Suggestions for mid-range Nikon lens?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by pontus_wallst_n, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Hello Everyone,

    I am currently very happy with my current setup which is as follows :

    - Nikon D500,
    - Nikon 300 mm f 2.8 vr2
    - Nikon 35 mm f 1.8 G

    I also have the Nikon 14-24 mm f 2.8, 24-70 mm f 2.8
    and nikon 70-200 mm f 2.8, although great lenses, I don t find them as sharp or as quick to focus as the ones above, given the fact that they are not fixed focal length lenses...

    As I am always trying to cut down on the volume and weight of what I carry, especially on trips, I thought about the following for wildlife trips for instance ;

    Nikon D500 with 300 mm and 35 mm. However, I would like to invest in another fixed focal length Nikon lens which is below 35 mm, as well as a good intermediate lens (also fixed focal length) which lies in between 35 and 300 mm, especially for portraits.

    any suggestions or experiences with any intermediate lenses to share would be very welcome,


  2. Nikon AF-S 20/1.8G or AF-S 24/1.8G for the one shorter than the 35/1.8G.
    Nikon AF-S 85/1.8G for the one longer than the 35. Or if 85 is too long for portraits on a DX body, the AF-S 60/2.8 macro or the AF-S 50/1.8G. Or the AF-S 58/1.4G if its cost isn't a concern. All those lenses are actually FX, Nikon leaves you hanging high and dry when it comes to DX fixed focal length lenses.
  3. I'm a big fan of the Sigma ART lenses.

    I know you're looking for a prime lens, but the 18-35/1.8 ART and 50-100/1.8 ART lenses are fanstastic and designed for DX bodies.

    For primes, the 20/14 ART and 85/1.4 ART should be on your short list - sharp but not exactly lightweight.

    Or if you can wait, the Sigma 105/1.4 ART has just been announced - it is one HUGE lens but if its performance is anywhere near the other ART lenses (esp. the 35mm), then it should be a winner.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  4. I'm surprised that you don't find the 14-24 sharp-mine is one of the sharpest lenses I've ever used. It seems to defy the laws of optics with having a lens that fast and wide that is also that sharp. In any case, I'd question the wisdom of holding on to it unless you eventually plan to move to a full frame body-it's a lot of glass to haul around just to use on a DX body. I'd consider the 10-24mm a MUCH better DX choices.

    In any case, the 35mm 1.8 you have is roughly a "normal" lens on a DX body. For film/FX a 35mm lens is the classic "wider than normal" focal length. I have no hands-on experience with the lens, but one of the various 24mm lenses would fall right in this range on a DX body. Let your budget determine which is the best fit for you.

    For a DX portrait lens, the venerable 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 is as good of an option as any. The 85mm 1.8 is a great lens as well, or get the 1.4 if you have money to burn. The 105mm 2.5 is Nikon's classic portrait lens, but I find it a bit long on DX.

    With all of that said, I'd question the wisdom of your current lens collection with a DX body. These days, one of the best arguments for using DX is to save size and weight. Carrying around big FX monsters kind of defeats that purpose. Rather than spending money on more glass, I might suggest a D850 or D5.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  5. The "original" 35mm SLR set was 50mm, 35mm, and a 135mm (or 105mm) "prime" lenses. These focal lengths, or their equivalents for APS-C format, will still serve as a good basis for general shooting. And even inexpensive primes from Nikon or the other reputable lens makers will still give even the most expensive zooom lenses stiff competition.
  6. For portraits on an SPS-C sensor, a 50mm should be a very good choice. Both the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 are good candidates at a reasonable prices. If you do not mind manual focus and have deep pockets, the Zeiss
  7. Mid-range usually do not do well for wildlife photography, unless the big elephants and giraffes or baboons are right in front of you. Not so much for other animals.

    The 80-400mm AFS + 1.4TC would be pretty good for wildlife on your fast D500. Then you would most likely leave your 70-200 f/2.8 at home when you are out shooting wildlife. But it's not a fixed lens nor a mid-range.
  8. I'll throw out another suggestion that I never thought I'd make for a portrait lens-the 58mm 1.4.

    IMO, this is quite a pricey lens for what it is, but by all accounts it's an excellent lens. It's also a bit closer to the "magic" 85mm full frame lens we all love.
  9. Which 70-200/2.8 do you have? There are three Nikkors and they have improved notably by each new version.

    The AF-S 851,8 is a very good lens. I liked it very much but did not use it enough to have it justify its place in the bag. Even though it is an FX lens it does not feel bulky. Why not look at your photos taken with the 70-200 and check EXIF data for which focal lenght you would have most use for.

    When I shot DX, I really liked the AF-S 10-24 mm and I too encourage you to check it out. I am not sure there are many DX wide-angle primes to choose from.
  10. Thanks for all your suggestions,

    I forgot to mention that I also have a Nikon D810, but started using it much less since I bought my D500 last year. I found the colours overall much nicer on the D500, and I also loved its fast AF system with more AF points. I can now more easilly get shots in focus of lets say fast or unpredictable moving objects or people/animals..etc, which the D810 would miss. The D810 is also heavier than the D500.

    The 14-24 is indeed sharp, but very heavy, so not the best if you want to leasurly walk around a town or monuments for example, especially if on the D810...

    I forgot to mention as well that I have had the 50 mm f 1.4 D since 2010, a lens that I have always liked alot, it is great, leightweight and sharp, but for my "mid range" i was thinking about something with a bit more reach.

    the 24-70 is good but I do find that some shots are not always as sharp in comparaison to the 300 mm f 2.8 which is probably the sharpest lens I have ever had, and extremely fast.

