D700 all-prime plan

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by natalie_m|3, Jul 13, 2009.

  1. I'm about to embark on a heck of an upgrade: D40 to D700. I plan to hang on to the following lenses: 50mm 1.8, Sigma 50mm 1.4, and 35mm 1.8 (by all accounts, it's fine on FX, albeit with some vignetting). What should my next prime be? I don't do a lot of landscape photography, so wide angle isn't a huge priority. I'm thinking 28 2.8 and 85 1.8. Any other thoughts/recommendations?
  2. We can't know your focal length preferences, so it's difficult to say. Look at your favorite photos with your D40 and see what focal lengths you used, and then multiply by 1.5 to get the FX equivalent. If the results are not covered by your 35 and 50s, then you'll know what you need.
  3. I don't believe the Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX lens will cover the FX frame. You'd be better off with a second hand Nikon 35mm f2 AIS or AI lens.
  4. If I might inquire, why duplicate the 50mm lenses?
  5. Have a reason to get a D700 and have a need to purchase a focal length would be my recommendation.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX on FX (D700).
  7. Jim, the Sigma is the better lens, but it's built like a tank. The 50 1.8 is small and light, so I'll keep it for travel and walk-around.
  8. Shun, wide open at closer focusing distances, the vignetting is minimal:
    This lens is extremely sharp, which is why I plan to continue to use it on FX. The vignetting can be fixed with some judicious post processing and/or cropping.
  9. If you insist on using prime lenses only, your next investment should be a good sensor-cleaning kit. You sensor is going to gather a lot of dust with all of those lens switches.
    P.S. The automatic dust-off feature on the D700 doesn't work as well as you might expect. You're going to have to clean that puppy regularly.
  10. With a D700, best invest in a 24-70 f2.8EG, Natalie. It'll be commensurate with the move to FX.
  11. Hi Natalie,
    If you are really interested in landscape photography then some prime Nikon 24mm 2.8 ( or even some 20mm) will be my recommendation.
    Some 28mm is OK but it is not wide enough to justify its purchase against 35mm 1.8 that you already own.
    On other (Telephoto) side, 85mm 1.8 is fine lens for portraits but it will prove to wide in to many occasions outside and I can hardly justify it regrading those two 50's that you have. My recommendation will be some good 105mm or even (unjustly neglected by many) 135mm lens.
    My recommendations are based on more then 20years of not disrupted experience with Laica 135 aka FX Full frame 35mm format cameras, ( a part of that time is more then 18 years of my experience with Nikon's film cameras and lenses)
  12. I don't think it's a good idea to use the 35 DX on FX; the vignetting limits the apertures and distances you can use too much to make it practical. The 35/2D AF doesn't cost much and should be much better.
    I can recommend 28mm Ai-S (all versions; f/3.5, f/2.8, and f/2), 50/1.8(D) (great), 85/1.8(D), 105/2.8G AF-S, 180/2.8D AF as economical primes with very high quality for FX use. If you need wider than 28mm then the 24 PC-E and the f/2.8 zooms would be best. I would not get the 28mm autofocus (D or not); the manual focus versions are better.
  13. Did anybody ask why you are avoiding zooms? A standard zoom is great to have, I can't figure out why you wouldn't want one. What exactly DO you shoot that you need only primes.
  14. P.S. I won't bet on Sigma if I am you, even if they ware 'EX' mark. Nikon 50mm f 1.8 AF is one of the sharpest Nikon lenses ever made, although it is really cheap one. On D700 full format camera famous by it's low light capabilities that 1/2 stop will not mater so much after all.
  15. I shoot mostly prime lenses on my D300 so I understand what you are looking for. With out knowing what you want to shoot it is hard to give you any ideas.
    I have had my D300 for about 18 months now and have yet to have to clean the filter. I have over 30K exposures on the camera I photograph equestrian events to make my living. Dusty is the norm. I find the dust off feature to work very well.
