Need help with lens choices

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by ftaok, Feb 4, 2008.

  1. ftaok macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #1
    OK, I'll start this off by saying that I still haven't bought the dSLR yet. The plan was to wait until CES/PMA to make a decision, but I'm still stumped. The only thing that I am certain of is that we will buy a dSLR eventually.

    The Nikon D40 and the Canon XTi were the front runners. The Nikon was in the lead (due to the great value it represents) until we played around with them at Best Buy. The XTi felt better in both our hands.

    Anyways, due to the impending rumors of replacement, that were confirmed last week, I'm also considering the replacements (D60/XSi), but I'm not as willing to wait. So I'm thinking that we would not get either of these, except if there was a compelling reason to wait.

    If we do go with the D40, we'd get the kit lens. I'd would also try to save up for the 18-200 VR.

    If we go with the Xti, we'd also get the kit lens, but there doesn't seem to be a equivalent to Nikon's 18-200 VR lens.

    Also, with the 2 year old getting pretty fast these days, I would like to consider a fast, fixed lens for the indoor/low-light/fast-motion shots. I read that a 50mm f/1.4 would be a good choice. Is that true? Do either Canon or Nikon make these? I saw that Nikon has one, but it's not AF-S. Canon has a 60mm.

    So there it is ... anyone have any suggestions or advice as to the lens choice?

    Thanks.

    ft
     
  2. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #2
    Both Canon and Nikon make 50mm f/1.4 lenses for around $300 and 50mm f/1.8 lenses for around $75 (Canon) and $120 (Nikon). However, the D40 cannot autofocus these Nikon lenses. A fast prime is great for indoor portraits and kid shots, however, my experience is with a 9 month old, not a two year old. With a two year old, 50mm might be a little tight, especially if your indoor space is small. However, wide, fixed-aperture zoom lenses are very expensive (like a 24-70 f/2.8 for $1000) and not as wide aperture as prime lenses anyway.

    Currently, if you're into autofocus and into prime lenses, the D40 cannot compete with the Canon, and if you liked the Canon's feel better, sounds like a done deal.

    In terms of a Canon equivalent to the 18-200 VR lens, there's the Sigma 18-200 OS lens, but reviews make it sound like the optical quality doesn't come close to the Nikon version. Other options include accepting two lenses and getting Canon's 18-55 IS lens and 55-250 IS lens, or another telephoto lens. Tamron makes an 18-250 lens that gets great reviews, but is not image stabilized.

    More options? Here are great lens reviews:

    http://www.photozone.de/reviews
     
  3. seany916 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2006
    Location:
    Southern California
    #3
    If you liked the way the Canon felt to you, stick with Canon. We would like full-frame cameras for our workflow, but we're stuck with D300s. Oh well, but I like Nikon. I've played with the 5D, got GREAT pics from it, but wasn't for me.

    Go with what feels right for you. I'm super productive on PCs. I just prefer Macs.

    Go with what you like. I would recommend that you consider saving up for the full-frame 5D replacement. Will it cost you a fortune? yes. but every lens you get for it will last you a LONG time as will that camera body.

    You might end up spending 8x more than you want to though.
     
  4. Eauboy macrumors regular

    Eauboy

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2008
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #4
    Why the kit lens?

    Unless the kit lens is exactly what you want, why not get the body-only camera of your choice then use the savings toward the proper lens? A fast 50mm lens would be great for the indoor stuff. If you had one of those, then you could focus on a longer (80-200?) as a complement later on. Or maybe after using a 50mm lens you decide you'd get more use out of a wider zoom. Either way, why not start off with just the lens you want then re-evaluate later?
     
  5. ftaok thread starter macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #5
    The Canon did feel better, but it's significantly more expensive than the D40. That's partly the reason that the Nikon came back into consideration. I could get a D40 with the kit lens for $480 or so. The Xti with the kit lens runs about $600. Also, the other reason that I was reconsidering the D40 is the 18-200 VR lens. Canon doesn't seem to have that.

    The main thing is that photography isn't a profession for me. It's a hobby, and not one that I know that I'll stick with. So $120 is significant ... but now that I think about it, it's not that much more.

    The kit lens is desirable since it'll cover most of the photos that I want. Plus it's inexpensive. I can't really afford to get every lens that I might need right off the bat. So the 18-55 seems like a good lens to start off with, but it might not be able to get the indoor/low-light kid shots (and these are very important to us). That's why I was thinking of getting a wide-angle prime that's pretty fast and not too pricey.

    The lack of AF on these wide/fast primes makes the D40 less desirable. So right now, I'm thinking XTi with the kit lens, or maybe paired with an 18-135 IS for the outdoor, beach, vacation photos and a 28 f/2 lens for the indoor stuff.

    Any suggestions for the 18-135 (or even 18-85) lens? I'm talking Canon XTi here.

    ft
     
  6. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #6
    One bit of advice I read about tripods was that it makes sense to pony up and get something expensive because it's cheaper in the long run. The argument is that people buy the $50 tripod, then realize that's not any good, get a $100 one and are still disappointed, and then end up getting a $250 one. If they'd just bought the $250 one first, they'd have saved $150.

