Which D7200 two-lens combo? 18-35 + 50-150, or 17-50 + 70-200

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by dave_mclaughlin|1, Oct 14, 2015.

  1. I work on a small college campus and have been given authorization to purchase a D7200 and two lenses. Both of these options just about fit within the budget. Any thoughts for one or the other? (Going FF on a D750 or even D610 would be nice, but that was declined for $$$ reasons.)

    Here's what I'll be shooting: indoor events, portraits, students talking with professors, general "life on campus" shots indoors and outdoors, sports action shots, graduation photos on stage, etc. My goal will usually be to get a few very nice shots from a shoot for use on the web or in print, but not necessarily to create a large set of images documenting the event.

    (We have another employee who will be getting a D7200 + 18-140, or some similar combo. They don't know their way around a camera as much and just take lots of general documentation photos at events, etc. We need more photos appropriate for features on our website, in print, etc.)

    It's been a few years since I owned a DSLR, and I shot mostly primes then, but don't want to go that route now. I just want two lenses in the bag.

    I could go with the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 plus a used 50-150 f/2.8 OS:
    I love the DxOMark ratings and reviews, but would I miss stabilization in the 18-35? I'd probably be going mostly handheld. I also like the idea of using the 18-35 for portraits where we want to isolate the subject but still have a good bit of the surroundings in the frame, such as out about campus or in our theater or bigger rooms indoors. How much of a difference would I expect between the 18-35 and the 17-50 when shooting a wide portrait around 35mm in regards to image quality and subject isolation?

    Or I could go with a Tamron (or Sigma, I guess) 17-50 f/2.8 VC plus the 70-200 f/2.8 VC:
    By my shorter lens reaching to 50, I could step up to a 70-200 and I'd like the extra range at 200mm for some events and sports. I like that the 17-50 would be smaller and lighter weight than the 18-35 with the added benefit of stabilization. Would I wish I had gone for the 18-35 or would 17-50 suit me just fine?

    Anyone have any opinions or suggestions based on your experience carrying just two lenses, particularly any of these? Thanks in advance!
  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The 18-35mm zoom range is great on an FX body, as it can be the only wide-angle lens you need. However, on DX, IMO it is an inconvenient zoom range. You are better off with a moderate-wide-to-short tele zoom; something like 24-70mm/f2.8 on FX is very popular. The DX equivalent would be something like 17-50mm/f2.8 DX, which is also very popular.
  3. I shoot events and concerts professionally with two D300s bodies, one with a 17-50mm f/2.8 (you can choose either Tamron or Sigma, I like the Tamron), the other with a Sigma 50-150 OS f/2.8. It is an absolutely great combination for shooting what you mention.
  4. Thanks for the input so far! I'm curious to see if anyone else has anything to add about the 18-35, but if I went with the 17-50 as my shorter lens, would you recommend the 50-150 or the 70-200 for the longer end? I'd lean towards the 70-200, but that's without using any of them!
  5. I have a D7000, and I shoot with a 12-24 f/4 Tokina, 24-70 2.8 Sigma and 70-200 2.8 Tamron.

