Help with my lens setup

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by allan_martin, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. Hello!

    I have a D7000 and I'm about to move to another country for more than 1 year. I really want to bring all my camera gear with me but it's just NOT practical at all. The more lenses I ditch the better. I'm willing to sell them and buy different ones if it takes.
    I was thinking about 4 lenses MAXIMUM, 3 would be perfect. I'm really lost and I've already tried to analyse which focal length I use more, which lenses I use more and ended up with no ideas.
    Here's what I got right now:
    35, 50, 85 primes
    sigma 17-50, 2.8
    sigma 10-20, 4.5
    sigma 105 2.8
    Couple things worth mentioning so you guys can help me out:
    I don't use my tripod often. If I could I'd shoot always handheld 1.8 or 2.8.
    I don't use longer FL a lot. However, I'd like to have a 18-200 or 18-140, if possible. (Still not sure if it's worth giving up the 2.8 for more FL though).
    I need one UWA. I just love that. However I think I could use the tokina 11-16, 2.8 instead of the sigma, right? Easier handhelds, 17-20 FL is not wasted.
    I need at least one prime. Which I'm clueless about which one to choose. I love them all.
    Lots of info but WHAT DO YOU THINK!? Anyone willing to enlighten me?
  2. looking at the list and your comments, I'd go with 17-50, 10-20, 35, and then either the 105 or 70-300 (depending on whether you needed macro or reach more... you say you don't shoot long FLs a lot.
    And yes, if it were me, I'd ditch the 10-20 and get the excellent 11-16.
    I'm mystified as to why you can't just bring it all, though. Will you be traveling around a lot?
    If so, I'd ditch DX and get a µ43 setup.
  3. Yeah I'll probably be travelling and moving a lot. So many lenses will turn out to be a burden instead of joy. However I enjoy very much my D7000 and I really don't plan on keeping only my Canon S120. Couldnt live without my DSLR. Just gotta make it "lighter".
    I liked your idea. But how about getting a 18-200? For me it would kind of be replacing the 17-50, 105 and 70-300. The thing is it's not 2.8. I think I might get frustrated after using my 17-50 2.8 for so long.
  4. OK, here is my two cents. I'd take 11-16, 50 and 70-200+1.4 extender. If you do longer reach stuff photos, I'd get 300/4 vs longer zoom. Also, instead 85, I'd get Tammy 90/2.8 macro (two functions in one lens). Monopod + a beanbag....and be done.
  5. Hmm. I'd be quite tempted to swap the 105mm Sigma for the 150mm f/2.8 macro. That's probably just about short enough, even on DX, for portrait use (I often use a 200mm on FX, but I'll admit it might flatten noses a bit). That's a fast, long lens that's good at subject isolation and lets you keep a macro. It's not exactly tiny, though, if that's why you're ditching lenses. If you're not keen on longer focal lengths, that may be the wrong place to spend your money, though.

    If think very carefully before getting an 18-200 - it really won't make the most of your D7000. It's convenient to have a general-purpose lens on the camera just in case, but it's optically compromised and not that small or cheap. I'd look at an RX100 or similar as an alternative.

    Of the smaller primes, I'd lean towards the 50 or 85mm, just for portraiture reasons. That's another reason to have a gap to the longer macro; it's also more differentiation from the 70-300, if you want to keep that. If you have an ultrawide and the 70-300, I might err towards the 50 or 35mm end to split the difference, though. And there are plenty of people who love normal lenses and who would definitely like a 35mm - my preferences may be different.

    I like wide angles, but I defer to the expertise of others when it comes to DX options.

    I'm not really one for mid-range zooms, so in your place, I'd go 11-16, 35mm, 70-300 and 150mm macro. (On FX, I often carry a 14-24, 70-200 and the 150mm macro, with a rarely-used 50mm just in case. If I need a big telephoto I'll carry one separately.) But if everyone thought like me, the typical kit lens wouldn't be an 18-55, and nobody would buy the 24-70 f/2.8, so YMMV.

