Low-light, wide angle lens for Nikon D5000

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by sarah_scott|2, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. Hello there-
    I am a long time lurker on the forums but this is my first post----so please be gentle with my 'newbie-ness'. :)
    I own a Nikon D5000, the kit lens (18-55mm, f3.5-5.6) and a 35mm, f1.8 that I bought when I got fed up with the poor low light performance of the kit lens. I take photos for my own pleasure and for a blog I write about my family's move to Oxford, England and am finding that while I love the performance of my 35mm in dimly lit cathedrals, I need the range (at least) of the 18-55mm to bring more of these beautiful spaces into my photos.
    From my readings (here and elsewhere) it seems that I need an aperture of 2.8 to get the results that I am enjoying with my 35mm on either a wide angle or mid range zoom. The problem is, I can't decide what sort of set up would be best and most cost effective. I have been reading (too much probably) and have become confused over whether I should get a wide angle zoom lens (like a 10-24mm) or just a wide angle prime lens (since I seem to like my 35mm so much) or a mid range zoom like the 17-55mm, f2.8. I doubt that I will be upgrading to FF anytime soon, although I may upgrade my camera to a D7000 at some point (for better high ISO performance and to get autofocus on a Tokina 11-16mm if I went that route). Ah, see--my head is spinning with all of this!
    My dream would be to find a cost effective solution that allowed me to travel light (no more than 3 lenses--prefereably 2, as I do now) and survive without a triopod (since I usually have an adorable 2 year old on one hip and a camera in the other!). I am open to any suggestions on lenses I haven't mentioned (even non-Nikon) or even upgraded camera suggestions.
    Sorry for the lengthy post and thanks for any advice! And sorry for the 'newbie-ness'!
  2. Hi Sarah,
    You can start with Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC. This will give you a fast aperture and stabilization for handheld images at dark settings. Obviously an upgrade at D7000 could be very helpful - I found it to be MUCH better at high ISO than D5000 and D300. D7000 will enable you to use AF with Tokina 11-16.
    On the other hand... at UWA you do not have to be afraid of manual focus. In the past when I owned a D5000 I used a CV 20/3.5 on it for some work and it was not hard to get it on focus. It would be much harder to use telephoto lenses without AF on your camera.
  3. Sarah -
    I'm not sure how much an f/2.8 lens will help you for wide angle. Your 18-70mm has an aperture of f/3.5 @ 18mm and f/4 @ 24mm. f/2.8 will gain you only gain 1/2 a stop at 18mm and one full stop at 24mm. This would be equivalent to increasing your ISO from 400-640 or 800. Unless you're already at your max usable ISO (which I can't remember what I would expect from my limited experience with the D5000), you may just be better off increasing your ISO a bit.
    Otherwise, I'd consider looking at an f/1.4 prime. They're pricey, but if you like your 35mm f/1.8, I'd expect you'd like the 24mm f/1.4 albeit at a price more expensive than a new D7000... ... ...
    I really can't tell you what's right for you. Personally, (and I know that you wanted to avoid this), a tripod will be the most cost effective solution. You can get a nice tripod with head and quick release plate/L bracket for a few hundred dollars. If you're really worried about weight, you'll have to spend more to get a carbon fiber tripod, but they're worth it.
  4. Mihai: Thanks for your suggestion. I will check out the Tamron, as I don't know anything about that brand.. The 'numbers' look good though. :) And thanks for letting me know your experience with the D7000 vs the D5000--I had been looking at it because of my interest in the Tokina but was happy to read about the ISO performace--so I appreciate you mentioning that too. And good point about focusing the UWA. I'll keep that in mind as I search around. Did you find 20 to be a good/usable focal length? Thanks!!
  5. Richard: To be honest, I really don't know the answer to 'how much a 2.8 will help for wide angle' either! I know that my 18-55mm struggles in low light--especially now that I am used to (and very much like) the 35mm lens--so I assumed I would need a 2.8 at least to avoid that in any new lens I buy. In outdoors or in well lit conditions, the 18-55mm does fine but I don't find it does very well in dimly lit conditions (cathedrals and such). Maybe this is my inexperience or inability to use it to it's full potential but, as I said, I have no trouble with the performance of the 35mm---just need more reach than it provides. I have considered a prime but didn't know what focal length to choose would be best if I had to pick just one (rather than a range, as with the zooms)--so I had no idea they were that pricey! Eek! Hmm, maybe I will have to stick to thinking about a zoom lens of some sort after all...
    I know you are probably right about the tripod solution being the most cost effective. I just know that it isn't the most practical for my lifestyle right now. :)
  6. Well, 20 is better on DX than 35 but seems to be not enough wide, at least for me. Unfortunately there are not good options for fast primes on UWA. At this time Tokina 11-16/2.8 is the best option from this point of view.
    A tripod is also a very good thing... but in my experience most Churches are prohibiting the use of tripods so I do not carry one in such as situations.
  7. My dream would be to find a cost effective solution that allowed me to travel light​
    If small size is truly imperative:
    ...forget your nikon or any dslr all together
  8. However, if you want to stay with your d5000. As Mihai said, wide angle primes choices is very, very limited for your d5000. The 20mm 2.8 and tokina 11-16mm are great options but they won't auto focus on your d5000. You'll need a d7000. Or you could use the tokina 12-24 f4 *mark ll* on your d5000.
  9. I think the best you will do currently is a normal f2.8 zoom unless you need wider than 18mm. Not much to choose from in fast wide AF-S type lenses. A tripod is probably your best solution if allowed. I have some very small and light Gitzo's.
  10. It's not the 18-55 lens itself that doesn't do well in places liike a dark church, but rather, it's that you're using it to do something it was really not designed to do. It starts out with a relatively slow aperture at the wide end, and then it gets worse as you zoom into things. They make these kit zooms good and cheap, with the cheap part being achieved by not having very large glass.
    I hate tripods like the plague and I rarely use mine, but there are certain kinds of photographs when you have to use one or else be satisfied with less than stellar results. If you are interested in nice interior shots of cathedrals, you may simply have to bite the bullet and use one... as long as you're not interested in people and their decisive moments. Or, you can often find other ways to support a camera (a cheap bean bag resting on something can work wonders, and so can even a hand on top of a pew, against a wall, etc.
    The churches and cathedrals I know are all fairly dark inside, beyond the light that filters in through the side windows. Even a "fast" f/2.8 constant aperture zoom might have some trouble with that when used handheld.