    While some would tell you to go with shorter lenses like a 17-55 and 50-150, I find that my combination works well for me. The 12-24 is DX only, but the other two are FX, so I'm covered if I should go to FX someday. I like the extra reach the crop factor gives me on the 70-200, and the 12-24 makes up for anything I lose on the wide end of the 24-70.
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    As Craig suggests, by the same token, as I don't like 18-35 on DX, I also don't like 24-70 on DX. 24mm is only slightly wide on DX. 35mm on FX/24mm on DX could be great for group shots, but you want to leave some room to go wider. Of course, some people have a different opinion.
    Another thing I prefer is some overlap in the zoom ranges. Let's take Craig's lenses as an example. He has a 12-24 and a 24-70. That means whenever you cross the 24mm boundary, you need to change lenses (or you use two camera bodies and mount one lens on each). That can lead to frequent lens changes. On FX, I prefer to have e.g. a 17-35mm/f2.8 and a 24-70mm/f2.8 so that there is some buffer in the very useful 24 to 35mm range on both lenses so that I don't need to change as often.
    If you shoot landscape or studio stuffs and have all the time in the world to change lenses, maybe it doesn't matter. When you shoot events and photojournalist style, you don't want to switch lenses all the time because you can miss shots.
    Again, there are a lot of different personal preferences. To Dave, the only opinion that matters is your own.
  7. I have not used the 7200 but do use a Nikon 50mm on a 700. I would certainly recommend the 50 as it is an outstanding lens for not a lot of money.
    I also use a 20mm Sigma which was rated better than the comparable Nikon lens. The Sigma is also excellent so you could consider a 50mm Sigma? Hope this helps.
  8. I have a D7100 that I use a Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 and a Nikon 70-200 2.8. I really like the combo. I have the non VR Tamron and I don't really have an issue. The 70-200 2.8 is the VR1 version, but it is very, very good still. I did try the Tamron 70-200 2.8 at a Tamron event and I have to say, it's pretty good. Focus is quite fast and the lens is lighter than the Nikon. The Nikon is built like a tank though and you will feel it.
  9. I loved my D7000 with Nikon 17-55 f2.8 and Nikon 70-200 f2.8 VRI. You'll get best results with the Nikon lenses, but they're pricey and heavy.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If the OP has the budget for the Sigma 18-35mm/f1.8 lens for APS-C, one lens I would consider, again, consider, is the new Nikon 16-80mm E lens: http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/lens/zoom/normalzoom/af-s_dx_16-80mmf_28-4e_ed_vr/
    I should point out that I have never even seen one, but from what I read, it is excellent. However, at just over $1000, it should be excellent. It is f2.8 on the wide end but slower @ f4 on the long end. However, it extends to 80mm, which is convenient. But I tend to agree that this lens is on the expensive side.
  11. Dave, it's very hard to predict what lenses you will find most useful because you have a wide variety of activities listed, so no real recommendations on that. However, I do own a D7200 and the Sigma 18-35 f1.8 and can comment on that. The Sigma on the D7200 is an incredible combo. I recently took it 'waterfalling' in South Carolina and am blown away by the beauty and sharpness of this lens on this camera. For me, it's every bit as good as the best reports I read about it. It focuses fast (enough) for just about anything and I think you would be very impressed with the IQ. Easily the sharpest lens in my bag, including the 50 f1.8 Nikon.
    Something you need to know about the Sigma though... it IS a bit of a beast. Think, 1.78# soda can attached to your D7200. Solid as a brick and built like a tank, but small it is not. Or light. I don't care about that so it's not an issue for me but it may to you. And as with any of the Art lenses, I highly recommend that if you do decide on 18-35 lens, buy the Sigma lens dock to go with it. Mine needed correction just about everywhere to bring out its best. It was well worth the asking price.
    You asked about subject isolation? Be careful what you ask for. Depth of field can be paper thin at f1.8 so focus placement can get critical but... the Sigma is tack sharp at f1.8 at any of the focal lengths and it would give you slightly more separation than a 2.8. And from all I've read, the 17-50s don't really come into their own until 4.0. (I don't own one so I'm only going on what I've read but we might be splitting hairs for you application). The 17-50 is a more versatile focal length, though.
