Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Digital-only Lenses Part I: Nikon DX

We kick off this multi-part series with the Nikon digital-lenses, the DX series. For a quick introduction and a table of contents of this series, be sure to read the introduction. We have a total of eleven (11) Nikon DX lenses.

The Stars
We start with the lens generating the most buzz at the moment, the Nikkor 18-200mm f3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S DX VR II. If you want to ignore the railroad name, focus (no pun intended) on these specs: 18-200mm, DX, and VR :) This lens gives roughly an equivalent focal length of 28-300mm on DX DSLRs and costs just under $700. That is about the same price as the Fuji S100fs but that's a totally different story.

That lens goes long, but how about a lens that goes wide? Nikon has the 12-24mm f4 G ED-IF AF-S DX, with an equivalent 18-36mm, giving wide-angle starved digital photographers hope. But hope is not free! Wide angle hope goes for $900+.

How about a do-it-all lens? Well, not all-all, but the Nikon 16-85mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX offers roughly the 24-128mm equivalent, and costs about $650.

Okay, but how about a constant aperture zoom? Yes, the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 G ED-IF AF-S DX, which is roughly around 28-83mm, and you do have to pay for that f2.8 dearly, $1200 to be exact.

You don't have to go fishing for this lens (okay, that was bad). The Fisheye 10.5mm f2.8 G ED AF DX offers a digital fisheye for around $600. And if you do the 1.5X math (1.52x to be exact), you end up with something around 16mm equivalent.

The Affordables
We have quite a division here, as there is no lens between $330 and $600. The star of the affordables is the versatile (28-200mm equivalent) Nikon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S DX going for about $330.

The same price point offers the Nikon 18-70mm f3.5-4.5 G ED-IF AF-S DX lens, which roughly gives you 28-105mm in 35mm equivalency, and a step above the standard kit lenses.

But the most commonly used lenses are the ones bundled with most Nikon DSLRs, the entry-level kit lenses, which are the older 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX for about $120, and the newer VR flavored 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR AF-S DX for around $200. These are designed to give the user the familiar from the film SLR days 28-80mm equivalent range. The popularity of sensor-shift stabilization has forced both Canon and Nikon to offer affordable IS/VR lenses since they refuse to offer sensor-shift stabilization so as to protect their high profit margin IS/VR lenses.

The same holds for the telephoto kit lens, the 55-200mm f4-5.6 G ED AF-S DX goes for around $170, while the newer edition, the Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6 G ED AF-S DX goes for $230.

Nikon DX Lens Reviews
You can find reviews of almost all (ten) of the above Nikon lenses at Photozone.de. Just search for "DX" on that page and you will find all their published Nikkor DX reviews.

Thom Hogan has reviewed seven of the above lenses, including the 12-24, 18-200, 17-55 f2.8, and 18-135. Search for "DX" on his Nikon page.

Bjorn Roslett has reviewed the 12-24 and gone wildly wild :)

SLRGear.com has reviewed five ten of the above lenses, including the 18-200, 18-135, and 16-85 just recently. To find them quickly, just search for "DX tested" on their lens reviews page.

dpreview has reviews of two of the above lenses, the hot 18-200 DX VR, and the new VR kit lens 18-55. You can find them in the dpreview lens reviews page.

Ken Rockwell has a long page on Nikon lenses. Your task is to sort through it and find the DX reviews, which include the 18-200 which KR was raving about. I'm glad I'm not the only one with a chaotic site :)

Pop Photo has reviewed some of these lenses, including the 18-200 and 18-135, but their camera lenses page is not organized well, so you have to go through multiple pages in order to find the Nikon DX reviews. Will magazines ever "get" the internet?

If you like this post, be sure to bookmark it! Please let us know what you like and what you don't like about this feature. Since this is only the first installment, we have the flexibility to make adjustments to this and to upcoming posts. Speaking of which, coming up later this week are the Canon EF-S lenses.

1. Nikon Lenses
2. B&H Photo

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