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Thread: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

  1. #1
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    First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Hi Everone,

    I am looking to purchase my first digital slr very soon and I have decided on the Nikon D5100. I hope this will last me a good 2-5 years, depending on how fast I climb the learning curve, before I am in the market for a semi-pro to pro equipment. Hopefully by then the full frame slr's will be considerably more affordable. This is also the reason why I am looking to buy just the D5100 body and buying FX lenses. Would the following be good investment for lenses with my experience level? Or should I really consider the kit lenses?

    Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Lens for ultra wide angle shots
    Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G for lowlight and close settings
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR as a general purpose lens

    I might mention that I am buying all including the D5100 body except the ultra-wide angle lens as an open box item from Crutchfield. Deal or no deal? Any comments are welcome.


    Regards
    Wayne

  2. #2
    HDphotography's Avatar
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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Hell Wayne,
    For a first time DSLR user, I would recommend either the D5100 with the kit lens or just get the body and get the Nikon 35 mm prime lens. Stick with the DX format.
    Hope this helps.
    - Hemant

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    The D5100 will be just fine for starting out and should last for a long time. As for the lens I see no reason really why the kit lens won't do. Think of the kit lens as two lenses in one. If you have a kit lens of typical focal length, 18-55mm, then treat it as an 18mm and 55mm lens in one. The 18mm is a moderate wide-angle that is great for landscapes, architecture and environmental portraiture. The 55mm end is a short telephoto lens ideal for compressing perspective and taking portraits or closing in on details.
    That doesn’t mean you can’t use the in-between focal lengths, and there are times when you can’t avoid it, but by sticking with the shortest and longest focal lengths you will learn how those focal lengths behave. Lenses are the ‘eye’ of your camera system and your photos will improve as you learn the characteristics of each focal length.
    So for now I would work on learing my new camera and the skills needed to take good photos. As for Crutchfield I have delt with them many times over the years and have never had any problems with them.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    If you are considering moving on to a full-frame camera in a few years, you might want to be careful about spending too much money on crop-frame lenses. I am going on my own experience here. I bought a D90 about 4 years ago and bought the kit 18-55mm lens with the body. I picked up a 55-200 kit and ordered a f/2.8 11-16mm Tokina (the wide-angle Nikkor you are looking at had not come out at the time). I picked up the f/1.8 35mm prime as a walk about lens a bit later. I had been shooting film SLRs for decades prior to that.

    Within a year I was certain that I would be switching to a full-frame camera when Nikon did its next refresh on its product cycle and started accumulating full-frame lenses from there on in (one exception is that I picked up a really cheap Samyang fisheye lens). My D800 arrived in early May last year. By the time it arrived, I had all the lenses I needed to use with it except for a wide angle; and I picked up the FX f/2.8 14-24mm in the summer.

    In my view, perhaps I should have gone straight to the FX lenses; but having bought the kit lenses, I did not spend a great deal on the glass that I only use occasionally. Your camera body will last a few years (hopefully more than the 2-5 years you are looking at), but the lenses should have a considerably longer life.

    Anyways, something to think about...

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    If you are considering moving on to a full-frame camera in a few years, you might want to be careful about spending too much money on crop-frame lenses. I am going on my own experience here. I bought a D90 about 4 years ago and bought the kit 18-55mm lens with the body. I picked up a 55-200 kit and ordered a f/2.8 11-16mm Tokina (the wide-angle Nikkor you are looking at had not come out at the time). I picked up the f/1.8 35mm prime as a walk about lens a bit later. I had been shooting film SLRs for decades prior to that.

    Within a year I was certain that I would be switching to a full-frame camera when Nikon did its next refresh on its product cycle and started accumulating full-frame lenses from there on in (one exception is that I picked up a really cheap Samyang fisheye lens). My D800 arrived in early May last year. By the time it arrived, I had all the lenses I needed to use with it except for a wide angle; and I picked up the FX f/2.8 14-24mm in the summer.

    In my view, perhaps I should have gone straight to the FX lenses; but having bought the kit lenses, I did not spend a great deal on the glass that I only use occasionally. Your camera body will last a few years (hopefully more than the 2-5 years you are looking at), but the lenses should have a considerably longer life.

