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Nikon 18-55mm kitlens


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#1 jefdriesen

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Posted 07 March 2012 - 04:43 AM

Hi,

Is the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 any good for underwater photography? Does anyone have good (or bad) experiences with this lens?

I already have a Nikon 60mm macro and Tokina 10-17mm fisheye, and thought the 18-55mm might be an interesting allround lens. For those cases where I don't know in advance what to expect. I'm aware that it's certainly not the best lens out there. But the specifications are not that bad either (28cm minimum focus vs 22cm for the 60mm), especially considering the very low price.

Suppose I want to buy this lens, should I go for the older GII or the newer VR version? Should I use this in combination with a flat port or the fisheye port? According to the Hugyfot lens chart, they recommend the smaller wide-angle port. But I don't have that one, only the flat port and fisheye dome port. Will this work, or not?

Jef
Nikon D7000 - Nikon AF-D 60mm - Tokina 10-17mm - Hugyfot housing - 2x Sea & Sea YS-110 optically triggered

#2 JimSwims

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:02 AM

Hi Jef,

I haven't used this lens a huge amount but every time I have I've been very impressed with how it handles for what is a plastic kit lens.
I think it is a great Fish lens and have been very happy and surprised by some of the images I've taken with it. I'm currently using it with
a generic +4 single element diopter but wouldn't mind trying it out with a +5 so I can focus closer to the port. I can't help with what dome
would suit on your Hugy but I'm using the excellent Baré compact dome on my Nexus with a 20mm extension. The lens version I have is the
VR that came with my D90.

My 18-55 images

I'm actually hoping to take it for a dip this week as there is a fish I'm hunting that suits it very well :) :)


Cheers,
Jim

My photostream on Flickr My gallery on Redbubble

D90 in Nexus; 60mm, Woody's Diopter, 105mm, SubSee +5 & +10 magnifiers, 10-17mm, Kenko 1.4 TC, 10-24mm, 18-55mm & Inon Z240 strobes.


#3 philwat44@gmail.com

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:47 AM

What fish is this you're hunting Jim? Not the boarfish?

Phil

#4 JimSwims

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 01:38 AM

What fish is this you're hunting Jim? Not the boarfish?

Phil



You guessed it Phil, I'm hoping to improve on previous attempts.


Posted Image
Short Boarfish pair. by JimSwims, on Flickr





Posted Image
Short Boarfish. by JimSwims, on Flickr




Both taken with the 18-55mm VR

Cheers,
Jim.

My photostream on Flickr My gallery on Redbubble

D90 in Nexus; 60mm, Woody's Diopter, 105mm, SubSee +5 & +10 magnifiers, 10-17mm, Kenko 1.4 TC, 10-24mm, 18-55mm & Inon Z240 strobes.


#5 philwat44@gmail.com

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 02:03 AM

They were at Mornington last week, out where the fishos can't go: http://www.flickr.co.../in/photostream

#6 Davidhol

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 11:19 AM

ATJ's reply to a query of mine and his link were good, see here Click me! Also see further comments later in the topic

#7 JimSwims

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 12:35 PM

BTW I tried the 18-55mm behind a flat port before I got my compact dome. Would not recommend a flat port as the corners of image were horrible when going wide.
Was a tad better for macro/closer though blurry corners still very visible
@32mm- http://www.flickr.co...ims/4173553139/
@24mm- http://www.flickr.co...ims/4173553093/

Cheers,
Jim.

My photostream on Flickr My gallery on Redbubble

D90 in Nexus; 60mm, Woody's Diopter, 105mm, SubSee +5 & +10 magnifiers, 10-17mm, Kenko 1.4 TC, 10-24mm, 18-55mm & Inon Z240 strobes.


#8 ATJ

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 04:48 PM

I frequently go to my 18-55mm when I know the viz is not going to be great and I'm diving a site with a range of subject sizes.

#9 john70490

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 12:05 AM

I have the Micro-Nikkor 60mm D, 105 mm D and Tokina 10-17mm but the 18-55mm lens, with a +4 diopter and Ikelite's dedicated 6" dome port, has become my favourite all-round lens for use on tropical reefs. It covers everything from almost macro to moderately wide angle and the optics are excellent in spite of the ridiculously low price.

