Amateur Photographer looking for some advice.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jiawei_zhang, Dec 22, 2012.

  1. Hello everyone,
    I'm a high school senior and really into photography. I currently have a D90, a Nikon 18-200 VR II lens, a Nikon 35-70 f/2.8D lens, and two manual focus lenses from a garage sale (E series 28mm and 50mm).
    I am currently suffering from some high school poverty but have some money to spare (around $400) and am looking for some extra lenses. I really enjoy macro photography (I've been using the 35-70 with a +3.0 diopter) but I also enjoy night photography and long range photography (sports and stuff). I often also shoot school events on the auditorium in the dark. Unfortunately, I don't think $400 will get me more than one lens. What do you guys suggest? Below, I have listed my top few choices that I am currently considering. I have no brand loyalty and don't mind used products as long as they are clean.
    1. Nikon 35mm f/1.8 - $196 new - idk if that extra step is worth it over the 35-70 but everyone says this lens is otherworldly
    2. Nikon 60mm f/2.8 macro - $200 used on keh - cheapest macro other than 40mm f/2.8 but everyone says the 40mm is too close
    3. Nikon 70-210 f/4 (really old) - $200 used on ebay - is this any good? it's one of the earliest autofocus zooms so I don't know if it's that good
    4. Nikon 50mm f/1.8G - $220 new - for a DX camera is this too wide? I've been messing around with the 35-70 at different focal lengths and this feels too long but I sometimes go beyond this even.
    5. Nikon 50mm f/1.8D - $125 new - Is this good also?
     
  2. If you say you do long range sports, maybe I would skip the primes you listed. You already have the 35 and 50 but in a zoom, but slower but still 2.8.
    Maybe you should get a macro that is something you don't have yet apart from the diopter.
    200/4 manual? or maybe even a 200/2.8 manual? 300/4 used manual?
    50 = 75mm on DX. 1.5x thing. Same for all your lenses. So a 50mm is similar to the 50mm on your zoom...
     
  3. 50mm could be good if you need that bit more aperture and the 50mm works for you ... what focal lengths do you use on your zoom?
     
  4. I've written a Java program to find out all the focal lengths I've ever used on my 35-70 and I've found this approximation:
    35-49 - 24%
    40-44 - 5%
    45-49 - 8%
    50-54 - 19%
    55-59 - 13%
    60-64 - 8%
    65-70 - 23%
    So, I guess nothing really sticks out but I'm not sure about manual lenses. I think those are out of my budget.
     
  5. I would get the 35 f/1.8G and the 60mm f/2.8 macro. These are by far my 2 favorite lenses. 35 is a great focal length. I did a trip to San Francisco for 5 days recently and only took that lens. It was not wide enough once or twice, but it was amazing for everything else.
    I have the 50 1.8G as well, but I don't use it very often as it's usually longer than I want.
    But to look at it differently, there is nothing that the kit you have now can't handle. Sure, it's a little limited, but not incapable. If you bump into the limits of your gear often enough, then you will know for sure where it makes sense to upgrade and augment.
    What do you wish your current gear did better?
     
  6. I think the main issue is not enough macro (4x on the 35-70 without the diopter) and not enough light at other apertures. That's why I was wondering if I could get the 70-210 f/4. I use my 35 70 macro function in MF anyways so that's not an issue. Do you guys have any MF macro suggestions? I googled the 200 f/4 macro and it doesn't exactly have very favorable reviews. They all suggested the Tamron 90mm, Tokina 90mm f/2.5, and 55mm Nikon.
     
  7. I love your Java program. :)
    If you want real macro, the so-called macro on the zooms is really only close focus. Real macros are designed for flatter fields of focus than a zoom can be, and they typically go to 1:1 reproduction without tubes or bellows.
    Nikon calls their macros, "micros", but it's pretty much the same except that some of the old MF "micros" needed an extension to actually get all the way to 1:1.
    A less-expensive, but high quality, third-party macro within your budget is the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro (link)
    A longer macro lens gives you more distance between the front of the lens and the object being photographed.
     
