Prime lens

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by High Desert, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. High Desert macrumors regular

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    #1
    Looking t get a "prime lens" at a later date for my Nikon D7100. Currently have the two kit lenses (18 - 55 and 55 - 200). I am thinking maybe a fast 50mm? What do you use, or consider to be the better prime lens size and speed, and why?
     
  2. Hughmac macrumors demi-god

    Hughmac

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    #2
    Well, my favourite was the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM - very sharp with excellent colour rendition, and it suited me fine for general use or portraits, but it all depends on what your main use would be.

    Nikon themselves make very good and reasonably priced f/1.8 35mm and 50mm lenses, and also an exceptional but older 50mm 1.4

    There will be many other views on what is good and what is best for you.

    Cheers :)

    Hugh
     
  3. koilvr macrumors 6502

    koilvr

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    #3
    50MM 1.4 SIGMA ART LENS. I LOVE THIS LENS A LOT. SEARCH MY NAME AND YOU CAN SEE WHAT IMAGES I CAN GET WITH A NIKON D600
     
  4. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #4
    What do you want to shoot? We need to know before general advice can be offered.
    But 50 mm is generally considered a good choice. However on your crop sensor, 35mm is closer to the industry standard of a 50mm due to the size of your sensor.
    Btw I have a D7100 and they are a nice camera. It's a back up to my D750 these days.
     
  5. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #5
    Good call from the guys already. I used to use a 50 on my Canon crop sensors and couldnt work out why there was such a hubub about 50mm focal length. Then tried it on a full frame and got it immediately. It was more like a tight short telephoto on my crop canon. You may like that though if your thing is headshots.

    As said previously, a 35mm will give the field of view of a 50 on your crop sensor. The 50 on it may be a little tight for your liking if you shoot a lot indoors.

    Challenge you will have here is it is a classic "there is no wrong answer/ it depends" question.

    All about what you want and how you like to shoot. I would recommend a trip to the store and have a play with them both to see how they feel as a focal length.

    But get ready for it.... this is your first of many primes....
     
  6. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #6
    Personally I have the older versions of the Nikon 50mm, both the 1.8 and 1.4 - but you need a body focus motor for them. The later versions are supposed to be as good and inc the focus drive in the lens so they work with the later bodies. I find 50mm on a DX a pretty good portrait lens, pretty close to the original 85mm go-to portrait lens.

    There honestly isn't a lot of sharpness difference between the two but the extra-shallow DoF with the 1.4 is creatively nice.
     
  7. kallisti, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016

    kallisti macrumors 65816

    kallisti

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    #7
    Will expand a bit on the responses thus far (though don't disagree with many of them). Will also provide some example shots.

    (1) Why do you want to get a prime? What are you hoping to achieve with a prime that you can't get with your kit lenses?
    (2) What focal length do you find yourself shooting most? Since there are primes at the wide end, the normal end, and the telephoto end, if you are only going to get one it should be at a focal length that you regularly find "adequate."

    The usual answer to question (1) is that you want a fast lens to be able to "blur the background" or stated another way to isolate the subject.

    I used to own a copy of the 18-55 kit lens, but can't seem to find it after a recent move. Bleh, because another reason people buy a prime is to get a sharper lens. So can't offer that comparison.

    Remember that your D7100 is a crop sensor, so as stated in posts above the "traditional" focal lengths for fast primes that everyone talks about won't really apply to you. Normally people suggest the "nifty-fifty" as the generic first prime people should buy. On a crop sensor, a 50mm lens gives a field of view (FOV) of a 75mm lens on a full frame sensor. Not nearly as useful as a generic focal length for most people. On a crop sensor, a 35mm lens gives a FOV that is close to 50mm on a full frame sensor and is thus the generic first prime for people with a camera like yours.

    Assuming you are interested in "blurring the background" with your fast prime, keep in mind that the depth of field (DOF) is related to the 35mm full frame equivalent of a lens. So even though a 35mm lens on a crop body gives the FOV of a 50mm lens on a full frame body, the DOF is actually the same as a 35mm lens on a full frame body.

    Examples below. All taken with a Nikon D810 on a tripod with the sensor set at either full frame or crop as stated with each pic. White balance normalized for all pics. ISO set at 64 for all pics with shutter speed set by the camera in aperture priority mode. Focus was on the paper towel roll in the foreground.

    [​IMG]
    Kitchen taken with a 20mm lens on a full frame body. This is for reference for the subsequent pics.

    [​IMG]
    35mm lens @ f/1.4 on a full frame sensor

    [​IMG]
    35mm lens @ f/1.4 on a crop sensor

    [​IMG]
    50mm lens @ f/1.4 on a full frame sensor

    [​IMG]
    50mm lens @ f/1.4 on a crop sensor

    Notice two things with this series. First, the focal length gives a different FOV depending on whether it is shot on a full frame sensor or a crop sensor. The "nifty-fifty" is a bit tight for a general purpose lens on a crop sensor. While one poster above raved about it on a D600, on your crop sensor D7100 it may not be what you are looking for.

