BEST lens for indoor poor light sitsuation for the NIKON D90?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by carrie_smith|6, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. just wondering what the best lens would be for the nikon d90. i will be taking alot of indoor shots and probably all of them will be without using a tripod. i need a nice crisp shot and hope to get no blur any suggestions will be appreciated.
  2. I use a 50mm f1.4 AFS most, but the 35mm f1.8 AFS is also great indoors and inexpensive.
  3. Best without compromise or best value? What's your budget? What's the subject matter, distances, etc?
  4. I have been absolutely LOVING my Nikon 35mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8 so I can vouch for both of those...I am sure if you need the most "bang for buck" the 50mm 1.8 would be a great choice too.
  5. As Lex says. Are you taking head-and-shoulders people shots, or trying to get someone riding a horse in a dim arena from 80 feet away? Architecture/interior design, or babies?
  6. For shorter, wider shots- 35mm f/1.8, for longer- depends how much longer the range you will be shooting in 50mm f1.8 or f/1.4, 85mm f/1.8...
  7. If you look for a prime, try to get one with f1.4... Sigma 30mm or 50mm. Nikon 50mm or 85mm, depending what you shoot for...
    If you need more versatility and VR, you can go for Tamron 17-50 VC or for Nikon 70-200 VR (II).
    Each of the above lenses are used for indoor available light shooting... you are the only person who know the focal length you need.
  8. I shoot with the Nikon D50/Tamron 17-50/2.8/ at ISO 1600 using a mono-pole. I would think your D90 would have less noise at ISO 1600 than my D50.
  9. in addition to the above suggestions, the tokina 11-16/2.8 would also be good on a d90...
  10. The best might be either the Sigma 30mm f1.4, or the Sigma 50mm f1.4. But then again I have no clue because I don't know what you are trying to photo. Answer could be the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8. Or, maybe the Tokina 11-16mm f2.8. Hard to say--do you have anything particular in mind?
    Kent in SD
  11. Establish a budget. Decide on a focal length. Pick one of the f1.4 or f1.8 suggestions above within you budget or get a f2.8 zoom in the focal range you need. For the best, no budget, I suggest researching the Sigma 30mm f1.4 or 50mm f1.4 or Nikkor 85mm f1.4. Understand that if you use these wide open you will have a very shallow depth of field. If you need a normal event type zoom look at the Tamron or Nikkor 17-5xmm zooms.
  12. I have a contrary view. Many times when folks ask for lens suggestions for shooting in poor light, the answers posted tout the value of 1.4 or 1.8 primes. I strongly disagree. I own a Nikon 50mm/ 1.4, and 85/1.4 and a Zeiss 100/2 lens and, when the situation calls for razor thin depth of field, I reach for these beauties. Properly used, they can yield extraordinary, artful shots.
    Problem is that most folks shooting general photography (like parties, landscapes, macros or just plain snapshots for example) will not be pleased with shooting wide open at 1.4. Sure, you gain stops from the wide open aperture, but the resulting images may have just too shallow a depth of field. If the OP wanted to shoot a group of friend at a party with a 50/1.4 lens, he would undoubtedly find that too few parts of the group are in acceptable focus.
    As I said, I have 3 super fast lenses, but I do not tend to use them in low light situations just because they are fast. I use them when I want the effect of the shallow DOF.
    My suggestion to the OP is to buy the best quality mid range zoom that you can afford - something like a 24-70/2.8 for example, and then crank up the ISO to counter the poor lighting. The D90 is known to handle ISO's greater than 400 with great aplomb. I would rather have a somewhat grainy, but sharply overall focused photo than a no grain ISO 100 shot where the eye of the subject is sharp, but the tip of the nose and the chin are not in focus. Or a group of people where the folks in front are in focus, but those in the back are not.
    And of course, even if you have to go further up the ISO scale with the D90 to where the noise begins to get too intrusive, a quick spin through Nik Dfine or Nosie Ninja can work miracles.
    Super fast prime lenses are not necessarily the best cure for poor light. Depends on what you are shooting and the effect you are looking for.
  13. Eric, a fast lens is more versatile than a zoom in a low light settings. Nobody says to take formal group shots at f1.4 - I guess that in general for formal shooting you can use flash...