  8. 200/4 manual is like $100 bucks. it's not a macro lens.
    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/nikkoresources/180200mmnikkor/200mmb.htm
    You mentioned long range photography too.... 200/2.8 is more, 300/4 might even be within $400 - check. I picked those cos you already have a 2.8 zoom. Many people are ok with that but you say not.
    Maybe a macro lens or even cheaper if you go manual focus.
    For the other lens you would need to figure out what you really need - FL, aperture etc ... something outside 35-70 but maybe within it if 2.8 isn't enough ...
    The Tamron 90mm Macro is quite good but memory it's $500 isn't it .. checked - 50 discount with rebate. I don't imagine used would be that much cheaper. The Nikon equiv is much much more ... (new that is 105mm).
     
  9. For sports keh has a couple of lenses that stood out to me. They have an "ugly" Nikon 180/2.8 ED AF for $235. I love their "ugly" lenses because there is often nothing wrong with them, and they are very inexpensive. It would be nice to use this lens with a 1.4x converter too, but it is not compatible with Nikon AF converters, but you may get AF with one of the third party brands. The other lens they have is the Nikon 300mm f4 ED AF for $500, but it does push your budget and leaves nothing left for anything else.
    For macro you do don't need, or want, in my opinion, AF. Depth of field is so limited in the macro/micro range that I would rather not let an AF system decide what is in focus. The manual Nikon 55/3.5 can be had in the $100 range, again keh has these. Avoid the 55/2.8 Micro because of problems with oil on the aperture blades. Another lens that is usually in abundance, and for under $200, on the used market is the Nikon 105/4 Micro AI or AIS manual lens. The AIS version is nicer to use and the 100mm focal length gives more working room.
     
  10. Ray, I was talking about the 200 f/4 AIS, my bad. THAT one is macro. I personally don't plan on spending more than $300 on a macro lens alone. I'm really looking into the 60mm f/2.8 and f/2.8D. Do you guys see any significant difference? All I know is that the D adds better flash capabilities and a better lens coating. I can get the non-d for like $200 on the bay and the D for like 250. Do you guys have any longer range manual macros, not necessarily Nikon? I actually tested the 90mm Tamron and 100mm Tokina at a store and loved them both but they are out of my budget. $400 is my ABSOLUTE budget and I really don't wanna spend more than $300.
     
  11. The 1.4x Kenko PRO 300 seems to be the converter that goes best with the 180/2.8 ED AF, and it does autofocus. Again keh has them for about $100.
     
  12. The Tamron is often sold used on eBay in your budget. Moreover, sometimes even new ones have sold for $399 and less. Even some Buy-It-Now offers from Asia are below $400.
    Check carefully to make sure it is the AF version for Nikon. There are similar, good quality MF versions that should be quite a bit less.
     
  13. John Crowe, I actually ordered an UGLY keh lens (35-70 f/2.8 non-d) and it was crap... sticky focus, loose zoom, etc. I saw that 180mm f/2.8 but I'm not sure it focuses fast enough for sports. I saw that 300 f/4 as well and WANT that darned thing but can't justify the cost lol. Reviews of that lens aren't great. So, is the 60mm f/2.8 Non-D decent for $205?
    http://www.keh.com/camera/Nikon-Autofocus-Fixed-Focal-Length-Lenses/1/sku-NA06009009731N?r=FE
     
  14. You can always get the equally highly rated manual Tamron 90mm Macro. keh has them in the $100 to $200 range but make sure to get the Nikon adapter mount for it too, that they have for about $15.
     
  15. John, are you talking about the Tamron Adaptall? How does that work? Do I get just get the adapter? I have bad experiences with adapters...
     
