Nikon 50mm f/1.4G VS 35 mm f/1.8G.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by anastasia_dosov, May 20, 2015.

  1. Hi,
    I'm a hobbyist photographer, still at very early stage of the learning curve. We have D5200 and these lenses:
    18x55mm lens 1:3.5-5.6G
    55-200mm lens f/4 -5.6G ED
    I noticed I take much better pictures with 55-200mm lens f/4 -5.6G ED, but a photographer-friend said we should sell both lenses and get one prime lens, and she recommended: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.
    Another friend said, he knows I will want to take tons of pictures of my daughter (who will join us in late June) – and said my choice should be 35 mm f/1.8G.
    What would you recommend if I have only $400?
    Thank you!
  2. I would continue to use the lenses you have. The advice of your friends has some merit, but isn't ideal for everybody - not being able to zoom can be rather limiting if you're still learning. I wouldn't sell the zoomlenses yet.
    If later on you'd want to add a lens, look with your 18-55 whether you find the 35mm or 50mm length more useful (just set the zoomlens to that length, and shoot with it for a while). What works for one may not work for somebody else, so it is really better to test for yourself which focal length works better for you. By the way, for $400 you can get both 35mm f/1.8DX and the 50mm f/1.8G (which is about as good as the 1.4G, but half cheaper), but I'd only start buying when you know for yourself what the difference between the two lenses is in practical use for your needs.
  3. I take much better pictures with 55-200mm lens f/4 -5.6G ED, but a photographer-friend said we should sell both lenses and get one prime lens, and she recommended: Nikon 50mm f/1.4G.​
    If you're taking good photos with you 55-200mm, why should you follow someone's advice to get rid of it?
    Adding a prime lens wouldn't hurt. To decide which of the two, look at the photos you have made with the 18-55mm. If the ones you like better are closer to 35mm, get the 35mm, etc.

    Edit: Wouter gave you the same advice while I was typing. It must be right.
  4. I wouldn't sell the zoom lenses yet either. As per a prime, it can be a good addition to your bag especially for portraits if it's a fast lens.
    The two recommended lenses are great. The 35mm 1.8G is an excellent value, on a DX body it's a general purpose lens. The 50mm 1.4G and the cheaper but also excellent 50mm 1.8G are probably better options for portraiture allowing you a more compressed depth of field and tighter shots. In your situation I would start with the 50mm 1.8G to complement your current kit, you can find used ones in perfect conditions for less than half your $400 budget.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Excuse me for being blunt: if you are getting satisfactory images with your current lenses, any advice to sell what are currently working is not good advice. You may want to add another lens, and since what you currently have are slow f5.6 zooms, adding a fast f1.4 or 1.8 lens is perhaps a good suggestion.
    Instead of the 50mm/f1.4 AF-S, I too would consider the slightly slower and less expensive f1.8 instead. So your choices should be between the 35mm/f1.8 DX AF-S (not to be confused with the more expensive, non-DX 35mm/f1.8 AF-S) and 50mm/f1.8 AF-S.
    I would check your existing images and see which focal length is more useful to you (or what you use more often between your zooms). I think the 35mm is the safer choice.
  6. A fast lens wider than the 50 will be useful for
    indoor available light photos of your family. I'd
    prefer a fast 24mm for the APS sensor, which is a
    moderate wide angle on that format. But the 35
    will do.

    On that camera a fast 50 is a short telephoto. I
    suspect the popularity of the nifty fifty is
    because it helps minimize background clutter.
    Understandable in busy families. We don't always
    have time to pick up the clutter when the kidlets
    are doing something cute. But the framing will be

