Nikon D80 lens advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by djchristie, Jan 17, 2007.

  1. djchristie macrumors member

    djchristie

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Location:
    Falkland Islands
    #1
    I know you'll all hate this question, and it's the first question any novice asks, and there is no right answer but I'll ask it anyway!

    I would like advise on which lens to get for all round performance. I can't afford a bag of lenses, but I'd like a single, good quality lens to play with while I get to grips with more serious photography.

    I have read posts on lots of websites about the same question that result in hundreds of replies discussing focal lengths and aperture sizes etc....all completely bewildering! So please give me a name of a lens, if you were in my shoes what would you buy as a lens for all round use? I've got 2 months of fieldwork on South Georgia, near Antarctica, so they'll be snow, bad weather, lots of UV, lots of wildlife and some spectatcular scenery!

    Thanks to all for your help.
     
  2. hodgjy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2005
    #2
    Unfortunately, no one lens will do all that you need. Anytime you throw "wildlife" into the equation, you need some long glass (300 to 500 mm). Those aren't cheap. So unless you're really serious about forking over some major money on a long lens, I'd stick to the shorter lenses for now. Any lens that is ~300mm for under $300 will really disappoint, IMHO.

    Good "keep on the camera" lenses (you won't have to change them around very often to "get the shot.")

    1) Tamron 17-50 f/2.8
    2) Nikon 18-70 f/3.5-4.5
    3) Tamron 28-75 f/2.8
    4) Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5
    5) Nikon 18-135 f/3.5-5.6
    6) Nikon 28-200 f/3.5-5/6 (this is not the VR lens--it's gem, and not too expensive)
     
  3. mrkramer macrumors 603

    mrkramer

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    #3
    I can't think of any that will work for only one lens but the nikon 50mm f/1.8 is a very good lens for the price.
     
  4. coldrain macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    #4
    What is totally missing is the budget you actually have available.
    The list above from hodgjy is a start, but I would strike the Nikon 18-135 from it because it is a disappointing lens (soft, CA/purple fringing and contrast not upto spec), and instead put the Sigma 18-125 in its place.

    For thw wildlife you will need a longer lens, and like hodgjy also said, those are not cheap. If you are on a tight budget, the Sigma 135-400mm is a good choice.
     
  5. gibbon macrumors newbie

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    Aug 2, 2005
    Location:
    Scotland
    #5
    If I was in your shoes, and I wish that I was, I would have a look at the 18-200VR and if possible also throw in the 50mm 1.8. I am far from an expert on lenses but know a thing or two about fieldwork. From that point of view the flexibility of the 18-200 would be key and definately have a backup lens (and a point+shoot backup camera if poss). I dropped my camera off a cliff at the start of some fieldwork once and was left without, surrounded by wildlife and scenery for the rest of the trip. With a bit of patience and the ability to get close to wildlife down there 200mm should be enough to get some good photos. Enjoy!
     
  6. EstorilM macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #6
    For just ONE lens, the 18-200 VRII would be a no brainer - great lens that I would have myself if I didn't have a 24-70 2.8 and a 70-200 2.8 which cover most of the range already.

    That sigma 24-70 2.8 is a great starter lens though, costs about $350 compared to $1600 for the Nikkor equivalent, and there isn't toooo much of a difference, mostly the name and build construction - however the Sigma is an EX which is their pro line, it's also macro, has HSM autofocus (similar to Nikon's AF-S) and is a digital lens (a little lighter.)

    After that, you can get the Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM which is an outstanding lens, you can get those for $650ish if you look around.

    Those are some very snappy, sharp lenses that can be had for ~1k total, you'll have "pro" glass, 2.8 aperture, etc. I say go for it.
     
  7. coldrain macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    #7
    That Sigma 24-70 f2.8 is a full frame lens, it is not "digital so it is a little lighter". It is a DG lens, meaning it has coatings designed to avoid purple fringing. Sigma's DC lenses are the lighter "APS-C" lenses that are for the digital APS-C cameras specifically.