    What I'm saying is that buying an expensive new lens might be nice, but it won't necessarily solve your problem. There's a lot of difference in light gathering ability between your relatively cheap f/1.8 prime lens and the most expensive f/2.8 zooms.
    P.S. My constant search for camera support opportunities quite often lead me to points of view and angles that others miss. Come to think of it, so does my regrettable insistence on not using a zoom lens unless my life depends on it.
  11. low light/w-a is basically the tokina 11-16. nothing else out there that wide and that fast for DX.
  12. Mihai: Yes, I've been leaning towards the Tokina. The only drawback was the lack of autofocus but maybe that isn't such an issue...
    Leslie: Sorry--I think I wasn't clear when I said 'travel light'. I'd like to keep my DSLR--I only wanted to travel light in the lens sense. Taking only two with me at a time if I could help it. Thanks for the camera links though! It is looking more and more like I may end up with a 7000 and the 11-16mm...but I'll take a look at that Tokina 12-24 you mentioned!
    Carl: Agreed. I am going to take my 18-55mm out today and see how it does in terms of range. If I find I need wider (as I think I do), I'll keep on the hunt with the Tokina and a newer DSLR. I do have a small tripod, but as Mihai mentioned, they often aren't allowed in churches---and truthfully, I often don't like using it. But, I should try that too (when possible)...
    Pierre: Agreed. I can't fault the lens itself--it performs fine in outdoor, well lit conditions as I said--I just need something else for low light. Like you, I am not into the tripod use. Most of my photos are, as you described, "of people and their decisive moments". More like travel/daily life photojournalism. But taking architectural shots is something altogether different and I may have to support the camera in some way (the pew idea is a good one!). Your PS comment made me laugh--I wine annoyingly every time I take my 35mm off (as sometimes I do try to use the 18-55mm). That is why I've considered going the UWA prime route---to prevent future whining. haha!
  13. If you're photographing church architecture you'll want a reasonable depth of field, which a wide open fast lens isn't necessarily going to help with. If you don't want to use a tripod (and I see Manfrotto are advertising a carbon fibre tripod at under £100 at the moment, although I've no idea how good it is), then the good performance at high iso of the D7000 will help; I've certainly been impressed with mine when taking shots of gloomy interiors of churches. I think I'd probably go for the flexibility of a wide zoom if you're thinking of investing in the D7000.
    I take a lot of photographs of churches and can think of very few in the UK where I've not been allowed to use a tripod. There are some splendid churches in the Oxford diocese - you'll have a lot of fun exploring them.
  14. Erik: That's pretty much what my readings led me to believe. Thanks for confirming. :)
    Jonathan: That's what I had wondered---and where I was getting a little confused. Getting my 35mm really seemed to do the trick with my previous issues with portrait style low light issues--but I wasn't sure if it was needed for this application (wanting more depth of field or more in focus in the picture). I know that when I use my 35mm in these settings, the photos are really crisp and fine in low light--I just can't get enough in the frame--so I assumed I needed that fast aperture again. However some mentioned that with an UWA, the fast aperture isn't as necessary. This is where I go all 'newbie' and get confused. :) To add to the struggle, I mostly take daily life/portrait/travel experience type photos vs. landscape/architecture shots. So I keep going back to the wide zoom (even though my favorite lens is a prime). Any wide zooms you would recommend? Or even a mid range zoom with a wide end? Oh--and YES--there are some amazing churches around here. Hence, my keen desire to capture them all! :)
    Thanks everyone for the great responses---they are so helpful! KEep them coming!
  15. Why,in the name of all that's holy,do you think that autofocus is important?
    You are in a low light environment,can't use a tripod,baby on the hip..and a lens with 1/2 to 2/3F more light gathering ability,if used wide open,will help?
    Keep your current lenses,use a tripod.
    I am reminded of the old maxim : you can have it good,fast,or cheap. You may choose two.
  16. Ian: Thank you for your kind response.
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    low light/w-a is basically the tokina 11-16. nothing else out there that wide and that fast for DX.
    Erik: That's pretty much what my readings led me to believe. Thanks for confirming. :)
    The Tokina 11-16mm/f2.8 lens is reasonably fast, it is very wide, and it is designed for DX (APS-C) type sensors. However, please keep in mind that the Nikon-mount version of that lens has no AF motor inside; neither does the Nikon D5000 body. Therefore, if you use that combination, you will have no auto focus. Whether that is a "fatal" flaw is up to each individual to decide. That problem goes away if you indeed upgrade to a D7000, which has an on-body AF motor.
    Another issue with 11-16mm is that it is a fairly limited zoom range. It is not even 2x. If you really like super wides, it can be a good fit. If you don't need that wide, something like a 17-55mm/f2.8 DX lens from Nikon (expensive) or 3rd parties may be a better alternative. Most of such lenses have a built-in AF motor nowadays.
  18. Shun: Thank you for your very helpful response and insight. I think this is part of the question I need to answer--do I really need 'that wide' or will I be better off with a 'better in low light' version of my kit lens (which would be the 17-55mm). I plan to take my kit lens out and see if I am really at the 18mm end most of the time and wishing for more--if so then the Tokina 11-16mm with a D7000 to get the autofocus (or a nikon/tokina 12-24) seems like the answer. If not, then it seems the 17-55 that would be best. Do you have any recommendations for 3rd party lenses? I only have Nikon lenses and have been a little nervous about owning anything else. Although the Tokina has gotten strong reviews (here and elsewhere), the few others I have briefly read about seem like a mixed bag---and quality depends on "getting a good copy". Thanks again for your help!
  19. I love the 11-16, and for the kinds of things you are talking about, it's a great lens for that camera... with a tripod, imho, of course...
    Even though you HAVE f2.8, it doesn't mean that shooting all the way wide open is the way to go. However, unlike the other UWA zooms, if you stop down to f5.6, you're at the sweet spot of the lens, whereas you're close to or wide open on the others.
    That said, if all your photos are basically being viewed online at screen resolution, you can get away with hand-holding that lens... and AF might not be an issue, since you're in low light anyway, and I like to manually focus that lens in such cases.
    btw, with the D5000, if you're getting poor low-light AF, are you using the center AF point? With that camera, as with my D90, ALWAYS use the center point ONLY in real low light.
