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Thread: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

  1. #1

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    Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Dear Folks,

    I am close to purchasing a Nikon D5100 (refurbished and body only). I would like to purchase lenses separately. Looking for a wide angle, macro and general "walking around" lens. I am a bit confused regarding the "wide aperture" lens. For example, I understand that a wide aperture lens allows more light in and blurs the background, but can't the same think be achieved by using a tripod and a wide aperture setting on the camera? And do any lenses "do it all" from wide to a decent zoom?

    Thanks to all who respond. I appreciate the knowledge and helpfulness (friendship) of this great group.

    P.S. I will be attempting to do HDR along with some macro initially. (And maybe some portraits later).

    Dave

  2. #2
    herbert's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Hi Dave,

    You cannot simulate a wide aperture lens with camera settings. Think of the lens as the hole that the light passes through. The camera is the thing the light hits. The size of the hole (aperture) is entirely dependent on the lens. The bigger the hole, the shallower the depth of field so the larger the blur for out of focus objects.

    A tripod can allow you to simulate a wide field of view. This is because you can take a few shots at different angles and join them up using software to make a wider picture. The tripod makes this easier than handheld because you have a stable base to control the changing angles.

    Your request for a lens that covers macro, wide angle and standard walk around is a difficult one. The first two categories usually require a specific lens. However Nikon make a very good 18-200mm lens which will be a good start point for a lot of photography.

    Instead of a macro lens you could try an extension tube. This is a spacer between the lens and the camera. If you imagine a cone of light projected out of the back of the lens, adding a spacer will make the cone spread wider. The camera sensor is then only in the middle of the wider cone. This effectively magnifies the middle of the image.

    Extensions tubes are relatively cheap. However they magnify any errors in the projected image so can produce images less crips than a true macro lens. You also lose the ability to focus on things very far away. Though for macro this is not a big problem. You just have to take them off to photo other things.

    I do not use Nikon equipment. So I cannot tell you how well the 18-200 lens takes extension tubes, I.e. are the images any good. There will be others on the forum that can provide more lens advice.

    I hope you can find the right lens for your work.

    Alex

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Hi Dave,

    Quote Originally Posted by acroreef View Post
    For example, I understand that a wide aperture lens allows more light in and blurs the background, but can't the same think be achieved by using a tripod and a wide aperture setting on the camera?
    It is true you can use the camera on a tripod and a longer shutter speed to get the same exposure as using a faster lens, but that won't give you a narrow Depth of Field (DoF) e.g. it won't "blur the background", because the control on the camera can't open up the lens more than its maximum aperture.

    Quote Originally Posted by acroreef View Post
    And do any lenses "do it all" from wide to a decent zoom?
    I have the Nikon 18-200mm VR lens (f/3.5-f/5.6) as my walkabout lens, and after two years, I'd still recommend it. It is same diameter and hardly any longer than the kit lens (when not in use), but is far more versatile. I initially tried a Sigma 18-250mm, but had back focus problems, so personally I would advise against going there, but others have and seem happy (as I was at the time - until I nailed down the back focus issue).

    It is fair to say I hanker after something faster (wider aperture; say f/2.8), but that comes with significant price and weight penalties at 200mm.
    Same goes for ultra wide angle, I'd like something to cover the 10-18mm bit below where most lenses start, but these are specialist lenses, the 18-200mm is, in my opinion, a good balance of performance and zoom range - sure it isn't cheap (at about 590), but if you pay say 150, or even 400, it probably won't be as good.

    A case in point is the Nikon 70-300mm, which I got for birds and other wildlife because 200mm just isn't long enough for UK wildlife. It was about 440, it's not bad, but I don't think the bokeh (quality of its blurred backgrounds) is as nice as the 18-200mm, however, it is better than having to excessively crop down from the 200mm. The only alternatives being well over 1,000, more than I could justify.

    Also, that 18-200mm lens won't do macro, for that I have the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR lens, again not cheap, but I prefer to pay a bit more and not regret it later - plus I am fortunate enough to be able to afford these luxuries (occasionally).

    Either the 18-200mm or the 105mm macro can be used for portraits. I have used the 105mm for fast shooting with its f/2.8 aperture on occasion.

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th February 2012 at 04:43 PM. Reason: added last para

  4. #4

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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    my own choice of a walkabout lens would be the 16-85 f3.5-5.6 over the 18-200 Dave uses but there are pros and cons to both so go to sites like Photozone.de which allow you to look at full size samples and see what you think. You might also sacrifice range for a constant f2.8 zoom like those from Tamron and Sigma both 17-50 - these will able you to blur backgrounds (great for isolating a subject in a portrait) or for low light.

    The only downer of lenses like the 18-200 is focus breathing. the 18-200 is only 200 at infinity the closer you get the less "magnification" you get see here ---> http://www.cameralabs.com/features/18200_issue/

    People get het up about travel lenses (18-200, 18-250, 18-270) some love them some hate them. I'm agnostic as I do use one. For me you have to accept that you are sacrificing ultimate image quality for convenience. but then life is full of compromises!

    for macro photography? the 105 VR that Dave recommends gets excellent reviews. I use a Sigma 150 f2.8 also a good lens.

    portraits? a Nikon afs 50 f1.8 would be a nice shortish portrait lens. As Dave says you can certainly use the 105 for that but the f1.8 is handy to defocus background.

