Newbie D700 owner looking for lense recommendations

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jason_clawson, Nov 24, 2008.

  1. I am getting a D700 soon (replacing my old D70). I have a AF-S VR Zoom NIKKOR 70-300mm lens that I plan on
    using with the D700. Do you guys have recommendations for a good prime lens (one that works well for landscapes
    and portraits) and a good macro lens that both work with the FX format? Are there any good off-brand lenses that will
    work well (that are cheaper) or should I stick with Nikon?
  2. I don't know if you'll find one prime lens that will work for *both* landscapes and portraits, but I've been really enjoying my Nikkor 105mm f2.5 AI lens on my new D700. It's super sharp, contrasty, and very easy to focus in the viewfinder. I'm also very impressed with my Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 zoom. And my Nikon 70-300mm ED zoom is also excellent. Other lenses that really shine on the D700 are the Nikkor 35mm f2 AI, and the Nikon 55mm f2.8 AIS.
    The first Boeing 747, now in retirement at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington
    Nikon D700, ISO 200, Nikkor 105mm f2.5 AI at f5.6
  3. 60mm micro-nikkor for macro,
    85/1.8 for portraits,
    maybe a 50/1.8 as well.
  4. For landscapes, I think you want a 17-35 f2.8 or something like that. Combined with a 50mm f1.4 or f1.8 and your 70-300,
    pretty decent kit.

    If you are trying to save money on the lenses... perhaps you should consider sticking with DX so you can afford great
    lenses for it. Don't put cheap glass in front of an FX sensor. Just my opinion, but that's not the way to go.

    What is your budget?
  5. Peter, I hear references to "cheap glass" all over the place on this forum. But surely you don't call a Tamron 17-35mm zoom "cheap glass" do you? To me, cheap glass is the Nikon 18-55mm. Tokina, Tamron, and Sigma, all manufacture some excellent lenses that are right up there with the $1500 Nikon big bertha zooms. Personally I don't want to carry around a 2lbs zoom lens unless I am being paid handsomely for it :)

    You would recommend someone to buy an inferior body with an expensive lens? The D300, as good as it is, will not make as good and clean a photo as the D700 no matter which lens is on it. And I am speaking from experience here. So telling someone to "stick with DX" is doing somewhat of a disservice to them, unless you make sure they understand all the differences you are mentioning, don't you think?
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I would put it this way: you are ready to buy a D700 only if you either already have some good lenses or are ready to buy some to go along with a high-end body; most likely it'll be some combination of both. Good lenses don't have to be very expensive. I personally recommend some of these:

    But there are many other choices.
  7. Dave, I was responding to this from the OP [Are there any good off-brand lenses that will work well (that are cheaper) or
    should I stick with Nikon?]

    Sounded like he might be looking for budget lenses to me. Mistake on a camera like that, I think you'll agree, as you
    recommended good lenses.

    Also, we don't know the size of photos he'll be making. You write [The D300, as good as it is, will not make as good and
    clean a photo as the D700 no matter which lens is on it.] I defy anyone to demonstrate that on a smaller than 8x10 print
    viewed normally, which is what the VAST majority of users end up printing and viewing. Also, a certain poster on seems to think that at least the D300 is sharper... :) (just ribbin' ya...)

    We need more info to be sure. Jason, what size do you think you'll print or use those images? That's an important
  8. Check out the Nikkor AF 24-85mm f/2.8-4 D Macro (1:2), about $550 US:
  9. If I where you I would spend some time reading Bjorn's site:
    I recently purchased a D700. I have these Nikkors: 20mm f2.8 AF-D, 28mm f2 AIS, 35mm f2 AIS, 50mm f1.4 AIS, 85mm f1.8 AF-D, 180mm f2.8 AF-D and 500mm f4 P. IMHO you should get the best glass possible for this body. Depending on your needs a 35mm and something in the 85-105 range would do for starters.
  10. Landscapes and portraits with a prime? You mean a zoom, I'm sure. Since you know what you want to do, explore the
    Nikon lineup in their website, list the lenses you think you can use, ask precise questions about especific lenses and
    then, if you like what you hear, try them or buy them.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd start looking for zooms starting with a 24mm focal length. There are several in the range you
    want: 24-85 (a fast and a not-so-fast), 24-70 (very fast and nice) and a 24-120 (reviled by some, praised by others,
    among whom I will count myself). You can also explore some third party possibilities that get praise in the internet
    space, like the Sigma 24-70 f2.8, the Tamron 28-78 f2.8 and many more. Heck, you can also explore some older,
    discontinued lenses by Nikon, like the 28-105 zoom of variable aperture. In short, there's still a lot.

    Back when I knew I wanted a new lens but didn't know which, I used the B&H online catalogue as a guide; I searched
    the store lookiing at what they offered for, say, my old Nikon F80, and based on their offerings searched, explored and
    asked questions regarding certain lenses. I wound up with an AF-S 24-85 G zoom that's really good, and, as recently as
    today, with my AF-S 24-70 f2.8... for the Nikon D700 I got last week.

