Buying a Nikon d5100 - What lenses should I get with it?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by paul_capoccia, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. Hello,
    I'm relatively new to photography, I've been using a basic Canon powershot camera and decided it's about time I bought myself a really good camera. I'm buying a Nikon d5100, but I'm not too sure what to get for lenses. I'm looking to take up close photos with some sunset/landscape/night photos. I'm not looking to photograph children, pets, sports, or anything with movement, basically all nature photos or if I am taking photos of people, they will be still.
    The lens that comes with it on is a 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens. I understand the 18-55mm is the range and I only know a bit abouto the 3.5-5.6, that deals with the aperture for the light. Is this a good lens? Should I buy this camera with this lens or just buy the body and look at another lens?
    Also, I was looking into a 55-250 mm Nikkor Lens as well. Should I get the 18-55mm and the 55-250mm, or am I better off buying just the d5100 body and getting a 18-250mm or 18-300mm Nikkor instead? Will an 18-250mm with the same aperture do the EXACT same things that an 18-55mm and a 55-250mm would do separately?
    Thank you!
  2. I would buy a decent tripod before worrying about lenses.
  3. Did you know the D5200 is going to be available soon? But you can get very good deals on the D5100. I have one and I like it very much. Also, look at Check their ebay store too. You can get much better deals than with amazon because they will give you the SD card, a bag and other goodies for the same price. I did buy the kit lenses and for the most part, they are pretty good. The 18-55 is a walk around type of lens. The 55-200mm is pretty good. I do like the 18-105mm a little better and I'm thinking of dropping the 18-55mm for it. For close ups, you might want to look into a prime lens. For landscapes, the kit lenses are good to learn on for not much money and you can learn as you go.
  4. Paul,
    The "kit lens" is a good place to start. One place it will fall short, ( pun intended ) is trying to get shots of things you what a close view, but can't actually get close to. It will be fine for most other things. People, scenic stuff, pets, etc. I would say, if you can find a kit with the Nikon 18-105mm you would extend your range and not really lose much in any other way. Once you start looking at lenses that go lots longer, the price goes way up or the aperture range goes up. Neither is a good thing. Here is why.
    When you are focusing the lens or letting the camera do it, it holds the lens as open as it can, at your given zoom spot. If you have a "fast" lens, that could be at f2.8. That allows the viewfinder to be rather bright. If you have a slower lens, that could only be f4 or f5.6 or something. That makes it harder for you or the camera to focus. It also means the shot will be darker. To over come that, you need to slow the shutter speed down, which may giving more blur or you need to increase the ISO ( or sensor sensitivity ) which may add more graininess to the shot. Those lenses that go from 18-250mm or more will be slow lenses or very expensive. It may be a better use of your money to get 2 lenses that cover the wide end and the long end as a pair.
    If you can get the 18-105mm as the kit option, you will be able to cover a good range and in time, learn just how long a lens you really need and how fast of a lens you can afford.
  5. I am guessing your Powershot had an equivalent 28-1XX lens. If that is the case, you might find the kit lens(i.e. the 18-55) a bit too short than what you are used to. In this case, John's advice above would be the one to take. The 18-105 will cover your needs nicely.

    Is there something you found lacking with the Powershot? The D5100 will provide the jump in image quality but you will soon find you also need to step up on other things, e.g. lens quality, good support(tripod comment above applies) as well as on your technique.
  6. All the lenses you mention will give you pretty much the same excellent IQ. If you don't want to have to change lenses, an all-in-one lens like the 18-300mm is a great option. You do save money by going with a two lens option but loose the convenience of not having to change lenses.
  7. The 55-300mm is excellent for the money - I have one. It complements the 18-55mm well. For landscape, nature, night etc. the tripod advice above is sound. VR can go some way to giving sharper images, but in low light when you are shooting at f11 for depth of field, you need a stable base. Also good for macro. The 55-300 + tripod will cost less than a superzoom. Also consider the ml-l3 remore release if you get a tripod.
  8. Be careful if you choose the Tamron or Sigma 18-2xx, they are f 3.5-6.3, the 6.3 causes the camera difficulty when auto focussing in telephoto range in lower light. The Nikon 18-105 is good, but if you don't want to change lenses as often and be able to shoot subjects that are a distance away, the new Nikon 18-300 is 3.5-5.6, but is that much more expensive.
  9. First off thank you all for the information. I have a few further questions, since you all know more than I do about this stuff.
    1. As far as tripods go, will most tripods be 'compatible' to go with most cameras, or do I have to look for tripods that'll work with Nikons? I know I have to be careful of the weight to make sure it can support a d5100 adaquately. I'm not sure what kind of height I'm looking for yet.

