Last week Nikon announced a couple of new lenses for their DSLR cameras. today I’m going to give you a brief overview of each.
18-300mm AF-S DX f/3.5-5.6 G VR
First-up, the DX designation in the lens name means that it is only designed for use with Nikon’s Consumer DSLRs. (Of the latest generation that’s the D3200, D5100, and D7000). You can’t use it with the Professional DSLRs like the D800 and D4.
On a Consumer DSLR the 18-300mm focal length range is equivalent to 27-450mm in 35mm terms. This makes it a real all-in-one lens that covers moderate Wide-Angle to a quite long Telephoto. Basically this lens is aimed at people who like the idea of the improved image quality of a big sensor camera, but don’t want the inconvenience of changing lenses.
We call lenses like the 18-300mm Superzooms because of their vast zoom range. Their convenience makes them attractive, but it isn’t all win-win.
Bear in mind if you make a lens of a single focal length, e.g. 35mm, you can optimise its performance for that length. As zoom range increases, laws of physics dictate that the lens becomes less optimised at any focal length. Superzooms are the epitome of compromised lenses.
In other words expect this lens to be less sharp, resolve less detail, and have much more distortion than a standard kit lens.
If you’re interested in this kind of lens, you need to weigh up the benefits of not having to change lenses against the compromised image quality from the long zoom range.
As you would expect for a lens with such a long zoom, the 18-300mm has Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) to help with getting steady shots.
There are a couple of downsides to this lens (beyond the inherent limitations of designs of this type).
First is that in the UK it will cost £850. If you bought your camera with a kit lens, you could buy the 70-300mm VR for less than £450. The kit plus the 70-300mm would get you pretty much the same focal range with better image quality for £400 less. (If your kit is the 18-55mm you lose a little range in the middle, but it’s not a critical gap.)
The second is that it features a plastic lens mount. Plastic lens mounts shouldn’t be a big deal if you don’t abuse your lenses. However, given Nikon has been using metal mounts on even its cheapest lenses recently, it does seem a bit of a step backwards. This is especially true given that, at 830g, the lens is pretty heavy and so could probably do with a metal mount for extra strength more than the tiny 77g Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 which does have a metal mount.
24-85mm AF-S f/3.5-4.5 G VR
The 24-85mm can be used on all Nikon DSLRs, but its focal length range of 36-128mm on Consumer DSLRs makes it an odd choice on DX bodies.
Basically what we have is a relatively cheap zoom with image stabilization for Nikon’s Professional DSLRs.
The 24-85mm will cost £520 in the UK which makes it a more affordable alternative to either the 16-35mm or 24-120mm, which both cost nearly £850.
Like the 18-300mm, the 24-85mm also comes with a plastic lens mount. (See my comments about that lens.)
All 0f this budget emphasis has left a lot of speculation that we are going to see a cheaper Professional DSLR from Nikon later in the year (the D600). Given the hints dropped by people who know more than I do, I think that it’s pretty much a done deal at this stage. The only question is, how much it’s likely to cost?
- The D7000 (Nikon’s most expensive Consumer DSLR) costs £1,000.
- The D800 (Nikon’s cheapest Pro DSLR) costs £2,600.
Expect the D600 to cost somewhere between £1,500 and £1,750.
The reason I don’t think it’ll be much more than £1,750 is that for marketing purposes Nikon will want to keep the price enough under £2,000 that it will entice upgrades from the D7000 from people who won’t consider paying D800 prices. Once prices get close to £2,00 a psychological barrier is thrown up. Double the price of the D7000 is too big a step.
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