    About the lack of VR on the 18-35... I have been using my D7200 in 'Auto ISO' and allow it up to ISO16000 if it needs to be there. I haven't needed VR or missed it so far. With either DxO Optics Pro or Nikon's Capture NX-D, noise can be easily dealt with if the ISO gets in the stratosphere. IMHO, both outperform Photoshop CC for high ISO RAW conversions even when using Topaz DeNoise.
    In all honesty the 17-50 and either 50-150 or 70-200 combo would probably do all you need it to do but I can't get over how amazing the Sigma is. No matter what else I might add to the bag, the Sigma stays. And for the record, I have owned the 18-70 and 18-105 Nikons (and sold them both to get the Sigma) but after having f1.8 constant at my disposal, I would never go back to a slow lens. All that being said, I currently own 4 lenses... The Tokina 12-24 f4.0 (early version), the Sigma 18-35 f1.8, a Nikon 50 f1.8 and the 1st generation 70-200VR (with a TC14-E teleconverter). I felt the gap between 35 and 70 was pretty big, hence the 50 but the 50 is probably the least used lens in my bag... And the 18-35 Sigma is on my camera most of the time.
    I hope some of my ramblings are helpful.
  12. I shot weddings for over a year with D7100 and Nikons 17-50mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8 VR. My suggestion to you would be D7200, Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR1. The lenses can be found used on ebay and are a good value. This will do what you want. I don't think 150mm will be long enough.
    Kent in SD
  13. The current Sigma 50-150 f/2.8 is strangely not all that much smaller than a 70-200 f/2.8, and the gap between 50 and 70mm is not the worst gap to have. On the short end, yes, 17-50 f/2.8 is a far more versatile tool. And I'd seriously consider the 16-80 Shun mentions. I'm sure the Sigma is a terrific lens, but its zoomrange is really limited for what you're looking to do - a bit more versatility does come in handy, and f/2.8 is reasonably fast still. On the long end, I'd probably rather have the extra reach of a 70-200.
    So, 16-80VR, or 17-50 (Tamron or Sigma) with a 70-200 f/2.8. Enjoy it :)
  14. I feel that any combination will work. The only reason to go with the 70-200 is for sports. The 50-150 is long enough for anything with people in it. If it's not long enough you're simply too far away. The 70-200 is a little too long on DX at 70mm.
    I haven't used the 50-150 f2.8 OS but I have the older one and used it professionally many times and it's good.
    Whatever you have, you will always need to swap lenses at some point. I always been a two camera shooter which means you can have a wide on one camera and a tele on the other. But you still need to swap lenses. If you have a bag that you can wear and shoot out of, a lens swap is a non issue and should take you less than 10 seconds. I like the Lowepro Stealth Reporter bags.
    Which brings me to my next point. You need more than just a camera and two lenses. For instance a good camera bag. And a flash if you are going to do anything indoors. And things like memory cards and what not. Personally I like at least a tripod for some shots but also a monopod. If you intend to shoot any video you need to take that in account as well.
    Let me add some software to that as well, for instance photoshop.
  15. the gap between 50 and 70mm is not the worst gap to have.​
    depends. it's actually more impactful in some ways on DX. That 20mm is right in the middle of the portrait range, i.e. 75-105mm equivalent. for indoor portraits, that's probably right where you want to shoot a fair amount of the time. in my own experience, having used tamron 17-50, sigma 17-50 OS, sigma 50-150, and nikon 70-200 VRII, i would go with 50-150 on DX -- unless 50% or more of my shooting was sports/outdoors. Bokeh on 17-50 is nothing to write home about, and i wouldnt expect the 18-35 to be substantially better in this department, just a bit better in terms of subj. iso and especially low-light -- although for non-static subjects, 1.8 could be very thin as Tom mentions. if you can live with a 2x zoom range, the 18-35 seems like an optical winner, but i'm thinking that may not actually matter so much for this type of work, which may be more documentary-style than artistic/editorial.
