Lens for D90

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by ida_gatwood, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. Hi,
    I'm buying a D90 and want recommendations for lens. I want a sharp lens. New to Nikon. Have done some research. I'm not very technical. Right now I do focused landscapes and street scenes. I'm open to 35 or 50 mm.
    Would like a high quality standard zoom. Would prefer to just buy one lens now. Willing to invest in a good lens.
  2. No-brainer......Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8
  3. 24-70mm is a little long for DX landscapes and street; try 17-55mm AF-S DX f/2.8.
  4. i wouldnt say that's a no-brainer with a d90. ida, it's hard to recommend just one lens, because they all have pros and cons. the 24-70 is a good investment if you plan on going full-frame one day, but it's not very wide on DX, besides being very heavy. for landscape, the 16-85 VR is a winner on DX, but it's a little slow for street. the 17-55/2.8 is the best nikkor DX wide-to-mid zoom, but also somewhat heavy to carry around. the tamron 17-50 is equally sharp, and the lighter weight is a plus for street/hiking/travel, but but lacks AF-S and build quality of the 17-55.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    We must have tons of threads on lenses for the D90. I have never used the 16-85 AF-S DX, but it is supposed to be very good. I think it is a bit pricy for a slow f5.6 lens on the 85mm end. If that doesn't bother you, it should be a good choice. Get the 17-55mm/f2.8 DX if you want a fast zoom.
  6. Ahhh...the D90.....right....just saw that. I read too quickly. Yeah, I would agree....24 maybe not quite wide enough on the cropped sensor.
    I would agree the 17-55 f/2.8 would be a good choice on the DX sensor....
  7. Also consider the Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 with high speed motor. (HSM)
  8. if you are on a budget, you can look into the tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 or the sigma 18-50mm f/2.8.
    from the savings not getting the more expensive lenses like the 16-85mm and 17-55mm, you can get the 35mm f/1.8
    if you're not concerned with cost and weight, get the heavy and expensive 17-55mm f/2.8
  9. Ida, nobody else is going to say this to you, but I'm a grouchy old man and I have some favorite lenses, and I think ANYBODY with a D90 or any digital Nikon--or a FILM Nikon, too--should have a 50mm f/1.8 lens. The darned thing costs less brand new than dinner for two at a semi-nice restaurant, it is razor-sharp, it's fast, and on your D90 (and mine, and my D70 that is still my backup body), it acts like a 75mm f/1.8, which is a very nice focal length for portraits, landscapes, and some other things. Spend the lousy C-note and buy a 50mm f/1.8 if you don't already have one. And if you DO have one, try using it--people aren't legally required to use slow zooms, despite what you read here. :)
  10. +1 to the 35/1.8. now that's a no-brainer for the price/performance ratio.
    but honestly the only one-lens solution on DX is the 18-200, and even that may not be an ideal solution for everyone, especially sharpness junkies. ida, you have a camera with interchangeable lenses, or will shortly. so you may have to warm to the idea of having multiple lenses and realize that the best landscape lens isnt necessarily the best street lens and vice versa.
    theoretically, any kit lens can do landscape well--just stop down to f/8-11 and use cable release/tripod. for street shooting, fast and light are admirable qualities, along with sharpness. the nikon 17-55 is fast and sharp, but not light. practice lugging around a 3-lb. brick secured by a neck strap for several hours and you'll see why the tamron 17-50 is a better lens for street. it's also much less obtrusive, which is important in candid photography. and, it has good corner sharpness at f/9, though perhaps not as good as the 16-85. however, the 16-85 can't shoot at 2.8, ever .
  11. for landscapes you want to be wide, lesser than 28mm.. for cityscapes, up to 35mm (wich is kind of closed shot). i suggest you get a 17-55 f2.8 nikon, or 17-50 tamron (try finding the non motorized), or Tokin a 16-50 f2.8.
    dont get a fix of 35 or 50 for both or things, because its too long for that. not good for landscapes, or you'll end up dong land-closeups.
  12. Most of you have recommended a f2.8 lens. I have to ask the question how many people do street or landscape photography with a very shallow depth of field. Most of the time the lens will be stopped down for greater depth of field. Therefore why not consider a cheaper and lighter lens. You might then be able to afford two lenses, one wide angle and the other a wide - tele zoom. All Nikon lenses are excellent quality if stopped down a stop or two.
