beginner photographer thinking of buying a new lense.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by asidexo, Aug 15, 2013.

  1. asidexo macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2013
    I bought a Nikon D3100 a couple years ago and have been shooting with the kit 18-55mm kit lense ever since. I'm a college student and really just a hobby photographer so I'm not looking to spend a ton of money. I know good lenses are expensive but I'm probably looking to buy used.

    I shoot a lot of landscapes but I also like shooting up close details. I'm also starting to shoot more portraits as well. I'm also going to Costa Rica in a couple months so I will be taking some wildlife shots as well.

    What lenses do you think it would be most beneficial for me to have? I'm thinking a telephoto, but I also like the idea of a wide angle and 50mm prime. Ideally, I will eventually buy all three but I'm going to have to bu them one at a time.

    any recommendations?
  2. ericvmazzone macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2008
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Truthfully, I recommend the nifty fifty as a first fast lens. It forces you to really think about perspective and composition and is really fast. The 50 /1.8 pretty much stays on my camera 90% of the time.

    However having said that, it won't work very well as a nature lens, and it's iffy IMHO as a landscape. It's definitely not a macro without additional equipment.

    Still I'm happy with every 50 /1.8 I've purchased, both nikon and canon version.
  3. Clix Pix macrumors demi-goddess

    Clix Pix

    Oct 9, 2005
    8 miles from the Apple Store at Tysons (VA)
    Especially for travel, 55-200mm sounds like the natural companion to your current lens......
  4. MiniD3 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 9, 2013
    Hi There

    We don't know your budget, so the choices are endless
    have seen a lot of good landscape with the 18-55

    A true wide will be in the 10-20mm range due to the crop sensor

    If start out with an economical Nikon 24-120, (actual 36-180), that will get you most shots with good IQ

    Need a budget figure if your talking wildlife and telephoto, even the Sigma lenses are not that cheap in the scheme of things

    Lastly, Tokina make an excellent Macro, very sharp, 1/2 the price of a Nikon
    Some say even sharper
  5. asidexo thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2013
    thanks guys.

    I know I'm not going to get anything with pro quality for the budget but I'm not looking to spend more than $500 in total (if I opt to get a zoom and prime which is what I really ideally want)

    Am I okay going with sigma and other non brand lenses or is it really with the worth the extra money for the nikon lenses in the price range?
  6. JDDavis macrumors 65816


    Jan 16, 2009
    My .02 for the Nikon budget minded...

    The 18-55 and 55-200 can be had for cheap and can take some nice pics when you use them within their limits. You already have the 18-55 so you could add the 200mm range for not much. The only down side is changing lenses.

    I would absolutely add the Nikon 50mm 1.8 or the 35mm 1.8 DX to your kit. For the money they have amazing performance. I take landscapes but I don't have a pro wide angle and my 18-300 is soft on the edges at wide angle. So...take a 50 or 35 and shoot a landscape vertically (rotate camera 90 degrees) take multiple shots to go as wide as you want and then stitch it back together in post. If you use a tripod it works great and with the 50 or 35 it will be sharp edge to edge.

    Some may not agree but even though the 18-300 Nikon is out of your current price range I think it's about the best all in one lens you can get for the money from Nikon. Very happy with mine (though it is not a pro lens). You might check out a used 18-200 vrII. I had a vrI that took great picks as well (within its limits).

    $500 bucks? You could manage some nice portraits and even landscapes with the 18-55 and 50mm. I'd see if you could squeeze a Nikon SB-400 into your budget for indoors and portraits. If you really want a shot at wildlife in Costa Rica you might consider the 55-300. That's about as much reach as you are going to get for that cheap of a price. The lens reviews well and it should work well outdoors in good light.

    I think, overall I'd go with a 50mm and a SB700 flash if my budget was $500. It may not be the zoom you want but you'd find both useful even if you upgrade bodies and start buying pro lens one day.
  7. asidexo thread starter macrumors member

    Jul 27, 2013
    thanks for the information. I wasn't expecting to get much for it and the budget is flexible, the longer I wait to buy the more I have to spend. Ideally I don't want to spend too much more than that.

    I guess I didn't even think about flash. I never use flash, but that's because all I have it what's built into my camera and it just seems to make everything look bad.

