Upgrading Camera - what to change first? Nikon d50

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by becky_emerick, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. I have had my D50 for years and years. I'm wondering what I should upgrade first - the body or the lens or the software.

    What I'm finding is that my pictures no longer look as sharp as other professionals I'm comparing myself to. Over the last few months, I've really started noticing the difference. Here's what I'm using:

    Nikon D50
    Tamron AF 18-200mm
    Nikon AF 50mm 1.8
    Photoshop

    My photography friends are saying I need to switch to a newer body, VR Lenses, Lightroom, and shooting in RAW instead of JPG. (I find RAW annoying to work with since I always have to change it to JPG anyway to give them to clients.)

    What should I do first?

    I have a part-time business, mostly families and children, but don't do enough of it to warrant spending a boat-load of money. I also take thousands of pics of my kids.

    Thanks in advance!
    Becky
     
  2. If you want to keep using your lenses you have to buy something like a D7000 or perhaps a D90.
     
  3. Becky, you can squeeze quite a bit out of your gear; what you have is no slouch given your intended use.
    I would recommend shooting RAW and learn to tweak it under Photoshop. It's free since you already own it and it's a transferable skill.
    I don't know your skill level as a photographer but learning to use the D50 to its fullest potential is another thing to try, again, free.
    There are plenty of examples of excellent photography made with similar gear as yours, if that says anything.
     
  4. Certainly all of those recommendations you're hearing from your photography friends may help, but not in exactly the same way.
    Can you post samples that illustrate the sharpness issue? Without a complete understanding of the problem you're trying to solve, it's difficult to recommend a solution.
     
  5. You have lenses that are not AF-S - right? That makes changing camera bodies more interesting. If you went to a D60 (or a newer D3100) -- you need AF-S lenses to be a happy camera user. The image size is 50 percent greater with a D60 body over your D50 body. The D3100 is a bit larger than the D60 in the image size category.
    Any Nikon D-SLR body with a 10 mpixel sensor, or greater, would be an improvement over your D50.
     
  6. "What I'm finding is that my pictures no longer look as sharp as other professionals I'm comparing myself to. Over the last few months, I've really started noticing the difference."​
    Sounds like your ability to discern differences in photos has improved with experience, but has surpassed your current expertise with photo technique and editing. Chances are good your best investment at the moment is to study some free or for-fee digital editing tutorials.
    An alternative would be to ask an experienced photographer to critique your work, with feedback based on your goals. Again, there are some fee-based sources for this.
    It's possible that you could do better than your Tamron superzoom. But other than certain specific situations - such as high ISO performance - your D50 and 50/1.8 prime should not be limiting apparent "sharpness" in any way. I'd bet that what you're perceiving as "sharp" in the photos of other photographers has more to do with photography technique, lighting and editing than equipment.
     
  7. a d50 with its 6mp sensor is pretty old tech in 2011. but then again, my 12mp DX and FX cameras don't have nearly the resolution of the 21 mp Canon 5d mk II or the 24 mp Sony A900. so it's all relative.
    that said, you do need to upgrade your camera and your lenses. i'd start with a newer body--even the d3100 is 14 mp. but that body has no focus motor, so your lenses might not AF. to maintain full functionality, you'd need at least a (used) d90; next step up is a d7000. a basic 'pro' kit would include a standard 2.8 zoom and either a 2.8 telezoom or a fast longish prime.
    one thing i'd definitely upgrade is the 18-200. superzooms aren't known for their sharpness, although a 50/1.8 should be sharp even on a d50 as long as you don't print super-large. VR in and of itself doesn't equal sharpness, especially if you are taking pics of things that move. with a 2.8 standard zoom--like the tamron or sigma 17-50-- you get much better overall sharpness, even at open apertures. the tradeoff is that you need a second zoom or a long prime for the tele range. if you're mainly shooting portraits, though, you might prefer the tamron 28-75/2.8 or sigma 17-70 OS. (i'm assuming the nikon 17-55 and 24-70 are cost-prohibitive).
    alas, going pro isn't cheap. so the best option is probably to figure out your budget first and work back from there. one relatively cheap way to get sharper pics is to use flash, which can freeze motion, even at lower shutter speeds. an external flash is better than pop-up flash, especially if you get it off-camera.
    again, it's all relative: what's a boatload of money to you? $1000? $2000? $3000? a good rule of thumb is to start with your maximum outlay and work backwards.
     
