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Thread: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

  1. #1
    Dave A's Avatar
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    Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Right now on my D7100 I mostly use the kit lens (Nikon 18-140 F/3.5-5.6 ED VR) that came with it because I like it's versatility as far as zoom. Great for general walking around not knowing what might show up. It's an OK lens but I would like something with better low light performance in a zoom lens. Any recommendations? I'd like to stay under $1000 Cnd.

    Dave

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Hi Dave,

    I cannot make any recommendations (no experience), but some more thoughts and questions for you ...

    Given that you won't get that entire range of focal lengths, which end is your current shooting preference?

    Should people be suggesting something at the wider end (e.g. 18-ish to 70-ish), or the telephoto end; e.g. 70-ish to 200-ish.

    Have you thought about whether VR (aka IS) is important?
    Is the extra weight of (say) an f/2.8 going to be a problem?

    Bear in mind that if you go for a third party brand, the controls won't work like the Nikon ones you are used to, so if you retain the 18-140 to fill the 'other end' of the zoom range, swapping between them might mean coping with zoom control that works in the opposite direction - is that a potential frustration?

    Beware going for something older and cheaper if focus speed is an issue, while you do have the focus motor in your camera body, it works slower (I'm told) than the modern USM = ultrasonic (in-lens) motor lenses.

    Cheers, Dave

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    William W's Avatar
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    re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Right now on my D7100 I mostly use the kit lens (Nikon 18-140 F/3.5-5.6 ED VR) . . . I would like something with better low light performance in a zoom lens.
    >>>

    > Should people be suggesting something at the wider end (e.g. 18-ish to 70-ish), or the telephoto end; e.g. 70-ish to 200-ish.
    > VR?
    > Weight?
    . . . I'll wait for a response to Dave's questions, but add two more:

    Please better define what you mean by "low light performance" - i.e. that phrase could mean "I want better overall image quality when I use the lens wide open" // or it could mean "I want a faster maximum aperture so I can increase the Shutter Speed to arrest Subject Motion" // or it could man something else

    Also please describe the typical lighting conditions preferably giving a good idea of the typical EV, which can also be provide the typical shooting specs (Aperture Shutter Speed and ISO) e.g. "I am shooting in Jazz Bars with low-level stage lights, typically F/4 @ 1/15s @ ISO 3200, and I'd like to get up to at least as fast as 1/60s" or "I like shooting at night-time street portraits and cityscapes and I will not carry a tripod or monopod and I want less noise in my photos, typically I shoot at ISO6400 so any decrease in ISO would help"

    WW

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    re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Dave have a look at the Nikkor 70-300mm it is slower than your 18-140mm, with the D7100 you should have no problem shooting at 1600. This lens is a hidden gem for the money, it is very fast to focus, one of Nikkor's fastest good for wildlife and on a c-crop camera is as if 105-450mm on a full frame camera. You would be hard to go wrong with this lens. That said you have to check out your choices to find what it is you are really looking for.

    Cheers: Allan

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    re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    I am a Canon guy so I won't specifically recommend any Nikon lenses but, rather, offer this generalization.

    My two main go-to lenses for my 1.6x cameras are a mid-range zoom with a constant aperture of f/2.8 and image (shake) stabilization. My lens is the EFS 17-55mm f/2.8 IS...

    I pair this with a 70-200mm telephoto zoom with a fixed aperture and with image stabilization. My lens is the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS. I decided on this lens because of size and weight. Of course, the fact that it is considerably less expensive than the larger and heavier f/2.8 models was an added bonus...

    I probably shoot 90% of my imagery with these two lenses and, excepting long-range sports or wildlife and macro photography, could happily get along with two lenses of this type for all of my shooting. Adding a 1.4x teleconverter and an extension tube or set of tubes can increase the utility of the telephoto lens with little extra weight and at a nominal cost.

    I use these two lenses on a pair of 7D bodies which eliminates the need to switch lenses in the field. Having these two focal ranges at my finger tips greatly negates the need for an extended range zoom while insuring top-notch image quality, fast and accurate auto focus and good build quality...

    Some photographers sneer at image stabilization in a mid-range zoom lens but, I find it an important asset for low light shooting while image stabilization in the telephoto lens divorces me from the need for bright shooting conditions.

    I own several hotshoe flashes and these flashes, properly used also increase the versatility of my camera/lens outfits...

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    re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    As others have said, you need to explain what you mean by better low light performance. AF speed? Wider aperture? If wider aperture do you plan to use it or just want more light for better AF performance? To significantly improve image quality with a zoom lens you'll have to get into ranges that are limited to 3x or less like 17-50, 24-70, 70-200, etc. So as also already mentioned you'll have to decide what range is most important to you (what range you shoot most with).

