Consumer vs. Prosumer / Pro lenses

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by epicwelshman, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. epicwelshman macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    I finally received a dSLR for graduation, which I've wanted for a long long time. I have the D40x, and the 18-55 kit lens, which for a $100 lens is fantastic, IMHO. I have a friend who has the 17-55 2.8, and he loves it. I've also been looking at a telephoto zoom for street photography. I've been idly considering the 70-300 4.5-5.6 VR, or the 55-200 4-5.6 VR. I'm not sure what kind of focal length I really need yet, hence my hesitation. I read a Thom Hogan review of the 70-200 2.8 VR, and it got me thinking. Should I aim to only buy prosumer/pro lenses?

    As much as I love my 18-55, the constant f2.8 of the 17-55 would be incredible, as well as the superior build quality. Also, should I drop $300-$500 on a consumer telephoto, or save up and buy a pro lens for 3 times the price, but get a constant 2.8 as well as superior build quality etc.?

    I'm not a pro photographer, and I may never be pro. But I love photography, and I don't mind spending money on equipment (haha, when I actually have money one day!).

    I know that the 17-55 and the pro 70-200 will run me $3500+ but I hate the thought of getting a plastic zoom and wanting to upgrade in a couple of years.

    What do you guys think?
  2. miloblithe macrumors 68020


    Nov 14, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Do you have $3500 to spend any time soon? I think that a lens that you have takes better pictures than a lens you'll have in a year or two.

    Also gauge your commitment to weight. A 70-200 f/2.8 is heavy. I was just out this morning with just a 50mm f/1.8 on my camera, and it felt so liberating after going everywhere with a 24-70 f/2.8.

    Also consider that many lenses have good resale value.
  3. Trillium macrumors newbie

    May 24, 2007
    Thats a difficult question to answer by anyone but yourself but I'll throw out a little advice. I would assume from your post that money is an issue and that your a hobby photographer sooo....

    I would say go for the consumer lense.

    These days consumer lenses and bodies are really amazing and the main difference between them and their pro counterparts is durability and a wider Fstop. Unless you really need the brightest lense for shooting sports or in low light situations, a consumer lense should do fine.

    I use pro Canon gear(d1 mark IIn, 2.8 lenses with stabalization) at the newspaper I work for, but also have a set of mostly consumer Nikon gear for my personal use. (D40, kit 18-55, 80-200 2.8, 300 f4). For almost everything I shoot thats non-sports, my lesser expensive Nikon gear would do perfectly fine.

    Since your using Nikon gear you can always upgrade piece by piece to pro gear and use Ebay to liquidate old gear. As long as you keep your stuff in good condition you can get top dollar when you resell.

    hope that helps.
  4. Westside guy macrumors 603

    Westside guy

    Oct 15, 2003
    The soggy side of the Pacific NW
    I think you'd benefit from getting some actual photography experience under your belt before you go out and spend several thousands of dollars on lenses. Find out what (and how) you like to shoot first - that will define what sorts of lenses you'll want in the long run. You say you want to do street shooting, for example - it'd seem to me you wouldn't really want to stick out like a sore thumb (which you would with a big honkin' 70-200 f/2.8) if you really want to capture those sorts of images.

    Read more of Thom Hogan's site. You'll see he has his "pro" kit for actual work; but he also has his "walking around light" kit that consists of a couple good non-pro lenses. Other people would never deign to shoot with non-pro glass under any circumstances. But do some shooting, and see what (if anything) it is you can't do with your 18-55 - and don't automatically assume that, when you get a sub-par image, it's the lenses fault.
  5. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    Don't waste your money on Pro lenses.
    Since you have a D40X, you won't be able to use third-party lenses which are much sturdier than what you can get from Nikon (or Canon) for the same price. This is particularly true of Tokina lenses which are built like tanks (I've tried, Tokina 1, Nikon F80 0).

    The D40X' appeal is its size and you'd completely negate this if you'd use a 1.5 kg pro lens with it. It's a different way to take pictures as you need a rather big, heavy camera bag, and walking around with a 70-200/80-200 zoom is something you need to get used to. Don't underestimate this, it's nothing for the casual photographer.

