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Thread: Advice For My First Prime Lens

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Hi folks,

    I've been dwelling over which lens to get as my first prime for a few days now. I've got a Nikon D7000 and was looking for a prime lens to do portraits with. My original thought was the 1.8D - it's affordable and seems to have some good review.

    My decision became a bit more complicated with the purchase of a D5100 as my wife's Christmas present. This will be her first digital SLR - prior to that she used to have a Canon AE1 which was all manual focus. However she's gotten used to the age of auto focus so that's thrown the 1.8G into the mix.

    Then I became really confused when I started reading about 1.4s - both the Nikons D and G versions and the Sigma.

    Right now, I'm thinking that I can probably get away with the 1.8 and probably the G just to keep things civil with my wife. But I'd be interested to hear if autofocussing aside, if the G is better than the D as a lens and whether or not people think I should save up a bit more for a 1.4 instead of a 1.8.

    Thanks in advance!

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    epmi314's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    I started a thread in efforts to research a similar subject. You can find it here...

    Nikon Lens for portraits

    Frankly, I have not made any purchases and can't really help you with your decision but I thought a little similar info might help. My gut says the less expensive 1.8 Nikkor lens is the right choice. Sigma also has a "cash for clunkers" deal going and you should be able to find 50-75 bucks off the more expensive Sigma 1.4 which has gotten wonderful reviews.

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by epmi314 View Post
    I started a thread in efforts to research a similar subject. You can find it here...

    Nikon Lens for portraits

    Frankly, I have not made any purchases and can't really help you with your decision but I thought a little similar info might help. My gut says the less expensive 1.8 Nikkor lens is the right choice. Sigma also has a "cash for clunkers" deal going and you should be able to find 50-75 bucks off the more expensive Sigma 1.4 which has gotten wonderful reviews.
    I did read that thread earlier but I'm afraid I'm not starting off with the advantage of having an 85mm prime lens My other lenses are okay but suffer in low light situations and I'm really only taking candid shots so I can't justify the purchase of any lights.

    The reviews on the Sigma are good but even with that sale, it's still probably beyond my budget I think. Definitely keen to move forward with a prime lens although after reading your thread, I'm wondering if I should include the 85mm in the mix. I've been reasonably happy using the 17-70mm Sigma lens that I have for the portraits though and just wanted something that worked better in low light.

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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Hi Malcolm,

    Just be aware that there's "no such thing as a free lunch" -- once you shart shooting at apertures wider than about F2.8 your depth of field can become VERY shallow (often just a few millimeters) - to the point where you'll usually have one eye in focus and the other out of focus. I'd suggest that you'd normally get a far better result using an aperture at least in the F4 region, and increasing the ISO on your camera.

    Happy to post some demos of what F1.2 is like in terms of DoF if you like.

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Hi Malcolm,

    Just be aware that there's "no such thing as a free lunch" -- once you shart shooting at apertures wider than about F2.8 your depth of field can become VERY shallow (often just a few millimeters) - to the point where you'll usually have one eye in focus and the other out of focus. I'd suggest that you'd normally get a far better result using an aperture at least in the F4 region, and increasing the ISO on your camera.

    Happy to post some demos of what F1.2 is like in terms of DoF if you like.
    Thanks Colin - that helps a lot actually. My current weapon of choice is a Sigma 17-70mm 2.8 - 4 lens. I've been reading though that most lenses are a bit sharper stopped down a little which is why i was interested in the prime lens for portraits. Sounds like a 1.8 will do the job - just need to make a decision on the 50mm or the 85mm. At this stage I'm leaning towards the 1.8G I think.

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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Have a look at Thom's review of the 1.8G. He compares it to the 1.4G and the 1.8D. I have the 1.8D and got it at a good price and am pretty happy with it, especially if you use it wide open on the DX. The sharpness is pretty good and you get nice bokeh.
    The 1.8G seems to be better though and price wise it is still not an expensive lens.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Hi Malcolm,

    Just remember to double check before you hit "Add to Basket" that it is an AF-S lens, I am not convinced that the "G" designation is synonymous with "AF-S"; and the latter will be necessary for it to Auto Focus on your dearly beloved's D5100.

    I'd strongly recommend doing a shoot with the 17-70mm and see which focal lengths you use or need, it may suggest longer is the way to go, but remember the versatility of a zoom is hard to beat.

    If the apertures you're going to use will be in the range the 17-70 has already, why duplicate that range?

    I am not sure extra sharpness (ofa a prime) is necessarily something that's really needed for portraiture, probably just end up smoothing it out again in PP to give a better complexion

    Cheers,

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    Hi Malcolm,

    Just remember to double check before you hit "Add to Basket" that it is an AF-S lens, I am not convinced that the "G" designation is synonymous with "AF-S"; and the latter will be necessary for it to Auto Focus on your dearly beloved's D5100.