  20. Peter: WOW! Your last question was a great one. I DON'T always use the center focus point. In fact, a lot of my typical shots (candid photos of people interacting) are used with the focus centered on them (and they may be in the left or right, rather than center of the frame). I love the look that produces--but if the D5000 struggles with that in low light, then I will see how using center focus only works---and I will more seriously consider getting the 7000! Wow. That was such a helpful bit of information. Thank you! And good to hear AF is not such an issue. With the 'cathedral' type shots, I don't think manual focusing would matter to me--I was just imagining if I wanted to take it into other, more dynamic applications (shooting people). But, if the 7000 is in my future, the AF issue isnt' an issue at all...
    Thank you all so much--this is all such helpful advice! Keep it coming. I'm so glad I was finally brave enough to post!
  21. Sarah,
    The center point is the only "cross type" point on that unit, so it'll focus best in any light. I try to use it exclusively. But the thing about manually focusing with the 11-16... in cases like you're talking about. Rather than focus on a point, I normally try to figure out where my depth of field will be and so I focus BEFORE my far point, to get the full benefit and the maximum in focus.. Check out an online depth of field calculator and experiment at home some time.
  22. >> . I do have a small tripod, but as Mihai mentioned, they often aren't allowed in churches <<
    Apart from the "Lens Advices" : when going places where i cannot use a tripod, I can most of the time use a "Walking stick monopod" , mine is called "Leki Sierra" but there are many others too...
  23. Peter: Thank you so much for this info. I'm sure I should have known but I did not know this about the D5000. I will do as you suggest and experiment with the DOF calculations. And look for a 7000. haha!
    CPM: Interesting! I'll have a look at that. Thanks for the tip!
  24. The good part of UWA lenses is that they have plenty of DOF even at f2.8. This could be strange but the DOF of 11mm f/2.8 is much bigger that the one of 105mm f/8. Even when I use my 24/1.4 wide open I have enough DOF for most applications, using right the hyperfocal distance.
  25. Sarah, I haven't read this whole post, but I suggest the 14-24mm f2.8 Nikon. If you can't afford it, or just don't want to spend that much, I suggest the 20mm Sigma f1.8. If you would like something wider than your 18-55, then I suggest the 16-85mm VR. With VR switched on, you should be able to shoot good clear images at 1/15 second, with your camera set at ISO 200. You may have to go up to ISO 400 in some situations, but even ISO 400 is acceptable for the Web (Internet) and for prints up to 13x19. The wide-open performance of the 16-85mm VR is reasonably good (much better than the kit lens wide-open). If you want to go higher than ISO 400, you should have a Nikon D700. With one of those amazing cameras, you can shoot at ISO 800, 1600, and even higher (for 8x10 prints or for posting images on Web sites). I know this, because I have a close friend with a D700.
    I am not saying that you can't shoot at ISO 1600, if you are using a D5000. I had a D5000, and I shot some photos at ISO 1600. I even shot at ISO 3200 with that camera. The photos are fine for posting on Facebook or on a Web site. They aren't any good for making good photos for large prints though. 5x7 prints look fine from the D5000 at ISO 1600 though.
    To compare lenses, I like to use pixel-peeper dot com and slrgear dot com.
    Just so you know, I don't profess to know everything there is to know about lenses or cameras. I have some experience with Nikons (since I had one myself and have used others). I have some experience with Nikon lenses too (my brother has a couple and some expensive Nikon lenses, including the 14-24mm f2.8). Right now I am shooting with a Sigma SD14 and a Canon T1i. I am planning to get a Sony A33, A55, A65, or A77 (I'll probably just get the A33, because it is the least expensive, and the image quality is about as good as the others at ISO 400 and above, where I plan to use it, when not shooting with my Sigma). I have done a lot of research about lenses over the past few years. It is difficult to know what to buy. Primes have their advantages and disadvantages. Nobody knows everything, and what is right for them is not necessarily right for you, so take everything everyone says with a few grains of salt.
    Good luck Sarah!
  26. With all respect, Scott... 14-24 f2.8 for a D5000 user? Too heavy for travel, and there are better ranges for DX. That lens is the bees knees on FX, but DX? really?
    Another possibility, btw, is the Sigma 10-20 f3.5. Only a half-stop slower than the Tokina 11-16 and it goes wider AND longer for about the same price, I think.
  27. Scott: I looked at the 14-24 but it looks like quite big. I haven't tried it myself so maybe I am wrong but it just seemed to big for me/my camera. BUT--I had read quite a bit about the 16-85mm and had only ruled it out because I thought I wasn't going to gain much for low light applications--since my kit lens (18-55mm) has the same f3.5-5.6 range and doesn't meet my needs. But I kept going back to it because it does seem to have a more bit more in the 'general' focal length department and people seem to really love it (some even mentioned it doing well in low light). I don't know--still a bit nervous about buying the same aperture range but since you mentioned that lens, I will keep it as my 'dark horse' so to speak. And yes, as you said, these questions are so hard to answer. There's so much info out there and everyone has different needs--but I'm so glad I've posted because I've learned so much already! Thanks for your thoughts!
  28. Sarah, one reason to consider the 16-85 is... if you have the non-VR version of the 18-55... you can get decent results without a tripod with the 16-85 because of the VR. I shot wide-angle stuff when I had the 18-200 VR at CRAZY slow shutter speeds sometimes.
  29. Peter: Yes, I was afraid of the 12-24 and even though I looked at it, I kept going back to the Tokina. Just didn't think I would want to lug that around--but I'm sure it is a good lens. And yes, probably better on FF. I also had thought about the Sigma. But I got confused there too. Seemed the older (3.5-4.5) might have been better than the newer (3.5) but that both are highly dependent on getting a "good copy". Just didn't want to take that chance of getting a bum lens. Have you used one? If so, what do you think about the updated vs. old lens?
  30. Sarah -
    I wanted to rephrase my point about not needing f/2.8. It's not that you don't need it, it's just that most architectural photos, like the inside of cathedrals, aren't made using f/2.8. They're made using f/8-f/11 in order to increase depth of field and keep as much of the photo as sharp as possible.
    However, since I don't shoot UWA very often, I was forgetting my hyper-focal distances...which are quite small on UWAs. Hyper-focal distance is just under 20 feet when shooting 18mm @ f/2.8...but even if you're only 10 feet away, it's likely that everything you're trying to keep sharp will be within the lens's acceptable DOF.
    Sorry for the confusion, it's partly my fault for not recognizing the inherently large depth of field of WA/UWA lenses.
    An f/2.8 lens may, in fact, help your photography, however, I will stand by my original statement that a tripod will do more to improve your photography of cathedral interiors than a new lens will.