    First, learn how to use your camera for some time and then see what happens. Don't drop so much money if you don't even know if you are seriously into photography. Also, consumer lenses are lighter and you can take good pictures with them, too. There are certain limits, but reach those limits first, then you know better what lens you may want to upgrade.
  6. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    Thanks, everyone. This wouldn't be something I'd do anytime soon. I don't think I explained myself very well in my original post... I was more so brainstorming than anything else.

    I certainly agree that being able to take certain photos with a consumer lens sure beats not being able to do so without one.

    In terms of weight, and the lightness that the D40x offers me... I can't really say either way. My parents bought me the D40x for graduation; I would have bought the D80 if I had been buying. I'm not afraid of weight, but saying that I've never walked around all day with a D2x and a 70-300 2.8 hanging off my neck!

    I also do love my 18-55. I'd like more reach, hence the telephoto question. The lens just feels cheap to me (which, obv, it is). If I ever decided to drop $1000+ on the 17-55 I'd intend to keep it for a long, long time. I just like how solid and durable it felt.

    This really was more of a hypothetical, "thinking out loud" kind of question, but I do appreciate the advice.
  7. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location

    Think about how impractical it would be to carry around a 70-200 mm f/2.8 lens for street photography. You have an f/2.8 lens......but so what? You don't necessarily need it, and you'd get more reach with a 70-300 mm VR lens, which is much smaller and more concealable. Nothing more obvious than a guy with a massive lens, hiding behind bushes trying to take casual photos of people. ;)

    Different usage requires different lenses, I think. The 70-200 mm f/2.8 can take photos in many situations, but it's not nearly as practical as a 70-300 mm or 55-200 mm VR. I wish Nikon made a 70-200 mm f/4 like Canon does. If they made one, I'd buy one now. :eek:

    And while the Nikon 17-55 mm f/2.8 is supposed to be fantastic, I think it's too bad you couldn't get the D80 you wanted, and then purchased a Tamron or Sigma 18-55 mm f/2.8 instead. Many 3rd party lenses are so much cheaper, and are usually very very good lens. The Tamron 28-75 mm f/2.8 is as sharp as the options made by Canon and Nikon, if not sharper. This is for a price that's 60% cheaper than Canon and Nikon.

    In practice, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference by looking at photos using that Tamron, and I'm sure that one of these new lenses: the Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina 18-50 mm (or similar focal range) f/2.8 are good. If there's one that is as good as the Canon and Nikon alternative, and it's a lot cheaper, then it's obviously a good deal, and you'd spend less money long-term by switching to the D80.
  8. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Dec 18, 2003
    For what it's worth, I've had great luck with the $150 Nikon 70-300mm G for portrait and botanical photography. That particular lens would only work manual focus on your D40x, but it's quite low on the Nikon line and is just fine as long as you remember that large apertures and long focal length may produce a bit of chromatic aberration at times (but stopping down to f/8 or so eliminates that). The 55-200 or 70-300 VR would, I imagine, not even have as much of this occurrence of CA and would be more than fine.

    The money you save with the less expensive lenses for now will go a long way towards travel (which actually allows you to create images otherwise impossible for you) and, if you are in the need, software like Lightroom or Aperture.
  9. bld44 macrumors 6502

    Apr 21, 2007
    I think a 55-200mm VR would be good for you.

    I had one for a month and during that time I was only asked about the lens (due to it's size) once. And that was during elevator small talk (the lady asked if I was a professional photographer). The 55-200mm VR is cheap (Amazon has it for $224), lightweight, and it really isn't that big.

    I would have kept it, but a 18-200mm suits me more as I was always changing out the lenses for the photography I do. Now that's a heavy lens.
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Shoot with the kit lens. Keep track of shots you miss. Latter buy the lens that would have gotten most of those mised shots. I'd say it's an even bet if you want a longer, wider or faster lens. THose f/5.6 long telle zoms are not as usful as you might think. You'd be better off with a fast prime shotting at f/1.8 and costing uder $400.

    Look at used nikon lenses. That's really one of the best things about Nikon -- the used market. You can buy a good, high quality 80-200 f/2.8 zoom used for about $600. Lenses don't change much the technology is mature.

