What would be a good basic lens collection?

Started Mar 27, 2013 | Discussions
GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to BobSC, Mar 28, 2013

BobSC wrote:

Here are what I have, in the order of how many photos I think I take with each (all Nikkor except the 8).

18-105

This one I have, but don't use as much as the 55-300.  Perhaps I am missing something?  For what kinds of pictures do you find it to be a better choice?  It is a decent lens, and I have definitely been under-utilizing it, probably because I always want to get closer to my subjects!

50/1.4 AIs

The prime lens question - I had been thinking of a 35mm f/1.8, because of light-gathering and lightness.  But now have to ask the question of whether it would indeed be a good walk-around lens?

24/2.8 AIs

A wide-angle lens would be a good addition to what I already have.  The Nikon 10-24 was suggested, which sounds like a good lens with a nice range.

Thank you for your input.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to Rich Rosen, Mar 28, 2013

Rich Rosen wrote:

As others have said, don't rush to just acquire lenses. You have said you don't want to be redundant or make mistakes. Achieving that will come with using the lenses you have until you find their limitations and purchasing lenses that fit your needs. Don't worry about the "newest, bestest." I learned at, great cost, that a really good lens is timeless. My 28-70,17-35, 85, are from my days using film. They are still very good lenses.

Excellent advice, Rich.  Although I am at a point where I do want to increase my lens collection, I want to do it gradually and smartly.  Thus my posting of this thread, to get input from those who have gone through it all.  Always learn from the mistakes of others!  Although I cannot spend the money to get the lenses that are upwards of $2,000, I am going to buy the best I can.

So far, the advice I have received has been a big help.  I decided that the lenses I have (18-105mm and 55-300mm) are fine for now, and that leaves me free to build my lens collection around them.  Nothing is decided for sure yet, but so far I am leaning toward the following:

A good wide-angle for landscapes.  Suggested was Nikon 10-24mm

A macro that can double as a portrait lens.  Nikon 105mm

Much later, for wildlife/birds - Nikon 300mm f/4 + TC

Thinking about a fast prime for walk-around lens.  Nikon 35mm f/1.8

Any comments/suggestions on this would be much appreciated.  Thank you for your input.

Susan

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nelsonal
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

35mm fov (on a camera like your D7000) is sort of a jack of all trades master of none type of lens.  The field of view does have a long association with street photography, so perhaps master of one.  It's very good covering subjects that look best when rendered most similarly to how our eyes see them (indoor outdoor events, groups of people, things and scense we encounter on a daily basis, etc).  It seems to me that most photographers find that they either really enjoy the limits and speed a prime lens offers or prefer the flexibilty of a zoom lens, and once they find it they tend to prefer it at other focal lengths as well.

I suggested a 35mm prime as a cheap way to find out (before you invest heavily in either zooms or primes) which one prefers or if one is agnostic about the two.  Though, if you rarely use your 18-105 then a longer prime would probably make sense.  A 105mm macro makes a fine portrait lens.  If you primarily use your 55-300 you'll probably find it more useful than a 35mm prime.

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happysnapper64
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

Hi Sue. I see by your first post that you prefer to stay with Nikon lenses. if you still want to go that way, then fair enough. I have Canon gear & love the Canon lenses I have. I did, however consider 3rd party lenses before buying, & would suggest you do the same before shelling out a lot of cash for another lens. Someone suggested that one of the criterea would be image quality. This is a very personal thing I find. I went looking for a long lens for birding last year, & the shop I go to had a few for me to try. I decided to go with the versitility of a zoom, & narrowed it down to 2. Canon 100-400 used for £1,000, or Sigma 120-400 new £645 + 3yr warranty. I took about 30-40 shots with each, outside the shop on a busy main street. Good for checking focusing on moving objects, & stabilization on stationary ones, colour rendition etc. I checked the images on my laptop when I got home, & could not tell which lens took which shot. I bought the Sigma. I am happy with most of the images I have taken with it, vast majority of poor ones have been down to my bad technique. I have no doubt that some of the camera manufacturers lenses are superior. It's often a case of is it worth the extra cost? You could try hiring for a couple days. Might avoid an expensive mistake. [& a divorce!! :-(]

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to happysnapper64, Mar 28, 2013

happysnapper64 wrote:

I did, however consider 3rd party lenses before buying, & would suggest you do the same before shelling out a lot of cash for another lens.

The thing about staying with Nikon, I know it has good quality, and there are plenty of reviews to ferret out the flaws.  Reviews undoubtedly exist for third-party lenses, but I don't trust myself to decide based on them, or even on directly comparing them myself.