    Just a thought
  13. If you can get over the f5.6 and the price, the 16-85 is a really good lens. The focal range is just wide and long enough when you want leave the rest at home.
    In low light, I can shoot 1/15 second at 85mm with pretty good consistency. It kinda' dwarfs the D5000, but will handle quite nicely on a larger body. I tend to be a bit more picky with sharpness than other photographers, and I don't do much portraiture or sports. I am quite happy with this expensive "kit lens."
  14. Lets put it in Dollars & Cents. Nikon 17-55/2.8= $1258. Nikon 16-85 AF-S DX = $667. Tamron 17-50/2.8 =$450.
  15. Thank you all for the great input. I'm narrowed the choice down further and looking at the posts and the archives.
    I'm concerned about camera shake and want at least 2.8 lens and Nikon lens. Don't want to have to buy a tripod for my lens.
    Do I have to get VR or will the faster lens (2.8) do it? For mainly landscape (parts of one) and street scenes, would 3.5 or 50 mm work? Whats the difference. The Nikon site says the 35 mm is great for travel and "candid' photography. Is the Nikon 35mm more like the older 55mm used on film camera's?
    It sounds like the zom would be either a 17-55, or 24-70, both 2.8.
  16. Ida, The problem you are going to get with a F2.8 lens opened wide up, as I have already mentioned is a shallow depth of field. For sharp looking street or landscape images where everything is in focus requires a larger F stop and this will more than likley require a tripod. VR lens will help a bit with allowing you to shoot at lower shutter speeds while still hand holding your camera.
  17. It's also recommend the 17-55mm f2.8. Super sharp, quick focus, well built.
  18. how many people do street or landscape photography with a very shallow depth of field. Most of the time the lens will be stopped down for greater depth of field.
    For sharp looking street or landscape images where everything is in focus requires a larger F stop and this will more than likley require a tripod.​
    john, from your post, i'm guessing you dont do much SP. you're correct that landscape pics involve more depth of field, as do urban landscapes. in both cases, you will want a tripod if possible, as i mentioned above.
    for street photography--not urban landscapes with nothing moving, but candid portraits and action scenes capturing the moment. all that really matters is that the foreground subject is sharp, and, because streets aren't always brightly lit, and often flash is a no-no, you do want a fast lens for this. try shooting street at twilight or later with a 5.6 lens--which wont even be at max. sharpness until f/8 or so--and you'll see what i mean. that's why i say the 16-85 VR is a good lens for landscape and ok for portraits, but sucky for street or action.
    to answer ida's questions, VR wont help you with moving subjects. it's great for static shots where you dont have your tripod with you and can take advantage of a slower shutter to get a sharper pic with less camera shake. works best with long lenses; with wide and mid- lenses, not needed as much, except for hanheld hiker/landscapists. but when you need a faster shutter to freeze motion, you want a faster lens, i.e. 2.8 or wider aperture. 2.8 also gives you a brighter viewfinder and allows for subject isolation with shallow DoF. you can always stop a 2.8 lens down, but you can't stop a 5.6 lens up.

    so, yeah, it does kinda come down to 2.8 or VR--with the exception of the tamron 17-50 VC, which actually has slower AF than the non-VC version (since Tamron used a micromoter, not a hypersonic motor). if you're serious about landscape, though, you'll want to shoot on a tripod for max. sharpness anyway, so VR will only be so effective, especially at focal lengths under 75mm (where camera shake isnt that big a deal).
    if you want to shoot urban landscape handheld, VR could help and the 16-85 would be good for that. but if you want to shoot candid portraits and street action, you'll want a fast lens to keep your shutter speed high and ISO low.
    the difference between a 35mm lens and a 50mm lens? 15mm.
    all kidding aside, the 35 has a wider angle of view. it's closer to a "normal" lens on a film camera, allowing for some background context and thus excellent for candids. a 50mm on a DX camera with an APS-C sensor acts like a short telephoto, with a 75mm focal length. it's decent for portraits but may be too long for street shooting (though its small size makes it very incognito). if i were choosing between 50 and 35 primes, i'd get the 35 as its a more useful focal length overall on DX. both are about equally sharp and have similar characteristics. the 24-70 would be better for portraits (and landscapes) than a 50 since you have more range; similarly the extra 5mm on the long end of the 17-55 makes it a little better for portraits than a 50mm or the 17-50.
    overall, the 17-55 (or 17-50) will be the most versatile range on a D90 or other DX camera, but that's a pro-spec lens really geared for event photographers and photojournalists who use it daily on a professional basis. for more casual use or travel, you might find out the hard way that it's quite heavy. optically, the tamron is just as sharp (and may even be sharper at 2.8), and a lot lighter. the 17-55 does have a more rugged build and faster AF speed, however, besides having a weightier price tag.