    Zooms are nice but you can not find anything faster then f/2.8 and some times that is not fast enough or the DOF may be to much for the look that you want.
    If you like shallow DOF look around for a 105 f/1.8 AI-S.
  16. I also rarely never need to clean the filter (maybe 3 times per year) and I swap lenses all the time.
  17. i picked up a 28/3.5 AI from ebay pretty cheap and i'm pretty happy with that. there are better, but i've got the performance i need for around 65$ shipped. i've heard some good things about the 105 AIS and 85/2, both of which should save you about a grand total over their AF counterparts. the nifty fifty is on my 700 often and i'm expecting my third lens in any time now:
    85/1.4 (en route)
    that's my kit. i know the prime allure that you have; i have it to. happy shooting.
  18. Thanks to all for the good advice. Avoiding zooms has been both an aesthetic and financial decision. I do a lot of low-light, shallow DOF shooting, and the zooms I can afford are just too slow.
    I think I'll wait a while to see what focal lengths I really need, and perhaps save up for an 85 1.4 (especially if Nikon releases a new one this year or next) and the 105 macro.
  19. Seems like you are making a LOT of compromises on lens quality just to put a ton of money into a camera body. My own strategy has been to buy the very best lenses available, and with money left over I buy a camera. I'm a night shooter, and this has been successful for me.
    Kent in SD
  20. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If your overall budget is around $3000 to $4000, I don't think it is a very good idea to spend 60 to 70% of that on the camera body alone. The D700 certainly has excellent low-light capabilities, but it is merely a stop or so over the D300, D90 and D5000. All of those bodies will seriously drop in value in the next 2, 3 years.
    The D300 is obviously an excellent camera, but if you don't need top-of-the-line AF and metering with AI/AI-S lenses, the D90 is very good also. Get some good lenses to put in front of any one of them and you'll be all set. However, other than the 35mm/f1.8 DX and 50mm/f1.4, 1.8, expect any f1.4 prime to be expensive. If Nikon ever (re)introduces any 24mm/f1.4, 28mm/f1.4 or 85mm/f1.4 AF-S, expect a 4-digit price tag.
    Here is a pixel-level crop from a DX image similar to the one I showed above, but the camera body was a D300 so that only the DX area was captured. Both the 35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX and the old 35mm/f1.8 AI-S show serious chromatic aberration (CA). See the red "spilling" out from the edge of the stop sign and green fringing on the tree trunk. However, the 17-55mm/f2.8 DX essentially shows no CA (it is also the most expensive lens among the three). Everything was captured at f8 on the D300 body at ISO 200.
    "Primes" are not always best as a lot of people think.
  21. I noticed that the fellow on the Fred Miranda site who brags about the 35/1.8 DX being an FX lens later qualified his claim to apply only to closeups. So it's an FX lens in the same way my 180/2.8 non-AI Nikkor is "fully compatible" with my D2H ... as long as I use the M2 extension tube and don't need infinity focus, sure, it's "fully compatible".
  22. Shun, your point is a valid one and I don't doubt that the cameras you mentioned are excellent. Bottom line, I really need a body I can grow into, and I don't see the sense in spending $1700 for a D300 when for $650 more, I can get the camera I really want. High ISO performance alone is important enough to me to justify it. I'm OK with building my lens collection slowly.
  23. Natalie, sell your 35mm 1.8 DX because with it you will be using only about 5 megapixels of D700.
    If wide-angle photography is not your huge priority, then all you need are just two primes -50mm f1.4 and 135mm f2 DC.
    From my experience I can tell you, don't waste money on mid-range zoom 24-70mm f2.8. If you are not lazy, 50mm is a much better choice. It is faster and cheaper. And you already have one - Sigma.
  24. For landscape work on FF, check out the Nikon 20 f/2.8D

    I don't own one, but I've rented one and used it on my F100. Its plenty wide enough for FF, and a great little lens for walk around because you can easily shoot hand-held at 1/15th with it. You should be able to pick one up for $400-500.

