Please recommend me a lens - D40 user

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by mfarrar, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. mfarrar macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,

    I have decided to do the sensible thing and instead of changing my d40 to a d90 im going to put my money into glass instead. So what im looking for is a much better walkabout lens, currently I just have the Kit 18-55. Requirements would be good for both portrait and landscape (maybe asking a lot) and to be sub £500 (maybe asking too much :) ) oh and also autofocus on the d40.

    I am also thinking of getting the sb-400 flash and would be interested to hear some opinions of this.

    Cheers, Mark
     
  2. the Helix macrumors regular

    the Helix

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2003
    #2
    ...

    The new Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 AF-S.
    * This will autofocus on your D40.
     
  3. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #3
    That wouldnt really be a walkround lens, im thinking of a zoom lens rather than a prime.
     
  4. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #4
    Seconding the above. Alternatives would be the sigma 50 and 30 f/1.4 HSM. These are more expensive and bigger.

    Do you want wider, longer or the same reach? You could pick up the sigma 10-20 HSM in addition to what you have. Or the Nikon 18-200 if that would be handy but optically I guess it's not such a big step. The 16-85 VR is supposed to be good, but it seems rather expensive for the speed of it to me, perhaps I want too much for too little.

    I believe there is a version of the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 which will autofocus on the D40 for about £300. As far as I can see it is the only constant aperture zoom in your price range which will AF. I'm not sure how good it is.
     
  5. jaseone macrumors 65816

    jaseone

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    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Houston, USA
    #5
    Well it wouldn't be that great for portraits though unless you're talking about group portraits as you would need to get up close & personal for anything else.

    What exactly are you finding lacking in the 18-55 lens? That lens is usually held in fairly high regard for what it can do, nobody will say it is high quality glass but it still gets the job done.

    Are you needing something with a longer reach? Then think about the 18-105VR kit lens from the D90 or maybe the 18-200VR, possibly leave a bit of a gap and go with the 70-300VR.

    Are you needing something to better handle low light? You don't have that many choices here especially in a zoom as the prices go sky high when you look at something like a 24-70/2.8. The new 35/1.8 prime would help with low light but you are a little restricted with the focal length, I'd recommend coupling it with the 85/1.8 prime but that lens is a D so won't autofocus on the D40.

    The SB-400 would help a lot but I would try to go for at least the SB-600 if you can so you can expand in the future with off camera flash (you could later get the SB-800 or SB-900 to use on camera and then control the SB-600 remotely) but some people swear by the compact little SB-400 and have a lot of good results with it so it may be all you need.
     
  6. the Helix macrumors regular

    the Helix

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    Sep 16, 2003
    #6
    FYI: the 35mm focal length on your D40 is equivalent to the 50mm focal length that many classic photojournalists and street photographers use as their walk around lens.

    A zoom lens, by its very nature, reduces the need to walk around as you can zoom to get the composition that you want. So perhaps, you can explain a bit more what you want to shoot so that others can help you accordingly.

    Cheers.
     
  7. Cliff3 macrumors 65816

    Cliff3

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    Nov 2, 2007
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    #7
    Assuming you want a zoom, the 16-85 VR would probably be a good choice. Both Bjorn Rorslett and Thom Hogan have given it favorable reviews.

    I would be more inclined to opt for the SB-600 flash. It is the least expensive Nikon strobe that can function as a wireless remote in Nikon's CLS system. Unfortunately, the D40 is not able to act as a flash commander in the CLS system and you would need additional strobes to establish a multi-flash setup. But still, it is worthwhile to buy gear that balances capability with cost.
     
  8. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
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    Redondo Beach, California
    #8
    None of the resonably priced Nikon AF-S zooms are better than your 18-55. All of them are still f/5.6 and I assume that the f/5.6 part of the 18-55 is what you don't like about it. Your current lens is very shrp, well made and compact.

    If would help a lot if you said what yu might use this new lens for, what subjects in what light and at what distance. and also why the current lens is not working for you.

    So you will have to give up either the "resonbly priced" part or the "zoom" part. Your D40 limits you to only those Nikon lenses with built-in focus motors

    You might look at the new 50mm or the new 35mm lens.

    But nikon make a 12-24 that is outstanding but $840 price Same for the 70-200mm f/2.8 nice but for ther $1,800 price. You see the trend here? All the nicer zooms that are faster than f/5.6 are expensive.

    Sometimes an SLR body upgrade is cost effective. For example the 70-200 is $1,800 but the 80-200 is only $900 or $650 used. Trade a D40 for a D80 for only about $350 and then because the D80 has a motor in it you can use the $650 80-200. The end result is a $1K saving. You make want to re-concider the body upgrade depending on which lens you want
     
  9. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #9
    Sorry I should have been clearer, Im looking for something of better quality and more reach really. I am happy with the 18mm wide, I think the 16-85 VR is quite expensive for what it is, I dont think I need the extra 2mm at the wide which I guess is what your paying for.

