Horror story about commissioned salespeople! I need some real unbiased lens advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by pageerror404, Jan 15, 2010.

  1. pageerror404 macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2010
    I am extremely frustrated because I had a bad experience at a local camera store with one of the commissioned salespeople. Basically he responded to everything I asked like I was stupid or telling a lie, he kept telling me I was wrong about things which I knew were correct and basically was just trying to sell his products without honestly helping me out. Here is an example of a part of our conversation.


    Me - Do you carry the nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens here?? The older one? I heard it was a fantastic lens and clearer than most newer variations.

    Him - We don't carry old lenses here, those are obsolete and generally only sold at the time of their release. Who said they were better?

    Me - I read numerous reviews in my research.

    Him - Oh yeah, what reviews?

    Me - What does it matter?

    Him - *Rolls eyes* Well its best not to take those reviews seriously and instead listen to someone with experience who has been using and selling the lenses for years. The latest ones are made with much newer technology and YOU (yes he emphasized the word) will not notice any difference in clarity. In fact they give better pictures.

    Me - Well show me the newest 50mm lens then.

    Him - We're out of them right now. What were planning on using it for?

    Me - Just as an all-purpose lens, one good to keep on the camera most of the time. Show me something comparable please.

    *Puts a 24-70mm f/2.8G ED on a demo D5000 and then hands it to me*
    (Note: He was sure to sarcastically tell me to remove the lens cap when I picked it up)

    Me - Yes that is a very nice lens, but I'm not looking to spend $2000 today.

    Him - You know what's a smart idea? When you save to buy a lens, save a few weeks longer and buy a better one.


    I need some real advice here about lenses, before I pull my hair out. Are the new AF-S lenses worthwhile or are the slightly older ones actually better quality? If the new ones are great then I won't even bother upgrading my D40 and just invest the extra money into a more expensive lens.

    I need recommendations for a zoom lens. I am not a wildlife photographer so I don't need something with incredible range, just something capable of taking me a little closer to my subjects. I doubt I will need more than 135mm. I am not looking to spend more than $600 on it though. What lens should I get? It doesn't have to be nikon brand.
  2. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    So you have a D40 and a kit lens, and you're looking for general advice on prime lenses and specific advice on a telephoto, right? As an initial comment - you should really say what you have already and what you're trying to achieve if you want people to help you (and maybe the salesman had that problem too...)

    - The 50 f1.8 isn't going to autofocus on your 40D, and the 40D isn't the right camera to own if you want to play with older AF primes.
    - Most shops will clear out old variants of lenses when a new one is released, so the salesman is right to the extent that you're not going to find some obscure revision X lens in a store
    - Nikon hasn't upgraded most of its normal/wide primes for years, and its much more modern zooms like the 24-70 will perform very well in comparison

    So the salesman might have been an a**, but there's some truth in what he was saying.

    To answer the rest of your question... if you're looking for an everyday sort of a fast prime to use on your D40, then you need the 35mm f/1.8G AF-S.

    If you're looking for a shortish telephoto so get you a bit closer in compared to your kit lens you really need to state your budget, since a lot of the longer glass is going to cost you. I suppose the AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G or AF-S DX VR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G is probably the right lens.

    If you want to play with lots of old glass you need to upgrade your camera body to one with an old-school in-camera autofocus motor. (But you know that already, since you have a separate thread on the subject).
  3. pageerror404 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2010
    I did give my budget to him and I am planning on upgrading if its worth it. I know they would only restock new lenses, but I also know they buy and resell older camera equipment.
  4. firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    Why don't you tell us what your budget is? How do you expect anyone on the forum to recommend stuff based on only 1/2 the story?
  5. pageerror404 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 8, 2010
    Its already up there. In fairness though the way I formatted the thread made it look like it was in a signature
  6. Chundles macrumors G4


    Jul 4, 2005
    To be fair, your issue is not with commissioned salespeople but with a d*ckhead.

