Questions about DSLR Lenses

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Cheese&Apple, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. Cheese&Apple macrumors 68000


    Jun 5, 2012
    Ok, I've finally decided to get the Nikon D7000 but I'm a bit confused about lenses and am hoping to get some help.

    People talk about the importance of having good lenses (even over camera body). But what does that mean?

    1) Is it a matter of lens quality or a matter of lens selection or both?

    2) Lens quality: If I stick with Nikon, do I have to think about quality? Does Nikon make a bad lens?

    3) Lens selection: If I'm shooting everthing from portrait to landscape to wildlife, can I go too far wrong with Nikon DX...
    • 18-105mm f3.5 (to start with)
    • 55-300mm f4.5 (add later)
    • 40mm f2.8 or 35mm f1.8 (add later)
    Sorry, One last question...
    4) I'm confused about Nikon lens model numbers such as f3.5-5.6G. I understand 3.5 is the maximum aperture, but what does the 5.6G refer to?

    Comments and feedback would be appreciated...thank you. :)
  2. equilibrium17 macrumors member

    Aug 20, 2007
    Some brief responses:

    1) Both. Quality matters, but selection also matters. Even if you're looking at top-of-the-line, professional quality lenses, there's no such thing as a perfect "shoot everything" lens. All lenses have strengths and weaknesses. Even if price is no object, you still need to consider the focal lengths you want to shoot at, subject matter, light conditions you expect to be shooting in, weight you are willing to carry, how easy it will be for you to switch lenses while shooting, etc.

    2) I'm more familiar with Canon lenses than Nikon, but I'm sure that just like Canon, you'll find that Nikon sells fairly cheap starter "kit" lenses, mid-grade "enthusiast" lenses, and high-end "professional" lenses. Buying Nikon brand probably means you can be pretty sure the lens isn't utter crap, but just because it's Nikon doesn't necessarily mean it's particularly good, or even the best choice for any particular lens class/price profile.

    3) As I mentioned, I'm a Canon guy so I don't know Nikon's stuff very well, but as far as focal lengths and apertures, it looks like the three lenses you list are good choices for a general purpose starter set. Perhaps a Nikonian can give you more specific feedback.

    4) f3.5-5.6 describes the lens' maximum aperture at minimum and maximum focal length, respectively. So an 18-105mm/f3.5-5.6 lens would have a maximum aperture of f3.5 at 18mm, but a maximum aperture of f5.6 at 105mm, with the max. aperture gradually decreasing through the zoom range. Most lighter weight, less expensive zooms have variable maximum aperture like this. Constant aperture is more desirable, but usually means a larger, heavier, and more expensive lens.

    I'm a little shaky on my Nikon lingo, but IIRC, the "G" in Nikon lens designations refers to lenses specifically designed for digital DSLRs (as opposed to film). Hopefully, some Nikonian will correct me if I'm wrong here.

    Overall, it sounds like you have a fair number of questions regarding lenses and lens selection. I can suggest the following website if you want to do some more in-depth reading on lenses and lens selection; I found it very helpful when I was choosing my first DSLR and lenses:
  3. Cheese&Apple thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 5, 2012
    Thank you very much for the feedback and for taking the time equilibrium17. This is great information! :)

    You're right, I do have a lot of questions. I'm checking-out the site you mentioned. It looks like a great resource for lens details.

    I'll be back...Cheers!
  4. warehouse40 macrumors member

    Dec 22, 2011
    That's sort of right. The G basically means there is no aperture rings on the lens, thereby making it incompatible with many (but not all) older Nikon Film bodies. The "D" designation you may see on lenses refers to the lens's ability to send focus distance information to the camera (mainly for flash purposes)

    The 18-105 is a good starter lens and will probably be the lens you find yourself using the most. Adding the 55-300mm is a good option but you might want to consider the 70-300mm VR, you'll have less overlap.

    The thing most pros will tell you is that they like to carry as little gear as possible. So having little to no focal length overlap is key.

    I recommend just go out and shoot with what you have and then check the metadata to see what focal length you're always at. Are you always at 105mm and 18mm? Then go with a good telephoto and a good wide angle. And maybe pick up a 35mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.8 to cover your medium range.

    The 40mm 2.8 is a macro, and while inexpensive, I find it pretty useless for any good macro shots once you get away from flowers and jewelry. Getting a better macro (like the Tamron 90mm) is a better investment.

    You have a great body in the D7000 and with that the ability to buy older AF and MF Nikon lenses. I buy the majority of my lenses used and then resell them if if find they're not what I want.

    If you really want to improve as a photographer I highly recommend getting a prime lens (ie: 35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.8, etc) they're inexpensive and force YOU to move around to change your composition. I really forces you to make choices.
  5. Cheese&Apple thread starter macrumors 68000


    Jun 5, 2012
    Thanks again equilibrium17...this explains constant aperture (I forgot to ask that question). :)

    Thanks to you as well warehouse40. Sounds like solid advice to me. :)

    Don't know what I was thinking about with the 55 to 300mm lens (I may have been looking at a list of DX only lenses rather than the full line-up).

    I've been reading about lenses all weekend and there are a lot of people that recommend the 35mm 1.8 as well.

    Cheers and I hope everyone has had a great weekend.

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