Redundant lens question...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JenPena, Oct 16, 2006.

  1. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    So I've read through some current threads and am looking for somewhat the same answer, slightly different circumstances....

    I have a Nikon D70 and am mostly taking posed pictures, such as weddings, engagements, senior portraits, babies, etc. I have the standard equipment that came with the D70 kit, lens and body, and bought an SB-600 flash. I also have a 70-300 Vivitar lens that I had bought for my N65 when I worked at the local newspaper, but I haven't been satisfied with the output when using it on my D70.

    Question is - in recent threads some have been posting about getting better lenses than putting money in a newer body, which I'm very receptive to - I like the camera but the output is to be desired, although I'm still learning. My digital pictures are grainy and not always sharp when I zoom in on them in Photoshop to look at detail. Some of you have mentioned that it would be wise to invest in a better lens to remedy this. What would you suggest I should invest in for my D70 for better pictures?
     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    I'm a Canon guy...so I don't know Nikon all that well....however...I suggest picking up a 50mm F1.8 (or other similar prime lens like 24mm, 35mm, 85mm).

    In most cases, the prime lenses have great optical performance. Also, in most cases, prime lenses have a larger maximum aperture. A larger aperture will allow you to use faster shutter speeds when shooting with avaliable light. A larger aperture will allow you to use a shallower DOF. A larger aperture will give you a bigger 'sweet spot'. Most lenses will perform best when stopped down from full open, at least a few stops. So a kit lens won't look great a F5.6...but will be much better by F8. A 50mm F1.8 will look pretty good at F2.8.

    Also, a 50mm F1.8 is quite affordable when compared to most other lenses. If you want great optical quality in a zoom lens...the price tag starts around $500 and goes up from there.
     
  3. KevinR

    KevinR TPF Noob!

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    A couple of very good alternative lens selections would be the Tamron 28-75 2.8 and the Tamron 17-50 2.8, both just under $500. I would also go with a 50mm 1.4.

    Both Tamrons work well on Nikon.
     
  4. dsp921

    dsp921 TPF Noob!

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    Depends what you want, the 50mm f/1.8 and f/1.4 are good bang for the buck, especially the f/1.8. Top shelf zooms would be the Nikkor 70-20mm f/2.8, 28-70mm f/2.8 and the 17-35mm f/2.8. That is the Nikon Trilogy... The 28-70 is a nice portrait lens.

    Be careful about looking at images at 100% or greater in Photoshop. 50% is closer to print quality. Cropping is another story.
     
  5. ladyphotog

    ladyphotog TPF Noob!

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    Yes, find a good price on a fixed lenses instead of a zoom, you will get better results. Stick with Nikkor and you will do fine.
     
  6. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    I bought the AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm lens with the D70; is the lens you are both suggesting going to be a good difference or should I stick with what I've got? Mostly I take portraits - I don't do a lot of action or landscape, although I'm sure I will as my son gets older and we travel more. I don't really want to get something that's very much what I've already got; the generic 70-300 zoom I have doesn't cut it with my digital but did fine with my N65 so I guess eventually I'd want to either figure out what I'm doing wrong or get a zoom lens more capable of handling the digital camera. I'm getting more confused the more I look at lenses - I've had the hardest time understanding F-stops and how to use manual settings; honestly, for now all I want is a clear, solid picture to go with the setups and lighting I create. Am I already outfitted? I know it's not the camera, it's the photographer, so I don't want to keep buying and expecting it to fix my limited knowledge! Am I in the wrong board??!!
     
  7. Big Mike

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

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    It's good to see that you know this already...a lot of people never figure this out.

    Good equipment, however, can really help. You have to understand your equipment and it's limitations...to really know if you need better equipment. With your 18-70, you have a great focal range that is in the 'normal' or 'standard' range. If you are satisfied with the image quality of that lens...then you have that range covered. As for your telephoto...why do you feel that it was OK for film but not for digital?

    (I find that a lot of people are much more critical of lenses with their digital cameras because they can so easily zoom into their images. The images are probably no different than with film...and will look good printed at 4x6 up to 8x10)

    A lot of us recommend getting a fixed focal length (prime) lens...for the reasons I mentioned above. Yes a 50mm lens is in the range that you already have covered...but that zoom lens does not have an aperture that can open up to F1.8. This can be great for portraits with a shallow DOF...and great for kids because you can use a faster shutter speed.

    If you are finding that you are always using your 18-70 at F8 or F11 etc....then you probably don't need the prime. But if you find that you are shooting at F4-5.6 (or lens's maximum) and are struggling to get a good shutter speed...then a prime will really help you out.
     
  8. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    You're right, Mike, I am critical of my images because I can really look at the crispness of the image digitally - especially after I've moved them over to my PC and zoomed in a bit. I realize the prints will come out okay, which I'm concerned about for those that pay for a good quality image, but I'm still hoping for great, and worrying about what I'm doing wrong to make it more smudged looking than what the point-and-shooters are taking on their Canon at the office. I've also spoken to a local photographer that takes very sharp, beautiful portraits using a Canon 24-70 mm 2.8L Series lens that, if I could get similar quality sharpness and color, I'd want the equivalent in Nikon.

    Know what else throws me? The 50mm 1.8 is so cheap - I worry when something that should work great and be a good tool isn't expensive! :)
     
  9. Big Mike

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

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    Yes, the Canon 24-70 F2.8 L is a gem of a lens. Everybody I know who has one...just loves it. Although, it is very heavy and very expensive. Canon's L lenses are known to be top of the line and that's why the Pros use them. Nikon does have similar quality lenses...but I'm not sure of the designation....it probably wouldn't be to hard to tell...just look at the prices.

    That's another reason why I recommend it so often. The Canon version is $70 US...and the optical quality is fantastic. The lens body and build is not great...it's cheap and plastic but for $70...it's a great deal. Sure there are prime lenses that are much better quality...but they are much more expensive as well.
     
  10. niccig

    niccig TPF Noob!

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    I can vouch for the Nikkor 50mm 1.8D. I have one and I looooove it. It's my most-used lens. $100 new, and worth more than that. Jen, aside from the lens, what ISO are you shooting at? If you're leaving it on auto or using a high ISO, that could be causing the noise. Also, are you using a tripod? If not, that may help with the sharpness (or lack thereof).
     
  11. JenPena

    JenPena TPF Noob!

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    I have played around with my ISO and moved it down to 200 out of frustration on the extra noise. I had shot it at 1600 to see what happens, wasted some shots there, and was at 800, then 400 once I started doing some more portrait work. I'd always left it at the default but after learning it makes a difference in some situations, I've moved it around a lot. Would you suggest staying at a lower ISO for the type of work I'm mostly doing (portrait shots)? I hate using a tripod because I like to move around too much and it's harder to get spur-of-the-moment shots in weddings, but I know that would help my sharpness factor too. I just feel for the megapixels the Nikon boasts (6.1), I'm hope I'm using it right to get the best output possible!
     
  12. Tiberius

    Tiberius TPF Noob!

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    The Nikkor equivalent would be the 28-70 f/2.8, although a lot of digital people like the 17-55 f/2.8 as a replacement more because of the wider angle on Digital.
     

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