Lens help

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by saoirse_c, Nov 7, 2010.

  1. Hi, sorry for another post, but my head is feeling scrambled after 5+ hours researching lenses and I really appreciated the advice I got last time.
    Basically I have a D700 and I'm looking for a pretty much default lens, mostly used for portraits. My budget is only really £400, at a stretch.
    I dont mind buying third party lenses either, tho I would much appreciate what the difference between them and nikkor is in your opinion!
    Thank you :)
  2. get you a used nikon AF 85mm f1.8. on a FX, that should be about right for a portrait lens....used one will cost about $350 USDollars.
    good luck.
  3. It could be helpful to know which lenses you already have, and how you'd like to define 'pretty much default lens', since it is a bit vague and may mean different things to different persons.
    Purely for portraits, indeed the 85 f/1.8 would make a good choice on the budget. For 400 UK pounds, should be available new for that money. If you do not mind manual focus lenses, one of the nicest options out there is the Nikon 105mm f/2.5.
    As a more default lens, meaning an allround zoom which can also do portraits, the AF-D 24-85 f/2.8-4 or AF-S 24-85 f/3.5-4.5 may do the trick within the budget, though the primes will do better at portraits.
  4. I only have a 55mm micro and a 28-80mm 3.3-5.6 and I get awful vignetting on that.
    Sorry for not being very specific, I'm just so confused by reviews and Ken Rockwell has ruined my opinion. I'd prefer to not have a fixed focal length tho. Also, I've got quite a shakey hold, I cant afford VR though... :(
  5. Other option I just think of, a 35-70 f/2.8 second hand, may well fit the budget. A bit short for portrait, though that depends on style and the type of portrait too.
    And VR... well, the D700 is quite capable with high ISO, else big apertures help too ;-)
  6. I'm just so confused by reviews and Ken Rockwell has ruined my opinion.​
    Step away from the Ken Rockwell site and no one gets hurt.
    As Wade said, the AF 85mm f/1.8D lens is a good choice. It's very, very good for the price.
  7. If manual focus is not a problem, Nikon 105/2.5 AIS is a magic portrait lens.
  8. i'd get a tamron 28-75/2.8 before a nikon 35-70. still a little short for portraits on FX but that extra 5mm will help.
    but if i were the OP, i'd consider selling the d700 and getting a d7000 and some better lenses--it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to stick a cheapo lens like the 28-80 on a $2000+ camera. assuming the d700 is in LN condition, you should clear around US $1000 on the deal, which combined with your £400, would be enough to get the voigtlander 58/1.4 MF, the tamron 28-75, and the nikon 85/1.8, which would be three nice portrait lenses for different situations. on DX, the VL would be close to an 85/1.4, the tamron would be a 42-112.5 zoom, and the 85 would be a 127.5 tele. i think the d7000 will meter with the 55 micro as well, which would be an 82.5mm on DX.
    otherwise, the nikon 105 VR, tamron 90, and tokina 100 will all do double-duty as portrait/macro lenses on FX. you might also be able to find a used copy of the non-VR nikon 105 within your budget.
  9. Look at Bjorn Rorslett's site, http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html. He does lens reviews though some are old. His opinions are universally respected; I'll not say what most serious photographers think of KR, I want to be civil, and not direct any traffic to his website.
    I agree that in your price range, for auto focus, the 85 f/1.8 is an excellent choice. If you are willing to manually focus, there are many choices, including the 85 f/2 and the already mentioned 105.
    The arguments about third party lenses are endless, suffice to say, few people complain about the quality of Nikon prime lenses. Cheap zooms are another story.
    Good luck.
  10. SCL


    If you went with a fixed focal length rather than a zoom, for about $100 USD (or less) you could get a used 100mm/2.8 Series E lens. I got one last year, thinking it would be a poor performer and I'd probably resell it, and much to my surprise, it has really gotten a workout. Not outstanding at f2.8, but by 5.6 it does a great job. In fact I just came back from doing some nature and landscape shots with it on my last roll of Kodachrome today, and I frequently use it on my D300 as well. It's an inexpensive, but not cheap lens, if you get my meaning.