Olympus E-MP1, 14-42mm and Micro 60mm lenses, Olympus PT-EP06 housing with standard port, dual Sea & Sea YS-01 strobes, La Luz Optics L-800 and Light-For-Me 3XML video lights.
Web album: http://johngulliver.smugmug.com/


#10 tdpriest

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:56 AM

It covers everything from almost macro to moderately wide angle...


I'm sorry to pop your balloon, but that means it will never take a top-flight underwater image as there will always be too much water between lens and subject.

Tim

:)

#11 JimSwims

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 03:29 PM

I'm sorry to pop your balloon, but that means it will never take a top-flight underwater image as there will always be too much water between lens and subject.

Tim

:)


Won't that depend on the subject size, length lens is set at, lighting, water quality and a whole bunch of other variables? I'm not saying the 18-55 is going to
win a 'best in show'. I don't think it's that black and white, the 18-55 has a role and like any lens its about understanding its role or potential.

For me it very nicely fits between a 60 and a 10-17. Another big plus for me is I can use the 60, 18-55, 10-17, 10-17+1.4TC and 105 with just two ports and
one extension ring. Not bad for travelling if I ever get on a plane.

Cheers,
Jim.

My photostream on Flickr My gallery on Redbubble

D90 in Nexus; 60mm, Woody's Diopter, 105mm, SubSee +5 & +10 magnifiers, 10-17mm, Kenko 1.4 TC, 10-24mm, 18-55mm & Inon Z240 strobes.


#12 john70490

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:17 AM

012W.jpg 012W.jpg 012W.jpg 012W.jpg 012W.jpg

I'm sorry to pop your balloon, but that means it will never take a top-flight underwater image as there will always be too much water between lens and subject.

Tim

:)


No need to worry about popping my balloon, Tim! I'm not expecting to get on the cover of National Geographic any time soon :)
The 18-55mm lens focuses down to 0.28m, compared to 0.219m for the 60mm D lens. In the southern Red Sea, where I use my 18-55, the vis is almost always at least 30m, often much more, and the 6.1cm difference is not critical under these conditions. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I attach an example of shots taken at the extremes of the lens, i.e. 18mm and 55mm. I don't expect the ace photographers here will like them but I can't see much wrong with the image quality as such. If I plan to take nudibranchs, I of course ues the 60mm lens, with or without a TC, and if I am after extreme wide angle, I use my Tokina 10-17, but if I am doing an ordinary reef dive and am likely to see everything from small fish to large rays and green turtles, the 18-55mm lens does the job fine.

Attached Images

  • 032a.jpg

Edited by john70490, 10 March 2012 - 03:26 AM.

Olympus E-MP1, 14-42mm and Micro 60mm lenses, Olympus PT-EP06 housing with standard port, dual Sea & Sea YS-01 strobes, La Luz Optics L-800 and Light-For-Me 3XML video lights.
Web album: http://johngulliver.smugmug.com/


#13 john70490

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 03:27 AM

Oops! Apologies for the multiple uploads! I'm not sure what happened there.

Olympus E-MP1, 14-42mm and Micro 60mm lenses, Olympus PT-EP06 housing with standard port, dual Sea & Sea YS-01 strobes, La Luz Optics L-800 and Light-For-Me 3XML video lights.
Web album: http://johngulliver.smugmug.com/


#14 tdpriest

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:33 AM

I'm not saying the 18-55 is going to win a 'best in show'.
Cheers,
Jim.


My point, really: it might make nice snapshots, but we often keep those to ourselves: they're not the images that we treasure. I take more than enough of those images with better lenses:


Red_Sea_2010_416_Marsa_Shouna_hawkfish.jpg

60mm micro


073_Sipadan_03a__15.jpg

60mm micro


2008_Palau_069_Ngedmelis_Coral_Garden_105mm.jpg

105mm micro


Because the 18-55 doesn't go very close, or very wide, it can't take the very best images. It's a bit eccentric, but I have also found, in my own case, that setting out with a fixed-focus lens, or to shoot a particular subject, works much better than having a zoom lens that can shoot different subjects, but without the planning and visualisation that I need to make the very best images.