  8. I suggest pin pointing your problem before buying anything. Your gears maybe outdated but they should be fine to most people if, say, you print no larger than 8x12. Give us examples or more info of your work.
     
  9. if you stay with dSLRs, the only way IMO is to upgrade the camera to a D3100 or a D5100, much more affordable than a D7000, I heard the D5100 is the same sensor but less bells and whistels esp if you want sports. but for portraits should be fine. and upgrade the 18-200mm and get something less versatile.
    keep in mind that the d50 can focus with non AF-S lenses. many of the newer cheaper cameras cannot. they need AF-S or else you will be manually focussing all the time. if you have the AF-D 50mm, that won't AF on the newer cheaper cameras either. nikon have AF-S 50mm both in 1.8 and 1.4 versions but they do cost more - lol.
    i might do that instead of getting a more $$ D90 which works with non AF-S lenses. as you only have the 50mm that might be AF-D. you should certainly replace the 18-200mm if you care about sharpness. i have the nikon 18-200mm, i am not fussy but comparatively it is not that sharp. the thing is also all the recent lenses from nikon to my knowledge have all been AF-S and continue to be so IMO.
    given one or the other, i replace the lens before the body.
     
  10. I agree with Leslie, you need to pin point your problem before buying anything.
    I have feeling though that your sharpness problems is lack of good post processing, not your equipment.
    The D50 don't produce images straight out of the camera that are close to what the camera is actually capable of. You really need to shoot raw for that because the raw converter will do a much better job than the camera. Even if you end up with a jpeg in the end anyway :)
     
  11. 1. Shoot RAW
    2. Software (Nikon View NX2 is FREE from Nikon and does a great job for RAW files and is easy to use)
    3. Lens
    4. Body
    1&2 should give you a significant improvement and may be sufficient enough for you. If not, changing your 18-200mm lens will give you another big boost. If you are making very large prints or shoot often in low light, Nikon's newest bodies such as the D5100 and D7000 will give you even more improvement.
    If you are happy/comfortable with the D50 body, there is really no need to change it.
     
  12. "other professionals"? Are you making money with this camera?
    Looking briefly at your portfolio, I think you could benefit hugely from an upgrade to a D7000, but it will set you back 1200, and I think your 18-200 is best replaced (especially on that camera, whose high resolution will show lens defects pretty obviously) with something like a Tamron 17-50 and a Nikon 70-300 VR. I wouldn't upgrade till you can do both, but if I had to choose, I'd upgrade the camera. (I don't recommend FX because at your level of "part time', I am guessing it would be far outside your budget.)
    I don't think that a D50 is really the choice for pro work at this point (ever?).
     
  13. Wow! I went to bed last night and woke up to a treasure of answers! I am so very thankful!
    You'd mentioned examples would be helpful. Here are a few photos, edited, from a recent shoot.
    Shot from quite a distance with my 18-200.
    [​IMG]
    Shot with my 18-200.
    [​IMG]
    Shot with my 50mm. (My favorite lens, but often not practical due to being so close.)
    [​IMG]
    For this next photo shoot, I just knew there had to be a way for me to get better pics! It was overcast, the snow was vibrant, and everything looked great. But even with the low aperture and playing w/ my external flash (Nikon Speedlight SB-800), I still was not satisfied with the quality of the pics.
    [​IMG]
    Here's one more from last fall that I'm no longer happy with:
    [​IMG]
    You can see more examples from other shoots at my facebook page:
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Natural-Moments-Studio/113933077211
    Now, here are the results I would love to have instead. These are from my talent agent's website. I know from experience that for the outdoor shots, they are not using lighting or, even usually, flash for fill. But the colors are so vibrant and the pictures are incredibly sharp.
    Compare this one to my show shot.
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash1/167229_489701587482_83162277482_6523520_1114251_n.jpg
    And compare this one to my shot of the girl on the swing.
    https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/249293_10150191225162483_83162277482_7373456_890998_n.jpg
    I have more to say based on all the great posts, but I'll stop here and wait for a response.
    Links substituted for embedded photos. Please review photo.net Terms of Use and Community Guidelines. Photo.net strives to respect copyrights, so please post only your own photos.
     