    Same can be said for lenses. The Canon kit lens is pretty poorly regarded. It'll save you $80 in the long run to get the lens you'll eventually replace it with now, goes the logic.

    On the other hand, I totally understand where you're coming from. When I bought an XTi, that was most of my budget. I bought a Tokina 19-35 and the Canon 50mm f/1.8, and that with memory cards was $1000. The problem is there's no great inexpensive alternative to the 18-55. For the price, it's an entirely usable general photography lens, just like you're thinking it is.

    If the 18-200 VR was in your price range though, I'd mention again the lenses I pointed out in my post above. Canon makes a 17-85 IS lens, but it's not that well regarded. Canon doesn't make compact super-zooms though like 18-200 or even 18-135. Your only options there are Sigma or Tamron lenses or a pair of lenses that cover the range.
     
  7. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    #7
    Used to be that the D40 was not available body only. Don't know if that is still true.

    To reply to the original question, I had good luck chasing the kids around with the 55-200 VR. Most kids don't like cameras stuck in their faces, so a telephoto works better. Also, a 1.4 lens isn't going to give you much depth of field unless you stop it down and then you are back to dx zoom values anyway. The 18-200 VR is more convenient and is what I would have if I could.
     
  8. ibjoshua macrumors 6502a

    ibjoshua

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2002
    Location:
    Japan
    #8
    The new kit lens that Canon are including with the Xsi sounds like an improvement over the old one which by all accounts is a good all-rounder.
    from: http://beyond-3000.blogspot.com/2008/01/canon-rebel-xsi.html
    Don't read too much into that I think it's just a press release but it's nice that they've added image stabilisation.

    The 50mm f1.8 prime has been described as the 'Best Deal in Photography’.
    http://daringfireball.net/linked/2007/october#sun-14-jdd

    Some good advice on building a DSLR kit.
    http://photo.net/equipment/building-a-digital-slr-system/
    (also via Daring Fireball)

    I'm planning on picking up the Xsi with that sexy Kiss X2 badge :rolleyes: when I'm in Japan next June. Will get it with the kit lens and the f1.8 50mm.

    Maybe get a 28mm in a few years.

    ibjoshua
     
  9. OldCorpse macrumors 65816

    OldCorpse

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2005
    Location:
    compost heap
    #9
    I totally understand your budget issues - it's a lot of money to put down when you don't even know if you'll pursue this hobby. HOWEVER - you said you have a 2 year old and that's a high priority. This changes everything. No matter how painful, it is my sincere opinion that you should stretch to the max financially - because you can never go back in time and provide photos of your kid once that time has passed... and that can lead to life-long resentments ("I have no pictures of my childhood - how could you be such negligent parents!!!!")... you want to have good relations with your kid for the rest of your life, not have the adult kid chase you around the kitchen table one day.

    And so, I'm going to suggest something controversial - but believe me, it makes sense:

    Get the D300! The best autofocus among all dslrs, great low light performance, great selection of lenses, great all around camera and brilliant choice to document the childhood of your kid.
     
  10. miloblithe macrumors 68020

    miloblithe

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2003
    Location:
    Washington, DC
    #10
    Very sensible. It makes far more sense to have pictures that are about 10% better than start a college fund or save for a house.
     
  11. ftaok thread starter macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #11
    The Nikon D300 will surely be a great camera, but it's not within my self-imposed budget. Actually, I really don't have a budget for any of this, other than my own sanity. I could certainly afford a higher end camera, but I have a frugal side to me.

    Anyway, the things that are important to me are:

    1. Good Value - this is where the D40 gets some points. It's always regarded as a Best Buy, Bang-for-the-Buck type camera. For whatever reason, getting a quality device at a good price excites me.

    2. Comfort - if something doesn't feel nice to use, I'll end up not using it. That's why the XTi jumped to the front. It felt nicer at Best Buy. I plan on doing some more testing in the near future.

    3. Lens System - I keep hearing how Nikon has better lenses than Canon. That's important, but the lack of AF-S "fast" ~35 prime lenses hurts. I don't even know if that's the lens I need.

    Aside - can anyone confirm that a 35 f/2 lens would be good for indoor photos of a moving 2 year old?

    I see where there's a Sigma 30 f/1.4 for about $400 that will AF with the D40. That's a plus in the D40 column, but the XTi can use that lens as well, or others that cost around $200.

    The thing that keeps me thinking about the Nikon is the 18-200 VR lens.

    The way that I'm approaching this is that I'll start off with the 18-55 kit lens. This should last me a little while and I can develop my photog skills. If I find that I need an additional lens or two, I can add them.

    I figure that I'll want a nice zoom lens that goes out to at least 200mm. Either a 55-200 or the (18-200 Nikon; 70-300 Canon).

    I'll also want something on the wide/normal side that is fast.

    Either way, I'll probably end up spending the same amount of money. So I guess the question is "who has the better lenses vs. which camera feels better".