  11. +1 on Bjorn's reviews. I think (others disagree) that Ken has some good content on his site, but you REALLY need to know how to filter out the junk to take advantage of it.
    You asked a very similar question recently.
    Seriously, an 85mm f1.8 would be a GREAT lens for portraits, but not very good for anything else. A 35-70 f2.8 would not be a bad multi-purpose lens on a budget...
    But again, if you pony up for a D700 and can't afford a good stable of glass... You might have been better off with DX, where you could afford maybe a D300s or D7000 and a 17-50 Tamron for less than the cost of the D700 body... If you don't print above 11 x 14, you'll see little difference in actual photos. You had mentioned that you bought the D700 recently. Recently enough to return it?
  12. i'll reiterate what i said earlier: a d700 with a 28-80 as your main lens just sounds wrong. a 35-70 would be better, but the tamron 28-75 is just as good or better optically plus gives you 5mm more reach on each end. however, the 28-75 is better as a portrait lens on DX, since it covers more of the portrait range...
    OTOH, a d7000+ 2.8 zoom + fast prime would be a better kit IMO. in fact, you could use your 55 as a portrait lens on DX, plus you'd get longer working distance on macro shots.
    this kind of illustrates the problem with going FX; if you dont have good FX glass, DX makes more sense. and with the d7000's increased resolution, low-light ability, and ability to meter with older lenses (and use DX lenses as well as FX lenses), it's perhaps more of a solution than a compromise.
  13. Hi,
    Speaking as a D700 user who's only ever shot with hand-me-down prime lenses, I'd suggest that you consider the following ideas:
    1) Buying a second-hand lens - if you're careful and patient, you can get some great stuff out there.
    2) What kinds of portraits are you interested in? Portraits don't always have to be the tight, shallow DoF affairs that everyone seems set on - you can do some very interesting portrait work with a very wide lens and up-close. Think about what kinds of portraits/shots you're interested in.
    3) What percentage of your shots do you expect to be portraits? Try and balance your portraiture needs with your other requirements - especially if this is going to be your general go-to lens for everything.
    4) The usefulness of your lens (in terms of how often you're likely to use it) falls off sharply as the focal length becomes extremely short, or extremely long. A "default" general, go-to lens on the D700 would be the 50mm/1.8. Great, lightweight, sharp, and very USEFUL lens. I've used this lens for portraits, landscapes, architecture, macros, etc. I'd say this lens is on my D700 90% of the time. With the 50/1.8 and a little moving backwards and forwards, you can do almost anything. The bokeh is great too. The 50/1.8 is the only lens i've ever bought, I've scrounged, begged and borrowed every other lens I've ever used.
    5) I should probably have put this first - what lenses and other equipment do you already have? If you already have a lens and you're unhappy with the results, perhaps you could get more bang for your buck by investing in a flash - or maybe go off-camera with a flash you already own? Perhaps you'd get more value for money if you shot in natural light, but used light modifiers like like reflectors and diffusers that can be had for a few bucks?
    Hope some of these ideas help,
  14. KR's ok. He's not the 100% true believer he was once. But he's rarely off the mark. It depends on how one eyed the rest of us are. Bjorns opinions on lenses are good too.
    In the 70-130 range for portraits, you are going to face zoom desert. The 85 1.8 is a good portrait lens...better than 95% of shooters. Lots of guys get a good used 80-200 2.8.
    At the end of the day you are gpoing to have to back your own judgement.
  15. Consider the nikon 28-105mm f3.5/4.5. Its still a very good lens and quite cheap on the used market. An alternate also very cheap lens on the used market is the 28-200mm nikon' it's a bit slower but very good
  16. To the people who are suggesting I go back to DX- I have a D60, getting a D7000 seems to be a pointless upgrade if I can afford a D700. If I got a D7000, that is £1000. My D700 cost me £1300 and it is practically new with 5 year warantee. Ok, so fantastic lenses are out of the question at the moment - but I dont see the point in getting all kitted out with DX stuff when I can afford full frame and one good lens.