  16. Depends on what macro you intend to shoot. At 1:1 macro which both of the 60/2.8 lenses reach, the working distance is approximately the same, and that is about 2.5 inches from your subject. Getting that close may be difficult and getting light onto your subject at that distance may be difficult too especially since the lens/camera/you may put it in deep shadow.
    P.S. Yes keh sells the adaptall adapter for Nikon as well. I don't know what adapter trouble you have had but these are not adapters in the usual context. Tamron was able to be quite smart in the old days. They could make one lens, and then sell it with their own mechanical adapter to fit any camera, like Canon, Nikon, Leica, Pentax, Minolta, Olympus etc...This kept their manufacturing/distribution cost way down.
     
  17. Thanks for all the help, but can you guys please link me all the feasible lenses? I feel that I'm really starting to crave macro lenses with a long focusing path (like 290degrees preferably). Can I have some suggestions? I'm currently considering:
    1. Nikon 60mm f/2.8
    2. Tamron Adaptall 90 f/2.8 (not 2.5 which is only 1:2)
    3. Nikon 200mm f/4 AI-S micro (too expensive - cheapest I could find is $400)
     
  18. Jiawei
    If you really enjoy macro, 60mm f/2.8D is a good start, you won't be disappointed. I owned one. I would stay with D version simply because it is newer. The type of subject you shoot determines your working distance and that, you have to decide what focal length works for you. Another cheap option is extension tube, the drawback is you have limited range of distance that will give you focus. With that said, you can use the rest of money for a 35mm f/1.8G. Tough decision.
     
  19. He already has the 18-200 VrII. That on his crop sensor gives him 300 at F/5.6. For daylight that ought to be pretty good for his high school sports. For photographing plays he can use the 35-70 F/2.8 and sit closer to the stage.
    I like this choice for him. The first will become his favorite lens. He needs a used Nikon 80-200 F/2.8. He could sell his 18-200. This will give him about $500.00 more. So adding that to the $400.00 he has ne can get:
    A very nice Nikon 80-200 F/2.8 for about 550.00 used.
    An 18-55 Vr for $100.00 (factory demo from Cameta or whomever)
    That leaves about $250.00 for a used Tamron, Tokina or Sigma 90mm - 100 mm Macro. (Or a demo Nikon 40mm micro). That would be a heck of a kit and allow him to do all he requires.
    The 80-200 F/2.8 will take him to a whole new place. It is perfect in the school auditorium. Super for sports and a fine portrait lens. It is built like a tank and sharp as a tack.
    The 18-55 Vr will only be used for 18-35 if it is used at all.
    The Tokina, Sigma and Tamron Macros are very nice especially the Tamron 80mm. The Nikon 40mm will give him a nice lens and introduction into macro but as he says you have to work fairly close.
     
  20. the 60mm af-d is a fine lens, also the 105 af-d. the tamron 90 is very good optically, but extends to double its length at minimum focus distance. beg, borrow, or steal, and get the sigma 150mm!
     
  21. Another lens you should consider is Tamron 60mm f/2 macro. It is a DX lens that will give you one stop of light on top of 60/2.8 micro from Nikon at an equivalent IQ. Eventually look for a used copy. This Tamron works great for portraits as well.
     
  22. Jiawei, of the lenses on your list the one that sticks out as one to avoid would be the 70-210 AF. All of the early versions of this lens were dogs. The very first "two-touch" version was OK mechanically, but optically was simply a revamp of the 70-210 f/4 Nikon E. The next "trombone" AF version was just awful, both optically and mechanically - steer clear. If you want a cheap lens in this focal range, then look for an old manual focus Ai-S 80-200mm f/4 Zoom-Nikkor. Optically, this is a far better lens than anything affordable in the 70-210mm range, and can be got very cheaply these days. I picked up a near-mint version recently for £80 (about $120). Old manual focus Nikkor lenses are a great way to get very good glass on a tight budget.
    As for macro lenses: My choice would be either the 60mm f/2.8 Nikkor, or a 90mm f/2.8 Tamron SP. The Tamron would give you more working distance between lens and subject, and double as a medium telephoto/portrait lens. Again, there's a cheap MF option, and that's the Ai-S 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor. This can be had for $100 - $200 depending on cosmetic condition. Manual focus is generally no great disadvantage when shooting macro and some photographers actually prefer to work this way.
     