Tim

:)

#15 ATJ

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 02:56 PM

I'm sorry to pop your balloon, but that means it will never take a top-flight underwater image as there will always be too much water between lens and subject.

Based on this generalisation, the 105mm lens will never take a top-flight underwater image as there will always be too much water between lens and subject.

#16 JimSwims

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Posted 10 March 2012 - 04:27 PM

I think every lens is compromised and the 18-55 most certainly is. For me however the 18-55 gives me an option on a different
perspective plus subject size that the 60 would have me much too far away from and without the distortion of the 10-17.

It's fan base won't come from the high level image craftspeople but rather the hobbyists and those on tight budgets.

Cheers,
Jim.

My photostream on Flickr My gallery on Redbubble

D90 in Nexus; 60mm, Woody's Diopter, 105mm, SubSee +5 & +10 magnifiers, 10-17mm, Kenko 1.4 TC, 10-24mm, 18-55mm & Inon Z240 strobes.


#17 tdpriest

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 05:47 AM

Based on this generalisation, the 105mm lens will never take a top-flight underwater image as there will always be too much water between lens and subject.


JimSwims makes good points, but you're being silly. The 105mm lets you get as close to some skittish creatures as you can, without spooking them at the 1:1 distance of a 60mm. If the creatures are calm, then you get get better than 1:1 with additional close-up lenses, shortening the minimum focus distance. In mirky water you're probably stuck with a 60mm. Regardless, the 18-55mm is never the best optical choice if you have a particular subject in mind.

Going back to the origin of the thread the answer seems simple: if you have an 18-55mm you could use it, but it isn't the lens you would buy with underwater photography in mind. There is pretty much a consensus (with which I have some disagreement, in fact) that the two most useful lenses for underwater photography with Nikon cameras are the 60mm micro and the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye. Jef doesn't need this lens!

I used the Nikon 18-70mm underwater for a while, but stopped: I posted some positive comments at that time, but other lenses were better. I know that the 18-55mm is regarded as an improvement over the older lens, but the drawbacks are still there. It's not a novel concept, but "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none" seems applicable, particularly as we are asking lenses optimised for terrestrial use to perform behind ports, with all the optical compromises that entails.

Tim

:drink:

Edited by tdpriest, 11 March 2012 - 05:48 AM.


#18 ATJ

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 02:55 PM

JimSwims makes good points, but you're being silly. The 105mm lets you get as close to some skittish creatures as you can, without spooking them at the 1:1 distance of a 60mm. If the creatures are calm, then you get get better than 1:1 with additional close-up lenses, shortening the minimum focus distance. In mirky water you're probably stuck with a 60mm. Regardless, the 18-55mm is never the best optical choice if you have a particular subject in mind.

I'm was only being a little bit silly to make the point. A 18-55mm in a dome port with a +4 or +5 diopter can get closer that the 105mm in a flat port. Period. So, if the there is too much water with the 18-55mm there will be too much water with the 105mm.

Yes, I very much agree that for certain subjects the 105mm is the only choice because you can't get close enough. In that case you compromise to get the shot you want. That's what underwater photography is all about. You very often have to make a compromise.

I don't believe anyone suggested that the 18-55mm was ever the best lens. But that doesn't mean it isn't a useful lens. Yes, it is a compromise, but I find over and over again when I take my 18-55mm lens on a dive I'm able to take a shot that would not have been possible with either the 10-17mm or the 60mm.

Going back to the origin of the thread the answer seems simple: if you have an 18-55mm you could use it, but it isn't the lens you would buy with underwater photography in mind. There is pretty much a consensus (with which I have some disagreement, in fact) that the two most useful lenses for underwater photography with Nikon cameras are the 60mm micro and the Tokina 10-17mm fisheye. Jef doesn't need this lens!

I don't fully agree. Yes, the 10-17mm and 60mm lenses are fantastic lenses and my 60mm is by far my favourite lens. However, there are times, particularly when diving around Sydney where the viz is often pretty poor where neither the 60mm or the 10-17mm can do the job. In fact, I don't even bother with the 10-17mm in Sydney as I found it next to useless. It can't handle small to medium subjects and the water is not clear enough for large subjects. It is just usable at 17mm. Now, perhaps that's because I have it in a 6" dome and I should go for a mini-dome.