    In short, Jason, welcome to the club of D700 users... and the the lens searchers fraternity!
  11. So far I´m happy with the Nikkor AF 50/1.8D and the Tamron 90/2.8 Macro Di together with Nikon D700. :)
  12. 105 2.5 Ai. I have not found a Nikon prime I thought was really bad. My 85 2.0 105 2.5 135 3.5 200 4.0 50 1.4 35 2.0
    28 2.8 Ais 24 Ai all seem to work fine

    Stay away from off brand stuff. The above Nikkors are all cheap enough today
  13. Wow thanks for all the replies and advice. I am so glad I joined this website.

    From what I have come to understand, and I am sure many will argue this point, shots taken with the D700
    with "cheaper glass" look better than shots taken with the D300 with more expensive lenses. This probably
    depends on what you are shooting. I don't think I would notice enough of a difference though.

    I am not a professional photographer by any means -- photography is more of a hobby and I definitely have a
    lot to learn so I am thankful for all the helpful advice.

    For my "prime"-ary (sorry was confused about the term) lens (aka: standard zoom lens) I was planning on
    spending < 800ish. I would like a lens that works well in low light situations. So with your
    recommendations I have narrowed it down to:
    1) Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4D IF ($600ish)
    2) Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF VR ($495)

    I am not sure which to pick. Really they are a tossup for me. I would love to have better low light
    performance but the extra zoom, VR, and lower price point is attractive as well.

    Which would you guys pick and why? Are there any comparable Tamron / Sigma lenses? (I can't seem to
    tell which are compatible with the FX sensor)

    Also, as far as macro goes. I have never owned a macro lens. I love macro photography and it is something
    I want to do more of. Right now I do macro with my D70 and my 70-300mm VR lens. It actually works
    pretty well for closeups of flowers and such. If any of you guys do macro photography I would be interested
    in hearing about your setups / seeing some examples of your photos.

    Thanks again for all your help and advice.
  14. Oh and... I would print mostly 8x10 and smaller...probably mostly 8x10. Maybe a few printed larger. To
    tell you the truth, I mean to print lots of photos, but never seem to get around to it.
  15. Jason,

    Peter brought up a very good point. Your end-usage must be known. If all you want is an 8x10" print, by all means get a D300 (or D80 for that matter). You won't ever tell the difference. What I've found the D700 can do, that the D300 can not, is produce an insanely clean file with literally no noise at all at ISO 200. Even images at ISO 1000 are amazingly clean. The D300, with its DX format sensor, simply cannot do this and never will be able to do this. I've seen noise in photos taken with the D300 at ISO 200 (in transition and shadow areas) that simply aren't there with the D700.

    So you have to decide what is best for you. I was perfectly happy with my D300 when I got the FX format bug. And I'm happy to have it because I feel like I can take more photos in more varied light than I could have with the D300. And I also appreciate having full frame usage of my MF prime lenses. There is also a much higher selection of lenses for FX than there is for DX, though some lenses exist only in the DX world, like the wonderful Nikon 10.5mm DX fisheye lens.
  16. I made 12x18" prints from my D80 that look stunning. Print media tends to really smudge grain in a nice way, you can get cleaner prints than you would think looking at them at 100% pixel level on the screen. I've tended to have my clients look at the image at 66% or sometimes even 50% to see what the final outcome will look like. So if all you need are 8x10" prints, by all means, go for the D80 or D90, or the current DX format flagship, the D300. The D700 would be a waste of money, I'm afraid.
  17. For macro, I recommend the Nikon 200mm f 4.0 AF. I just bought a Nikon 70-200mm f 2.8 AFS VR G and after seeing five images from it taken at f 2.8 in low light, I do not know why I have waited all these years to buy this lens that looks like will be one of my most used lenses after my 200mm macro and my 500mm f 4.0. Of course I also like and recommend the Nikon 50mm f 1.8 AF or its newest brother, the 50mm f 1.4 AFS G version, just released unless you have this focal length covered by one of the zoom lenses mentiuoned in Shun's post.

    Or ponder these "best Nikon" lens recommendations at:

    Joe Smith
  18. Thanks for your advice Dave. I really considered the D300 for a long time. I really do want the low noise, high iso
    capability the D700 offers. I may not see the D700 advantages all the time but I would like to know that they are there
    when I do need them.

    For instance, I sometimes have the need to crop-zoom (for lack of a better term) in post processing in which case noise
    becomes more noticeable. I also take a lot of low-light shots without a flash at relatively high isos. (The D70 at 1600
    iso looks pretty bad and I am just sick of it!) From what I have seen in tests, the D700 simply looks amazing at high
    isos which is my primary reason for wanting it. Otherwise, I would get the D300 for sure.
  19. I agree with Peter Hamm and Shun above. Lenses are the LAST place I go cheap. A superb lens on a D300 will likely beat a D700 with a lesser lens. My recommendation is you get a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 or the new Nikon 50mm f1.4. Nothing less. What would be the point? I have the $$ to buy a D700, but instead bought a D300 and upgraded lenses. Seeing the results, I'm certain I made the best choice.