    The 70-200 f2.8's are nice lenses of course. But 200mm will not give you the reach needed for most wildlife. Reach is more important in this field than maximum aperture.

    Personally I'm not all that impressed with the 18-200 VR's optical performance, and it has a hefty price for what you get.

    Original poster, please state your budget...
     
  8. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #8
    If the wildlife is at all like Antartica it'll be approachable with a 70-200mm. Likely at 70mm!

    Luminous Landscape does Antarctic trips, you may want to check their site to see what they ended up shooting the pictures you like the most with. You'll want to be very careful of (a) condensation (double bag everything) and (b) extreme cold and LCDs.

    If you've got the money and you're not looking for dusk/dawn pictures of moving subjects, the Sigma 50-500 is a good all-around performer though you'll want a tripod or monopod at the long end.

    I'm waiting to find out if I'm going to do a trip down to Antarctica at one of the research stations later this year to shoot for a book. Besides having to get masses of dental work if I do have to go, and stretching to try to touch my toes, I've been looking at the Luminous Landscape site, as well as many others.
     
  9. djchristie thread starter macrumors member

    djchristie

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Location:
    Falkland Islands
    #9
    Budget!

    Hi folks, thanks for the replys much appreciated.

    Budget would be around £400 = 800USD

    preferably on the lower side! Not going to split hairs over it though, happier spending the bit extra to get something decent.

    In terms of wildlife, I won't be looking to zoom in from half a mile, the awesome thing about South Georgia is how close you can get to the wildlife, ie 10-15m without any bother. The good thing about having few visitors is how fearless the wildlife is!

    Thanks again.
     
  10. bearbo macrumors 68000

    bearbo

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2006
    #10
    i would agree with the nikon 18-200 VRII lens, it's a great lens. the hard part is getting it. if you are lucky and know where to look (and willing to make like 20 phone calls and do phone transactions) you might be able to get in a week or two, otherwise ppl have waited for months just for that very lens.

    edit: the 18-200 when i bought it months ago is 750 (again, it's not the easiest thing to get) brand new from a nikon reseller. and with a few filters i think that's just the thing you'll need!
     
  11. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #11
    Bearbo makes a good point, add in a circular polarizer and perhaps a holder and some ND grads to your kit if you want to be able to control reflections and the place is bergs and dark stuff.
     
  12. coldrain macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    #12
    I think british prices are a bit higher than USD prices, so it is a bit hard to really judge the budget... but if you were me, you would consider 2 lenses instead of one.
    One would be the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR IF-ED, to give you quite some telezoom range of good quality, and VR to assist you in those long focal lengths where camera shake can become an issue.
    http://www.nikonimaging.com/global/products/lens/af/zoom/af-s_vr_zoom70-300mmf_45-56g_if/index.htm

    The other lens I would consider is the Sigma 17-70mm f2.8-4.5 DC macro, a lens that gives you a very nice standard zoom, from wide angle into portrait range. It also gives you some macro ability, with its 1:2.3 macro function, which means that you can get a 2"/5cm wide subject to fill the photo with this lens.
    http://www.sigmaphoto.com/lenses/lenses_all_details.asp?id=3315&navigator=6

    These two lenses will give you relativily high image quality for the money, with a big range (17-300mm) and macro ability for "free" and VR in the long end, suiting your nice D80 well. A very nice "starter lens kit" with good potential, that should cost near 800$ together.
     
  13. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #13
    Whilst I'm a Canon user personally I'm following this thread just to see what is suggested. It appears this lens is pretty scarce in the UK, or warehouse express have not updated their status since last year!

    It's Showing as due in December! at £337. This is almost the OPs entire budget...
     
  14. coldrain macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    #14
    Wow, I did not realize the price is THAT much more steep from Euro-Europe... The OP would do well buying the lens from europe or the US then, IF you can actually get it I guess...

    A cheap but quite good replacement, albeit without the VR... but with 1:2 macro... the Sigma 70-300 APO DG. Or the surprisingly cheap yet also quite good Sigma 135-400mm f4.5-5.6 APO DG, but again this one may be much more expensive in britain, than i think...
     