    Don't chuck all of us into the same basket.
  7. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2003
    Melbourne & Shanghai
    His advice seems pretty sound but the way he said it makes him a bit of an ass.
    50mm on a cropped body isn't really a good walk around lens. It's just a bit too long for my liking. Currently I have a 28mm on my 30D as my walk around and that seems to be a good focal length.

    Even the 24-70mm his recommending is too long to be an all round walk around lens. Nikon has something like the 17/15-85mm lens that Canon has which I found that to be the best walk around lens.

    As a general rule most things improve with time. While some older lenses were very good they do lack some of the new coatings/designs in the newer lenses. However that said the 50mm prime hasn't really changed for decades (except the Sigma one).
  8. kallisti macrumors 65816


    Apr 22, 2003
    Have you considered the 18-200? It is slightly outside of your price-range ($750), but I don't know if your budget has some wiggle room. While it isn't a professional lens, it's good for what it does. Slower than a pro zoom, but it covers a huge range, is lighter, smaller, and less expensive.

    On a D40, a 35mm prime is likely to see more use as a general walk about lens than a 50mm prime. The reason has to do with the 1.5x crop factor of DX bodies (like the D40 up to the D300). The 35mm lens gives the same field of view as a 52.5mm lens on a film/full frame camera (close to the "nifty fifty" people speak of). The 50mm lens on a DX body gives a field of view equal to 75mm on film/full frame (which makes it a decent portrait lens on these bodies).

    Any lens you buy for the D40 will need to be an AF-S version if you wish to use autofocus. The 35mm f/1.8 AF-S is around $200. The 50mm f/1.4 AF-S (which was recently redesigned by the way) goes for around $440.

    Which lens is *best* for you is a complicated question. The zooms you are going to be able to afford and the 35mm prime are all DX lenses. So if you ever upgrade to an FX body, they won't get further use at that point. Both of the 50mm lenses work equally well with either DX or FX (though their field of view obviously changes depending on the sensor size in the body). The f/1.4 is obviously faster (which is one of the reasons to have a fast prime in the first place) but has more distortion than the f/1.8. To decide if the 50mm prime is worth it (and whether a body upgrade makes the f/1.8 better than the f/1.4) you have to ask yourself: How often am I shooting at 50mm? When I am shooting at 50mm, how often do I really need the speed increase that the prime offers over the kit lens? For what I generally shoot at 50mm, do I really need the improved image quality that the f/1.8 will offer over the kit lens? (The 18-55 kit lens is actually pretty decent for a kit lens. Unless you really need the larger aperture that the prime offers, you may not actually notice much improvement in image quality. This is obviously subjective, we all have our own standards). Is the added length of the 50mm prime really that important compared to the 35mm prime which would work with the D40 you already own?

    Considering the rapid pace of improvement in sensor tech, I'm not sure that a minor body upgrade just to be able to use older primes is a sound investment. On a DX body, Nikon's wide angle primes aren't going to be that wide. Wide DX zooms are actually a better option. On the longer end, about the only affordable prime is the 85mm f/1.8 ($450). Longer (or faster) than that and things start to get expensive. Depending on which body you would upgrade to, there might be other factors in play that would make a body upgrade worthwhile though.

    If you want another lens because the kit lens is too slow, then the 35mm prime is a no-brainer. It's inexpensive and will open up low-light shooting for you. If you know that for what you generally shoot you will need fast primes at various focal lengths, then you have no choice but to upgrade to a better body.

    If you are unhappy with the zoom range on the kit lens, then I would consider the 18-200mm if you can afford it, or possibly the 55-200 ($180). I can't comment on the image quality of the 55-200 though since I don't own one (but I've read good things about it). The combo of the 35mm prime and the 55-200 will run you around $400, well within your budget. Since the 18-55 kit lens is actually a decent lens, the only downside to going this route is that you will have more stuff to carry around to cover all the focal lengths you may need. That's one of the advantages of the 18-200.

