decisions decisions...

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by burkhart, Aug 24, 2011.

  1. Hello everyone!
    I'm currently in the market for a new lens for my Nikon D90. I only have a nikon 35mm f/1.8 that I use regularly. (had a 24-120mm zoom that i sold recently) So I'm looking for a 2nd lens to give myself more options when out in the field. Since most of my photography is from just random walks through downtown charleston sc (where i live), portability is a factor when choosing. I dont wanna heft a heavy bag full of glass around with me. The 35mm i'm using is pretty useful as a walkaround lens, but it's sometimes limiting.
    so here's what i'm considering...
    First off... the Nikon 85mm f/1.8d. I've heard great things about this lens, bokeh, fast (but noisy) autofocus, tack sharp.. all good things for a roughly $450 lens. My concern... might be too long of a focal length for a casual walkaround lens. especially on a DX format camera.
    Second.. a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2. Again, heard great things about this lens as well. optical quality, physical construction, etc.. one big drawback for this lens is the price. At roughly $725, it's a few hundred dollars more than the nikon counterpart. Also, it's manual focus only. This can be a plus or minus. I like the idea of being "in touch" with the focus and operation of the lens, but having autofocus is pretty convenient. especially when walking around looking for random photo ops. BUT.. i think it might challenge me and improve my skills if i'm not leaning on my camera to focus for me. And with having a 35mm already, I dunno if a 50mm will give me that much when it comes to variations of composition.
    At a distant third... I'm playin with the idea of getting a normal zoom. Probably Nikon's 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6. I've heard it's a pretty decent lens as far as zooms go (at least for the price range.) To me, though, zoom lenses are convenient when it comes to focal length and framing shots, but take a hit in the distortion, vignetting, and as some may argue, sharpness when compared to its prime lens brethren. Also, I think i'd feel limited with having a max aperture of f/3.5. I'm kinda spoiled to being able to get shallow depth of field when I want it.
    So if y'all have any ideas or opinions... especially if you have experience with the above lenses.. I'd love to hear what ya have to say! please keep in mind i'm on somewhat of a budget... anything over 1000 is probably out of my range.
    Thanks a million!!
  2. I had the Nikon 85mm f1.8D and it was the very worst lens I've ever owned. It flares very easily and has tons of purple fringing (CA.) It might be good as a studio portrait lens, but I used it (or tried to) as a general purpose outdoor photography lens. Horrible. The 50mm is really too close to 35mm to give you much you don't already have. The very obvious (to me) choice for a flexible lens with good performance is the Nikon 16-85mm VR. The VR really works. It could actually be sharper than the 50mm lens since I'm assuming you aren't using a tripod. Sharpness largely comes from a tripod in real life. The 16-85mm VR is versatile, flexible, has great image quality, and gives you something you don't have--a wide lens. I can't imagine owning a D90 and have a 35mm as my widest lens. I might give up photography if I was stuck with that. Another lens to consider is a Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS. OS= Nikon VR. Very fast, versatile, and gives you a w--i--d--e option you don't have.
    Kent in SD
  3. Anthony said:
    (had a 24-120mm zoom that i sold recently)​
    Why did you sell that lens?
  4. The AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 is a fun lens on DX--great for portraits. My 85mm is relatively free of excessive CA.
    Anthony said:
    Probably Nikon's 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6.​
    Unless you only want to shoot daylight exteriors, I think that lens is just too slow. Maybe, instead, get the AF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR for your wide stuff. Though it's just as slow, at least it's only $99 for a refurbished copy.
    Second.. a Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2.​
    Just get either the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-D or AF-S, or the 85mm f/1.8. If you can swing it, get both--the more-affordable, 50mm f/1.8, and the 85mm f/1.8. Again, I love 85s on DX bodies.
  5. Kent... Good to know about the lens flare with the 85mm. That's definitely a concern when taking outdoor/urban photos. You make a good point about getting a wider lens. I do landscape shots often, so it'd definitely be nice to have. I'll check into that sigma too... have you used that lens yourself? any issues with it?
    Ralph... I sold that lens for a variety of reasons. First off, it was the older 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 with the first gen VR. I've heard the newer 24-120mm F/4 is a much better version. But to answer the question, I just really wasnt happy with the performance of it. had pretty bad distortion at 24mm.. and generally wasnt too sharp. plus I needed the cash at the time and decided to sacrifice it.
