I need help deciding what brand and type of lens to buy

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by jhbates, Dec 8, 2006.

  1. jhbates

    jhbates TPF Noob!

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    Hi folks. I have decided to upgrade from my point and click camera and have research and found the Nikon D80 to be what I like most. What I am not sure about is which lens I need to buy to go along with it. I have three active boys who I want to be able to photograph and be able to blow pictures up to poster size. I need something close to mid range distance and then also feel like I need something that will go 300mm range. Is there a big difference in manufacturer quality? Would I be best served staying with all Nikon lens or would some of the other brands do the same and be cheaper?
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    You can get 'the same but cheaper' with off brand lenses.
    Every lens manufacturer has gems...and lemons. Usually you can get a general idea of quality by the price...the good ones are expensive. Sigma, Tamron & Tokina are some of the better lens makers that make lenses for Nikon cameras. Nikon probably makes very best ones (for Nikon)...but you will pay a premium for the pro lenses.

    If you are not sure what you want...the kit lens that often comes with the camera, would be a good lens to start with. It's not a 'great' lens...but it's pretty good...and the price is right.

    For active kids...a 'fast' lens will be a benefit. By 'fast', I mean a lens that has a large maximum aperture (low F number). For a zoom lens...that means F2.8. F2.8 zoom lenses don't come cheap though.

    Another alternative is a prime (non-zoom) lens. They can be faster than zoom lenses...and the optical quality is often much higher, for the price...which is good if you want to make large prints.

    You want something that zooms to 300mm...do you want an all-in-one lens...or would two or three different lenses be OK for you? The all-in-one lenses have to make a lot of compromises...so they are not fast and the image quality is not great.

    If you let us know what your budget is...we can make better suggestions.
     
  3. jhbates

    jhbates TPF Noob!

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    Mike- thanks for the info. I was looking at about $1200 for the camera and all the lens. I would rather have multiple lens than just one. That price seems to be the going rate on ebay for now. 2 Nikon brand lens 30-80 mm and 70-300 mm.
     
  4. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    well, off brand is often cheaper... but brand lenses, such as original nikon or canon often have a much higher resale value! so if you ever rearrange your lens-zoo, the brand lenses are an advantage.

    i recently sold a 3 year old sigma zoom and a 4 year old canon prime. i consider that particular zoom of better quality... still the canon went for only 10% under today's price for a new one ... whereas the sigma went for 30 % below its original price ..
     
  5. ironsidephoto

    ironsidephoto TPF Noob!

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    i have a sigma 70-300 and a tamron 28-80 for my D200, and am glad i spent the extra money on the camera body instead of the lenses. lenses are the easier things to upgrade later :)
    i can't tell of a reduction in quality, really.
     
  6. Alex_B

    Alex_B No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hmmm.. high-end lenses are still often more expensive than high-end cameras ... and you need more than one lens to be happy (if you are happy with one, why use an SLR?) ... so to me upgrading lenses seems at least equally difficult ... money-wise ;)
     
  7. britonk

    britonk TPF Noob!

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    I have a Nikon D50 with a Tamron 70-300mm (f 4-5.6) lens - it's not the fastest but the image quality is great and it wasn't too expensive.
     
  8. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Alex has the better approach here. Lenses are where to spend the money. Camera bodies become obselete quickly but the lenses will go from one camera body to the next.

    A 70-300 zoom by itself is a rather unusual choice for a digital camera and I would recommend against it. Most photography is done at shorter focal lenghths than that and the long focal lengths make it hard to control sharpness. I would put such a lens well behind something in the normal and wide angle area. If you want a zoom, find one in the 18-50 area or so.

    I notice that beginners tend to be fascinated by long lenses. I don't really understand it but it has been the case forever. Don't fall prey to it. It is bad advice. Long lenses are significantly harder to use than shorter ones and are only required for extreme types of photography. Beginners should start short and leave the long lenses for later. Even pros should do the same thing - and, of course, they do because they know better.
     
  9. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you have a local camera shop, got to them with your camera in hand. A good camera shop will let you try out the lenses you are interested in. This way you can do several things. You will likely find that you really don't need that 300mm lens. My longest is a 70mm-200mm and it works fine 95% of the time I need a long lens. (the other 5% i need to use my feet.)

    Once you decide on the focal length you are looking for, try out the lenses in the range that you interested in. You will get a feel that way for each of the lenses. My favored camera store has a computer and monitor set up for you to veiw the results right then.

    If the photography store you go to has provided good customer service, really consider purchasing from them. You will have benifited from their help, you will have choosen the exact copy of the lens you want and you will support you local mom and pop store.

    That is not to say I do not buy from B&H as I do. Not many people can afford to turn down a really good deal, but if the Local store can come withing 10% of B&H's price with shipping to my local, I will always buy from them.
     
  10. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I guess I should explain my rant against long lenses. I own and use long lenses. Don't misunderstand. But the great majority of my digital photography is done at focal lengths of less than 60mm. Long lenses have an important place in photography. But they aren't the place to start your lens collection. Get the normal range handled first. Telephotography can wait.
     

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