Old 04-14-2008, 12:52 AM   #1
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Default New Lens

I am looking for lens for a new lens for my Nikon D80, I'm not quite sure what I want. I know I at least want a zoom lens, but am unsure which focal length, brand etc. I either want one that goes down to around 16-18mm or another that will go up to 400mm with low F-stops on both. IS/VR is preferred and price is almost not an object. It will mostly be used for trains, but since I will be starting a new job as a pilot for Mesaba airlines I will need something that will be used for aviation photography as well, including shots from within the airplane. Thanks for the help.
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Old 04-14-2008, 01:59 AM   #2
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Since VR is important, get the 70-200. Otherwise get the 80-200, it's a great lens.
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Old 04-14-2008, 03:01 PM   #3
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No brainer..the new Nikon 16/85 vr and the 70/300 vr. Both have the latest VR which shold be of some use taking photos from a plane.

For me, low f stops don't mean that much. The depth of field is limited at 2.8, and even at f4 ya need to be careful. I have went over the specs on many of my rail photos to see what focal length I used for most of them, and if Nikon would upgrade the 24.120 VR with the latest version of VR, I think I could take 99 percent of my railphotos with that lens.

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Last edited by Ed Mullan; 04-14-2008 at 03:17 PM. Reason: add text
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:19 PM   #4
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I'm interested in this discussion too. I have an 18-55mm and 55-200 mm VR and was changing lenses too much....and missing shots.

I also looked at my photos and found that most of them were in the 30-100mm range. I tried the 18-135mm non-VR zoom and found too much pin-cushion distortion throughout the focal range. I seriously considered the 24-120mm VR that Ed mentioned as the distortion plots looked pretty darn good on that unit. Unfortunately, I also read lots of reviews with people complaining about the (lack of) sharpness of that lens.

I've opted for the 18-200mm VR. Distortion plots show it to be better than the 18-135, but not as good as the 24-120. From a sharpness standpoint, the folks I've talked to are pretty happy. I also noticed that when I was at Nevada Northern in February, all of the Nikon shooters were using that lens...including the pros. It's a $650-700 piece of glass, but may be the only lens I need. We will see. I should have mine today.
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Old 04-14-2008, 04:53 PM   #5
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Boy, this post seemed quite familiar! I think you borrowed a lot from this one (nothing wrong with that!):
http://forums.railpictures.net/showp...4&postcount=13

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM
I'm interested in this discussion too. I have an 18-55mm and 55-200 mm VR and was changing lenses too much....and missing shots.

I also looked at my photos and found that most of them were in the 30-100mm range. I tried the 18-135mm non-VR zoom and found too much pin-cushion distortion throughout the focal range. I seriously considered the 24-120mm VR that Ed mentioned as the distortion plots looked pretty darn good on that unit. Unfortunately, I also read lots of reviews with people complaining about the (lack of) sharpness of that lens.

I've opted for the 18-200mm VR. Distortion plots show it to be better than the 18-135, but not as good as the 24-120. From a sharpness standpoint, the folks I've talked to are pretty happy. I also noticed that when I was at Nevada Northern in February, all of the Nikon shooters were using that lens...including the pros. It's a $650-700 piece of glass, but may be the only lens I need. We will see. I should have mine today.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Boy, this post seemed quite familiar! I think you borrowed a lot from this one (nothing wrong with that!):

LOL! You can tell this is a sensitive subject with me, huh?

I like black and white (pardon the pun) solutions and with buying zooms, there is none. They are all compromises, some more so than others. As a friend of mine who does some pro work told me: "They all have problems. Which problems would you like to have?"
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:25 PM   #7
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Several of us are using the Sigma 17-70mm w/ our Rebel variants and like it. It's also made with a Nikon mount.
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Old 04-14-2008, 05:31 PM   #8
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I'm using the 17-55DX and the 70-200VR on my D80. Both are heavy, pro-quality pieces of glass. (and fairly expensive as well, but you state that price is "almost" no object)

I moved up to these lenses from the kit 18-55 and the 70-300VR due to the f/2.8 apertures, and better image quality wide open. I'm photographing my kids' soccer games in addition to railroad photography; and the poor quality of HS stadium lights means I need wide apertures and high ISO to freeze the action. (I'm also thinking of moving up to the D300 for the better high-ISO performance over the D80 for the same reasons.)