    Keep the zoom. As your child grows and plays
    outside you'll find it useful. And it's worth
    more in your bag than reselling would recover.
  7. It all depends on what you want to shoot. But with a 50mm f/1.8G you could take some great portrait shots.
    However that kind of shooting assumes that you know how the aperture and shutter speed works on your camera.
    If you want to take lots of photos indoors or in the evening you should also look into getting a flash for your camera. Something like the SB700 that allows you to rotate the flash head doing something called "bounce flash".
    I think in general you don't really need to buy anything until you find out that you are lacking something. Perhaps you see an image that someone took and you wonder how to make images like that. Then you find out that it can't be done with the gear you already have and that's when you should start exploring your options.
  8. I've been taking photos since about 1985, at times on a pro (part time) basis. I have a nice Nikon DSLR or two, and the very best lenses you can put on a Nikon. However, I also own a Nikon D5100 and lenses 18-55mm VR & 55-200mm VR. I use these as back ups on extended trips (i.e. internation travel.) There is no way I'd replace the zooms for a 35mm and 50mm. For one thing, those two lenses are too close together. For another, I'd REALLY miss the flexiblity of the zooms. If I only had $400 to spend, it would be on an SB-700 flash.
    Kent in SD
  9. First: Keep what you have! - Covering 18 - 200mm somehow is pretty essential.
    In a 2nd step think: Why are your 55 - 200mm photos better? At which focal length are you taking the good ones?
    AFAIK there are 3 somewhat affordable Nikon primes 35, 50 & 85mm. Your $400 should buy at least one of them. - Find out which one might be for you. Since I don't know your "much better" pictures it could even be the 85mm being the best bet, assuming the great pictures were headshot. I myself go with a 50mm on my 1st body and maybe 24 & 135mm for the 2nd. But: as much as I like shooting primes, I recently bought a pair of mirrorless cameras with zooms like yours for basic happysnapping instead of permanently changing lenses or cursing missed oportunities. <- Photography has many faces / layers. I did go on vacations with just one fixed standard lens on one single camera and I could shoot way less than later with a pair of zooms. - Limiting oneself to just a standard lens made maybe a bit of sense for Henri Cartier Bresson, but I would crop some of his portraits from a coffeetable book I have and as far as I understand his arguing against anything longer than his 50mm (equaling the 35mm one of your friends suggested) he simply tells us that in his time there was no Nikon AF capable of focusing longer lenses fast enough.
  10. The 50mm.1.4 is a hell of a lens and I recommend it.
  11. I'll repeat the keep what you have advice. It makes no sense to get rid of two lenses that cover a wide focal length range and replace it with a single fixed focal length lens. Sure, the fixed focal length lens may give technically better results. But it will not give any results at all when you need a wide or a tele.<br>I wouldn't go as far as saying you shouldn't talk to the ones who gave you that advice anymore, but it may be a good idea not to listen when you do. ;-)
  12. you have a dx camera.
    that means you have to mulitply the focal length by 1.5 to get to the fx length.
    a 50 1.4g is an fx lens.
    on your camera 50mm would be 75mm.

    35mm would be 52.5 mm.
    when ernst leitz invented the leica in 1914, or something around that time, to use it to expose stripes of film to check exposure for filming, he was using something around 45-50mm as a standard as far as ican remember.
    that is the reason why the 50mm (on full frame) is called standard from time to time.