Someone suggested that one of the criteria would be image quality. This is a very personal thing I find. I went looking for a long lens for birding last year, & the shop I go to had a few for me to try. I decided to go with the versatility of a zoom, & narrowed it down to 2.

There isn't a shop anywhere near me.  This is another factor.  I am planning to take a ride down to New York City (about 4 hours) and go to B&H's superstore sometime soon.  Waiting for nice weather - it's coming! That is one reason I am trying to gather some information now.  I know that their salespeople are very helpful - talked to several on the telephone - but it is important to be able to decide for myself without being overly influenced by their opinions.  I can try out some lenses then, and either buy or wait and order from home.

You could try hiring for a couple days. Might avoid an expensive mistake. [& a divorce!! :-(]

Hiring sounds good, but then I would be under pressure to be taking pictures to make it worth the money spent.  The light is not so good most of the time right now - end of winter, gray skies, even had a snow flurry this morning!  Everything is brown, not so inviting!

As for divorce, my husband is a keeper, and he feels the same about me despite my multitude of flaws!   Plus, I intend to add to my lenses gradually and smartly, so he will hardly notice...  Devious, perhaps, but whatever works. 

Thanks Lee for your suggestions.  I always enjoy reading your postings on the forums.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to nelsonal, Mar 28, 2013

nelsonal wrote:

35mm fov (on a camera like your D7000) is sort of a jack of all trades master of none type of lens.  The field of view does have a long association with street photography, so perhaps master of one.  It's very good covering subjects that look best when rendered most similarly to how our eyes see them (indoor outdoor events, groups of people, things and scense we encounter on a daily basis, etc).  It seems to me that most photographers find that they either really enjoy the limits and speed a prime lens offers or prefer the flexibilty of a zoom lens, and once they find it they tend to prefer it at other focal lengths as well.

I know that my 18-105mm covers the 35mm focal length, so perhaps I should experiment with it set at 35mm?  My thought was the 35mm would be a good lens for walking around because it is smaller, lighter than the other ones I have.  Plus the better light-gathering than the zoom.

I suggested a 35mm prime as a cheap way to find out (before you invest heavily in either zooms or primes) which one prefers or if one is agnostic about the two.

From what I have read, this lens is a bargain at less than $200, and many say it is an excellent addition to a kit.  But nothing is cheap if you don't make use of it!  Do you think that leaving the 18-105 at 35mm for a while would be a good test?

Susan

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roby17269
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Re: LBA beware
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

roby17269 wrote:

Wait till you become a "prime snob"!

If you do, you'll end up selling zooms and buying more primes to cover the important focal lengths... thus multiplying your collection.

Only time will tell which way I go!  I am probably too lazy to go that route - do love the versatility of a good zoom.  You still have your 70-200 f/2.8, so apparently you don't plan to go all the way prime!

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

Let me tell you, when I started I was trying to get zooms with the goal of completely covering the widest possible focal length range. Then I moved into fashion photography and converted to primes.

Matter of fact, I also have the 8-15mm f/4L

But the 8-15 is a specialty lens with fun factor and the 70-200 is probably the best zoom in Canon's line-up with prime-like quality.

In reality, I am not dogmatic and evaluate lenses one-by-one... Surely, if I'll manage to save enough for it, I will get a 200 f/2L (sooner or) later... and that would see the 70-200 looking for a new home, because the 85 + 100 macro + 135 + 200 would cover the range fairly well... The only issue with the 200 being the risk of my wife divorcing me

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nelsonal
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

Yes, leaving a zoom at a fixed focal length is an excellent way to see if a prime fits one's needs.  It's obviously not as fast, but it's a great way to see if the limitations of a prime enhance one's creativity or cause one to feel bound by them.

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joejack951
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

Because you have an interest in macro and portraits, I'm going throw out this fairly inexpensive option:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/545660-USA/Nikon_2177_AF_S_Micro_Nikkor_60mm_f_2_8G.html

I don't own it but based on my experience with using a 105VR on a D300S for portrait and macro, if I had to do it again this is the lens I'd buy. My simple reasoning is that unless you need to go to 1:1 (which most flower pictures don't require), the extra working distance of the 105 becomes more of a pain that an advantage (different story for bugs). Indoors, the 105VR is next to impossible to use for people photos unless all you want is a single head in the shot. Like 85mm lenses on DX, I just find it way too long.

A 60mm lens on DX gives you an equivalent 90mm lens which is right in the mix between 85 and 105mm lenses which on full frame are far more usable indoors in my experience.