    Paralysis by Analysis.

    ft
     
  12. X-Morgan macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    #12
    I'd like to throw another camera into the equation: Nikon D50.

    I've always thought that the D40/D40x and now the new D60 was a bit of a backwards step for Nikon, removing the AF Body Motor has effectively crippled newcomers from using amazing lenses such as the 50mm 1.8 without having to manually focus them.

    Some people might argue in saying 'but they'll get a feel for the lens and understand the concept of manual focus' but catching a special moment might be a split second opportunity, and you'll need that AutoFocus to get the picture.

    I'd go for the D50, purely because it was my first DSLR and after flicking though the manual, I was pretty confident of the controls.

    Definitely try eBay or somewhere else 2nd hand, because you'll also be able to pick up cheap older lenses too. You'll save money in both ends; camera and lens.

    Chris
     
  13. ftaok thread starter macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #13
    I've thought about the D50 (and the D70/70s) as well. But in the end, I typically don't like to buy used items. I'm of the mindset that with used items, you're buying someone else's problems.

    There are certainly times when used makes sense, but I typically keep my gear forever, so once I can get past that upfront cost hurdle, then I'm golden.

    ft
     
  14. Lovesong macrumors 65816

    Lovesong

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2006
    Location:
    Stuck beween a rock and a hard place
    #14
    If that is your concern, then you should probably look deeper into the Canon lenses- they are regarded by most photographers to be of equal or even better quality than the Nikkors, while it is the ergonomics of the Nikon cameras that are usually touted as being superior.

    You keep talking about the 18-200 that Nikon makes. While it is a convenient lens in that you can go from really wide to telephoto. It's a nice lens when you're traveling, but optically it's OK at best. If you want a truly remarkable piece of glass, then you should look at the Canon 70-200 f/4 L. It costs about $300 less than the 18-200, and it in every aspect a better lens. Another thing you should consider is the new kit lens. While the old 18-55 was not all that good, the new IS version is being touted as being much much better. Get a $75 50mm prime, and you have an awesome set that will capture everything that you need.

    One thing that keeps me from recommending the 40/40x/60 set from Nikon is the fact that you will need to get AF-s lenses if you want to autofocus. Nikon has increased their line of AF-S lenses, but for some of us that shop for used lenses (which can save you quite a bit) this is fairly important.
     
  15. ibjoshua macrumors 6502a

    ibjoshua

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2002
    Location:
    Japan
    #15
    Go Canon

    I read a great post last year that said if you don't have money tied up in Nikon lenses then go for Canon. I was this close to buying a D40 when I was in Japan over New Years, but the lack of an internal AF engine was a deal-breaker for me. So these questions have been twirling around in my head recently too.
    ibjoshua

    P.S. Yes, that was another post via daringfireball.net. Sorry, I'm a subscriber.
     
  16. scamateur macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2007
    #16
    You do not need a high-speed, high expense lens of any length for "hobby" shooting - any of the cameras you're looking at will perform well at at higher ISO's, obviating the f1.4 "primes" or f2.0 tele's that you'd have to stop down to get your whole child in focus, anyway.

    The D40 with the 18-55 lens is one of many choices that would be great. And it's a steal! If you can't be sure exactly what will be best for you - well, don't buy a camera that costs more than a Mac Pro.
     
  17. nutmac macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2004
    #17
    I can see why beginners are drawn to Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G ED-IF AF-S VR DX, and how it can be useful for vacations. But refrain from spending so much on "jack of all trade, master of none" lens.

    Canon's equivalent is EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, which obviously has smaller zoom range, but at lower price than Nikon. Another option is Sigma AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS, and also at lower price than Nikon.

    But lenses that cover such wide range make lots of compromises, delivering suboptimal performance (often subpar) at wide and telephoto extremes.

    Start with the kit lens (new image stabilized kit lenses for D60 and XSi are great to start with) and build a collection of lenses to cover your shooting styles.
     
  18. ftaok thread starter macrumors 601

    ftaok

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2002
    Location:
    East Coast
    #18
    Just to update the folks that may be interested ...

    We ordered the XTi last night from Amazon. They are "guarenteeing" a Tuesday delivery, which is great, but I'll be on travel until Thursday. So my wife will be in charge of opening the package and playing with the camera.

    I'm getting the 18-55 IS lens first and we'll see how that goes. I figure I can learn with this lens and that it'll be good for most of the photos that we want to take.

    The next lens that we'd likely get is the EF 28 f/1.8 for the lower light indoor photos. I figure I can wait a little for this lens, even though we would probably be able to use it right away. The XTi will be so far and away better than the Sony P7 that we have, that I'll be able to get much better low light photos with just the 18-55 lens.

    Thanks for all the help and suggestions.

    ft
     
  19. ibjoshua macrumors 6502a

    ibjoshua

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2002
    Location:
    Japan
    #19
    Wel done. Sounds like a well reasoned plan.
    I can't wait to do the same in June.
    ibjoshua
     

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