    the focal length just feels right, it has this feeling you basically get when closing one eye and then focus real hard on something.
    it is said 50mm is pretty much what you see with your eyes, but that isnt true, really.
    but somehow this focal length gets across that feeling really well.
    it is very versitile and allows you to capture landscape, portraits, action, architecture, whatever there is, rly.
    a prime lens will make you think about your composition more activly as you are restricted by not beeing able to zoom.
    see, you will have to walk in order to zoom and you probably will think twice before heading off in the wrong direction.
    also it forces you to work with what is in your frame.
    so your friend might have learned that and that is the reason why she suggested you to get a prime.
    the 50 1.4 g is the expensive model of the almost not really worse, 50 1.8g
    as far as colourfgringing, softness, resolution and price are concerned, the 50 1.8g is actually the better deal.
    however, on your camera you will have to buy a 35 to get to that 50 we are talking about here.
    i would also recomment the sigma 35 1.4 something.
    does take good photos, although it is heavier.
    the larger the aperture, the more glass, the heavier thelens will be.
    check out your options. maybe rent them.
    as far as i am concerned, do not sell your lenses, get a fast 35 prime in addition and use it as often as you can.
    i would not recomment a 50 on dx, as it is quite along focal length and not so easy to use in everyday situation, especially as a beginner.
    but then again this las statement really depends on your style of shooting, wether or not it is worth conserding.
    i want to get wide, as wide as possible but be as close as possible, if i don't...i take the 50 (35 on dx).
    it gets me close, but allows me to show a bit of scenery, giving the photo more than just a face, as it would be with 75.
    very dependend on the style you shoot.
    go to a store, test a 35 and a 50.
    if you want the 50
    , get the 50 1.8g, half the price, almost as good.
    as good as the 50 1.4 in very geeky terms, that i wont go into, unless you want me to :)
    best of luck, enjoy photography
  13. the most unique selling point of primes these days is the big aperture wide open.
    1.8 or 1.4
    does produce some good looking photos,..
    on another site never sell lenses, unless you have to pay for something and just dont have the money right it happened to me in 2012. luckely one of the local camera stores likes me and kept my equipment untill i had bought it back in full.
    besides that, there are no other reasons to sell lenses, unless you switch entirely to full frame and need the money.
    you will miss them!
    trust me!
  14. I'd go first for the 35mm f1.8 DX (NOT the non-DX G that is more expensive) for you. 200 bucks, wonderful image quality.
  15. Another vote for not getting rid of what you've got, unless you find yourself mostly shooting at the 50mm zoom length with your zoom lenses (and if you're doing "better" with the 55-200, presumably that's not the case). A faster 50mm prime lens like the f/1.4 will let you make the subject stand out from the background more than the lenses you have, but not significantly more than you already can by using your 55-200mm at the 200mm end (exactly how this works depends how far from the background your subject is standing, but I'm really saying don't expect magic here). The f/1.4 lens will also let you reduce the shutter speed (in return for using a wider aperture), which will help you freeze action - but it also doesn't have vibration reduction like your existing lenses, so it won't be much better when it comes to hiding camera shake.

    If you want to build on what you've got, by all means get a prime lens. I wouldn't replace what you have in order to get one. This kind of advice is often based around the idea that people can become better photographers by becoming experts with one focal length, which is a bit like putting slick tyres on your car because you'll become a better driver if you can keep it on the road in the wet. (That's harsh, there are good uses for a prime lens, but they can be overstated.) My approach to lens purchases is that I'll buy a lens if it lets me get a shot that I couldn't get without it. Until you care about making that shot, I'd not worry. Yes, a prime will let you take isolated pictures of bits of your impending daughter (congratulations!) if you want the close-up-on-the-eye look, but the zooms you own should also take perfectly decent shots. Worry about a faster lens when your daughter starts running around a dimly-lit house, not while she's conveniently immobile.

    For what it's worth, there's nothing wrong with the DX 35mm f/1.8 G other than a) that it's not a full-frame lens if you ever update your camera (really not much to worry about) and b) 35mm is a bit wide-angle for your average portrait - you'll be a bit closer to a subject than you'd typically want if you want to fill the frame with them, which means they'll be a little more distorted by perspective. Not a big deal.

    Like others, I'd not think of the 50mm f/1.4 AF-S G as any kind of priority. Personally, I don't think that lens is the best choice for many people, although it's not a particularly bad lens. The f/1.8 AF-S version is almost as good, nearly gives as much isolation, and is much cheaper and lighter - like others, if you want a 50mm prime, I would suggest you look at this. (The old AF-D version is even cheaper and lighter, but less good optically, and won't autofocus on your camera.) If you want a "good" f/1.4 50mm for a DX camera like yours, I'd prefer the older Sigma 50mm f/1.4 over the AF-S Nikon version. On a full-frame camera, the older 50mm Sigma is weak in the corners at wide apertures, which used to make the Nikon version more appealing - but now the Sigma 50mm "Art" lens is out there, I'd choose that. For the record, I own the 50mm f/1.8 AF-D (bought a long time ago, retained because it's small and isn't worth much to sell), the 50mm f/1.8 AF-S (bought soon after it came out) and the 50mm Sigma Art lens. I've never been tempted by the f/1.4 Nikons. (I also have an E-series 50mm f/1.8, for complicated reasons.)

    If you really want a prime lens, either the 35mm f/1.8 DX lens or the 50mm f/1.8 AF-S should be within your budget, but I'd think carefully before getting either - I imagine you have more important things to spend money on with an impending child. If you really want a lens for photographing a baby, I'd also think a little about the 40mm f/2.8 "micro" Nikon lens, which would let you get very close in on details (if you want that). It's not quite as good at subject isolation as the other lenses discussed, though.

