An Ode To My Lens: 2007-2012

My old and trusty 18-200mm lens
My old and trusty 18-200mm lens
I am here to say goodbye to an old friend. A friend who has traveled with me for the last five years and has seen most of the same incredible things which I have. A friend who has stuck by me when everything else left. A constant companion who has never left my side though good times and bad.

I am of course talking about my Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR DX Zoom Nikkor Lens.

The vast majority of photos you’ve seen on this site have been taken with the same lens. The 18-200mm VR Nikon lens is probably the most versatile lens in the world. It can take reasonable wide angle shots as well as zoom up to 200mm. When ever I go out for the day, I know I’ll have a 95% chance of dealing with whatever I come across with this lens.

The lens I’ve been using I purchased back in March 2007 when I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. Getting this lens was one of the better purchases I made back then. It is literally the only piece of gear that I was still using as of June 2012 that I had back at the start of my trip.

It has been with me to over 100 countries and territories and all seven continents. It has taken photos of penguins, mountains, giraffes, race cars, hot air balloons and people.

Sadly, however, it is time to put it aside.

One of the tens of thousands of photos taken with my lens
One of the tens of thousands of photos taken with my lens
The problems started back in 2010 when I was in Fiji. Like I did many times before, I put my circle polarizing filter on the lens, but this time it wouldn’t come off. Somehow the threads that screw the filter in place got crossed and the metal stuck tight.

I tried everything I could think of to get that filter off: pliers, a monkey wrench, a vice, rubber jar opener, heat, oil, and taking it into a professional to get it fixed. The filter would not budge.

I eventually took drastic action and cut it off with a rotary tool. It worked, but I wasn’t able to use a lens cap or a lens hood anymore. The lens was basically naked.

In the two years since, everything on it not made of metal or glass has fallen apart. The rubber focus ring became so loose that it fell off. There were other plastic rings that came off as well, switches became loose and overall the lens was dying a slow death.

Despite all of this, and sometimes having to hold it together with my free hand, the lens continued to take good shots. Most of my photos from my recent photography tour and many of my photos from Antarctica were taken with it. The fact that the optics were still performing despite everything that had gone wrong with it is a testament to the quality of the lens.

After months of putting off getting a replacement, I finally pulled the trigger last week when I was in New York and got a new lens. Exact same model as the one which served me faithfully for the last 5 years.

I know it is a bit weird to make such a big deal about a lens, especially when I purchased an identical replacement, but when you carry something around the world for 5 years, you get attached to it.

Good bye old friend. Your service was appreciated.