    I might be able to throw the 50mm on the list of things for the people who still haven't gotten me a birthday present.
  8. cocacolakid macrumors 65816


    Dec 18, 2010
    I have a D3100 and also would recommend the 55-200 and the 35 1.8. I have both and both are very nice.

    I'd also highly recommend Adorama, they have refurbs of them often in stock and you can buy 7 year warranties for $20 that even cover drops. I bought the 55-200 refurbed for $114+the warranty, so $134. And the 35 i bought new for just under $200. The new lenses come from Nikon authorized dealers with 5 year factory warranties.

    If you are doing any portraits or indoor shots definitely get a Nikon Speedflash. I have the entry level SB-400 and it's an amazing addition. That's a must-have. They run $100+ new, so if you buy the 55-200 refurb you can still get both lenses, the speedflash, and the refurb warranty and still be well under $500. The next step up from the SB-400 is about double the price but adds some manual options.

    B and H are also good sources and Amazon is also a Nikon authorized dealer, but the inexpensive 7 year warranty on refurbs is a huge benefit to me for ordering from Adorama.
  9. Apple fanboy macrumors Penryn

    Apple fanboy

    Feb 21, 2012
    Behind the Lens, UK
    Do you have any camera shops or friends you could borrow a lens from for your trip (or for evaluation before buying)?
    Then you could decide which lens to get first. I'm currently looking at the 70-200 to complement my similar set up, but I will be going second hand for sure!
  10. Caliber26 macrumors 68000


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    I would recommend getting the 35mm f/1.8 instead of the 50mm because you'll often find yourself feeling restricted at 50mm. That focal length is not good for shooting indoors, on a crop sensor body such as the D3100. The 35mm will give you more flexibility in the long run.
  11. InTheMist macrumors member


    Jun 22, 2013

    First lens every new shooter should have is the 35mm f1.8. If you focus on portraits, 85 mm f1.8.

    Both of these will transform your photography.
  12. JDDavis macrumors 65816


    Jan 16, 2009
    Agree as well;) I'll add that I take my camera into some rough places sometimes and that's part of my hesitation in buying pro lenses. It's not that the 50 and 35 are throw away lenses but if I drop one on a climb, scratch it, or something else I don't feel so bad about replacing it (not that I have ever had to so far). They are incredibly light, can produce amazing images, and are a huge value on a DX body. Add a decent flash and you have a nice kit. The 50mm is tight indoors for sure but great for headshots and I like the extra bit of reach outdoors. It would be hard to decide between the why decide...get em' both you'll probably keep them forever :D.
  13. adversus macrumors regular


    Sep 11, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I shoot Nikon as well and always recommend the 35mm. 1.8. It's < $200 and for the price is a sharp, nice lens. You'll have an effective focal length of 52mm with it.

    The 55-200 is also nice, but I outgrew it quickly. Spend more on lenses as they will outlast your camera body by years (or decades).
  14. Team Timm macrumors regular

    May 17, 2012
    As everyone else is saying, go with the 35 1.8 for a prime. It's perfect and you will be satisfied with it for a long time. Perfect low lighting shooting and it's not expensive at all.
  15. fa8362, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013

    fa8362 macrumors 65816

    Jul 7, 2008
    I disagree with almost all of the advice you're being given. If you want to make pictures that you currently can't make, you should figure out what lens will make those pictures and buy that. Anything else is silly.

    If you want to shoot wildlife, then you'll need a long telephoto. A prime long telephoto will be too expensive for you and won't be very versatile, so something that zooms to 300mm (450mm on your crop sensor) will work reasonably well.
  16. BJMRamage macrumors 68020


    Oct 2, 2007
    I went to Costa Rica on honeymoon.
    Awesome wildlife there.

    Anyway, I was using a (D70 - this was 2004) and a kit lens 18-104 and a 300mm non-Nikon Zoom lens. This made the big zoom a 450mm.

    I was able to snag some very cool zoomed shots. and a shot of a "parasoso" (that's how the guide said it) or Sloth that was very far away. and with the 450mm i still had to crop it to just see it.

    As great as a Prime can be, I think, unless your Costa Rica trip is tenting in the jungle, you'd be better off with a larger zoom.

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