  23. For checking focal length etc. usage, try EXPOSUREPLOT - also useful data on f stops, shutter speeds & ISO settings used. I have a Tamron 90m AF macro - cost me £220 used. Excellent bokeh for portraits, macro etc. I would think $300ish in the USA.
     
  24. Jiawei, With the exception of Nikons great 70-180mm closeup zoom (macro by definition means 1:1) any of the current fixed macro lenses from Canon, Nikon , Sigma, Tamron, or Tokina should meet your macro need. Someone on PN once said, and I believe its true, that its hard to make a bad macro lens. I would suggest purchasing the longest focal length you can afford. Focal length gives you distance and helps isolate the subject. I use my 60mm underwater with a DX camera but seldom on land. I have 105 and 200mm Nikor micro lenses and often prefer extention tubes on my 300mm for close up work and to blur the background. The shorter focal length 60mm is much more forgiving WRT depth of field but doesn't isolate the subject nearly as well. Its a trade off. Besides extention tubes on long lenses dual element achromatic lenses made by Canon are not bad and some folks use them on zoom lenses. John Shaw's Closeups In Nature can still be found on Amazon and has very useful information that can help steer your decision. Good hunting. Andy
     
  25. +1 Tamron 90mm macro. If you don't mind manual focusing (which is pretty hard for sport) try the 200mm F4 AIS/AI. But it does not meter on D90. 300mm F4 non AF-S is a great lens but at a little bit higher price. 70-300mm VR can be had used for around $350.
     
  26. Yeah, I've been looking around for a Nikon 60mm f/2.8 D but haevn't found one for a decent price yet. Is the new D version worth like $50 more than the non-d?
     
  27. And another question: I'm looking for an additional cheap camera because I don't like changing lenses and it tends to attract dust and crap, so would getting a D3100 on eBay be a good option? I think I can get one used for like $220, or should I get one from cameta refurb for $300? This is going to be from a separate budget and my parents are getting this for me.
     
  28. Jiawei, congrats on the program you wrote - that's good work to get started. Now looking at those results, it's kind of obvious (for me anyway) that 50mm is not the length you're after. 35mm might be. While I would not call the 35mm f/1.8G DX outerworldly, it is a seriously nice lens for the money. It can focus quite close, it's not a macro lens by any means but it can get close up. It seems dismissed from your list, though, in favour of macro?
    Now, if it really is macro you want, meaning going to 1:2 or 1:1, then the 35mm will disappoint for sure. However, given the focal lengths you're using, I do have a fair share of doubts about the choice for a 60mm. It doesn't seem the focal length what you're using now, so why look specifically for those?
    Let's take a step back. What kind of macro work is it you're looking for? Close-up, flowers, insect, reproduction, dead or alive?
    The 40mm will indeed have you working very up close (so not ideal for living insects), but the wider angle of view is interesting (would I still be on DX, this lens would be on my "probably will get it sooner or later" list). Otherwise, get as long as you can afford, as said above. Tokina 100mm, Sigma 105 or Tamron 90mm are all very nice lenses. Hard to go wrong.
    In short, it would help to understand what macro work you do. I really think if 8% of your photos now is at 60mm, getting a 60mm prime makes no sense at all. Do not dismiss the 40mm macro off-hand, it looks a really nice lens for a good price, and it's in a range you actually do use relatively frequently today.
    At the long end - you have up to 200mm now. Going to 300mm will still be affordable. Going beyond 300mm at a good price with good optics - it becomes a whole lot harder. Again here, consider what is really most important - getting longer, or getting faster. You cannot get both, and frankly, at your budget, getting fast lenses is already hard enough. I'd say, either make do with the 18-200VR, or sell that and get the 18-105VR and 55-300VR (if you can stretch the budget, the 70-300VR or Tamron 70-300VC).
    In this case, I would vote for saving up money for quite a bit longer until you can get something like a decent 2-ring AF-D 80-200 f/2.8, Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 or the likes.
    Buying a second body.... I wouldn't, even if you can convince your parents to pay for it. Better to keep the money in case something more important comes along. Next to that, the 'attracting dust and crap' thing is a bit exegerrated on quite some photo sites. I shoot mostly primes and change lenses whenever I need (=often and a lot), and yet, I can get away with cleaning every now and then. A tiny spec of dust does not ruin your camera, nor your photos. It's easy to deal with it, so get over the fear of changing lenses.
     
