Jump to content
Sapphire73

18-135 mm or 55-200 mm lens?

Recommended Posts

My 2cents (almost) - I spent some of the late summer debating: 18-55mm (with universally great reviews and many superb samples online) OR, the 18-135mm. Researching that brought me here, as the 18-135mm was mostly unavailable and I'd started thinking about starting with an X-system with the "kit" and moving later to a longer lens (since I enjoy both urban street photography and nature/bird photography). I ended up with both lenses as I found an 18-135mm the day I got the kit, and wanted flexibility for an upcoming photo expedition - thinking worst came to worse, I'd take along a DSLR. (Nope, way heavy, seems more so now.) Spent the past 2 weeks on NYC streets, at Photo Expo, and among Central Park fall foliage - trying both my new lenses as well as various film types on my new X-T2, and my new camera universe. (Canon & Nikon history, but often with Fujichrome colors, in SLR days.) Short version is: I've now seen online and by experience, as well as reported by several pros, that the 18-135mm can really nail some great images. It helps to know & possibly work/tweak the settings, even before setting up custom menus etc. I had few clunkers other than some self-imposed, in terms of IQ/focus.

What can I offer? (sorry, can't offer side-by-side samples at the moment) Well, as a scientist, but only a newbie X-system user, new to both these lenses - I'd love to see the 18-35 vs 18-135 side by side, but at this point I'm one of those who have both these lenses. I've ruled out a few of the heavier/costly lenses for now,  but concluded that in mid-day, mid focal length, both these produce great images (viewing raw and large .jpg, mostly CC and Provia, some b&w Acros-r). I gathered from all the "test data" and reports & samples - 

some complained about the final end of the zoom on the 18-135mm. Very subtle, in my copy at least (maybe new production?) But from the warnings about the results at 135mm full-open, well... I am happy for the subtle "touch" cue in the extreme useful end. I'd say indoors, between like 20- 35, both lenses speed and result with focus are similar. But outdoors for detail, the 18-55 seems like a go-to. My plan is to work with that for a bit, until I need longer reach, and when I'm going countryside I'll switch to the (WR) 18-135 and wish I had the 200mm too, but...  For now I'm heading into FL swamps and then Cuba with a new camera and 2 new lenses, totally a new learning experience. But what I can add is that there's nothing horrid about the 18-135mm, and were it not for the less conspicuous and super-sharpness of the 18-55 which was a good "kit" deal and is a great lens, I could see the 18-135mm as a one-lens solution for a great many people. Sorry I'm not entirely on the 55-200mm comparison point, but more familiar with how confusing it is for more than just me about where/if the 18-135mm should play a role for (reliable, hi-quality) travel/nature/city daily use, I think for many it's a great lens. Oh, my 2nd revelation was is: keep plenty of batteries with you!  Thanks to all who actually inspired and informed me for a while now, as this was a forum I came to since first starting to salivate over a new life among the Fujifilm world. Personal experience and samples from those who know and love their tools is just so helpful! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jumping back into this thread (as the OP) to thank everyone who provided input. As mentioned earlier, I did end up buying the 55-200mm lens. I only took the Fuji camera and lenses on a quick trip to the UK, partly so I could focus on getting to know that camera better. After that trip, I decided that I really wanted to take both the Fuji and Canon 2 camera bodies on our "once in a lifetime" trip to France a month later. 

 

The Fuji did the heavy lifting on the trip to France (and was a heavier kit) because I took the 10-24, 18-55, 35, and 55-200 lenses for that camera. But I only carried 2-3 lenses with me each day. I took the Canon (70d with 18-135 mm lens) if we spent a second day in the same area or if I wanted to travel a little lighter. 

 

There were a few times when I had both cameras slung around my neck - such as when we took a private tour of several mountain towns near Nice - and it was fun to get shots with both cameras. Still processing photos but was happy with the results and glad I had both. I recently had a chance to take photos with both cameras during a quick visit to Yosemite as well. Will try to come back with reflections on the 55-200 lens when I have processed more of the photos. 

Thanks again!
 

Edited by Sapphire73

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With the 10-24, 18-55, and 55 to 200 you don't need anything else, except maybe the 100-400 if you do serious wildlife or sports.  I have both the 18-135 and the 55-200, bottom line my two most used lenses are the 18-55 & 55-200.  The 18-135 is very rarely used, I need to sell it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot has already been said, and you seem to had finally found what you needed. But just in case someone has the same question... ;) I have both lenses, and I wouldn't say one is better than the other, as they both serve a different purpose.

