lens help

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by mcdaniel52761, Jan 14, 2008.

  1. mcdaniel52761

    mcdaniel52761 TPF Noob!

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    I'm looking at getting a Nikon D80 and have a couple of questions about lenses. The last time I purchased a camera, it was a Minolta Maxxium 7xi, so it's been quite awhile and I know next to nothing about lenses so please bare with me. From what I've noticed, the lenses that have the smaller numbers such as 1.x or 2.x are quite a bit more than the ones that have the higher numbers like 5.x or so. What exactly does this number mean and what are the differences? Also, what would be the advantage between getting a fixed lens such as a 50mm for $400 when you can get a 20-200 that covers a much broader spectrum for the same amount (give or take)? Thanks in advance,

    Mike
     
  2. ScottS

    ScottS TPF Noob!

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    The numbers you are referring to is the aperture i believe. The smaller the aperture, the more expensive the lens because its much higher quality.

    The advantage of a 50mm (1.8?) Over the 20-200 (4.3-5.6?) is the quality of the glass, and, the minimum aperture.

    The lower the aperture, the more light gets into the camera, so the brighter the pictures will be with a faster shutter speed.

    Does that make sense?
     
  3. Happy Hour

    Happy Hour TPF Noob!

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    You don't need a new lens! Just tape some binoculars to your camera like Osirus. LOL!!!
     
  4. mcdaniel52761

    mcdaniel52761 TPF Noob!

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    so....for example, if i were to shoot a picture of my kids inside a school gym during a music recital the fixed lens with a lower number (larger apature(?)) would give me a brighter and clearer picture compared to a lens with a higher number (lower apature)? Does this mean that a zoom lens is pretty much only good for outdoors where there is plenty of light available? I've also noticed that there are different terms when referring to zoom lenses while maintaining the same approximate mm (such as telephoto....etc). In not so many words, what are the differences? Thanks again,

    Mike
     
  5. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Smaller f/number means a larger aperture which will give you more sensitivity to light along with a narrower depth of field which is nice for portraits where you might want to have a 3D looking photo that isolates your subject nicely from the background. The Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens is a whopping $100, and it's one of the sharpest and contrastiest lenses that they make. :mrgreen:

    To maintain large apertures with zoom lenses you need A LOT of very expensive optical grade glass, which ends up costing a lot of money and makes them heavy. The fastest zoom lenses you'll find for Nikon aren't going to be any faster than f/2.8. This is why most zoom lenses have maximum apertures of f/5.6. They're slower and won't give you as much depth of field control, but they're far lighter and cheaper and far more affordable.

    Zoom vs Prime is a big debate. It's very easy to make a very high quality fast prime lens, and the fixed focal length forces you to explore other perspectives and angles which I think (personal opinion) makes for more interesting photos. I love the photos that I take with my primes, and tend to get lazier when I use zooms and the result is more boring looking photos. The very very best zoom lenses these days equal or exceed primes for image quality, but "tend" to be the professional grade lenses which cost a ton of money, and they're still not as fast. Also, as far as zoom ratio goes, the greater the range you ask a lens to cover, the great compromises a lens designer has to make in order to give you that range, usually at the expense of image quality.

    Some recent thoughts on this here: http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=107555
     
  6. Mav

    Mav TPF Noob!

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    Indoor lighting in a gym is usually horrible, so you'll either need a fast lens (f/2.8 or faster), or a slower one that's stabilized. Since you're not trying to capture action, you could probably get by with something like a 70-300 VR (vibration reduction) lens, which is f/4.5-5.6. If you're close enough to your kids, either a $100 50mm f/1.8 or a $400 85mm f/1.8 could do the trick also.
     

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