    Good luck with this exciting time of your life! (And having a baby. But mostly thinking about buying a new lens. :) )
  16. A fast aperture lens might well enable pictures to be taken in lower light or with a faster shutter speed, but I'm betting the keeper rate will still be low because the depth of field is razor thin. With a fast lens wide open you only have to miss the focus by a hair and the picture will be pretty much ruined.
    IMO a flash would be a better buy to enable you to capture pictures of children, but don't point it straight at the subject. You'll get ugly light and a grumpy child. Learn to "bounce" the flash, or buy a cheap umbrella reflector and lighting stand. A fast lens is no substitute for decent lighting in the first place.
    BTW, there's no evidence that direct flash can cause damage to a baby's eyes, but it will surely make them startled and maybe cry. The more gentle light of reflected flash is more tolerable to subjects of any age, and can give you beautiful and professional looking results, rather than hurried snapshots. Of course there's a place for spontaneous and candid pictures, but you want to treasure those quiet moments as well.
  17. andrew garrad put all this very well together.
    sound advice.
    the thin dof ...lenses shot wide open usually have a steep learning curve. easy to learn, hard to master.
    you can get to a high number of keepers but into this goes a lot of training.
    in my private time since 2010 i shoot at least 60% on 1.8 or 1.4 just to nail critical focus and even though i have
    seen quite a lot of weird stuff over the years where autofocus fails..i still have quite some wrongly focused shots.
    especially if it has to get really really suprisingly fast.
    in adition to that i have to add that i use canon 1d series and nikon d3 series cameras.
    ppl get those lenses because sometimes the prospect of those wonderfully smooth backgrounds with the isolated subject is so promising..all is good untill they realize that they cannot nail focus.
    the funny thing is..i have seen this with professionals also.
    people shooting portraits of girls and then give out the images in a small resolution because obviously the eyes are out of focus which to be honest in some cases only a photographer sees..ppl tend to over look stuff as they do not know what theyre looking at in the first place.
    in conclusion, you will have to give it some time to get used to a fixed focal length comming from zooms.
    most of the times you use a fixed focal length because of its optical quality, the open aperture or the distincitve look it produces.
    the only thing you will have to do besides beeing patient to practice..simple as that.
    nothing worth having comes easy, and good photographs are no exception to this rule.
    andrew put the thing with the prize in a way more positive way i did.
    however i think you planned this through and unless something unforseen happenes (as it did to me) you will not have to sell any lenses, body fluids or parts.
    quite a number of friends decided to get kids too, over the last 2 years or so.
    lots of them bought cameras and lenses and stuff..none of them uses a fixed focal length lens.
    if you do not know what you are getting into, buying a lens simply because you want to use it, maybe, is the wrong approach.
    know what you want to do with it, know how to use it (which you dont unless you take it out, quite often) and know if you can afford it.
    if you still feel like getting something, i also recommend the 35 1.8 dx, as written above also, it just gives you photos with more sense of place unless youre away far enough and then use a 50.
    but in between all those questions the only thing that stands out for me since ten years or so (when i bought my first prime):
    i do not regret it and it was one of the best decisions i made concerning photography and it helped me to get to where i am now..the fast 50 and the ultra wide angle lens.
    if you have the money...put aside any it.
  18. as many have pointed out, it doesnt make a whole lot of sense to sell your two zoom lenses. both are useful, and each is capable of sharp pics. their only real downside is a slowish aperture. you can solve that by getting a fast prime which will allow you to take better low-light or shallow DoF shots. the question is, which one? as an owner of several 30-35mm and 50mm primes, i would get the 35/1.8 G DX lens first. i just think that's a more useful focal range than 50mm on DX, especially if you are trying to take available-light pictures indoors. the 50 may be a little long for that, and IMO, it's just a little short for portraits at 75mm equivalent, where 85mm is the benchmark. if you are specifically interested in separating backgrounds and exploring the world of bokeh, the 50 would be better, but an 85mm (or longer) lens would be better still. but i think you need to be realistic about your aspirations with your shooting level. if you have never shot with a prime before, 35mm on DX is a good place to start, IMO. down the line, if you still feel something is missing, you can always add a 50mm lens.
    in my experience, owning both DX and FX systems, i often shoot 50mm on FX but almost never shoot 50mm on DX, preferring a 30 or 35mm--which is roughly equivalent to 50mm and offers a "normal" perspective. 50mm on DX is ok if you are focusing primarily on classic head and shoulders portraits (although a 58mm or 60mm would be closer to a classic portrait length), but for more generalized shooting, 35mm is much more useful. it's just a bit easier to frame shots with a 35, especially indoors, and also lends itself more to full-body shots and environmental portraits where a 50 is too long. for candid shooting, the 35 is actually an easy call. i would get that first and build up my technique before going for a dedicated portrait lens. and even then, i might go for something like the tamron 60/2, which not only gives you more of a classic portrait range, but also doubles as a macro lens for close-up shots. one thing to keep in mind is that you are rarely going to be shooting portraits at 1.4 or 1.8 since DoF is so small; it's more realistic to shoot a fast prime at f/2-2.8, both for increased sharpness and DoF.
  19. If you are still at the beginning stages, changing to another lens isn't necessarily going to yield any better photos than what you already have. Keep what you've got and keep using it until you have a specific need for something else, not just hope that it will somehow be different.