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to joejack951, Mar 28, 2013

joejack951 wrote:

My simple reasoning is that unless you need to go to 1:1 (which most flower pictures don't require), the extra working distance of the 105 becomes more of a pain that an advantage (different story for bugs). Indoors, the 105VR is next to impossible to use for people photos unless all you want is a single head in the shot. Like 85mm lenses on DX, I just find it way too long.

Thank you for the suggestion.  Problem is, I DO want to go 1:1, taking pictures of bugs as well as flowers.  That is why I seriously consider the 105mm.  OP have said it is a great portrait lens, so perhaps if I get a chance to go to NYC and visit the B&H superstore, I can get a feel for it first before buying.  Perhaps in the end, I will have to buy a different lens for portraits...  Not having a camera store close to where I live hurts when trying to make these kinds of decisions!

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to nelsonal, Mar 28, 2013

nelsonal wrote:

Yes, leaving a zoom at a fixed focal length is an excellent way to see if a prime fits one's needs.  It's obviously not as fast, but it's a great way to see if the limitations of a prime enhance one's creativity or cause one to feel bound by them.

Thanks nelsonal, think I will give that a try.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: LBA beware
In reply to roby17269, Mar 28, 2013

roby17269 wrote:

Let me tell you, when I started I was trying to get zooms with the goal of completely covering the widest possible focal length range. Then I moved into fashion photography and converted to primes.

Roberto,

I just looked at your website, and your photos are amazing!

But the 8-15 is a specialty lens with fun factor and the 70-200 is probably the best zoom in Canon's line-up with prime-like quality.

Similarly in Nikon, the 70-200 is a great zoom.

In reality, I am not dogmatic and evaluate lenses one-by-one...

That is the best way.  I hope to have a selection that includes both zooms and primes.  Just have to be careful because I don't want to spend too much all at once!

The only issue with the 200 being the risk of my wife divorcing me

Surely your wife will keep you?!!!  Especially when the 200mm makes a difference in your success as a fashion photographer...

In the same way, I have to build my lens collection gradually and smartly so my husband will hardly notice!

Thanks so much for your comments.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

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nelsonal
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

nelsonal wrote:

Yes, leaving a zoom at a fixed focal length is an excellent way to see if a prime fits one's needs.  It's obviously not as fast, but it's a great way to see if the limitations of a prime enhance one's creativity or cause one to feel bound by them.

Thanks nelsonal, think I will give that a try.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

I didn't think of it before but you could do the same for 105mm, too.  I think the 18-105 hits about 1:5 magnification which isn't close to 1:1 magnification though it'd be a reasonably close to the portrait lens (you could add a cheapy close up filter to get a feel for higher magnification working distance though image quality may not be great).

Oh, and I don't think any of the third party 90 and 105mm macros leave much on the table to the Canikon lenses if you run across a deal on your B&H trip.

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joejack951
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

joejack951 wrote:

My simple reasoning is that unless you need to go to 1:1 (which most flower pictures don't require), the extra working distance of the 105 becomes more of a pain that an advantage (different story for bugs). Indoors, the 105VR is next to impossible to use for people photos unless all you want is a single head in the shot. Like 85mm lenses on DX, I just find it way too long.

Thank you for the suggestion.  Problem is, I DO want to go 1:1, taking pictures of bugs as well as flowers.  That is why I seriously consider the 105mm.  OP have said it is a great portrait lens, so perhaps if I get a chance to go to NYC and visit the B&H superstore, I can get a feel for it first before buying.  Perhaps in the end, I will have to buy a different lens for portraits...  Not having a camera store close to where I live hurts when trying to make these kinds of decisions!

Forgive me if I missed it, but this is the first time you've mentioned bug macros. Regardless, the 60/2.8 micro can do 1:1, just not at the same working distance as the 105VR, though the 105VR can't come close to the working distance of the 200/4 micro either (see the slippery slope there?). I suggested the 60/2.8 based on it being a nice compromise lens to get you two of your main needs in one fairly cheap lens. The 105VR costs twice as much and, in my opinion, is less useful for portraits since it will be so long on a DX camera indoors. Try your 18-105mm at full zoom to see what I mean.

Of course, if you have the money and don't care about being space limited indoors, the 105VR for macro and an 85/1.4 for portrait will be a nice combo on DX.

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happysnapper64
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

happysnapper64 wrote:

I did, however consider 3rd party lenses before buying, & would suggest you do the same before shelling out a lot of cash for another lens.

The thing about staying with Nikon, I know it has good quality, and there are plenty of reviews to ferret out the flaws.  Reviews undoubtedly exist for third-party lenses, but I don't trust myself to decide based on them, or even on directly comparing them myself.

