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Thread: Tips for Lens for a Beginner

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    Member DDA's Avatar
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    Tips for Lens for a Beginner

    Hi All

    New member to Ausphotography and new DSLR user here.

    I had a Canon G9 which has been a faithful little servant for the last 18 months or so but I decided it was time to upgrade to a DSLR.

    I recently purchased a Nikon D90 and an AF-S Dx 35mm f/1.8g which I am having fun playing around with at this stage and learning the ropes.

    Fortunately for me, I have the option of getting another lens for Christmas from the other half and wanted advice on what the best option is for the long term.

    On one end of the spectrum, I've looked at picking up an 18-105mm VR lens as a "general walkaround lens" which as a beginner will enable me to kick off learning the DSLR ropes at a fairly affordable price.

    At the other end, I'm looking at whether I should invest straight up in other glass that would suit what I most likely will end up shooting. From my G9 days, I mostly only ever took portrait type photos (friends and family etc), or landscape/architecture photography whilst travelling etc. Im also looking at having a crack at macro photography at some stage.

    My question is whether I should start out slowly with an 18-105 or is it wiser to invest in other lenses from the beginning?

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    Well you have a bit of an issue here for sure

    Portraits, ideally you want something around the 50-80mm range
    Landscapes etc, ideally something in the 10-30mm range
    Macro, something ideally like a macro lends in the 100-150mm range

    There's no one lens that will do all of that.

    I think the closest might be a Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 that does a good job of a), 28 is reasonable wide for b) and it's not true macro but can get away with c).

    A fixed 2.8 is nice also
    Darren
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    Thanks for the reply Kiwi.

    I understand that I'm not going to get any lens which is cover all that I want.

    I guess my query was more on whether people were of the opinion that when starting out whether it was better to grab say a lens which is a "jack of all trades but master of none" like an 18-105mm or 18-200mm.

    Or alternatively grab a 10-24mm, then a 50m prime then a 90mm macro etc etc and build a portfolio of lenses (or something like that)

    Hope that makes sense

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    It makes a lot of sense

    There are lots of photographers that have almost every pro lens on the market, but, if say of travelling will still grab say an 18-200 for one lens convenience

    So, only you can decide on this

    But - if you buy good glass you'll never need to sell it

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    You already have a semi decent people lens in the 35/1.8, and while it's not ideal, it (looks to be) more than capable

    Darren's suggestion of the 28-75 Tammy is a good one, and I love it for portraits(especially kids, but not limited to them). It renders nice skin tones, and can produce enough softness to smooth out wrinkly skin, but without being too soft too. I have one of them.

    The 18-105 always continues to impress as a cheapish consumer zoom, and I've seen decent enough bokeh from it to feel less apprehensive in using it as a portrait lens.. but it's not ideal.
    Can take very good landscape shots too, but the barrel distortion can sometimes intrude. I have it too, but it's purpose is mainly for my young sons use(I only use it when I'm bored). I think it's Nikon's best consumer lens, in a value for money sense.

    Other good alternatives are Sigma's 50-150/2.8. has a great reputation for ability.. but considering it's focal length range not really a 'landscape' lens.

    if you're looking to build a portfolio of lenses, then starting out with the 18-105VR lens may actually be a good idea, as it'll eventually help you to realize at what focal lengths you prefer to concentrate on, and what type of shooting you do.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DDA View Post
    I recently purchased a Nikon D90 and an AF-S Dx 35mm f/1.8g which I am having fun playing around with at this stage and learning the ropes.

    ... I've looked at picking up an 18-105mm VR lens as a "general walkaround lens" which as a beginner will enable me to kick off learning the DSLR ropes at a fairly affordable price.
    I think the 18-105 is a nice complement to the 35mm f/1.8. It gives you a reasonable reach (about double the standard kit zoom) without excessive size and weight and doesn't encroach too much on a longer zoom (say a 70-200 or 100-300 range) if you decide you need more reach.

    While the Nikkor 18-200 zoom has a fairly good reputation, it is somewhat more expensive you may find the 200mm top end doesn't reach far enough and you will need to go one step further anyway.

    You have a reasonably fast 'standard' lens for available light photography and the 35mm & 18-105 was a combination I considered if I had gone down the Nikon dSLR path (I had film Nikon SLRs for 30 years).

    One of the nice things about having the D90 is that it works well with just about all the older manual focus lenses are there are some great nikon primes and zooms out there that can be picked up for a reasonable price from eBay and some second-hand dealers.

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Hi DDA and welcome to AP!

    I'm going to take an opposite point of view. If you don't know what you want, then you are nuts ro spend good money on it! Let's think about that 18-105:

    • Do you really want a general-purpose zoom that's as slow as this one?
    • If you do have a general-purpose zoom, is 18mm wide enough for you?
    • Do you really want to spend around $600 on a lens that you might feel is holding you back before too long?
    • Wouldn't it be better to save up and get a really good quality lens, rather than waste money on a half-way-there product?


