Hold my hand on a Nikon lens choice

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by trooper, Aug 20, 2011.

  1. I'm an analog guy for personal work up until now. I do photography for the company internal magazine as a part of my job and used Nikon gear over the years there. The 2 cameras I've dealt with are an old D-40 with newer generation kit lens and more recently, a D-5100 and the kit lens for that. The old D-40 seems a suitable match for the lens capabilities but the D-5100 seems to be limited by the optics. Typical duty is not demanding at work and both units work okay for new employee portraits and general illustrations....
    Sorry for the long-winded intro but wanted to briefly explain my background and uses to this point. I am now considering a d-5100 for general personal use as my first digital (I'm a somewhat serious darkroom rat in formats from 35mm to large format). The general kit lens focal range is probably adequate for the type of duty I would put it to but would wish for better optical performance. I've managed to confuse myself while weighing the alternatives. I would likely benefit with a slightly longer focal length for some sports pictures that I might find myself doing so would lean that direction for choices. What optic would best fill this need and make best use of the body I'm considering. I like using the body at work and just being familiar with it was part of my criteria in selecting it but also would be open to alternatives, too.
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The D5100 has a similar/identical 16MP sensor as the D7000, and that is demanding on lenses. Some of the kit zoom choices include the 18-105mm AF-S VR DX and 16-85mm AF-S VR DX. I actually have neither one of those lenses, but as far as I know, the 16-85 is optically better and has better construction. The 18-105 has a plastic mount, which I would recommend to avoid unless your budget is very limited.
    However, I always feel that the 16-85 DX is on the pricy side for what it offers; it is still a slow f5.6 zoom on the 85mm end.
    For shooting sports, I would suggest a separate tele zoom, e.g. the 70-300mm/f4.5-5.6 AF-S VR, but that depends on your budget.
  3. If you can be more specific about what you are considering and what you are using, kit lenses can be 18-55, 18-105 or 18-135, and also 18-200 at times. If you want just one lens to do it all; landscape, groups, portraits and sports, the 18-200 VR should work. To move up in optical performance, two lenses would make a vast improvement, any of the manufacturers 17-50(55) f/2.8, and either Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 (discontinued) or Nikon 70-300 VR (Tamron VC, Sigma OS), even a 55-200 could work.
  4. Craig: Look also at Nikon 55-300, which is a newer lens, VR, under $400, and by some tests, outperforms 70-300, which costs more.
  5. We could tell you'd "fallen". Only people committed to the Digital Side of the Force call film "analog". ;)
  6. I'm a bit of a "sharp" freak with my film equipment and use what are considered the sharpest pieces of glass (at least in my experience) and APO enlarging lenses, etc. Zeiss in 35mm, Mamiya 7 and Bronica RF645 medium format. I didn't want to initially get into the top-tier digital, price-wise but can be somewhat flexible in price range. My intention was for occasional use for recording events but to have worthy images to work with. My skin crawls a bit when seeing color fringing, wacky bokeh and vignetting. Some on-line research seemed to find so many negative comments on most of what I was checking out. The sort of sports that tend to have me photo-engaged are relatively close to the action so extreme telephoto isn't critical and I have good film gear for things that are more important for absolute quality. As I typed that, I realized that it sounded judgmental or negative about digital.... I've seen spectacular work from digital and truly respect its capabilities but my passion that keeps me stimulated in photography is the darkroom side so I anticipate that I'll keep that pattern for the foreseeable future. I've never gotten over that first 4x5 chrome pulled from the soup, I guess!
    Thanks for the advice, I'll do some investigating before getting out the charge card!
  7. You might want to consider the Sigma and Tamron f2.8 options if you are price-constrained, too. The Sigma is 18-50 I think, and the Tamron is 17-50. Be careful with the Tamron as you have to buy the one with the built-in motor for that camera.
    I think for general casual shooting, the 16-85 would be an awesome match.
  8. You might want to consider the Sigma and Tamron f2.8 options if you are price-constrained, too. The Sigma is 18-50 I think, and the Tamron is 17-50. Be careful with the Tamron as you have to buy the one with the built-in motor for that camera.​
    actually, sigma now has a 17-50/2.8 OS. that would probably be a better choice for sports than the 17-50 VC tamron because the sigma has a faster AF motor.
  9. Sharp freak? Any of the 17-50ish 2.8 zooms, Tamron 70-300 VC, and/or primes with AFS. The 16-85 is very nice and