    I've considered the nikon 50mm f/1.4D against the Zeiss.. but I'm not sure a 50mm will be useful if i'm already using a 35mm. I've heard good things about the 85 (and some not so good things, as Kent posted). Sounds like CA might be an issue I need to look into further.
    thanks for your opinions! I'll definitely consider them when I finally make my choice.
  6. For someone who use zooms regularly there is not a big difference between 35 and 50. For a prime user they are very different. IMHO 50/1.8 AF-S is a nice piece of glass and very performant for its price tag.
    If 50mm is still a concern you can think at Tamron 60/2 macro and you hit several rabbits with a bullet.
    I see that you are not very concerned in the wide part - for a street shooter with a DX camera Tamron 28-75/2.8 is a steal for the money if 28 is not limiting you. Small, lightweight, inexpensive and incredible IQ.
  7. I just got a 85mm 1.4 Samyang/Rikinon MF LENS but only $300 and super sharp from B&H just make sure you get the the $300 model or you will not be able to use the AF lock light with the $250 model..
    Im really enjoying
    That and you can pickup a used 50mm @eBay for about $100 just look for a seller that says lighty used..
  8. Kent's experience with the 85 f/1.8D is much worse than most people seem to have with this lens. I would agree in the OP the lens is given a bit too much credit, but mine sure isn't as bad as Kent's lens seem to have been. "bokeh, fast (but noisy) autofocus, tack sharp"; well, bokeh is allright (but not world class), AF is not that noisy and not all that fast at all (I have it on D300), and it is very sharp, when stopped down to ~f/2.8. Mine is not very sharp near wide open. I do not have serious problems with flare on my copy; CA a bit, and it's blue-ish. But not a huge problem either.
    In my view, it is a very decent lens for the price, but whether it makes the most sense for what you are looking for is another point.
    Personally, I find 50mm on a DX camera an useless length; it's too short for portraits, too long for most other things. It's indeed a bit too close to 35mm too, so I doubt whether it will really add something for you.
    The 16-85VR is a very solid choice if you do not need wide apertures. As walk-around lens it covers a very useful range, it's sharp and VR works well. It's a bit expensive for its slow aperture, but in all other ways, it's a very good lens. It's not less sharp than many primes, and distortion is only really an issue at 16mm (at 18, it's already fine). So, the only performance hit you take is the aperture.
    Despite AF coming in handy, maybe checking for second hand manual focus lenses may be interesting too. For around $250, you can find excellent copies of the 105mm f/2.5, which is a stellar lens; I certainly like it better than the 85 f/1.8. Also, if you do not go for a zoom, I'd consider adding a 24mm prime. Older Ai versions do not cost a lot and are quite good, small and light.
    Now, everybody has a different style, so to disclaim my ideas here: for 'street-like' walk around I typically use a 24, 35 and 105 prime (all MF); for situations where I am less sure which lengths I'll use, like citytrips or parties where flexibility is more useful, I take my 16-85VR instead; I prefer the primes but it's not always the most convenient solution. For this alone, I find the 16-85 worth its money.
  9. Look at photozone. On the D90 sensor, the 16-85VR, 17-55, 18-55VR and 18-105VR are very similar in resolution. Maybe the 17-55 and 16-85VR have a slight advantage in corner resolution. Only the 16mp D7000 sensor starts to differentiate between these lenses optically. As mentioned above, at ~$100 refurbished, or maybe less used, you can try the 18-55VR virtually for free, and it also weighs next to nothing. BTW I happily use the 18-55VR on my D7000, in part because it has significantly smaller minimum focus.
  10. Might be little off-topic but still I want to share something which I recently experienced after buying new D5100. Earlier I used to shoot with N75 film SLR coupling with 28-80 G kit (second hand), 70-300 G (cheap but Decent glass) and 50mm 1.8 (Best picture quality I am continually getting). Now when I bought D5100, I felt that its 16 mp sensor is pretty much demanding in terms of lens resolution. Let me share each lens:
    1. Forget the 28-80G, I bought 18-55 VR kit lens with D5100 so wide angle shots are covered with 18-55. I read good reviews about it so I bought 18-55 with camera. Now I found that this kit lens is more than acceptable but not capable to utilizing full strength of 16mp sensor.