    One problem you will have is the D40 lacks an in-body focus motor so only the AF-S type lenses will autofocus with your D40. You will need to rotate the focus ring manually with all other lenses. Many of Nkon's best lenses are not AF-S.
  11. failsafe1 macrumors 6502a


    Jul 21, 2003
    Always get the best glass you can afford. You need a lens now so get the 18 zoom shoot great photos and when you can afford it upgrade. You have to start where you are. The 2.8 lenses are the only way to go but that direction comes at a high price.
  12. termina3 macrumors 65816

    Jul 16, 2007
    Bingo--shoot with the kit lens for a few months before you set your mind on something, at which point you can go to the used market.

    As for f/2.8s, their weight can be a limiter... at 3.5 lbs for the 70-200, you don't want to be casually strolling around with that (also look at the 80-200 f/2.8 in the future). Also, the price is high, and when you're shooting outdoors in good light--or indoors in great light--whats the point of a 2.8 (bokeh, I know, but for $1K more)? I mean, night shots, ya, but for a little while play around inside of the box your lens creates--you'll be amazed at what you can do.
  13. netdog macrumors 603


    Feb 6, 2006
    I am not sure I can agree with this. I am using a Leica 14-55 2.8 and the contrast it yields is astounding.

    If one has a strong interest in creating images, while the camera bodies become outdated very quickly, an investment in great glass should yield benefits for years to come.

    While there are many prosumer and pro lenses that are less than extraordinary, there are some that are just a quantum leap above the rest in the results that they are capable of yielding. I guess what I am saying is get the consumer lens if the pro alternative yields the same quality, but be aware that there are some really extraordinary lenses out there, that they will cost you dearly, and that you will treasure them and the pictures that they yield for many years to come.
  14. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    In terms of lenses, the differences aren't "just" durability and aperture (though I'd argue that the aperture is the "killer" difference.) Most pro lenses also have increased flair resistance due to more exotic lens elements.

    I'd rarely give up control of aperture and light-gathering over price, it's simply too important to my photography outside of a studio environment. Body differences, other than weather sealing tend to be pretty marginal outside of ergonomics/responsiveness- I'd give up my D2x for a D70 before I'd give up my 400/2.8 for an 80-400VR. While consumer lenses these days are very good compared to times past, and most people shooting with pro lenses don't hit the corner cases where that glass excels, the differences are there and if you need them, there's simply no choice.
  15. epicwelshman thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2006
    Nassau, Bahamas
    Oh don't get me wrong... I love my kit lens, and it'll be a while before I replace it, or even add any more lenses. As much as I'd like a macro lens, I'm not prepared to drop $800 on a lens I'd barely use. Hell, if I was going to buy only one lens for the rest of my life it probably would be a 17-55 range... that's what I use most often.

    As for the D40/x's lack of in body focus, it's not a huge deal. I'd probably upgrade to a D200 (or equivalent) by the time I could justify a 2.8 lens!

    I wish I had the money to just buy anything I wanted... but I'd imagine everyone feels like this!
  16. DealMinded macrumors newbie

    Jun 21, 2007
    Great quote. And let it be said that I personally love my 50mm f1.4. :D
  17. Karpfish macrumors 6502a


    Sep 24, 2006
    I decided to go for the big guns, I own Nikon 17-55,70-200 and 300 2.8 AF-S with a D200. I am a HS student, but I freelance for local papers, and sell sports images to parents, so i make money off of this. If you can afford it, then get the 2.8 zooms. They are really great.
  18. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    I did. :) I own a Nikon 105 mm f/2.8 VR lens. It makes a good portrait lens portrait lenses, although they're a bit too long for my liking. What's the point of getting into photography when you can't take the photos you'd like to take? No matter what you go for......a 17-55 mm, a 70-200 mm f/2.8, etc, you're never going to be able to take the photos you want. Imagine spending $3500 and ending up with a desire for something completely different from what you just bought!

    And I can say the same thing about the 70-200 mm f/2.8 (although I've already stated my feelings). It's too big, heavy, and obvious to carry around the city, taking shots of people and such. You can use it, but it's not the lens for the job. It may be a better lens than the 70-300 mm VR or 55-200 mm VR lenses in terms of optical quality and aperture, but why spend a lot of money on a lens that you may be reluctant to bring out due to size and weight? It's also too big to do the job well.

    I'm using my 105 mm VR macro tomorrow for my friend's graduation ceremony. :)

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