    Assuming you want to stick with Nikon only lenses then if it were me?
    Nikon 16-85 f3.5-5.6 - walk around
    Nikon 105 f2.8 VR - macro

    others to add later?
    Nikon 35 f1.8 - not mentioned but it's a lovely lens for the money
    Nikon 50 f1.8 - shortish portrait lens
    and a telephoto option?
    Nikon 70-300 f4.5-5.6

    my twopenceworth for what it's worth

  5. #5

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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    I'd agree re the 16-85mm for walkaround... it gives a slightly wider angle on APS-C (24mm FL equivalent, compared to 27mm from the 18-200)
    Test on Photozone for that is here: http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikko...kkor16853556vr and for the 18-200 here: http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikko...r182003556vrii
    If you do think of a 70-300mm it's also worth considering the Tamron (Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SP Di VC USD to give it's full name!! )
    PZ test (on Canon APS-C) here: http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/59...0f456vceosapsc
    Probably also worth checking out other reviews, e.g. at SLRGear

    Ian

  6. #6
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Personally, I don't understand the downer on focus breathing.
    It is my understanding all lenses do it, ok so maybe the 18-200mm does it more than most, but ....

    If no-one tells you about it, how would you even know it was happening?

    I certainly don't notice it in use - I zoom in, compose the shot and simultaneously focus, if I'm not quite as 'close' as another 200mm lens, how do I tell? (Do I care?)

    If the lens has any issue that is noticeable in everyday use, it is zoom creep, I do find it mildly annoying that after two+ years use, it has loosened up so I now have to keep a finger on the zoom ring while reviewing shots on the LCD, or if I need to reshoot, I have to re-zoom and re-compose. The 70-300mm doesn't do this. No doubt if I had the 18-200mm lens serviced, they could tighten it up again - maybe one day I will.

    I came from an 11x zoom range bridge camera, hence my choice of lens and having tried a kit lens for a fortnight once (before I had the 70-300mm), I was just bereft without 'my' extra zoom length. No, a short range zoom is not for me, at least, not unless it was fast, but that's because of my background. If you have only used say, a 5x zoom P&S, then a short standard zoom maybe fine.

    I still recommend the 18-200mm though
    For me, 115mm extra at the top end is better than 2mm extra at the bottom end - although I wouldn't say no to a 16-200mm

    Cheers,
    Last edited by Dave Humphries; 18th February 2012 at 07:43 PM.

  7. #7

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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Dave

    ALL zooms suffer from focus breathing to some degree - and the travel zooms more than most (mine does!). Nikon 's newish 70-200 f2.8 does as well and that garnered a lot of comment.

    I notice it more when swapping from one to a 70-300, yes you can zoom in and compose but I notice I have lost a bit of length especially at close distance.

    the Nikon 18-200 suffers from it no more than other zooms from Canon, sigma and Tamron. It is mentioned most because when launched it was one of the first travel zooms and unusual in being from Nikon.

    whether a travel zoom is for you... they are a compromise. And as I say I use one - they are useful.

    totally with you over the lens creep - flipping frustrating! they all suffer from it.

    cheers

    Pete

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    Goldcoastgolfer's Avatar
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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    I assume that if you're picking up a refurbished D5100 then budget is a consideration as well. If you can live without the telephoto end I can recommend the Sigma 17-70mmf/2.8-4 Macro lens. It is still my walk around lens and covers wide angle, reasonable macro reproduction at 1:2.7, less than 1 foot minimum focussing, and is a bit faster than the other lenses around without going to professional grade (with appropriate prices). It's long enough for portraiture work (some may argue with me on this point but I tend to shoot my portraits with a 50mm prime anyway) and most importantly it won't break the bank if you're starting off. The amount of times I use a telephoto lens I usually know in advance and rarely do it - mainly for sports and surfing photos.

    The only downside with this lens is that it can suck in dust into the front elements a bit faster than other lenses, but it's nothing that's overly troublesome.

  9. #9

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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Thank for the great information. A follow-up question please...

    If I buy a lens that blurs the background, i.e. one with a wide aperture, is there any way that I can take a photo with a strong depth of field, one where the background would be in focus? (If the background is a integral part of the photo?). Would this be accomplished with the camera?

    Thanks to all who respond.

    Dave.

  10. #10

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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Dave

    the blur is a property of the lens. if you take a portrait then you might want to really blur the background so you would set a fast/big aperture e.g. f1.8 etc. if you didn't want to blur the background then you would set a slow/small aperture.

    cheers

    Pete

  11. #11

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    Re: Lens Suggestions for Nikon D5100

    Quote Originally Posted by acroreef View Post
    If I buy a lens that blurs the background, i.e. one with a wide aperture, is there any way that I can take a photo with a strong depth of field, one where the background would be in focus? (If the background is a integral part of the photo?). Would this be accomplished with the camera?
    Dave.
    Hi Dave,
    In summary the answer to your first question is yes, and re accomplishing it with the camera a 'sort of yes', in that you'll (almost always) use the camera to set the aperture on the lens. You increase DoF by selecting a smaller aperture, e.g. f/11 and less (although there's an increasing trade-off with even smaller apertures as diffraction starts to affect resolution and therefore perceived DoF).

    One of the things I found really surprising was learning just how thin depth of field is at longer focal lengths with smaller apertures.
    I was wondering why I was finding it so difficult to nail the focus taking portraits with an 85mm lens on APS-C. I was trying to do this using the lens wide open at f/1.8.
    Well, the DoF at 10 feet with that lens at f/1.8 on APS-C is apparently from 9.75 to 10.2 feet... i.e only about half a foot..!
    There are several Depth of Field calculators on the web, e.g. here: http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

    The Depth of field you'll be able to get varies with Focal Length, Aperture and Distance to (main) subject / focus point... Try putting different figures into the DoF calculator to see the effects.
    Ian
    Last edited by IanCD; 19th February 2012 at 11:12 AM. Reason: Correction

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