    Its not just printing - (I do have to do A1 prints on my course, especially for my end of year exhibition) - but its the extra detail. With my LED screen, I can see all the noise in blacks- but with any FX photos I take, no matter the lens, the quality is far better. Also, I can up the ISO to compensate for my shaky hand. I know everyone says lenses are important, but to be honest I personally think it should all start with the camera and build up from there. I'm sorry if you don't agree.
    For the moment, I just want a nice portrait one for the time being - I can borrow others from my uni.
    Thank you for your input Vineet - it sounds like you're more in my boat :p To be honest, portraits will be all sorts. So a fixed focal won't be best...
    And thank you all for the advice. I would definately prefer a lens with AF... are there any Sigma equivelents to your suggestions I should look at? And here's a (probably) really stupid question - how do I know which sigma lenses are for full frame? (
  17. If your hands are shaky, you really need a decent tripod and head. Every time this is tested, using a tripod trumps everything else in the image chain. Even people who think they have steady hands usually find that a tripod makes their images better. Even if you have to enlarge things to see the difference, there's a subtle difference between an almost sharp (motion shake), and a REALLY sharp, (tripod) photograph, that is noticeable even to a casual observer. I use a tripod for almost all my work with my D700. It really pays off. Perhaps it is because I used a 4x5 view camera for over twenty years and got used to it. Good luck.
  18. You judging noise differences between DX and FX on the LED screen? Are you talking about the small screen on the back of the camera? Considering that the D60 has a 2.5"/230k screen, vs the D700's 3"/920k screen, have you considered that the D700 screen is simply better, and that this has nothing to do with the noise in the actual taken image? I'm not suggesting for an instant that you sell the D700 in favor of a DX camera, but presumably you're basing the difference between the two cameras on more than squinting at the little on-camera screen.
    I have to concur with Eric Brody above - if your hands are shaky, then using a tripod or working on your camea holding/firing technique will trump any lens selection for sharpness. Sure, you can up the ISO on the D700 without significant noise penalty, but learning to either work from a tripod, hold the camera more steadily or getting in to the habit is using what's around you - a wall, a tree, a car bonnet, whatever, to steady your camera will yield benefits in the long run, in that you will have to depend less on high ISO/fast speeds to capture sharp images. Shooting a handheld camera is like hitting a golf ball - nothing works like practice, and it's not like blasting off a bunch of images is going to cost anything.
    On the lens front, I'm a fan of primes - for the relative lightness, the brighter screen and the greater range of available DOF. Also, I find the smaller physical size of a short tele prime to be less obtrusive, particularly for candid portraits - some people find a big long lens being pointed at them to be a bit offputting. Much as I like the sharpness of the Nikkor 105/2.5, I like the 85/2.0 better because of it's smaller stature. There's a good reason that 85/105s are considered classic portrait lenses - decades, even centuries, of use have shown them to be so - they offer a pleasing perspective, great DOF control, just enough reach to give the subject breathing room while maintaining the immediacy that makes for a compelling portrait. I think if you're going to concentrate on portraiture, get a good portrait lens - either an 85/1.8 or 105 - and zoom with your feet.
  19. Dont worry I've definately done the noise test on my monitor screen :p Sorry that wasn't clear. Just wanted to note I have backlighting so I see a lot of detail compared to normal monitors.
    Even though on the D700 it crops DX lenses to about 5mp, the noise quality is still so good. I tried it on my 18-55 vr 3.5 (which I miss!) and my 55-200 vr 4-5.6 (which is rubbish) and like I said, even though I get 10mp on my D60, it still looks better on my D700 even at 200% :)
    I do use a tripod mostly, but I am a bit of a pune and my tripod is rather heavy.... I should probably invest in a good portable one. And work out.
    "Zoom with your feet" I like that, I know portraiture is definately my main focus (no pun intended) I was just hoping for a zoom lens I guess, something a bit more versatile.
  20. You are right to stick on D700... after using it is no way to go back. If you still want a zoom instead a prime, I agree with Tamron 28-75/2.8. It is an underrated lens with unbelievable good IQ. I use it when traveling with my D700 and I'm very pleased. You should give it a try.