  31. I haven't read this whole post, but I suggest the 14-24mm f2.8 Nikon.​
    i'm puzzled by this suggestion too. the 14-24 is not designed for DX and would dwarf a d5000. for that price you could buy a d7000 and an 11-16--which would, obviously, give a much wider angle of view at the same 2.8 aperture..
    I suggest the 20mm Sigma f1.8.​
    i have yet to see anything suggesting that this pre-digital era lens is any good wide open or above 2.8. sigma needs to redesign this one, but i'd stay away until they do.
    If you would like something wider than your 18-55, then I suggest the 16-85mm VR.​
    the idea of VR for h/h low-light pics is a good one; unfortunately, that 2mm on the 16-85 isn't going to make a huge difference. it's just not significant enough on DX. also, that lens is 5.6 on the long end, which doesn't make it great for interiors. i have the sigma 17-50/2.8 OS HSM for my DX bodies. i can confirm that stabilization does help shooting still (non-moving) images at shutter speeds between 1/30 and 1/10, and that image quality will be much higher than a kit lens at open apertures. but i would still go with an actual ultra-wide if you want, well, ultra-wide perspective shots.
    If you want to go higher than ISO 400, you should have a Nikon D700.​
    this is sort of confusing advice to make such an absolutist statement, since the d5000 is pretty clean up until about ISO 1600, and the d7000 even cleaner. but i think what Scott is trying to say here is that an FX camera is cleaner than a DX camera at high ISOs, although IMO 400 isn't really high-ISO territory. but you also need FX lenses with an FX body, which gets expensive. it sort of depends on the application, but i've printed at 16x20 and 11x14 with d80, d300 and d90 bodies shot at ISO 1600--the d5000 shares a sensor with those, so the results should be about the same. most of those shots, however, weren't shots where i needed to stop down. another thing is that simply converting to monochrome and taking out the red channel in post- can clean up shots at high-ISO very efficiently, removing blotchiness while preserving detail.
    I will stand by my original statement that a tripod will do more to improve your photography of cathedral interiors than a new lens will.​
    this sort of gets to the crux of the issue, which is the need for increased depth of field in interior still-life shots. there are relatively few wide 2.8 lenses if any which are sharp in the corners at that aperture. even the two 2.8 stabilized 17-50s--the tamron and the sigma--are much better in the corners stopped down. if you want really good interior cathedral shots, you'll want corner sharpness. corner sharpness is obtained on most lenses by stopping down. to stop down in low light, you need a tripod so you can use a slow shutter speed. when i shoot landscapes with my tokina 12-24 on DX, i generally use a tripod and set the aperture to f8-f/11, which is about as low as i can go without introducing diffraction. i also use base ISO. the shutter speed is usually dependent on the amount of light, but is generally slower than 1/15, which is about the lowest i can handhold with good technique. it's just that i wouldn't trust handholding if i wanted acceptable sharpness without camera shake. as stated before, you can raise the ISO on a d5000 up to about 1600 and see if that works but the results will not be as sharp as with a tripod.
  32. sarah, one question i have after rereading your original post is, how good to you need your pics to be? are these for casual/web use, big prints, or prints you're trying to sell? if you're literally shooting with a small child in one hand, i wouldn't expect miracles, no matter what lens/body combo you're using. OTOH, if you're taking a careful, measured approach and are able to use both hands (and possibly a tripod), you could end up with some excellent pics.
    in terms of lens recommendations:
    • the most overall useful walkaround lens on DX is a stabilized fast zoom with some wide angle capability, i.e. the tamron and sigma 17-50s. (at this point, i would only consider the 16-85 VR for outdoor landscapes).
    • the best lens for handheld ultrawide-angle interior shots on DX would be the 11-16. if use of a tripod is permitted, i would consider the sigma 8-16. i would think that would be fantastic for cathedral pics, but it's aperture is quite slow.
    • having used the tokina 12-24/4 for five years, i can say that's a fantastic lens with stellar optical quality and wonderful contrast stopped down (and a pretty good value as well, especially the original, non-motorized version), and that the range is useful for both landscape-y and people shots. but (and this is a big but considering your intention) i rarely use that indoors without flash. btw, manual focus on a non-moving subject isn't too difficult, so that wouldn't be a deal-breaker for me. it's also surprisingly easy with the tokina UWAs, which have a focus-clutch mechanism and a nice wide focus ring which is easy to grip.
    another question i have is, are all tripods disallowed in these cathedrals? or just full-length tripods? a mini travel pod or even a clamp/ballhead combo could suffice where a full-size pod won't.
  33. Most people who "hate" a tripod have one that is obtuse to use, and it is usually a cheap flimsy one, with a crummy little ball on top or a snakes nest of levers to tighten. Wasted money and lost photos if either one hates to use one's tripod because it is a PITA or if it is an unstable base for the camera. It does not have to be either.
    Get a tripod that you will love to use. You need your tripod for the rest of your life. Get a strong tripod; that is the "duh" part. More than that, however, first, get a system for attaching the camera firmly and for doing so in an instant, such as the Arca Swiss standard used by many manufacturers for plates and L-brackets. Second, after the camera is attached to the pod, a professional quality ball head must sit atop the pod which will let one move the camera without so much as once touching any controls to tighten or loosen the adjustment. Just move the camera through the ballhead's sweet spot until the image is perfectly framed. You'll love it. And, you'll be taking cathedral photos with a narrow, dark aperture which has both high detail and long depth of field. I almost never go anywhere without taking my tripod with me because it became a pleasure to use.
    Go ahead and Google "ball head" and "sweet spot." Try this link, for instance, for the "duh" part:
    For a Markins' ball head review, but e.g., see others like RRS and Kirk whith have similar functionality:
    and for a cute video demo of the sweet spot on a ball head, scroll down to the last link on this page:
    I kept various dusty tripods in the closet for decades, with precious little use. Now, with a decent tripod and a pro ball head, I love my tripod. The rest were all wasted money, and lost photos.