    2. I'm starting to understand the aperture settings. Simon mentioned shooting at 'f11' for depth of field, can I shoot at f11 if the lens is only 3.5-6.3 or something like that?

    3. I'm going to continue to look for a kit with an 18-105mm with a low f, but in the case of 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, is 3.5-5.6 "good"? A 2.8f would be mentioned, is that "top of the line"?

    4. It sounds like, if I can find one at a reasonable price, an 18-105mm Nikkor would be better than the 18-55 to start. What lens would be able to do what I'm doing now with my camera mentioned below?

    And going back to the Canon Powershot I use now, a PowerShot SX 130IS, 12.1 MP, 12x optical zoom, it's okay but the image quality has much to be desired and it has a lot of limitations. No bulb mode (which I want), the lighting with it is kinda tricky. I can set the aperture to 3.4-8.
  10. P.S. I'm on looking at some of the refurbished packages, if it's refurbished am I taking a major risk of it failing quickly or am I finding a hidden deal that I overlooked before? Refurbished definitely fits my budget better with these lens recommendations. I can add 4 year warranties to them so that might be a great option since it'd still be covered for parts.
  11. Nikkor 50mm 1.8G
    I deleted Alan's 10 additional duplicated posts, most likely due to a response problem. The duplicated posts was what Wouter refers to below. -- Shun Cheung
  12. I think Alan means the 50mm f/1.8G ;-)
    (yep issues today with multiple posts!)
    I don't think the 50mm is a good place to start, it will make a nice addition later on when you're more familiar with the camera. The 18-105VR, as adviced, is a really nice lens to get started with.
    1. Tripods are compatible with any kind of camera. Finding a good tripod is not as easy as it seems - be ready to spend quite a bit more than you might think now. Spending little now will only turn out spending more soon, and throwing away the money you spend now... So, with the tripod, take a bit of time - it is eventually a must-have, but to say it's at least as important as lenses... no. Without a lens: no photos. Without a tripod: blurred photos in low light, though VR is there to help a bit. Get a good lens first, and get started.
    2. Yes, the values indicated are the minimum values (which represent the largest apertures), but you can set the higher values on the camera. While on the subject: learn about aperture; it's more important on a DSLR than it is on most compact cameras, because the larger sensor on a DSLR allows for less depth-of-field. Good book is Bryan Peterson, Understanding Exposure.
    3. It's hard to say whether 3.5-5.6 is good, it all depends on what you want a lens to do. On a normal budget, starting out, 3.5-5.6 is fine. F/2.8 lenses do cost a lot more, and have less zoom-range typically - and you might pay for a feature of no value to you. The price of the 18-105VR is right, hard to go wrong with it.
    4. The 18-105 has a bit less zoomrange than your powershot (5,8x optical zoom). Otherwise, the D5100 with that lens does everything that camera does, and more. And better. And faster too.
    Refurbished should still carry some kind of warranty, and theoretically, there is no reason why it should fail earlier - that is, assuming the refurbishment process was done right, with enough testing. I have no idea about how well that's done, so others might jump with more info on that. But it can be a very attractive option, but be sure to check well how the warranty is handled.
  13. Wouter,
    Thank you so much for all the help. I really think the 18-105mm will be enough. I used the Nikon lens simulator on their website and I think it'll be enough for me, especially since, like you said, it'll be very similar to the camera I already have, just much better. As it is, the Powershot gets significantly worse the more you zoom in (naturally), so the improvement on quality will be well worth it. It is VR (that's vibration reduction or something right?) so that'll help.
    Going back to your point at #2, I don't quite understand that they are the 'minimum values'. If 5.6 is there, how can f11 happen? or is f11 an abbreviation for a fraction within 3.5-5.6? I definitely need to learn about the aperture because I definitely don't know nearly enough.
    And like you said, refurbished comes with a warranty and I believe they're well tested. In theory they should work fine and with a warranty I have nothing to worry about. I just need to investigate the extent of the warranties compared to other websites like Amazon.
  14. Paul, you may find this helpful:
  15. I think the 35mm f/1.8 G is a nice lens and not too expensive for under $200.
  16. To answer your other question, Cameta's refurbs are good. Nikon refurbishes the cameras and you still get a year's warranty on the camera and lens. They're good guys down there. Right in my town, so I know them and buy from them myself.
  17. Buy these lenses in this order:
    1. Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 - definitely buy this instead of the kit lens.
    2. Nikon 50mm f1.4g or Nikon 35mm f1.8g - go out and shoot it wide open @ 1.4 / 1.8 for a day. Have a look at the photos and see what you think.
    3. Nikon 85mm 1.8g - portraits
    4.Nikon 600mm f4g - only joking
    but a tripod will improve your pictures more than any lens if you are only taking landscape photos.
  18. F/3.5-5.6 refers to the maximum aperture. Which is a bit confusing because its the bottom of a ratio - smaller number
    indicates larger maximum opening, to let light in. You can "stop down" a lens - it has a mechanism to close the opening,
    to let less light in, so a lens that f/3.5 can be set to f/11. The larger number (smaller aperture) increases depth of field, so
    more is in focus, which is desirable in landscape shooting. On a DX camera like a D5100 I'd usually only go as far as f/8,
    because smaller apertures decrease sharpness due to an effect called diffraction.