The 70-300VR is a nice lens stopped down a bit and is also smaller and lighter than the 70-200VR. That might be a deciding factor if you are shooting from a cramped cockpit. (I flew this weekend via NWA/Mesaba Detroit to Erie on a Saab 340, and the pilots didn't seem to have much more room than the pax.) I will probably sell my 70-300VR, and get an 18-200VR as a lighter weight "vacation" lens.

It just depends on your requirements. If you don't need fast apertures, you can go smaller and lighter, and quite a bit cheaper.

The airshow pics on my smugmug site were taken with a 70-200VR with a 1.7TC handheld, if that will help: My smugmug site.

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Old 04-14-2008, 07:46 PM   #9
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I just reread your first post and saw that you're starting with Mesaba. I believe my father's cousin is their chief pilot. If you run into a fellow named Hopper tell him I say hi

The thread may now return to relevant discussion...
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Old 04-15-2008, 12:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Mullan
For me, low f stops don't mean that much. The depth of field is limited at 2.8, and even at f4 ya need to be careful. I have went over the specs on many of my rail photos to see what focal length I used for most of them, and if Nikon would upgrade the 24.120 VR with the latest version of VR, I think I could take 99 percent of my railphotos with that lens.

Ed
There is more to the 70/80-200 than a faster aperature. If you are truly worried about image quality and not content with having something that will get you by, a 2.8 lens is a must. The faster lenses get better color, less distortion, greater sharpness, faster focus and many other things. A pro lens also makes it possible to shoot more than just trains proficiently.

Have you ever owned a fast/pro lens? If you have, you should know the benefits and that the larger aperatures are useful at times.

If convenience is all your're worried about, get a slower lens but if you really want a quality photograph, get a 2.8. Trust me, it's worth it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM
I've opted for the 18-200mm VR. Distortion plots show it to be better than the 18-135, but not as good as the 24-120. From a sharpness standpoint, the folks I've talked to are pretty happy.
You're confused. The 18-200 has terrible distortion (a lot) but the 18-135 has very little distortion considering it's range. The 18-135 is also widely considered to be the sharper of the two. Also, VR is useless for railroad photography.

Last edited by Mike B.; 04-15-2008 at 12:18 AM.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:05 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
Also, VR is useless for railroad photography.
How do you figure, Mike? I've used IS quite a few times to take pics of trains that would otherwise have camera shake due to slower shutter speeds.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:11 AM   #12
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VR compensates for camera shake, not object movement so VR will not make a blurred train any sharper. If you are using a slow enough shutter speed where camera shake is a threat, you should be on a tripod without question as it will get better results than any VR or IS system.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:18 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
You're confused. ... Also, VR is useless for railroad photography.
OH? News to me. I use IS (the Canon equivalent of VR) for almost all of the railroad photos that I take with my telephoto lenses.

Stabilization does nothing to counter the movement of the train, but, as intended, it does cut down on unwanted camera motion. I can handhold my 70-200mm or 300mm without any fears about shake, wind, shutter vibration, etc.

Furthermore, IS has a wonderfully handy feature called "pan mode." When in pan mode, the lens counters motion in the field perpendicular to the pan. That means that it's very easy to execute a pan shot because the lens takes out a lot of the wiggle.

Don't say that stabilization is useless in railroad photography because it simply isn't true. Generalized statements like that lead me to believe that you haven't used stabilization yourself, or at least lack an understanding of how it works.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:37 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
VR compensates for camera shake, not object movement so VR will not make a blurred train any sharper. If you are using a slow enough shutter speed where camera shake is a threat, you should be on a tripod without question as it will get better results than any VR or IS system.
Right, Mike. Let's just forget about why IS/VR was invented.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
If you are using a slow enough shutter speed where camera shake is a threat, you should be on a tripod without question as it will get better results than any VR or IS system.
Also false. Advanced IS and VR systems cancel mirror slap and shutter vibrations. A tripod amplifies these vibrations. No sane individual is going to be running around with their tripod and setting mirror-lockup for every shot, especially during a chase. It's just ridiculous.