  14. A lot of that is technique. Some of what I think you're trying to overcome is busy bokeh. Certain lenses are renown for that, but they are pricey, like the 85mm f1.4. Also, I think you might be kinda close to your subjects. You shot REAL close to your subjects, with a wider angle than I'd like, for instance, on your second example. move way back and shoot at about 60mm or more and you might see that photo improve drastically.
    I suspect that the helen wells photos also featured pro models. That will always make a difference.
    Lastly, shooting in the snow will always be a serious challenge. And having her in a white jacket is an added challenge that the D50's dynamic range is probably just not up to.
     
  15. Becky:
    Hurray for you--someone asking about 'upgrading' who actually HAS images! :) Agree with previous posters that technique is part of your problem. You say that your 50mm gets you 'too close'? It has the equivalent angle of view of a 75mm on 35mm--this is a good lens for head-and-shoulders portraits, senior pics, etc. You have some nice shots in your portfolio; what I miss on many of them is catchlights in the eyes. You can get this by using your built-in flash at very low output. You do need to learn exposure and editing. Back in the film days, we had to learn darkroom work or hire someone to do it--it's the same now.
    Sorry. lost a paragraph. I think a refurbished D90 and a Tamron 17-50 or Sigma 17-70 would be the way to go for you. Best of luck in any case.
     
  16. My experience with the Tamron 18-200 are not that great. At the long end, it's very soft, and the bokeh (out of focus parts) are pretty busy and harsh. It would for me be the first thing to upgrade, and I am quite sure you will notice an immediate improvement in your photos. The main thing is to determine which focal lengths you need most now. Given the examples, something like the Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 would make sense, or maybe a 85 f/1.8. Depends a bit on budget too, of course.
    Stepping away from JPEG to RAW, and process that with recent software, will certainly bring quite a bit extra. Upgrading software only for JPEG images makes no sense and bring no extra. Yes, RAW is an extra step, but when people pay you for these images, factor in the extra time it costs to bring the best out of the images you have. RAW just gives a bit extra leeway that JPEG doesn't.
    The D50 is a very nice camera still; yes newer bodies have advantages, but for the examples you post, the only real advantage seems to be the resolution, which is only a concern when printing large.
     
  17. I don't think you need a body. Your D50 is the same vintage as my Fuji S3, and that's still fine.
    Issues with sharpness come down to three things :
    • controlling depth of field
    • understanding AF and it's limitations
    • using the right shutter speed
    The body is typically not the problem. While the 18-200 isn't the sharpest kid on the block, for portraiture you don't really need a very sharp lens. However you do generally need an f4 lens or faster.
    Now I'd think that you'd be best served by a fast lens ( good wide max aperture ). A fast lens would give you better control of aperture and also allow you to push higher shutter speeds. Have a look at :
    • Tamron 17-50 f2.8
    • Sigma 50-150 f2.8
    • Nikon 85mm f1.8
    • Tamron 90mm f2.8 ( a macro lens too )
    • An older 28-70 f2.8
    • Sigma 24-70 f2.8
    • Tamron 28-75 f2.8
    You'd probably locate a used Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and Sigma 50-150 f2.8 for the money you'd spend on a new body. I've an old Tokina 28-70 f2.6-2.8 myself ( tank like and not exactly MF friendly, but optically good and had the magic "I got it cheap" quality I like ).
    Given that you find 50mm too short for normal I'd guess you should look at the 50-150 or maybe the 24-70 f2.8 first. The Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro is a possible to compliment the 50mm you already have.
    Do you use an external flash ( hot shoe or remote ) ? These are pretty good ways to extend your control as well.
     
