A little Camera lens help please..

My wife owns a Nikon D80 and has just gotten to the point where she’s buying other lenses. I had come to the conclusion with some research that only DX lens in the “G series” would work with this camera. But today when I was at Circuit city with her, she saw a AF-S (non-DX) lens type on display and I talked her into holding the body of a D80 (also on display) while I saw if the lens would fit into the body. Surprisingly it di-d! And so now I’m confused and I can’t seem to find enough accurate info in one area to clear this up once and for all.

Can anyone tell me what is so special about an AF-S lenses in comparison to a DX lens?

Just what am I looking for when I search for lenses for her camera?

The alphabet soup in lens designations is crazy. That said, most any Nikon lens produced since 1980 or so will work on a D80. Every new Nikon SLR lens without exception I believe works on a D80. DX just means the lens only produces images that cover the smaller digital sensors, and won’t cover a 35mm film frame, so you wouldn’t want to use them on a film body. AF-S means that the lens has a built in autofocus motor and doesn’t rely on the screw drive in the body.

The only lens you want is the Nikon 18-200mm VR.
I just got back from Italy, and took SPECTACULAR photos with this lens.

Aha! Just found the definitive article on Nikon lens acronyms:


I’d disagree about the 18-200VR. Not that it isn’t a capable lens, but it’s a compromise at every focal length. At every length it shoots, there is some other lens that will take a better (sharper, less barrel/pincushion distortion, less chromatic aberration, etc) picture. It’s also not a very fast lens.

On the other hand, it covers such an astonishing range with good if not great optical quality, it may be the only lens you want. If you want the convenience of not having to change lenses and don’t care too much about that last incremental bit of quality that won’t be visible in a lot of pictures anyways, it’s very tough to beat.

I can tell you from personal experience that my 18-200mm is easily sharp enough.
I’d MUCH rather a lens that allows me to get the shot, and not have to lug a camera bag around Venice, than a whole array of lenses that are theoretically sharper. But maybe that’s my photojournalism background speaking…

Of course, if you are planning on making wall-sized enlargements, than maybe you want to use a prime lens. But then, you wouldn’t be using a DX sensor camera, would you?

Really it depends on what you’re doing with your camera. I want to shoot mostly rather long, or really close up. So I bought a 70-300VR and a Sigma 150mm macro. The 18-200 really sucks in the 200-300mm range :stuck_out_tongue: and doesn’t focus very close so I don’t find it a very compelling lens. I do understand its attraction though.

On the other hand, if we’re talking about a fairly casual user with a 18-70 kit lens who’d like to add some reach and is on a tight budget, the 55-200VR or the 70-300VR are both considerably cheaper than the 18-200VR.

Here’s an example:

This is a photo I took with my D70 and the 18-200mm VR @ 105mm f/5.6
The photo is reduced 25%, with a 100% crop inset.

If that’s not sharp enough, I don’t know what is.

I’ve got a 28mm and 50mm prime. Then, a 35-70, a 70-210. Seems to cover what I need. Some days I take the entire PortaBrace backpack. Other days, I work with one lens. All depends on what I think I’ll be up against. I’m using a D-70s.


Well, I have a Sigma 10-20mm, and a Nikon 70-400mm VR too, but I find that the 18-200 stays on the camera 90% of the time. The 70-400mm was too big to even think of taking on the trip, and I really didn’t miss it. I guess if you are a birder, than you might want a long lens, but 200mm (300mm effective) was enough for me on this trip.

wrong account again. Gotta stop doing this

let’s try this again

The DX designator means the lens is made for crop sensor cameras (as opposed to full frame cameras). Right now, all of Nikon’s digital cameras are a 1.5x crop (the soon-to-be-released D3 will be the first full frame digital camera in Nikon’s line-up.)

