Should I get the Nikon 50mm AF-S or the 105mm AF-S ?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mel_cox, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. I'm in a quandary about which lens to get.
    I'm an amateur and take pictures of my Grandson, family, birds, bugs, and flowers.
    I have a D300 and D40X with the following Nikon lenses:

    18-55, 55-200 AF-S kit lenses. (rarely used)

    18-200 AF-S (my walk around lens and stays on the camera most of the time)

    70-300 AF-S (for when I need to get closer to the birds or bugs)

    I had a 50mm 1.4 D Nikon lens which I just sold with the idea of replacing it with the new 50mm AF-S.
    I liked the 50mm because of its low-light capabilities and small size.

    My intention was to upgrade from the D to the DX AF-S however, I'm wondering if a 105mm AF-S might be a better choice.
    The 50mm is appealing because of the focal length and low light capabilities but the 105mm is appealing because of the macro possibilities. I'm concerned about the working distance for shots of my grandson with the 105mm.
    What's a guy to do?????

    Should I stick with the plan to get the 50mm AF-S or go for the 105mm AF-S?

    Thanks, Mel
  2. SCL


    Mel - you already have the focal length of 105mm covered in your present set of lenses, so you should be familiar with the working distance for grandson doesn't change with lenses. Although I don't have the AF-S version for my Nikon, (I have the 105/2.8 AF-D non VR) I have to say the 105 is a terrific lens for macro work. Since most macro work is done in the manual focus mode anyway, the AF features are pretty much irrelevant to me. Of course the 50/1.4 does allow for better low light shots. Since you just sold your D version you know whether or not you will really use the AF-S version. If so, why not get the 50 and 105 and sell off your kit lenses since you rarely use them and you're already covered in the same ranges with your other lenses.
  3. or, you could just get the 60mm macro, which is even a better portrait length than the 1.4, though...
  4. The 60mm Micro would be the best of both worlds. I had it and it was a great lens. I currently own the 50mm 1.4D and love it. It is the main lens that I shoot my son with and it's incredible for indoor low light photography. The 105 would be great for Macro photography but you will probably not like it for shooting your grandson because it will be too long indoors. I had a 100mm macro on my Canon I only used it for Macro photography, because the crop sensor made it too long for a walk around lens.
  5. Hmmm 60mm? I hadn't thought of that one. That gives me something to think about but I wonder if that might me too much of a compromise on both the 50mm and 105mm.
    Thanks for the input
  6. I think that the 50mm 1.4 is a manadatory tool to have. Its the best lens for low light situations that you will find yourself in. Wide open it also has excellent bokhen.
    It also keep the viewfinder nice and bright under all conditions. A 50 1.4 was the only lens that I owned for the first few years of shooting back in the 70's. You be surprized how much you can do with one. i'll never be without one.
  7. I think a 55 or 60mm micro is great to have (although mine is an old used f3.5 55mm... no metering, no AF, no problem), I think you could get a 35mm AF-S DX AND a 50mm f1.8 for less than the 50mm f1.4 and have a lot more flexibility. I LOVE the 35mm length for so many things, it's a great fun lens to have on the camera.
    Do you really need f1.4? If f1.8 will do, I'd get the pair of lenses mentioned above.
  8. Mel, why is the 55-200 kit lens rarely used with your grandson? Would the VR 55-200 be better for you?
    Also, THE lens to get for your grandson (and much else) is the new (and not yet released) Tamron 60mm F2.0 macro!
  9. fast primes,
    Because he has the 18-200 (which has GREAT VR) on there. However, for kids, you gotta have fast glass, VR is, imho, often useless, since they're moving so much.
  10. first, get the 55-200mm used a lot more for your grandson. actually, the 18-55mm/55-200mm is an excellent grandkid-combo. get the 50mm af-s for your low light demands for both cameras; and for speed. and if you like a great macro and /or portrait lens, i suggest you look at the tamron 90mm.
  11. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you indeed shoot a lot of flowers and insects, I would get a dedicated macro lens such as the 105mm/f2.8 AF-S macro or an older AF/AF-D vesion. The non AF-S versions will not AF on your D40x, but you don't really need AF for macros.
    An excellent choice for an inexpensive fast lens is the new 35mm/f1.8 AF-S. I tried one recently and found it to be excellent. However, it is rather hard to find of late and some stores that have it really jacks up the price (and perhaps that is why they have it in stock).
  12. Wow, lot's of good suggestions and things to think about. Thanks so much for all your input.
    I hadn't thought about the 35mm as a replacement for the 50mm. Geeez, more ingredients in the pot :eek:)
    On using the 18-55, 55-200 combo more often for my grandson:
    I find myself using the 18-200 in most situations for shooting him, however if I know there will be low light and I will be close, I'll use the 50mm 1.4. The 18-200 is more flexible. Bulkier, but more flexible so that's why it is my most used lens. I think the kit lenses are great and realize that my skills presently limit me from getting more out of them. Also, I like to keep the 18-55 and 55-200 around to use with the D40X. Although I don't use it much, it gives me a warm fuzzy knowing that I have that combo available if I need it.
