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Thread: Lens advice for D300?

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Lens advice for D300?

    I just bought a D300 and (at this point) the 18-200mm lens. I'm going through testing the lens and so far have had to do an AF adjust as it was back focusing slightly (by 1 notch).

    I love the idea of this lens and having a relatively small kit, but I wonder if image quality wouldn't be better with a combo of the 18-70mm and the 70-300mm lenses? Should I be considering the 16-85mm (I'd prefer VR if possible)? I'm really not interested in faster lenses... I do not want that weight again! Any feedback?

    Cheers,

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    I just bought a D300 and (at this point) the 18-200mm lens. I'm going through testing the lens and so far have had to do an AF adjust as it was back focusing slightly (by 1 notch).

    I love the idea of this lens and having a relatively small kit, but I wonder if image quality wouldn't be better with a combo of the 18-70mm and the 70-300mm lenses? Should I be considering the 16-85mm (I'd prefer VR if possible)? Any feedback?

    Cheers,
    Hi Simon
    Congratulations! I hope you'll be very happy together!

    My feeling is that with these mid range Nikon lenses the sample variation can be bigger than between one lens type and another. I really liked my 18-200 and it's soooo convenient. I've got the 70-300 now, and although it seems good, I wouldn't bet on it being a great deal better.

    Perhaps you should go wide? I used to love the Sigma 10-20 on my D200 - again, there are sample variations, but if you get a good one...

    Still, it's worth testing these lenses carefully as soon as you get them - sometimes they have unexpected problems (I had a 17-55 which was soft down one side at around 35mm but fine at the ends (go figure)).

    if your 18-200 is a good 'un - keep it and ENJOY!!!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Well I kind of ran the middle road of if I jump up D3 I am good and if i stay with the 1.5 i am still good. But i was bad. I bought all the Zeiss glass the 28mm is awesome , 50 f2 macro and the 85 1.4 than i have the 180mm 2.8. Now i had the 17-35 which i find very nice on the D300 but it became the sacrificial lamb when I decided to do the Mamiya ZD. i need to get something back in this area because I still need something under 28mm. Now it does not have to be Pro glass but good. I was thinking the 12-24 although I would kill for the 14-24
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    I had experience with the 18-200, 18-70, 70-300 VR on my wife's camera.

    The 18-200 is very convenient and is what my wife kept. However, I do really have to say that the 18-70 & 70-300 VR really do give better image quality.

    Terry here has my wife's previous 70-300VR and I believe that she likes it.

    If you really did a comparison on a good monitor and then in prints, the two separate lenses will win over the 18-200.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Well, I'm thinking of selling one of my M8 bodies and some lenses so this will be replacing them, hence I want good IQ, but as I stated, I really don't want to start lugging around heavy glass again.

    I'm hoping to trade off the excellent high ISO performance of the D300 along with the VR advantage to keep the glass choices lighter and smaller.

    Ciao,

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Well, I'm thinking of selling one of my M8 bodies and some lenses so this will be replacing them, hence I want good IQ, but as I stated, I really don't want to start lugging around heavy glass again.

    I'm hoping to trade off the excellent high ISO performance of the D300 along with the VR advantage to keep the glass choices lighter and smaller.

    Ciao,
    Unfortunately, with Nikon zooms high IQ and low weight are mutually exclusive.

    Guy is right on the money. Quality primes is the way to go. The consumer zooms suffer from terrible sample to sample variations. And you generally need to stop down to f8 for good results.

    Lambert

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Seriously folks and don't shoot me in the foot because it costs some money but the Zeiss 28 f2 is just flat out awesome but it costs 1k and the Zeiss 50 macro at F2 is maybe even better. The issue with Zooms is size and it will always be like that and than you add AF motors than it has to get even bigger . Small zooms with high quality in reality don't exist at the high IQ levels . You can get by no question but you all know were i come from and that is the highest image quality lenses you can buy but that is me. My advice if you are going to buy consumer grade lenses than don't buy them used . Buy them new with a return policy because sample variation is real and alive. i went through 3 16-35 canon lenses before i got one that was pretty good.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by lambert View Post
    Unfortunately, with Nikon zooms high IQ and low weight are mutually exclusive.

    Guy is right on the money. Quality primes is the way to go. The consumer zooms suffer from terrible sample to sample variations. And you generally need to stop down to f8 for good results.

    Lambert
    Of course you're right . . . but if quality manual focus primes is the way you're going . . . then you may as well stick with the M8, which isn't as good at high ISO, but has much better IQ at low ISO. (Anyway, manual focusing with the D300 in low light is hit and miss at best).
    Surely if you're running an slr and a rangefinder system, then you'll want to take advantage of using zoom lenses and autofocus?