    Sigma makes a 17-50 f2.8 that produces excellent IQ. But it has an issue on the D7100 that the VR doesn't switch off for a minute or so each time you use it and it runs down the battery. Not to mention it has to be hard on the VR. If you don't use VR but occasionally that could be a good one for you. I used one on a shoot with a 7100 and the images were excellent. But I sent it back to Amazon due to the VR issue. I posted about my experience with the lens in this thread.

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    re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Right now on my D7100 I mostly use the kit lens (Nikon 18-140 F/3.5-5.6 ED VR) that came with it because I like it's versatility as far as zoom. Great for general walking around not knowing what might show up. It's an OK lens but I would like something with better low light performance in a zoom lens. Any recommendations? I'd like to stay under $1000 Cnd.

    Dave
    While you are asking for recommendations for a fast zoom, my first inclination is to suggest a prime or two (35 1.8, 85 1.8, for example). That would leave you with your kit zoom for range and primes for speed, a good, complementary combination. Primes are going to be faster than zooms and have less distortion. If a zoom is required, I can suggest my Sigma 17-70. It is not a fixed 2.8 but it is faster than your kit. I prefer going out to 70mm over having a fixed aperture. It is very good on my D7100. Good luck!

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    I also have the (Nikon 18-140 F/3.5-5.6 ED VR) on my D7100 but I have purchased the reasonably priced AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300 f/4.5 -5 .6 GED VR lens which I have found to be excellent for it's price range. I am no expert but I find the images I have taken are sharp and I think it's very good value. In the UK it was only £224.00.

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    ionian's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    The 18-140 is an absolute gem - the VR allows decent low light performance as long as you aren't shooting low light action, in which case you probably need a specialist (and expensive) lens like the 70-200 f2.8. As it covers just about all of your shooting needs, the questions that Dave and others have asked will help steer you in the right direction. I have the same set up as you - if it helps, I use the 18-140 more than any other lens.

    I also have the tamron 70-300VC for nature and I plan to do some Motorsport with it in the warmer months, 35 f1.8 prime as a general low light lens, 50 f1.8 as it was cheap (although I wish I could swap this for the 85mm), it makes a decent portrait lens on the crop sensor camera, although others will disagree -Manfred, I'm looking at you. My only other wish is a ultra wide, but I'd rarely use it so it waits for a lottery win.

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Hi Dave,

    There's no one particular strategy for selecting lenses, considering your costs constraints two might be helpful. Find a price list and see if you can relax your threshold based on what you see is available. Another would be to analyze the shots you took with the 18-140 and see at what focal length you tend to shoot. I was at a recent indoor event and had only two lenses with me, the 70-300mm 4.5-5.6 and the 85mm f/1.8. I never once took out the 70-300mm lens even though I typically shoot 80% of all my images with this lens. The 85mm met most of my needs, although I could have used a longer or shorter focal length in a few occasions; I weathered through the evening capturing over 500 shots and had a multitude of keepers. Analyzing the shots afterward, I saw very few occasions where I would have benefited from a zoom lens, my main obstacle of the evening were a few incidents where the lens wouldn't auto focus at close range. One other question would be: do you have a second camera body and if so would you consider carrying two bodies? Two cameras would make your decision so much easier as you could attach a prime to one and continue using your 18-140mm on the other. I could have easily carried two cameras on the night of the event, but I'd rather move lightly for indoor, crowded events and leave the two camera system for outdoor events.

    http://www.popphoto.com/gear/2014/12/how-to-buy-lens

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    Dave A's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Thank you for all the replies, questions, and advice. I will try to add some more information and better explain what I mean by "better low light performance."

    Firstly I should add my current lenses. Nikon AF-S DX 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR, Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G, Nikon AF-S DX Micro 85mm F3.5G ED VR, Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G IF.

    I will give an example of recently when I thought I needed better low light performance. I just got back from Florida but while there last week the wife and I went for a walk along a boardwalk through a mangrove forest. The overhead canopy was thick and only let minimal light through. I was using the Nikon 18-140mm F3.5-5.6 lens and found that I was using it at 18mm and right up to the full available zoom depending on what I was shooting. I couldn't leave the boardwalk to get closer to a subject for fear of crocs and water depth.