    When it does come time to upgrade your glass, I always recommend a 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8, even if they are third-party grands rather than Nikon. They are fast zooms and between the two cover 90 percent of what most people shoot (especially if you also thrown in a 12-24).

    I love fast primes and own a dozen or so prime lenses from they days before zooms got good. But IMHO they are icing on the cake once you're got the bases covered with "bread and butter" lenses like the 24-70 and 70-200. Everybody loves the great "bokeh" of shooting a 1.4 wide open. But as a beginner you are probably just trying to keep everything in focus rather than shooting wide open. And even though they let you shoot in lower light, low light is not always good light, and trying to chase a toddler in low light with a wide open 1.4 is a challenge even for a professional.
  20. Consider purchasing a Tamron 17-50 non VC F/2.8 BIM to replace the 18-55. I believe you perceive the better pictures with the 55-200 because of subject isolation owing to longer focal length depth of field. Your investment will be modest if you purchase on Ebay, and sell the 18-55 there as well. The improvement in picture quality will be quite noticeable. If you want the same step up for the telephoto zoom with a modest investment, consider the move to the Nikkor 70-300 VR next, and use the same tactics with the older lens. You can do both transactions on the used market for 400 or less total, and you will have a much better kit that you will use far more than a 35 or 50 prime. The 35 or 50 1.8 G can be had for 125-150 used easily because many folks discard them after they find that they use them infrequently. No matter what you do, begin to transition away from your current kit if you want to get the best from your 24MP sensor.
  21. I always recommend a 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8,​
    sorry guys, but a 24-70 on DX is going to miss the wide end, and a 70-200 might be overkill for someone with a d5xxx camera.
    You can do both transactions on the used market for 400 or less total​
    am i reading that right? where can you get a 17-50 zoom AND a stabilized 70-300 for 400 total? i just checked, the sigma is $400 at KEH alone, and the lowest-priced 70-300 VR is more than $300. so it doesn't seem likely that the OP could acquire both lenses on that budget.
    The improvement in picture quality will be quite noticeable.​
    this isn't necessarily true; it is true that 2.8 zoom lenses tend to be sharper at open apertures, but if you're stopping down, there's less of a difference. in other words, if you mainly shoot in good light and stop down for depth of field to 5.6 or f/8, there is going to be almost zero advantage to a faster lens. what a 2.8 lens will allow you to do is subject isolation, somewhat, as well as better low-light shots, but a standard zoom like the 17-50 isn't going to have the best out of focus rendering due to the relatively short focal length. you're also losing a stop of DoF due to the APS-C sensor, which makes 2.8 more like f/4--for that reason, a 1.4 or 1.8 lens on APS-C will have better subject isolating qualities than a 2.8 standard zoom. i'm also not sure i would recommend a 70-300 unless there was a specific need for more reach. the 55-200 is one of Nikon's sleepers: fairly compact, relatively good performance, inexpensive. 70-300 lenses are much less compact and heavier and may or may not be useful. in terms of price/performance/usefulness, a fast prime is a much better addition to a basic kit and the 35/1.8 DX is only $200 new. i have the sigma 17-50 OS and can vouch for its optical quality, but im not sure that would be my recommendation at this time for the OP.