    Also notice the (subtle) differences between the DOF of a 35mm lens on a crop sensor and a 50mm lens on a full frame sensor. While the FOV is close, the DOF isn't the same. Again subtle and this "test" may not fully highlight the differences. DOF varies by focal length (as shown here with longer focal lengths having smaller DOF), subject distance (the closer the subject, the smaller the DOF), aperture (the larger the aperture, the smaller the DOF) and distance from the subject to background elements (the greater the difference, the more "blurred" the background will be).

    Hope this is helpful for you. My advice before buying any lens is asking yourself what you are hoping to achieve with it, or stated another way how are your current lenses limiting what you can achieve and how will the proposed new lens "fix" this problem. If you can't state your proposed purchase in these terms, you should ask yourself if you really need the lens in question. On the other hand, it's sometimes fun to buy new bling ;)

    [edit: changed FoV and DoF to FOV and DOF respectively. Also added that aperture influences DOF which seemed obvious in context but wanted to make sure it was explicitly stated.]
     
  8. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #8


    What a great post. Great example and demo of how DoF varies with the lens focal length and aperture, not the sensor size per se as many quote it.
     
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #9
    With Crop Body (DX) Nikon two reasonable priced options are the 35mm and 50mm. Buy the 50mm if your subjects are just one person, not full body and get the 35mm if you want more then one person or shoot in a smaller space like an apartment size living room.

    Actually you can runs an experiment. Get some tape, (blue painter's tape is best) and tape the zoom ring on there 18-55 kit lets to 35mm and leave it there for a week. Next move the zoom to 50mm and leave it for a week. Which set of photos do you like the best?

    If you find yourself cheating and removing the tape all the time then you will not like the prime lens.

    Not a perfect test as your kit lens is slower. The 50mm especially will give you a shorter DOF.
     
  10. mofunk macrumors 68000

    mofunk

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    #10
    My Nikon DSLR I got those same kit lenses and later sold them both because they didn't fit my style of shooting. So I went a 50mm lens and for anything else I rented. The 50mm is perfect in covering a lot. You just have to be creative. 105mm f/1.8 is also great if you don't want a zoom but still get that reach.

    I like shooting a lot of low light and without the flash so anything that shoots f/4 or lower is great. Other primes I like shooting are the 85mm and 20mm. I picked up the 20mm when I went full frame. I already have the 50mm, so I figure that would fit nicely with that. In my bag I have 20mm, 50mm, and 24-70mm lens. The 24-70mm I used to rent a lot from lensrental.com You can rent any lens and see which one you like the best. On my Nikon D90 I loved using the 24-70mm, 17-55mm and 50mm lenses. The 24-70mm was a lot faster when shooting in low light. However my 50mm did pretty well too especially when I'm shooting concerts and the lighting hit just right.


    The toughest thing for me was finding the right lenses. I didn't want a whole bag of stuff. Maybe that's you? And you're comfortable with a lot of primes and zooms. What I could suggest is that you test them out before buying. There is a lot of great information given here, but we do not shoot like you would.
     
  11. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #11
    One of the best descriptions I have read. Nicely done!
     
  12. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68020

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    #12
    When I started shooting, zooms weren't even a consideration - they were expensive and of middlin' quality, or affordable and nowhere near good enough. I had four, manual-focus primes - three Nikkors (35mm f/2, 55mm f/3.5 Micro, 105mm f/2.5) and a Vivitar 300mm. The 35mm was my "normal" lens. For shooting groups of people indoors in available light, I always seem to want wider, rather than longer. That 35mm had less-than-wonderful contrast, altogether an uninspiring piece of glass. I had great affection for the Micro, since that suited my favored subject matter and it was tack-sharp. I also loved the 105mm - great optics, and, of course, near-perfect for portraiture. The 300mm didn't get much use, just something I needed for covering high school sports (and I didn't cover much of that). I got pretty good at quickly switching lenses, but quite often the lens I selected at the start of the shoot was the lens I stuck with throughout.

    If your only goal is shallow DOF, you already have all the great advice you need. But shallow DOF is just one color on a photographer's palette. It may be the thing you yearn for because it's the one thing your kit lens lacks, but long term, that's not enough of a reason, imho (It's no longer a matter of losing a shot because we're a stop short - noise-reduction apps can more than make up for that extra noise.)

    Primes impose a fascinating discipline and strong influence on our art - we shoot what the lens allows; in time, we pre-visualize what that lens allows. Our approach to the subject matter may be entirely different, based on that choice of prime. So, instead of getting a "normal," think about what lens might stretch your technique and vision. It may be a focal length beyond what your kit zoom allows, or it could be a length within normal zoom range that you neglect (oh, the temptation to go either full-long or full-wide!).