    After ready the replies to my post here it got me to thinking about a different way to possibly approach my concern. First I thought I could trade in my D7100 for a D7200 which has better high ISO performance but this would be expensive for what little improvement I would get. Then as I took a second look at the images I took in FL I realized I'm very stingy on upping my ISO. I use manual ISO and usually shoot between ISO 100 to 400. Only occasionally going as high as 800. I did some research and found that the D7100 has given many people acceptable images at up to ISO 1600. Acceptable being different for different people of course.

    So should I experiment shooting at higher ISO's in low light conditions to see if I'm happy with the result? This would allow for faster shutter speeds and more flexibility in choosing an aperture. Thinking out loud here.

    Dave



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    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    Thank you for all the replies, questions, and advice. I will try to add some more information and better explain what I mean by "better low light performance."

    Firstly I should add my current lenses. Nikon AF-S DX 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR, Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G, Nikon AF-S DX Micro 85mm F3.5G ED VR, Nikon AF-S VR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G IF.

    I will give an example of recently when I thought I needed better low light performance. I just got back from Florida but while there last week the wife and I went for a walk along a boardwalk through a mangrove forest. The overhead canopy was thick and only let minimal light through. I was using the Nikon 18-140mm F3.5-5.6 lens and found that I was using it at 18mm and right up to the full available zoom depending on what I was shooting. I couldn't leave the boardwalk to get closer to a subject for fear of crocs and water depth.

    After ready the replies to my post here it got me to thinking about a different way to possibly approach my concern. First I thought I could trade in my D7100 for a D7200 which has better high ISO performance but this would be expensive for what little improvement I would get. Then as I took a second look at the images I took in FL I realized I'm very stingy on upping my ISO. I use manual ISO and usually shoot between ISO 100 to 400. Only occasionally going as high as 800. I did some research and found that the D7100 has given many people acceptable images at up to ISO 1600. Acceptable being different for different people of course.

    So should I experiment shooting at higher ISO's in low light conditions to see if I'm happy with the result? This would allow for faster shutter speeds and more flexibility in choosing an aperture. Thinking out loud here.

    Dave


    I think shooting at higher ISO is a good way to go, even with a fast lens there are times when shooting wide open still doesn't do it; especially if the subject is moving. If the subject is stationary, then any lens will do if mounted on a tripod, however the tripod would be more suitable as a weapon if you're doing your shooting from Florida Everglades. By the way, I think you can go safely to ISO 3200 with a D7100, it might require a bit more post processing but you'll find you have quite a few keepers.

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Dave, I agree 100% with what Allan says. The 70-300 Nikkor FX is one of my faves. Having said that, all the other comments apply in that the 70-300/105-450 range may not be best for what you typically shoot - but it's a great lens and great value.

    Bill

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    I would agree with playing more with higher iso - I shoot a d7100 and a tamron 70-300 - this was on a grey day at 1000 iso full image reduced to 1024 jpg from raw and a crop treated the same way - nothing else done except LR base sharpen and lens correction.

    As you say its a bit personal as to what you can / will accept result wise for noise but i find it acceptable

    Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Yes, like you I like to keep the ISO down but there are certain situations where it's a case of bump it up or miss the shot. I'm terrible for looking at the noise at 100% and pulling a face, but then not printing bigger than 7x5". I'll happily go to 1600 on the d7100, as Lightroom does a good job of toning the noise down IMO, and 3200 is quite usable if you're not printing posters!

    Of course it is a matter of personal preference, but I have read that the noise from these Nikon cameras is considered "pleasant" with a fine grain that doesn't detract from an image and is one of the easier ones to remove in post. I have little to compare it to - my old Canon was awful past ISO800 and I didn't have the pp skills then anyway - just passing on what I've read.

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernFocus View Post
    .

    Sigma makes a 17-50 f2.8 that produces excellent IQ. But it has an issue on the D7100 that the VR doesn't switch off for a minute or so each time you use it and it runs down the battery. [/URL]
    interesting -does not do that on mine, but it does not scroll smoothly when viewing image on back screen - I can live with that

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave A View Post
    ...So should I experiment shooting at higher ISO's in low light conditions to see if I'm happy with the result?..
    By all means. It's easy to do and only you know what acceptable noise levels are to you. It's easy and (arguably) free to do your own testing. Much depends on how you use your images. If you don't plan to print large or crop heavily, a lot of noise can be tolerated. Also not all noise is equal. High ISO noise on a properly exposed image is easier to correct than noise on an under exposed image at lower ISO. Until I learned this (through my own experience) I also used to routinely hold my ISO too low. I'm fairly picky about noise and when I had the D7100 was comfortable with ISO800 for high quality work. For images intended for web or small prints, I would easily go to ISO1600 and sometimes higher depending on subject. I upgraded to the D7200 and it lives up to the claim of a full stop better ISO performance. With it I routinely shoot at ISO1600 for high quality images and know a couple of pro photographers who do the same.