    I do like the versatility of the 18-200mm but have read mixed opinions. Would it be as good as my current lens in the 18-55 range?

    If im going to be using a flash then I guess I wouldn't need the f2.8?
     
  10. jaseone macrumors 65816

    jaseone

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    Location:
    Houston, USA
    #10
    The quality of the 18-200 is a topic for popular debate and you will get people on both sides of the fence replying, personally I love the 18-200 but it isn't for me as I prefer the extra reach the 70-300VR gives me and my 18-105 is suitable for most stuff I do.

    I am a big fan of the 18-200 though and that is what I bought my girlfriend for use with her D80 as it suited her perfectly.

    Well that all depends upon what your intended use is, shooting portraits where you can use the flash & can bounce or diffuse it sufficiently then you might not need the 2.8 but if you want to shoot with ambient light for more natural looking photos in less than ideal light then the 2.8 would help (at the longer end it would make a difference not so much at the wide angle) and if you want to shoot subjects where you can't use flash or the subject will be too far away then the faster lens would help, although you would likely want even faster than 2.8 for that.

    So again it comes down to what problem specifically do you want to solve here? Where isn't the 18-55 meeting your needs exactly?
     
  11. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #11
    Reach I guess is the reason I am not content with it, I would like something with a bit more and better picture quality would be nice.
     
  12. jaseone macrumors 65816

    jaseone

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    Houston, USA
    #12
    Damn you Firefox! Had a lengthy reply typed out and lost it due to a crash so this will be condensed...

    What do you find lacking about the image quality in the 18-55VR? Anything in specific that is holding you back or is it just the lust kicking in?

    Are you looking for a one lens solution or would multiple be okay? For a single lens I would say go with the 18-200, it isn't the most stellar IQ wise but it is far from bad and is actually pretty damn good!

    For a multi lens combination I would look at like the 70-300VR and either keep your 18-55 (missing a bit of range) or replacing the 18-55 with something like the 18-105. Personally the 16-85 seems over priced to me for what it is.

    Can you provide any specific example photos that you are wishing to improve? That may help with recommendations especially if you post the images with EXIF data intact.
     
  13. jaduffy108 macrumors 6502a

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    Oct 12, 2005
    #13
    It's physics. Extremely difficult to design a lens with a huge range...and... with high IQ. And when you do find great zoom designs, they cost big bucks.

    That said, zooms have come a LONG way. I'm not a fan of the 18-200, BUT...it is very impressive considering the zoom range.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd get a used 70-300 and keep your 18-55. Add a sb600, not sb400. Eventually, replace the 18-55 with a Tamron 17-50.

    I also like ChrisA's suggestion of upgrading to a D80. Used, they go for about $400...and you can get around $300 for your D40.
     
  14. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    Canada GTA
    #14
    I agree with the 35mm f1.8 DX. it may not be a zoom, but it's a very versatile and sharp lens (if the previous gen is any indication). It's also lightweight and affordable. If you have the money for it, swing for 17-35 or 17-55 f2.8. :cool: I'm trying to get one of these myself, but in the meantime, my 35mm owns the camera.


    If you do a lot of landscapes, get the Tokina 11-16 f2.8. I have one and it's amazingly wide, very sharp and has easily correctable distortion. It's much faster and cheaper than the Nikon offering. And when you're ready to go FX, the 16mm end is still perfectly usable.
     
  15. mcnicks macrumors regular

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    Jan 8, 2006
    #15
    I find that the 50mm f/1.8D does well for portraits. You probably wouldn't want to use it for getting a head and shoulders into the full frame, but for group shots at events and parties it is great. I wouldn't get too hung up on the lack of autofocus if I were you. The D40 only has three AF areas anyway, and if you are doing portraits you have plenty of time to focus.

    Plus, if you get the 50mm f/1.8D you will have £400 left to get a zoom with a bit more reach and/or VR.
     
  16. Ryan1524 macrumors 65816

    Ryan1524

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    Canada GTA
    #16
    I find the 50mm a bit too tight. For a D40, the 35mm will give 52mm, much more usable in party portraits when you want to get more than 1-2 persons, and general walk-abouts.
     
  17. iTiki macrumors 6502

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    Feb 9, 2007
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    Maui, Hawaii
    #17
    Nikkor 16-85 VR

    I just bought the 16-85 for my D90 and feel it has been a nice upgrade from the 18-55 I had on my D40. The lens is sharper, has better contrast, more vivid colors and the extra reach going to 85 is a plus, too. My 18-55 was the kit lens without VR. I really like the VR on the 16-85. I was amazed how well it worked on a couple of handheld indoor shots without flash at 1/20.
     
  18. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #18
    I dont really find the image quality lacking, but with it being such a cheap lens I figure there is better optical quality to be had.

    A one lens solution would be nice aslong as It wouldnt be a reduction in quality in my current range with the kit lens.

    The only photo's I am unhappy with are due to bad exposure, so I am going to shoot in RAW to overcome this.