  19. an f/2.8 lens will give you versatility on the street. you don't always need to use the largest aperture. but it surely is a great benefit to have it there when needed --- cloudy days, heavy overcast, inside museums and bars that you might need to get into while on the street, etc. .... a street scenario is wide open, but it doesn't always mean that you have to make sure that everything you see have to be in focus. it is not the definition of, or a rule in street photography. i can even say that in most cases, depth of field is manipulated by the shooter. so again it's nice to have the f/2.8 in your hands.
    you will have to decide yourself where to go. a fast lens or a slow lens with VR. on a short or standard zoom, i would go with the fast and bright lens and skip VR.
  20. I'm impressed by how much corner darkening that Tamron 17-50 shows, even stopped down. Does it look even worse wide open?
  21. I stand behind both Nikon 17-55 and Tamron 17-50 both great lenses but if you have the money go for Nikon.
  22. oh i get it, a real wise guy
    having just spent a week in Cuba shooting street with the 17-50, i have to say it was perfect for that application. a heavier lens would have been a real pain plus it would have been too intrusive and obvious in the streets of Centro Habana, where a DSLR represents about a year's wages, approximately. if you're traveling and sticking to the tourist track, a 17-55 would be fine,, as long as you also packed a chiropractor.
    here's a shot at f/4 which would have not been practical with a 17-55. how do these corners work for you, john?
  23. Just great, Eric. I like that one a lot. Don't know what it was about the first pic that hit me as having dark corners. I'd really like a small travel zoom sometimes, so it's interesting to read these comments.
  24. You didn't say what your budget is.
    The 17-55 is a great lens but it's large and heavy, I wouldn't think of it as a great lens for street. There's a Tamron 28-75/2.8 tat's sharp and not as heavy. For sharp and portable the 50/1.8 and 35/1.8 are hard to beat. The 18-105 is light and a great value but you'll want to stop it down for optimal sharpness.
  25. I looked at the 17-55/2.8 and didn't like the size, weight and shorter zoom range. Bought the 16-85 and love the lens. Not as fast, but the VR compensates, plus I usually shoot at f8 for DOF. I do a lot of street shooting with the lens. If you want to add an inexpensive second lens. the 35/1.8 is great. It's small and inexpensive too, plus if you really need low light, you're a 1 1/2 stops faster than the 2.8. I find the 50mm too long on DX for street, too short for portraits, not useful for much.
  26. thanks john, i literally had about 3 seconds to shoot that shot, from the waist, no time to look at the viewfinder, just guessing angle, etc. hit af-on, listened for the beep, and clicked. a 17-55 would have given away the game, i'm afraid.
  27. For landscape I use a tripod and a light zoom of normal range or a wide prime. Size and weight are more important than weight. I use a Tamron 28-75mm with a D700 because of the weight and range when hiking up to 15 miles or Nikkor primes from 20mm to 500mm if close to the car, less than a mile. I have done a little event shooting with the same range but also like a fast normal lens or something just a bit wider. I use three different tripods, a very light small, a short light and a strong large. I would look closely at a 16-85mm and a fast 30-35mm prime.
  28. You wouldn't buy a Prius to haul logs, and you wouldn't buy a logging truck to get good gas milage. Street and landscape are as different as the above vehicles. You need two lenses and a good medium tripod because you want to do two entirely different kinds of photography. When I was shooting film I used 17-35 and 35-70 lenses for 99% of my landscape photos, and rarely a 70-300. You need wide for landscape. I have never shot street so listen to others for that.