    Kent in SD
  20. I just replaced my D 200 with a D 700. I never got ride of my lenses that I last used with my F100. So I now have and use with the D700 the following: 50mm F1.4af, 24mm F2.8af, 35 - 70mm F2.8afD, 20mm F2.8af, and a 75 - 150 F3.5 E. These lenses great to use on my D700
  21. I had the same problem when buying my D700. After what I've tried I would definitely suggest buying the 24-70mm f
    2.8 lens, which can be a versatile, generic purpose lens for most occasions, and a 85mm 1.4 for portraiture, and
    available light photography. With these you will make shots that just blow your mind. I never regretted buying
    the expensive stuff.

    The only problem with these is that they raise your expectations towards image quality, and you will spend
    fortunes on lenses later. Seriously, don't buy a cheap lens for a D700, you will regret wasting the time will
    have spent shooting with it.
  22. jason, there's been a lot written about the 24-120 VR -- some of it by me. and while some people have had good experience with it, the chances of getting a poor sample a quite good. which is bad. so avoid it unless you're absolutely sure you can get a good copy. i've also considered the 24-85, but i truly think the gold standard is the 24-70. for myself, when the time is right, that's the direction i'll take. to tide myself over until i sink $1,500 on the lens i really want, i'm working with the lowly 28-70 f/3.5-4.5 D lens. even so i purchased it at an online auction site for $80, bjorn rorslett rates it a 4 on his site. although i have a decent selection of fast primes, if i want to pack light for just about any situation, i'll bring a tamron 17-35 f/2.8-4, the 28-70 and a 70-300 VR. nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.
  23. I use a D300 and my main lens on my body 90% of the time is a 35-70 mm 2.8 AFD. This lens can be found for usually under 400 bucks these days and is a great tank of a lens. I dont see any noise at all on my images until I get over 1200-1600 ISO.
  24. I've had a D300 for a few months now, and I would also agree with previous posts -- the FX sensor will give you a
    much cleaner file, so if you can afford it, go with the D700. I upgraded from a D70, and I sympathize with your
    pain around the noise issue. When you go much higher than 800 on that thing, it often destroys photos,
    especially in shadows. (Mine actually has horizontal banding in the noise. Argh.) To me, the D300's shadow
    noise is not too obnoxious -- it's akin to film grain. But if I could wave a magic wand and get rid of it, I
    would. Usable 6400 would also be wonderful, too.

    Planning an eventual upgrade to FX, I've been ogling plenty of full-frame lenses lately. If you've got the
    money, I've heard many rave reviews about the Nikon 85 f/1.4. Superb bokeh, and great for portraits. The new
    Nikon 50 f/1.4 AF-S is supposed to be spectacular, as well. I've got the AF-D 50 f/1.4, and I wouldn't be caught
    dead without it. Nice bokeh. It looks amazing on the D300, and that's with 12MP crammed into a DX sensor. (It
    has a field day with FX, I'm sure.) 1.4 is pretty soft, especially in the corners. By f/2, it's getting there.
    2.8 and 4 are amazing. The new AF-S version is even sharper. Personally, my next lens is going to be a 35 f/2,
    so that I have a normal prime again. There's just something about 50 that I love and have missed since going DX.
    Also, like a previous poster said, beware of primes. Their image quality and light-gathering ability are
    absolutely addictive. You won't mind the extra few steps it takes to "zoom".

    Whatever you pick, it's your imagination and creativity that make the photo. I've seen some amazing photos out
    of pocket cameras -- but having good equipment doesn't hurt at all. ;)
  25. I love my Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 on my D700. It does vignette in the corners at 17mm, but by 20mm that's gone. It's sharp and contrasty and lightweight. A great walkaround lens.
  26. Thanks Dirk. I haven't used a prime before but it sounds like it should be something I take a serious look at. I
    suppose I don't mind taking a couple steps forward/back :).

    I really just want a lens that I can use for daily use when traveling "light." When traveling, I hate having to stop
    and switch lenses. Thats why I like a zoom lens that is flexible enough for landscapes and portraiture.

    I suppose I just need to go in the store and really try it out.

    Oh, and thanks Dave for your recommendation. I will take a look at that-- especially at that price. (I don't care
    about vignetting... nothing lightroom can't fix)
  27. I have a 24-120 VR, some have said that this is not one of Nikon's best but the images I have taken with it are sharp and the colours are superb. It's is a great walk about lens at a bargain price. I also have a 60mm 2.8 micro another bargain lens from Nikon.
  28. If you don't yet own the 50/1.8, that's one of the best value lenses ever made.

    For portraits, your 70-300 at 70mm should be pretty good already, it's a tad slow (4.5) but not that bad. Getting a full stop or two faster will be expensive.

    For macro you'd probably want the 105, since the 60 in a full-frame may force you to get too close for the shots you want.

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