There is one lens you just do not want to miss when you travel. A lens that covers 95% of your needs in any situation while overseas.
The Nikon 18-200. Some love it, some hate it. I was always somewhere in the middle, I was annoyed about the unsharpness but delighted about the huge zoom range (11x !).
However I have come to love this lens, although it may be considered an amateur lens…a superzoom.
I don’t care. I love the versatility it gives me. No other lens can do that. Full stop.
Have you ever been in one of those situations when all the elements just come together, you know you will get an amazing shot in the next few seconds, but what the… wrong lens. Stress comes up, quickly trying to change lenses, or even worse – not having brought the right lens.
And there the moment passes, and you were only able to watch – having the mental picture, but nothing to permanently save this little piece of memory.
I have been in that situation – a lot of times. This is when I decided to buy a 18-200.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love sharp lenses. My Zeiss 35mm is one of the sharpest lenses ever built and I thoroughly enjoy the results.
However for travel photography there are a lot of additional issues you have to fight with – weight restrictions on aircrafts are a big problem. Also I do not want to take my whole kit to a country where it may attract more attention than I like. You need to make compromises, retaining max. flexibility. The 18-200 gives me exactly this flexibility. That’s why I love it.
Now many will say: Hang on Kajo, the 18-200 does not give you the sharpest images.
Well that’s true, but I will come home with more keepers from my holiday than any eager lens-changer.
Bottom line, I will miss less of those great opportunities – 18mm is wide enough for a landscape shot (although admittedly, I sometimes have to shoot a 2 shot pano to get to my beloved 10-12mm range) and 200mm is more than enough to isolate objects, with nice bokeh et al (aperture is f/5.6 at 200mm, but 200mm creates such a compression of 3rd dimension that backgrounds are reasonably out of focus anyway).
Also if you shoot the lens at it’s sweet spot, that is around f/8-f/11, I doubt you will see sharpness differences between it and the higher quality glass in the Nikon lineup.
Let me show you two example shots taken just a few minutes apart from one another – with this lens.
It shows you some decent shots, one at the wide end (18mm) and one at the telephoto end (170mm):