    I don't actually know anything about the Nikkor 18-105 VR, I hasten to add, I'm just trying to suggest that there are going to be several good reasons why it's a bad choice. And the same will apply to the Tamron 28-75, or the Sigma 18-50/2.8, or, in fact, absolutely any lens we could name. There will be different reasons why these are bad choices, but every lens ever made has good reasons against it, because every lens ever made is a massive compromise between weight and cost and focal length and aperture and a variety of other factors, and there is no such thing as a perfect compromise.

    What I'm getting at here, is that, over time, you will develop your own style and your own likes and dislikes and in, say, two years time, you will be pretty certain that, yes, f/5.6 at the long end of the 18-105 is fast enough for you, or that, no, you are not prepared to sacrifice aperture for focal length and you'd rather have a 17-50/2.8 than an 18-105/5.6. We all have different answers to these questions, we all wind up with diffeent things in our camera bags. This is why there are so many different cameras and even more different lenses.

    So, maybe, your best bet is to decide that you don't know what the right answer for you is yet, and that you need more experience with a DSLR to find out. And remember, none of us can tell you the right answer, even though we might know what suits us, because none of us are you. Only uyou can decide, and you don't have enough experience yet. If you are thinking along these lines, then your best bet is to get something very cheap. In the Canon world, I'd suggest an 18-55 kit lens for maybe $100. Doubtless Nikon have an equivalent. Use that for a year or so, and then you will be in a position to know what is important to you, and select your long-term lens collection wisely, and without any expensive mistakes.
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    Member David's Avatar
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    I started out being advised to buy an entry level camera and a couple of kit lenses (18-55 and 75-300mm Canon lenses) and sticking with those for a YEAR before buying anything new... tough thing to do when you quickly become aware that they are very limited lenses and you want better lenses, like now.

    However, the advise was good: I stuck to that principle and a year later had a pretty good idea about what type of photography I wanted to focus on and what lenses suited that genre best for me.. it was of course tempered by financial considerations so 'half way there' to what was ideal was where I have ended up to a degree with the collection of lenses I use now.

    But I was totally green when I started in photography terms,which you are not, so your needs and choices will be different- in your shoes I would probably go with the 18-105 lens and over time with experience figure out what I want to focus on and what lens gives me good quality results for that type of shot....

    A 10-22mm for me is good for landscapes, so I bought it first...got into portraits abit so I got another lens for that etc etc ..mine are not the fastest 2.8 or 1.4 lenses (the financial compromise) but after a year at it I was much more informed about picking specific focal length lenses than I was in the beginning when I would be guessing or going on others opionions/advise and their world view.. now I have my own world view on lenses and my own budget and my own interest areas and that drives my choices.
    Comments and CC welcome..

    Gear: Canon 6D & 1Ds Cameras l Canon EF 17-40mm F 4.0 L USM l Canon EF 24-105mm F4.0 L IS USM l Canon EF 70 - 200 F4.0 L USM Lenses I Manfrotto Tripods I Adobe Photoshop CS6 l Lightroom 3.0 I Lee Filters



    "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust 1871 - 1922

  9. #9
    It's all about the Light!
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    Just to decode a couple of things Tannin wrote (being the NTP forum after all).
    His post is excellent advice.

    'Fast' referring to the maximum aperture; and for the 18-105VR the max aperture being f/3.5-5.6, whereas normally we think of fast as being f/2.8 in that zoom range.

    For anyone new we strongly recommend reading this thread several times during your early learning stage.

    Also this thread specifically on lenses.

    Take your time to read and ask questions.

    Remember the style of photography that interests you will affect your selection.
    • Landscape - tends to need wider lenses (as wide as 10mm-20mm)
    • People/portraits - 50mm-120mm is a typical range
    • Wildlife - 200mm-500mm or longer, esp. for small birds and the like
    • Sports - longer lengths as you are often a long way from the subject
    • Macro - specialist lens typically 60mm-150mm, usually a prime lens (not zoom)


    These are guides.
    Personally I use my Tamron 28-75 for walk around & people and the Sigma 50-500 for wildlife, the 10-20 for landscape.

    These with the tammy... (proving you don't need a long lens for birds )
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ad.php?t=39540
    regards, Kym Gallery Honest & Direct Constructive Critique Appreciated! ©
    Digital & film, Bits of glass covering 10mm to 500mm, and other stuff



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    DDA

    I have been through the same process as you are now.

    I decided to upgrade to DSLR fairly recently, and did a lot of research before purchasing and used this forum and other web pages to help me make my mind up.

    I bought a D90, and based on good advice from this forum I got a 35mm f1.8 to use it for
    low light-landscapes and am very happy with the lens.

    My choice for a second lens was a Nikon 55-200mm, I was thinking about a 18-200mm but
    the price put me off. And a review I read by Ken Rockwell comparing a the 18-200 to 55-200
    made me go for the 55-200mm based on cost, weight and quality.

    I am enjoying using my current gear, and will be keeping the 35mm f1.8 but may eventually
    get a replacement for the 55-200mm as I am finding out it limits what I want to do in situations.

    I am also considering doing Macro photograpy, I bought a set of Close-Up Filters ($99)
    to see what can be achived-still learning to them.