  15. EstorilM macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #15
    Err yeah I get the 3rd party acronyms confused, the DG coatings are digitally optimized however.

    I disagree with you about the 18-200's performance - it has a 10x zoom factor, it is what it is - a very small lightweight lens that covers all walk-around focal lengths. I think it's a very good deal for what you get (why was it impossible to find for nearly 8 months if it was a bad deal?)

    For ONE lens, as you stated, the 18-200 is pretty much the only lens that will cover the majority of your focal lengths. If you need more reach, "one" lens won't be able to do it while keeping your wide end.

    For sheer reach the 50-500 is a good lens, however it's not as fast or solid as the 70-200 (you could always purchase a 2x teleconverter for the 70-200 and end up with a 140-400 5.6. when you need the reach - best of both worlds.)

    For non-sports and action photography you could look at the 80-400 VR, however this is a very slow lens. It does have a good (and rather unique) focal length coverage. It's a popular wildlife lens, but the AF isn't very accurate (I've heard they're coming out with a new VRII / AF-S variant of this lens.) It's also rather expensive. Sigma has an OS (optical stabilization) version of this lens as well, but it suffers a similar fate - it's price just represents this a little better.

    They also have a 135-400, but it's almost the same price as the 50-500 - with the same max aperture. The 50-500 (bigma haha) is pretty unique.
     
  16. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    Jul 24, 2002
    Location:
    London
    #16
    It's the mostly the tax thing. Prices in the UK and Europe are quoted WITH sales tax (and when we say we have £400 to spend we mean including tax). In the UK sales tax is a whopping 17.5%. It's even higher in some other European countries :eek:
     
  17. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Location:
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    #17
    I own both the 80-400 VR and the 50-500 Bigma, and while the Nikkor is contrastier, the Sigma is sharper at the long end sitting dead still on a tripod. I've sold fine art prints from both lenses, but most times I'd take the extra reach and sharpness over contrast. They were pretty comparable price-wise when I got mine.

    2x TCs are rarely known for their sharpness, so I'm not sure that's really going to be the best of both worlds, though your millage may vary.
     
  18. EstorilM macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #18
    True, the performance of the 80-400 in my experience has been very good - the only reason it might not be sharp in all situations is cause the focus is so damn slow haha.

    Price wise, though, the Nikkor should still end up about $500 more? From what I've seen. List on it's still like $1600ish (though obviously they're not going to go for that these days.) The DG bigma is really sharp though. :)

    I guess it would be hard to justify the Nikkor over the Sigma, unless you really want the 5 year warranty of the Nikkor.
     
  19. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #19
    The kits lenses that come with the Nikon cameras are very good quality. And sometimes you can find them used. look at the Nikon 18-70mm it is about $270.00 if you shop a bit.
    They also make an 18-135 which I think is the kit lens with the D200. This is NOT a speciality lens. It is not long, not "fast", or really wide but will do 85% of what most people want.

    Later after you have shoot a few thousand frames you will know better what you need but the 18-70 or 18-135 is the best general purpose lens for Nikon users.

    Stick with Nikon lenses if you can. Third party lenses are cheaper but there are things that don't show up in a short list of specifications that make the Nikon lenses worth it. Like the type of optical coating, contrast and so on.

    All the seggestions to buy expensive telephoto lenses above are not well sited to a beginner. a 400mm tele takes some skill (and a big tripod) to use well. And if you can only have ONE lens you shure as anything do not want it to be a 400mm zoom. You will use the wide end of the range (18-30) for most shots. Now if you could own TWO lenses then you would have to decide based on what shots your kit lens was unable to capture. But you will not know that untill after a couple thousand frames
     
  20. coldrain macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2006
    #20
    Many places where I read about the Nikon 80-400 VR they remark at how soft it is in the longer focal lengths. This may point to a very big sample variance?

    The Sigma I was meaning was the Sigma 135-400mm f4.5-5.6 APO DG, a lens that you can found in my country for under 500euro, very low in price for such a lens.