  18. As has been already pointed out, the camera body is usually the last piece of equipment you should upgrade. Elliot B has the proper order for upgrading, but is missing what should be #1 and that is to evaluate your own skills and make sure that they are up to snuff before investing any money in equipment.
    The D50 is adequate for what you're shooting, especially since most families don't want anything larger than an 8x10.
    The 50mm f/1.8 is a fine portrait lens on DX, so that should not need upgrading. It could be that you're shooting too wide open and that is causing "softness" due to shallow depth of field.
    If you're using the Tamron for portraits, that could be the culprit. It's a super-zoom and they tend to be a bit soft, but if you're shooting at f/5.6-f/11, it should be less of an issue.
    Shooting RAW may help, but only if it's the in-camera JPEG conversion that's causing the soft photos, which I'm not sure is the case.
    The only other thing that would cause "soft looking photos" is that you're pixel peeping against much newer cameras with higher pixel density. There's nothing you can do except stop pixel peeping or buy a newer camera...I just don't think it's the best money you can spend.

    RS
    EDIT - I had left my computer for a while without submitting. After seeing the photos, my best guess is that you'd be best off by investing in a faster, better lenses. The Tamron is not doing you any favors. Look into the Sigma or Nikon 17-50/55mm f/2.8 or an 85mm f/1.4.
    Hope this helps,
    RS
     
  19. Controlled lighting and less depth of field come to mind after seeing your images. Don't spend your money on gear yet, unless it's for lighting. The images on your site where the lighting is good and the background is not distracting look rather good. I can only suggest also using a white balance card and learning some more creative techniques with photoshop.
     
  20. thanks for including pics, that helps. (you have a talent agent? wow.) ok, i'm going to agree with stephan and peter. what you want is subject isolation in portraits to make the subject 'pop.' for that you need lenses with better bokeh. it's not the d50's fault. i'd say the 18-200 is doing the best it can, but you can't expect pro portraits from a 'snapshot lens'. and the 50/1.8, while sharp, is known for nervous, jittery bokeh (though you do a good job of controlling it here).
    so what you really want is a 'portrait lens.' on a DX body, your best bang-to-buck option is the tamron 28-75/2.8. that would give you an equivalent zoom range of 42-112.5mm, well within the portrait 'sweet spot.' the bokeh on the 28-75 is pretty good, much better than the 17-50. also 50mm isn't quite long enough.
    another good recommendation is the 50-150/2.8, which has even better bokeh than the 28-75, mainly due to compression. that's recently been discontinued, though you might still be able to find a new one, or one on the used market.
    beyond that, for 'creamy bokeh' you're essentially looking at primes, like the 85/1.4, or the 80-200 and 70-200 (if you're not shooting sports, the tamron version of that might be good for you).
    as far as technique, the second and third shots are the best. the snow shot suffers from too much white on white, and not enough contrast. her face looks like it was cut and pasted in, because her body fades into the foreground. that would have popped more had you had a background consisting just of trees, emphasizing the subject and not obscuring her. shooting in RAW would have helped here too since you can adjust the WB after the fact. the swing shot may not have come out so great even with a different lens, since you have an overcast background which gets kind of washed out. better bokeh might have made the background slightly more attractive, but can't change the fact that its overexposed and, well, kind of blah. when you're shooting in natural light, it helps to have good light. that means shooting later or earlier in the day, or simply choosing a better angle. but with overcast skies at midday or afternoon, there's not a lot you can do. you can also see the CA (harsh color transitions aka purple fringing aka chromatic aberration) in that shot, which the 18-200 will do. you can take that out in post- since your D50 doesn't auto-correct.
    hth
     
  21. "my pictures no longer look as sharp"​
    Sharpness is not so much related to the camera body as it is to shutter speed, aperture setting and lens quality.
    I'll bet you'd see better sharpness with your 50MM, than with the zoom.
    Pro level lenses often exhibit better contrast and color rendition, adding to the apparent sharpness.
    When I upgraded to a pro level zoom, from a consumer grade zoom, I was amazed by the improvement in sharpness, contrast and color.
     
