommend you this lens, but since you already have the 18-135 as well as the 70-300, then my advice would be not to waste your money.
 

Trash

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Dec 12, 2004
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#16
Hmm.. would not bringing up the ISO to, say, 800, give you a little bit of assistance with the kit lens?

Like many have mentioned, both lenses have pros and cons. Although the 18-200 has VR, it is just slightly longer than your 18-135 and not faster. Even VR allows you to handhold to a slower shutter speed, it only allows you to capture inanimate object which will not blur due to slow shutter speed. I am able to handhold shots for night scenes with this lens without much problem, even going down to 1/4s at 18mm, (it's harder if you zoom longer due to the higher magnification). If you're shooting people with this, then I'd say you're out of luck. Many people, especially children cannot keep still for 1/4s... so what if you can handhold down to that shutter speed?

50mm is a good lens, fast (f/1.4), about 2.5 stops faster than f/3.5. Downside is when you're use it with a DSLR, because of the 1.5x crop, the FoV is like that of a 75mm lens on a 135 format. This makes shooting night events a bit hard because the angle is usually not wide enough, unless you just want to capture half body portraits of the people, otherwise, IMO, it's not practical because 1) there may not be enough space at the venue, 2) you are standing too far away to interact comfortably with your subjects.

Unless it's absolutely necessary to go for a Nikkor, I'd say a good bet would be the Sigma 24/1.8 EX. Just half a stop slower than the 50/1.4, 24mm on a DX crop gives the FoV of a 36mm on 135 format, this is the adopted length for most compact cameras because it is the most versatile. You can go up close to your subjects if you need to also.
Just to a add a few points,

1. The Sigma 24/1.8 is less likely to result in camera shake than the 50/1.4 by virture of its shorter focal length.

2. The 50/1.4 or 24/1.8 or any other lens is not going to allow you to replace the tripod. I use a Minolta with that has a built-in AS with the 50/1.4 (so argument sake I might in effect be using a 50/1.0). And it is still not possible to hand hold if the lights are too dim.Big aperature helps but only to a limited extent.

3. What focal lenght do you need? Comparing 18-200 to 50 is more than comparing apple to orange. They are completely different things for different applications (I am assuming that you are not buying the 18-200 to use it at 50mm). I recommend that you don't buy for the time being. (For example, if you need it for wide angle shots, the 50/1.4 is not useful at all even if you can take shake-free images). Instead decide what focal length that you need first. Look at the Exifs of your pictures to find out what is your favourite focal length.

This is my 3-cents worth.
 

jnet6

Senior Member
Apr 21, 2004
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#17
For a all in one convenience lens 18-200 vr is one of the best bet,IMHO.

image quality for the 2 lenses is unable to compare fairly.
 

Sep 4, 2007
26
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Heaven
#18
Thanks folks for all the feedback. I actually just want an all around 1 lens to bring with me wherever I go, which is also good enough for taking photos at night.

Though I still intend to buy 18-200VR someday for personal reason that I don't want to bring 2 zoom lenses all the time (and bcoz my hands are really getting into the challenge of holding still shots, that even for my past point&shoot cams I always get those with IS), for now I think I'll get the 50mm f/1.4 and stick with my 2 zoom lenses for a while.

Thanks again! ciao! c",)
 

Aug 22, 2006
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#19
Hi,

(...which my D80 Kit Lens couldn't deliver)

Perhaps you should have your camera body checked for front/back focussing problems. Tt's free if your camera's still under warranty.
The kit lens that comes with your DSLR is FULLY capable of taking decent photos. It may not be "up there" with the best primes, but for general photography should be good enough.
Both my D70 (bought in 2004) and my D200 (bought in 2006) exihibited a slight degree of focus "issues". A quick adjustment by NSC and everything was OK.
 

lsisaxon

Senior Member
Nov 29, 2004
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#20
Thanks folks for all the feedback. I actually just want an all around 1 lens to bring with me wherever I go, which is also good enough for taking photos at night.

Though I still intend to buy 18-200VR someday for personal reason that I don't want to bring 2 zoom lenses all the time (and bcoz my hands are really getting into the challenge of holding still shots, that even for my past point&shoot cams I always get those with IS), for now I think I'll get the 50mm f/1.4 and stick with my 2 zoom lenses for a while.

Thanks again! ciao! c",)
Before the 18-200 was even released, I was using the 18-70 (D70 kit lens), although a bit short at the 70mm side, I find that just slightly longer would suffice, so I guess 135 would suffice 95% of the time. To pay a premium to get up to 200mm with VR is definitely a bonus but IMO is not of paramount importance because you could put the money into other things first. Bringing 70-300 on a trip should only be on a necessity basis, just a lame example, going on a safari trip, which I believe 300mm may not even be enough.. ;p Otherwise the 18-135 is definitely a very capable lens. If you need anything longer, you could shoot first and crop later. 10mp on your D80 has enough room for you to crop.
 

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