    You may also consider a 105 f/2.5 AiS. It's a pretty good all around lens if you don't mind manual focus, especially when you want to get a little compression in a shot for landscape work or if you want to do any portraits. They can be had for under $200. I'm getting one soon to go w/ my FM3A.

    For a good look at different primes, I would check out Bjorne's website. He seems to have tested almost every Nikon lens out there, I always check his reviews before making a purchase. http://www.naturfotograf.com
  25. Shun, your point is a valid one and I don't doubt that the cameras you mentioned are excellent. Bottom line, I really need a body I can grow into, and I don't see the sense in spending $1700 for a D300 when for $650 more, I can get the camera I really want. High ISO performance alone is important enough to me to justify it. I'm OK with building my lens collection slowly.​
    This is a wise choice, IMO. The D700 and D3 are better than DX cameras in a number of ways. I could never go back unless i needed to shoot distant wildlife with very long lenses.
  26. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The problem is that Natalie's prices are not accurate. B&H currently has the D300 for $1570 (need to add it to the shopping cart to show the actual price). The D700 is more like $800 to $900 more. That is plenty of money for some nice lenses.
    I have one of them each and like them a lot. The D700 is an excellent choice provided that you have some good lenses to put in front of it.
  27. I have the D700 and I'm a big fan of primes. The only zoom I own is the 14 24 f2.8.
    Although I dont have the 24-70 I'm thinking of getting one. It's one of the best lenses that money can buy.
    Given that I'm covered form 14mm to 50mm with fast pro glass so It's a tough call with the 24-70 and I may get the 85mm f1.4 rather than the 24-70
    Dont worry about dust, it's never been an issue for me. I shoot mainly social documentary and street and would change my lenses two to three times on ant given shoot. Dust has never been a problem.
    My ultimate lens kit would be -
    28mm f1.4
    50mm f1.4 (have)
    85mm f1.4
    Luxury lenses that are nice to have and would be be
    14-24 f2.8
    24-70 f2.8 (have)
    105 macro VR
    Dont discount older af-d lenses though. I have some really nice AF-D glass that works fantastic on FX. As do some of the older manual AIS lenses. The performance of AF-D and AIS glass on my D700 is the main reason that i've not purchased any new glass other than the 50mm AFS-S and the 14-24 AFS. My older lenses work fine so why upgrade if you dont really need to. If you go down the route of second hand AF-D glass you will bt able to get some really nice primes for the cost of a 24-70.
    I should piont out the the lens list above is a list that suits my style of work and how I shoot. Depending on what you shoot, you may need different glass for different reasons.
  28. I got a Nikon-refurbished D700 locally for $2100, plus 3-year accident warranty for $150 more. I'm satisfied so far, but I've only had it about a month. It's something to consider.
    As for primes, it's really unclear what you want to do with them. I too have a lust for primes and have been building a collection for the last two years or so, but each purchase was made with a specific application in mind. You don't want to get a bunch of fixed focal length lenses only to find out you don't really use them that much.
    That said, my favorites are the 85mm f/1.4 (for people) and the 180mm f/2.8 (for animals, and people). I also tried the 105mm f/2.5 non-AI in a pawn shop...thought it was beautiful but decided I didn't need it.
    And I can also recommend the 35mm f/2 over your 35mm f/1.8 DX. Those vignetted corners cut out a significant part of the frame, leaving you with basically a normal field of view. And won't you be annoyed having to crop every single picture you take with that lens? If you're concerned about f-stops, the difference between f/2 and f/1.8 is mostly marketing.
    I wouldn't worry about whether Nikon might release new versions of anything soon, except that it might lower the prices of the current items. The current lenses are very good, and will last a long time. My 180mm is actually the 1987 AF (non-D) version, and while it has a cheap-looking plastic exterior, it makes wonderful pictures.