  22. I was just interrupted before making the same point as Eric - there are lots of lenses we could suggest to the original poster at some future point in their time in photography, but for now we need to respect the $400 limit (which is why I suggested the 40mm macro lens rather than a longer one, for example). My feeling is that you should buy a lens when you know you want to buy a lens to do something. It's rarely a good idea to buy a lens "in case", or to discover something that you want to do. While I don't disagree that many of the mentioned lenses are good and useful, we all have different priorities. Personally, I make little use of 50mm lenses (despite owning four) because I prefer longer portrait lenses and most of my photography is either much wider or much longer than default; for this reason, I have no interest in the (expensive) 24-70 that many would consider their most important lens (but I do have a 14-24 and a 70-200 - even then, I prefer a 200 f/2). By some standards, even the "pro" f/2.8 lenses are very slow. If you find you need speed for subject isolation or low light, by all means buy a lens at the focal length you need most (check your photos), but buying a "good lens" just in case has led to many a paperweight. Fortunately, the 18-55 and 55-200 offer a good range for establishing what focal lengths you might really like if you do want to buy a prime lens; if you found yourself hitting one end or other of the range a lot, you'd just know you need either wider or longer, but not how much. Faster lenses are incremental improvements. Fortunately, the f/1.8 primes are pretty common, so chances are you can try one in a store before purchase, so us posters don't have to make the decision for Anastasia - she can probably try for herself.
  23. when giving advice/recommendations to other photographers, it's easy to assume everyone is just like you and what works for you should also work for them. in actuality, you have to think about where people are at in their photographic development and intended use, as well as what specific capability they are getting by adding a new lens, and whether that lens fits their budget. it makes little sense to recommend a 200/2 or a 24mm PC-E to a casual shooter. does every shooter need 2.8 pro zooms? uh, no, although they are very versatile. does every DX shooter need a 35/1.8? probably. when you think about it, once you have a wide/tele kit lens combo, you probably have 60-70% of your shooting accounted for for the typical user. so what lenses will really add the most capability? fast primes, wide angles, and macros, along with a bounceable external flash like the sb-500. if you are a photojournalist or available-light shooter, a 2.8 zoom makes sense, but with an APS-C sensor, you will encounter times when that 2.8 zoom isn't fast enough. i can't stress enough the convenience of a compact tele lens; in that regard the 55-200 is perfect. there are times when i dont want to take the 70-300 because of size/weight. ditto the 70-200. i like 50mm as a walkaround length for FX, but on DX it can be more awkward.
  24. Eric, A Tamron 17-50 BIM non VC can be had easily for 250 ish...figure 50-75 used value for the 18-55. The 70-300VR is easily had for 250-300. Figure about 75-85 for the 55-200 on the sale. So yes, 400 is a very realistic budget to buy those lenses. All it takes is a little patience, and avoiding the likes of buying used through KEH/Adorama/BH. The savings are worthy. The used market has been in a rather downward arc lately in sync with the new product sales.
  25. The entire idea about having the 17-50/70-300VR is about flexibility/resolution/contrast/value proposition. These are two highly useful lenses whose abilities far exceed their price. The OP would not have to shoot mid high apertures. The quality of his files would be better with no change in his expertise. Shooting at 1.4/1.8 has it's place, but having a better baseline kit is a far better pursuit.
  26. Anastasia - I have a 3 year old and my most used lens for kid photos is a 30mm f/1.4 - by far. There are lots of good thoughts on this thread, probably a little overwhelming if camera gear is not your thing. I would tend to agree with your friend about adding the 35mm f/1.8. It is relatively inexpensive and should allow you to take photos indoors without using flash - which is difficult with your kit lenses. Good luck with the kid!
  27. Thank you so much, everyone, for your
    responses. I read each one of your comments
    to my husband, and I think we will be able to
    find a solution with your advices!

