Sunday, May 11, 2008


The D3 arrived. Part I: Now I need a new lens

The camera change from Nikon D200 to Nikon D3 with its sensor size change from APS-C aka DX to full frame aka FX unfortunately made the purchase of a new all rounder lens imminent. And so I switched from 'AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED' to 'AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED'.

Nikon 18-200/VR and Nikon 24-120/VR

The picture was shot using the 'AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED' on the D3 and post-processed with Adobe Lightroom 2.0 beta and Corel Paint Shop Pro XI.

Both lenses have a UV filter mounted. The 18-200/VR has a B&W filter while the 24-120/VR has a Hoya filter. Both lenses come with VR and share the same aperture range, that is f/3.5 to f/5.6. Also the wide range is very compareable as the 18mm on the DX camera turns into 27mm on 36mm film, while the 24mm are already correct in terms of 36mm film equivalent, when mounted on the D3.

The unfortunate difference is the telephoto range. Here the 200mm DX format turns into 300mm on 36mm film. And that is way more than the 120mm of the FX lens.

Interestingly, the switch does not come with a handling difference - at least not in lens handling. Both lenses nearly look identical and share a more or less identical housing. But as to be expected, the 18-200 goes out much more than the 24-120 does. Sharpness-wise it appears both lenses deliver the same quality. Meaning they do a great everyday job but do not take very sharp pictures. Since even the flowers of both lenses are nearly identical, I had to check the internet to figure out which one belongs on which lens. The HB-35 has broader fins and belongs on the 18-200. The 24-120 is a tad bit wider, so it takes the HB-25 with its smaller fins.

I actually bought the camera and lens in Switzerland where prices are insanely high - though yet much lower than for instance in Germany. So I spent some time searching for shops with reasonable prices. I found digitec in Zürich and ars-imago in Zug, which was not too far away and unlike digitec, where I bought the camera, had the lens in stock.

I had to go twice to digitec because the first time they figured they could not get enough money from my ATM cards. It turned out that my two German ones only allow higher charges in Germany - or they just don't care so that you pay with Credit Card. For that however they happily charge 2.75% extra. That is absolutely ridiculous and of course unacceptable. So I came back the next day after visiting my bank in the morning. And believe me, it really feels strange running around with 6k in cash.

When I decided for the lens and found ars-imago I chose them for one reason. It was the cheapest place with the lens in stock that was reachable by car. There was one shop where I could have ordered the lens on-line. Including charges for shipping I would have paid the same, well there also is the credit card insanity. So I either would have had to wait longer or pay this unbelievable special Swiss insanity extra charge. So I happily drove to Zug after reading that there was the last lens of its kind waiting for me to be picked up. However when I arrived they told me with the typical Swiss smile, that my lens was sold half an hour ago. That means that those idiots sold my lens just after they sent me the confirmation that I can pick up the lens on the same day. They assured me the lens would come next business day which was two days later. So I lost one day for experimenting - dammit! The least thing one would expect now - of course - is that they would give a bit of a rebate for making me drive twice. But nothing - that's Switzerland. Lesson learned, never buy anything from ars-imago again.
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