A mistake starting with Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 or just Ken Rockwell syndrome?

Discussion in 'Nikon Cameras' started by personalt, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. personalt

    personalt TPF Noob!

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    I am trying to determine if I had
    1)made a mistake by starting with a Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 as first lens for my D80
    2)Did okay with this purchase but should consider augmenting my collection with something better for low light
    3)Just have Ken Rockwell syndrome

    Background - I scraped together a $1000 budget and tried to make the most of it.. After reading as much as I could over a month or so I went to Bergen Camera in NJ looking for a used D80 with low shutter count with the idea of putting most of the money in to the lens. I got a fair deal on a mint one at $350.. The salesman was very helpful, I honestly felt he spent a long time with me showing me differences between the D80 and D90 and helping me select the best D80 they had(they had at least a half dozen).

    Now it comes time for lens... I was trying to stick to a used lens to get the best bang for the buck.. My father had a 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 and based on his recommendation I was looking for similar. They didnt have that but they did have aNikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 for $399 in what looked to be in untouched condition. It seemed like a good deal so I went for it. Over the next few weeks I try to get a feel for the camera by leaving the flash off and and taking pictures inside(too cold outside). I find at 24mm f/3.5 there is just not enough light in my house, the camera is pushing the ISO up to 1600 and still only getting 1/20 sec shutter times. So I start reading more about this lens and stumble upon the fact that my lens in Ken Rockwells 10 worst list.. Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 VR (2003-2010) Though my main concern was dealing with low light performance I cant stop second guessing myself on this lens based on issues he points out in his review. . Ken Rockwell is now in my head....

    I dont know enough let to really understand most of the issues he is referring but wondering if I got a good bang for buck or got a lens I will quickly outgrow because it is not very good. My thought at first was to pick up a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX for $200 to get something with better low light. But of course that duplicates a range already served by my current lens making me wondering if I should try to sell this lens and start over.. Maybe pick up a 35mm f/1.8 and a Nikon 55-200mm VR(no overlap) or the 18-200 f/3.5-5.6 VR (some overlap and a higher price tag)

    Is adding a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX a good next logical step? Is the 24-120mm really as bad as Ken makes it out to be? Should I be able to take some pictures indoors with a 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 without a flash or is the crappy CFL lighting in my house a big part of this? Mostly I want to take pictures of my son (1 year old) but I am also a landlord and want to be able to take decent shots of my rental properties. I assume though when the times come for 'landlord shots' it might be a borrow/rent/buy a 10-24mm as I found the 24mm is not even close to getting a wide enough shot.

    Thanks for any opinions on next step. I do have the $200 for the 35mm f/1.8 but is that the next best use for the money? I kind feel I shouldnt be overlapping zooms as it doesnt make a lot of sense to have 2 lens that do the same thing but I think there is some merit to getting a fixed 35mm that is in the f/1.8 range.. And Ken has me thinking I have a $400 paperweight and if I could get $50 for it would be worth it...


     
  2. Sw1tchFX

    Sw1tchFX TPF Noob!

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    I own the 24-120 and it really is a piece of garbage. Just look at the junk it throws out: [​IMG]
     
  3. Netskimmer

    Netskimmer No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Talk about distortion, it made the stars all streaky! :lol: Take ol' Ken with a grain of salt, he can give sound advice but he can also say some strange things. I've never used that lens but I wouldn't count it out based solely on Ken's word.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Indoor photos with the 24-120???? Hmmmm....maximum aperture is f/5 throughout most of the range, dropping to f/5.6 at the long end. That is a dismally "bright" lens for indoor photos. The fact that the dealer had as you wrote a,"Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 for $399 in what looked to be in untouched condition" might be a clue....there are PLENTY of 24-120's on the market. A maximum of f/5 to f/5.6 means your indoor shots will need to be made a HIGH ISO values....
     
  5. molested_cow

    molested_cow TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Get a used F1.8 35mm or F1.4D 50mm for low light. I got a used F1.4D 50mm for $260 last year on ebay, good condition.

    F3.5-5.6 is quite slow. Just remember that you probably have to shoot at F5.6-8 for the best image quality out of that lens, which makes it even more difficult in low light.
     
  6. tacticdesigns

    tacticdesigns TPF Noob!

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    The 35mm f1.8 may be a duplicate focal length, but the fact that it goes to aperture f1.8 means that it lets in more light so better for low light, and possible to play with shallow depth of field. So its different in that sense.

    What camera does your father have? What ISO does it go to?
     
  7. personalt

    personalt TPF Noob!

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    My father also has a D80 but I doubt that he has ever tried to shoot without the flash indoors on his 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6. I bought a used SB600 that I really like but I feel at this stage of the game I should be learning more about using the camera without flash.