    On the macro option:
    I really don't know that I NEED a macro. I think I WANT one. I have some nice bug/flower close-ups and I think they could be better with a macro lens. I guess I'm a little confused by the macro vs non macro at the same focal lengths. If a shot at 105mm is going to have the same perspective whether I shoot with a 105mm lens or the 18-200 at 105mm, then the only benefit would be the lower f-stop with the dedicated macro and since I live in Florida and shoot my bugs/birds outside, I can get great results with the available f-stops on the 18-200 I believe. I thought that a dedicated macro would let me be farther away for the same perspective shot with a zoom.
    Anything wrong with my logic??
    Thanks again, in advance..............Mel
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    A 105mm lens is a 105mm lens, regardless of whether it is a fixed 105mm for non-macro, a zoom that covers 105mm or a 105mm macro. All of them cover exactly the same angle of view.
    The main difference is that macros are optimized so that they perform their best at close focusing; in other words, if you shoot the same subject from 3 feet with a macro and a non macro, you should get better results with the macro lens; at least you are supposed to. However, the tradeoff is that a lot of macro lenses do not perform as well at/near infinity.
    Macros are also designed to focus closer; e.g. on both the 105mm/f2.8 AF/AF-D macro and the 105mm/f2.8 AF-S macro, you can focus to 1:1 directly. With non macro lenses, you typically are limited to 1:4 or so. And macro lenses usually provide some very small apertures so that you can gain more depth of field if desired. E.g. the 105mm/f2.8 AF has the f32 setting. However, with such small apertures, you will likely have diffraction issues.
    The bottomline is that if you indeed shoot a lot of macros, you are better off getting a dedicated macro lens.
    Additionally, the 18-55 and 55-200 seem to be redundant to your 18-200mm lens.
  14. OK Shun, thanks.
    I thought that the field of view would be the same but I thought that the macro would allow me to be a little further away but it looks like that's not the case as far as the distance is concerned. So I think you're telling me that the macro would be better because of sharper focus and better bokeh at the same focal length, plus, in the case of the 105mm, better low light capability.
    I think that right now I can talk my self out of a dedicated macro until my photography skills get better and I can determine exactly which macro will suit my needs. $900 is a lot to spend If I'm not totally sure my photography can benefit.
    Yes, agreed, as stated above the kit lenses are redundant but I find them useful as backup on the D40X or putting one of them on the D300 for a quick portable solution. Plus the street value isn't that much for these and I think they're super lenses for the money so it's not like there's a lot of money tied up in redundant lenses.
    So it looks like I have to decide between the 35mm and the 50mm.
    I had the 50mm 1.8, sold it to purchase the 1.4 and just sold the 1.4 with the plan to replace it with the 1.4 AF-S. I hadn't really considered the 35mm because I like the focal length of the 50mm and I like have a 1.4 vs 1.8 lens. I also felt that the 35mm would require me to get closer for the same perspective shot and with my grandson, or any kid probably, the closer you get, the less candid the shot. Any the extra 2-3 foot distance I get I think is beneficial.
    Thanks again.............Mel
  15. For my granddaughter pictures, I bought the new 35mm AFS DX G f 1.8. It is a great lens for my D 300 and D 200. It produces beter images than my 50mm f 1.8 AF lens and it focuses faster.
    Joe Smith
  16. For pictures of kids playing, I always try to keep some distance. If you get to close, they start to come at you, react at you and such ("can I see the photo?"-they're lost if there is no LCD on the camera) . In my opinion (as an uncle), the pictures are nicer if I can keep a distance, since the children will be as they were. More natural, so to speak.
    Because of that, I love the 85 f/1.8 for indoors. The AF on a D300 is good, it's fast, affordable and not too big. In that respect, the 105mm f/2.8 may be back on the map too. Before I bought my 85mm, I used my macro (tokina 100 f/2.8) in such situations, and it worked well. The extra 1 1/3 stop of the 85 is very welcome, though. I prefer the longer lenses for portraits because they tend to be more flattering. And the bokeh on the 85 and 105 is much better than on the 50mm lenses, for portrait shots not unimportant.
    On the D300, I also really love the 35mm focal lenghth, but depending on the type of shots you seek, it may be a bit short. I would still recommend to get a 35mm, though. You'll love it.
  17. I have the 50mm 1.4 D and absolutely love it, however on a DX camera I sometimes find it a bit long when shooting in cramped spaces - the 35mm 1.8 solved it for me - I would also recommend this lens.
  18. Thanks for the input folks.........Mel

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