Lens Advice

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rhsgolfer33, Aug 28, 2008.

  1. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    Like many on this forum I'll be getting my first DSLR soon. I've pretty much settled on the D40, seems like an excellent "starter" camera at a good price, but I'm having trouble deciding what lenses to purchase. My budget is in the $1000 range plus or minus $200. I've been looking at a couple different setups but would like some opinion from the bunch here at MacRumors:

    Lens setup 1
    Nikon 18-70 f3.5-4.5
    or Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4.5 Macro
    Nikon 55-200 f4-5.6 VR

    Lens setup 2
    Nikon 18-200 VR f3.5-5.6
    Sigma 18-200 OS f3.5-6.3

    Lens setup 3
    Nikon 18-55 kit lens
    Nikon 55-200 VR

    I'm sure there are a million other good setups out there as well, so I'm open to any suggestions, however, I would like to purchase the lenses new. As for my photos, quite a few are taken while traveling: Hawaii and Europe are common, so landscapes and buildings will be shot fairly often. The 18-200 is tempting as a travel lens, but are the image quality compromises worth it? And how about the Sigma vs the Nikon 18-200, the Sigma is significantly cheaper in the short run, but is the Nikon a better long term "travel lens" investment? I know the 18-70 Nikon will likely yield results with less distortion than the 18-200, but will give up a lot of convenience when traveling. How about the Sigma 17-70 the macro ability is nice as is the f2.8 ability (even if its only at 17mm)? Will I miss VR/OS at 70mm in these lenses? Other options would include the 18-135 Nikon (unfortunately lacking VR, big deal or not?) and a D80 and possibly a 50mm f1.8 or 35mm f2.0 primes at later points. Maybe the D80 and 18-135mm kit or the D40 and 18-55 and 55-200 VR are the best choices to start at?

    Any advice is truly appreciated, I've been going over possible lens combos the past few weeks and still can't come to a decision. I lean towards the 18-200 for convenience and the ease of travel, throw in a 35mm f2.0 at a later date (I know I'll have to manual focus it) and I should have a good kit for museums and all outdoor needs while traveling.

    I'll also be purchasing UV filters and a small backpack or pouch/holster thing (depending on the setup) to travel with, so any recommendations there are also appreciated.

    Thanks again!
  2. Scarlet Fever macrumors 68040

    Scarlet Fever

    Jul 22, 2005
    Have a look at SLRgear for reviews on lenses. They have a huge database, and the lenses are tested thoroughly.

    If you can afford the Nikon lens in option 2, I reckon go for that one. Zooms aren't as good as primes, but that Nikon 18-200 looks pretty good.
  3. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

    Apr 14, 2001
    Sendai, Japan
    I would get just one lens, Sigma's 18-50 f/2.8 (the HSM version!), and then see what you feel like, photography-wise. Because of the larger aperture, you don't need VR and IQ-wise, it's better than the kit lens.
  4. cosx macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2008
    Bucharest, Romania
    I have a D80 with 18-70 lens and I'm definately thinking that 35 f/2.0 would be a good addition for night photos or museum / indoor activity.
    I would recommend 18-70 instead of 18-55 or 18-135. The build quality seems better, it's 4.5 max (rather the 5.6 ar the others).
    The most versatile would definately be 18-200..but after a while you'll realise that you get more quality stuff if you get separate lenses instead of one that does it all.
    f/2.8 are great too. If you can afford a 2.8 zoom...by all means get one :)
    Good luck with your choise !
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Well of course you get better quality out of separate lenses. If that wasn't the case, we'd all have the 18-200 mm. But then again, if immaculate lens quality was the be-all and end-all of photography, we'd all be shooting with primes, because even if some zooms are nearly as sharp as a macro, zooms will always have more distortion, possibly more vignetting, etc. They're also slower a lot of the time.

    The Nikon 18-135 mm doesn't have VR, like you said. However, the new Nikon 18-105 mm DOES have VR. ;

    Don't get UV filters for these lenses. I don't know why people are so insistent on getting one. Drop your camera, and that UV filter breaks and doesn't offer any protection to your lens. Get the UV filter dirty? Wipe it off. You can also wipe off the front glass element of your lens just as easily.

    I like cosx's suggestion of the 35 mm f/2 for any indoor shots you may want to take, but maybe the Sigma 30 mm f/1.4 is a better choice. It's faster and cheaper. For general stuff, I'd get the Sigma 18-50 mm because it has HSM, and can auto-focus on your camera. :) I don't think many people need a massive zoom as often as they think.

