I've desided on a camera. Now I need lens help!

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by JJL77, Nov 29, 2005.

  1. JJL77

    JJL77 TPF Noob!

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    I've made my mind up. I'm buying a Nikon D50. (My first DSLR)
    However, I need help from you guys on which lenses to buy to fit my photography goals without getting too expensive.

    Here's the 2 lenses I'm considering buying...
    Nikkor DX ED AF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 (Kit lens)
    Nikkor ED AF 70-300mm F/4-5.6D Zoom

    I plan on taking a lot of high zoom wildlife photos (deer, waterfowl, etc), some landscape photos and would also like the ability to do some macro shots (small insects).

    Am I on the right track with the above set-up for the D50?

    I understand a 300mm zoom on a dslr would be around 400mm on a 35mm camera. Is this correct?

    Thanks for letting me know what you think.
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I think that is a good starting kit.

    The 70-300 is a bit slow (small maximum aperture 4.5-5.6) but you would have to pay much much more for a faster lens in that length. To really get great wildlife shots, they use lenses that cost thousands of dollars.

    There is a cropping factor, when you compare a 35mm SLR to DSLR cameras with non-full frame sensors. I think it's 1.5 with that camera. So yes, that lens will 'feel' like a 450mm lens on a 35mm SLR.

    The Kit lens is also a bit slow, not great for low light photography...but it's nice and wide on that camera.

    Another lens to consider would be a fast prime lens...50mm F1.8 or 35mm etc.
     
  3. JJL77

    JJL77 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the reply Big Mike,

    Let me see if I understand this...
    When you say that the 70-300mm is a bit "slow" does that mean because the aperture is only able to open to F/4 this doesn't allow a lot of light to reach the sensor and therefore you are left with darker pictures in low light zoom situations. Were as a thousand dollar lens that takes great low light pictures would have an aperture of F1.8 or 2 and allow more light in.
    Is this correct? I'm new at this and would appreciate it if you share your knowledge.
     
  4. Big Mike

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

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    That is just about right....the aperture is not able to open up enough (in low light)...but that does not necessarily leave you with darker photos...becuase you can keep the shutter open longer to compensate. However, the longer the shutter is open, the more apt to blurriness you will be (from camera shake or subject motion).

    So 'Slow' refers to the slow shutter speed you will have to use...to compensate for the small aperture.

    The rule of thumb for hand holding a camera is that you want the shutter speed to be equal to the focal length or greater. So at 300mm, you want to shoot at 1/300 or faster.

    However, if you use a flash you can get sharper photos at slower shutter speeds...and using a tripod and remote (or timer) will take the camera out of your hands and greatly reduce camera shake.
     
  5. snownow

    snownow TPF Noob!

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    I agree get a faster small lens. You can pick up 50mm F1.8, for about 100 bucks used on e-bay or under 200 for a new one. Worth the money spent. (I just had a friend sell me one, i love having it.)
     
  6. Polygon

    Polygon TPF Noob!

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    I have the AF 70 - 300 mm f/4 - 5.6G and don't know how much they changed in the ED version but here are some of my experiences:

    It's a "nice weather" lens. When there's sunshine and your "target" is lit you won't have much of a problem to reach the desired 1/300s or less shutter time. It already becomes a problem on a cloudy day. Especially for animal shots you don't want a long shutter speed because even if you can force your camera to stand still using a tripod, timed or remote release and whatever else there may be you can't force the animal to do the same. If you want sharp shots you have to go for a low shutter speed. A way to do that is to turn the sensitivity up to like ISO400 or even 800. It will still give acceptable quality on the D50 if you don't plan to make big prints.
    Second thing which may be bad for wildlife photography is that the autofocus isn't quiet. In contrary, it makes quite some noise which might cause your target to run/fly/swim away. Look for AF-S lenses if you need more silent autofocussing (like your kit lens). Thirdly the autofocus is also quite slow. If it's only correcting the focus a bit there won't be a problem but it happened more than once to me that it tried to focus very close and back until it had regained focus (this will need ~1-1.5s each time it happens).
    Check out other review site for more technical information.
    So far I can say that I mostly prefer the 18-55mm kit-lens which seems to be made really well (for it's price). If I can get close enough to the desired target I always use it instead of the zoom. Sadly for wildlife this isn't possible in the most cases and that's why I also doubt that you would be happy with a 50mm fixed for that purpose. It's just mostly too difficult to get close enough. So try the kit-lens @50mm and see if you are happy with the zoom it gives you. If you are, go for a 50mm fixed (I do, but for other reasons).