  16. I'd also like to add that subject isolation on wide focal lengths is not really something that you can do on DX.
    You need f1.4 and FX for that.
    This is especially true on web sized images. Depth of field is dependent on print size and viewing distance.
    Also image quality is not critical on the web or even when used in marketing material up to the the 8x10 size. Getting good colors, contrast and sharpening right is more important.
  17. For giggles, I thought I would include a picture of what the D7200 and the Sigma are capable of. This shot was taken at ISO 16000, during the day. F2.0 @ 125th/second and shot with the 1.3 crop factor turned on. This was converted in NX-D with no alterations to sharpening or noise, etc. I'll send two pictures to show clarity and depth of field and ISO/noise. The 1st is the complete capture and the 2nd a 100% crop. The depth of field is extremely shallow. With the 1.3 crop this comes in @ 38mm although taken at 19mm. BTW, using crop factor in the D7200 @ 35 = 68mm.
  18. Crop.
  19. This shot was taken at ISO 16000, during the day. F2.0 @ 125th/second and shot with the 1.3 crop factor turned on.​
    ISO 16000? or 1600? seems like you could have just used a faster shutter and lowered the ISO .
  20. ISO 16000. It was early in the morning and had been raining. Very overcast. I use/was using Auto ISO and chose the shutter speed and f-stop. Camera chose the ISO.
  21. ok, but you are asking us to evaluate the optical quality of a lens with a shot you took at ISO 16000 on a DX body. obviously its pretty noisy. and with smeared pixels from NR. stands to reason if you really want that lens to put its best foot forward, you'd give us a 1.8 or f/2 shot at base ISO.
  22. Given the description of use in the OP, I assumed (and maybe falsely) that the ultimate optical performance isn't the most important thing here. The lenses are chosen to do a job, and need to be flexible enough for that. All the tests I've seen of the Sigma 18-35 show it is an impressive performer, and I don't doubt it is. But it isn't really the point here. Its zoomrange, reading the needs in the OP, could very well be problematic. If all-out optical performance was the key, the suggestion would be a nice list of primes anyway.
    Eric, true it catches part of the portrait range, though 70mm on DX is really quite nice for portraits too (the old 105mm lenses never were a bad choice either, after all, and still aren't). But yes, if one expects a fair number of portraits, it's right to consider if that gap wouldn't be a bit nasty. My preference for the 70-200 was more because of sports, where the extra bit of reach would be nice. It is a balancing act, and the OP probably has something to chew on to check where the priorities (or the best compromise) would be.
  23. I'd advise getting some flash gear rather than blowing all the budget on wide-aperture lenses. Formal portraits need formal lighting, plus the high ISO ability of the D7200 is pretty astounding. The D7200's BI popup flash is very limiting. A Tamron VC 70-200 f/2.8 zoom (which has great IQ) will have portraits and sport pretty much covered, but I'd save money on the wide-angle end where a wide aperture is often unnecessary. Like group/team shots for example - where you'll need to use off-camera lighting equipment for decent results.
    BTW. The optical quality of the 18-140mm VR kit lens is more than adequate for web and publication purposes, and doesn't need to be stopped down to gain adequate depth-of-field. Best bang-for-the-buck I've yet seen in a Nikon lens.
  24. P.S. to the above post.
    Either I've been extremely unlucky with Sigma lenses, or they just make a load of c**p! I've just had the zoom ring of one of their "Apo" lenses seize up solid on me. That'll make it an almost 100% failure rate in one form or another (unacceptably poor IQ or build-quality) from every Sigma lens I've ever owned.
  25. Option 2. This is an easy call. You're talking about work where getting the shot is much more important than having the
    most sharpness possible. You want practical gear only. With the 18-35 DX lens and the 50-150 you could get more
    sharpness in some shooting situations (but with the obvious limitations of handheld shooting) but you can't go from group
    shot focal length to the short tele you want for individual shots without changing lenses.
  26. Thanks so much for all of your responses so far! Some more info and responses to questions/comments.