 

The 55-200 is a great zoom lens. The IQ is very good, judging by my recent tests. If you just need a light telephoto lens (compared to other options) with a good image quality and don't need WR, go for this lens. When I go hiking in Bavaria, I usually take the 14mm and the 55-200 lens, and I'm a happy man!

 

The 18-135 is another story. It reminds me a bit of the Nikon 18-200, which was a very versatile lens. As someone said above, it's a Swiss army knife! The WR, the OIS, the versatile focal range... it's a great companion for travel. I think it's a good lens, globally speaking. It's definitely not bad, and it's not the best either, but it works well. I have made some pretty nice pictures with it.

 

I would definitely bring the 18-135 to a "once in a lifetime trip" -- but it depends where! If it involves a lot of nature, like in a demanding environment, then yes. I don't want to change lens in the middle of a desert or jungle, and I might need to do alternate landscape and wildlife shots. But if I'm going to a nice city, like New York, where I would occasionally need some reach, then I would take the 55-200 instead. And probably use my X100T (+WCL) for most of the shots (mostly street) and the 14mm for the landscape shots. 

 

Also, I believe that what matters most in a once in a lifetime trip is not image quality, but the ability to catch moments. And the 18-135 gives you far more versatility and flexibility in that regards, due to the focal range and the WR. Sure, you might loose a bit of image quality down to the pixel level, but who cares? You were here, you made a nice picture of a beautiful place... it's all that matters :)

 

A few examples with the 18-135:

 

FXT10123,xlarge.2x.1506031455.jpg

 

FXT11235,xlarge.2x.1506031459.jpg

 

FXT10495,xlarge.2x.1506335001.jpg

 

FXT10605,xlarge.2x.1511518165.jpg

 

 

With the 55-200:

 

FXT17183.jpg

 

FXT17111-X004-2.jpg

 

FXT10078.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow. Some nice shots Konzy, and observations too, about versatility and individual preferences/circumstances.

I'll *try* to be brief now, given limited Internet. But I know many value any/all feedback. My own initial decision-making was between the 18-135mm and "other", to compliment the 18-35mm, in my first buy into this camera system. After years of Canon SLR and Nikon DSLR, I felt a need to lighten my load plus I have a long love of Fujifilm/Fujichrome colors. My concern was stoked, perhaps same as konzy, by reading the categorical statement that the 18-135mm is unsuitable for a "once in a lifetime trip". On such a trip now, I must strongly disagree. It's perfect for most "at the moment" shooting, with generally very good to excellent IQ, but yes, I remain mindful of the limitations in low light hand-held at near-full focal length. Although I'd be happy to use that "final notch" of zooming as a reminder to not fully extend,that tightness is so subtle an issue it's hardly worth fussing about (IMM), though I'm aware of IQ and light limitations at 134-135mm.

After 9000 or so images, in torrential rains and bright sunshine, I am absolutely pleased with the 18-135mm's WR build- and IQ overall. When motion or limited light was an issue, and weather was OK, I pushed myself to stay with the lessened range but (yes) somewhat sharper images of the 18-55. I got great results with both. I was rather nervous about the total switch for me from DSLR to mirrorless Fuji, but am sooooo thrilled with the results on this "once in a lifetime" trip around the Caribbean (mostly Havana and Cienfuegos). I can't comment on the 55-200 from personal experience but the samples here are mighty impressive. I'd consider it, though I also do wildlife and really want to grow my options, likely via the 100-400mm. For now, my combo of 18-55/18-135 was ace-perfect (for all but very long shots). While I have Internet still (few more minutes on a wi-fi card), I'd add should this help anyone working the forums - as I did, thank you all - that my biggest challenge has been battery life, and occasional camera glitch. I feel like I've gone backwards from a days-long battery for DSLR, to constant changing in the course of a few hours, harkening me back to early Nikon Coolpix days. What a drag. Especially shooting even short video clips or a lot of raw. (Aside: I read a "pro tips" book strongly suggesting all shots be made on Fine+Raw - good luck with that unless you have a wheelbarrow full of cards!)  So although it's heavy, I'm traveling with the wonderful Watson Duo Charger, which has been a lifesaver at the end of each day, with pockets full of discharged batteries, and a few maybe fresh. The gauges and tester features are great. Batteries: I have several costly Fuji's, and a few Watsons, and 2 Wasabis, which came with the USB dual-charger. It didn't work too well to double-dip, using both chargers, the Wasabi plugged into the Watson USB out. The Watson works fine no matter what, but the Wasabi USB was anemic, except plugged into an outlet/USB adaptor. Fuji batteries lasted longer as others report but the others weren't bad. They did get warm when I shot video, usually short but sometimes 10 minutes or so. But no swelling. All charged equally well in the Watson duo-charger.  