  21. While a tripod may score 100% on the "steady scale" and close to 0% on the "mobility scale", like most things in life, compromise is the order of the day. Think of all the ways that the camera can be made steadier without cutting into your ability to move - tucking your elbows in against your body - leaning against a tree as you shoot - a beanbag on top of a wall or fence - a monopod, even. There are any number of ways that the camera can be steadied (and the resulting pics made more sharp) without having to resort to a full-size (and weight) tripod. As for lens choice (prime vs zoom, in this instance), a short tele prime might be my preference - and I gave my reasoning, but your priorities are your own. There's no right lens - only what's right for you.
  22. Basically I have a D700 and I'm looking for a pretty much default lens, mostly used for portraits. My budget is only really £400, at a stretch.
    If I owned a D700 (no thanks) I'd probably look at a 24-85/2.8-4 as my main go-to lens. It is not generally accepted as a portrait range or dof control, but that is what I would use for my "portrait" photography (I actually use a 16-85 on a d300 - I actually want the perspective distortion at 16mm).
    For portraits why not just get a 85/1.8? That seems to be the recommended focal length for portraits for 35mm/FX. As David Carroll points out above, lens choices are about you, how you want to portray your photograph, not about what's "best". (Personally I'd love to shoot certain portraits with a 200/2VR or 400/2.8VR.... mrr)
    I dont mind buying third party lenses either, tho I would much appreciate what the difference between them and nikkor is in your opinion!
    For me? Mainly - quality control. Every. Single. Sigma I've owned has been repaired or had issues. Nikkors aren't perfect either - just look at repair stats from say, lensrentals.com. Just that those I've owned so far have been generally pretty good. That said, I will not rule out 3rd party lenses for speciality lenses, or lenses that kick arse.
    For example, Sigma's 50/1.4 produces the sweetest bokeh I've seen, it makes the nikkor offerings look bad. Sigma's upcoming 100-300/2.8 OS is also very, very interesting for me. So is the Sigma 30/1.4 for us DX ppl. Tamron's 90mm macro is also super highly regarded, and I have seen some really good output from their 70-300 consumer zoom, and that zoom goes down to 1:2 life size.
    What I'm saying is I look to 3rd party options when Nikkors are not available (or generally, too damned expensive) - just bearing in mind the possibilities of shoddy QC and incompatibility.
  23. My 2 cents.......................If there ever comes a time that I need to work out to carry my tripod, before thinking about buying anything , I d buy a carbon fiber one, they are really light and if my D700(which I don't have) ever became too heavy, I'd go with the new Lumix GF2 or GH2, those anyone can carry! If that ever became too heavy, I quit photography and start blowing bubbles but then again, my mouth would probably start to ache and so on and so on....Love U guys!
  24. A 35-70mm 2.8 afd lens has pretty much replaced my standard lens. It's a perfect portrait lens, it goes wide when you need to get more than one person or slight telephoto when you need a head shot or a shorter depth of field. It's a fast lens and reasonably priced, I found mine on ebay for $338 USD.
  25. For what it's worth, I'm pretty happy with a 135mm f/2.8 AI, bought for about £90 from Mifsuds. It looks horribly beaten up, but if you don't mind manual focus (and autofocus is why I went through a 135 f/2 DC and then 200 f/2) and a slight softness that might actually improve portraits, I've been quite impressed with it on my D700. I mention it only because it was so cheap, and you might find another one. Otherwise, you might find a 105 f/2 DC in-budget, second-hand. I filled the gap between my 50 f/1.8 and 135 f/2.8 with a 90mm Tamron macro lens, which seems to be okay for portraits too (and would fit your budget), but you might want something faster. The 85 f/1.8 is the default option, but I've not been blown away by how good its bokeh is (from images on photozone.de). I like being a bit distant, because I shoot candids, but if you can live with being a bit closer then the wider fastish zooms are more affordable.

    Sigma's equivalent of "DX" (i.e. doesn't cover a full frame) is "DC". This is not to be confused with "DG", which means "optimised for digital" (has a coating to cope with reflection off the sensor, might not send light out the back at very oblique angles, neither of which are an issue for film).

    Good luck!
  26. Much appreciated, Andrew.

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