Someone suggested that one of the criteria would be image quality. This is a very personal thing I find. I went looking for a long lens for birding last year, & the shop I go to had a few for me to try. I decided to go with the versatility of a zoom, & narrowed it down to 2.

There isn't a shop anywhere near me.  This is another factor.  I am planning to take a ride down to New York City (about 4 hours) and go to B&H's superstore sometime soon.  Waiting for nice weather - it's coming! That is one reason I am trying to gather some information now.  I know that their salespeople are very helpful - talked to several on the telephone - but it is important to be able to decide for myself without being overly influenced by their opinions.  I can try out some lenses then, and either buy or wait and order from home.

You could try hiring for a couple days. Might avoid an expensive mistake. [& a divorce!! :-(]

Hiring sounds good, but then I would be under pressure to be taking pictures to make it worth the money spent.  The light is not so good most of the time right now - end of winter, gray skies, even had a snow flurry this morning!  Everything is brown, not so inviting!

As for divorce, my husband is a keeper, and he feels the same about me despite my multitude of flaws!   Plus, I intend to add to my lenses gradually and smartly, so he will hardly notice...  Devious, perhaps, but whatever works. 

Thanks Lee for your suggestions.  I always enjoy reading your postings on the forums.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

Hi Sue. I suppose I am lucky to have 4 good camera shops, with helpful & knowledgeable staff, within 25 miles of my home. One of the advantages of this is the ability to buy the actual lens I try out. This takes away the risk of testing a good copy, then getting a bad one when I order it. The issue of not trusting yourself to make a decision based on reviews is valid, I have never gone & bought any equipment based on reviews, even reliable ones. What they have done for me, is point me towards some options. it seems to me that you seem to know very much what you want, & I think you will be able to make the right decisions when you need to. I have not been able to do much myself for a couple of weeks, so I will wait for the snow to go before I venture out. Oh! you say your hubby is a keeper. Is that game or lighthouse? hehe.. PS. I have a question to ask in a PM if you don't mind?

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lee uk.
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Limburger
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to happysnapper64, Mar 28, 2013

happysnapper64 wrote:

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

happysnapper64 wrote:

I did, however consider 3rd party lenses before buying, & would suggest you do the same before shelling out a lot of cash for another lens.

The thing about staying with Nikon, I know it has good quality, and there are plenty of reviews to ferret out the flaws.  Reviews undoubtedly exist for third-party lenses, but I don't trust myself to decide based on them, or even on directly comparing them myself.

Someone suggested that one of the criteria would be image quality. This is a very personal thing I find. I went looking for a long lens for birding last year, & the shop I go to had a few for me to try. I decided to go with the versatility of a zoom, & narrowed it down to 2.

There isn't a shop anywhere near me.  This is another factor.  I am planning to take a ride down to New York City (about 4 hours) and go to B&H's superstore sometime soon.  Waiting for nice weather - it's coming! That is one reason I am trying to gather some information now.  I know that their salespeople are very helpful - talked to several on the telephone - but it is important to be able to decide for myself without being overly influenced by their opinions.  I can try out some lenses then, and either buy or wait and order from home.

You could try hiring for a couple days. Might avoid an expensive mistake. [& a divorce!! :-(]

Hiring sounds good, but then I would be under pressure to be taking pictures to make it worth the money spent.  The light is not so good most of the time right now - end of winter, gray skies, even had a snow flurry this morning!  Everything is brown, not so inviting!

As for divorce, my husband is a keeper, and he feels the same about me despite my multitude of flaws!   Plus, I intend to add to my lenses gradually and smartly, so he will hardly notice...  Devious, perhaps, but whatever works. 

Thanks Lee for your suggestions.  I always enjoy reading your postings on the forums.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

Hi Sue. I suppose I am lucky to have 4 good camera shops, with helpful & knowledgeable staff, within 25 miles of my home. One of the advantages of this is the ability to buy the actual lens I try out. This takes away the risk of testing a good copy, then getting a bad one when I order it. The issue of not trusting yourself to make a decision based on reviews is valid, I have never gone & bought any equipment based on reviews, even reliable ones. What they have done for me, is point me towards some options. it seems to me that you seem to know very much what you want, & I think you will be able to make the right decisions when you need to. I have not been able to do much myself for a couple of weeks, so I will wait for the snow to go before I venture out. Oh! you say your hubby is a keeper. Is that game or lighthouse? hehe.. PS. I have a question to ask in a PM if you don't mind?

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lee uk.
There are old pilots, & there are bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.

To be able to test the very lens you might buy can make all the difference. I was to buy a 70-200 f4 or f2.8 and ended up with the f4 not that it was any better in my view but a lot lighter and easier to handle. Reviewing the shots for abnormalities of the copy aside.