    On a side note, the 24-70 is an amazing lens. On DX you lose on the wide end but gain on the long end. On an FX body it is almost perfect for a walk about lens/travel lens (though I would be happier with a slightly longer reach or maybe even VR, but meh what can you do?). It isn't cheap by any stretch, but it is an amazing lens. Depending on your needs and your budget, the advice about saving for a good lens isn't totally off. DX bodies/lenses are more affordable and may be all you really need (either now or in the future). If your photography ever gets to a point where you want/need to switch to FX, then part of the switch will likely involve a need to completely redo your lens lineup, which isn't cheap. Buying/selling used can help defray the costs. Bodies are disposable. A good lens can last a lifetime.

    Hope this helps.
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    What "older" Nikkor 50 f1.8 are you referring to that is better than the newer ones? I have not heard anything about this. The closest thing I can think of is the old versions of the f1.8 which were made in Japan whereas the newer ones are made in China, although this has been generally accepted that there is no image quality or build construction difference between the two. Some like the old Japan version for nostalgia or collector's sake, but as an imaging device the two are equal.

    If I'm honest (and the conversation transcript is accurate), there was a little bit of douchebaggery on both sides. Perhaps he could have been a bit more polite, but your responses certainly weren't helping. The nice thing is though, if you don't like that store, you are more than free to take your business elsewhere.

  10. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Dec 1, 2008
    Tamron makes a 17-50mm f/2.8 zoom that has a great reputation for being a sharp large aperture lens at a budget price. The first version does not have a built-in autofocus motor, meaning it won't autofocus on your D40, however a newer version was recently released that adds both a built-in autofocus motor and vibration correction (i.e. vibration reduction/image stabilization). The newer version goes for about $650, which is about your price point. I used the older version a few years back on a borrowed Canon 20D, and it definitely got the job done. However, it is a DX lens, which is important to keep in mind if you're considering ever taking the full frame leap.

    That said, the 24-70mm is indeed a fantastic lens. Regardless, you need to decide whether carrying around such a beast of a lens is something you want to do, for your own photography purposes, when a cheaper and lighter lens (such as the one mentioned above) might suffice.

    What lens do you currently have? I don't think you've specifically mentioned, but then, I could also be a poor reader. In any case, the kit lens (assuming that's what you have) has a reasonably large range that would typically be suitable for a "walkaround" lens. If you simply want to get "a little closer" to your subjects, as you said, maybe something like the 18-105, 18-135, or 18-200 might be what you want. Then again, I'm not sure how getting the 50mm would have accomplished this (assuming once more that you have the 18-55mm kit lens). I guess the question boils down to what you want out of your new lens, be it a longer reach, larger aperture, sharper image, or simply more bells and whistles, like VR.

    Also, you should look into buying things online (Adorama and B&H in particular). You'll have a better selection, and depending on where you live, lower prices (and zero salespeople!). Just avoid prices that are way too good to be true.
  11. ronjon10 macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2009
    The Nikon 16-85 3.5-5.6 VR AFS might do the trick for you. It's often sold as a kit lens, but it's a very well regarded for getting sharp photos. It's priced right around 600.

    It replaced the 18-70 3.5-4.5 lens which came with the D70. It's a good quality kit lens as well. It's probably not worth getting this if you have the 18-55 lens which I suspect you have.

    Consider renting a lens and trying one before you buy it. You'll get a better feel for whether or not it'll suit your needs.
  12. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    New lenses can be good or can be junk.
    Old lenses can be good or can be junk.

    If you want the best quality zoom lens go for prime zoom. Except it seems to be out of your budget range. (That salesman is an idiot though, because what he showed you costs more than 10 times than what you said you want to look at).

    As others have said, depending if you want auto-focus or not. I use older prime zooms.
  13. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    What the heck is a "prime zoom"?? :confused:
  14. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Constant f2.8 zoom lenses.