    2. 70-300 mm G lens was giving decent quality with films because due to my scanner resolution limitation I never could know the full strength of this lens. Now when I shoot with D5100, it surrenders beyond 200mm, and only usable after f-8 below 200mm, I feel that 70-300mm G lens is worst than 18-55kit lens in terms of resolution
    3. Now talk about the jam, 50mm 1.8. This remains my favorite again after switching from film to digital. This is the only lens I have which utilizes full strength of 16mp sensor. I am really delighted to see the results of this lens. I now use this lens primarily because of its results even while my D5100 doesn't autofocus with this and this lens doesn't has VR.
    So I want to tell everybody that lens resolution should also be considered in this era of high resolution sensors.
    Now I am in quest for a high resolution telephoto zoom to replace my existing 70-300mm G lens which can fully utilize the D5100's 16 mp sensor at all focal lengths.
  11. You have one of the best lenses for your camera right now-- 35mm f1.8.
    Some observations:
    • two thirds of the world's best photographs were taken with a normal focal length lens.
    • When you purchase more lenses you will be entering a new world--carrying more and changing lenses.
    • Adding a 50mm lens is actually a dramatic shift in focal length since it moves into the portrait area.
    • The small telephoto area (75-105+ -35mm equivalent) is a close second to the normal area in terms of utility and visualization. It is very important.
    • This small telephoto range is much more valuable with a maximum aperture of f2
    • This range is one of the areas for a DX camera where you can get wide apertures at a reasonable cost.
    • Wide aperture small telephoto lenses brings you into the world of depth and bokeh, subject isolation.
    • The choices would be in two groups:
    • Group A --focal lengths that are in the 75-90mm focal length
    1. 50mm f1.8 D Nikon
    2. 50mm f1.4 D Nikon
    3. 50mm f1.4 G Nikon
    4. 50mm f1.4 Zeiss ZF.2 (expensive, manual focus)
    5. 58mm f1.4 Voigtlander (manual focus)
    If you can swing it #3 would be my choice.
    • Group B -- longer focal lengths.
    1. 70mm f2.8 macro from Sigma
    2. 85mm f1.8 Nikon
    I have the 85mm f1.8 lens. This is a terrific lens. The positive reviews from users are many.
    By the way all lenses have some problems. This lens is not a dog.
    Good luck with your decision!
    P.S. The wide angle area is also another area of concern.
  12. I have a D90 that I use with the 16-85mm and I think that lens is a great option for what you do. Granted, you will not have the creativity you get with a prime lens and possibly not the same level of sharpness. But the flexibility of that lens will give you an idea of what focal lengths other than 35mm you like best. I think an 85mm prime is a great lens for a DX format camera and meshes will with the 35mm, but you will be switching lenses often. And the 16-85mm is really sharp even at some of its wider apertures. The only downside to that lens is the variable f-stop, but if you are out in daytime light you shouldn't have too many problems.
  13. I don't have any experience with fixed focal length on my D300 other than my recently purchased Sigma 30/1.4. I do have a lot of experience with my Nikon 17-55 f/2.8. It is a tremendously versatile lens for general purpose walking around. The Sigma and Tamron equivalents are reported to be quite good at a much lesser cost than the Nikon. The low light capability is awesome. Today's zooms in this range from the above mentioned brands are quite excellent.
    My eyes aren't as good as they used to me so manual focus is not fun. Auto focus and zoom allow me to concentrate more on composition.
    Good luck,
  14. tokina 12-24 would pair well witht he 35 as a street shooter kit. my preference would be wider, not longer.
  15. Here my first choice would be the Nikkor 17-55/2.8. If you don't want to spend that much the 18-55VR offers a lot of value for the money. It is not a fast lens, but the VR really helps in low light.
  16. To give an idea of what results I was getting from the Nikon 85mm f1.8D, I've attached a sample shot. This didn't happen with every shot of course, but it happened often enough that it ruined a number of important shots for me. Maybe one in five? I do tend to shoot in some pretty demanding light as an outdoor shooter. If I were to buy an 85mm lens it would absolutely be the Sigma 85mm f1.4. It's the best of the bunch I think. Still, I don't see any need for it as my Nikon f2.8 zooms are performing so well for me. For a general purpose lens on a Nikon DX camera I would take a hard look at either the 16-85mm VR or the newer 24-120 f4 VR. The versatility is hard to beat and the VR really works. One of the things I don't like about single focal lenses is that when you can't frame the image tightly and have to crop down, you are in effect cropping off resolution. Attached: a shot made with the 85mm f1.8D that I had. The CA/purple fringing isn't very subtle, to say the least.
