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18-300 Lens

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Old Tuesday 13th January 2015, 17:38   #1
Paul Tavares
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18-300 Lens

Hi all

I've just pre-ordered the D5500 and this is my first Nikon. I plan on using it with the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm F3.5-6.3G lens. If I like the camera I may upgrade to an 80-400 and a shorter zoom at the smaller focal length.

I plan on using the initial set up of the D5500 and the 18-300 lens as a high quality bridge camera. I don't really like changing lenses. Are any of you using the 18-300 and how happy are you with the results? I accept that the image quality will not be as great as a prime or a zoom with a shorter zoom range. For me convenience trumps quality, to a point.

I normally carry a 100-300 on my nature walks. Sometimes I will also carry a 12-35 but I sometimes lose opportunities because I have the wrong lens attached. Or I'll give up on an opportunity because of climatic conditions and the possibility of damaging or dirtying the sensor when changing lenses.

So in general, is the lens a good walk around lens?

thanks

Paul
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Old Friday 16th January 2015, 00:39   #2
opticoholic
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Hi Paul,
I cannot speak to how well the 18-300mm zoom works because I've never tried it, but as you said, I wouldn't expect the very best results with it... a lot of other telephoto lenses would do better, but those lenses will also cost more of course.

I mainly wanted to suggest that you might consider the D7100 body which would be about the same or maybe less money than the D5500. I know the D5500 is brand-new, and it may have a few new features that you like, such as the tilting touch screen LCD and built-in WiFi, and it does have a newer "EXPEED 4" image processor. But the D7100 is sort of a well-proven body with a very similar sensor and it still has some features that trump the D5500. I think the D7100 has a better 51 point autofocus system, which can help a lot with bird photography, and also it allows fine-tuning the autofocus for each lens that you use on the camera. I have found fine-tuning the autofocus very important on my expensive prime lenses, in order to get the maximum sharpness. I'm not sure but I think the D5500 probably lacks autofocus fine tuning, and you might miss that if you later invest in a more expensive lens. The D7100 also has a few other nice things like a front control dial, dual SD card slots, and a little nicer 100% viewfinder and the LCD screen has a few more dots (although not a touch screen). Just something to think about.

Good luck,
--Dave

PS. I see a refurbished D7100 for $700 right now at Adorama, which includes a 90 day warranty.

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Old Friday 16th January 2015, 08:48   #3
Stephen Mark
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The 7100 is something to consider but my input is about the lens. I think that the combo of the Nikon 18X140 and Nikon 55-300 would give you sharper images and the 18X300 has some pretty sever focus breathing ( you only get 300 mm at infinity not at closer distances). Either one weighs less and cost especially referbs is about half. If you really want an all in one then look at the new Tamron 16X300 or the Sigma. I think both are better value than the Nikon. I have the 18X140 55X300 pair and my wife has the Tamron and we checked the Nikon and weren't impressed with it.
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Old Saturday 17th January 2015, 13:06   #4
Paul Tavares
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opticoholic View Post
Hi Paul,
I cannot speak to how well the 18-300mm zoom works because I've never tried it, but as you said, I wouldn't expect the very best results with it... a lot of other telephoto lenses would do better, but those lenses will also cost more of course.

I mainly wanted to suggest that you might consider the D7100 body which would be about the same or maybe less money than the D5500. I know the D5500 is brand-new, and it may have a few new features that you like, such as the tilting touch screen LCD and built-in WiFi, and it does have a newer "EXPEED 4" image processor. But the D7100 is sort of a well-proven body with a very similar sensor and it still has some features that trump the D5500. I think the D7100 has a better 51 point autofocus system, which can help a lot with bird photography, and also it allows fine-tuning the autofocus for each lens that you use on the camera. I have found fine-tuning the autofocus very important on my expensive prime lenses, in order to get the maximum sharpness. I'm not sure but I think the D5500 probably lacks autofocus fine tuning, and you might miss that if you later invest in a more expensive lens. The D7100 also has a few other nice things like a front control dial, dual SD card slots, and a little nicer 100% viewfinder and the LCD screen has a few more dots (although not a touch screen). Just something to think about.

