Commonly referred to as a 'super zoom', models boasting a wide range of focal lengths are appealing for their convenience, however they frequently have a moderate to slow variable maximum aperture and are inevitably compromised on optical performance in some way.
Of the 16 models tested on the D7100, with a DXOMark score of 16 points the unassuming and modestly priced AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm lens is the best performing model. This is followed closely, in joint second place, by the recently upgraded AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm and new AF-S Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6.
|Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED||480||16||10|
|Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR||2700||15||9|
|Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR||999||15||9|
|Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR||365||14||8|
|Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Nikon||1659||14||10|
|Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED||300||13||8|
|Nikon AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED||849||13||8|
|Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Nikon||1334||13||7|
|Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS Nikon||370||13||8|
|Nikon AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED||1665||13||7|
|Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Nikon||529||12||8|
|Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR||1050||12||7|
|Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Nikon||399||12||8|
|Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Nikon||600||11||6|
|Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Nikon||250||11||6|
|Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Nikon||649||11||7|
Although arguably the 80-400mm is not a true super zoom (it's only a rather modest 5x optical zoom), it's worth remembering this model is a full frame lens, the equivalent to a 120-600mm on the D7100. Even so, it has good levels of sharpness, albeit at the shorter end of the zoom range and has remarkably low levels of chromatic aberration. At $2,700 it’s not inexpensive but it may be the only telephoto lens you buy.Although twice the price of the 18-135mm, the 18-300mm is very similar performer overall and is well worth considering as an all-rounder. Our only concern is the rather high levels of chromatic aberration but, as an equivalent to a 28-450mm, it would make an ideal travel lens.
One model that stands out for value is the AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm. With an overall DxOMark score of 14-points and a good sharpness score of 8P-Mpix, this 85-450mm equivalent is modestly priced at $365 and comes third in our rankings overall.