    The versatility of a fast lens will let you shoot wide open when you look for artistic effects but aso giving the flexibility to step down as much you need for your particular situation. In a low light settings I rarely shoot wide open my Nikon 50mm/f1.2... but when I do it I have reasons and I can do it... Mostly I step down to f2 or f2.5, keeping the DOF at a convenient value and the results are more pleasant than with any f2.8 zoom that rests on my shelve.
    A zoom offers focal versatility but force you to shoot wide open in dim light and I don't like that. That's why I prefer the flexibility of a fast prime. It gives space for creativity.
  14. Hi Carrie,
    I totally agree with both Eric and Mihai .... Both answers are hold a lot of sense.
    I'd like to add that a fast lens (1.2, 1.4 , 1.8 ...) also focusses better i/ faster ( auto- as well as manuallly - ) in low light conditions because this happens " fully opened "..
  15. well most of my photo shots will be indoors, babies, family portraits, indoor music bands. budget is not a problem i just want the best lens for these uses. Thanks for all the replies it really helps with making my decisions.
    Also i know this is the nikon lens topic but how would you compare a canon EOS 7D to the Nikon D90? i know is a big difference but how are the canon lens?.
    Ive owned a sony a300 for 2 years and i need to get it fixed, the live view shows the shot completely centered but when he actual shot shows up in the view its off centered and shifts up. I just added a minolta AF lens 50mm to my sony lens collection that my mother used probably about 20 years ago lol and that lens kicks butt. its only good when used with a tripod gets a bit blurry if a tripod is not used.
    I have a few options i can get my a300 fixed and buy a really really great low light lens or buy a canon or nikon. id like more mega pixels though but is the price of a whole new setup really worth it. what are your opinions?
  16. The Tamron 17-50mm VC f2.8. It has low light capability AND image stabilization. It will do what you want, especially when coupled with ISO 1600. Very flexible as it's both wide enough for photos of groups of people and long enough for portraits and band shots. Note I specified "VC", not the original version that does not have VC. (VC = VR = IS.)
    Kent in SD
  17. Take your tripod and shoot with the lens you own!
  18. A 50mm f1.8 costs under 150 bucks, and is a great lense for portrait, and close up sport shots.
    You might want to consider a flash unit like the sb-600. ..
  19. I think 50mm is too long for "general" indoor shots on DX. I have the 35/1.8, as well as the 85/1.8 for portraits. They are fast enough for most indoor lighting. Also consider that faster apertures like 1.4 become increasingly difficult to focus correctly due to shallow depth of field.
  20. If there is no restriction in budget and the weight and size of the gears, I would get a Nikon 17-55/2.8 for general use together with a Sigma 30/1.4 or Nikon 35/1.8 for really low light no flash shots. I have these but I still use flash, SB600. With a flash, you can shoot at ISO200 (for low/no noise), high shutter speed of 1/125 or higher (to freeze movement of people), more control over DOF (smaller apertures), and control of the quality of light when the lighting is really poor.
  21. This is tough, tough question that doesn't have a universal answer. Its not far different than asking for advice on what your favorite color should be. The best suggestion I can make is to explain how to make your own choice. Find a used 50mm 1.8 (should be less than 100 bucks) and see if that works for you. (Or rent one from a place like or a local camera shop).

    Its a good, fast prime with outstanding performance. It might do the job, and if not you'll know pretty quickly. The 50's focal length is going to be much better on closeups and medium shots, but it's not wide enough to cover an average sized room. Using fast lenses wide open will restrict depth of field, so you'll still have to boost the ISO and stop them down to 2.8 or 4 for many compositions.

    If budget is truly not an issue, you can't really go wrong with a 17-55 2.8, which is over 1K and weighs more than the camera.
  22. The 35/1.8. Fast enough, normal field of view, small, light, focuses quickly and it's relatively inexpensive. My go-to lens for available light on my D90. I'm not partial to 50mm in DX, plus the longer the focal length, the more motion blur from slow shutter speeds.
  23. if money is not a problem, then get a nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 to answer all your needs. but it might be too heavy for you. the alternative is the tamron 17-50 or the sigma 18-50, both f/2.8 for your low light demands. with the D90, you don't need the VC version of the tamron.
    a fast wide normal zoom is more versatile than a wide or normal prime, unless you are good at moving around. or have room to move about to compose. you can always complement the wide zoom with a 30mm or a 35mm f/1.8 prime.
