New Nikon D810 - Need Lens Help and Advice!

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Nephi
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New Nikon D810 - Need Lens Help and Advice!
4 months ago

I consider myself a beginner photographer. Perhaps intermediate in some aspects. I've spent hours perusing this site and others looking for lens advice and looking at lens reviews. I have a Nikon D810 on it's way and I need some lens advice. I don't own any equipment at the moment so I am starting fresh.

I will be using the camera for portraits, landscapes, family photos, and travel. I don't plan on doing much video, sports, or wildlife photography (no superzooms needed for sure).

In the past I owned a 5D Mark II and a 24-70mm lens, albeit for a very short time. Initially I was planning on going with the Nikon 24-70mm however after reading countless comments, reviews, and comparisons there is no doubt primes are sharper in most cases. The 24-70mm seems especially soft (vs. primes) at 24mm where I would anticipate shooting landscapes. Like most people I am concerned about missing a shot not covered by my primes and the associated pain in the ass of changing lens, carrying lens, and sensor dust. Zooms are definitely more convenient however I personally value a sharp, crisp shot and in that regard primes seem the way to go. Long story short, I'm strongly leaning towards the idea of starting with a set of primes.

Interestingly a recent poll showed that 60% of carry/own zooms only, 20% prime only, and another 20% own a mix. Hopefully primes end up being the correct choice for me!

My budget is roughly $2500 for lens (USD). I realize this is low for a complete package however it is what I have to start.

I am considering the following three lens:

1. Nikon 85mm 1.8g ($500) - Ranks as one of the sharpest 85mm out there regardless of price, is well reviewed and scores high marks on DXO and other sites, and is affordable.

2. Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art ($950) - I was going to get the Nikon 50mm 1.8g and save the cash and weight however once I saw the side by side comparisons the Sigma really stands out. The sharpness is unrivaled at this price. Big and heavy no doubt but the Sigma seems to be the best of the best.

3. Nikon 24mm 1.4G ($1950) or Nikon 28mm 1.8G ($695) - I'm having the most trouble picking a wide prime. There are a lot of options, pricey options at that. I looked at the zooms such as the Nikon 14-24mm and 16-35mm F4 however, once again, the fixed primes seemed sharper.

The 24mm 1.4G seems to be the perfect landscape lens and the quality is unrivaled but I am paying a ton for a very low aperture I may never use or need. The biggest issue is the price. At $2K I would need to save up or go without a landscape lens in the beginning.

I am considering the Nikon 28mm 1.8G as an affordable, viable option. My concerns are mainly the focal length (is 28mm wide enough for landscapes?) and the oft reported focus shift which seems to be a real issue. I don't have enough experience to know what (if any) impact the focus shift would have on my photos. Some users complain that is makes the lens harder to use and less practical. Again, I have no way of knowing. Issues aside, at 1/3 the price I would save a bundle!

I simply can't decided which lens to purchase... the insanely priced 24mm with its stellar image quality and perfect focal length or the 28mm with focus shift issues, a less than ideal focal length and $1300 in savings?

The main questions I have are:

1. Which prime lens would you suggest starting out with? Are the 24mm (or 28mm), 50mm, and 85mm a good starting point?

2. Which prime would you recommend for landscapes? Would you save up for the $2,000 24mm?

3. In many ways the Nikon 24-70mm would cover all my bases and is within budget. Anyone gone from all primes to a single zoom or two or vice versa? Would you sacrifice some image quality for the convenience of a zoom?

I'm open to any/all suggestions and advice. I'm not stuck on these lenses by any means.

Thanks in advance!

-Brian

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Nikon D810
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