    My job will be to try to create some great photos to feature in various places, not necessarily to always document an event where itโ€™s critical I always get the shot and don't miss a moment. We have someone else who will be using a similar camera with a walk-around lens, and they have been doing the "document that this event happened" sort of photos for years. The rare events where I will absolutely need to get the shot are usually under pretty controlled settings, such as the handshake photos at graduation, where I am stationary on a tripod and can pretty much get my settings down beforehand.

    I already have a list of accessories we'll be getting, like a camera bag, a decent filter or two, memory cards, and all that. I'm not planning to purchase a better flash, as I don't intend to use the one on the camera either. We will have some continuous LED lights used mostly for video stuff that we can use when taking headshots of staff, athletes, etc. Mostly I will be shooting candid shots of individuals or small groups of people interacting on campus.

    I think I'm pretty convinced that the longer lens will be the Sigma OS 50-150. I'd rather have my longer lens let me zoom out to 50, especially since I'll be at a 1.5 crop. Live sports photography of our teams will be something fun that I'll try to do from time to time, but that's not the main focus of my task here. I'm not worried about losing the extra reach of the 70-200. Heck, maybe next year I'll try to convince the powers-that-be to go for a 150-600 or some other long reach lens for stuff like that.


    I think my only decision now is between the 18-35 and the 17-50.

    The wider lens would be used mostly for shots of small groups of folks where I'd like to limit the depth of field. I'd also take some wide shots of a room full of people and landscape type shots around campus, where the wide aperture probably wouldn't come into play as much, but those situations are less important to me than the candid shots of people.

    I got a large set of photos we had a pro come in and shoot somewhat recently, which everyone loved. These are almost all photos of one or two students working individually or with a faculty member. She was using a D800 with the 24-70 and 70-200 combo (f/2.8), but we are attempting to get some similar photos on a smaller budget.

    Analyzing everything in Lightroom, it looks like there aren't too many shots that would fall in the area between 35 and 50 (when converting for crop factor). Almost all of the shots were taken at f/2.8 and give nice isolation of the subjects from the background, which is honestly pretty important since often the setting may be a rather sterile-looking classroom or lab if we're indoors. Nobody wants to look at photos where they can see the individual concrete blocks behind the students...

    So anyway, I'm wondering how much more difficulty I'd have achieving that blurred background on a crop-sensor body at f/2.8 versus their full-frame f/2.8 shots. I was thinking that the 18-35 at f/1.8 or f/2 might help me achieve approximately the same amount of isolation when taking shots of 2-3 people interacting.

    I also understand what some have said about f/1.8 perhaps being too thin. Then of course others have said achieving shallow depth of field at f/2.8 on a crop-sensor is difficult. Guess it's all in the eye of the beholder!
  27. Some have suggested that the sharpness of the 18-35 versus the 17-50 would not come into play for my uses. That's mostly correct (although we have had a few photos on billboards), as most photos would be used on the web or printed at smallish sizes.