  29. Natalie said: "I do a lot of low-light, shallow DOF shooting, "
    Shun, your example looks like it was shot in bright sunlight and the aperture mentioned is f/8; while the example is interesting it couldn't be much further away from "low light, shallow DOF". Try the D700+35/1.4 at f/2.8 (or wider) compared to any equivalent FOV lens of your choice on the D300 at f/2.8 (or wider), and the D700 will most likely blow away the D300 even at base ISO, not just at high ISO; this has been the case with my D3 vs. D200 testing. With normal FL primes at wide apertures the effective difference in low light ability between the D3 and D200 was about five stops, partly because the D3 doesn't sample the lens at as high frequencies (due to the larger sensor area it still gives a good image) and thus gives a better image at wide apertures where the lenses typically don't resolve that high frequencies, and partly because of its high SNR. The D300 is a bit better than that but for anyone shooting with fast primes at wide apertures in the wide to short tele FL range the D700 is than what any DX setup can do because the larger sensor area is just what is needed to get a good image at these apertures. What's more the larger VF makes focusing by eye easier and the manual focus throw of the lenses is better matched to the format.
  30. "Primes" are not always best as a lot of people think.
    Shun, you buy primes basically to shoot at wide apertures, not at f8 as your posting shows.
    At that aperture, primes cannot be any different from a zoom.
  31. I'd also be curious to know how our OP uses her photos. How big does she print? How tight does she crop? (Why do we NEVER seem to discuss this with regard to camera selection?)
    And what does she actually shoot. All I know so far is that it's not landscapes...
  32. What I shoot: people, street, portraits. Lots of middle focal range stuff, mostly wide open with ambient light. I've been using the 35 and 50 exclusively for several months. So I guess I've answered my own question... the 50 takes the place of the 35, and the 85 could take the place of the 50.
    I have not printed larger than 8x10, but only because 6 MP seems to be really pushing it for anything bigger. I would like to have more latitude for cropping.
  33. For the lens choices, I pretty much agree with Ilkka. The manual focus 28 mm primes are better than the AF one. However I see no rush in replacing the 35; you may find that you prefer 28 and you don't necessarily need anything between 28 and 50. I used to shoot with a 24-50-85 setup and I was happy, although I could have traded the 24 for the 28. Some people prefer 105 over 85, again it's a personal choice. The point is that photographically one can go very far with a simple setup such as this.
    Fact is that if you don't need zooming, you can live with manual focusing for wide angles and don't mind buying used then just a couple of hundred will buy you the primes that will easily let the capabilities of the D700 shine. There's a heavy premium to be paid for zooms, AF-S and superfast lenses.
    I think the sensor cleaning argument is bogus, after 15000 shots with a mostly prime setup I still don't have enough dust on the sensor of my D300 that I'd bother wet wiping it. Furthermore, zooms cannot automatically limit lens changes if things like superfast or macro need to be done. The only two points in buying zooms is to very quickly be able to change the focal length or to have one compact lens to cover a number of focal lengths. If these are not the primary goals, then the available lens selection grows much larger.
  34. I would suggest a combination of standard zoom (28-70/2.8 Nikkor or 24-70/2.8 Nikkor) plus three primes: AF-S 50/1.4G Nikkor for low light situations, AF 20/2.8 Nikkor for wide angle and 180/2.8 Nikkor. The D700 deserves to have a good FX lens on it.
  35. For wide angle, even though you don't want a zoom, I have to say that Nikon's 17-35 is just SWEET on FX, rivaling or exceeding any of the wide angle f2.8 primes in that range. That's one zoom you should really consider.
    Then a 50mm f1.4 and an 85mm f1.4 and BAM, you have something special.
  36. You've had excellent advice. The big zooms are great but they are also GREAT... as in very large. If you're trying to be discrete, stick with primes.