The 60mm is perfect for small subjects like nudibranchs and if the water is clear enough can be used for medium subjects (up to around 10-12 cm) anything larger than that, e.g. a Port Jackson shark, wobbegong, ray or giant cuttlefish and you don't get a the shot - or you take a shot of the eye.

This is where the 18-55mm lens comes in - for me at least. Obviously I lose the ability to go to 1:1 so for really small subjects I can't get a good shot - although I can get a shot and crop in post. It can do 1:2.5 and so it can handle anything from 4cm long and greater. As the subject gets larger, you zoom out which allows you to keep the amount of water between the port and the subject small - certainly much less than if you were using the 60mm. In fact, if you took a shot of a 4cm fish with the 18-55mm there would be less water than taking the photo with the 60mm. As the subject gets larger, you have to pull back with the 60mm but with the 18-55mm you just zoom out and maintain the distance.

I used the Nikon 18-70mm underwater for a while, but stopped: I posted some positive comments at that time, but other lenses were better. I know that the 18-55mm is regarded as an improvement over the older lens, but the drawbacks are still there. It's not a novel concept, but "jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none" seems applicable, particularly as we are asking lenses optimised for terrestrial use to perform behind ports, with all the optical compromises that entails.

I started with the 18-70mm, too and was constantly disappointed. I have a few keepers but I found it just wasn't that good. The very inexpensive 18-55mm does a significantly better job. It focuses closer and seems to be optically better. By the way, all lenses are optimised for terrestrial use and underwater use would only be a small percentage of actual use.

I dive around Sydney almost every weekend with a club. In many cases I don't know where the dive will be so I can't even guess what I might encounter. Even when the site is known, there's no guarantee what might be found and most sites have a range of subject sizes. I have to take a punt when I set up the camera. Many a time the 18-55mm has turned out to be the best lens for the conditions and encountered subjects. Sometimes it isn't and I live with the fact that I can't do as good a job as I could have done with 60mm. Often when I take the 60mm I miss larger subjects.

Sure, if the goal of a dive is to take photos of a specific subject and nothing else matters, it make sense to take the right lens for that job. If you're diving for fun and want to document what you see on the dive, the 18-55mm is a good compromise - yes it is "jack of all trades, master of none", but getting an OK shot is better than no shot, at least in my thinking. Yes, it is a compromise but if you understand and accept that, you can go on and use it well. I have loads of shots I've taken with my 18-55mm that I'm very happy with. I have even sold them, so it is doing its job.

One final point, if you're shooting with a D7000, you have the option to shoot video. I have found the newest 18-55mm works well for video, especially with the VR which helps stabilise the video.

#19 Otara

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:54 AM

Medium range lenses can also be useful for critters like sharks, particularly where its in places where you're generally not going to be able to get too close. My 17-70 was often more useful at Galapagos than my 10-17mm.

I may not have got any competition winners but at least I had pictures of teeth rather than pictures of minnows.

Otara

#20 jefdriesen

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 12:56 AM

Lot's of interesting comments!

When I bought my DSLR last year, I only owned the 60mm lens and thus that's what I used on every dive. The majority of my dives are at the local dive sites in Belgium and the Netherlands, where the visibility is rather low (2-3m is considered very good). I experienced the 60mm is great for small stuff like nudibranches, but for larger fish (e.g. 10cm) the low visibility becomes a major problem. Focusing doesn't go very well at longer distances, and lots of backscatter too. I just bought the Tokina 10-17mm, and I've done only one test dive so far, so I still have to learn how to use it properly.

I know the two lenses I already have a considered very good lenses, but I still have the feeling that it would be useful to have a midrange lens too. And because the Nikon 18-55mm isn't very expensive, I can afford to try that one even if it wouldn't be as great as the other two lenses. I still haven't decided.

I read some people use a diopter with this lens. Would that be a requirement, or can I get acceptable result without too? And how about the choice between the VR or the non-VR version?
Nikon D7000 - Nikon AF-D 60mm - Tokina 10-17mm - Hugyfot housing - 2x Sea & Sea YS-110 optically triggered