    a good choice if the price isn't an issue but it's expensive for a consumer type zoom - the Sigma 17-70 is just as good
    for less money.
  10. the sigma 17-50mm 2.8 HSM is simply stellar - would satisfy a "sharp freak" and convert non-sharp freaks into the same!
  11. Craig, for an initial plunge into digital, for a sharp freak, the 50mm f/1.8G is mighty nice as a medium telephoto on a DX camera. I use all of the AF 50's on my D300. I don't know whether this will be long enough for sports, but I like it for portraits.
  12. Craig - do you do the digital post-processing at work? If not, just be aware the digital photography (if you didn't already know) requires a post-processing learning curve -- think back to when you were first learning to work your way around a "wet" darkroom.
  13. Sharp freak...medium format...4x5...on a budget? I'd seriously consider a body that can use non-AFS lenses to maximize your lens choices in the future, like the D7000, used D300, used D90. A used D200, D2X, or D300 makes using even older manual focus Nikkors easier to use too. Again just keeping lens options open for those sharp results on a budget.
    For a sharp freak I have no problem recommending a used D300, 50/1.8 AF-D, and one of the original used 80-200/2.8 AF lenses, as a starting point. That's about $1500 USD so far.
    Generally speaking kit lenses are not ideal for sharp freaks. However getting a truly wide lens for a DX format body on a tight budget will require compromise. There are so many options for the wide range I can't even attempt to make suggestions until we know more about what you are doing and what you are used to using with film. In general, since you are a sharp freak, I'd recommend splitting the range from ultrawide to short telephoto into two lenses. Lenses like the newer 16-85 cost more since they are trying to do more and end up underperforming because they are trying to do too much for too little. Something in the 16/18 to 35/55 will fit with a 50/1.8 and then if you need ultrawide then you could add one of the 8/10/12 to 16/24 lenses.
    The advantage of bodies like the D7000/D300/D90/D2X is that down the road you can add highly specialized prime non-AFS lenses that are less expensive and yet still have IQ that is just as good if not better than their AF-S counterparts, if they even exist. This thought pattern can be extended to manual focus AI/AIS Nikkors as well, where autofocus may not be required, but at least you can select your lens in the menu and the camera will automatically detect what aperture you have it manually set to and record the focal length and aperture in the image info.
  14. I didn't want to initially get into the top-tier digital, price-wise but can be somewhat flexible in price range.​
    I'm getting the impression that budget really isn't a very serious consideration for you, but sharpness clearly is. If that's correct, then I would say go for it. Check out the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 for a start. So sharp you could cut yourself if you aren't careful.
    Also, do you have Photoshop CS5? As a darkroom maven, I think you would be disappointed by anything else.
  15. Sharp Freak? Maybe you should be looking at a Sony A900 and some of the Zeiss lenses available in that mount.
  16. If we are going to get silly, then have a look at the Canon 5D II with it's full range of Canon lenses. The lens line-up that both Nikon and Canon each provide make them the most desirable DSLR systems.
  17. I too shoot a lot of 4x5 now, and used to shoot a Bronica. (Still shoot historical cameras in 6x9 format.) I also shoot a Nikon digital system. I think you're more into film than I am as I simply have my negs processed for me and then I work on them in Photoshop--hybrid work flow. I see my 4x5 Chamonix as being for different purposes than my Nikon digital system. When I can take my time and want a classic look, I shoot the 4x5 (always b&w, often with historical lenses 100+ years old.) The Nikon system is for when I need to shoot quickly and travel light. With this in mind, I'll suggest a couple of lenses. I think you would like the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 that has been suggested as it is reasonably sharp, has the useful OS, and I think you'll like the f2.8 speed as you can't get that from large format. Second, the Nikon 70-300mm f5.6 VR is a tried and true lens. True, it is f5.6, but you are used to that. Also, you can easily shoot at ISO 800+ with that camera. If Nikon made a 70-200mm f4 VR, that might be perfect for you, but they don't yet. I'll think you will find the fast focussing zooms very useful for the everyday kind of shots you are thinking of. The new "G" series Nikon single focal lenses would probably do what you want as well, but Nikon has nothing wider than 35mm in those, and because of the crop factor that would be crippling. You could get around that by carrying more lenses, but that would defeat the purpose of have a fast, simple system, I think.
    Kent in SD

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