  29. You have a lot of lenses covering similar lenses.
    The 35-70/2.8D although old and often said to be limited in range is an excellent lens produced great image quality. It also works great with close-up lenses.
    The 18-200 is a good general purpose lens. I have never used it but know several photographers who own it and are please with it.
    If you are interested in macro, yes a macro lens will be a fantastic complement to your arsenal. However you should first consider what type of macro photography you like to do. For static subjects the 60/2.8 micro will be excellent but for anything that moves you should look at the 105/2.8D. You can find some in like new shape for around $400. It's a very versatile lens that will provide you with more working room for subjects like insects or plants.
    For night photography the 35/1.8G or 50/1.8D seem perfect if your subjects are on the move. If they are static such as night cityscapes or the like the 35-70/2.8D will cover the job just fine.
     
  30. Wouter, the reason I'm looking in to the 60mm is because it's macro. My 35-70 only does macro at 35mm so all my cucrrent "macro" shots are 35mm. I think any macro will suit me. I would get the 40mm but EVERYONE says that the shadow blocks out the light. So, I think what i'll do is get the 60mm 2.8 non-D for like $200 and that's it. I don't think the extra stop on the 35mm f/1.8 will do me much good.
     
  31. EVERYONE says that the shadow blocks out the light​
    Frankly, I never read that as a specific issue for that lens. If you use pop-up or on-camera flash, yes, might happen. Otherwise...it should not be a problem. If it is, it means your lighting isn't set up right. That's not a lens issue.
    Do take note that the working distance for the 60mm is not much more, so you'd run the exact same risk (the 40mm reaches 1:1 at 16cm, the AF-D 60mm at 22cm).
    I'd really take a better look at the focal length you might need. Not all macro lenses are equal (differences in angle of view stay relevant also for macro), so assuming any macro will do could well be a $200 mistake.
     
  32. Jiawei --
    Glad that you are enjoying photography.
    First, your 35-70 f/2.8 D lens is very good and unusually for a zoom has a pretty good macro in itself.
    On a student budget, they next thing I would do is something that would let you shoot in available light. 50 f/1.8, or the new 35 f/1.8G. The 50 would be good for available light portraits, the 35 as a normal lens.
    Also high on my list would be areal macro lens, whether AF or Manual Focus. The 200mm Micro Nikkor is pretty exotic and expensive. I suggest a 50mm or 105mm Micro Nikkor, whatever you can find and afford.
     
  33. I did alot sports for a weekly newspaper and did weddings on the side.
    For indoor HS sports like basketball, my go to lens under the basket was the 50mm f/1.4 and the 50mm f/1.8 would be a good choice as well.
    For Volleyball, also the 85mm f/1.8 AF would be closer to what I would use.
    I found anything under 300mm just to short for my taste when it came to football, soccer, and baseball. I needed every bit of the f/2.8 aperture in the poor lighting conditions I was shooting.
    For outdoor sports, the 300mm f/2.8 AIS would be something to save up for in the future.... yeah it's $1000+/- but is super smooth manual focus, and oozes the wow factor in both image quality and professionalism.
    For weddings, I got a chance to shoot the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 and it was excellent.
    All except the 300mm are well within your budget. I also have the 35-70 AF-D and love it.
    You want go wrong getting faster glass. I would probably go for an older 50mm f/1.8 at less than $100 and/or the 35mm f/1.8 and hold off on a macro.
     
  34. So none of you recommend the 70-210 f/4 AF? Online reviews of it are stellar.
     
  35. One idea would be to sell everything that you have now and buy a 16-85 VR and the 70-200 f/4. Maybe a fast 35 if the budget allows.
     

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