D300 Lens Advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by yrsonicdeath, Jul 7, 2008.

  1. yrsonicdeath macrumors 6502

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    #1
    So I have a D300 Body with no lens on the way. I original intended to get the 18-200 DX VR lens, but after the release of the D700 I've been thinking about lenses in terms of an investment. I'm fairly certain that this camera is going to be the last camera I buy that will not be Full-Frame. From an investment standpoint I feel like I should buy a non-dx lens to save me some money down the road. Is this a wise idea?
     
  2. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #2
    Personally, I have felt that way since they introduced DX lenses. That was back when the Canon 1Ds was the only game in town. Now, we have the 1Ds MkIII, the 5D (soon 5D MkII), the D3, the D700, soon the D3X (?), soon the A900, and the Pentax full-frame rumor just won't go away.

    I've had all of my lenses for 5 years or more. What's the likelihood you'll be using a DX-format camera in 5 years?
     
  3. djbahdow01 macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    You should think this way all of my lenses are full frame, there are a lot of options and you need to figure out how you are going to use your camera.

    I am very happy with all of my lenses, but I have spent a good amount of money on them, far more than the camera.

    Anyways best bet for advise would be as to what you plan on using your camera for, ie landscapes, sports, portraits, snap shots, etc also budget.

    There are a wide variety of lenses that fit many needs. The 18-200 is an ok lens but as you have said you think you'll be making the jump to FX next time around. As said there is no all around lens like the 18-200.
     
  4. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #4
    You are right about the coming of the FF bodies. But if you own a DX body you are going to have to buy at least one DX lens. You need a wide angle lens. One that goes to at least 18mm. You might look at the 18-135. or the 18-70. For most subjects 70mm is long enough of a crop body. The price is right on the 18-70, I bought mine for about $270. 18-70 is a very useful range and the lens is well build with fast AF-S

    Then go for the "good stuff". Nikon's signature long zoom is the 70-200 f/2.8 Buy whatever version of that lens you cn afford. A used push-pull version goes for $400 while the new VR version has a low four digits price. They are all good.

    Primes are good too. I bought my 50mm and 85mm for use with a full frame camera (the N90) Buy a 50mm now for the d300 and later buy an 85mm after you get the FF body. I wish I had a 35mm prime for my D50. I have a very old 55mm f/3.5 manual focus macro lens that I use. It works well.

    I'd say with an 18-70, a50mm f/1.4 and the 70-200 you be ready for "anything"

    Later if you sell the d300 the 18-70 would go with it

    I may do a more radical thing and just stick with DX forever, at least for action photos and snapshots and for anything I consider "art" use a medium or large format camera. Really, in terms of image quality full frame is only a small increment over DX. Nothing at all like the increment you get by going to a larger format such as 6x6cm or 4x5 inch. So I might just skip Nikon FX. Back in the pre-digital are I only used 35mm for fast moving subjects for anything that would wait while I set up a shot I'd use a larger format. You get an order of magnitude better image.
     
  5. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #5
    Well if you can afford it, there are full-frame lenses that go reasonably wide on DX. The 17-35 for example, or the 14-24.
     
  6. Digital Skunk macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #6
    Agreed. And if the OP has the cash, they can get the big e lenses. A 14-24 24-70 and 70-200.

    You'll be set for much of the focal lengths.

    Ever since the launch of the D3, I have been selling off my DX glass in the hopes of a smaller D3 variant or a future D3 purchase. And now look at what we have! :D

    D700 (even with it's flaws/quirks) and FX glass ready to go!
     
  7. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #7
    BTW we all have our opinions on this, and my guess isn't any better than anyone else's - but I would bet DX sensors will be around for the next decade, at least in the consumer cameras. Plus the numbering gap between the D300 and D700 implies that Nikon expects at least two more mid-level DX models. There are just too many advantages to DX for the companies, and frankly for a lot of consumers as well.

    I won't be too surprised, though, if we see less DX-specific glass coming down the pipe... but time will tell. I suspect a lot of folks will still want DX lenses, if only because of weight and size.
     
  8. ksz macrumors 68000

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    #8
    What makes a medium format image that much better than a 35mm image? The quality of the silver halide particles? The size of the particles (which has more to do with ISO rating than image quality)? The density of silver halide particles? Or perhaps just the total quantity of the light-sensitive particles because of the larger size of the frame?

    My understanding is that the density and type of particles are the same, but a medium and large format frame simply has more of them.

    If this reasoning is true, then a full-frame sensor with a higher pixel count will provide a much bigger increment over DX. One can argue that Canon's 1DsMkIII plays in medium-format territory. Hence, once Nikon increases the pixel count on its full-frame sensor, it too would shift into medium format. Of course pixel size will decrease and hence light sensitivity will suffer, but you'll be able to make much larger prints.