    My $.02. Hope it helps.
  6. 18-200? Absolutely not, unless you aren't ever going to zoom all the way in wide open and/or print above about 5 x 7.
    The 18-200 was a good lens with 6MP was the state of the art (when I owned one), but I wouldn't own one today.
    Traveling a lot? I have to say, I'm seriously thinking about chucking it all for an OMD, since you can get so much more in such a smaller space. I have found myself only traveling with one or two lenses when I carry my D90 around... I'd rather have more lenses with me in smaller space.
  7. I travel light.
    When I go out to take photos I travel very light - D90 (with battery grip) and one lens on it. Sometimes I also put my SB700 and off-camera cord in my pocket.
    If it was me, I'd take: the Sigma 10-20mm, the 35mm and 85mm primes, and a decent flash. If you want macro, maybe swap the Sigma 105 for the 85; but I love my 85mm.
    I have the Sigma 10-20. I don't recall ever wishing I had f/2.8 (and I never use a tripod unless its dark).
    I have a walkaround zoom (the 18-105) I never use it.
    But that's me, and I only have myself to please :)
  8. @peter: What about the 18-140?
    @andrew and chris: I forgot to mention that I and the 35mm, we dont get along so well. Every time I go with the 35mm I end up wishing I had more or less FL. I really need a zoom for that range, I need an all-rounder no matter what.

    At first the 18-140 could be used as my main lens and also as a long-range (when Im feeling in to it). As I said, I dont need longer FL that much, but it would be nice to have as an add-on. So I need to find a way to replace the 70-300, which I'll rarely use, but still having at least 150mm. (sigmas 150mm $1k tag is way too much for something that I dont prioritize).
    One possibility I'm thinking right now is UWA, prime, 18-140, macro.
  9. It's hard to answer for you - to which extend will you miss the wide apertures? For me, going back from my (fast) primes to a variable aperture zoom would make me miss the creative option of shallow DoF each and every time.
    For starters, I would see no reason to change the Sigma 10-20 to a Tokina 11-16. The sigma is not a bad lens by any stretch of imagination, and nothing in your post makes me think you'd want f/2.8 and less range on your UWA. Keep the one you have if you're happy with it.
    In fact, I'd keep as much as possible the lenses you already have. The Sigma 17-50, why replace it? For the long end - something like the Sigma 150 macro (apart from the price) isn't much smaller and lighter than a 70-300. Even if you do not use the 150-300 range, those lenses remain a very cost-effective solution.
    So a lot hinges on how much you use the primes, but given your own replies so far, it seems you're more into zooms than primes (if it was me, I'd take the UWA and the three primes, but that's me and hence has got no value for you). Why do you need one prime? What exactly does it need to bring to the table? Macro, portraiture, or... ? Is the "bulk" of a 50mm really an issue? The focal length is a choice really only you can make.
    All in all, don't make this too complicated and don't start changing all your gear, especially if you don't have to. You've got a good rounded kit, now rationalise for yourself what you definitely cannot do without, and what you use the least, and draw the list.
  10. On a D7100 I've settled with just Tokina 11-16mm f2.8, Nikon 17-55mm f2.8, Nikon 80-400mm AF-S. This has been working very well for me. Keeping the 70-300mm VR instead of a 80-400mm would make your bag even more compact.
    Kent in SD
  11. Allan: Okay, take two. :) And I'm sympathetic about the normal prime - I also don't find I like 50mm much on FX (though I'm looking at the new Sigma with some interest), but I don't find a zoom any better. I tend to jump straight from moderate wide-angle (35mm, on FX, and that's a stop-gap from my 14-24) to the 70mm end of moderate telephoto. I wasn't suggesting the 150mm for a size saving, by the way - I was suggesting it as a replacement portrait lens, telephoto and macro (instead of a long zoom, something like an 85 f/1.8, and the 105mm macro you have). As one lens, it's not a saving; if it can replace three, it is. But only if you think it can really replace three lenses.

