Better zoom lens for Nikon D7000
March 25, 2011 7:28 AM   Subscribe

What's a better quality zoom lens for the Nikon D7000 than the Nikon 18-105mm?

The dpreview mentions that that lens doesn't make great use of the quality of the cameras sensor.
I do like the versatility of the 18-105 mm lens though; it pretty much covers the whole range of focal lengths I use. I don't need any longer focal lengths.
So my question to you; what would be a better quality lens with a similar focal range?

If it matters: I use this zoom lens to complement a light sensitive 30 mm prime.
posted by joost de vries to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total)
The only comment I could see from that review is that the kit lens is slightly slower to find autofocus than some other lenses. Do you really have a problem with this? I have a d7000 with the kit lens and end up shooting lots of 'live action' shots of subjects tearing away and towards me (skiers). Maybe I'm not jaded enough, but I'm impressed enough to know that whatever problems there are generally due to the photographer (me).

Did you look at the dpreview forums? There is one entirely dedicated to Nikon SLR lenses, and if you've the time, there's probably lots of good information to mine out of it.
posted by bumpkin at 7:48 AM on March 25, 2011

I have three answers.

1. None. None more better. You will find no lens with that focal range and price point that is better for your camera.

2. If you are really concerned about image quality, you should not use a zoom lens. Zoom lenses are always a compromise in image quality.

3. If your budget includes lenses over $1000, you might consider the 24-70 f2.8 or the 18-55 f2.8.
posted by j03 at 7:49 AM on March 25, 2011

I feel that lens performance really isn't camera specific. The problem with lenses that cover a large range of focal lengths is that quality is usually limited by physics (and cost).

What do you like to shoot? Wide landscapes? Macros of bugs or flowers? Portraits? Birds?

If your wallet is overflowing with cash, then any of the Nikkor zooms with a maximum aperture of f/2.8. In the price range of the 18-105 (~$400), you're not going to get a better quality zoom. In the realm of prime lenses in that price range, try the 24mm f2.8 if you want to go wider, the cheap but very good 50mm f1.8 (or the little more expensive f1.4) for "standard" view, or the 85mm f1.8 for a longer lens.
posted by photovox at 7:53 AM on March 25, 2011

Maybe the Nikkor 18-200mm VR II. I know you don't want anything longer than a 105mm, but Nikon only makes one 105mm, with 200mm the next longest that's affordable and 85mm the next shortest. If you really want a special lens, maybe the 24-120mm VR II. It's ƒ/4, but nearly $1200 and you're giving up some wide end.
posted by The Michael The at 7:56 AM on March 25, 2011

I shoot exclusively in primes. Zooms just don't cut it for me anymore, and I'm not willing to pony up for a high-quality, huge, expensive zoom when I can do just as well with a prime. I'm a little bit obsessed with my Rokinon 85mm f/1.4 right now for when I need a little bit of reach.

Warning: it's a manual focus lens, but it's beautiful and a terrific bargain
posted by litnerd at 8:25 AM on March 25, 2011

The quote I'm referring to is
In any case you should make sure you put some decent glass in front of the D7000's sensor. The 18-105mm kit lens scores points for versatility but it doesn't make the most of the sensor's capabilities.
So that left me wondering what the alternative is that they're thinking of. Either they're thinking that you need to use primes with a d7000 or they have a better zoom in mind.

I know that primes are generally speaking sharper at a similar price point. But I feel that this is not the 80s any more and that it should be possible to use a good modern zoom.
So I'm wondering what a better zoom would be.
And if there's none I'll happily accept the limitations of the 18-105mm.

The Nikon 18-200 mm has a so so review on
The Nikon 15-85 mm has much better review

I already have a 30 mm 1.4 Sigma for the low light conditions.
posted by joost de vries at 8:52 AM on March 25, 2011

If you're willing to sacrifice the long end, you can get a higher quality, faster lens (read: better low light, more control of depth of field) like the Tamron 17-50 F2.8 non-VC (non-stabilized) for around $450. Optically excellent, with the sacrifices being that it's a more-or-less entry-level lens in terms of build and autofocus speed/noise as well as lacks image stabilization (which is not particularly critical at these focal lengths).

Alternatively, if aperture isn't important (as you are using a 30 1.4 in a supplementary role), look at Nikon's 16-85 VR. Definite optical excellence, but still a variable aperture F3.5-5.6. Retails around $700.
posted by Neuffy at 8:57 AM on March 25, 2011

Also I wonder what qualities in a lens are still important if you use software like Lightroom to do lens corrections.
posted by joost de vries at 9:33 AM on March 25, 2011

Also I wonder what qualities in a lens are still important if you use software like Lightroom to do lens corrections.

Sharpness, for one (though some say it's not a big deal these days). Lens flare for another. Another one is speed. These are all things that software can't really correct for.

The 24-70mm f/2.8 is considered very sharp for its class, and Nikon zooms don't come any faster than f/2.8. But you'd be sacrificing a lot of the wide-end, especially on a DX format camera like the D7000. On a DX the field of view is equivalent to 37-107mm.

If the wide end is more important, consider the 17-55mm f/2.8G. It's a DX lens. You're only getting half the zoom range of the 18-105mm, but on the other hand the 17-55mm is 1/2 to 2 stops faster throughout its range. The 17-55mm is also fairly sharp.
posted by jedicus at 12:32 PM on March 25, 2011

Also I wonder what qualities in a lens are still important if you use software like Lightroom to do lens corrections.

For me:
1 - do I have it with me, and on the camera, when the thing happens I want to photograph?
2 - how slow and loud is the AF, and how often does it "hunt" in low UK light?
3 - does it have a metal mount, and will it survive a drop?
posted by cromagnon at 5:31 PM on March 25, 2011

Thanks for your advise.
For future reference: here's a good overview of nikon lenses.
posted by joost de vries at 3:35 AM on May 20, 2011

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