    I understand what some of you are saying about the sb-600 but I dont think I really need the extra capability and the smaller size of the 400 appeals to me.

    I have the 50mm f1.8 and like the quality of it and the low light performance however manually focussing on the d40 is far too much hasstle with the small view finder. So I will probably sell this lens to fund upgrading my kit.
     
  19. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #19
    One lens I have been considering is the Sigma 17-70mm HSM Macro cant find much online about it review wise. Does anyone know if this lens is good?
     
  20. leighonigar macrumors 6502a

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    May 5, 2007
    #20
    I use the older (but AFAIK optically the same) non-HSM version it's a fine lens. I'm not sure if it would be worth the upgrade though. I find mine pretty sharp and I like the way the images look (I also have an 18-70 DX Nikkor but use this instead, partly as I really like the close-focus). There is some distortion at the wide end.

    There's actually quite a lot of info out there about the non-HSM version, which, as I say, is optically the same. It's a fairly good lens, but I think I would save for a constant aperture zoom, or put the money into something else.
     
  21. forbes macrumors newbie

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    Feb 18, 2009
    #21
    I got an SB-400 just recently for my D60 and I'm really happy with it. I took some flash photos with it indoors one evening under a low-energy ceiling bulb and they look like there is sun streaming in through a window. Its range is much better than that of the built-in flash too so you don't get dark shadows in the background when you are in close. The white balance comes out better too - warmer and more natural overall.

    It tilts 45 and 90 degrees so you bounce it off a wall or the ceiling, and this gives portraits a great evenness of tone - much less shiny than those from the built-in flash. Also it only takes 2xAA batteries and it's really small and light.

    Forbes
     
  22. iAussie macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2006
    #22
    I'm kinda in the same boat (looking to upgrade my 18-55 non-VR for my D40, though I'm mainly looking for something better built, got the 55-200VR for when I need the reach)


    I'd definitely recommend the SB-400 (got one myself), specifically for the reason you suggested above: size. Although not as powerful or feature packed as the SB-600, the SB-400 is still heaps better than the built-in flash, and small enough that you can take it with you whenever (as opposed to buying a SB-600 but then not using it because it's too bulky for your needs)


    As already suggested, the new AF-S 35mm f1.8 sounds right up your alley then, and although not a zoom, you can usually anticipate when you'll need it (eg low-light situations) and plan your shots accordingly. Personally, my favourite combo at the moment is D40, AF-S 50mm f1.4 & SB-400; excellent quality but relatively compact.

    Is this 'bad exposure' because your 18-55 is unable to let in enough light, and hence you'd benefit from a faster lens? Or is it because the camera didn't pick the right settings for your photo? Because a new lens (or shooting RAW) isn't necessarily the best fix for the second problem; the best solution would be to practice using your camera and get it right then (I'm up to over 10,000 photos with my D40, probably half being with the 18-55, so I'm hoping that counts as practice?!)
     
  23. mfarrar thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Feb 16, 2009
    #23
    Thanks for comments about the sb400, I will definately get one.

    When ever I consider getting the AF-S prime lens I just think well I could just upgrade my body instead to one with a motor and then have a larger capability for lenses and extra features.

    The bad exposures I have been getting have been few but were on some pictures that otherwise would have been great, they were due to the camera struggling with the lighting.
     
  24. iAussie macrumors member

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    Dec 14, 2006
    #24
    Yeah, I know what you mean, a very valid argument and I've gone down that road before and considered upgrading from my D40 for the same reason, but its a never-ending road because there's always gonna be something better about the next camera model etc. Proceed with caution! ;)

    Edit: I'd still probably go for a new lens, but sorry I can't be of much help as to which one!
     
  25. ArtandStructure macrumors member

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    Jan 14, 2008
    Location:
    Klamath Falls, Oregon
    #25
    The SB-400 is indeed a small flash, but I would hardly say the SB-600 isn't portable. Bear in mind the SB-400 tilts, which is good for bouncing off the ceiling in landscape orientation, but the SB-400 does not pivot, which means in portrait orientation you bounce off one of the sides/walls. You can not bounce off the ceiling in portrait orientation with the SB-400...well maybe with some sort of bounce card you could but for the added trouble/bulk why not just get an SB-600?

    Also, as I think someone mentioned above, the SB-600 can be remote commanded by the camera (D80 and up...not the D40 or D60). While you have a D40 now, consider the flexibility of your future purchases. The remote ability of the SB-600 along with its pivot ability, stronger power AND being able to manually adjust its output from the flash itself all add up to a greater price-to-feature set than the SB-400, even if it is $70-100 more. Trust me, if you ever have any interest in shooting portraits, weddings or studio work you are going to get at least an SB-600 anyway. It'll save you the cost of the SB-400 to get an SB-600 instead.

    Lastly, bear in mind RAW will help with exposure latitude but it isn't a miracle worker. It will give some latitude but not as much as RAW proponents may imply. It is no substitute for proper exposure to begin with.


    All the best,

    Jesse Widener
    Art and Structure design studio
     

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