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Railfan Technology > Which Lens Package?

Date: 11/29/16 18:00
Which Lens Package?
Author: Tominde

I am about to plunk down some bucks for a Nikon D5300 or D5500.   They are very similar camera but the 5500 has a touch screen (I don't care about that) and a slightly different shaped body.  The 5500 just feels better in my hands. 

D5300 dual lens kit with 18-55 + 70-300   $700

D5500 with 18-140    $900      Similar body but it just enough difference that it feels better in the hand. 

I am a "Casual" shooter.  Will I be happy with just 18 -140?   But then I don't know if I want to mess with carrying 2 lenses,  

This is my first DSLR but I used a Canon 35mm SLR for years.    Prices are at the local camera shop less than a mile away.  These guys will take time to explain things and show me how to use it.  I'll spend the extra bucks with them just for that. 

Date: 11/29/16 19:05
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: birdman

These cameras are crop sensor cameras.  The smaller sensor actually results in an effective lens length 1.5 times larger than indicated. For example, the 18-140 mm lens will be the equivalent of 27-210 mm lens on these camera bodies. I have two D5200 bodies.  They are very good bodies with an excellent sensor.  Either camera should serve you well. You might want to look at Thom Hogan's website.  He is a Nikon guru who has extensive reviews and descriptions of Nikon lenses and camera bodies. It might help you make up your mind.  www.dslrbodies.com

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/16 19:07 by birdman.

Date: 11/29/16 19:12
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: twjurgens

I like the 18-140 lens and use it 95% of the time.  Much of the time, it gets me as close as I need to be and produces a sharp image.

Date: 11/29/16 19:17
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: fbe

Go with the single lens 18-140 which is a quality lens covering a useful railfan range. The two lens set leaves a gap in the 55-70 mm range with is about 80mm-105mm equivalent on a film camera. That is a great low telephoto range for action and is covered in the single package.

One advantage to a single lens package is you will not be changing lenses which can expose your photos to spots from dust on the sensor.

Have fun with the new kit. Yippee!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/29/16 19:20 by fbe.

Date: 11/29/16 23:05
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: 28hogger

I bought a D5300 with the dual lens kit with 18-55 + 70-300 about 8 months ago up-graded from a Canon Rebel T3. Nothing wrong with the Canon I just think for what I want the Nikon D5300 is a lot better camera, and I have been very happy with it.
If anybody out there is intersted in a Canon Rebel T3 with a 18-55 and standard EF 50MM 1:1.8 lens drop me a PM and we'll talk a deal. There are some extras too.

Date: 11/30/16 03:43
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: kgmontreal

Two comments:

1.  You don't say where you live.  I wouldn't want a touch screen in winter.  Buttons will operate with gloves on.  A touch screen will not.  In winter conditions a touch screen would be a complete pain.

2.  The 18-140 is a sharp lens.  But it is difficult to produce a level photograph wth it.  It seems to tilt the image in both directions as it zooms.  I'd recommend the 70-300.


Date: 11/30/16 07:52
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: Tominde

The D5500 with the touch screen also has button control same as the 5300.  

Date: 11/30/16 18:58
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: TCnR

If you part out the kits the individual prices of the lenses are not very significant, indeed I've read enough complaints about the 70-300 that I stuck with the 55-200, although 300 is a nice big telephoto 'number' to have. The 18-55 is a standard 'kit' lens and can be had very inexpensively. So the combinations appear to be to encourage selling off the older camera stock at a higher package price, or to move the new camera at a decent price. The prices are not that far apart, that's the idea behind selling packages, no bash on the sales guys either.

My suggestion is to concentrate on the body and be satisfied with the controls and the options, these lenses can be bought later at a nominal price. Perhaps the goal should be to purchase a 'bigger, better' lens next year?

I tend to use the 18-55 for rosters and not so much for open scenery areas (I have a D5000 as a 'keep me in the game' camera). So if you shoot in a lot of urban settings the 18-55 may work best. The 55-200 I have, or 300 as in the question gets used for open scenery locations where the subjects need to be squeezed into the same frame, trains and mountains. Unless you're right smack in the Rockies, or in tight canyons where a wider lens is often needed.

So, for example, the price of the D5500 with the kit 18-55 is not so high if you shoot in tight areas. It's not offered but you might ask what that price would be. The 18-55 is also a nice family lens, right in the portrait to indoors range. Let us know how it works out.

Date: 11/30/16 20:04
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: wa4umr

I shoot Canon but a lot is still the same.  If you like the feel of the D5500 and the range of the lens is reasonable for you, then go with it.  The 18-140mm lens will save some lens changing.  I usually carry the 10-17mm, 18-55mm, and either a 55-250 or a 70-300mm.  (I also have a 150-600mm but it isn't very "carry around: friendly.)  Canon has an 18 to 135mm that would save me a lot of lens changing at times.  