    Deeply appreciate it!!!
  28. The quality of his files would be better with no change in his expertise. Shooting at 1.4/1.8 has it's place, but having a better baseline kit is a far better pursuit.​
    easy for you to say. ive been wanting to recommend a sigma 18-35/1.8 and 24-120/4 combo. Seriously though, i dont always think that spending more money to acquire new gear is always the solution. IMO it's imperative to master the gear you have, and then maybe address one liability or limitation. the reality is there's no guarantee files will be better with more expensive glass. if the OP masters the glass she has, she'll be able to achieve better results. at that point, it makes sense to seek out better lenses. but in the meantime, just adding a fast 35 should be sufficient.
  29. IMO it's imperative to master the gear you have, and then maybe address one liability or limitation.​
    This indeed.
    People have different needs, wants, styles and budget. The biggest advantage of the standard kitlenses is that you learn what's what for little money - and it pays to take advantage of that. Only once you understand in which respects these lenses hold you back, you start looking for lenses to address that particular shortcoming. Could be f/2.8 zooms, could be faster primes, could be a flash, could be a tripod - blank statements that a fast zoom will make photos better is overly simplistic and not taking into account that we're not all the same.
  30. The point that you need to master photography using just one lens is often made. It is fine, if the one and only aim of the exercise is to master photography using just a single lens. It is rather worthless advice if you want to master photographing something. Subjects do require a range of focal lengths.<br>Or put in another way: hands up and be counted all of you who just own and use one, fixed focal length lens.<br><br><br><br><br>See?
  31. hands up and be counted all of you who just own and use one, fixed focal length lens​
    Allegedly, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Of course, the joke is: "Have you seen how much it costs to buy a second Leica lens?"