Camera glitch: There were a few times I either got a blank screen and no sign of life, while using, or turning on. Once I thought it may have been a function of the LCD being wet or making poor contact (rarely used it except for over-heads shots), and opening/closing revived it. A few times nothing turned the camera on despite fresh battery, no apparent cause. As advised by the Fujifilm manual (troubleshooting), taking the battery out and putting it in again resolved each of these mini-glitches. Ahh, electronics! A few times settings seemed to mysteriously change (WB or focus mode, E.g.), but might have been me or someone I handed the camera to. Mystery.

So that's my 2 cents on a few things, including the 18-135mm as an essential/useful part of a minimal kit, and other various things which concerned me prior to making the move to Fujifilm mirrorless prior to a "once in a lifetime" photo expedition. Obviously, YMMV ("your mileage may vary") in terms of needs, comfort zone, and situation. As Mark Twain said (paraphrasing), sorry, "I'd have written this shorter if only I had the time".  Add me to the chorus of those who applaud Fujifilm's products and consumer responsiveness.

Edited by FenFotos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Konzy, thank you very much for the sample images and your reflections on the two lenses. Lots of great shots there! I have seen lots of great images taken with the Fuji 18-135 but it is great to see examples from both lenses in the same post. I am hoping this thread will be helpful to others as well.

 

I love my Canon 18-135mm lens for its versatility and would definitely reconsider getting the 18-135 for the Fuji at some point but the 55-200 seemed a good fit for now. No budget for lenses in the near future though. 

Edited by Sapphire73

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FenFotos, glad to hear that you are happy with the 18-135 mm lens!

 

Thinking of your camera glitch: I had a memory card that suddenly stopped letting me review the images I took with my XT-2. Fortunately, we were in traveling in California instead of Masai Mara or Burkina Faso so I could buy a new memory card. And when I returned home, I was able to access all of my photos. 

 

Thanks for joining the conversation!

Edited by Sapphire73

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lumens, thanks for your input on these lenses. If we ever go on another safari, I might try to get the 100-400 lens. But I am very happy with the 10-24, 18-55, and 55 to 200.

 

I almost didn't take the 55-200mm lens on a trip to California, but ended up seeing sea otters, seals, and whales. It was fun to try to photograph them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Coming back to share one of the photos taken in France with the 55-200 mm lens. We happened to be staying in a hotel room with a view over the rooftops toward Sacre Coeur. (I did not bring a tripod on this trip as we were walking most of the time so I was photographing this basilica from my hotel room, some handheld shots and some with the camera secured to the railing with a gorillapod.) 

 

i-hmVvrhN-XL.jpg

Edited by Sapphire73

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 18-55mm now as I gave my 18-135mm to my daughter for her XT-10. Now I definitely miss my 18-135 because I don't need to change lens all day long and this avoid a lot of risk catching dust on the sensor. It is a globetrotter's lens. I find the quality of the 18-135 lens really good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a 18-55mm now as I gave my 18-135mm to my daughter for her XT-10. Now I definitely miss my 18-135 because I don't need to change lens all day long and this avoid a lot of risk catching dust on the sensor. It is a globetrotter's lens. I find the quality of the 18-135 lens really good.

 

Thanks for your input on this. That lens does seem like a good WR walk around lens for times when one doesn't want to change lenses. The 55-200mm was a good choice for me but I am keeping my eye on the 18-135 lens, too.

 

What camera are you using? Some people think that makes a difference with the 18-135 lens. Thanks again for chiming in!

Edited by Sapphire73

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I used the 18-135 with a XT-10 and now sometimes (when my daughter allows me [emoji6]) with a XT-2. No issue with both camera.

 

Thank you. Useful to get your perspective on how this lens does with the XT-2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You have some great images, Sapphire/Gretchen (both "here" and on your website).  And Konzy's images (above) also are awesome.  Thanks both, I am mighty impressed with both photographers and lenses, and were I mostly indoors or studio based might seriously crave that 55-200mm.

