Nikon announced two image-stabilized lenses today, a 16.7x superzoom that reaches from 18mm to 300mm and more modest model reaching from 24-85mm.
The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, with a $1,000 price tag, is geared for travel shooters and others who are willing to sacrifice some optical quality for versatility. It's designed for Nikon's mainstream DX-format SLRs, whose image sensor is smaller than a 35mm film frame and therefore gives the lens an equivalent range of 27-450mm. And it's a notch more expensive than Nikon's earlier 18-200mm superzoom, which costs $850.
The AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR, which costs $600, is geared for use on full-frame FX-format SLRs such as Nikon's new D800. It provides a lower-cost, image-stabilized alternative to Nikon's 24-85mm F2.8 model, and to its top-end, $1,890 24-70mm F2.8 model.
The two new lenses are scheduled to arrive at the end of the month.
Each of the new lenses uses Nikon's second-generation vibration reduction technology, which Nikon claims can let people shoot four stops better -- for example, at 1/50 of a second instead of 1/1000 of a second. Such claims are often exaggerated, but there's no doubt VR helps a lot -- allowing a person with shaky hands to get by in lower-light conditions where it's not always possible to shoot at a fast shutter speed.
The 18-300mm also has a nine-blade aperture, three extra-low dispersion (ED) glass elements to cut chromatic aberration, a 1.48-foot close-focus distance, and zoom lock switch to keep it from extending during travel. The new 24-85mm model has a 7-blade aperture and one ED glass element.