  34. david, a markins ballhead, gitzo mountaineer, and L-bracket would almost certainly be overkill for the OP and her d5000.
    if i was just testing the tripod waters, i'd probably get something like this which has a comparable feature set (bubble level, foam grips, reversible center column, QR plate, counterweight hook, under 2.5 lbs, rated to 13 lbs.) as the manfrotto 190 series--the lowest-end "pro" tripod--for a fraction of the price (plus a carry bag). the ballhead actually has a cork QR plate--easier on the rubber bottom of your camera than naked metal--and a safety latch which prevents accidental camera release, plus a carry bag. i don't think there's a better entry-level leg/head set out there for less than twice the price (though i'm sure the manfrotto, which i have, has better build quality). and that's important for a newbie, because, honestly, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to plunk down more than 100 USD on something you're not accustomed to using, until you know you WILL use it regularly.
    yeah, yeah, i've read thom's article on tripods and how he thinks its better to spend the money once, but he's a jaded old landscape/nature/wildlife shooter. my school of thought here is, if you're just getting your feet wet, don't go off the deep end. IMO it's important to have gear which matches the type of shooting you do. if you're just taking day trips to cathedrals (most of which have solid wood floors which are already fairly sturdy and dampen vibrations) with a d5000 and an w/a lens--not shooting a 600mm lens in the wilds of Borneo or a windswept ridge in upper Patagonia with a D3--you may not need a carbon fiber 'pod--which make the most sense for hikers and long lens shooters.
    in fact, the OP might not ever need anything better than the basic and affordable set-up i linked to to make exquisite pics. Or if she finds she does, she could always upgrade the head (at which point the buy-in cost skyrockets exponentially) and maybe get a new set of legs later (ditto). there are, of course, other support options, but the reason to get a full-size tripod is to be able to get a clear view of the cathedral ceiling, which may not be possible with a table top tripod which fits in a purse.
    the important thing for beginners is to keep the weight down but also get something reasonably sturdy and inexpensive, with a good feature set. if you research carbon fiber tripods, you'll find that to get something lighter than 2.4 lbs. which supports more than 13 lbs and extends to 62"is a near impossibility, and to find one for under 500 USD is a certain impossibility.
  35. I love my D7000 in low light at ISO 3200. I would recommend a monopod as a compromise. You should be able to get at least two stops better with a monopod over hand held. It may be your cheapest solution.
  36. Eric (and David, in part): Thanks for your insightful response. I agree with your first three statements completely. And the 4th one too--my D5000 has done fine with ISOs higher than 400 (and yes a black/white conversion can do wonders) but an upgrade to the 7000 (rather than the pricey 700) might be reasonable in the near future. It sounds like it's low light performance is even better, it can run the autofocus of lenses without internal AF and it may allow me to focus at areas other than the center in low light--which another poster mentioned that my D5000 struggles to do, and I (not knowing that) force it to do that all the time. Oops!
    To answer your question, I currently use my photos for personal use and my blog. But, in the past 6 months, I have been asked to sell some of my photos and have been asked to take family portraits. I enjoy photography quite a bit (although I have much to learn) and be happy to take family portraits or do some type of travel writing/photography as my skills grow---and as I gain the right equipment. Based on these future goals, my real hope is to buidl a kit that could serve those ends--taking family portraits but also the 'photojournalism' type shots of places we are visiting around the UK.
    I did mention my little girl, which was silly because I think it has clouded my question. :) There are certainly times where I have taken photos with her 'on my hip' (and surprisingly they don't turn out as bas as that would sound! haha!) but that is the exception rather than the rule. And, if I am in a cathedral, it is usually during a family day trip and my husband is there to wrangle her while I focus--no pun intended--on taking photos! :) So, photos with a baby on my hip are really a worst case scenario rather than my normal shooting mode. :)
    I do have a very small tripod (I think it cost £10--brand is Hama) and maybe I should explore it's use just so that I can see the difference--and most importantly get familiar with using one. I'm sure it isn't the best one to use long term, so I will look into the entry level set that you mentioned in your post and the one David mentioned, if I find that this is really doing the trick. I think maybe I need to stop fighting the need for a tripod. I love hand held, spontaneous shooting but interior/cathedral/landscapes are a different ball of wax. I need to embrace the tripod!
    This forum discussion has been so helpful, everyone. Many of your questions and suggestions have helped clarify my goals with purchasing new equipment and have taught me some valuable things about photography/cameras.
    To that end, I think I am realizing that since most of my photography involves people or dynamic situations (in available light without a flash) and that these 'cathedral' or architectural/ non-moving subjects make up a lower percentage of my overall shots, I should probably start working on my tripod use. And I think that I need to consider upgrading to the 7000--and maybe hope it has a good kit lens with a fast aperture so that I can separately purchase a w/a lens! haha! One can dream...
    Eric, I'll check out those lenses you mentioned. I have been looking at the nikon 17-50 but it is pricey (obviously) so I'd be happy to check out a 3rd party lens. I had read at one point that a 28-70mm 2.8 was a good option too. Any thoughts on that lens anyone? Maybe a good mid range zoom, a w/a from a 3rd party and my existing 35mm, f1.8 would be a good set of lenses to grow into for a while----and possibly turning this hobby that I love into something more...
    Thanks all!!
  37. I interesting enough , I have a D5000, D7000 , 35mm 1.8 and i've tried the tokina for about a week .
    that said, D5000 works great with the tokina! ...in daylight. The problem is not having auto focus , with ultra-wide in dim light its harder to focus on objects since they are "gathered together" . I have the Sigma 8-16 F4.5- same holds true except it has HSM(AF). so compared with says the 18-55mm VR , I'll say not NOT going to be an improvement to the LOW light situation . VR + AF you'll get better success.
    The 35mm 1.8 is great for portraits , but being a prime and somewhat not too wide makes it hard to work with in cathedrals where you're trying to be as least intrusive as possible and just shoot a go.
    The D7000 ... this camera ROCKS, its like 60% better than my D5000 including in low light , can bump up the ISO 3x-4x more while maintaining the same results as the D5000@ISO200 huge help! But its over $1100 if you can find one.
    the tripod would give you the best and cheapest results, but it can be very intrusive setting up around church and lugging it everywhere.
    as far a lens go , I would recommend the Sigma 17-50mm 2.8 HSM OS, I use the 17-70mm 2.8-F4 with my D7K its a step better than the kit lens. For the meanwhile use your 18-55mm and take as many shots "Point, Spray , Pray " ;-)
  38. Sarah,
    I agree with Ian on this one. However I'll respond a little kinder. I use a D300. A bit older technology than your D5000. The lens I use the most is the kit lens from my Dead D70, a 18-70 f3.5-4.5. Having wanted a faster wide angle for interiors but not being able to afford one, I've learned to make the most of the kit lens. The use of a tripod is not always an option so I carry a bean bag with me. It allows me to level my camera on practicaly any surface and use slow shutter speeds.