I hope to post a few samples down the road, after sorting through 1000's of images (many in triplicate, bracketing by 3 film emulations, standard, classic, and Acros). I'm aware this thread is "55-200" vs "18-135" (and would be yelled at for commenting were this, say, an Apple forum!). So I'll keep my comparison of 18-135mm vs 18-55 (all I can compare so far) to a minimum.  But it's all I know, and I can offer a few thoughts on the 18-135mm vs X, or as a "one lens solution", from experience now. In my 2 weeks of far-from home travel, the biggest challenges for me were battery life, storage, and heavy rain. So... last, first, there is no way I do not appreciate the weather resistance of the 18-135mm, which no doubt was vital, as me and camera/lens went through some occasional super-soakers. As to the "one lens solution" for travel, I think one could survive with the 18-135mm as main lens; I kept it on during days I knew it would be raining and/or I'd be shooting from a distance and wanted the reach. But I reverted to the 18-55mm while outdoors at night (where the 18-135mm does not shine at its brightest, especially at extreme ends of its range), and tried to use the 18-55mm for indoors events and sunny days close up to things - monuments, building & alleys & cars (of Cuba), etc.  

In the end I think it worked out just perfectly to use the 18-135mm as my all-purpose workhorse, and being mindful of its limits was extremely happy to leave it on during inclement weather especially. As for the 18-135mm vs 18-55mm comparison, well - that's another thread I suppose, but in brief I agree that the 18-55mm is amazing for a "kit"/"not really kit" lens, in terms of clarity, IS, IQ, etc.  So for me, intentionally intent on traveling as light as possible, it was perfect, rarely missing a longer-length (heavy) lens, and in my case (others will vary no doubt) making do without a more wide-angle or light-friendly lens, though that may come along. As they say, YMMV.

Mostly my initial turning to this forum was to see more of a discussion about the 18-135mm, which got near-universal horrid reviews both from photo sites and purchasers. None of the big complaints (IQ, "stuck" barrel at 133-135mm, etc.) really surfaced, though it's true that in minimal light, and at extreme focal lengths, there were some challenges. That said, for light travel photography, I'd not be scared off from the 18-135mm. That's my summary, my experience.

Also I'm happy to have gotten the 18-55 discounted as a kit - a mighty fine (if non-WR) lens for walk-around street photography. Sifting through my "best" images of Havana and rural Cuba - most were taken with the 18-55mm. For video it was perfect too, in the narrow streets, alleyways, and plazas. Here's one brief example of how the X-T2 paired with the 18-55mm handled things, just to add something for those who like me, recently, are pondering what the XT-2 can do with video.

This is a short snippet (46s) with XT-2, internal mic, HD, hand-held, 18-35mm (at the edge of its range, 34.3 mm, ISO 200,  +.3 EV, averaging around f 4.5-5.6):   



And that's my first impressions, still unpacking, "processing" (images and memories), and reflecting. In short, I took a risk on XT-2 w/18-55 and 18-135mm as my "once in a lifetime" trip kit, new to Fujifilm, new to mirrorless, and far from home. So far, no regrets at all, in total agreement about the overall Fujifilm lens quality and the camera too, and on first sort-through, super-happy with the results and also at hedging my bets by relying on the 18-55mm for walk-around/street use, and having the WR 18-135mm for longer reach and for use during downpours. I guess I'm a full convert now to mirrorless as well as the Fuji camera. Always loved their films. :)

  Edited by FenFotos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tnx konzy. Now, after weeding through 1000's of images (in 3 "film" tones each), I've gotten a feel for each lens' strong suit (between the 18-55mm and 18-135mm in my case). 

Short version is: The vast majority of the super-sharp and spot-on exposures I'm now enjoying, were with the 18-55mm. Really did well for street photography, too.

But as for the 18-135mm, it's still for me, a case of going with the consensus: it's pretty dang good if not as fast or tack-sharp as a prime - especially attending to the EV and ISO in dimmer light. But as I've seen "here" and elsewhere, some photographers can get some decent shots requiring decent reach with the 18-135mm.

So my one "sample" to share is this image from Plaza Mayor (Trinidad, Cuba), during what seemed like a monsoon, water coming down fast and hard, running in rivers down the streets and our rain gear. For this visit I worked only with the 18-135mm, because (a it's weather resistant, like the XT-2, and (b I certainly was not going to change lenses during the downpours, as I walked around in my poncho/tent persevering, as "it was what it was" (weather wise). So I am a happy camper as far as basic versatility of the 18-135mm, including its use in really trying rain.

