Best lenses for a beginner

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by diane_79, Feb 15, 2018.

  1. diane_79

    diane_79 TPF Noob!

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    Hello.

    I’ve been shooting using my 18-55mm kit lens with a Nikon D3200. I was never happy with the results since I don’t see the sharpness I was looking for.
    After reading, watching some videos, and comparing pictures quality, Now I know that the lens is a big problem.
    I’m considering buying a new lens (and maybe another one by the end of this year). My question is, what lenses would you recommend me to get? I was between a 50mm and 35mm.
    On the other hand, what lenses you think are a ‘must have’, without going pro?
    I’m willing to pay $500-600 for the lenses. And what I am interested on shooting are mostly landscapes and street photography.
    I know that for street photography those lenses are good, however, are they also good for landscapes or travel photography? Or should I get different ones for those purposes. If so, should I get zoom or prime lenses?
    I know I have a lot of questions, but there are so many options in the market that I really don’t know what to go for. I just ‘discovered’ that lenses can make a big difference on the results of the pictures.
    Thanks everyone for your help


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  2. ronlane

    ronlane What's next? Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum Diane.

    Honestly, I think the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 would be a really good lens for a beginner to learn with. The 1.8 are the least expensive, but in your price range, the 50mm f/1.4 would be a lens that you could keep for a very long time.

    With a 50 prime, it is a good focal length without too much distortion for portrait work. It will also be okay for landscape and good for street because it is smaller and won't draw a ton of attention.
     
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  3. stk

    stk TPF Noob!

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    Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8 DX is cheap, small, sharp and fast.
     
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  4. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Typically, prime lenses are better optically. They're a substantial upgrade to the Nikon kit lens. You zoom with your feet as opposed to a zoom ring. The 35mm 1.8g is a fine lens, as is the 50mm. You really can't go wrong with either one. With the 35 on the street, you get a lot in the frame and it may require you to get uncomfortably close as a beginner. It works well, just saying. The 50 may make you feel more comfortable.
     
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  5. stk

    stk TPF Noob!

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    I have both the AF-S 35 mm f/1.8 and the AF-S 50 mm f/1.4 on a crop body, and personally I use the 50 mm more, but I feel most others find 50 mm on a crop body to be an "awkward, in between focal length".
     
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  6. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Spend some time with your kit lens kept at 50mm, then at 35mm, and see what you think of working locked into those focal lengths.

    I, like many, went with the 50mm 1.8, then I added a 70-300. But, I still went back to the 18-55 for landscape and street. That range is so handy, it's the kit lens for a reason.

    If you're really chasing image quality and sharpness, and don't mind carrying a few lenses, primes are where it's at.

    But, make sure you're getting everything out of that 18-55. It doesn't have stellar image quality, but it isn't a "bad" lens. It takes sharp pictures.

    Good luck and have fun!
     
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  7. diane_79

    diane_79 TPF Noob!

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    That’s what i was thinking, if it would make much difference getting these ones i stead of the f/1.4. Saving a couple of hundred box won’t bother me at all ;)



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  8. diane_79

    diane_79 TPF Noob!

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    That’s a good idea of playing with my kit lenses at 35mm and 50mm and see how I feel with that.
    I’ve been using these lenses for a couple of years now. I say I’m new into photography Bc now I’m taking it more seriously.
    I’m planing on keeping those lenses and also continue using them, Bc i still need to improve my composition, but I’m thinking on getting the 50mm ones Bc they will give me the results that I am looking for.



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  9. dunfly

    dunfly No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I personally think the 50mm and 35mm f1.8 lenses and perfectly adequate and are a better deal than the f1.4. I rarely shoot as low as f1.8 with mine and can't imagine why you would need to go down to f1.4 unless you were looking for extreme shallow depth of field. I would also add the a longer zoom but 1. Make sure it is compatible with your D3200 (some of the new AF-P lenses may not be) and 2. make sure it has vibration reduction.
     
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  10. Cortian

    Cortian No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    As a fellow newbie to the DSLR world, I would only caution the OP to be certain how much of her dissatisfaction is actually the fault of the lens, and how much is learning curve.

    E.g.: I had a 100-300mm non-IS/VR lens for my camera body and I just wasn't seeing the results I thought I would have. I was given a 70-300mm IS/VR lens that is better. Yes, I did notice an improvement, but not night-and-day. The user still has much to learn :)
     
  11. idcanyon

    idcanyon No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Not sure which version of the 18-55 you have, but kit lenses are usually cheaply made but pretty sharp, especially in the center. They'll typically be quite good for street/travel photography but may be a little weak for landscape if corners are a little soft. If that doesn't describe your experience with your 18-55 then you could have a damaged or bad lens or there may be some other factor affecting your results. If the latter then a new lens could turn into a huge disappointment.
     
  12. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Before you go and change lenses, easy thing first.
    Is the lens CLEAN?

    A dirty lens/filter will kill the sharpness of the lens, like looking through a dirty pair of glasses.
    If the lens/filter is not clean, get a proper lens cleaning kit, not a t-shirt.​

    Then, STUDY the shots that you are not happy with.
    WHY is the image not sharp?

    Decades ago, Kodak did a study and found that the vast majority of the consumer pictures were not sharp, because of camera movement.
    So, check the EXIF data of those shots, was the shutter speed too low? Many people cannot hold a camera steady at lower than 1/60 second, and some need to go faster. I've seen that in my own students, where the blurry shots are down at 1/40 second and slower.​

    The other issue is the autofocus (AF) system. The image may not be sharp, because the AF is not focusing on YOUR subject.
    • If you use Auto exposure mode, the AF system uses "closest subject" to determine what to focus on. So if you are shooting a party around a dinner table, the camera will focus on the dinner table in front of you, not the people on the other side. I used Auto ONCE, never again. This is why I now use P=Program mode.
    • If you use any of the zone/area modes, the camera may select something other than your subject to focus on.
    • If you use single point AF, YOU have to put the AF point on the subject. If you miss the subject, you will focus on whatever the AF point was on.
    • The whole AF subject is complicated and tricky. You need to read the manual, with the camera next to you, and follow along. Then go out and practice, to understand what the manual says.
     
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