    Another argument can be made for the diameter of a medium format lens and the optical resolution it provides. But FF sensors with 22 to 24 million pixels are thought to reasonably approximate a medium format image. A true medium format sensor coupled to a larger lens would provide more headroom for future increases in pixel density.

    So if I were to invest thousands of dollars in lenses, I would favor full-frame lenses not just for the sake of the 12MP Nikon sensor available today, but for higher pixel sensors coming in the near future that would move those lenses into medium format territory.

    Edit: Just came across this thread in DPReview from a guy who thinks his D3 produces much better images than his D200.
     
  9. khollister macrumors 6502a

    khollister

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    #9
    I got news for you - the D300 image quality is better than the D200 as well. It's not the size of the sensor but the dynamic range of the sensor and the image processing in the camera.

    I personally feel the hype on full frame is over the top. There is one compelling advantage and that is lower noise due to the pixel density. With today's technology, a 24mp FX is not going to have appreciably better noise than a 12mp DX - it's the size of the photosites that drives this. You can use FX sensors to either get better noise or higher resolution, but not both.
     
  10. yrsonicdeath thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    Thank you all for the great advice. I think that I've come to at least a bit of a decision. I will probably get one DX lens for more wide-angle applications and then the rest of my lenses will be FF.

    I agree with some of the above posts that DX lenses will be around for a while, but I was so close to buying the 5D when the D300 came out. I had a Canon previously and have committed to making the switch to Nikon (My Canon decided to not work in any setting except Full Auto and my dad has been using it.) I also only had a kit lens and a not-so-great telephoto so it wasn't hard to part with it. Unfortunately before that I was using Minolta film cameras so this is my second switch actually.

    Anyway, thanks for all the great advice and please continue to provide some input as it would be appreciated!
     
  11. ksz macrumors 68000

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    #11
    Not really. The D300 offers only marginal improvement in PQ. Most people will probably not notice.

    Have you personally used FF and compared it with DX? In other words are you basing your argument entirely on your personal feelings or something more objective?

    Lower noise is due to pixel size, not density. Look at it like this: take 5 million small pixels and spread them evenly on FF sensor. Now spread the same size pixels evenly on a DX sensor. The DX sensor will have higher density, but because pixel size is the same, the light-gathering ability of each pixel is the same regardless of density.

    A full-frame sensor allows me to have 24 million pixels, which moves us into medium-format territory. A DX frame could eventually reach 24 million pixels, but I would be extremely worried about noise, dynamic range, and the optical resolution of a smaller lens.

    I think you missed the whole argument of moving into medium-format, which is something a full-frame sensor is more readily able to achieve than a DX sensor.
     
  12. drgrafix macrumors regular

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    #12
    I got my D300 last fall, and my two current lenses are the 50mm 1.8D, and the well-known 18-200 VR zoom. There are lots of pros/cons on this lens, but I have to admit it is pretty impressive overall. I think it is an exceptional "walk-around" lens, far better than my old 80-200 Nikon zoom. It is amazingly compact and easy to use.

    With regard to the DX vs FF... I think the difference is really subjective. The 12+ MP D300 has a hellva image to work with. A friend of mine has an older Canon EOS 10D 6MP camera and we were both at Yankee stadium shooting from the bleachers on saturday, him with a Canon red-stripe 400mm (translates to 600mm in DX) and me with the 18-200mm. Tonight we've been swapping images and obviously, since he was using a FF 35mm lens, I had to crop and enlarge my images to get something comparable. FWIW, I think we came out about dead even in quality.

    [​IMG]

    The above shot was hand-held, shot about 350+ feet from home plate. The bottom shot was shifted back to wide angle.

    [​IMG]

    Here's the Canon/600mm Lens with a crop. Of course his pix was scaled to be email and almost match my specs.

    [​IMG]

    I think his is a little better, but its close... very close. Obviously, if I had 600mm I could possible do better, but I just wanted to show what the average person could do with a "OK" 18-200 and 12.3 MP in a DX format. I wish we had a FF to compare it to, but I don't... sold my 500mm Nikkor Mirror :( to help pay for new digital toys. Still have my F2 & f1.2 though!

    I think the bigger question is whether Nikon will support DX in years to come. If they do... I'm happy enough. If they abandon DX and leave thousands of folks up the river... then I'm not so happy. I would also agree with the notion that medium format digitals with 20+ MP will blow away any DX of FF Nikon/Canon. I've used/owned Bronicas and Nikons at the same time and in the film world... the negative/chrome is incredible over 35mm.
     