  29. I'd get an 18-70 (used) and a 35mm f1.8 (new) and then wait and see how that worked for me, and upgrade to f2.8 lenses if I felt the need. You will probably like the 35mm a lot as it's the old "standard" lens for the most part (I shoot with it a LOT and love it), and I'm guessing the 18-70 would be great for lightweight street photography.
    Shoot with that 18-70 for a while, and if you decide you have to have either f2.8 or VR, sell it and get the one you will, by then, KNOW you need. Or maybe by then there will be a Nikon offering like the new Canon in that range with VR AND f2.8.
  30. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Even just for landscape alone, one will likely need multiple lenses, although you can start with one. Street photography have different lens requirements as it has already been pointed out.
    Moreover, for any good landscape photogrpher, a tripod is a must for stability and sharpness. If you don't use a tripod, you are merely wasting the quality from your expensive lens.
  31. Moreover, for any good landscape photogrpher, a tripod is a must for stability and sharpness. If you don't use a tripod, you are merely wasting the quality from your expensive lens.
    So true. Lots of photographers come to these forums trying to buy the sharpest lens--then shoot handheld at lowish shutter speeds. Most modern lenses are quite sharp if stopped down to f/8 and used properly from a tripod.
    It's hard to generalize about "street" and "landscape" photography--means different things to different people. Many people think "wide" for landscape but lots of good landscape shots are taken with telephotos as well. And your approach for "street" matters too--some are taking grab shots from the hip, relying on autofocus, some talk up their subjects but like compact equipment to keep their subjects at ease. Some use wide angles and hyperfocal focusing. Some people say "street" but what they're thinking could also be called "cityscape", more of a variant of landscape.
    A D90 has a great medium size build--my first instinct is not to slap a big heavy lens on it and ruin its handling; I'd go for a 18-70/3.5-4.5 or 16-85/3.5-5.6 VR for starters and then consider other complementary pieces like a 35/1.8. Later maybe add a 85/1.8, 60/2.8 macro or 100/2.8 macro, for short telephoto, 12-24/4 zoom, etc.
  32. if you have to have zoom, like many people i recommend Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8. but if that's your first (d)slr i strongly recommend a prime. 50mm is my favorite lens that is on my camera most of the time. it'll teach you discipline, composition. here are some samples - http://mooostudios.com/Mondrian_imperfection/imperfection.htm
    enjoy the camera.
  33. Wow...
    I am constantly amazed when people recommend a 24-70 for DX. Folks, 24mm is not wide enough for DX at the wide end unless YOU KNOW you don't need any true wide-angle, which, come on... is not most of us...
    24 - 70 is not a great general purpose zoom for DX, 17-55 is.
  34. A D90 has a great medium size build--my first instinct is not to slap a big heavy lens on it and ruin its handling; I'd go for a 18-70/3.5-4.5 or 16-85/3.5-5.6 VR for starters and then consider other complementary pieces like a 35/1.8. Later maybe add a 85/1.8, 60/2.8 macro or 100/2.8 macro, for short telephoto, 12-24/4 zoom, etc.​
    this is actually a really good point. balance does matter as far as ergonomics, etc. a dXXX or Dx -series camera will balance a big, heavy lens better than a dxx-series camera. and for landscapes and cityscapes, a 16-85 + d90 would definitely be a nice pair. that lens wouldnt be my first choice for street, but then everyone does street a little differently.
    as an aside, before i had a d300, i used the nikon 18-70 and tamron 28-75 with a d80. both balance nicely on that camera, which is about the same size as a d90. i still like the small form factor of the d80+the 50/1.8 and may pick up a 35/1.8 for that reason (though i already have a sigma 30/1.4).
    for "pure" street shooting, compactness of kit is a huge plus and probably one of the main factors which should be weighed. conversely, landscape also entails several different approaches, from galen rowell-esque minimalism (i.e. can you fit it in a waist pack or small bag) to tripods and long lenses (which mean staying close to your vehicle) to something in-between. and if you're stopping down to f/8 anyway, an 18-55 is just as good as a 17-55. if, on the other hand, you need good performance at large apertures and DoF isolation, a 2.8 or faster is the way to go.
    anyhoo, ida has already narrowed down her choices to the 17-55 and 24-70--with possibly the 35/1.8 for when she wants to "go light." can't really fault that as both are impressive optically and should outlast the d90 body itself. and to counterbalance the weight of whichever zoom she picks, she can always add a battery grip, which will add more weight of course, but also make vertical shots easier. if she's serious about landscape, she should also get a good tripod/ballhead combo and a cable release.