    Welcome to this forum

    Chris
    can

    Have fun and welcome to this forum.

    Chris
    Chris

    - Constructive Feedback Appreciated

    My stuff: Nikon D90: 35mm f1.8, 55-200mm f4-5.6G
    Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and a growing collection of other stuff.

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    the 28-75 tammy would be the go i think... if you want longer then you will have to go slower... you could try a 18-200 af-s vr which covers all the lower and mid range, but is really too short for wildlifee unless its tame.

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    I've had to restart my lens collection again (long story), this time round i will be aiming to buy 2.8/prime lenses only, and not double up on focal lengths.
    Have a look in most peoples bags, there's (roughly) 11-18, 18-55, 70/80-200/300..Maybe a few primes thrown in below 70mm, there is no "specific" lens i would suggest, only one in these focal ranges.Horses for courses though.
    Regardless what you get, you will get len's lust...and i predict your next question will be about bag's or a tripod.
    "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough." - legendary war photographer Robert Capa.

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    I went from kit lenses to 2.8's. I would recomend the Tamron 17-50 2.8 as a keeper and a good travel lens if you think you are landscape inclined. This will allow you to get the 70-200 and a 10-20 later on in life as well as a few primes if needed.
    Regards
    John
    Nikon D750, Sigma 105mm OS Macro, Tokina 16-28 F2.8, Sigma 24-105 Art, Sigma 150-600C,
    Benro Tripod and Monopod with Arca plates

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    Another +1 for Tamron 17-50 f2.8, i got great result from this len on Canon 40D.

    However there is a possible drawback with this lens future upgrade wise, namely that Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is designed for crop sensor only and may hinder future upgrade path if you are thinking of going for DSLR with full frame sensor(eg D700, D3x etc) in future.

    if you do want to go for full frame later on, try pick lens suitable for a full frame(FX instead of DX), these lens should be compatible with crop sensor as well.

    a full frame equivalent of 17-50 2.8 DX would be 24-70 2.8 FX i think.

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    Just chucking in my two cents, for portraits you cannot go past an 85mm 1.8 (Nikkor, Tamron, both are fantastic glass). I bought one, love it. LOOOOOVE it. It yields beautiful images. It's a great price for what you get. It's a good landscape lens at a pinch too.

    Though if you're leaning towards landscape, get something wider, for sure. I have a 35mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.8. I love using the 35mm for everything. If you're traveling, you definitely want a wide lens.
    [- Instagram -]

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    Quote Originally Posted by Erin View Post
    Just chucking in my two cents, for portraits you cannot go past an 85mm 1.8 (Nikkor, Tamron, both are fantastic glass).
    Tamron 85 1.8 ?? Nope .. I think you mean the 90mm 2.8 macro.

    Also 85 is a great for portraits, but can be a little long indoors in small rooms (127.5mm equiv) AWESOME for outdoor work though, and even better on FF.

    I have the Tamron 28-75. Great portrait lens. It will not be wide enough for landscape work though on a D90. Remember 28 becomes 42 on a 1.5x crop factor.

    I use it on a FF camera and it is barely wide enough on that.

    EDIT: Just realised the OP joined 6 months ago, has made 2 posts, and hasnt come back to heed our advice. Sometimes I wonder why we bother
    Hi Im Darren

    www.darrengrayphotography.com

    SONY A850 (FF)] + GRIP | SONY A350 (APS-C) + GRIP | SONY NEX-5 +16 2.8 + 18-55 E-MOUNT LENSES | CZ 85 1.4 | 50 1.4 | 28-75 2.8 | 70-200 2.8 | 2 x 42AMs | 24" imac | LR | CS4 | + loads of other junk


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    Quote Originally Posted by Erin View Post
    Just chucking in my two cents, for portraits you cannot go past an 85mm 1.8 (Nikkor, Tamron, both are fantastic glass). I bought one, love it. LOOOOOVE it. It yields beautiful images. It's a great price for what you get. It's a good landscape lens at a pinch too.
    On Crop it is a bit long for portrait. full frame though it is perfect.

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    Member Lili's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigdazzler View Post
    EDIT: Just realised the OP joined 6 months ago, has made 2 posts, and hasnt come back to heed our advice. Sometimes I wonder why we bother
    So that the rest of us noobs can make use of your awesome advice even when we're not game to asks the questions!

    I'm starting to realise that coming up with interesting questions to ask of everyone here will be hard, because most things have already been discussed if you search for it! Maybe that's why there's so many lurkers...

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lili View Post
    ....

    I'm starting to realise that coming up with interesting questions to ask of everyone here will be hard, because most things have already been discussed if you search for it! Maybe that's why there's so many lurkers...

    There's always an interesting question that's yet to be asked(or answered perfectly).

    Sometimes it's ok to start a new thread if the old one is .. (very)OLD

    there may be a slightly different twist to your specific needs(such as budget, or whatever else).

    The point is that; when asking a question, don't be shy in giving out as much info as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lili View Post
    So that the rest of us noobs can make use of your awesome advice even when we're not game to asks the questions!
    When (if) you even come back to read the awesome advice .. a quick thankyou would be nice is all im saying

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