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    I am getting a D300 as well and the 18-200 VR for convenience. I am also getting the 50mm 1.8 which is way too good a lens for the price. I may pick up Woody's CV 58mm SL II for product shots.
    Carlos Echenique | Carlos Echenique Photography |Olympus OM-D E-M1 MK II | Olympus Pen-F - M.Zuiko 17mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 25mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8, Rokinon 12mm f/2 NCS, M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    The Katz and Brightscreen focusing screens are really nice with manual focusing. I have the Katz and it works nice. But you are right in many ways Jono you buy a AF camera and use Manual lenses on it , seems to not make a lot of sense. But you can also do a mix also.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Member gromitspapa's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    I'd say the 16-85VR is a valid contender and better IQ than the 18-70, but not cheap. See the links:
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/636990/0#5648261
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/636190/0#5639995
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/629205/0#5568258

    The 70-300VR gets strong reviews, although fades a bit from 200-300mm. A tremendous value for the money.

    Another lens to consider is the Tamron 17-50. Almost as good as the excellent Nikkor 17-55, but much smaller and 1/3rd the cost. 2.8 throughout, too.
    http://www.bythom.com/1750lens.htm

    Guy- keep an eye out for the Tokina 11-16. Looking to be quite a nice lens. I might replace my Sigma 10-20 with it.
    http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/627399/0#5549950

    From what I've read, the consistency of the Nikkor lenses is leagues ahead of Canon these days.

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    Senior Member simonclivehughes's Avatar
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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Thanks for the replies. It pains me to think about switching from the M8s but I'm finding that my eyes simply aren't allowing me to focus manually the way that I used to, especially with the longer lenses. I have magnifiers on both bodies, the 1.15x and the 1.35x but I'm still missing shots that I could take almost blindfolded with the D300. I might just end up selling all my M gear.

    I may well end up getting some Nikon primes as well, but I'd like to get a zoom that will do me for 90% of walking around/travel shots. I had a considerable 1D MKII N based system with all L glass but I simply don't want to carry all that around any more, not that I have to, as I shoot for pleasure, not for a living. On the other hand, however, I do want to be able to print up 13x19" (or possibly larger) and have the images look sharp.

    One thing very noticeable with the D300 is it requires a pant load of PP sharpening! As I feel I'm still evaluating the camera, I've not cracked open the Capture NX and I know that this gives the best result, so I'm hoping that what I'm currently seeing with Camera RAW/CS3 will only improve.

    I appreciate your feedback and I look forward to hearing more.

    Cheers,

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Simon,
    I've now shot with the 16-85, 70-300 and the 50 f1.8.
    The 50 1.8 is a complete no brainer to buy at a whopping $105 from B&H.
    I will sort through my Carmel shots and some stuff from yesterday and post some images and crops. This will not look like what you get from your M8 lenses.

    Here is a shot that I printed 17x24 from Carmel and a crop. This was a 6 second exposure with the 50mm prime


    Attachment 3294

    This is a crop from the original and may not exactly match the edits in the photo above

    Attachment 3295

    This was from yesterday with a 16-85. I have to evaluate some other shots but at the wide end I may be seeing some distortion with objects close to the edge of the frame. I will post what I am seeing in another entry....

    This was 38mm at f5.0 and there was a B+W polarizer on the lens
    Note: Simon I just now see your last post this shot is not sharpened. I can send you some NEF files from the different lenses for you to play with the files.

    Attachment 3296

    Attachment 3297
    Last edited by Terry; 20th April 2008 at 19:06.

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Here is a shot from the 16-85 straight from the camera and simply converted to a jpeg. Now I know I was just goofing around and had some strange camera angles but the telephone pole in the upper left corner is sort of troublesome this was with the 16-85 at 16mm


    Attachment 3301

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    You can set the sharpness in camera and if you open the RAW file in Capture NX, the sharpness setting will be brought forward.

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    Of course you're right . . . but if quality manual focus primes is the way you're going . . . then you may as well stick with the M8, which isn't as good at high ISO, but has much better IQ at low ISO. (Anyway, manual focusing with the D300 in low light is hit and miss at best).
    Surely if you're running an slr and a rangefinder system, then you'll want to take advantage of using zoom lenses and autofocus?
    I absolutely agree. But I was responding to this:

    "Well, I'm thinking of selling one of my M8 bodies and some lenses so this will be replacing them, hence I want good IQ, but as I stated, I really don't want to start lugging around heavy glass again."

    With Nikon, unless you go primes, high IQ means heavy.

    Lambert

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by lambert View Post
    I absolutely agree. But I was responding to this:

    "Well, I'm thinking of selling one of my M8 bodies and some lenses so this will be replacing them, hence I want good IQ, but as I stated, I really don't want to start lugging around heavy glass again."

    With Nikon, unless you go primes, high IQ means heavy.

    Lambert
    Ok - I do understand, but the nikon primes (apart from telephoto) are getting long in the tooth, and sometimes aren't as good as the zooms. If you go to zeiss you're going back to manual focus . . . . in which case.

    Maybe I'm confusing myself here I'm trying to get my head around the point of a D300 with manual focus primes if you already have an M8!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    ....I may well end up getting some Nikon primes as well...
    Simon - You will have taken note of Guy's comments on Zeiss lenses, but you should know that there is a lot of internet gossip speculating on how soon Nikon will revamp their 'prime' line-up [which seems long overdue].