  22. whatever you do, if you don't have the latest sofware go for it. Lighrooom 3 is a must no matter what camera you have and it is only 200 dlls. (i think even cheaper in amazon), and shoot raw. just that will give you a LOT of tools to work with.
     
  23. Have you examined your EXIF data to see what focal lengths you shoot with the most when using the 18-200 superzoom?
    Doing that would help you a lot in terms of determining your next lens. For all you know, most of your work may be done in the 40mm - 70mm range, or maybe you prefer to shoot out at 200mm while standing far back from the subject?
    I don't know but if you can find out than maybe all you need is the 50mm? Or maybe a 200mm prime (I'm citing extreme examples here)?
     
  24. In this order:
    1. Have your camera's sensor cleaned by a certified repair shop in your area.
    2. Make sure that your skills with digital exposure and post-processing are up to date.
    3. Look into a better lens such as the Nikon 16-85.
    I would hold off on getting a new camera until these objectives have been met.
     
  25. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Becky, I hope you don't mind that I am giving a direct answer. As Thom Hogan once points out, the first thing to upgrade is the photographer; that is true for most of us, including me. Based on the few image samples, I have a couple of suggestions:
    • Some of the backgrounds seem very busy. I find that a bit distracting.
    • Are you a tall person? Typically it is best to capture subjects from their eye level. Obviously that can be a problem with both adults and children in the same image and everybody is standing. I have the impression that in some images we are looking down onto the subjects.
    Concerning equipment, I would upgrade the lens first. If you want excellent sharpness, forget about those 18-200, 28-300 type 10x+ zooms; I have one of those myself (Nikon's own 28-300mm AF-S VR). It is extremely convenient and great for more casual photography, e.g. travel photography. For better sharpness, try zooms whose ranges are more like 3x to 5x. The 16-85 DX AF-S VR is a good suggestion. Beyond that, a tripod will greatly improve sharpness, but that is typically not necessary for portrait sessions since you can usually use a fairly fast shutter speed (or flash inside a studio).
    While the D50 is indeed a very old DSLR, I agree with Dan South that other improvements are of much higher priority.
     
  26. Why are you guys suggesting the Nikon 16-85? At f/5.6 on the long end it's totally unsuitable for portraiture, which is what the OP is doing.
    Fast primes and f/2.8 zooms is the equipment to use. As several of the previous posters have wisely recommended.
     
  27. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Pete S., as long as the OP is using DX-format DSLRs, Nikon does not really have any "primes" for portrait. (For FX, there are the 85mm and 105mm portrait lenses.) A lot of people use 50mm lenses on DX bodies for portraits; that tends to be a little short and people tend to shoot from a little too close, resulting in big noses and faces that look fat.
    Personally, I also don't like those super shallow-depth-of-field portraits. IMO f5.6 is better and the 16-85 covers the right focal length for single-person portraits as well as group shots similar to the family image sample the OP provises above.
    I came to this thread late and might have overlooked part of the discussion, but I have the impression that the OP does not have a large budget. Therefore, I am avoiding those f2.8 zooms that typically cost well over $1000, although there are 3rd-party ones that are cheaper. f2.8 is great for party, wedding type indoor photography, especially without flash. For portraits, I don't think f2.8 is necessary.
     
  28. Thanks for your reply Shun. I guess we disagree on the necessity of f/2.8 and larger then :)
     
  29. But isn't it best to have larger f/stops available when you want them? Considering this is for portraiture, the wide angles aren't going to be very useful, so the 16-85 would be pretty far down on my list. The OP did say she didn't want to spend a lot, so the Nikon 2.8 zooms are out but there's that Sigma 50-150/2.8, and the Tamron 28-75/2.8 is one of the more underrated (and underpriced) lenses you'll find. Then there's a new 50/1.8 (jury's still out, I'll have one soon and see how it does) and of course 85mm primes. I just can't see replacing one f/5.6 lens with a different f/5.6 lens when there are so many other things one could do with one's time and money.
    Speaking of which, Becky, the best thing to do with one's time and perhaps money is usually to develop technique before buying more stuff. The suggestion to switch to shooting raw is a good one, not because it looks any better straight out of camera or because JPGs made from raw files are themselves better than JPGs made by cameras, but because when you do intermediate editing steps between downloading the images to your computer, the quality of the resulting file is often noticeably better when you start with a raw file.
     