  13. yrsonicdeath thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #13
    I've learned a lot from this thread, I'm really thankful. My main concern was just investing in a ton of DX lenses and then wanting a FF camera as my next camera whether a DX alternative was available or not. With the introduction of the D700 I feel like when I'm ready to buy a replacement for my D300 there will be more FF cameras for me to choose from in a larger variety of price ranges. I tend to give a lot of thought when making large purchases, as I'm sure most people do, and when I buy lenses I'd like it if I got as much use out of them as I possibly could.
     
  14. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #14
    Since the FX and DX sensors in your scenario would have pretty much the same size photosites, I'd expect the noise levels for the 12MP DX sensor and 24MP FX sensor to be the same (as long as we're talking about same-generation sensors).

    I don't think low light capability is the only difference between DX and FX.

    Another difference between FX and DX is depth of field for a given field of view - FX offers more isolation. This is good for some applications and bad for others. A macro shooter, for instance, might prefer DX so as to get more depth of field. A portrait shooter might prefer FX for better isolation of the subject from the background.

    Larger photosites will also be somewhat more forgiving of small amounts of camera movement, say from less-than-optimal handheld shooting technique.
     
  15. Renderz macrumors 6502

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    #15
    I second that statement. I got a sizeable lens collection but the most versatile is that 18-200. Even if you're going somewhere with poor light it's nothing a flash can't solve; I have the SB800 and it's almost a fool-proof combination.
     
  16. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #16
    However, just because Nikon has left room for the D400, D500, and D600 doesn't mean that they will actually put any cameras in those slots. I do agree that there's likely to be a D400 variant of the D300 in a couple of years - beyond that, there's no telling. I don't think the market has spoken clearly enough yet to discern the longevity of the DX format. It looks to me like we are on the threshold of the full-frame era. I think Canon's next move will be telling. There's a lot of talk about the 5D MkII to compete with the D700. I'm not sure that's the smart move. IMHO, it might be wiser to bracket the D700 with both a cheaper full-frame model, and one that's more expensive. If they do that...I suspect we can assume that the handwriting is on the wall for cropped sensors.
     
  17. yrsonicdeath thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Any thoughts on the Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR AF-S DX Nikkor Lens?

    I'm leaning towards this one as my one DX lens. Does anyone have it or have any recommendations for or against it?

    Edit: the 18-200 VR DX lens is only 100 bucks more, that could be a consideration in your advice. Thanks!
     
  18. Abstract macrumors Penryn

    Abstract

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    #18
    Exactly.

    I vowed to have only "FX" lenses in my collection because I knew this day would come, and yet I now have two DX lenses (excluding my kit lens) and two FX lenses. :eek: I felt my DX lenses were necessary purchases, and in a way, I was right. There was nothing out there for me better than a Tokina 12-24 mm, or a Sigma 30 mm f/1.4. I'm sure you can understand about the Tokina, and the Sigma was necessary because Nikon has decided to ignore their prime lens users cries. Besides, any Nikon version of the 30 mm f/1.4 would have cost $2000 anyway, and I can't afford that for such a simple lens. Sorry, but that's what it is. Sigma can do a bang-up job for several hundred dollars.....better than Nikon's version from the looks of it.

    Anyway, I'm going to get great use out of my Sigma 30 mm, and I have already gotten some fantastic photos with my Tokina. I'll keep these lenses until I get a FF camera, and by that time, Nikon will have moved onto 16 MP or something, while accepting DX lenses and reducing down to a 9-10 MP sensor in the process. Definitely not bad.



    Handwriting on the wall? No way.

    1. Camera manufacturers will continue to make them because they're cheaper to make, and plopping them into another camera body for advanced consumers wouldn't be a problem. It doesn't matter if brand new FF camera models have a release price of $1000, because a DX camera can be had for $500. If FF cameras are sold for $800, then DX camera prices will drop to $400. There's always a place for DX.

    2. Cameras with APS-C sensors will always be smaller in size, and there's a LARGE number of consumers who want a DSLR but don't like the bulk. I had my friends tell me that last Saturday at my birthday. They picked up my D300 and were surprised by the weight. Camera manufacturers wouldn't be stupid enough to ignore the consumer market by trying to up-sell to larger, more expensive FF DSLRs when some people just want a small DSLR. One of my best friends is in that boat. He bought a Canon G9 because he didn't want to carry around a DSLR. Actually, he wanted a DSLR, but his wife wasn't so sure. I think the Olympus E420 would be perfect for them, as it's not THAT much bigger than the Canon G9, and would take better photos.

    Thirdly, BIF shooters, macro shooters, and some sports shooters would probably prefer a DX sensor over FX, if only for the lower cost and lower weight of lenses. I guess if FF sensors are all 27 MP and larger, it won't matter anymore because there's a DX mode on Nikons (although Canon users won't have that ability ;)). However, if you're going to buy an FF camera and use it on DX mode for what you shoot, you may as well get a DX camera! It'll be smaller, lighter, and possibly more suitable for what you do.
     