  24. If money is no object then why not trade up to a D700 for the improved high-ISO performance?
  25. (Assuming you don't want to use a flash in these situations, of course)
  26. Leica Summicron or Summilux
  27. . id like more mega pixels though but is the price of a whole new setup really worth it. what are your opinions?​
    Careful - The camera makers are getting into your head on this one....
    For the type of shooting you're describing - the Sony is a perfectly fine performer. More megapixels is only necessary if you're having problems with sharpness / doing large (13x19 and up) blow-ups or really want to stimulate the economy by buying a new camera / lens combo.
    Don't get me wrong - I love my Nikon's but I don't go out and buy a new one unless I have a need. I last upgraded 2 years ago from D200 to D300 due to the increase in dynamic range on the D300. Next upgrade will be ??? - right now the D300's are meeting my needs - so if one dies - I'll probably replace it with a used D300.
  28. "i need a nice crisp shot and hope to get no blur any suggestions will be appreciated."
    "well most of my photo shots will be indoors, babies, family portraits, indoor music bands."​
    Lens suggestions: DX 35mm f/1.8G; 50mm f/1.4G; DX 17-55 f/2.8G, or 24-70 f/2.8G (for the indoor bands)
    A better idea to get results for most of what you want to shoot: an SB-900 or two, a lightweight light stand or two, an SC-28 or SC-29 cord, some light modifiers, and a copy of Joe McNally's 'The Hotshoe Diaries'.
  29. Fast prime. Focal length depends, of course, on what you want to shoot. I've been doing portraits with a 50mm f/1.4 on D200 and D300 in available darkness at dinner tables and in living rooms, no flash.
    ASA 800 or even higher depending on your camera body. WB at 2800 K for consumer incandescent lighting.
  30. I also had a Sony A300 and decided to upgrade it to the Sony A550 when it came out a few months ago for the increased mega-pixels and the HDR feature. I was not happy with the A550. Unfortunately, it wasn't so easy for me to get back my A300 which had served me exceptionally well. At that point I decided to take the plunge and I got the Nikon D90. While I'm still fumbling around getting used to working a new camera, I am very satisfied with the switch to Nikon. Definitely a quality piece of so many more lens options!
  31. Do you already have Sony lenses? Why the switch to Nikanon? Sure, in the tests the D90 beats the pants off of... well, everything that's not a full-frame, but the new Sonys are also very good and if you have any investment in lenses and accessories you might be better off staying with Sony.
    Now if you're really itching for the change and won't change your mind, you wouldn't go wrong with a D90 and a good prime or two - a 50mm (the large heavy expensive Sigma is great for the bokeh) and 85.
  32. i need a nice crisp shot and hope to get no blur any suggestions will be appreciated.​
    Most lenses are capable of producing the results you seek. It will depend on your technique, your timing, your anticipation of the action, and your ability to assess the situation and handle your camera accordingly. Slow sync or rear curtain flash may be an option.
    Fast lenses are certainly helpful, but used near or at wide open aperture the shallow dof will come into play.
  33. A good option would be the Nikkor-Noct 58mm 1.2 , its designed to be shot at 1.2 and render sharp light points, but if budget is not really a problem,, and I mean really really really, go buy a Noctilux 50mm 0.95 and get a nikkon mount. TADDDDA!!
    But what I would really do with that money is buy a D3X and get the Nikkor -Noct. good for you that can do it!
  34. What, in what Carrie said, gave you guys the impression that she wanted to spend the kind of money that a fast Leica lens, Noct Nikkor, Noctilux, or D3X costs? Or are you being absurd on purpose?
  35. Andrew, what idicates to you in the OT that Carrie wants to buy a cheap budget lens? She didn't ask for a the 'best' cheap lens, she simply asked for the 'best' lens. I don't know Carrie, I haven't seen her books, I don't know how much she earns, and I don't know how much she wants to spend.
  36. Carrie said:
    budget is not a problem i just want the best lens for these uses. Thanks for all the replies it really helps with making my decisions.
    That answers your question Andrew?
  37. I stumbled onto this thread via a search. I am a newbie in photographing. With a D90 and 35mm/1.8, I struggle to get clear pictures consistently shooting indoor without flash. At what setting and mode should I be setting my D90 to achieve best result?

    What are some recommended links for beginner photography guide that is easy to understand and follow (to know when to use the different mode M, P, A, night, no flash, sport... etc)?
    Thanks in advance.

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