  30. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Just for example, to capture a family of 5 as the OP did, I can certainly use a 35mm lens on FX, which means something like 24mm on DX. Maybe you can get away with a 28-75mm type lens, but IMO a 50-150 is not a good idea for the OP's purposes.
    Among lenses Nikon makes, the 16-85 is of high optical quality and fits the OP's zoom range very well. But of course, there is merely one of a number of options.
     
  31. I am confused by your comment. “What I'm finding is that my pictures no longer look as sharp as other professionals I'm comparing myself to.” I am confused by the words “no longer look as sharp.” Does this mean your pix used to look sharper before, or they do not look as sharp as the pix from the pros. Big difference between the two.
    One thing is, I think that with your growing experience, your eye is becoming more critical.
    Regarding sharpness, I have a few comments from looking at some of the pix you have. And best of all, this should cost you only time and ZERO $$$.
    The eyes.
    In my experience, if you can see the persons eyes, the eyes should be in sharp focus. Because the eye is what the viewer will look at. At least I look at the eyes first. In some of your photos, to me, it does not seem that the eyes are in focus. This is both a technique and technology issue.
    You need to make sure that the “active” autofocus point is on the eye, not on some other part of the body or background when the camera focuses the lens.
    Example 1 – The 2nd pix of Colleen, it looks to me like the camera focused on the wall to the left of her, NOT on her face. The bricks look sharper to me than her eyes.
    Example 2 – The first pix of Kennedy, the focus appears to be on the iron gate to the left of him. And the 3rd pix of Kennedy the focus appears to be on his left hand.
    Example 3 – Girl in yellow on the swing, her right hand appears to be in focus, definitely not her eyes.
    Speaking of camera, are you shooting in “Auto” exposure mode? If so I think that is one problem. In the “Auto” mode on my D70, the camera will focus on the “closest subject,” even if it is NOT the subject, and you have no control over this. Because of that I almost NEVER use the “Auto” setting anymore, instead I use P (Program) setting, as it lets ME control where I want to focus on.
    And to do that, I have the camera configured so only the center autofocus sensor is active. This prevents the camera from choosing a different autofocus sensor to use. And on my camera, the center autofocus sensor is the most accurate for both V and H orientation.
    This is an example of what other said about getting to know your equipment and its limitations and how to work around them.
    The other problem with focusing on the eye is that the eye is a small object, and it is very easy to end up focusing on a different part of the face such as the nose or the hair. You may have to zoom in on the face so you can focus on the eye, lock the AF, then zoom out to compose and shoot. This presumes that your lens will hold focus as you zoom.
    The background.
    On the family shots, some of the background is only slightly out of focus, thus distracting from the subject. The example pix from your talent agent has the background knocked out of focus. You want to have the background OUT of focus so the eye is not distracted from the subject. How much out of focus depends on the setting, sometimes you want it just a little out of focus and sometimes a LOT out of focus, this is a judgement issue based on the setting and the purpose of the shoot. Here is what I would do
    1) Set the ISO on the camera to the LOWEST ISO setting, so you can use a larger aperture. and
    2) Set the camera to shoot in aperture priority (A mode on my D70), so YOU can set the aperture to the largest aperture, or the aperture of YOUR choice. If you shoot in either “Auto” or "P" mode, the camera is making the aperture decision, which may or may not be appropriate for the shot.
    This would reduce the depth of field and hopefully knock the background more out of focus.
    Give this a try and see if your shots improve.
    About shooting in RAW. I find that even though shooting in RAW has extra time consuming steps, the advantages it gives me is worth it. The biggest advantage is, if my exposure is not spot on, it is easier for me to salvage a shot in RAW than it is to salvage a shot in JPG.
    The snow shot is a different example of one that might have benefited from being shot in RAW. You probably had a very wide dynamic range bright to dark, and JPG in the camera likely could not handle that range. RAW and post processing might have been able to.
    Just build the extra time to post process the RAW files into your fee schedule.
     