    From YOUR list, I'd take Option #1. I'd get the Sigma 17-70 mm macro, but only because its ability to focus at close distances (i.e. the "macro" part of its model name) may give you some interesting options that you wouldn't get from the 18-70 mm. Sigma designates a lens a "macro" when it can shoot at 1:4 magnfication ratio or better. The lens you're looking at probably has a ratio of 1:3.5 or something. That's not bad at all, even for really general macro stuff.

    After that, I'd just wait and see what you need. You may never need the 55-200 mm VR lens. Just wait.
  6. ManWithhat macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
    Buy the 18-200mm and save for the 70-200mm f/2.8. That lens is legendary.
  7. jhamerphoto macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2007
    Do you know anyone with a 70-200 on a D40?
    Legendary lens it may be, but the D40 has nowhere near the specs to harness that lens' true ability.
  8. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    And why would you say that? I really don't see why the D40 misses the specs to use the lens.

    I have a 80-200 Nikkor and use it frequently with my D40x. The lens do weights more than double of the camera, but that doesn't affects the quality of the photo.
  9. jhamerphoto macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2007
    Well what I really mean is most people who use a D40 don't have the reason to buy a $2000 lens. For the image quality they're looking for, an average lens will do the trick. If they were serious enough to consider buying a lens like that, they probably would have bought at least a D80.
    Is the D40x your only camera?
  10. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Yep. The lens is my dads, but he doesn't uses it anymore, so I use it instead.:)

    I agree that most D40 owners won't be buying that lens.

    Still, I think that saying a D40/D60 user doesn't seeks quality isn't entirely true. If my current camera can last me a couple of years more, then I would rather invest in a good lens than buying another camera and use the kit lens. Tho, getting a D90 is becoming quite tenting now.:p
  11. MrMojoRising macrumors newbie

    Aug 4, 2008
    I recently purchased my first SLR also. I went with the D40 w/ 18-55mm kit lens and the 55-200mm VR lens. I got this kit at Ritz for about $650, which I think is an excellent value. I don't miss the VR on the kit lens because most of the time I prefer to shoot at high shutter speed and large aperture, bumping up the ISO if I need to to keep the shutter speed fast. For shooting stationary subjects in lower light, I use the 55-200 at 55mm to take advantage of the VR and use a larger aperture than is possible with the kit lens at 55mm.

    I bought a Lowepro Slingshot 100 AW which is perfect for this small, light DSLR outfit. It's comfortable and convenient, and has plenty of room for the camera and lens I have now, plus additional compartments I intend to fill with another lens and a flash. I'm planning to pick up a Sigma 30mm f/1.4 and an SB-400 or SB-600 flash.

    I think if you are going to get a D40, then definitely stick with the kit lens plus the 55-200 VR. The 18-200mm lens costs more than D40 w/kit lens and 55-200 VR combined. I don't think the convenience of a one lens solution is worth that much compared to the two lens option.
  12. ManWithhat macrumors regular

    Jun 24, 2008
    You can get the lens I was talking about for ~$1400 used, and that's not an unreasonable priced lens for a D40 considering that glass lasts a lot longer than a body will. I'm sure the OP will grow out of the D40 eventually and upgrade to a better (and most likely newer) model camera -- the lens will still be the same.
  13. skiesforme macrumors 6502


    Feb 4, 2008
    D40 + 18-55 Af-S + 55-200 VR

    Here's my advice. Get this right away if you get it. Ordered from Amazon in May.
    Nikon D40 6.1MP DSLR Camera Kit with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens => $499.94
    Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Zoom Nikkor Lens => $214.95
    Item(s) Subtotal: $714.89
    Shipping & Handling: $8.53
    Promotion Applied -$100.00 (Nikon promotion $100 off an additional lens)
    Total: $623.42
    Refunds Total: - $65.96
    Net Total $557.46

    Edit: I'm gonna upgrade to D90 in the next few months. You might want to wait for it since that would cost you $999.
  14. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    The 18-200 is a true AF-S lens, and has better build quality. It's hard to say if this makes the lens worth it over the combo you mentioned. But its worth considering.

