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Lens for traveling Italy

edited November 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
Hi,

I bought my wife a Nikon D5100 about a year ago. Neither of us know really anything about DSLRs (my wife really wanted the camera, but has not put in any effort to learn about it, even though I offered for her to take a class on it). The only lens we have is the one that came with the body, and I don't know what the specs are on it (its at home and I am not, though I can get later).

We will be going to Italy at the end of December, and I wanted to purchase a new lens to bring. Ideally, it would be the only lens we would bring. Price range is between $200-300. Looking for something with AF and motorized zoom. I have been looking at this lens http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015U95SW/ref=twister_B005YOWGUE?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1

Anyone have any comments on this lens or any suggestions on other ones?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Comments

  • edited November 2015
    Just to make sure terminology is understood, the motor in this case is for the auto focus, not the zoom. None of the lenses available have a motorized zoom, but all lenses that are compatible with this camera must have their own focus motors. A motorized zoom, if you had one, would add weight and cost far beyond what you desire.

    With that out of the way, your camera probably came with an 18-55mm zoom lens, which is decent and sharp, but somewhat short of range if you're going to take only one.

    I don't have experience with the one mentioned, but most of the lenses in that range will probably be pretty good. The main difference from the kit zoom will be in zoom range. What works for you will depend a little on what sort of photography you favor, but something in the 18-200mm range is probably good, and even 18-135mm or so would be decent for most uses.

    The lens shown gets pretty slow (f/6.3) at the long end, and will be something of a challenge to focus and use in low light at its telephoto setting.

    It's hard to recommend a lens without knowing what sort of photography you expect to do, and what you expect to aim at. For scenic and a majority of tourist shots, the 18-55mm would probably be fine, as you are more likely to want to keep it pretty wide.

    If you're not dead set on using only one lens, an alternative would be to keep the kit lens, and look at the Nikon 55-200mm zoom. It is said to be nice and sharp, a little faster at 200mm end than the one you link to, and a bargain. There is an inconvenience to having two lenses to cover your intended range, but an advantage as well, as the kit zoom is more compact. If you're touring and break a lens, you're not totally done for.

    For touring I usually stick with the 18-55mm kit lens and the 55-300mm (I like to aim at wildlife), and that pair has served me pretty well, though there are times I'd wish for more overlap. My wife has the 18-140mm kit lens on her D7100, which is out of your price range a bit, but is a fine sharp lens, and covers most needs most of the time. She puts her 300mm on only when she's aiming for birds and turtles and monkeys and whatnot.

    Between now and December, I strongly urge either you or your wife or both, to take that camera out and work it. A course is fine for the artistic end of things, but more importantly for touring, what you need is familiarity with the machine. Read the manual, and know where the buttons are. Know what to do. You have time to find all the buttons, figure the main ones out, and not have to fumble when someone looks up a the campanile and says "Wow, look at that!". It's a digital camera, with a shutter rated for something like 150 thousand shots. That's a lot. I am completely unconcerned about wearing out my camera, shoot all over the place all the time, and in a year and a half I'm only up to about 23 thousand. I'll more likely to accidentally drop it in the ocean, or just to decide I need a better one, than to wear it out. Get out there and shoot, shoot, shoot. Practice. Try things. While you're doing that you can observe what focal length you're using most on the kit lens. If you shoot wide and rarely regret that it only goes to 55mm, then keep it. If you keep wishing it went tighter, get something with more telephoto.
  • edited November 2015
    Hi,
    As a Nikon buff, @Bruto has given you good advice and pointed you in the direction of some decent lenses.
    However, I always suggest people consider the Tamron 18-270mm pzd as a travel lens. Since Tamron introduced its 16-300mm, the 18-270mm has come down into your budget range.
    I visit Italy every year and the 18-270mm is the only lens I take. Shoot at f/8 and 100 ISO in the Italian sunshine and you will be amazed at the clarity of your pictures.
    Regards,
    PBked
  • edited November 2015
    It's true, as @pbked says, I tend to stick with Nikon, but I don't mean to slight other manufacturers as not good enough. Tamron and Sigma, among others, make some very good lenses. 18-270mm is basically all the focal length you're likely to need and then some.

    If possible, I'd try to find some place where you can put the lens on and try it out, and see how it feels and how it looks. But it looks pretty good, and judging from what I see on the internet, it does not look much bigger than the 18-200mm. It's pretty well reviewed, and people like the size and the fast autofocus performance.

    As for price, I suggest that if the increase is not very large, you bite the bullet if you like the lens. A good lens will last for years and outlast the camera itself. Of course you shouldn't buy something you can't afford, but the difference over a long time will seem trivial after a while.

    Edit to add: if you are willing to take a chance on used, KEH.Com, a very reputable business with a good warranty and return policy, has some of these lenses for a bargain price in excellent condition. My experience with KEH is that their grading is very good, and what they call excellent will be. I've bought a few lenses there, including their "bargain" grade, that were quite a good deal. Their shipping is reasonably fast too. However, if the listing does not include caps, case, hood, etc., then they will not be included, so remember this when estimating final cost. Also be very careful you know the difference between models and generations of a lens. The listings are honest, but you need to check whether the one you're looking at has vibration control and other features that may have changed over the years.
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