    Last night I tried pushing the ISO to 1600 and shot some pictures with zoom at 45mm which put me at f/4.8. On auto it put me at 1/20 sec shutter speed but looking at the picture and histogram indicate i should have been using a bit longer shutter. I need to play more in manual mode tonight.

    It sounds like the 35mm f/1.8 is the next logically step and a good lens for everyone to have in their bag... So maybe regardless of the of if the 24-120 f/3.5-F/5.6 was a good buy the 35mm f/1.8 might still be the next lens for me.

    Is is possible to determine what kind of light the 35mm f/1.8 will allow me to shoot in before I purchase it. My sons playroom is typical of the light I have indoors in most of my house. Can I use the 24mm-120mm @ 35mm with f/4.2 at say 800 ISO to determine what kind of shutter speeds I would have at f/1.8 with a 35mm prime lens at 800 ISO? I would think once I know the shutter speed for a proper exposure at 35mm zoon with f/4.2 on my 24-120mm could figure out the proper shutter speed for the f/1.8 at the same zoom in the same conditions? Is that math that is possible to do?





     
  8. cbrown222

    cbrown222 TPF Noob!

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    Get a flash instead! It'll make your 24-120 much more useable. Consider an sb 400 or an sb 600
     
  9. SCraig

    SCraig Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Keep in mind that while a wider aperture, such as 1.8, will allow more light in you are now entering into the area of depth of field issues. With a 35mm lens at f/1.8 and a subject distance of 10 feet your depth of field is only 1.77' from front to back (DOF Calculator). In other words you may be trading one problem for another.

    My advice, if you are a new shooter, is to shoot outside where you have some light. Learn to use what you have under conditions in which you have some choices with your exposure. Shooting inside with low light is not the easiest way to start out.

    Oh, and as has been said, take what Ken Rockwell says with a grain of salt.
     
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  10. personalt

    personalt TPF Noob!

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    I have a used SB600 and it certainly is more usable with the SB600 but based on what I have read here, for learning stage I should be laying off the flash. Sure for a family gathering or other one time event I am going to use the flash. But for messing around the house and some basic shots of my son I figured I should be learning how to run this camera without the flash. That is what was driving me to this lens..


     
  11. tacticdesigns

    tacticdesigns TPF Noob!

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    OP

    If you want to shoot without flash . . . the Nikon D80 (I believe) can go to ISO3200. [Might have to enable through a custom setting in the menu? Can't remember.] It's going to be noisy, but it will help to freeze motion of people (and reduce handshake to a degree). If its the difference between getting a shot and not, I don't mind the high-iso noise in the image.

    As for the flash unit, I would suggest IMHO to actually start playing around with it. Bounce it off the ceiling / walls. Maybe trigger it off camera to get off-camera, directional lighting. (I believe the Nikon D80 will let you do that). Check out TheStrobist or browse around for ideas. Flash is a great way to get great shots in lower light. The trick is to make people look at the shot and say, hey that's a great shot, instead of thinking . . . hey, that's a flash shot. <grin> This can be done with your current lens.

    The 35mm f1.8 looks like a fun lens. I don't have one, but want one. Problem is I have another lens in my list of lenses that I want before that one. There is the cheaper 50mm f1.8 without the built-in-focus motor that can be had for $125-150? But I personally find the 50mm a bit narrow in field of view on a cropped body for me to have fun with it when shooting people indoors, but that's a personal thing. The 35mm is probably pretty close to a "normal" field of view and I could see myself having more fun with it shooting indoors.

    As for shutter speed on the 35mm f1.8, with your example you are near f4. So going from f4 to f2.8 to f2 (which is close to f1.8) that is two stops. So if you were at f1.8, your shutter speed could increase by about 2 stops, so instead of being at lets say 1/30sec, your shutter speed would increase from 1/30sec, pass 1/60sec (which is one stop faster), up to about 1/125sec (which is about 2 stops faster.) If you wanted the shutter speed to be faster, at that point in time, then you can increase your ISO from ISO 800 (as in your example) to ISO 1600 (which probably won't be so bad on high-iso noise) and that would be 1-stop faster, so then your shutter speed would end up at around 1/250sec, which ain't that bad.

    NOTE: There are other fun lenses like the Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 that isn't as fast as a 35mm f1.8, but is a zoom, so great for playing around with capture people while still trying to use focal length to tell the story. That lens is about $400-600 or so.
     
  12. tacticdesigns

    tacticdesigns TPF Noob!

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    Oh, yeah . . . you can always just try to get more light onto your subject . . .

    turn on more lights, direct table lamps, or if its bright outside, open up a window and capture people near windows and things . . . etc . . .

    There are so many different ways to attack a scenario . . .

    Oh, yeah . . . and remember with your zoom lens, it lets in the most light at its widest setting. So if your camera is absolutely starving for light, and you don't want to use flash, maybe zoom it to its widest setting (where its f3.5).
     

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