    Also I find the camera is usable at iso 3200. Most photo editing software have noise reducing applications. So my advice would be spend more time using and learning the equipment you have before purchasing more equipment. I can tell you from experiance that practice and lots of image taking to master the cameras and lenses I have, did more for my photography than when I bought new equipment.
  39. yes, embrace the tripod! as david and myself pointed out, it allows you to shoot with deep DoF, base ISO, and low shutter speeds, and would dramatically improve shots with the 18-55 at say, f/8-f/11, where the plastic fantastic will be just as good as a pro-spec 2.8 zoom. you can have your wrangler carry it -- tell him he's your assistant!
    a d7k would also be a good upgrade, both for AF capability with non-motorized lenses and improved AF array (the technical term is cross-type sensors). otherwise, always use the center point AF for critical focus with the d5000. btw, the d7000's kit lens is the 18-105, which is just as slow as the 18-55, but has a longer long end. i'd probably just go body only and save the money for better glass.
    it's always better to improve your technique before plopping down cash on new gear, and i would practice manual focusing still subjects on a tripod for sure if i were you. it's easier, though, with something with a wide focus ring like the tokinas than a dinky one like the 18-55 or 35/1.8
    speaking as a semi-pro prohotojournalist--meaning i do get paid for assignments but its not my sole source of income--my preferred DX kit might include UWA, wide 2.8 stabilized zoom, fast 1.8 or 1.4 prime, and maybe a telephoto option, depending on what i'm shooting. if i can only bring one lens, it'll either be the UWA or the fast zoom, except for a casual situation where all i'm shooting is candids, where a 30 or 35 is enough. i love the UWA 'look', but it takes a lot of practice shooting one, so if you do pick one up, expect lots of trial and error with framing and composition.
    but as far as lenses, i'd get the 17-50 OS or VC over the 17-55, which is more of an 'event' lens than a walkaround lens and lacks stabilization. i've found, after using the 17-50 OS for a year and the 17-50 (non-VC version) for three years previously, that they can handle just about anything thrown at them from blurred backgrounds to detail-rich landscapes. the compact form factor is a big plus IMO.
    the 28-70, affectionately known as 'the beast', was a wedding shooters' favorite before the 24-70 came out. i'd skip that, personally. if you want something with a little more reach and constant 2.8, the tamron 28-75 is just as good optically and a lot lighter for walkaround use. that focal range pairs well with an UWA on DX, and gives you a bit more room for portraits than a 17- or 18-xx.
    for a while, my kit was 12-24/4, 28-75/2.8, and 30/1.4, which is pretty close to the combo you're suggesting. that's a pretty versatile set-up for a lot of shooting situations. i considered the 11-16 but since i already had the 12-24, it didnt make sense. if i was buying now, i'd take a long look at the 8-16, which would be super-dramatic for UWA shots. if you went that route, a 17-xx would make more sense, though, as 16-28 is a pretty critical range.
  40. Garcia--Oh, I know that D7000 is going to be the way to go, ultimately. And your 'point, pray and spray' comment made me laugh! I don't know much about 3rd party lenses--but in my brief (super brief) readings about the Sigma (and the Tamron), I read about focusing issues. Have you had any trouble with that?
  41. Steve: This is the second time someone has mentioned a bean bag--what a great, low tech idea! I think you (and yes, even grumpy Ian) are right--taking a step back and learning to use a tripod or experimenting more with my current equipment will teach me loads. All of which will translate to any future equipment choices I make and improve my overall technique. Very good (and kind) advice indeed. Thank you. I've actually put my dinky little tripod in my Camelbak, so that I give it some use this week as I am out and about. And, thanks for sharing your photo. It is lovely! :)
  42. Eric: haha! Yes--I will embrace the tripod. For now I'll tote the dinky one around and if I upgrade, I'll get the hubs to wrangle AND our little girl! That situation should make for plenty of photos right there... haha!
    As for the technique suggestion--thank you! Very good idea. I will take your suggestion about trying to manual focus a still object on the tripod. I have made a goal of using it this week anyway, so that will be a good little lesson to start with.
    As for the lens suggestion, that is a good point about the size of the nikon 17-55 and 24-70. I had read the 24-70 was a monster and thought the 17-55 would be more manageable. Guess not! ha! As for the Tamron 17-50 suggestion, I had read that it and the Sigma had focusing issues--or issues with one side of the image being unclear. Have you experienced this with that lens (or the 28-75)? I'm sure bum lenses happen with every brand, so I'm not anti-3rd party per se, but just wanted to ask. If you had problems, was the repair covered and quickly handled?
    Know anything about the Tokina 16-50? It seems like the other 3rd party lens in this range but it hasn't been mentioned. Oh, and what do you (or anyone else) think or know about w/a primes? I love my 35mm--is a w/a prime ever a good idea? Is it horribly pricey?
    Ah, all this info is making my head spin. haha! I have a little notepad by the computer with a list of options. Luckily some things are being crossed of, so I am making some progress. Thank you all for your very informative responses!!
  43. As for the Tamron 17-50 suggestion, I had read that it and the Sigma had focusing issues--or issues with one side of the image being unclear. Have you experienced this with that lens (or the 28-75)?​
    i must be lucky, because of the six Sigma lenses i own--17-50/2.8, 15/2.8 fisheye, 15-30/3.5-4.5, 50-150/2.8, 30/1.4, 50/1.4--i've never had any QC issues with any of them. when i had the Tamron 17-50, the only issue i had was overexposure in TTL-BL w/ a nikon speedlight, a known issue which is easily worked around. no issues with the 28-75, which kept working even after a fall cracked the filter. i also have a few Tokina lenses--12-24/4, 35/2.8 macro, 100/2.8 macro. no QC issues with any of those, either. i don't doubt that others have had issues, and in general, i'm not an early adopter of any new product, but the relatively few folks who have had bad 3rd party experiences tend to complain loudly and often on Internet forums. FWIW, Nikon lenses aren't immune to QC issues, either.
    I had read the 24-70 was a monster and thought the 17-55 would be more manageable.​
    the 17-55 is certainly not light. i have the 24-70 and with a D3s, you definitely feel it after just a couple hours of shooting. that's why i say both of these are 'event lenses' -- not ideal for walkarounds, though both are good, even excellent, optically.