    When stopped down, an f/3.5-5.6 lens is about as good as any other. There are lenses with larger maximum apertures,
    like f/2.8 zoom lenses, which are more expensive because more glass is needed to compensate for the wider opening. Because they're more expensive, they usually come with other quality improvements, like sharper images and sturdier build quality.
    Lenses that aren't zooms, like the 35mm f/1.8, are simpler designs so wider apertures can be achieved. Wider apertures
    have the effect of putting less of the field of view in focus, which can be a good thing - for example, often when shooting
    portraits you'd set the lens to a wide aperture so the background is blurred, which draws attention to the subject.

    When you shoot in low light, you need to either have a wider aperture to let in more light, or slow the shutter, or both.
    When slowing the shutter, stability of the camera is an issue because when the shutter stays open longer there is more
    opportunity for the image to become blurred because the camera shakes. This is why tripods are important - they stabilize
    the camera.

    The length in mm translates to the amount of magnification the lens provides. An 18-55 goes from moderately wide angle
    to moderately telephoto. The 18-105 provides more telephoto. So you can zoomin more on distant subjects. If you shoot,
    say, wild animals, a longer lens helps, like a 55-200, 55-300 or 70-300. And if you want a prime (not zoom) lens, the
    35mm 1.8 on a D5100 is a sort of general purpose lens while a 50mm 1.8 is better for shooting people - because you'd be
    standing a bit farther away, which results in a more flattering perspective. The Nikon 50mm and 35mm 1.8G lenses are
    both excellent but are for different purposes.