    My guess is as useless as anybody else's, but if, say, announcements are made at Photokina later this year it's not likely you would see such primes 'on the shelf' until this time next year. The new Nikon zooms, and Zeiss if you can focus them, might be the better way to go than a waiting game for Nikon's next move.

    .............. Chris

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    I mentioned the Zeiss 85mm 1.4 and it is a very nice lens but I had the Nikon 85mm 1.4 and that also was extremely nice. I sold it to buy the Zeiss and somewhat of a mistake because of AF. So if you want a 85 don't overlook the Nikon. I also have the 180 2.8 and just like the Canon 200 2.8 these are very very nice lenses and very sharp plus there not expensive . They may not be there 1.8 and F2 counterparts but there small and they get the job done. I think the best combo out there right now is the 14-24,24-70 , 85 1.4 and a 180. Of course there maybe others but these I have tried and like a lot. But we are talking big zooms which to me bug me, so i went more prime in the wide area with the Zeiss 28 but I still could something wider and looking
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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Gents & Lady,

    I appreciate all your comments.

    Jono, you're right... if primes why not stick with the M8? I would certainly prefer AF but would consider MF primes if the D300 would give accurate focus confirmation. I've fooled around a bit with MF with the 18-200 and the focus confirmation is dismal... not sure if this is just my camera only or a combo of the camera and slower lens?

    Unless there's no other choice, I don't want huge, heavy lenses, period, end of story. Even to the point of a certain (hopefully minimal) amount of compromise on IQ. There has to be a certain hierarchy to the zooms available, e.g. good, better, best, with "best" being the fast, heavy glass. It's that "better" category I'm hoping to find and use.

    I did a workshop last year with Jay Maisel and he did almost all of his shooting with the 18-200mm and a 50mm f1.4 on D2x bodies and he got excellent results. I'm going to persevere with the 18-200 for the moment but continue to explore what my other options might be.

    My criteria is to minimize my kit so I have the smallest number of lenses, small lenses, to cover hopefully 28mm to 300mm.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by simonclivehughes; 21st April 2008 at 08:43.

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Guy - My apologies if you have covered this before, but how are you finding focusing the Zeiss 28 on the D300, did you need to fit a different screen?

    .............. Chris

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Quote Originally Posted by simonclivehughes View Post
    Gents & Lady,

    I did a workshop last year with Jay Maisel and he did almost all of his shooting with the 18-200mm and a 50mm f1.4 on D2x bodies and he got excellent results. I'm going to persevere with the 18-200 for the moment but continue to explore what my other options might be.
    Oh! I remember he shot jpg for a while after he got his D2x bodies. I would love to have gone for a workshop with him - definitely one of my colour heroes.

    There's a lot to be said for simplicity.

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    I just got back from having a very quick look at the 16-85mm and the 70-300mm combo and have compared some shots I took with them in the store versus control shots of the same subject with the 18-200mm. I brought them into Camera RAW and applied sharpening there to all images as follows:

    Amount: 125
    Radius: 1.0
    Detail: 50
    Masking: 0

    I then compared them in CS3 at 100%. The 18-200m actually looks slightly better than the others! Mind you, this was a very unscientific test, although real world in the sense that 90% of the time, I shoot handheld.

    I'd be very interested to hear your comments on CS3 sharpening strategies for D300 files, and particularly the advantages of using Capture NX as it relates to image sharpness & overall quality versus the CS3 route.

    Jono, Jay had "graduated" to RAW files before our workshop, but he is still a real curmudgeon when it comes to processing, taking a real minimalist approach. The workshop was indeed a real treat and Jay is brutal in his assessment and critique of your work. I learned a great deal about self criticism, which is crucial for a photographer to evolve.

    Ciao,

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    Re: Lens advice for D300?

    Simon,

    If I read your requirements correctly...D300 and a light ( weight ) kit taking
    you from about 28mm to 300mm. While I respect the suggestions given by others, my thinking goes something like this:

    D300...excellent AF, DSLR, Excellent high ISO...so why bother with MF lenses,
    except for micro ( not your requirement ).

    Why buy an excellent DSLR, if you do not want to benefit from the excellent
    zooms available.

    My recommendation would be:

    either a 18-200 vr or the new 16-85 vr. a lot of 18-200 suffer from zoom creep. There is sample variation within the 18-200. upto 120-130mm it is
    good, and gets soft onwards. you have to experiment with it to find the
    sweet spots at different apertures. Any way an excellent lens for travel.
    Complex distortion at the wide-end.

    16-85 vr. sharp at all apertures across its focal length. distortion at the wide end. obviously not as long an extension as the 18-200. i find it to have a better vr than the 18-200. from 18-85 this lens is very good.

    70-300 vr. excellent lens, getting softer after around 200mm. excellent value and excellent results.

    the tamron 17-50/2.8 is a light and very good lens.

    If i take my d300/d200 i take the 16-85/70-300 and the 50/1.4 for a light
    kit.

    slightly more heavy 17-55/70-300 ( 12-24 is rarely used by me )+ 50/1.4

    These are my choices for air travel and vacations.

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