    Kent in SD
  17. Wow Kent.. that's just horrible! If I got results like that from a lens on a regular basis, I'd be pretty frustrated, to say the least!
    I'm thinking, after reading all these posts (thanks everyone!), the regular zoom lens is probably the best fit for what i'm doing. The 16-85mm is getting good reviews, so I'm probably gonna lean toward that. If price wasnt an issue, I'd be looking at nikon's 17-55mm f/2.8 or maybe their 24-85mm f/2.8. But for the price range I'm looking to stay in, the 16-85mm will fit nicely. I think for random walk around photos, that'll give me a good range. Pair that with my 35mm 1.8 for when I need shallow DoF, I should do just fine. Then as time goes on, I can add on various prime lenses to open up a range of options.
    Down the road, however, I do want to obtain a tele lens. I would like to get something that would allow me to capture candid street portraits and have a wide enough aperture to be able to isolate the subject. i've read a few good reviews of nikon's 105mm f/2.0 DC. Anyone have any experience with their DC lenses? If I can, I might try and rent that lens for a day and see how it handles.
  18. Hi Anthony,
    Sounds like you've made up your mind for now, but when you're looking for primes in the future, just keep in mind that manual focus lenses (other than the chipped ones mentioned) wont meter on your D90 either. And if you're stuck between the 50 and 85's based on budget, (and I'll throw in another vote for 50 mm being useful on DX), keep looking... my used 85 1.8 was $300, so you could actually get that *and* the 50 1.8 for the $450 you were considering ;)
    My only input for zooms would be to take a look at the Tamron if you were hoping for a 17-50 ish 2.8 but your budget's pushing you to the 16-85. Nothing wrong with that lens, though.
  19. Mike,
    Oh I'm far from being settled on what i'm gonna get. The zoom makes sense for an easy walk around lens... and as far as those go, the 16-85 sounds like a pretty good lens. I'm still a big fan of prime lenses, though. I'm with you, Brad, and others here who have said the 50mm isnt a wasted investment. But if i'm only going to have 2 lenses for a while, a 35 and 50 might not give me much range until I pick up something else. Your idea of getting both a 85mm 1.8 and a 50mm 1.8 is a good one. It's definitely something to consider.
    Now of course, this isnt the ONLY lens I'll ever buy. If I had the money, I've got several lenses I'd love to get right away. But since that isnt really an option, I'm getting one (or maybe two) at a time.. and over the next year or so, build up a good collection of glass. Mostly, my decisions is based on what would be good to get next, rather than picking just one lens and calling it a day. The idea of having a good general purpose zoom for walk around or travel, then backing it up with various primes for more creativity, sounds like a good plan to me. It's just a matter of what order I want to pick up these lenses.
  20. Oh and in reference to the manual focus lenses... I'm sure I'll be getting a chipped lens to be able to use the in-camera metering. When looking at the Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 ya gotta pay a little more for the "ZF.2" vs the "ZF"... the difference being chipped in the ZF.2. I've never personally used a Zeiss, but i've heard a LOT of good praise over them. Whether or not they're worth the extra $ over the nikon counterpart is, I'm sure, debatable.
  21. For random walk around shooting the 24-120 lens was good one. 85 prime is specific lens and will not serve you well for what you
    aiming for. As far as 50 mm your 35 mm is equivalent to 50 mm on dx

    You need general zoom lens depend on your budget
    16-85, 18-105, 18-200 are good lenses and will serve you well

    However if you can afford 24-70 f2.8 & 70-200 f2.8 are two best lenses manufactured by all nikon, sigma, tamron

    I am canon user and using 28-135 most of the time and having good result
    50 mm & 85 mm are used rarely
  22. I think 20/35/85 is a nice kit for walking around/holidays/events if you don't mind lenschanging.
    For me (!) 20mm is just wide enough on DX, and 85 on DX is nice for shooting street/candid/portraits.
    With your budget you could get a Nikon 85 1.8 (I have the 1.4 myself, but have shot with the 1.8 on a D90 and like it) and a Nikon 20mm 2.8 (some feel this is not the best lens, but I like it a lot!), new or used.Another option could be a Voightlander 20mm (MF)
  23. How about Nikon 28-300mm AF-S VR plus a wide angle? That would cover most situations.

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