Can you imaging 500 steam foamers (the most rabid kind) all running with their tripods, legs extended, and waving in the air? This is why IS was invented. It's functional convenience for many shooting situations. Including railroad photography.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
Right, Mike. Let's just forget about why IS/VR was invented.

...because people are lazy and don't want to use tripods even if they offer greater results. If a VR/IS system is ever developed that can match or better (I don't know how would be better no movement..) the results of a good tripod, then I will agree that it does have uses for railroad photography. Like I was saying earlier, it depends on what you value more. Quality=tripod Convenience=VR/IS
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:48 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
Like I was saying earlier, it depends on what you value more. Quality=tripod Convenience=VR/IS
I'm gonna go with both, which I have in my VR lens.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:49 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ryan
Also false. Advanced IS and VR systems cancel mirror slap and shutter vibrations. A tripod amplifies these vibrations. No sane individual is going to be running around with their tripod and setting mirror-lockup for every shot, especially during a chase. It's just ridiculous.

Can you imaging 500 steam foamers (the most rabid kind) all running with their tripods, legs extended, and waving in the air? This is why IS was invented. It's functional convenience for many shooting situations. Including railroad photography.
Are you kidding me? What vibrations? A good tripod has little to no movement.

I must be insane because when I'm chasing I often use a tripod. Have you ever actually used a tripod? Once you become proficient at it, it takes no longer than 30-seconds. If you have less than 30-seconds you will probably screw up your shot regardless of what equipment you have.

I have no idea what a group of foamers would like to chasing a steam engine. I never chase them because they are just stupid and often the people who do chase are stupid as well.

Last edited by Mike B.; 04-15-2008 at 02:53 AM.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:50 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
...because people are lazy and don't want to use tripods even if they offer greater results. If a VR/IS system is ever developed that can match or better (I don't know how would be better no movement..) the results of a good tripod, then I will agree that it does have uses for railroad photography. Like I was saying earlier, it depends on what you value more. Quality=tripod Convenience=VR/IS


We've missed your insightful posts. Thanks for bringing the humor back.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:52 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
I have no idea what a group of foamers would like to chasing a steam engine. I never chase them because they are just stupid and often the people who do chase are stupid as well.
That comment had NO relevance to the debate.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:54 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
...because people are lazy and don't want to use tripods even if they offer greater results. ... It depends on what you value more. Quality=tripod Convenience=VR/IS
Let me tell you, lazy has nothing to do with it. The tripod offers no greater result unless it is night out. Then you use a tripod with MLU. For average daytime shooting, modern IS will hold a sharper image than a tripod. I've tried both methods, compared samples, and decided to leave my tripod in my trunk.

What lenses and VR/IS systems have you tried? Or are you just repeating conventional wisdom?
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:56 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JimThias
That comment had NO relevance to the debate.
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ryan
Can you imaging 500 steam foamers (the most rabid kind) all running with their tripods, legs extended, and waving in the air?
He asked a question; I answered it. Relevance indeed.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:57 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
He asked a question; I answered it. Relevance indeed.
Nope. It was a personal attack...as usual.
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Old 04-15-2008, 02:59 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Ryan
Let me tell you, lazy has nothing to do with it. The tripod offers no greater result unless it is night out. Then you use a tripod with MLU. For average daytime shooting, modern IS will hold a sharper image than a tripod. I've tried both methods, compared samples, and decided to leave my tripod in my trunk.

What lenses and VR/IS systems have you tried? Or are you just repeating conventional wisdom?
Were you using a Wal-Mart tripod?
IS yielded better results than a GOOD tripod? Living in delusion must be fun.
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Old 04-15-2008, 03:00 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
Are you kidding me? What vibrations? A good tripod has little to no movement.
HAHAHA, not true. Unless you are using a wooden tripod, the metal legs of the tripod exacerbate vibrations. Why else do you think MLU was invented. If the mirror bounce didn't shake the tripod and blur the image, MLU would never have been invented. Often this vibration is very slight, and it only manifests itself as softness in the image. But it's there, and it's a real-life concern.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike B.
I must be insane because when I'm chasing I often use a tripod. Have you ever actually used a tripod? Once you become proficient at it, it takes no longer than 30-seconds.
Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea what I do for a living? (Hint; it involves a camera.) Are you aware that I sell thousands of dollars worth of train photos to various railroads every year?
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