Understanding camera lenses. I need recommendations for Nikon D40.

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by 66217, Aug 20, 2007.

  1. 66217 Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    This saturday I am going to buy a Nikon D40 (at last!!), and I am curious about which lenses to buy.

    I am a total beginner, and even tho I already inscribed in some classes to learn the basics, I know that here in MacRumors there are very good people rspecting to photography:) and I guess I could use the help.

    What I like the most is to take photos of Nature and City Landscapes. I know the included lens with the D40 is a good one, but I'll like to get another one in the near future.

    - I was thinking along the lines of a good zoom lens, or something good to take close-ups. My budget is around $500, but something cheaper would be better.

    - Also, which good tutorial would you recommend to learn more about lenses?

    Thanks for the help, I know I have been asking so much lately, but I guess it is the excitement of at last buying a dSLR.:p
  2. freebooter macrumors 65816


    Feb 24, 2005
    Daegu, South Korea
    Well, as you say, the kit lens is great.
    One way to go would be to skip that lens and get the well-regarded Nikkor 18-200mm VR with the D40 body. Disadvantage, it may bust your budget and it's a bit big and heavy. Advantage, it so versatile you won't need another lens for quite a while so you'll really get to know how it works, and it has apparently very good quality.
    Personally, I went with the kit lens and the super fine Nikkor 70-300mm VR for the extra reach. I just love that lens. Later I bought a Sigma 10-20mm for the really wide angle shots. And this summer I got a macro lens for close ups which I use almost exclusively these days.
    If you are a complete beginner, though, I'd recommend really getting to know one lens at a time. Therefore, I'd get the D40 and the 18-200mm VR. Option 2: the 70-300mm VR + kit lens.
    As for tutorials: just "google" your wishes. "lens tutorial", "understanding camera lenses", etc. Or go to Nikon's site. They have lots of free info.

    ps: There are lots of cheap lens choices and you don't need pro equipment, but crappy lenses are a waste of money and opportunity in the long run.
  3. bld44 macrumors 6502

    Apr 21, 2007
    Get the camera first, use it some, and then decide.

    You mentioned landscape photography. The 18-200 VR will be better for this, but it is out of your price range. You could sell the kit lens to pay for some of the price, but good luck finding an 18-200 VR. I sold my 18-55mm for $100 on craigslist, you could get more or less for it. And it is heavy.

    The 70-300 would be good for zoom, and fits your budget better, but if you're taking all landscape shots I don't know if I would suggest it. You may also find that changing from the 18-55mm to 70-300mm while taking shots may become a hassle, and could result in some lost shots.
  4. Kamera RAWr macrumors 65816

    Kamera RAWr

    May 15, 2007
    I'm where I need to be
    How about the 55-200mm VR lens. Its well within your price range at $250. :)
  5. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    ^^Yes, I was going to suggest the Nikon 55-200 mm VR lens. Great reviews so far, and it's cheap. I'd really like the 70-300 mm VR though, because I'd like it to be usable on a camera with a "full frame" sensor instead of the typical sensor found in DSLRs today.

    This also means that the 70-300 mm VR can be used on a 35 mm SLR camera, while the 55-200 mm VR can't. You said you have signed up to take photography classes, right? Maybe you'll need to use film SLRs, so consider the 70-300 mm VR lens if you're going to be shooting with film SLRs.
  6. MacUserSince87 macrumors member

    Aug 18, 2007
    Northern Virginia, USA
    My advice would be to hold off buying any additional lenses until you get a good baseline of experience with your kit lens. The D40 is likely not the last body you will own and lenses over the long haul will be the larger part of your investment if you get hooked. Better to save for a good lens than make compromises based on a limited budget.

    After you shoot for a month or so you will be in a better position to know yourself whether you want a wider or longer lens, or both.

    Chuck Gardner
  7. gwuMACaddict macrumors 68040


    Apr 21, 2003
    washington dc
    Nikon make (or made) a 24-85 Macro that sells used waaaay below your $500 budget. Not as nice as the 35-70 Macro, but also much cheaper.
  8. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2003
    I will be purchasing the 18-200mm for my D40. I think it is worth the extra money to avoid the hassle (and potential damage to the camera) that comes from constantly changing lenses. Each time you switch, you risk getting dust inside the camera.
  9. compuwar macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Shoot with the kit lens for a month or two, then decide if 18mm is wide enough for what you shoot. If not, look at the Sigma 10-20mm, which is a little above your price but well-worth it for the extra field of view. By that time *hopefully* we'll see some new lenses in the Nikon line that will make the whole thought process happen again. If you decide that the kit lens is fine, but you want to do macro, or you need a telephoto, then you'll be ahead of where you are if you get a second lens too soon.
  10. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Here is one technical point. You want to know what the field of view of, say, a 105mm lens will be with a D40? Draw a triangle with a 24mm wide base and the top centered above the base and 105mm above it. The angle of the top of the triangle is the angle of view. Turn the paper upside down and imagine your eye at the point. You can see that even a 105 lens is very narrow. I hope this makes "focal length" a little less abstract.

    It is good that you are looking at lenses before you buy the D40. You may find that you like one that will not work with the D40. The D40 does have some limits and does not work well with the full range of Nikon lenses. So if you see god deal a used 80-200 f/2.8 zoom it would be worth getting a different body. (the new 200mm VR zoom costs $1K more) Do look at the total system price, not the price of the parts.

    Next point. To improve the quality of this kind of photography the nest thing to buy is a good tripod. Let the lens later. The tripod does a few things. (1) More then doubles the image sharpness. (2) allows you to use slower shutter speeds and (3) most importantly, forces you to think about composition. Nothing else can improve nature and city scapes more than a good tripod.