Good luck,
--Dave

PS. I see a refurbished D7100 for $700 right now at Adorama, which includes a 90 day warranty.
Dave
Thanks for the suggestion. Especially the comment on the AF fine tuning. I'll have a look at it. The tilt LCD is a nice feature. I have it on my GH3 and find it handy for low shots of flowers and low perspective landscapes.

Paul
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Old Saturday 17th January 2015, 13:18   #5
Paul Tavares
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stephen Mark View Post
The 7100 is something to consider but my input is about the lens. I think that the combo of the Nikon 18X140 and Nikon 55-300 would give you sharper images and the 18X300 has some pretty sever focus breathing ( you only get 300 mm at infinity not at closer distances). Either one weighs less and cost especially referbs is about half. If you really want an all in one then look at the new Tamron 16X300 or the Sigma. I think both are better value than the Nikon. I have the 18X140 55X300 pair and my wife has the Tamron and we checked the Nikon and weren't impressed with it.
Steve
Steve
Thanks for the feedback. I think I will have to upgrade for something better on the long end, sooner rather than later. Something like the 80-400 or maybe a third party lens. On the short side, I want to see how it does and may eventually end up as you did with a shorter zoom. The 18-300 might still be useful for when my wife and I travel on non-nature trips. When traveling in parks and gardens in European cities, I sometimes come across a common European bird but a new one for my photo life list and it is nice to quickly get off a record shot.

Paul
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2015, 02:12   #6
Paul Tavares
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The camera and lens were delivered late Friday afternoon. The weather around here has been about 10C below normal for a few weeks. I went out for a trial run on Saturday. The weather was gray, strong winds -10C and not a lot of birds. I was very disappointed in the results but put it up to learning a new camera.

I went out again today and was blown away by the results. Not a cloud in the sky, -9C and quite a few birds. I was interested in trying out the auto focus and the performance of the 18-300 at 300mm. In the AF tests I wasn't too interested in composition and selected birds in amongst the branches. The first three images of a White-throated Sparrow are from the same shot at 300mm and show the typical conditions. The first image is the full frame at 6000x4000, second image is cropped to 3315x2210 and is about the same dimensions as I would have gotten with the GH3 and 100-300 (after cropping). The third image is a 100% crop, unresized. The sharpness of the images I took at at 300mm is better than what I was getting with the Pany 100-300. I also included a cardinal and a rb woodpecker. Both sharp enough for me but the woodpecker is interesting for another reason. I always had trouble with the reds of cardinals, woodpeckers and the reds of other birds with the GH3, losing detail in the feathers and the reds looking too saturated. Not so with the D5500. The GH3 also had trouble with yellow flowers but we'll need to wait on that one.

So the sharpness of the D5500 and 19-300 at 300mm is better than the GH3 and PANY 100-300. Even cropped down to the same field of view and equivalent pixel height and width as the GH3, the D5500 and 18-300 is better.

The autofocus was very good. Quickly found and locked on the target. Never once did it fail to acquire focus. This sometimes happened with the PANY 100-300 ( I don't think it was a GH3 problem). One aspect of this came unexpectedly. Going from an EVF to an OVF is a bit of an adjustment. I miss the feedback on exposure the EVF gives and the ability to modify the menus from the viewfinder. But finding a bird in the branches is so much easier with an OVF. The time to obtain focus is not just affected by the AF speed of the camera but also the initial time finding the bird in the viewfinder. So going forward there should be fewer missed opportunities.

Still early days but so far so good. I'm still deciding on a longer reach tele, but it is so nice to have options available.

Paul
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Old Wednesday 18th February 2015, 02:20   #7
Paul Tavares
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I should have added that the cardinal picture is cropped to 3296x2197 and the woodpecker to 2112x 2640. Also the camera is not yet supported by SilkyPix or Picasa so I used the raw developer that came with the camera. In the two outings I shot Raw+JPEG but I'll now switch to Raw only as I'm comfortable using the Capture NX-D software.

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