    Quotes I would support:
    "Seems like you are making a LOT of compromises on lens quality just to put a ton of money into a camera body. "... do not put any Sigma glass on a D700, you might as well use a D70s and save your money.
    "28mm f1.4
    50mm f1.4 (have)
    85mm f1.4

    Luxury lenses that are nice to have
    14-24 f2.8
    24-70 f2.8 (have)
    105 macro VR
    I absolutely concur (but try the 85 f1.8 instead to save a couple hundred bucks) and would only add an older 35 F2 if 28 is wide beyond your needs. A used 28mm f1.4 (it's out of production) will set you back well over $3000.
    In zooms, consider a 35-70 f2.8 AF-D which seems to be in the range you are most often working. A lot smaller that the other f2.8 zooms, it's also under rated and under priced. You can find them for about $500 in good shape... t
  37. Shun, you buy primes basically to shoot at wide apertures, not at f8 as your posting shows.
    At that aperture, primes cannot be any different from a zoom.​
    Primes are generally faster than zooms. Of that, you're correct. But you're vastly overgeneralizing (to put it nicely) to say that photographers buy primes just to shoot them wide open. Control of DoF and an extra stop or two of speed is nice, but let's not forget about the size difference, weight difference, distortion correction and price difference, to name a few.
    At f/8 most lenses should perform about the same. Whether they are fast or slow, zoom or prime. In that sense, you're right. A test at f/8 won't show a darn thing! But it does. The quality between the three is noticeably different (if you can't see it right away, look for color fringing and sharpness). Tests like this are important to remind us, myself included, that a prime does not necessarily outperform a zoom lens.
  38. Natalie,
    I currently own a Nikon D200 (upgraded to it froma Nikon D70). I also invested in a medium format digital Phase One with a P20+ back (square format, 16MP).
    I have no doubt that a bigger sensor, like larger format film, provides a higher quality image. So I suggest to you to get a camera can handle for your needs and try to get the bigger sensor. I would get the D700 over the D300.
    In fact, I am considering a D700, but will likely wait just a bit. I want to see what Nikon has coming and think it is likey before the end of the year there will be another FX camera. I am in no rush at this time as my current cameras are working very well for me.
    Let us know what you decide and let us see some the results.
    Good Luck.
    Mark Sablow
  39. I'd say the 24/2.8 AF-D and 85/1.8 AF-D. If you don't do tons of super wide angle shooting consider adding the Tamron SP 17/3.5. I'd replace the DX 35/1.8 with a 35/2 AF-D (if you're moving exclusively to FX).
  40. I only recently bought a D700. Along with f2.8 zooms, I had an 85/1.4 AIS and a Kiron 105/2.8 macro lens. The only new lens I got is the Nikon 50/1.4 AFS -- right now, this is getting the most use.
  41. My recommendation, as I shoot film on fx nikon bodies and digitalon a D300, is carefully look at the pre AFS era. Look at classic AF-D legends as well as AI and AI-s manual lenses. Here you will find a world of glass that was probably only bettered in some instances in 35mm by selected Leica offerings.
    These can be had very cheaply on eBay if you keep a look out for them, as most people now want lenses that auto focus, having swallowed the camera manufacturers mantra. But as you know, there are many instances where auto focus is not a factor. Remember that Nikon has the pro photographic world at its feet for a couple of decades and they produced lenses to cater for it. Here are some very sharp, beautiful manual AI lenses to consider. Read the reviews and choose. I just bought the 180ED for $138. I don't think the seller knew what he had.
    105/1.8 & 2.5 (2.5 is a legend but freely available...probably Nikons biggest selling manual portrait lens)
    180/2.8 (later ED only)
    If you want a great zoom with auto focus that will work well on your D700 for a fraction of the AFS price, look for an 80-200/2.8 AF-D (the later one with separate focus and zoom rings). More portraits and fashion shots have probably been taken with this lens than any other.