    The kit lens is a good place to start, but, if you can get a 18-70 or a 18-135, then I would really suggest those. My kit lens (18-55mm) is already starting to make funny noises and the overall image quality of the lens is poor. If later on you want a telephoto, you could get the 70-300mm AF-S, which in most reviews is regarded as a good lens.
  15. rhsgolfer33 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    Thanks for all the advice guys! I think I've mad a decision as to what I'm going to go with. The plan (as of the last few hours anyway:p) is to order:

    D40 with 18-135 Kit - $649.95
    Nikon 50mm f1.8 - $114.95
    Kata H10 holster bag - $59.00

    For a total of $823.5

    I think it should be a decent starter setup to learn with. I decided that I really couldn't afford the Nikon 18-200 and that 18-135 would offer a decent lens to start with. I feel like I'm going to want the reach of the 135mm over the 70mm lenses this winter in Hawaii to get some decent photos of the whales. The plastic mount is a slight turnoff, but since I won't be switching lenses terrible often as of now, it shouldn't be a terribly big deal. I know I may need to use a tripod at times and already have a decent one from my Canon AE-1 and T70 but may invest in a lighter one for travel (suggestions are welcome!). The Kata bag looks nice and should hold the camera with the 135mm and my 50mm. The 50mm seems like a excellent lens for basic portraits and some museum photos (in the less busy ones since I'll have to develop my autofocus skills without the nice split circle focus screen in my T70, I'd hate to use it in the Louvre the day I get it). The 50mm will also be nice since a bunch of my older filters from my old 50mm primes may fit on it. I feel like I'll be getting some decent glass to travel with, a nice bag, and more camera than I'll need for the next couple of years (it better last a while since I'll be a starving college and grad student for the foreseeable future).

    Thanks again guys! Keep the suggestions coming if you've got more! Any good starter photography books out there as well?
  16. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California

    Hold up. Slow down. Keep half that budget in the bank.

    The first thing I noticed is that you, like every beginner wants a long but slow 200 f/5.6 zoom. Those aren't as usfull as you might think. What would be usfull might be an SB600 flash. Also why the UV filters? Will there by salf water spray or something where you are shooting? Digital does not need to worr about the blue color cast like we did with film. Spend the money you saved by not buying the UV filters on a polarized filter

    Get a good "kit" lens. The 18-55 is actually very good and a bit of a bargain. The best advice is to shoot 1,000 or so frames with that then look to see what shots you've missed. Buy the lens that would have gotten those shots. From your intended usage that might be something wider or faster. Beleive me you do not want to travel with that big bunch of lenses you listed.

    ANy time you are shooting things that don't move, like landscapes and buildings a tripod help a lot.

    With a $2000 budget you should move up to the D80, D90 or D200 as I think you get the best bang per buck if you spend half the budget of lenses and half on the body. The D80 has a focus motor and will allow you to use some great Nikon Lenses. A good one to start with that will do 90% of what you want is the 18-70. The extra price of the D80 will pay for itself. For example you could use the 80-200 f/2.8 AF lens rather then needing the the much mre expensive 70-200 A-S V lens. Also you could then use primes and macro lenses that require the motor.

    As for case/bag. What I do is bring a smallish bag but place the bag in a Pelican case. That case can take a lot of abuse. I've had it in the bottom of a stake bed truck, drop down stairs and fall into a white water river. Gear survives fine. You might think you can hand carry your camera gear. Some times not. I leave the case and whatever I don't need that day and carry a light bag or more likely a normal backpack.
  17. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    I think it's specious to attribute seeking poor image quality to D40 users. The D40 is perfectly capable of producing high-quality images with good glass. I don't think I've seen a picture taken with a D80 that couldn't have been taken with a D40 or D40x.

    Lots of people put 70-200/2.8's on D70s, and the D40 sensor is better than equal to that.

    Serious is about the image, not the camera body.

    (For the record, I don't own a D40 or a D40x, but I'd put a 400/2.8 on one and not worry about image quality one bit.)
  18. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Manual focus on the D40 isn't as easy as it is on the higher-end bodies (all of which can auto focus AF-D lenses,) if you're set on getting the 50mm and manually focusing then I'd add a split-prism focusing screen.

    Filter size is based on lens diameter, not focal length.
  19. jhamerphoto macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2007
    That's all fine and dandy, but you didn't purchase that lens, and it's still half the price of the 70-200. And wanting to buy the D90 as well as the other poster stating they are upgrading and only purchased their D40 in May only proves my point further. People out-grow the D40 far too quickly, so I say just go for something that will last you a little longer.

    The D70 was the equivalent of the D80 for it's time, again just proving my point.
    The point is not that the D40 cannot produce fine quality images, it is that the price points of a $400 camera body and a $2000 lens do not match at all. Put yourself in the average consumer's shoes, which is what the D40 is aimed at. You're used to spending about $300 on a P&S camera, and now you're finally buying your first DSLR at about $500 with a lens. Do you actually think you would be inclined to likely starve yourself for 6 months to buy a $2000 lens? There are many higher priorities than a lens that they would probably leave at home because it's too much to cart around every day.
  20. skiesforme macrumors 6502


    Feb 4, 2008
    I guess you are aware that the 50 mm/f 1.8 won't autofocus with the D40. But its a great great prime lens ! I use it with the D40. It's painful to shoot dynamic/moving stuff but the lens is lightning fast !!
  21. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    There was no D50/D40 when the D70 was introduced as a "budget body," ergo it was the low-end price point body of its time- as much the D40 of the day as the D80 actually- so no, it doesn't "prove" your point at all.