  32. I would upgrade the body first. I was never a fan of the D50 I had one for a while and it as not as good as my older D1H. i sold it and got my first D2 and now I shot a D3.
     
  33. Why are you guys suggesting the Nikon 16-85? At f/5.6 on the long end it's totally unsuitable for portraiture, which is what the OP is doing.​
    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but that doesn't make it a fact. I shoot MOST portraits at f/5.6 even though my lenses are much faster. The background blurs nicely, and I get more than a few eyelashes in focus.
    The Nikkor 16-85 is a sharp and flexible lens with a high degree of utility. I don't see how a DX shooter could fail to profit from owning one. What's the problem other than the fact that camera companies and photo magazines are extremely good at convincing people that they can't shoot a portrait unless they own an 85 f/1.4?
     
  34. i would just replace the 18-200mm lens. get the 35mm f/1.8. that will be the cheapest route.
    a better lens than what you have will give justice to the capabilities of the D50 ----- still a great camera, imo.
     
  35. i didn't catch most of the comments. let me add that for serious portraits that i get paid for, i still use my nikon 70-210mm af-d (both indoors and outdoors) more than my sigma 50-150mm f/2.8.
    if there is difficulty getting away from busy background, i wouldn't get the 16-85mm for portraits.
     
  36. Some of you guys will just recommend that anybody at all buy a 16-85 lens. It's a variable aperture kit lens with an upgraded body construction - it is not appropriate to all uses. Sure you can shoot some kinds of portraits at f/5.6, but why suggest that somebody who specifically wants to shoot portraits, and already has one slow zoom, limit herself by adding another slow zoom? It doesn't make sense. The 16-85 is a general-purpose lens, but the OP has specific needs.
     
  37. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Andy L., the OP needs a lens or perhaps lenses that can cover single-person portraits, such as something between a 60mm to 70mm for DX as well as something slightly wide that can cover a small group of people, similar to 35mm for FX; in other words, 24mm for DX.
    Since the OP does not seem to have a large budget, exactly which zooms can cover from 24mm to 70mm? Of course there is Nikon's 24-70mm/f2.8 AF-S that is now close to $2000. There is simply no f2.8 DX zoom that can cover wide for DX, i.e. around 16 to 18mm all the way to 70mm. That is why the 16-85 DX AF-S is a good candidate since it can cover the OP's single-person portrait, group portrait, as well as general-purpose wide.
    Otherwise, it would pretty much have to be some 3rd-party f2.8 FX zoom that goes from about 24mm to 70mm. But when you use a 24-70mm/f2.8 on DX, you kind of miss out on the wide end for other purposes.
    I think the 16-85 DX is a good choice since I don't believe that you need f2.8 for portraits. However, that is not a lens I would recommend to everybody. I always feel that it is kind of pricy for what it offers. In fact, I currently don't have that lens but am considering getting one mainly due to its versitility.
     
  38. I suggest going back to film. Get a Nikon F2 and some non-ai lenses and have more fun than you've ever had shooting. You can also take advantage of wonderfully sharp films like Kodak's New Portra 160, Ilford's Pan F Plus, and many more. Get rid of digital.
     
  39. Hi! I want to thank all of you for your excellent, well-thought out responses! I have so much information, I am thrilled!
    I went ahead and installed lightroom 3. After a few youtube tutorials, I was up and running, and I can't believe I waited so long!
    My next purchase will be a lens... but I'm still researching which one. I do have a question though. If I have a lens that's, say, 2.8, but I'm taking pics of an entire family and need more like a 7, is the 2.8 lens still better than a 4.5?
     
  40. By the time you stop, you usually don't see the difference. The 2.8 zooms are good when you want to shoot at larger
    apertures. Even if you want to shoot at f/5.6, a 2.8 zoom at 5.6 is stopped down while a 5.6 zoom at 5.6 is wide open
    and the 2.8 is probably going to do better. When both lenses are stopped down the difference starts to go away.
     

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