    I'm more considering the difference in max. aperture:
    -many situations are indoors under somewhat poor lighting conditions and I don't want to (or can't) use a flash/lights
    -as I've written above, I'd really like to be able to shoot candid shots of individuals and small groups of people with decent blurring of the background
  28. Depth of field and how much you can blur the background are not the same thing.
    Depth of field on f1.8 on DX is not thin on wide angles unless you are doing close ups, like the shot of the dog. You can't do that to a person unless you want a comic effect. All this is easy to check on a DoF calculator like http://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html
    For instance at 10 ft distance @ 18mm f1.8 you have DoF from 7.5 ft to 15 ft.
    For instance at 10 ft distance @ 35mm f1.8 you have DoF from 9.2 ft to 11 ft.
    In my book this is not thin, thin is a something like two inch or less.
    Compare this to a typical portrait focal length 50mm on DX with a f1.4 lens (75mm equiv.).
    At 10 ft distance @ 50mm f1.4 you have DoF from 9.7 ft to 10.4 ft. That is DoF about +/- 3" or so around the focusing distance.
    Now compare that to using longer focal length at f2.8, for instance head & shoulders portrait at 6 ft or so distance.
    So 6 ft distance, 100mm f2.8, you have DoF from 5.94 to 6.06 ft. That's a DoF that is less than +/- 1 inch. That is thin.
    So focal length and distance play a huge role in DoF. It's not just about the aperture. FX is about 1 aperture stop less DoF. So f2.8 on FX is like f2 on DX.
    DoF calculations are based on what appears sharp with 20/20 vision on a fixed viewing distance and print size (about 8x10" @ 1ft). If you crop and print the same size, DoF becomes thinner. If you print big DoF becomes thinner. If you look at 100% crop on your screen DoF becomes thinner. If you put the image on the web in typical sizes, DoF increases. If you present it on low dpi screens DoF increases (after output sharpening).
    How out of focus the background becomes depends on the distance to the background, the focal length as well as the aperture. Here is a visual simulator you could check out: http://dofsimulator.net/en/
    If you want to blur the background you are better off increasing the camera to subject distance and shooting with a longer focal length and picking a background that is further away. Then f2.8 will be more than enough even on DX. If you want to blur the background on 18mm f1.8 on DX in a web sized uncropped image you need to be close to the subject.
    BTW, a cheap way to get nice portraits and some added low light capability is to buy the 50mm f1.8 and put it on DX. It's about $130-$220 depending on G or D model.
    PS. If I would equip someone to take shots like the OP want I'd pick for the Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 OS and the Sigma 50-150mm OS f2.8. For more scenic shots I'd add the Tamron 11-16mm f2.8 at a later stage.
    I don't know if used camera gear makes sense for a business. For some it might but I would not in general suggest buying used for a non-photographer business.
  29. Can you fit a used d700 in your budget?
    A 24mm 2.8 D + 50mm 1.4 or 1.8 D + 80-200mm 2.8 D is what I use for events. I'm sure it gives better results than a new DX kit. You get clean images till iso 3200, bigger viewfinder, shallower dof...
    Also, where's your lighting? You need at least a powerful flash for shooting indoors.
  30. Dave, using f/2 or f/1.8 on a crop sensor body definitely isn't the same as using f/2.8 on Full-Frame. The issue is that lenses of f/1.8 or f/2 aperture just haven't got the same IQ as a lens working at f/2.8. That one stop makes a big difference to the correction of aberrations possible, especially with the higher magnification needed from a DX sensor. Even though in theory the DoF should be much the same, in practice it just doesn't look the same. Especially since current DX wideangles need to be far more retrofocus than to get similar coverage on FF.
    WRT LED lighting. It just doesn't have the power for stills use. I assume the video lights you have access to are all panel-style units? The character of light given out by these is neither one thing nor the other; not big enough to be soft, nor hard enough to create strong modelling. And if you add a softbox (probably not even possible) you'll be down to about 2 candlepower intensity. Get some cheap speedlights and a nice big softbox to stuff them in. The YongNuos have a good reputation and cost peanuts. Likewise softbox-umbrellas are really convenient to use and cost very little.
  31. Take a look at Tokina Lenses. I love the two I have.
  32. true it catches part of the portrait range, though 70mm on DX is really quite nice for portraits too (the old 105mm lenses never were a bad choice either, after all, and still aren't). But yes, if one expects a fair number of portraits, it's right to consider if that gap wouldn't be a bit nasty. My preference for the 70-200 was more because of sports, where the extra bit of reach would be nice. It is a balancing act, and the OP probably has something to chew on to check where the priorities (or the best compromise) would be.​
    well, i'm speaking as someone who has used both 50-150 and 70-200 on DX. sure, if you want to prioritize outdoor sports, then the 70-200 is a better option. but 70mm on DX is a bit tight for indoor use.
    A Tamron VC 70-200 f/2.8 zoom (which has great IQ) will have portraits and sport pretty much covered,​
    i dont know about the Tamron for sports. nothing ive read suggests their USD motors are as good as Nikon's AF-S. that is a consideration for that application for sure. you could probably get a used nikon 70-200I for $200-$300 less than a new Tamron 70-200. But all that may be moot because...
    many situations are indoors under somewhat poor lighting conditions​
    the 70-200 indoors will not be nearly as useful as a 50-150. and in poor lighting conditions with a DX body, every stop of aperture counts. basically, it seems to me like the OP knows what he's doing and has considered all the factors before (apparently) settling on the 18-35/1.8 and 50-150. with the focal range of the 18-35, i think you can expect subject isolation equivalent to a 24-70 on full frame, but i wouldnt expect miraculous bokeh. shouldn't matter though as either a 50-150 or 70-200 will deliver in that regard should you need it.
  33. I have the DX's Nikon 17-50 f2.8 and Sigma 50-150 f2.8 and that will handle 95% of what I need (sports, outdoor portraits and events)
  34. If I was shooting what you will be shooting with the D7200 that you have chosen, the lenses would be the Nikkor 17-55 2.8 and the Nikkor 85 1.8G. Why? Rent them and see.....

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