    Know anything about the Tokina 16-50? It seems like the other 3rd party lens in this range but it hasn't been mentioned.​
    the Tokina 16-50 may be somewhat of a sleeper. like all AT-X lenses, it has very good build quality for the price. optically, it's said to be pretty good, but not demonstrably better than the Sigma or Tamron variants. there may be CA issues with it. it's also heavier than the tamron and sigma. i know there are flickr groups where you can see examples of shots taken with it, but there are very few reviews on it. it doesn't have an AF motor, nor stabilization, so for a d5000 it would be less than ideal.
    Oh, and what do you (or anyone else) think or know about w/a primes? I love my 35mm--is a w/a prime ever a good idea?​
    w/a primes? eh, not so much for DX. here's why: w/a isn't so wide on an APS-C sensor and there are so many good UWA zooms for the DX format that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense economically, nor practically. the other issue is that the w/a prime lineup for all manufacturers is fairly old--most are from the pre-digital era, and tend to not be that sharp, especially at open apertures, on digital bodies, especially newer ones with high MP counts like the 3100 and 7000. what's the point of getting a 20/2.8 if you have to stop down to 5.6 or f/8 for it to be sharp? Unless you are a hiker who takes landscape photos and needs to shave weight, you could be disappointed. and if you're shooting at f/8 anyway, the 18-55 is just as good and just as light/compact.
    I wish there were more fast w/a primes, but the only newer Nikkor which fits this category is the 24/1.4G, which is cost-prohibitive for most, and makes more sense on FX, anyway. there are a trio of 1.8 Sigmas--20/24/28--but these are older lenses in need of a refresh. reviews on these say they don't have the same level of performance at open apertures as sigma's newer 30,50, and 85/1.4's. they're also fairly bulky, with bulbous lenses, not compact like DX kit zooms. all in all, i would skip the w/a primes until something better comes out. when you think about it, the best w/a "prime" for DX is actually a zoom--the Tokina 11-16. because it's a DX lens, its much more compact than FX lenses like the nikon 14mm/2.8 and 14-24, or the sigma 12-24 (aka "Popeye").
    btw, the tamron 17-50 i had was incredibly sharp at 2.8, had very little distortion at 24mm (17mm was a different story) and was very compact. because it was so good wide open, for me there was no need to even think about a prime in that range, since it covered the 20/24/28/35 focal lengths and i would not have seen much if any optical improvement from primes. i also found it was really sharp, even in the corners, at f/9. so, to me, that was the perfect DX lens. even though i've moved on to the optically-stabilized Sigma 17-50, i still miss my little tammy, which was a real clutch performer. It's taken me a while to warm up to the Sigma, which has a different optical signature and is extremely contrasty, but i like it now, after using it for a year. biggest issue with that is really the reversed zoom ring which moves in the opposite direction than most F-mount lenses.
  44. Thank you, THANK you, to everyone that kept urging me to pick up the darn tripod.
    Today, I took your advice and put my often complained about kit lens on the camera, put the combo on the tripod and took some photos of my living room (since my little girl has a cold--no outing today!). Wow. Let me just say that while I still am not impressed with my kit lens--just no oomph to the photos--it did light years beyond what I expected indoors with lamplight. LIGHT YEARS. So much so, that at one point, when I was getting amazingly clear results at f8 and 10, I was thinking, "what the heck am I thinking about that f 2.8 for anyway?"---and then my little girl ran across the room during a shot and I said, "oh yea--thats why!" haha! And--as a bonus--I have always steered clear of the tripod because I love the creativity of going h/h--finding the right moment or angle. But, I was happy to see that while there isn't the same "looking for the right moment" with a tripod, there's still loads of choices in terms of positioning and camera settings and cool effects with shutter speed choices (like for blurring without erasing my cute little moving target!). So, hooray for new skills to be learned as I explore the tripod more. Thank you all!
    After all the great information from this discussion, I've looked around at the used market. I've seen the following:
    -Tamron 17-50
    -Tamron 28-75
    -D90 + Tokina 11-16
    -D300s + Tamron 17-50
    While many have mentioned the D7000 great low light performance, I don't think that's a practical purchase at this point. I thought I'd just go the route of lenses (the Tamron and Tokina) but then these bodies with the lens are less than just the lens! Both of these bodies have an AF motor (which my D5000 doesn't) and more direct controls to "grow into", so maybe it wouldn't be a terrible idea to consider changing over to them. iAny thoughts? Overall, I think if I end up with the Tokina zoom, the Tamron zoom, a better tripod (yes, I said it!!) and maybe an 85mm prime (for my hubby's rugby games), I think I'd have a pretty good range covered to last me a while. And I can sell whatever existing equipment I don't need (kit lens and/or camera) to recoup some of the cost. We'll see what I can turn up on gumtree...
    Thanks again to everyone that has taken the time to post suggestions or advice. It has all been tremendously helpful and saved me loads of tearing my hair out (and likely wasting money!).
  45. Sarah,
    That kit lens is actually pretty sharp, especially when stopped down a bit. It is just not a great low light lens, as you already know to your own satisfaction. You might try your kit lens, stopped way down, on the tripod, in a cathedral when there are no annoying people to get in the way, if that is at all possible. You just might find that you have a fantastic image, with an exposure measured in seconds. And, yes, nobody really shoots kids very much with a tripod. A quicker lens, or a higher ISO, or a bit of both are needed with them. Perhaps even some burst shooting since it is hard to catch the exact moment, or the best nuance of a changing expression.
    Of the camera lens combinations, the D90 and the D300s have the same sensor, so they take essentially the same image. I moved a few years ago to the D300, and I did not look back. It is rugged, pretty well weather sealed, and in 12 bit mode shoots bursts at high speed, something I like to do for HDR shots, such as you might find useful inside a cathedral where there are dark corners and shadows as well as very bright windows or stained glass. The downside of the D300 is that is expects you to know something of what you are doing, and has no scene modes, such as portrait or beach or snow or the like where one just turns the dial to an icon, and lets the CPU do everything for you. Still it is my choice. The D90 is a fine choice as well. It is lighter weight, has the motor for non-AFS lenses, and it has the scenes on the knob for when you want to be lazy and let the camera do it all too. The D300 has a more sophisticated focus system, and is more customizable.