    Anyways, something to think about...
    That's exactly my take on the lenses. I've been doing quite a bit of research on what to buy and majority of what I've been getting is to invest the money in the glass. I do plan on keeping the D5100 as a secondary when I move on to a pro series body but the lenses I have listed will definitely last me for a long time. What's the difference between learning on a kit lens of 18-55mm to a zoom lense that's 28-300mm or a wide angle lens from 10-24mm? I think aside from the speed, where both lenses are at f/3.5, the only step up would be to get the f/2.8 lenses or the prime lenses at f/1.8 or f1.4. That is why I decided on the 35mm f/1.8G so I have at least 1 fast lens in my starter kit.
    Last edited by ludawg; 14th January 2013 at 06:23 PM.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    OTOH.. You might look into why you need a full frame camera. Then you may look into purchasing a used Canon 5D (either the Classic or the 5Dii) which would put you into an affordable full frame right off the bat. I suspect that there may also be a bargain in used Nikon FF gear...

    While I agree that full-frame equipment may give some photographers an advantage, I suggest that very good to excellent results can be obtained by a skilled photographer using crop format equipment with top line lenses.

    I shoot with a Canon 7D and a 40D usually with 17-55mm f/4L IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses. IMO, I would rather shoot with two 1.6x cameras + top line glass than with a single full frame camera.

    Of course, it would all depend on what the final results of your imagery would be. If I were shooting professionally again, I would likely opt for full frame gear...

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by ludawg View Post
    Hi Everone,



    Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Lens for ultra wide angle shots
    Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G for lowlight and close settings
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR as a general purpose lens
    Wayne I purchased the Nikor 28-300 VR lens about a year ago to use with my D200 which I knew I would be upgrading to a FX body (hopefully D800 in a few months). The lens is performing very well and meets all my general purpose requirements.

    My wide angle lens is a Sigma 15-30mm also FX compatible and the only other lens I would like would be 180 or 200mm micro capable of 1:1.

    I think depending on your interests you would have a pretty good kit with your proposed lenses.

    Note: The Sigma 15-30mm is fairly bulky and once I go to FX I may look at getting a fixed wide angle at about 20mm to save weight when travelling.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    I think after reviewing what you all have suggested I'm going to go with:

    Nikon D5100 w/ AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
    Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

    This will allow me to have the kit lens to experiment with, 35mm for low light situations, and a nice zoom lens for distance. Overall, it will drop the cost significantly. What do you all think? Is it possible to tweak the lens selection any further than this?

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Looks good. I won't comment on the 35mm 1.8 as I would not use it enough to warrant me getting one although I was at folk club music performance last year where one would have helped.

    As soon as you try and get under that 18mm focal length the prices leap enormously. You may (will) find you sometimes would like something a bit wider but the extra cost probalbly at this stage is not warranted but do keep an eye out for a second hand ultra wide lens you may well find a bargin (well anyway a gotta have).

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by ludawg View Post
    I think after reviewing what you all have suggested I'm going to go with:

    Nikon D5100 w/ AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR
    Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
    Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

    This will allow me to have the kit lens to experiment with, 35mm for low light situations, and a nice zoom lens for distance. Overall, it will drop the cost significantly. What do you all think? Is it possible to tweak the lens selection any further than this?
    If cost is the issue, then look at either the 55-200mm DX (about 1/4 the cost of the 28-300mm) or the 55-300mm DX, about 1/3 the cost of the 28-300mm. You have the focal lengths covered off from 28-55mm.

    When I got my D90 I was shooting with both the 18-55mm and the 55-200mm, while my wife had the 18-200mm on her D90. My investment was less than 1/2 of my wife spent on her lens, and from a image quality standpoint there was really no difference. The downside was that I did have to change lenses more often and my lenses have plastic lens mounts, i.e. the lens is not as robust as the 18-200mm.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Manfred cost is always an issue (well for me with Scots forefathers). I think as the plan is to move to FF in a few years Wayne wants have the most versatile kit where the main lens is FX compatible.
    Last edited by pnodrog; 15th January 2013 at 02:03 AM.