    With these you will cover the portrait range from full length, half body and face only with glass that has few peers...even today. Today's coatings may be a little better, and AFS is a tad faster than AF-D, but actual lens quality probably isn't. Nikon today are struggling to emulate the quality in AFS today, that they had with their range ten years ago.
    With the above you will not see much depreciation and they all have resolution that does justice to the FX sensor.
  42. Chris, I agree with you that exception, a prime ``does not necessarily'' outperform a zoom lens.'' But this is more of an exception than a rule.
  43. Natalie, you state you are, in fact, getting a D700 and will, in fact, buy primes for it. The purpose of your post was, I believe, to get a recommendation as to which prime or primes you should get next.You were doing fine with your question until you threw in the last sentence:
    "Any other thoughts/recommendations?"
    What an avalanche of irrelevant yada yada that unleashed. I'm surprised no one has urged to switch toothpaste brands.
    In response to your question: I'd double the focal length of your 50s and rather than go just up to 85mm jump to the inexpensive yet excellent 105mm f2.5. At the other end, 24mm f2.8 AI or AIS. (unless manual focus is a deal breaker for you)
    Enjoy your D700. It's a wonderful camera.
  44. Natalie, what you might be missing here is that photography depends not so much on a camera as it does a SYSTEM. The lens, camera, flash, post process software etc. all do their part in a well thought out system. When you start dumping the bulk of your money on just one part of the system at the expense of the rest, your overall result suffers. I bought a refurb D300 for $1040 last fall. I generally do buy used gear whenever possible. That way I get the best stuff for my money. I too am a significant night shooter, and a good portion of my shots are ambient light or matching massive strobes to ambient light. The D300 with f2.8 zooms has performed very well. By using the less expensive D300 body (D90 would also work) I have managed to put together a FAR more capable selection of top quality lenses than you will be able to. And it's still the lens that primarily determines how sharp your photos will be, what you can photo, and how & where.
    Kent in SD
  45. Kent, I understand it perfectly well, which is why I didn't ditch my D40 when I outgrew it a year ago. Instead, I bought better lenses and CS3. But I'm at the point where a better camera body is important to me. And in another year, I'll have acquired more lenses and I'll still have a camera that delights me.
    Joe, thanks for understanding. I've learned my lesson: never post an ambiguous question on photo.net. The discussion has been interesting, though, and I thank everyone for taking the time to respond.
  46. You'll find that wide manual focus lenses are pretty easy to focus due to their wide depth of field. A used 28 2.0 AI won't cost any more than a new 28 2.8 AF-D and is a much much better lens. Perfect for street photography. Set the aperture to 22, the iso to 800 and the focus at 7 feet and you will always be in focus. That's how guys like Bruce Gilden work.
  47. Congratulations, Natalie.
    Agree with the posting regarding halving and doubling your 50mm f/1.8. Your options are delightful in the 20; 24; 28 and 35mm range and again in the 85, 105 and 135mm range. I have the 85 f1/8 and I love this lens; the 135mm f/2 and again love it for portraits. I also hang on to a 100mm Series E that works in a pinch and can be counted on at times in cramped quarters to be just the right length.
    Happy hunting.
  48. I'm about to jump to the D700, and I'm also going to be going with primes for the time being.
    There seems to be something overlooked by some, and that is that some people just prefer shooting with prime lenses. I think I may be one of those people. I also greatly prefer a full frame over DX. I vastly prefer shooting with my N80 to my D300, and it isn't just because I like the results film produces. I also just plain like the focal lengths more.
    Is the D700 "just" a stop better than D300? Possibly. I think it's a little more than that, but more importantly, no matter what, it will always be full frame. In five years, it will still be a full frame camera, just as the Canon 5D is a full frame camera four years after its introduction and still going strong, partly because of that.
    Also, that extra stop being mentioned is a lot for some people, and I think the dynamic range in the D700 is just plain better than the D300, and that ISO 1600 on the D700 looks a lot cleaner and more colorful than it does on the D300.