    I know one photographer who, well, overdid that. For a while, all he seemed to do was use a fisheye in conjunction with pseudo-IR effects on otherwise-clichėd subjects. Striking work, but like drinking honey from a teacup, there's only so much of that one can swallow at one sitting.
     
  13. TheDrift- macrumors 6502a

    TheDrift-

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    #13
    A cheap 'nifty 50' is a wonder, cracking image quality...I am from the canon side of things and you can buy the canon 50mm new for around £75 and if you take care of it and keep the box you should have no problem getting £50/60 back for it on eBay.

    I would assume the prices are similar the Nikon equivelents.

    If you use it a lot and want a fraction more sharpness or a need a touch faster speed you can look at some of the more expensive versions.

    As i said I am from the canon side so I have no idea how well the Nikon nifty 50 is rated compared to the canon, i can't imagine there is a big difference but I am sure the Nikon guys will know for sure.
     
  14. JDDavis macrumors 65816

    JDDavis

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    #14
    Great post @kallisti ! All I can do is echo what most have already said. Any of the Nikon 50mm are going to be good. I even have a 50 f1.8 AIS pancake from the 80's that takes great images on my D750 (and it weighs nothing). I'd probably not bother with the most expensive 50's (at least for my shooting) because the 50 1.8g or even the d are excellent and cheap.

    I'll also repeat that 50mm on a crop sensor is a little tight for indoors (except portraits). The Nikon 35 f1.8 DX is a great choice for an all a-rounder on a crop sensor. I've always liked the 20, 24, 35, 50, and 85 focal lengths but that is pretty standard. You get past 85 and the Nikon primes start getting expensive fast (though I'd love a 300mm). For me, cost, size and weight are an issue so I start looking at zooms past 85. (I do own a 135 that doesn't get used much).

    I'll go even further in encouraging the point @ApfelKuchen was making. Consider a full manual prime like an older Nikon AIS lens. They can be found relatively cheaply and in great condition. Some of them are legends and work wonderfully on modern cameras. They will push you to really think about all the aspects of the image.
     
  15. Scepticalscribe Contributor

    Scepticalscribe

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    #15
    Terrific post and an outstanding tutorial, too.

    Thanks for taking the time and trouble to explain the core concepts and the differences in photographic execution so well.
     
  16. High Desert thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Kallisti's post is probably one of the best responses I have seen to this type of question. Thanks for taking the time to go through this explanation. I was asked what am I trying to do? My primary interest lies in nature and landscape and I am beginning to realize that this really covers a lot of area. My very first, good quality SLR was a Canon FTQL with only a 85mm lens. I shot this lens on everything from people to formula races at Nurburgring and was always happy, once I learned to use it. I don't want to get weighed down with a bunch of lenses due to both bulk and cost so am seeking to see it somewhat simple. The 18 - 55mm kit lens haas been rated very good, not so much for the 55 - 200mm. Thanks for the input as this gives a lot of points to consider.
     
  17. koilvr macrumors 6502

    koilvr

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    #17

    WHAT I RAVED ABOUT IS THE ART SERIES LENS. HE COULD OF GOOGLED OR LOOKED AT SOME PICTURES SHOT WITH THE ART LENS FROM SIGMA AND DECIDED BETWEEN A 35MM OR A 50MM ON HIS CROP SENSOR.
     
  18. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #18
    Is your caps lock broke? or are you shouting
     
  19. koilvr macrumors 6502

    koilvr

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    #19
    IM AT WORK AND THIS IS HOW I HAVE TO KEEP THE KEYBOARD BUT THANKS FOR ASSUMING IM SHOUTING.
     
  20. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #20
    lol...
     
  21. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #21
    Can you expand on nature? Do you mean wildlife, macro or something else?
    As for landscape the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 is the way to go. Pick one up second hand. Great lens for landscapes. Only draw back is not being able to use filters without dropping some serious £££.
     
  22. Hughmac macrumors demi-god

    Hughmac

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    #22
    Eh, what? Pardon

    Cheers :)

    Hugh
     
  23. koilvr macrumors 6502

    koilvr

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    #23
    HAHAHAH I MEAN WHEN IM AT WORK EVERYTHING HAS TO BE IN CAPS IN THE PROGRAM THEY USE HERE. UGH SO OLD SCHOOL SO I FORGET IM IN CAPS AND IT'S EASIER TO JUST ALWAYS TYPE IN CAPS I GUESS. SORRY IF IT CAUSES ISSUES.
     
  24. kenoh macrumors demi-god

    kenoh

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    #24
    No issues here... I have just had "one of those days" so was being nippy... Lol...
     
  25. simonsi macrumors 601

    simonsi

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    #25
    Just a heads up but if you continue to post everything in caps you will get that response every time from someone who hasn't seen this explanation - probably easier for you to learn to uncaps as required...
     

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