    So far, I am potentially considering the 10-24 mm (in this case having a bit of a zoom if sharp could help) or the 20 mm f 1.8 G.
    most of my pictures with the 24-70 are taken at around 70 mm, similarly, with the 70-200 mm, most are at I think 85 could be good.

    instead of the 24-70 which I have used alot in conference settings...etc, switching between a 10-24 (or 20 mm), the 35 (if need be) and the 85 might not be such a big hasstle...

    since i got the 300, my Nikon 200-500 mm has also been used less, however, it is a good leightweight option and a perfectly good lens if good light is available...

    my 70-200 is the G2 version. I have read that a better, leightweight version has been made since

    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
  11. My suggestion is either the Nikon 20mm f1.8G (light & compact) or the Sigma 20mm f1.4 ART (sharpest lens at that focal length.) For portraits I don't think you'll do better then the Nikon 58mm f1.4. It's not as clinically sharp as the Sigma 50mm f1.4 ART, but it excels as a portrait lens.

    Kent in SD
  12. Those two Sigma lenses are phenomenal. Nobody else makes anything even close. If I owned a D500 I would certainly have the Sigma 18-35mm f1.8, especially if trying to minimize how many lenses I carried. It's just outstanding.

    Kent in SD
  13. I am not sure what You want to read. Back in 2006 I had 20mm AF-D that was rather nice with film and DX digital, maybe some tendency to flare with sun, but sold it in need of money. My guess would be that You might like 20mm f/1.8G as wide angle both with D500 and D810.

    24mm AF-D is slightly wider on few meter focusing distance than 24-70mm older version. So 24mm f/1.8G may make sense if You are fond of 35mm equivalent on D500.

    50mm f/1.4D is surely up to even todays standards if critical liveview focusing performance is not needed.

    85mm f/1.8G should be good with both DX and FX.
  14. Pontus, I shoot mainly with a D 500 for nature/ action shots and a D 810 for just about everything else. I have two Nikon 300mm lenses, the 300mm f 2.8 G ED VR2 and the 300mm f4 E PF ED lens that is light in weight and very sharp and great to use when a tripod is not practical. This is the lens I use a lot with my D 500 for birds in flight when shooting larger birds. In lower light situations, when I have a tripod, I use my 300mm f 2.8 on both bodies. It is a very sharp lens.

    I also use and love the Nikon 70-200mm f 4 G ED VR lens with both bodies. I also have the 70-200mm f 2.8 G VR II lens that I use in low light situations. I should sell it as I do not use it very often. But it is sharp. If yours is not sharp, something is wrong.

    Before you buy anything, the first thing needed to get sharp images with Nikon Full frame bodies and even with the DX bodies is to calibrate or AF fine tune each lens with each body you use. This could be the reason why you are not getting sharp pictures. I was blown away as to how much I had to set for each lens when I did this for my D 810. See this for more info. I use the Lens Align tool.
    Lens Calibration Explained

    Others already have made very good suggestions about lenses you might want to get. All I can add it to use a tripod whenever you can as it helps in keeping everything still. If a tripod is not your style, make sure your shutter speed is high enough.
  15. I am attaching a picture taken yesterday, uncropped, d 500 and 300mm f4 E PF ED lens. Minimal processing in Nikon Capture NX D. ISO 100, f 5.6 1/1000 sec AF-C dynamic d 25. JVS_180309_Smith Oaks_1_D500_409.jpg
  16. Yes very interesting,

    I have heard in the past about the lens calibration, so I will look into that as well in more detail.

    Today I did some test shooting with the lenses I already have, 1 shot at 18 mm, 1 at 20 mm, 1 at 35 mm, 1 at 50 mm, 1 at 85 mm, 1 at 300 mm and 1 at 500 mm (with TC 1.7 on 300 mm) Fixed lenses of these focal lengths would cover a good range.

    I also realised that most shots that I take with my 14-24 mm f 2.8 are mostly taken between 18-24 mm, so I don't think that I need lower than 18 mm on the wide side. Most shots taken with my 24-70 mm are between 50-70 mm, but mostly at 70, and most shots taken with my 70-200 are close to the 200 range.

    This means that if I had a 20 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm and 300 mm, I probably would not miss the 24-70 range very much.
    I did some crop testing on the 35 mm shots, and its perfectly possible to reach nowadays the 50 mm equivalent in quality. From the 50 mm, it is perfectly possible to reach 70, and with the 85 mm, my guess is that reaching 200 mm by cropping would not be a problem either.

    I have also looked at various test shots and videos online about the 85 mm f 1.8 and f 1.4 G, both good lenses. I am also often asked to work in tricky or low light situations, so I am definitely considering getting the 85 mm f 1.4 G.

    my only hesitation now remains regarding the wide side. Either the Nikon 20 mm f 1.8 G, or the Sigma 18-35 mm f 1.8 ART. The nikon is smaller, and cropping from 20 mm to reach 35 is not an issue if need be. I guess it will all depend on if I find that a zoom would be usefull and if I need the extra 18 mm wide instead of just 20...

    I also read about the sigma 17-50 mm f 2.8 as an alternative sharp wide zoom. I do find however that in terms of shooting, having an f 1.8 lens compared to a 2.8 really does make a difference sometimes...
    If the sigma 17-50 was a 1.8, and just as sharp at all its focal ranges as the Nikon 20 mm and Nikon 35 mm, perhaps i would have considered it... Does anyone have any experiences with this lens?


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