    It's just not about pure sharpness or even image quality in an absolute sense. It's also about shooting style and personal preference. For me, that seems to be a full frame camera, whether it's film (cheap cheap, as my N80 ran me just $60 in basically mint condition) or digital (D700, a bit more expensive).
    So, I'm selling my new D300 (which I was given as a replacement for my previous one, which was dead) and 17-55 and moving up.
  49. I think that Natalie should post some photography work and then it may become more clear what Natalie really needs, whether it's equipment, technique, composition, post-processing, etc. It's obvious that Nikon gets Natalie's money, but what does Natalie get (or need) in return?
  50. Natalie,

    Sounds like you like low light and fast lenses. I do as well, used to shoot an FE2 with tmax 3200 and a 50/1.4 - lots of fun, and I bet the D700 will be even more so.<p>

    I would get the 85/1.8, then the 24/2.8. A 24 on a full frame camera can let you get some shots indoors that you wouldn't be able to get with a 28, and the perspective for indoor shots with people is different than the 28 without being "weird". A 24 and a 90 were my favorite focal lengths for people with 35mm.
  51. Edward.... You are getting into seriously soft diffraction issues at f/22, even on the cameras with large pixel sites such as the D40 and D3/D700. You might "always be in focus" at f/22, but the results will suck (loss of contrast and details) with any lens at f/22.
  52. I would go with the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 D. Its a superb lens that can be found anywhere from $415-$480 new. Since Landscape and wide angle isn't an issue it would be a decent lens to have. You could shoot Landscape with it, its just not wide.
  53. Primes are great! I totally second you on your decision to stick with primes, that is what I am doing as well. I have zooms but primes can be very liberating, aside from image quality, primes prevent Lazy Photographer Syndrome! your zoom is your feet!
    I just bought a 20mm f2.8 nikkor and i'll have to say give it a try it is a superb optic! Also I would second your desire for an 85mm f1.8 great lens, although you might want something a little longer say 180 f2.8?
    Depending upon the type of shooting you do you may want to pick up some manual focus lenses.. if auto focus isnt an absolute nessecity. By grabbing some manual lenses you can fill out your collection for a very reasonable cost, and upgrade each lens to auto focus as you have the money. And you arent sacrificing any quality at all in the meantime. May I suggest a 105mm f2.5, or a 24mm f2.8 AIS, or even a 200mm f4 AIS, all excellent lenses and can be had for a very reasonable sum!
    Hope this helps! Good luck, would love to see some pictures! If you would like samples from that 20mm I'd be glad to supply them!
  54. There seems to be something overlooked by some, and that is that some people just prefer shooting with prime lenses. I think I may be one of those people. I also greatly prefer a full frame over DX. I vastly prefer shooting with my N80 to my D300, and it isn't just because I like the results film produces. I also just plain like the focal lengths more.​
    I love prime lenses. They have many advantages.
    - speed
    - size
    - simpler design usually means less distortion
    - depth of field scale
    - a definite purpose (i.e. I'm a 24 mm lens. Take me out and make some 24 mm compositions!)
    - encourages composition by moving around instead of twisting a ring
    - manual-focus primes have a more solid feel than motor-focused lenses
    The problem is that no matter how careful I am, I end up with dust on my sensor after a small number of lens changes. For this reason and this reason only, I tend to restrict myself to zoom lenses when shooting with a digital camera. It's a shame, and I hope that dust-cleaning technology advances to a point where this becomes less of a problem.
  55. I rethought your question and still think that you're on the right track. If you want a good low-light capability and want to do some general photography then your suggested way is the way to go. Pick up an 85/1.8 AFD and if you don't mind manual focus a 28 AI or AIS and you're all set. Just don't expect the 35/1.8 to perform miracles on FX, but if you have 50 and 28 you probably won't need 35 anyway.