    Let's take Wouter's advice about the Sigma - I actually don't have much use for a fast wide-angle, since camera shake is such a non-issue; I have the 14-24 because it's good, not because it's fast.

    If you really want a zoom that covers the mid-range, and with the proviso that I don't shoot DX and might be missing something, how about a 16-85? That covers the obvious range conveniently, with a bit of overlap with the Sigma, or neatly abutting the 11-16 (though you might not want to have to use the ends of the 16-85 unless you have to). I don't really see the need for speed in this range either. Speed mostly (yes, there are exceptions) helps with subject isolation and shutter speed, which means portrait lenses and telephotos (to me).

    If 140mm is enough length for you, maybe the 18-140 (or cheaper 18-135) is the way to go. If not, I might wonder about either the 50-150 Sigma or the 70-200 f/4, abutting a shorter zoom. Or, with some money and weight, maybe the 18-35 and 50-150 combination. If you feel the need for speed in a small package, the 11-16, 18-35, 50-150 combo is arguably the way to get it.

    You'd still be down a macro and arguably a portrait lens. That's normally the combination where a Tamron 60mm f/2 gets mentioned, though you'll certainly feel the lack of working distance compared with the 105mm. On FX, I found the 150mm Sigma much easier to work with than the 90mm Tamron, though that's partly because it has VR and partly because the Tamron's optics start so far back into the lens.

    Not sure I'm helping, so I'll shut up at this point. :)
  12. One possibility I'm thinking right now is UWA, prime, 18-140, macro.​
    Taking into account your follow up posts, this sounds like a good solution for you. But which prime?

    Shallow DoF portraits are very important to me, so my decision would be heavily influenced by the asthetic quality of portraits taken with the Sigma 105 at f/2.8. If acceptable, I'd take the 35mm prime, (but sounds like you might prefer the 50mm). If not I'd have to take the 85mm.

    What will you use the prime for?