    Hope that helps.
  19. I wouldn't buy a single lens for that camera until I shot for a while without it. Then you will know what you need. Low light? Look at the 35mm f1.8G. Longer reach? Get a tele zoom... etc...
    But moving up from a P&S, just get to know the kit lens for a while, then buy what you know you need, not what strangers on an internet forum think you need.
  20. I think either of the kit lens mentioned will do you fine. I agree with Peter above about not buying any additional lenses for a while. I would also hold off on a tripod as well. Before buying any additional kit I would recommend you learn a bit more about the technical side of photography eg apertures shutter speed, DOF etc. I'm sure others will chip in with recommendations but I would recommend "Basic Photography" by Michael Langford followed by one or two books from Bryan Peterson and Michael Freeman.
  21. To answer just a few of the thoughts here,
    I'm definitely going to look into some of these books. I'm a bookworm as it is so I think it'd be a great idea for me to dive into some of the books on photography, I'll look into those books by Langford and Peterson mentioned here.
    I'm glad someone referenced the refurb lenses again. I found the d5100 body relatively cheap somewhere with a good warranty but I can't find a cheap enough kit with a Nikkor 18-105 so I'm gonna be that separately refurbished and that'll be my only lens for awhile. I think, as all of you said, that will give me a good idea of what I "need" rather than what I "want", especially since I'm shooting blind right now as to what to buy. Now that I pretty much settled on the camera/lens combo to start, what companies' SD cards do you all recommend? I've read some terrible reviews on SD cards before so I want to make sure I pick one that is pretty widely used and accepted as being 'the best', I don't want to fall short on something as simple yet as (obviously) necessary as the SD card.
    As for a tripod, I'll wait on that too. I know somebody said for now I'll just get a little blur here and there, which I can deal with until I see what kind of tripod I want/need.
    Thank you all for all of the advice! You all have been such a help.
  22. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I wouldn't buy a single lens for that camera until I shot for a while without it. Then you will know what you need.​
    Peter, I hope you are aware that it is rather difficult to shoot with the OP's brand new D5100 (or any other camera) without a single lens. :)
    The 18-55mm DX AF-S VR is Nikon's least expensive mid-range zoom and it has a plastic mount. It is a decent choice as a starter lens if your budget is limited. You can start with that or the 18-105mm DX AF-S VR, which also has a plastic mount. Peter does have a good point that one should begin with one of those starter lenses and gain some experience so that you know which focal lengths you tend to use frequently before buying additional lenses. Nikon's 35mm/f1.8 DX AF-S is a good choice for indoor, low light situations without paying a lot of money.
    For memory cards, the two most established brands are SanDisk and Lexar. In these days I use those two brands exclusively. Unfortunately, it is rather easy to counterfeit memory cards. I would get them from reliable sources such as, Adorama, B&H, etc. and avoid buying memory cards on eBay.
  23. Yes, Shun, I know that. I was assuming that he'd get the kit lens, as most of the time, it's available with the 18-55.
  24. Best book to start with, IMO, is Douglas Klostermann's Nikon D5100 Experience. It takes you through everything about the camera in an easy way. It's also a downloadable pdf for about $10. Well worth it.
  25. Alright, I used SanDisk SD cards in my other camera and never had problems, but I know I'll now need an HD etc. compatible SD card so I better invest enough in it so I don't have any problems. I didn't even think of counterfeit ones... I'll probably buy from amazon or cameta if they sell SD cards.
    The kits for a d5100 with the 18-55 are the same as buying the d5100 body with the 18-105 separately refurbished so I figure I might as well go with the 18-105 because it would give me a bit more focal length so I could really judge if I would even need more length than 105, or if that focal length is fine and I might want to, as suggested, go with a 35mm or something for low light. Again, not going to get anything more than the 18-105 until way down the road, once I learn about that and everything, plus invest in a tripod that'll suit my needs. My budget does have its limits haha.
    I already reserved the 2 books mentioned, the ones by Langford and Peterson, at my local library so I'm gonna read through those when I can, and I'll look into the d5100 experience, that should give me some very specific advice the others probably cannot give due to the broad nature of the topic.
  26. Nikon 35 1.8 DX
  27. I always by refurbs and have had very little problems, the last was two D300s bodies a year ago, but the warranty is shorter, 90 days on the body.

Share This Page