  19. Hmac macrumors 68020

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    #19
    Plopping any sensor into any camera may not be a problem, but a given camera company has to have a reason to do so, and those reasons will entirely revolve around market demand. That's a pretty fuzzy crystal ball right now, but IMHO the image becomes clearer with each new market development. I have no dog in this fight - I own both DX and FX dSLRs. I was never particularly dissatisfied with DX, I'm not overly wild about FX. I have no invested reason to be partial to either format. It's just a tool to capture images. I bought the D3 for its handling, responsiveness, ruggedness and IQ. Frankly I didn't really care that it was FX, still don't, really. It took some getting used to the decreased reach of my tele-zooms, and a little re-learning in the management of depth of field, but now it's no big deal. Don't worry, if I can manage it, you certainly will be able to.

    Anyway, I have said that I have no doubt that DX will persist for many years at the lower end of the dSLR spectrum, but as a professional imaging tool...yes...the handwriting is on the wall IMHO. A ways off, true, but pretty clearly there.
     
  20. Rotary8 macrumors regular

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    #20
    Nikon 17-55mm 2.8f is the best zoom you can get in DX format. I had the 18-200 vr and wasn't sad to see it go. 17-55 is incredibly sharp even at 2.8.

    I also have a sigma 50-150 hsm II 2.8f as my tele zoom.
     
  21. yrsonicdeath thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #21
    That lens is a little out of my price range, unfortunately.
     
  22. ksz macrumors 68000

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    #22
    Yup, that pretty much sums it up. For me personally, I always felt DX was a compromised solution and that its longevity with me would be short-lived. DX has come a long way, but to me there's more excitement in existing and upcoming FF sensors.

    My two DX lenses are the Nikon 18-200mm VR and the Tokina 12-24mm. While the 18-200mm is a very convenient lens with decent optical quality, I can't say enough good things about the Tokina 12-24. The more I use it the more impressed I am. Regrettably the Tokina gets overshadowed by the Nikon because often I have room to carry only one.

    Anyway, I'd like to see Tokina deliver a full spectrum of f/2.8 FX lenses with the same attention paid to optical quality.

    I don't think we'll see the demise of DX anytime soon, if ever. The existence of DX does not concern me, but the existence of low-cost full-frame bodies does concern me. Even if DX bodies remain half the price of FX bodies, that's fine so long as the FX market expands and we have several models to choose from at various price points and from various manufacturers.

    A broad growth in the FX segment will spur manufacturing efficiencies for all of the constituent components.
     
  23. yrsonicdeath thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #23
    This is sort of the set up I'm leaning towards. Get a Nikon 18-200mm VR then the Tokina (I've read such good things about it) and then get some FF prime lenses following that and then see where the market/my desires take me after that. I'd like to get some more opinions of the 18-200 VR though.
     
  24. Westside guy macrumors 601

    Westside guy

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    #24
    I have both as well. The 18-200 is quite good... for what it is. Any lens with that sort of range is going to have certain compromises associated with it. Like a lot of consumer zooms, it's much better at apertures a stop or two below the max (which of course varies according to focal length).

    Once nice thing about that pair - the 18-200 is not great at its very widest angle, since there's pretty dramatic barrel distortion at 18-20mm. The Tokina covers the 18-24 range admirably (it's very good wider, too; I just mean it's a much better option for 18-24 than the 18-200 is).

    I will mention an alternative pairing that'll likely give you somewhat better optical quality for roughly the same amount of money - the Nikkor 16-85 VR paired with the Nikkor 70-300 VR (you lose a bit at the wide end, but gain 100mm at the long end). Had this been available back before I bought my 18-200, I'd probably have gone this route. But the caveat is I find myself shooting a lot in one range or the other, and rarely am shooting one shot at 60mm, the next at 180, etc. - so for me this set wouldn't require making lots of lens swaps. When making lens choices you definitely should look at your shooting habits. Lens changes aren't a big deal, as long as you're not having to do 100 a day. :D

    Edit: Thought it might be worth noting that the 70-300 VR is full frame.
     
  25. NEiMac macrumors regular

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    #25
    Personally, I plan on getting as many fx lenses as I can but there may be a couple DX lenses that are two tempting to not to get. The Sigma 30mm 1.4 is one of them, I'm fairly certain my new wide angle lens will be too. So what I say is this if you think there is a DX lens that you will use allot get it, just don't go making all of them DX. By the way get a 50mm prime when you get the chance its a awesome fx lens for a silly cheep price. :D
     

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