  56. I think the D700 is really a fantasy camera. Smallish for a pro camera, great image quality, tremendous existing-light capability.
    I'm a prime shooter when I can be, and it's my preference. My prime kit can be simple, which I enjoy the most...D700 and 35mm/f2. But, I find I really never need more than this (which fits in a smallish bag):
    Pretty much an existing-light setup for most working distances. And, easier on the shoulder. All three lenses are lighter than a 14-24 zoom, and it makes the D700 "feel" smaller and more nimble.
  57. I have D700 and 5 lenses, all Nikkor af-d models
    if i would have to pick up three of those, they would be 20, 50 and 105.
    They are all very good and they do what I need: Portraits, landscape, close-ups.
    Sincerely, jukka
  58. Why are people recommending manual focus lenses? Is it just because they are cheap because I can't see any other reason? If you want manual focus with an autofocus lens you just flick the switch; if you want autofocus with a manual focus lens you're stuffed. If you want a high number keepers and you are taking pictures of people in action autofocus is a must.
    A test at f/8 won't show a darn thing! But it does. The quality between the three is noticeably different (if you can't see it right away, look for color fringing and sharpness). Tests like this are important to remind us, myself included, that a prime does not necessarily outperform a zoom lens.​
    Not a fair test. Most lenses perform their best about 3 stops down. A 50mm f/1.4 performs best around f/4 while the f/2.8 zoom sees its sweet spot around f/8.
  59. Natalie,
    Based on the information you gave I'd say go for D700 and a 1.4/50 mm lens. Whether the lens is AF or manual it's up to you. I doubt you would regret.
    FX is significant only to those who shoot with prime lens at 50 mm or less, because DX will turn them into short tele photo lens.
    Good luck to your decision.
  60. A 50mm f/1.4 performs best around f/4 while the f/2.8 zoom sees its sweet spot around f/8.
    Not always. The 17-55's best aperture is around 4-5.6. I think the newer zooms are basically putting the old "stopped down is best" idea out to pasture. Consumer zooms still need to be stopped down a good deal to look their best, but pro zooms hit their peaks earlier.
    People choose to get manual focus lenses because some of them are very sharp, and at focal lengths that are highly desirable to many. The AIS 105/2.5 is still popular, and I just recently saw a sharpness test between it and the 70-200 2.8. They were basically identical in sharpness.
    Different photographers have different needs, and manual focus isn't a deal breaker for some.
  61. I understand about primes. I had the 70-200 and sold it. Great lens. Too big. I had a D300. At the wide end I was either at 18 (24; on my 12-24) or 24 (35). My 50 1.4 was not quite right. My 180 2.8 was a bit long. I got a D700 and find 35 wide enough and use the 10.5 (DX hold over) when I really want wide. The 28 should be fine. The 50 was not doing for me so I got the 85 1.4. Perfect. The 85 1.8 should be fine for you. The 180 is still good. Brilliant lens. I would consider it or the 300 f/4. If you want wide, consider the 20 2.8.
    I enjoy my D700 much more than the D300 but it is a bit bigger. I am not sorry I made the switch. You won't be either.
  62. Dust tends to be more of an issue if you are shooting stopped down. I don't tend to notice it on my d300 if I'm shooting handheld at f1.4-f5.6. If I'm working with lighting and I'm shooting f11/f16 then it can become a lot more of a prominent issue.
  63. Update: I've had the D700 for a few days now and am completely blown away by it. No regrets at all.
    I will likely get a couple more primes by the end of the year, but I'm not in a hurry, as I've fallen in love with my 50s all over again. Thanks for the recommendations, everyone. I certainly have a lot of options!
  64. Do you happen to have an 85mm, Natalie? I love my 85/1.8 on my N80.
    That the D700 has less than 100% coverage in the viewfinder will be normal for me, because the N80 has about the same degree of actual coverage in the viewfinder.

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