    It is soft at f5.6 at 400mm, but gets a lot sharper at f8 and up.

    For a low budget it is a very interesting lens.

    The Sigma 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 EX APO OS gets good reviews but of course is, like the Nikon 80-400 VR, totally out of the OP's budget.
     
  21. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Northern/Central VA
    #21
    Ah, I got both of mine used, I think they were within $45 of each other. The last brand-new lens I got was a 210mm Nikkor for my 4x5 enlarger (which I was half-tempted to mount in a shutter) if you don't count the thing that came on the front of the D200 which got lent out after 3 shots about a year ago. Prior to that it was the 90's when I got a new lens.

    If you needed VR, then the Nikkor would be the obvious choice, but at 400 the Sigma is noticeably sharper in fact, I'd say at 500mm the Sigma still a pretty good visible edge. It's a true wonder for a 10x zoom. They're both about the same focus speed-wise.

    I don't think it is. I think it's lack of side-by-side comparison (or pixel peeping more likely.) I've gotten lots of salable images from mine, and at the correct viewing distance you won't miss what softness there is. It's really when you're looking at the same scene with a lens that's better that you see the difference.

    Moral of the story: Don't ever look at the output of a 400mm f/2.8 lens.
     
  22. EstorilM macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #22
    You think so? The 80-400 uses the camera's internal focus motor, and the gear ratios are shockingly slow (somewhere like 4:1 slower than most other lenses, ie. it'll spin 4 times more to adjust for the same amount of focus.) The 50-500 has an internal HSM motor.

    I've fallen off a focus point with the Nikkor and I swear, I had to wait all day for the thing to run out to infinity and come back into focus! It "hunts" a lot. Still isn't too hot when you switch on focus limit but it helps a little.

    Damn now I kinda want the sigma. :) The only thing I complained about was the stiffness and ratio of the zoom ring, it was very awkward for me (being used to the silky smooth 70-200 VR.) I think it has more to do with the amount of glass you're moving (20 elements, however the barrel doesn't have a fixed geometry so you're moving a large amount of that.) I know you know this, but for the OP it might be valuable.

    I'd say.. run to a camera store and feel them out, and tell them to back off when they get all excited about you eyeballing expensive lenses.

    Look in the stores, buy online. :)
     
  23. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    Location:
    Northern/Central VA
    #23
    The last time I had both lenses and a camera body in my possession, I was shooting with an S2Pro, but I think the relatively small apertures just made them both hunt. Since my new benchmark is a 400 AFS-II which goes from close to infinity in fractions of a second I'm probably too spoiled to know the difference ;)

    Then again it could just have been the N80 body.
     
  24. EstorilM macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    #24
    Yeahhhh that's a nice piece of glass right there haha. Trade?

    Wow I just found a guy selling a mint D2hs (6000 shots, just services by nikon and had a lot of components replaced for no reason, new grip, firmware, metering circuit, etc.) for $1050. I would loooove 8fps.
     
  25. djchristie thread starter macrumors member

    djchristie

    Joined:
    May 25, 2006
    Location:
    Falkland Islands
    #25
    Thanks again!

    Thanks to all for taking the time to help out, much appreciated. Unfortunately I live in the Falklands so no camera shops, no option to play with any just have to buy online. It's obviously a big scary new world I'm venturing into, hopefully one day I'll actually understand what some of you are talking about!!!! ;) There is obviously a lot of personal preference involved as well, as can be seen by some of the divided opinions in the posts. Very excited about getting to grips with it all, and seeing how I go. Why do I always seem to choose expensive hobbies???

    I guess for now I'll just have to play with the bundled lens, a Sigma 18-50mm f3.5-5.6 which I know isn't great! Hopefully will give me an idea of what I want, and as ChrisA says, I'll only know that after a few thousand shots.

    Just as an aside, compuwar has used lenses. Is it worth me trying to go down that route? Not there are any in the Falklands, but where there's a will there's a way!
     

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