    Nb. The 35mm and 50mm are small enough to count as one lens ;-)
  13. My 2 cents worth: Tokina 11-16/2.8, Sigma 18-35/1.8 - for those you can ditch your 35, 50, 17-50, and 10-20. #3 would be either the 50 or the 85. And to cover whatever need may arise on the long end, #4 is 70-300 (add a diopter to cover close-up photography). But that's me - I finally realized that I have no need for a 50mm on DX - absolutely none whatsoever (and not on FX either). A gap between 35 and 70 or even 85mm doesn't bother me at all; YMMV. So maybe the 50 is the one for you to keep - instead of the 85. It would also eliminate the overlap with the 70-300.
  14. Andrew, dont stop posting man. I like your posts. I'll get back to your thoughts in a sec.
    Taking into account your follow up posts, this sounds like a good solution for you. But which prime?​
    Prime is the least of my worries, but yes, it'll be the 50mm or the 85mm. That is a nice solution, for sure, if I didn't know 2.8 existed. I mean, if I'm able to make it with the 18-140, I'd trade my current setup for it. It would definitely make things easier. But I'm pretty sure I'll miss the constant 2.8.
    Am I overvaluing the 17-50 constant speed? What do you think?
  15. I have a Sigma 30mm f1.4 which is very nice on a D7100, but I virtually never use it. I don't take it with me for travel. I was using a Sigma 85mm f1.4 for paid portraits, but ended up selling it too due to lack of use. Single focal lenses aren't very versatile and for me they mostly just add weight.
    Kent in SD
  16. Am I overvaluing the 17-50 constant speed? What do you think?​
    Not if you're using f/2.8 a lot. Not if you're at f/4 or below at the long end often. In all other cases: yes, you're overvaluing it. But in the end, your lenses have to fit your style of working. Kent doesn't like primes, I instead would first sell my zooms and keep only primes. There is no single answer here.
    But again: why make so many changes? What is wrong with 10-20, 17-50, 70-300 and a prime of choice? The 70-300 is nor that large, nor that heavy. Why make "sacrifices" as going to a large range zoom if you have perfectly fine lenses already? I am asking again because you happily seem to ignore the thought. But maybe your lens setup does not need an overhaul to start with? I moved abroad too, and just had all my gear (quite a bit more than what you have) sent over; when travelling I bring whatever I feel I need, as I did before. It never crossed my mind to sell my lenses, loose money over that while FedEx/UPS/DHL/etc. can easily ship them over for you at a fraction of the money lost over selling it all second hand.
    If you insist, yes, the 18-140 does look good, seems much better option than the 18-200 to me.
  17. The Sigma 17-50 is excellent, and that can be your everyday walkaround. The ultrawide and 70-300 are good choices. So really the fourth lens can be whatever you want most. If you actually do a lot of macro the choice is easy. If you are more of a portrait shooter, take the 85.
  18. Personally, I have had mixed results with third party lenses, so I tend to stick to Nikon now. IF you are never planning to go to FX, I would suggest a basic kit of the 12-24 DX, which I find optically good from 12 to about 18 and excellent above, and which also takes filters; the Nikon 24-120 F4 is a great walk around lens, constant aperture and I find very sharp. Some pooh-pooh the distortion, but I'm not into architecture so it is not that big a deal; the 70-200 F4 lens is as sharp as its f2.8 big brother and a joy to use. That would be my basic three lenses. If into macro, I would look at the 85mm DX lens. A friend has that and is quite pleased with it. I like the 105mm f2.8 macro....but that is a lot heavier. Throw in the prime that you think best suits your needs and perhaps a 1.4 extender, and you have a four, maybe five, lens outfit (if you really think you will need the longer reach, keep the 70-300 lens. Nice lens, but not as sharp, in my opinion, as the 70-200).
  19. Okay guys, I'd like to thank everyone for really helping me out. Ive taken the first step towards my final decision!
    What I know for sure now, rock solid:
    UWA, 17-50 2.8 and 18-140.
    The last decision I gotta make is:
    50mm prime + sigma 105mm macro 2.8
    60mm 2.8 macro + 85mm prime
  20. <<50mm prime + sigma 105mm macro 2.8>>
    What do you gain by packing two more lenses? I used to carry a macro lens but felt I didn't use it enough on trips. I value compactness and less weight more. My solution was to buy a Canon 500D, a two element diopter that screws on the end of my 80-400mm like a filter. This gives me very close focus and acts as a very high quality zoom macro. The image quality is excellent, and it takes up a tiny fraction of the space a macro lens would. Another excellent brand is Marumi.
    Kent in SD
  21. UWA, 17-50 2.8 and 18-140.
    This seems like a lot of overlap among all 3 of your lenses and feels inefficient - how much of the time do you think you'll be shooting between 17 and 50? The 70-300 seems like a better fit in this mix and saves you some cash for something else. If you're set on having that extra bit of reach perhaps consider something like Tokina f/2.8 50-135 (i own this and like it a lot) or one of the Sigma 50-150s, both are quite decent lenses.
    Frankly, I like Dieter's suggestion of the 11-16, 18-35 (i am considering going this direction for my DX kit) and then add a 50-150 or keep the 70-300, and then I'd pick the 85mm for your prime as that could possibly do double duty along with the short tele-zoom for macro/closeup purposes. This is not necessarily a lightweight kit though.
    However, think if i was truly trying to 'go light' I'd be looking at a Fuji X-something kit and ditch the dslr.
  22. This seems like a lot of overlap among all 3 of your lenses and feels inefficient​
    Exactly what I was thinking when I saw the rock solid: UWA, 17-50 2.8 and 18-140.
    In that scenario, the 17-50 seems unnecessary - all it gives you is f/2.8. And if you need that often (you say you often shoot at f/1.8 - f/2.8), then what's the 18-140 doing in there? Especially if you consider still taking two primes along that are in the same range - what happend to 3 - max. 4 lenses?