    I have pretty much kept to Nikkors, except for the Sigma 10-20mm ultra wide I bought with the D300, for "fun." One of your choices is essentially the equivalent to my Sigma. That is a very wide angle lens, and it is not a general purpose carry around lens. The middle lenses in your list are more general focal lengths for a crop sensor camera, the 17-55mm ones. However, the 28-75mm is not a wide angle at all on a crop sensor. It is equivalent to 42-83mm on a full sensor, or a normal lens to mild telephoto. The long end would be a portrait length, and the wide end would be a little wider in "feel" than what the human eye sees as perspective. This latter lens, though, might be a good choice if you were to hang on to the kit lens for a while. I'll let others extol the virtues, or not, of the particular third party lenses. Just beware that folks like to defend the choices they have made -- don't we all?
    When I got my D70s several years ago, it came with a wonderful kit 18-70mm, slow lens. While I have diverted the D70s to other uses now, I have hung on to that little kit lens. It is sharp as a tack, light weight, with useful focal lengths. And it makes a great travel lens for the D300, lightening the load and yet able to cover a lot of photo situations.
    On the tripod, if you are happy with the images you get inside a cathedral, or a landscape where you want everything tack sharp because you stabilized your camera with the pod, then think about getting a plate to attach to bottom of the camera body and a quick change top to a tripod. One does not need to go to Arca Swiss style right away, but you do want to have something that allows you to get the camera on and off the tripod without screwing a bolt into the bottom of your camera every time you want to attach or un-attach it.
    A final defense of the kit lens. Virtually all architectural shots and virtually all landscape shots are made at narrow apertures. The fastest prime or zoom you think of will still see most of its duty with the diaphragm stopped down. So, your kit can do that just as well a great deal of the time. For indoor snapshots, say of a child in movement, do not be afraid to crank up the ISO pretty high. When you make a small print, the noise of the high ISO will largely go away (for technical reasons we need not explore here) when the file is "downsized" for the print; downsizing reduces noise. Some gentle noise reduction in software can reduce that as well. Only pixel peepers will complain about the noise at 100% view on the computer, which is not what you or anyone else will see on a 4"x6" print of your kid zooming around the living room.
    You do not also need huge numbers of pixels for a fairly large print. In a recent show we participated in, older six megapixel images from my D70s made very nice, very detailed 13"x19" prints, one winning second place in a landscape category for my fiance. Your gear is more capable than it feels like. And, yes, I upgraded myself, but the old gear can do a very, very good job.
    Have fun my friend.
  46. Erratum: The 35mm equivalent of the Tamron 28-75 is 42-112mm.
  47. Sarah: one variation from the 'pod department. Have a look at something called a Gorillapod. I've used one all over Europe in museums which are deeply camera unfriendly, and would vaporize you if you even thought of unhitching a tripod. The Gorillapod is much smaller, therefore far more discrete, but can also be bent around things that you might not ordinarily think of for camera support - like the back of a pew in one of those Oxford churches, or a lampost, etc. With legs closed, you can balance and hold it on a ledge, like a miniature monopod. I use mine with a small Manfrotto ballhead - it takes my D7000 and Nikon 70-300mm (just). With the same camera and a 35mm attached, indoors, it's as stable as you could wish for. There are different sizes to suit different cameras/lenses. A final key benefit - it has three wonderfully bendy legs: perfect for entertaining a two-year old en route to the next photo shoot!
  48. David: The lack of scene modes is something I was thinking about when considering whether to upgrade or not. I don't use these modes but I know that my husband uses AUTO when he wants to snap a few photos. I think if I did away with those altogether, then he would just have to use his Iphone. Which he does most of the time anyway because he complains, "my pictures don't look like yours when I use the camera". But, maybe, I'll keep all this in mind--the D90 or D7000 might be the better upgrade path rather than moving to the D300.
    As for the tripod, yes, I am no longer anti-tripod and that is going to make a big difference. I will look into the tripod elements you mentioned. As it stands, I have a cheap (£10 Hama) and will just keep practicing on it. If I do well with that and use it often, I will pay close attention to these elements (how to easily get camera on/off) when I decide to get something a little better (but still light/compact for a Camelbak!) than what I have now.
    I agree--I don't want to bash my current gear. I've been getting really nice images with the D5000 and the 35mm--including some great shots low light stuff with low/no noise, like kids at a bonfire playing with sparklers after sunset. It's done me well. And, (in my super newbie opinion) I feel like the 35mm has taught me a lot about composing a photograph. Moving myself around and choosing angles has been a good lesson. Now, when I put the zoom on (for landscape or buildings), I have to remind myself to use it! But I do bash the kit lens--and that's mostly because it just doesn't serve as a general lens for my needs. If I always used a tripod or shot outdoors/in good light, I'm sure it'd be fine. But, alas, I am torturing myself and my equipment with available light most of the time. So, it makes me want to part with my little kit lens to get something with a faster performance in those conditions.
    Your comments on the lenses and ranges were insightful. I have been reluctant to buy 3rd party but many people on the forum are expanding my thoughts on that. As for the range, I think that this is the big question for me. I have two lenses and the one I use 98% of the time is the prime. Maybe if my zoom were faster, I'd use it more. Or maybe I just like primes. I think that I'd be smart to get a zoom that I'd use---but whether that will be at the wide range or the mid range is something I have to figure out now. I am going to take the kit lens out and force myself to use that zoom--so that I can figure out and I wanting more at the wide or the long end. That will help. I think my gut tells me that I'd like a wide prime, my 35mm, and a longer mid range zoom--and a tripod! :) But we'll see. With my current camera, I think the wide primes are not going to focus on my camera anyway.
    Ah, so much to think about. I am just in awe of the responses here. I was discussing the forum with my husband last night--about how I expected a couple of comments at best and instead it has been this huge outpouring of support and info. Thank you everyone for your time and knowledge. I have learned so much already and know that when I make my purchase, it will be one that I feel has been well thought out!
  49. Chris: Your comment was awesome. Not only for the mental image of being vaporized in a museum but for your spot on comment about the toddler entertainment factor! My cheap (£10) Hama is a small tripod with bendy legs and I know she would LOVE checking it out. Kudos to your idea of using it to keep the tiny person entertained between travel destinations! And--I'll check out the tripod mount element you mentioned. It keeps coming up, so it must be important! :) Thanks for the good comments--and the laugh!
  50. my husband uses AUTO when he wants to snap a few photos. I think if I did away with those altogether, then he would just have to use his Iphone.​
    not really. you can just use P (rogram) for no-brainer photography. basically the same as Auto, i believe, except you can set ISO or Auto-ISO value and also P* or program shift which gives higher shutter speeds in some situations. i use this all the time when i need to shoot quick and dont have the time to fiddle with settings.

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