    In very early December of 2003, DPR said this:

    The D50 wasn't announced until April of 05- so the D70 was the low end "budget priced" consumer body of its time, as the D40/D60 bodies are today.

    Other than in poser's minds, how do the price points have to "match?"

    What photographic objective is achieved by this "matching?"

    See, this is where you're just stepping off the cliff of reason- it's like saying if I get a bargain Hassy 500CM at a yard sale for $100 I shouldn't go putting a $2500 Planar *T on it because the "price points don't match." That's nonsense, and other than people posing, it really doesn't make sense from a photographic standpoint.

    Then again, put yourself in a realist's shoes, where spending as little as you can on the body and as much as you can on the lens gives you actual photographic differences as well as a better return on your investment because the body will be "obsolete" in 2-4 years where the lens will last 10+.

    You're going to shoot events and have $2200 to spend, you can get

    (a) Two D40s and 70-200VR
    (b) One D80 and the 70-200VR

    Which makes more sense photographically? Which is going to give you better noise characteristics? Which is going to give you a backup in case the primary body fails?

    Just because you're buying a D40, it doesn't automatically make you a beginner or a generic consumer. I know a few pros who have D40's as travel/backup bodies and there's no reason that someone aspiring to be a photographer can't spend as little on the body to get more lens- the notion that the body has to cost a lot more to put a professional grade lens on it is beyond silly.

    You said
    Which specs exactly doesn't the D40 have to use the 70-200's "true ability?" How do they compare to the D70's specs? What about the D40x? what's "nowhere near?"

    How about this- I'll borrow a D40 and put my 400/2.8 AF-S II on the front of it, and take some shots and you can tell me where the D40's falling down in a print of 8x10"- the 400/2.8 is a significantly better lens than the 70-200VR, so it should be easy for you. How about I borrow a D70s as well, and you can tell me which prints are which- I can dump the prints to a Wal-Mart near you, I don't know anyone with a D80, or I'd add that in the mix too. Surely if the price point of the body needs to match the price point of the lens, only a D2x or D3 will have what it takes to get great images from a 400/2.8, so I'll throw in a few D2x images as well. If you can't tell which body is "nowhere near" the price point of the lens, then you agree to purchase five prints from my online gallery- just to make it interesting and cover the print costs, because if you know enough to know the body will produce results "nowhere near" the lens's capability, you know that print evaluation is the only real way to tell the differences. Plus with two older generation sensors, it should be pretty simple to see.

    Up for it?
  22. cube macrumors G5

    May 10, 2004
    Cameta sells new D50 bodies and kits in their eBay store.
  23. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    I don't see how this changes things. You said the D40 didn't had the capability of using this lens to its full potential, having bought the lens by myself or it being a gift won't affect things.

    But "outgrowing" the camera doesn't means it won't take quality photos. My D40x would take almost the same photo quality as the D90.

    If I buy a D90, then I won't have money to buy a new lens (I'm hopefully buying the 17-55 f/2.8). Now, if I keep the D40x (which is in perfect conditions), and buy the lens, my photos would see a great improvement. Something that the D90 won't give me if I kept my kit lens.

    I know that for the OP buying a 70-200 would be completely illogical, but not for it being "too much" for his camera, but because his intended use could be satisfied with a less expensive lens.
  24. jhamerphoto macrumors regular

    Oct 26, 2007
    Apparently no one gets the point that a general consumer isn't likely going to purchase a $2000 lens.
    The original point was that it was pointless to recommend a $2000 lens to the average person.
    If the OP had the money to purchase the 70-200 he wouldn't have made this thread.
    To the OP, if you DO have the money to buy it, by all means I would encourage you too. It's a fantastic lens no matter what camera it's mounted on.

    Now if you're going to keep flaming, I suggest you move to a new thread seeing as the OP's question has been answered, but don't expect me to follow. Stupid arguments like this really make wonder why I joined MR.
  25. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    No, we all get that, what we don't get is your apparent rationale that it's driven by
    as well as
    Both of which seem to be contradicted by:

    We're basically asking that you substantiate your claims in the thread- either by response or by observation- that's hardly a "stupid argument."

    On a forum, you primarily judge how much weight to give someone's words based on their statements- your statements quoted above don't give one a lot of confidence in what you say.

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