Go with the one that feels better.  It's going to feel better years from now also.  If you don't like the feel of it, you're going to hate it for a long time if you can't adjust to it.   You can change out the lenses later if you prefer something different.


Date: 11/30/16 21:47
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: BRAtkinson

One of the realities of a single 'jack of all trades' lens is that it is 'master of none'.  Put differently, the greater the zoom focal length difference from widest to longest, the greater the number of compromises that had to be made in the design of the lens.  While a blanket statement like "all zoom lenses with ranges over 200mm are problematic"  is false, it's more related to lens cost, as the over $800 or so lenses will generally produce sharper images.  The more expensive lenses usually have improved coatings as well as wider apertures such as f2.8 for low light situations. 

The good news is that there are many lower-cost zoom lenses with big focal length capabilities that produce surprisingly good, sharp images.  Not all are Nikon or Canon.  As a Canon shooter for over 40 years, when I finally moved to a DSLR, I found the Canon EF-S 18-135 lens a good 'do all' lens that produced sharp images on the crop-sensor 30D and later 60D cameras.  It's only 'shortcoming' is low-light situations that were solved with an external flash.  I was even more impressed with the results from an EF-S 55-250.  Both lenses were well priced for my first DSLR financial limits.

I think for most RR photography, the Nikon 18-140 will do a better job than one with greater zoom length.  Get used to your new camera and a good 'somewhat wide to somewhat long' is probably the best place to start.  Then, once you know what you can do with what you have, figure out what you NEED before clicking the 'add to cart' button on more gear.

A couple of caveats -
Do NOT buy a 'package deal' with generally poor quality products such very cheaply made filters, tripods, cleaning supplies & tools, or even memory cards and camera bag. 

Be extremely wary of online vendors other than the 'name' vendors like Walmart, Amazon, B&H Photo and Adorama (both in NYC), and KEH.  Numerous other vendors are 'high pressure' and will try to sell you 'longer lasting batteries', extra lenses, and other useless junk.  Some will even call you telling it's out of stock and try to sell you some inferior item in its place.  In some cases, you'll receive NOTHING at all! 

Do NOT buy screw in 'macro adapter/lens' or screw in 'telephoto adapter/lens'.  They are complete junk!  The resultant image quality is like having petroleum jelly smeared on your lens.  Been there, done that.

There's no need for any UV, Skylight, or 'protector' filters for your lens(es). The front element of your lens(es) is significantly more durable and scratch resistant than they are!  About all they will do is lighten your wallet and reduce the image quality.  The only filters you should ever need are a circular polarizer (CPL) to cut down glare and perhaps one or more neutral density (ND) filters to reduce the light reaching the sensor or special situations like sunsets (graduated ND, etc).  Expect to pay $100 or more each for good quality filters that do what they're supposed to do and not degrade the images.

Happy shooting!


Date: 12/01/16 19:06
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: jbwest

I am very happy with the 18-140 and it gets good reviews from the nuts and bolts folks.  My 18-140 replaced an 18-200 that was okay but developed some focus issues.  I prefer an "one lens fits all" approach in order to minimize the opportunities for dust to get into my sensor, I never have to change lenses in the field.  I have also found that not having to worry about changing lenses allows me to concentrate more on things like composition and exposure.   If you are not comfortable with a single zoom and choose to change lenses, I would consider going with two or three "prime" lenses since very few zoom lenses can compete with the sharpness of a good prime lens.


Date: 12/03/16 21:38
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: tinytrains

I have the 18-140 and as said above it is a fine lens for DX cameras. As for the 70-300, there two. A cheap one with a plastic mount and no VR that sells for about $200. That probably was is what they are offering and I would avoid that lens.  I have the full frame 70-300 VR and it is a fine lens, but more money. A good long lens for that camera would be the 55-300 VR DX. A reasonable price and very sharp. 


Scott Schifer
Torrance, CA
TinyTrains Website

Date: 12/06/16 12:30
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: bioyans

kgmontreal Wrote:
> Two comments:
> 1.  You don't say where you live.  I wouldn't
> want a touch screen in winter.  Buttons will
> operate with gloves on.  A touch screen will
> not.  In winter conditions a touch screen would
> be a complete pain.

There are gloves available, in all sorts of styles, that will still allow for operation of a touch screen.

Date: 03/04/17 15:10
Re: Which Lens Package?
Author: SOUCF25

This site has excellent information: www.kenrockwell.com ​

The 18-55 is a good lens.  I can't speak to the other two.

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