  35. I'm a big fan of the 35-70 f2.8. The image quality is first rate. Images, out of the camera, simply pop. On a D90, its a normal to short tele. If your imagery tended toward wider I'd go after the Nikon 17-55 f2.8 instead. Try renting lenses for while - its a good value and a great learning experience that will save you money in the long run.
  36. The Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 is an excellent lens, but very expensive. Also very good and far less expensive is the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC or its less expensive version w/o VC. I would get the Tamron with VC over the Nikon. The difference in IQ is not great, it's much smaller and lighter, and you'll have enough left over for another very good lens or flash.
  37. Please forgive me if this may sound insulting, but you are open to 35mm and 50mm normal lenses on a D90. You do know that the 50mm on your D90 will in effect be a 75mm short telephoto lens rather than a normal lens, right? While lens choice is highly individual, most landscape zooms tend to be wide angle zooms. Same holds true for street photography where the shorter focal lenghts not only help you fit the street scene in the frame but also get a short enough shutter time for quick candids without motion blur.
    My point is that you should perhaps also consider the Nikon 10/12-24mm zoom lenses? They would correspond to 14/18-35mm wide angle zooms on 35 mm film. Most likely, you will get a standard 18-55 or 18-105mm zoom as a kit lens with your D90. The problem is the wide end, where even the tank built 17-55 does not get you much wider despite its hefty price tag. The 16-85 is only 2 mm wider but in effect it feels much wider. However, the real wide angle zooms complement the stock zoom focal lenghts in a more price effective way.
    Go to a good store and fit the lenses discussed here on your camera and see what actual field of view they offer since number rarely tell it all to others than the true buffs.
  38. Apparently (or so I am told from my local photography store) that Sigma just announced a new lens: 17-70mm f/2.8-4.0 OS macro. $599 (canadian). Not a bulky lens to weigh down your camera. Not in stores (at least in Canada) for maybe another month.
    Any thoughts on this lens???
  39. If you haven't bought your D90 yet, why not buy your D90 with the kit lens 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6. The camera and lens combination comes in one box and it is a very economical choice. This is what I did.
    I like the Nikon D90 a lot it has a lot to offer for a low price for digital.
    Visit my website www.lonniepaulson.com
  40. I highly suggest getting the 35mm 1.8 DX and using that for a while. It is a great standard prime for DX and will provide a simple discreet package for SP. It will let you experiment with wide apertures, and will quickly let you know what range you are looking for in mm. If you are constantly wanting to get closer, then go with the Tamron 28-75/2.8. If you are always backing up and trying to get wider, then go with one of the wider 2.8 zooms mentioned. (I have the Tamron 28-75/2.8 and it is great as long as you don't need to go wide) But I think the key is to start with a prime that you will always appreciate having in your kit, such as the 35mm. Primes are excellent for learning, it is inexpensive, a good quality for the price, and you can always sell it later for little loss.
  41. Sigma 30mm f/1.4 better than Nikkor 35mm f/1.8.
    A fast lovely lens. I don't like Sigma, but this one is nice to have it. Is a Dx lens.
    Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.
    I use D80 and Tamron 28-75/2.8 for street. Or 20/2.8, 50/1.4 and 105/2. For street think about 28-100mm. Like Nikkor 28-105mm, 1:2 macro.
    But for landscape I use Tokina 12-24/4. You can find a used one or a Tokina 11-16/2.8.
    I use this lenses because street I shot with F100, not with digital. Digital is for work and party, film is for my self ;-)
    PS: a good zoom is 17-50/2.8. But personal I don't like this lens. Nikkor 17-55/2.8 is a lovely lens, but a little heavy. Nikkor 16-85VR is sharp, but at 85mm you will have f/5.6. Is a little hard to choose.
    Tokina 12-24/4 and Nikkor 24-70/2.8 or Tamron 28-75/2.8.
    Tokina 11-16/2.8 and Tamron 17-50/2.8 or Nikkor 17-55/2.8.
    Personal I don't like zoom, but they are comfortably and easy to use.
    Good luck!
    Or a nice Nikkor 24/1.4 and a Tokina ....

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