    Or maybe google?
  15. Phrasikleia macrumors 601


    Feb 24, 2008
    Over there------->
    OK, I'll be more to the point. There is no such thing as a "prime zoom," as far as I know. A lens is either a prime or a zoom. "Prime" refers to the focal length, not the aperture. A lens with a constant aperture is just that--a lens with a constant aperture.
  16. flosseR macrumors 6502a


    Jan 1, 2009
    the cold dark north
    Prime is the focal length. They are usually fast lenses with apertures of 2.8 or higher.
    There is no zoom prime. there are fast zooms or zooms with a constant aperture but nothing else.

  17. telecomm macrumors 65816


    Nov 30, 2003
    Did anyone actually try googling this for fun?

    You just get pages like this that explain the difference between a prime lens and a zoom lens. :D
  18. El Cabong macrumors 6502a

    Dec 1, 2008
    I like using prime zooms on my rangefinder SLR.
  19. joelypolly macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2003
    Melbourne & Shanghai
  20. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    Actually, rangefinder style cameras with electronic viewfinders are virtual SLRs. I think we will see a lot of these in the future, especially if the quality of the electronic viewfinder part is similar to optical.
  21. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

    Dec 25, 2003
    Northern Virginia
    But some out there that post "reviews"; there is a difference between made in Japan verses made in China - hence the great interest in the Nikon 18-200VR that was made in Japan verses the one made in Thailand. Perceived differences...

    I might not have gone as far in your description, but yes both parties got off to a bad start IMO. Working in camera sales (non-commission) gives me a different take of things on both sides.

    While the OP came in for a "nifty 50" - one of the first questions I ask is what Nikon camera they are using. The whole AFS/non-AFS thing. With a Nikon D40 it limits the selection.

    For me my next question is why they are looking for the "nifty 50" - many times it s that they are used to the field of view of the 50mm in the 35mm film film world. If that is the case they need to look more at the likes of the Nikon 35/1.8 AFS DX lens maybe.

    Still need to read thru here here more to see what the real needs are of the OP to suggest some things - but I see that maybe the Tamron 17-50/2.8 or maybe the 18-270VC might be good choices...
  22. designguy79 macrumors 6502

    Sep 24, 2009
    Cool, I want to try that. Right now, I use my prime zooms only on my medium format P&S. ;)
  23. MattSepeta macrumors 65816


    Jul 9, 2009
    375th St. Y
    Avoid the salespeople.

    I cant stand dealing with salespeople, even if they know more than me, I still barely listen to them, it's just my nature :eek:

    Most camera shops have a very lax return policy.

    Call ahead and find out if they have what you want in stock. If they do, cruise in, buy it, and try it out for a day or two, keeping the box/receipt/etc.

    If you like it, great, if not, return it!
  24. pdxflint macrumors 68020


    Aug 25, 2006
    Oregon coast
    I think the country of manufacture has nothing to do with quality here, although I used to think so. It really is more a matter of quality control in whatever factory is making the stuff... seriously.
    I have a nifty-fifty made in Japan, and actually the new ones made in China have a much smoother focusing action... actually I have two Made in Japan nifty-fifties, and both are somewhat rough-ish when manual focusing compared with a new one I played with in a store. Optically, they're just fine, so I can't speak to that issue.
    My D300 is made in Thailand - and it's construction quality is impeccable. I don't see how it could be any better made in Japan, although it might have a bit more "status" somehow. Of course, my MBP is made in China, and as much as I wish it were made in Cupertino (although, it was a refurb, so it might have been hand-made in Cupertino... hmmm) it still is a thing of beauty, very nicely built.

    Now, as to zoom lenses, I really, really want a primal zoom... :D
  25. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Article quote
    "There are some zoom lenses that are just as nice as their prime cousins"

    Go to a pro camera store and ask for a prime zoom. They would show you the f2.8 zooms.

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