    It is a common misconception that large aperture lenses will solve exposure challenges in low light shooting. Other than ultra-wide angle, when you drop below f4 you're depth of field starts becoming a limiting factor for many shooting situations. As mentioned before, there are other advantages to wider aperture lenses even if you never shoot at those apertures but it's a mistake to think they will solve your exposure issues for anything other than specific situations. If you're utilizing the full range of the 18-140mm, I'm guessing you're not shooting portraiture, wildlife, etc. where flat DOF is desirable. Honestly if you're happy with your current lenses and noise is your issue, a camera body upgrade may be a better solution than a new lens. You could likely sell your 7100 and upgrade to 7200 for much less than what you indicated you are willing to spend.

    Quote Originally Posted by marlunn View Post
    interesting -does not do that on mine, but it does not scroll smoothly when viewing image on back screen - I can live with that
    Confused by this. What does viewing/scrolling have to do with the lens? Are you talking about live view or viewing captured images?

  18. #18

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Considering that you're biggest concern is noise, determine whether that's actually a viable concern. If so, then determine the causes of the noise. Only then will you be able to also determine the most viable solution. I mention that because a lot of people have an impractical view of noise in my opinion. That's mostly because they understandably haven't taken the time to think through all of the factors that generate noise. If I was in your situation, my step-by-step approach would be as follows:

    First, your camera model should not be generating much noise even in low-light situations if your scene is properly exposed and focused. So, examine the histograms of your images SOOC to determine whether you are exposing properly. Then determine whether your images are sharply in focus. If not, no change in equipment is going to be nearly as helpful as improvement in your capture technique.

    Second, let's assume that you have determined that you are generally properly exposing and focusing your images. Now determine whether in fact a faster lens might really be a reasonable solution to your issue. As you ponder that possibility, keep in mind that when you use a shallow depth of field, the parts of the scene that are intentionally out of focus are more likely to display noise than the areas that are intentionally in focus. Using a lens that has a larger aperture will make it possible to use a shallower depth of field, which in turn will lead to more areas of the scene that are out of focus and thus with more areas of the scene that have the potential to display noise. My point is that using a faster lens will not necessarily lead to generating less noise and in fact can lead to generating the same amount of noise in a larger area of the scene.

    Third, determine the output(s) you intend to regularly use. As an example, I am never concerned about noise that I can't see when the image is displayed at 30% or smaller. That's considerably larger than displaying an image so all of it can be seen at once on a 1920 x 1080 monitor or here in the CiC forum. If noise is visible at a size needed for a different output, such as a large print, I deal with it then and only then. My long-winded point is that you may not have a valid concern for noise if you don't regularly produce prints that are large enough to display the noise when viewing them at a reasonable viewing distance. (I italicized that word for emphasis, as a lot of people make determinations about prints when viewing them at an unreasonably close distance.)

    Last, if making all of those determinations confirms for you that your current equipment is generating more noise than meets your threshold, I'm reasonably confident that you'll also come to the conclusion that a better quality camera sensor will be your solution, not a better quality lens.
    Last edited by Mike Buckley; 10th February 2016 at 08:44 PM.

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Buckley View Post
    ...if making all of those determinations confirms for you that your current equipment is generating more noise than meets your threshold, I'm reasonably confident that you'll also come to the conclusion that a better quality camera sensor will be your solution, not a better quality lens.
    Yes

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    Re: Lens recommendation for Nikon D7100

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernFocus View Post

    Confused by this. What does viewing/scrolling have to do with the lens? Are you talking about live view or viewing captured images?
    Dan, its when viewing captured images only with this lens its not a smooth scroll across the image - statement from Sigma -

    The lens is compatible with the Nikon D7100 but the OS unit is in the standby mode for up to a minute after shooting so the scanning feature of the camera will be slowed down for that time period. This behavior is related to the operation of the OS unit of the lens when it is used in conjunction with the Nikon D7100. The OS unit stays in communication with the camera body for about 1 minute after a camera’s auto-off feature shuts down the camera between exposures while still in the on mode. This is because our lenses are designed to stand by for operation; Nikon cameras have no provision for determining the status of the OS unit. This will also cause the need to press the multi selector of the Nikon D7100 each time to scroll or zoom in when reviewing your images on the D7100 LCD screen. These symptoms only occur on the Nikon D7100 camera, there is nothing wrong with the lens. If and when you recognize the phenomena mentioned above, please note they will not cause any malfunction to the camera body, you can keep using our products without any worry.

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