Nikon 18-140mm zoom announced. The hobbyist / enthusiast dilemma.

Nikon have just announced an AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR zoom lens (approx. 28-210mm in 35mm terms) and I was convinced I'd never see a zoom at this focal length again. Everything these days goes longer - 18-200mm (28-300mm, 14-150mm etc.) being the most common length. I had a Nikon 28-200 G zoom and used it all the time, so I'm pleased to see this. The above new lens is perfect for me and I was pleasantly surprised to see it announced this morning. And the moment this lens turns up on the website of any of the shops I buy from, I'm getting my pre-order in. Its not that heavy (about the same as the Fuji 55-200mm) not that expensive (about £5-600 I would guess) and though I have no evidence for this, I'm assuming it will be decent quality and above all have great stabilisation, as the newest versions of Nikons VR are very very good. It is a great lens for stock photography.

And yet Dpreview wrote this :-
'We're not convinced many users will spend so much money to gain a little reach over their existing kit lens, leading us to suspect there may be a body on its way that will match its enthusiast-friendly ambitions.' Talk about damned with faint praise!! There are also some underwhelmed comments on their forum. '
enthusiast-friendly ambitions.' The kiss of death!!

First off Dpreview seemed to have missed the D5200 and D7100 which this lens would obviously work very well with and secondly their comments show up the enthusiast / hobbyist dilemma. 

The hobbyist / enthusiast dilemma is pretty much an internet phenonenon. Its the criticising of cameras and lenses by people who would seemingly be the target market for certain gear, simply because they are that target market but have no wish to be perceived as such. Those who are part of this dilemma usually don't make any money from their photography (they probably aren't good enough) but are quite interested in bragging about their gear on the photographic internet. This does seem to include an awful lot of doctors from the US, but I digress. The hobbyist / enthusiast dilemmists aren't professional, probably have no wish to be so but for some reason need to be regarded as such. This manifests itself in them buying gear that they are never going to use to its full potential, that in actual fact makes their photography more difficult, but in their perception gives them lots of bonus points when they write about using that gear on forums. They usually call lenses 'glass' thinking that makes them sound good. Interestingly I've known lots of pro. photographers and I've yet to hear one call their lens 'glass'. We call them lenses, because thats what they are. Glass is what we use when we go to the pub.

The hobbyist / enthusiast dilemmist also has no truck with the ordinary or the useful. The more specialist and obscure it is the better. If its got a maximum aperture of f/0.95, so much the better. They will also criticise gear for the most esoteric reason, and usually come out with something like 'It doesn't have a flash sync of 1/117.3333r sec. so thats a deal breaker for me!' As if anybody cared.

Consequently a lens like the 18-140mm zoom won't get bought by a dilemmist. Well, not that they advertise on the internet anyway. Its way too ordinary, too useful, too damn enthusiast-orientated for enthusiasts. And of course, this is the core of Dpreviews audience and they obviously pander to it. My guess is that Nikon will sell truckloads of this lens and it will take more pictures than all the f/1.4 primes that Nikon make put together. But the internet forums will be very quiet about it, because to acknowledge that you use one of these is to admit that you're more interested in creating images than owning the 'right' gear and that will do nothing for your internet reputation will it?

By the way I'm enthusiastic about photography, and its my hobby as well as my job. Most professionals I know would say the same. We do differ in one way however, we buy and use gear because it works for us and not because it makes us look good. And I've said it before and I'll say it again, the difference between some (not all) 'amateurs' and 'professionals' is that the professional is most interested in the images they take and some (not all) amateurs are more interested in how they create their images and what they used to do that. And it strikes me the Nikon 18-140mm doesn't look that sexy (what Nikon lens does?) but I'll bet it takes a great picture. 




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