    If you really don't care about long - then stick with what you have: 10-20, 17-50, 85, 105 macro; it has the benefit of being the cheapest solution since you don't have to purchase anything.
    My solution was to buy a Canon 500D, a two element diopter that screws on the end of my 80-400mm like a filter.​
    Exactly what I've been doing (and suggested above). 500D works well on the 70-200 VR too.
  23. Yeah you do have a point. Let's leave that for later then.
    What do you think about 50mm prime + sigma 105mm macro 2.8 vs 60mm 2.8 macro + 85mm prime
  24. What do you think about 50mm prime + sigma 105mm macro 2.8 vs 60mm 2.8 macro + 85mm prime

    Personal preference on the one hand and practical issues on the other. 60mm macro vs 105mm macro is mostly a matter of what you shoot - if working distance is important, then the 105 is the ticket (or longer).
    50 vs 85 prime - matter of personal preference. Many like the 50 on DX for portraits - I rather use the 85.
    60 and 85 are very close together - one should have a very good reason to haul both along. Same with my suggestion of 85 and 105 together - only warranted IMO if you shoot a lot of macro and on the other hand need f/1.8 a lot in a similar focal length range. For shallow DOF applications there really isn't a lot of difference between 85 a f/1.8 and 105 at f/2.8 - though naturally the OOF rendering (dare I say bokeh?) depends on the particular lens. The macro lens is the more versatile one - the 85 can't do double duty for macro.
    Carrying a 17-50 OS and a 50/1.8 prime seems a bit of an overkill to me - unless you are shooting f/1.8 all the time.
    10-20, 17-50, 105 macro is the "minimalist" 3 three lens kit that seems to be the most versatile to me.
  25. Hey Dieter very nice insights!
    But then I'd be fastglassless? Either way you really don't see them being useful? Lightweight, smaller, wider aperture, low light shots possibility. Maybe there's even more to primes than I've mentioned.
  26. Belatedly... I used to use my Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro as a short portrait lens (I did have a 135 f/2). I eventually got frustrated enough at the lack of isolation that I got a Samyang 85mm f/1.4. Shortly after, Nikon came out with the 85 f/1.8 AF-S, which I've recently acquired, because manual focus is a pain when subjects don't hold still.

    I tend not to care much about short, fast lenses. You still don't get that much subject separation, and the wide angle means camera shake, and therefore shutter speed, is usually less of a problem. I do care about fast, long lenses.

    However, I agree that 85 f/1.8 is only a bit faster than the 105 f/2.8 when it comes to subject separation. I'm not totally sure I'd justify having the 50mm prime as well as the 85mm, but if we're talking the f/1.8 versions then neither is exactly big. (The AF-D 50mm is pretty tiny, unless you compare it to the manual focus versions.)

    For three lenses, I'd probably not argue with Dieter, with the proviso that I don't really care about normal zooms. So actually, I'd probably go 10-20, 70-300, and plug the gap with a 50mm (or 60mm f/2 macro). But that's just me. Maybe 10-20, 18-140 and the 105mm macro would be more flexible (I'd want more reach than 105mm), but you'd be shooting short portraits at a slow aperture.