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    Moderator GrumpyDiver's Avatar
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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by pnodrog View Post
    Manfred cost is always an issue (well for me with Scots forefathers). I think as the plan is to move to FF in a few years Wayne wants have the most versatile kit where the main lens is FX compatible.
    Understood, as I did suggest he might want to consider going with full-frame lenses in a previous response. He did ask where else he might save some money, so that was the gist of my response. The 28-300 is a lens that people either love or hate, so it is a lens worth thinking long and hard about. I would probably have a hard look at the new f/4 70-200mm as the reviews have been quite good, but it is a bit more expensive and has a bit less range.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by GrumpyDiver View Post
    Understood, as I did suggest he might want to consider going with full-frame lenses in a previous response. He did ask where else he might save some money, so that was the gist of my response. The 28-300 is a lens that people either love or hate, so it is a lens worth thinking long and hard about. I would probably have a hard look at the new f/4 70-200mm as the reviews have been quite good, but it is a bit more expensive and has a bit less range.
    I have one and love would not be the right word but it is an extremely useful and versatile lens and with a slight tweaking with the lens adj. in lightroom I doubt that at least up to a 16"x20" print that anyone could tell the difference between it and a lot of much more expensive lenses. The real trick which people seem to ignore is to take a good photograph.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    This is just me but I would save a few bucks and go with the Nikon AF-S 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, since you already got the 28mm range cover in the 18-55 lens
    Last edited by Melkus; 15th January 2013 at 09:42 AM.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    I can comment on your selection even though I use Canon gear, since many of the lens focal ranges are very similar.

    The first lens that I would purchase for any lens setup is a mid-range zoom lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture. The mid range zoom is my workhorse and I use the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. The combination of a constant f/2.8 aperture and IS capability really makes this lens shine. I suspect that Nikon has a lens something like that one in their inventory. If not, Tamron and Sigma produce mid-range zooms with constant f/2.8 aperture. I never thought that I would need image stabilization in a lens of this focal range and I was right. I don't "NEED" IS but, that capability combined with a great low level auto focus really makes this lens a good low light level performer.

    My next lens would be a telephoto zoom with a constant aperture, relatively light weight and the capability to accept a 1.4x TC without destroying image quality and while retaining auto focus capability. I use the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS for this purpose and if I were shooting Nikon gear; I would look into their 70-200mm f/4 Lens...

    I can shoot 90-95% of my imagery with these two lenses.

    I have a wider angle (12-24mm Tokina f/4) which fills a need and also have some long telephoto primes. I bought a Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens several years ago on eBay for about $100 (USD) and that lens, although it is an older version) fills the need for occasional macro work...

    But, if I were needing to shoot with a pair of lenses, the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS and 70-200mm f/4L IS lenses would be all I absolutely needed...

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    I don't see the sense in buying a lens for your next hypothetical camera. There will be a lot of changes between your current DX camera and some future generation FX camera, assuming you ever actually buy one. If you buy a lens in anticipation that you will like its range on a different format camera, why would you like it on this one? And you may discover that the quality of the glass just isn't up to the future camera anyway. A good friend of mine absolutely loved an old 24-120 lens on his D200. When he got a D800 recently, he decided the lens was crap and went out and bought his new best friend -- the 24-70 f/2.8 Nikkor. He had really thought that the old lens would be every bit as wonderful on the new camera, but it just wasn't.

    I happen to love my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 on my D5000. Everybody says that this lens is really an FX lens and I should use one of the 17-50ish lenses on a cropped frame. But the reality is that I much prefer the framing of this lens on the DX. My guess is that, if I moved up to an FX format -- even if I still found the lens to be nice and shrp on the new camera (it has a reputation for soft corners on FXes) -- I would not like the field of view, and would want something a tad longer for my general-purpose lens.

    So my feeling is that you should buy lenses that you love with the camera you've got. If they work on your next camera, great. If they don't, you haven't been a fool for buying something that doesn't work right for you now. Or so ISTM.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    Thanks for all your input. I finally made the decision and made the purchase. I bought the Nikon D5100 with the Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR kit lens, Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Zoom lens, and the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G(the nifty fifty). It's nearly impossible for me to try out any lenses at my location so before making a major purchase I would definitely like to get my hands on and play with it. I think for me, at this point, it is the most economical, versatile, and safe puchase. With this kit I have enough to learn and experiment with for a while. Might I mention that I bought all as open box items from Crutchfield and with the money I saved I purchased their 3 year spills & drops warranty. Once I progress from a beginner to an amateur and when I have access to a local photo equipment store I will definitely look into some of the more high end lens. Thanks again for all your kind advice.

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    Re: First Digital SLR and lens advice.

    That sounds like a terrific place to start. Enjoy!

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