    Now it depends on your quality requirements, the money you want to spend and how much you are willing to carry around (tele lenses with big aperture aren't light). My conclusion is:
    It's not perfect (to be exact, it's not near to be perfect) but it's also cheap and not too heavy to carry around. I got some goot shots out of it and won't be able to afford something better anytime soon. But the decision is really up to you.

    Here's a shot I made using it:
    http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=34673

    Ah yes, it won't give you advantages over the kit-lens in terms of macro photography because you need to be about 1.5m away to get something in focus while the kit-lens focusses already if you are only about 0.3m away. The resulting image is almost the same in terms of how big the object is taken. With the zoom however there will be more problems with camera shaking and all that stuff.

    Mhm, got quite long, hope you aren't asleep by now.
     
  7. JJL77

    JJL77 TPF Noob!

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    Hey Polygon,

    Thanks for the long reply. Good info.
    Just to clarify: I'm going to get the kit lens 18-55mm for sure it's just a matter of which second lens I deside on.
    I'm either going with the 70-300mm Nikkor F/4-5.6 ED AF (with ED glass-I've read that its' glass is quite better than the G model) or the other lens to go along with the kit lens which is the 55-200mm Nikkor DX f/4-5.6 ED AF.
    I'm leaning towards the 70-300mm because I want that extra zoom for deer in the field or other long range situations. Do you think 200mm is enough zoom?
    I understand the whole aperture low light thing and I think I'll just have to work with what I can afford. I can't justify spending $1,000+ on a fast lens when I'm just getting into photography.
    Thanks again.
     
  8. Big Mike

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

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    I'm with you, go for the longer zoom.

    You are right, you just have to do the best you can, with what you have (and can afford). If you have to crank the ISO setting up to 1600 to get a usable shutter speed...that's not the worst thing in the world...and the D50 is supposed to be really good at high ISO anyway.

    I recently took a trip to Costa Rica. My longest lens is a cheap Vivitar 100-300mm and I used a teleconverter with that...The picture quality is really not good, poor actually but I got some great shots of animals that I wouldn't have got otherwise. When I look back at the photos, I'll remember the monkeys...not the less than perfect image quality.
     
  9. JJL77

    JJL77 TPF Noob!

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    Big Mike ,

    Explain to me why cranking up the ISO to 1600 would produce a usable shutter speed? Do you mean at full 300mm zoom I should use 1600 ISO?
    Man, I feel like a 3 year old with all these questions I'm asking.
     
  10. Big Mike

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

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    Maybe you should pick up a book about photography & exposure. It's good to have a good base of how exposure works when figuring out what to buy.

    There are basically three things that control the exposure of a photograph. The aperture (size of the hole that the light comes through). The shutter speed (the length of time that the media is exposed). And the sensitivity of the media (ISO rating or setting).

    Any particular exposure level (or meter reading) will have a value for each of these three things. If you change one, you can change on of the other two...and keep the same exposure level. If you change one, without changing the others...you will change the exposure value.

    If you are limited by one of the three things, you can change one or both of the other things to get the proper exposure.

    SO, back to the question. If you are limited by the aperture, you can slow down the shutter to compensate...but if you don't want to slow the shutter because you want to avoid shake...so the next thing to change is the ISO setting. The higher the setting, the more sensitive it is...the less light you need. So yes, cranking up the ISO will allow you to use a faster shutter speed.

    The trade off is grain (film) or noise (digital). The higher the ISO setting, the more noise you will get in the image. The good news is that digital cameras are getting better and better at reducing noise...and the D50 is said to be one of the best. Still, it's advisable to use the lowest possible ISO setting...but whether that's better than camera shake...is a judgment call made by the photographer.

    Does that help? :mrgreen:
     
  11. JJL77

    JJL77 TPF Noob!

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    Sure does.

    I do plan on picking up a book or two and joining a class.
    I'm pretty excited about getting into photography. As you can tell.
    Thanks again for all your help.
    Later.
     
  12. jstuedle

    jstuedle No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The ED version of the 70-300 is a good, sharp lens. I have this lens and am well pleased with it. The ED lens elements add a lot to the sharpness of this lens. It is a slower lens, but I have shot my share of aircraft and wildlife shots with it, the lens does well for it's price range.
     

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