    Working with a single focal length is wonderful advice to someone doing a course in photography (along with "buy a completely manual camera, like an FM"). It's not so much good advice to someone who wants to prioritise taking good photos over extensive training. Just because you might train an Olympic sprinter by making them run with a car tyre tied to them with a piece of rope, it doesn't mean that the fastest way to run is to attach yourself to a spare tyre. Although my own "spare tyre" would, admittedly, go away with more running. Excuse me, it's Friday.
  32. lately, ive been doing an outdoor portrait series using just two primes -- 35/1.4 and 85/1.4 (on FX). but in that case i know the specific look i want and the lenses i want to use. for many years, i mainly used zooms for events, photojournalism/documentary, etc., and primes for relatively unencumbered street shooting. i also have a Fuji x100 as my take-everywhere camera, which has a fixed 35/2 lens. forcing yourself to use just primes does help somewhat with composition, but it wont in and of itself make you a better shooter. what makes you a better shooter is analyzing your own mistakes and then going back and correcting them. and correcting them. and correcting them. that's easy with digital, since you can delete anything which doesn't work (although i suggest not deleting until you've viewed on a monitor, looked at settings, and discerned whether the problem is from a compositional standpoint or a technical one, or both).
    the Nikon 35/1.8G DX, which gives you a view of 52.5mm or so, is a fairly versatile (and inexpensive) prime lens, and the one i would get first, if i was expanding beyond kit lenses. but i also wouldnt give up on the 18-55 if i were the OP. if you're not getting good results with that, figure out why that is.
    Modern DSLRs are complex things, but they will only do what you tell them to. if you're using scene modes or shooting in Auto, you probably have no idea what the camera is actually doing, or why your pictures arent coming out the way you envision them. this may seem like simple advice--and it is--but you have to take control of the camera. the best advice i ever got was from Bryan Peterson's "understanding exposure" which encouraged still-learning shooters to shoot in manual as soon as possible, to be more hands-on rather than a passive participant in your own photography, to understand the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO, and how that translates photographically. with good technique and some understanding of what you're doing, anyone can take amazing photos with even a lowly kit lens. once you've mastered that, then you can step up to more specialized lenses.
  33. That Cartier Bresson only used one lens (of fixed focal length) is a myth.
  34. Eric, I come to this particular thread in the spirit of helping. The first, best move the OP could make is upgrade the 2 zooms he has. He's shooting a 24mp camera,not a D40. The files will be distinctly better. If you still want to argue that point, I have some spare cheese you can rub on my neck.
  35. ...I have some spare cheese you can rub on my neck.​
    I know this is a photo site, but I'd love it if you guys would REFRAIN from posting any pictures of this event as described...
  36. HCB never rubbed cheese on anyone's neck. ;)
  37. As far as you know, Eric. As far as you know...
  38. Just another personal opinion .. not one particularly suited for the OP.
    When I became a father, 7,5 years ago, my most used lens was a AF 50/1.8 on D200 (DX sensor, like the D5200).
    Personally, I never really liked 35mm. And I DO like 50mm's, on DX as well as FX (..admittedly: 35mm on DX is rather like 50mm on FX..).
    Good luck choosing!
  39. Some observations, for what they're worth.
    For people who simply want to take family photos with image quality somewhat better than snapshots, consumer grade zooms can be ideal. They're affordable, they're flexible, one doesn't have to lug around a bunch of different lenses, one doesn't miss good photos while changing lenses, and the image quality can be pretty good. For people who aren't too fussy about image quality, they may be the best solution.
    Prime (fixed focal length) lenses offer a different set of tradeoffs. The good ones can produce noticeably sharper images than consumer-grade zooms, and the difference isn't subtle or hard to notice. They tend to be "faster," i.e. have larger maximum apertures, which can be a real advantage when shooting at dawn, dusk, night, or indoors. They are also often smaller, lighter, and less obtrusive than comparable zooms. For people who really care about getting the best possible image quality, and who want to make large prints, view images on large computer monitors, or crop and enlarge portions of images, they may deliver more satisfactory results than consumer grade zooms. One does have to cart around multiple lenses, though; one can miss photos while changing lenses; and some prime lenses are more expensive than consumer zooms.
    Like the original poster, I own a Nikon D5200. I have owned a Nikon AF-S 18-140mm G zoom, I currently own several Nikon prime lenses including a 24mm f/2.8D, 35mm f/1.8G, 50mm f/1.4G, and an 85mm f/1.8G, and I've had the chance to compare them in actual use, shooting pictures of the same subjects from the same locations at the same times of day using the same camera settings. My personal conclusions, with which you may or may not agree:
    • The difference in image quality between the zoom and the primes was sufficiently noticeable and obvious, when looking at the images on a medium-size computer monitor, that after I got back from the trip and downloaded and compared the images. I sold the zoom immediately. The zoom wasn't defective, and the image quality it produced really wasn't too bad, but the image quality from the primes was so much better that the choice was obvious, for me at least.
    • The AF-S 35mm f/1.8G is an excellent lens in many respects -- sharp, reasonably fast, small, light, and at $200 relatively affordable. The pictures come out great. On a D5200, though, it's a "normal" lens, the equivalent of a 50mm lens on an FX camera. "Normal" lenses offer a very usable perspective, so that's fine; just be aware that on a D5200, it's not a wide-angle lens.
    • The AF-S 50mm f/1.4G is also an excellent lens -- sharp, fast, not too big, and reasonably light. On a D5200, it's the equivalent of a 75mm lens on an FX camera -- a short telephoto or "portrait" lens. It's great for pictures of people, and for honing in on interesting details. It's not usually the lens of choice when trying to get a bunch of people into a group photo, though, or for taking landscape photos. At about $500, it's also not what the average photographer would consider cheap. If you don't do much shooting in dim light, the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G would be a more affordable, high-quality alternative.
    • If what you want is an affordable wide-angle that will work well on a D5200 for landscape photos and group pictures, the AF 24mm f.2.8D is a good choice. On a D5200, it's a moderate wide-angle lens, the equivalent of a 35mm lens on an FX camera. On a D5200, it's a manual focus lens, but the aperture and exposure settings are automatic. Its image quality is excellent.
    • The AF-S 85mm f/1.8G is sharp, sharp, sharp -- sharp enough to slice diamonds with, figuratively speaking. The image quality is impressively high -- I love the pictures I get with it! The lens is fairly fast, and while a bit larger and heavier than the 35mm and 50mm lenses, it's still sufficiently small and light to be very convenient to carry and use. On a D5200, it's the equivalent of about a 128mm lens, just slightly shorter than the 135mm lenses everybody used to use. It's good for head and shoulders portraits, and for honing in on details, but not necessarily first choice for things such as landscapes or group photos. It also costs about $500, so it's not cheap, but in this case you do get what you paid for.
    These opinions, of course, reflect my personal tastes, and "YMMV" -- Your Mileage May Vary.

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