    Actually, I'd a) save up, b) end up with a large credit card bill, and c) get a bigger camera bag. I'm so terrible at travelling light I don't know why I'm even trying to help!
  27. However, I agree that 85 f/1.8 is only a bit faster than the 105 f/2.8 when it comes to subject separation.
    but you'd be shooting short portraits at a slow aperture.​
    Hey Andrew! You got me confused right there. Is the 85mm really worth it over the double duty provided by the 105mm? (Not only talking portraits, which is the certain thing that both can accomplish, but everything else one could do with either the 85mm or the 105mm).
  28. I think you can do an awful lot with a 40mm equivalent lens, in you case 28mm. If you get away from your original set, a 28mm and just two more lenses could do a lot. Maybe add a 105mm VR for macro and portraits. Add your wide zoom and you have it. A 90mm Tamron could replace the 105.
  29. Hey Roy.
    I guess so. That's what I'm planning on doing, eventually.
    Though I don't see why I'd get a tamron 90mm. My current dilemma is keeping the 85mm 1.8 vs the sigma 105mm 2.8 macro.
  30. Though I don't see why I'd get a tamron 90mm. My current dilemma is keeping the 85mm 1.8 vs the sigma 105mm 2.8 macro.​

    Just thinking a little shorter for portrait with macro, but the 105 is great. I have always liked a 28mm on DX, and now I have a 40mm for my Df, and it is more handy than any other FL, IMO.
  31. Perhaps a different idea, why not let a friend of your hold the lenses that you don't take. This way you will have them when you come back, plus if you find you need/want a lens you left behind have your friend mail it to you.
  32. Thanks gordon, that's a nice idea. However some extra cash could be good right now. And since I bought the lenses in the US but I'm not in the US, I'll actually get a little bit more than I paid for when I sell them.
    I'm leaning towards keeping the 105mm over the 85mm. Any objections?
  33. I don’t think we could tell you what to bring Allan because that will depend on too many factors that ultimately only you can decide as a photographer. As you can see, everybody have a different opinion about your question. You should be able to determine by yourself, exactly what is it that you need.
    For example, if you like to shoot architecture, antique buildings ( inside and outside ), etc, I will definitely bring a wide angle lens ( 11-16 Tokina or any other in that range ); if you like macro photography, then a 100mm Tokina or 105 mm f/2.8 Nikon will be the answer; again, only you know what type of photographer you are and what is it that you need.
    Listen to your inner voice and needs and you will decide exactly what to bring. Nobody know you better than yourself and everybody will have a different approach to make this kind of decision. Have a happy shooting !
  34. Ah, you had me at 35, 50 & 85 primes!
  35. The 85 f/1.8 is a bit better at subject isolation than the 105 f/2.8, but generally it comes down to the distance to the subject and the distance to the background. Depth of field is generally mostly controlled by relative aperture, for the same subject framing - if the background is near to the foreground, it will be blurred more by an f/1.8 lens than an f/2.8 lens (wide open) no matter the focal length. Distant background blur is affected by focal length (because you proportionately zoom the blurry background more with a longer lens), and the numbers eventually cancel out so that it's the absolute size of the aperture that counts. And 85mm/1.8 is not much bigger than 105mm/2.8. So if you like blurry ears, the 85mm probably has a more significant effect than if you like blurry mountains.

    There's an argument that the "classic" portrait lengths are between the film equivalent of 85mm and 135mm - depending on how much of the subject is included. Longer than 135mm (such as the 150mm+ that you get from using a 105mm macro on a DX body) arguably makes portraits look a bit "flat" - the nose is typically shrunk, the ears enlarged compared with a closer view (face-on, obviously). Frankly, I find the effect minor, and I'm more worried about being so far from the subject that I have to shout - Joe McNally uses a 200mm f/2 for portraits, which makes me feel justified in doing the same. Still, if this bothers you, maybe the 85mm has some merits over the 105.

    However, I tend to want as much working distance as I can get with a macro lens (with the occasional exception of wanting to shoot straight down on a table), so I'd take the 105 over the 90mm. As I said, I actually went with the 150mm, which was my best compromise between a long lens and still having f/2.8 isolation (this was before the Sigma 180mm came out, but there's a big premium for that lens).

    Anyway. No advice, and it will depend on your own style of shooting. Just commenting on the pros and cons of these lenses.

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