    I'd strongly recommend doing a shoot with the 17-70mm and see which focal lengths you use or need, it may suggest longer is the way to go, but remember the versatility of a zoom is hard to beat.

    If the apertures you're going to use will be in the range the 17-70 has already, why duplicate that range?

    I am not sure extra sharpness (ofa a prime) is necessarily something that's really needed for portraiture, probably just end up smoothing it out again in PP to give a better complexion

    Cheers,
    Thanks for the advice Dave and you're probably right about the lens's sharpness and smoothing out the complexion. The 17-70 is actually reasonably good and most of the portrait shots I take tend to be in the 40-70mm range so my thinking is that an 85 would be too narrow for me. I'm definitely getting the impression that perhaps I don't need a prime lens for portraiture with a reasonable DOF needed for portraiture and sharpness not so much an issue. I've actually been reasonably happy with the shots I've been getting - just need to work on my backgrounds

    I guess I'll rethink whether I need it or not, or whether the money would be better spent on a new flash or a 35mm prime lens.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    I guess I'll rethink whether I need it or not, or whether the money would be better spent on a new flash or a 35mm prime lens.
    Yes, I got the 50/1.4, (AF-S of course )
    I keep hankering after the 35mm, but as I don't use the 50mm much ....

    I'd really like a fast prime at 18 or 24mm, but the Nikon AF-S 24mm is silly money (being a pro grade lens)

    I've not yet started on flashes

    Cheers,

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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldcoastgolfer View Post
    I've been reading though that most lenses are a bit sharper stopped down a little which is why i was interested in the prime lens for portraits.
    Hi Malcolm,

    Yes and no. In theory yes, but in practice no; correct image sharpening will have a FAR bigger effect on the sharpness of an image than the difference between any two lenses. Additionally, by the time you print and image or down-sample it for internet display, the differences between a prime and quality zoom are indistinguishable. And (here comes the king-hit) the lack of DoF that comes from shooting at a wide aperture is likely to introduce FAR more softness to an image.

    I own 4 primes (inc the 85/1.2). but I seldom use any of them for portraiture (and I mostly shoot portraiture!).

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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Colin,

    Do you use your 24-70mm more on your portraits? or the 70-200mm?

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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    unsure about the 1.8 but the old style 1.4 can only be used on cameras with internal AF motors if you want to keep the autofocus,the D and the G refers to the quality of the glass,the main difference between the two are that the 1.4 is sharpest below F5 and the 1.8 is sharpest above F5, as low light lenses they are very good and the 1.8 is cheap as chips,i can agree with previous comments if your planning close up portrait work,the further you are away from the subject the more dof you have,cheers martyn ps oops i forgot to mention that the D is better than the G, its probably just coated with something to make it better but there ya go

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    Well, now like Scott I'm leaning towards sticking with what I've got Sounds like I might be better off finding a replacement for my old Tokina 28-210 instead - at least until I have a better idea of what I'm doing!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crovean View Post
    Do you use your 24-70mm more on your portraits? or the 70-200mm?
    Hi Chriss,

    It depends on what I'm shooting. I use the EF70-200mm F2.8L IS USM II for head and shoulders, and the EF24-70mm F2.8L USM for 3/4 and full body shots in the studio - same outside, but with the exception of keeping the former on longer as I can back up more (and it gives better compression).

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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    A few Nikon basics.

    AF-S - Silent Wave Motor built in....Auto Focus works with the lower priced bodies.
    AF-D - Older style lenses that need a body with an AF drive as they don't have a motor.
    G - Doesn't have an aperture ring - nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the lens.
    ED - Extra Low Dispersion - one to more higher quality elements in the optics.
    N - Nano Crystal Coatings - newer coating give lower internal reflections, light transmission and colour....apparently....they look good with a great big gold N on them :roll eyes:
    VR - Vibration Reduction - either original 2-3 stops or MkII with 3-4 stops

    Not to my opinion on the OP.

    If you're going for a 50mm and budget is tight go for the new f1.8 AF-S version - its much, much better optically than the older D version and it will AF on the D5100.
    If you have a bit more cash lying around then the AF-S 50mm f1.4 is even better again and is a beautiful bit of glass to own.

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Advice For My First Prime Lens

    My curiosity got the better of me - I'd like to know what it's like shooting a prime lens so i've ordered the f1.8 AF-S G lens. As much as i was intrigued by the 1.4, I couldn't justify the extra price premium at this point in time.

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