    The Nikon 18-55 "kit" lens offers the most bang per buck. You really should get it. Those people saying to get the huge 200mm lens did not read what you said you wanted to shoot. You will be using lens in the 18mm to 35mm range mostly.

    Your second lens should address all those shots you could not get with your 18-55. Maybe you might want a long 200mm zoom if you find that you can not get physically closer to some distant subjects (Sports and wild life come to mind) but maybe you need a "faster" wide angle lens so you can hand hold some candid shots in low light without a flash. People always recommend the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 for this purpose but check if that lens works with your D40 first.

    So before you buy the D40 make sure the lenses you like or might like will work with it. Then buy the kit lens and shoot a few thousand frames and keep notes on what you were unable to capture. Then buy a lens that would have gotten those missed shots

    The 200mm is not going to be that useful for your purposes. You may find it is to big or to slow or both. Likely you will want to go the other way and fins a shorter then 18mm lens or something faster then f/5.6 (5.6 is "gosh awful" slow)

    Why is it that all beginners think they want a long telephoto lens? It's almost universal.
  11. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Thanks a lot for all the info, it has been very helpful.

    I think I'll go for the D40, maybe D40X. I was considering the D80, but since this would be my first dSLR camera, I really don't want to invest so much money. And it seems the D40 is very user friendly, so that is also a plus for me.
    Hopefully in a couple of years I'll get better and better and maybe I then buy the D200 (or whichever model replaces it in the future).:)

    Again, thanks a lot
  12. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2003
    After traveling around South America for the summer, I can't even count the number of times I was saying to myself that I wished I had a telephoto lens.

    IMHO, the best approach for a beginner is to use their SLR for a few months before deciding what lens to purchase next.
  13. 66217 thread starter Guest

    Jan 30, 2006
    Another question::eek:

    How much larger would I be able to print with a 10 mega-pixel camera vs a 6 mega-pixel.

    I know the 6 is able to print 12" x 18". But I haven't seen the 10 megapixels specifications.
  14. libertyterran macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2007
    I bought Nikon D40 2months ago and here is the list of the lenses that will cover 99.9% of my need:
    + Nikon AF-S 18-200mm f3.5-5.6 VR (I use this lens most of the time while saving up the money for the following two).
    + Nikon AF-S 12-24mm f4 (The ultimate wide-angle lens).
    + Nikon AF-S 105mm VR (For micro photography).
    Too bad Nikon D40 doesn't support AF lenses, or else I would've gone for Tokina 12-24 and Tamron 105mm, which are essentially a fraction of the cost of the Nikon lenses.
  15. 12991 macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2007
    While the 18-200mm lens is great, its too expensive. I can afford it, but i dont want it to break or anything, and i get paranoid. I wouldnt take the risks i would otherwise take... I've had my d40 since end of may-ish, and im realtively new to photography, but i thought about it a lot tonight, because i think ive gone from amateur to consumer-pro recently:

    I have the kit lens, which is great, but really annoying, you always want a little more flexibility, and i live in manhattan, so changing lenses in the middle of the street is a pain in the butt hole...

    So what I am gonna be using from now on is:
    18-135mm AF-s
    55-200mm VR AF-s
    50mm 1.8
    and maybe one for macro, but i dont see my self shooting a hell of a lot, i dont live in the woods and wont be taking a million shots of flowers, so i may get an extension tube or two and see how i like it... These lenses can all be had for 550 total, still less than the 18-200mm lens which isnt perfect of course, and you can break, and stuff of course... and just knowing you have 1300$ around your neck with the camera isnt nice, especially when there are so many things that can happen... maybe im just too paranoid, maybe just too precautionary.

    Regardless of how i feel, get some wide some tele, try out VR its really great, i can handhold shots upto about 1/4 while remaining razor sharp, and i have never had a prime lens, im gonna go buy it tomorrow (i actually dont even have the 18-135 yet, im gonna buy that tomorrow as well). I hope this helped, because my fingers are getting tired, so i cant explain my self any furth...
  16. bld44 macrumors 6502

    Apr 21, 2007

    Watch out for the 18-135. Link.. lots of distortion.
  17. libertyterran macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2007
    I would say the zoom range from 135mm to 200mm is relatively small such that if you already have 55-200, you wouldn't need 18-135 anymore and vice versa.

    Many ppl use their kit lens 18-55 with 55-200mm VR as a combo. But I haven't seen anyone with 18-135 & 55-200 :D. In case you insists on the so-called cheap 18-135, I would recommend to go further to 70-300VR or 80-400VR to use as a combo.

  18. 12991 macrumors member

    Feb 3, 2007
    yeah it is small but the VR is worth it. i really actually am thinking of getting the 18-200mm, im just gonna look at some reviews and if it is nearly perfect, ill just buy it... might as well right?
  19. libertyterran macrumors member

    Apr 12, 2007
    Lots of people saying that lens is "soft", i.e. you don't really get razor sharp pictures with it. I myself find that argument is quite invalid provided that I handheld took pictures like this:
    However, the lens does have problem @ 18mm, so when I need to take pictures at this focal length, I usually replace it with the kit 18-55.

    Back to your question, I think if you only have the kit lens atm and "realtively new to photography" (me too:rolleyes:) + "can afford it". Might as well just go all the way for that 18-200mm VR. Try it for a couple of months (or years), if you see yourself to go further, you'll probably ending up with some "gold ring" Nikon pro lens. If not, you can always sell it back, right? :D

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