So here's the sample, basically straight from the camera (.jpeg, standard "film"), at: Focal length 27.90mm ("sweet spot"?), 1/150 sec at f4.2, ISO 400  0.33 EV

You be the judge of where it sits on the continuum of "good but not great" to "it can get some pretty decent images - in some horrid weather conditions, too."

4649-plazamayor-wetdog-lg.jpg

 

 

 

FWIW, currently still a work in progress, but harkening back to the discussion threads about "if I only had one camera with me on a once in a lifetime trip...."  well....  Here's some of my favorites so far (as I skim through so many images) and also some video (not 4K, but decent) - all with the Fujifilm X-T2 and either the 18-55mm "kit" lens or the 18-135mm (where I needed reach and/or protection from inclement weather):      http://www.fenichel.com/cuba/

Happy clicking, and Happy Holidays/New Year!

Edited by FenFotos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I own the 55-200 and I love it! It is relatively lightweight compared to say the 50-140, and the 18-135. It is tack sharp, relatively fast at a max aperture of I believe 4.8. The focus is super fast, but I don't shoot sports so... I've never tried photographing BIFs so I can't speak to that. The 18-135 is a decent lens but it does get knocked around on sites for not being sharp, blah, blah. However, for us mere mortals I do believe it would be a fine lens AND it's WR. To me the WR means nothing as I use ALL my Fuji lenses in inclement weather but I suppose it does provide some piece of mind.

 

I chose the 55-200 over the 50-140 due to price, weight, and range covered. The 18-135 to me is too large, sorta like the 16-55. If I wanted to carry the weight around (again) I'd of kept my Nikons.

 

Hope that helps, but I will reiterate I LOVE my 55-200. It doesn't go everywhere like my 18-55 and 35 1.4, but it does get used (ALOT)

Really?

The 55 200 is both larger and heavier than the 18 135. Considerably larger.

 

Sent from my SM-G955U1 using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't like the 18-135, had two copies and got rid of both: below f/8 at any focal length just the center was sharp, a bad thing for landscapes. I purchased the first one brand new as soon as it was launched, and after a few shots I couldn't believe the lack of sharpness off-center. Sent it to Fuji and it was returned with a "no problem found" note. I assumed that the problem was the Fuji representative lab and sold the thing.

One year later I purchased another, this time used with a good price, and got the same results. I know superzooms are not so good, but I expected more from that Fuji. Sold it with a disappointed heart...  :(

Edited by EdricBF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't like the 18-135, had two copies and got rid of both: below f/8 at any focal length just the center was sharp, a bad thing for landscapes. I purchased the first one brand new as soon as it was launched, and after a few shots I couldn't believe the lack of sharpness off-center. Sent it to Fuji and it was returned with a "no problem found" note. I assumed that the problem was the Fuji representative lab and sold the thing.

One year later I purchased another, this time used with a good price, and got the same results. I know superzooms are not so good, but I expected more from that Fuji. Sold it with a disappointed heart...  :(

Personally, I found the 18-135 corner sharpness between f/5.6 to be acceptable for most travel situations where you don't feel you need the best sharpness out of the travel zoom.  You then have more room for a few primes when you do care about image quality.  f/8 works for me in the bright outdoors.  I think it really is one of the "better" super travel zooms out there.

 

Having said that, I don't use the 18-135 much when photography is more of a priority; that's where I allocate more room to bring my better glass.  On my next vacation, I'm loaning my old X-T1 with 18-135 to a friend; he'll be really happy with the 6x4 prints he'll be making.  I'll stick with my X-T2 with 16-55, 55-200, etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have an X-T2 with the 18-135 and, for me, it does an excellent job - especially since it's my go-anywhere travel camera and I don't like to change lens in outdoor and dusty environments. It could be a bit sharper, but it's excellent value for money! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was looking for the 18-135 for my summer holiday (my family never slows down, so no time to change lenses), but since it was sold out, I got the 18-55 and 55-200.

The 55-200 was probably only used 20% of the time, but the quality was amazing!

I even used this lens for portraits when the model needed some space.

 

If you can afford and carry the 16-55 and 50-140, I think it's the best combo.

If you really have no time to change lenses, go for the 18-135.

If you go for quality that is still affordable and reasonably compact, go for the 18-55 and 55-200.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...