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roby17269
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Re: LBA beware
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

Roberto,

I just looked at your website, and your photos are amazing!

Thanks! I love this hobby

Similarly in Nikon, the 70-200 is a great zoom.
 

Indeed it is. Nikon glass can be excellent and there are a few lenses I envy them... as there would be a few Canon lenses I would envy if I were on the dark side

 
at is the best way.  I hope to have a selection that includes both zooms and primes.  Just have to be careful because I don't want to spend too much all at once!

If I had to make a choice now, though, it would be primes only. And while at the beginning I bought cheap lenses, after a while I learnt that it was better for me to wait and save for better ones. Moreover, while good lenses tend to keep their value, cheap ones are a much worse "investment"

The only issue with the 200 being the risk of my wife divorcing me

Surely your wife will keep you?!!!  Especially when the 200mm makes a difference in your success as a fashion photographer...In the same way, I have to build my lens collection gradually and smartly so my husband will hardly notice!

Yes the problem with the 200 is that it is big and white... so it would stick out like a sore thumb.

Other lenses are all of similar size and black, so if you do not pay close attention, they look like the same

Thanks so much for your comments.

Susan

You're welcome

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Rich Rosen
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

GreenMountainGirl wrote:

Excellent advice, Rich.  Although I am at a point where I do want to increase my lens collection, I want to do it gradually and smartly.  Thus my posting of this thread, to get input from those who have gone through it all.  Always learn from the mistakes of others!  Although I cannot spend the money to get the lenses that are upwards of $2,000, I am going to buy the best I can.

A good wide-angle for landscapes.  Suggested was Nikon 10-24mm

A macro that can double as a portrait lens.  Nikon 105mm

Much later, for wildlife/birds - Nikon 300mm f/4 + TC

Thinking about a fast prime for walk-around lens.  Nikon 35mm f/1.8

Any comments/suggestions on this would be much appreciated.  Thank you for your input.

Susan

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GreenMountainGirl

Susan

  1. You may also want to consider a Nikon 12-24 DX Afs f4. Its not as wide as the 10-24, but with a constant top aperture, it produces very good images. its corners are better than the 10-24, and its distortion at 12mm is not as radical as the 10-24 at 10. It is expensive. 
  2. Since you have a D7000, the AFS DX 85 3.5 macro is an alternative. Photozone has a comprehensive review of this lens on your camera: http: //www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-aps-c-lens-tests/636-nikkorafsdx85vr  .  I would agree that the Nikon 105 vr is preferred, but is twice the cost.  
  3. The 300 f4 is a lovely lens. I wish I hadn't sold it. There is a good chance that a new model with VR will be coming out. Since you are not buying  right away, either wait until the new one comes out, or when it does come out, buy the current model used or on discount. The current model does have a slight flaw. Its tripod mount is flimsy. Kirk has a remedy at about $170.  
  4. I have no problem with you wanting a 35 1.8 DX

My only question is do you intend to go full frame (FX) at some point in the future? If you do, only buy DX lenses that you absolutely need. Buy the rest of lenses that will handle FX cameras. I am now out of DX and still have two lenses which I will be selling.

good luck

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Nikon D1X Nikon D610 Nikon D810 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8D ED-IF +23 more
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NancyP
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to GreenMountainGirl, Mar 28, 2013

Buy a relatively cheap 50mm f/1.8 lens, so you will have some ability to get narrower DOF and to shoot in low light. This will be a nice portrait lens. Then, for macro, buy a reversing ring sized to fit your 50mm lens. This will let you play with macro for approximately ten to fifteen bucks over the cost of the lens, for a total charge of ~$210.00 to $220.00 plus tax. Or, you could pick a non-reporting cheapo set of extension rings for close to the same price as the reversing ring.

Also, watch what focal lengths you typically shoot at, and whether there are any shots you wanted but couldn't get because the focal length wasn't there.

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GreenMountainGirl
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Re: What would be a good basic lens collection?
In reply to nelsonal, Mar 29, 2013

nelsonal wrote:

I didn't think of it before but you could do the same for 105mm, too.  I think the 18-105 hits about 1:5 magnification which isn't close to 1:1 magnification though it'd be a reasonably close to the portrait lens.

Great idea!  Why didn't I think of that?...  It wouldn't be quite the same, though, since the 105mm micro will function a bit differently on a DX camera.  I don't have any closeup lenses to add, wonder if there is another way to simulate?

Regardless of how accurate it will be, I'll try it after I play at 35mm for a while!

Susan

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Nikon D7000 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Sigma 150mm F2.8 EX DG Macro HSM +2 more
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