So what does this mean? The sensor on all Nikon digital cameras before the Nikon D3 are smaller than the 24x36mm standard of 35mm film. This means when you use, say, a 50mm lens on a Nikon digital camera, you get the central crop of the image. You don’t get the full 50mm field, but rather a smaller crop of it that corresponds to 1.5x the focal length. A 50mm camera on a 1.5 crop body will give you a field of view that pretty much approximates a 75mm (50*1.5) lens on a standard 35mm film body.

The advantage is that long lenses become longer. A 200mm now has the reach of a 300mm. The disadvantage is that wide lenses become less wide. To get the field of view afforded by a 24mm lens (a fairly standard wide angle), you need to chase down a 16mm.

So, Nikon (and Canon) have both created lenses for their “cropped” cameras. They are cheaper and lighter than their full-frame counterparts since they don’t have to focus an image onto a full 24mm x 36mm frame, only 16mmx24mm. The disadvantage with these lenses is they cannot be used on film cameras (well, technically, they can, but you’ll get vignetting up the wazoo since the image the lens throws is significantly smaller than the full frame) and you can only use them in crop mode on the full-frame D3. This is probably not a big issue for you, but I see a stronger push into full-frame in the future, and I would like to keep lenses that give me the flexibility. Nikon has stated that they are committed to the DX sensor size and will develop in parallel with the FX sensor (full frame), but I like having lenses that I can use on both my digitals and film cameras, so I almost exclusively (except for a 12-24mm f/4 DX lens) buy non-DX glass.

As for the 18-200mm VR, I will say is that it’s a great lens for the price. Personally, I’m not a fan of it, preferring fixed aperture medium-range zooms for my general walk-around lens (I shoot mostly with my Canon 5D these days, so that coupled with the 24-70mm f/2.8G is spectacular). I, too, do not like its performance at 200mm and higher with low contrast subjects. However, the 18-200mmVR is the lens I recommend for most people looking for a one-lens solution to their glass.

-shrug- It worked for Sylvia Plachy. :cool:

Great stuff, I’d no idea that the optics actually covered a smaller field. I’d invest in a few now, knowing this, since I rarely pull out the Nikon film body any more.

Hey there -

The DX lenses will only work on the digital cameras. The D stands for digital.

AF-S is a type of autofocus system that is compatible with some of the nikon cameras for all the features.

Here is a compatibility guide and definitions for all the abbreviations and what nots.


oops -


That is true, but not all functions of the camera work with all lenses.

Nikon’s manual-focus lenses (which are still being made) will fit the D80, but you lose all metering functions. You have to shoot in manual-exposure mode without any meter for reference. Although after you’ve taken the shot you can look at the histogram to see how far off you were, and correct for the next shot (which is a good idea even with automatic exposure, IMHO).

Metering should work on all auto-focus lenses. Except for the “3-D Matrix Metering” feature, which is an advanced flash metering mode and requires a type “D” lens (as in 50mm F/1.8D). I think all currently produced Nikon autofocus lenses are type “D”.

I think you can go back quite a bit further than that. I believe Nikon began its F-mount in 1959. I know I have some Nikon glass from the 60s or so that works on the digital cameras (minus metering functionality).

The danger here is mounting a pre-AI lens, which were sold until the late 1970s before they were completely replaced by AI lenses. Pre-AI lenses can be identified by their smooth (not notched/tabbed) rear metal edge of the aperture ring. This extended edge physically interferes with the AI coupling on AI cameras and parts of the body and lens mount. The exception is the D40/D40x and its all-electronic coupling with no mechanical coupling to interfere, but with no metering and (obviously) no autofocus.

The D1, D2, D200, and now D3 and D300 will meter in center-weighted or spot mode with AI lenses, because they have the AI meter coupling, a metal tab on a ring around the lens mount. 3D Matrix Metering and distance-measured flash exposure will not function without a CPU lens to relay distance information to the body.

Very good point Cleophus, I actually did not know that. Apparently, non AI lenses won’t mount properly even on any film body made in the last thirty years. I was puzzled, because I’ve definitely seen older lenses used on Nikons, but apparently it’s pretty cheap ($25-$35) to get non-AI lenses converted to AI.