Help me choose a lens please?

Mehn

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Hi everyone... I have a Nikon D5100 and a 18-55mm lens to go with it.. But i am so not satisfied with this lens anymore.
I want to take pictures like the ones in the following links:

https://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.p...486586.-2207520000.1374173190.&type=3&theater

Like focussing on the face and everything gets blurred out! I can't achieve such effects with my 18-55mm lens...

https://www.facebook.com/shreyasenp...964857.-2207520000.1374173306.&type=3&theater

or something like this one, a nice blurry background with sharp focus on the foreground!
Is a flash obligatory for such pictures???

Thanks for your enormous help!
 

Gavjenks

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Flash was probably used in the first image, and is a good thing to know and learn. Obligatory for you to learn at some point if you want to get seriously into portraiture, either outdoor or studio.

However, flash has little to do with the background blur. For that, you need shallow "depth of field." Depth of field is complicated, but for a beginner, I'd just boil it down to "use longer focal lengths and wider apertures."

Facebook removes the lens data from photos when uploaded, so i can't tell you what lenses were used to take those photos, but I'm guessing the first one was probably something like one of the popular 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses on the market, near or at its longest focal length.

Those can be expensive though, upwards of $1000 for third party brands or used lenses, even. Because they combine long focal length AND wide aperture AND great optics and build, they cost a lot, but give some of the most convenient and versatile ability to make nice blurred backgroudn portraits.

If that's too much, cheaper ways of getting nice blur, would be:
1) Buying an old manual lens like a 135 or 200mm prime (no zoom) in a large-ish aperture like 2.8 or close to it. Adapt to your camera (make sure non-optical adapters exist for that brand first before buying!)
2) Get a cheap Nikon 50mm f/1.8, which will do quite well at background blur for like I dunno $150 I think?
3) similar 85mm or 100mm lenses and such at 1.8 or f/2 are available for a bit more money as well, but not truckloads of money.
4) An inexpensive zoom that goes to a long focal length like a 70-300 or a 55-200 or something can probably do decent blur even if it has slower apertures, at the 200mm or 300mm end. However, you would be limited to things like head and shoulder shots mostly, not anything like that picnic scene (unless you were standing 2 blocks away)
 
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Mike_E

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The "everything gets blurred out!" is called Bokeh. There is quite a lot written about it on the net.

Long story short you need a lens with a wider aperture, the wider the better. (like 2.8, 1.8, 1.4)

Just to name a lens take a look at the Nikon 50mm f1.4 AF-S. This will auto-focus with your camera.

Do read up on Bokeh though and you will also want to look up 'wide angle distortion' and 'lens compression' along with Bokeh to better understand what you are trying to accomplish.
 

gardy

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85mm 1.8g 50mm 1.8g and 35mm 1.8g will all be nice lenses, for more blown out backgrounds go with the longer focal length, it will give you a smaller depth of field per given fstop
 

kundalini

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You can achieve this with your 18-55mm lens. It's a matter of camera-to-subject distance and subject-to-background distance, even at f/5.6.
 
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Mehn

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Thank you for your reply... My little trouble is that i can't financially get so many lenses for different things.. I can get myself only one.. And i want one which can do like almost everything i want! ... If not all! ... I love portraiture.. So a lens able to get the effect i want for portraits but at the same time has an 18mm focal length on it so that i can click pictures at 18mm too! ... What is your opinion about the 18-200mm lens? Will it be good for the things i want to do? However, i heard that doing portraiture above 135mm will make the face looks a bit distorted (like the nose, etc) ...
 

DanielLewis76

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The "everything gets blurred out!" is called Bokeh.

I thought the term Bokeh described the quality of the blur not the blur itself?

The 18-55 will happily take photos like the one you linked to (as far as background blur is concerned). If you set your Camera to A (Aperture priority) then turn the wheel on the back to set your aperture as low (wide open) as possible (it should be between 3.5 and 5.6 depending on your zoom) then get in close to a subject and take a few test shots.
 

Mike_E

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The "everything gets blurred out!" is called Bokeh.

I thought the term Bokeh described the quality of the blur not the blur itself?

The 18-55 will happily take photos like the one you linked to (as far as background blur is concerned). If you set your Camera to A (Aperture priority) then turn the wheel on the back to set your aperture as low (wide open) as possible (it should be between 3.5 and 5.6 depending on your zoom) then get in close to a subject and take a few test shots.

His words, not mine. The point was to give him something to look up. Google doesn't work worth a flip if you don't know where to start.

After having looked into the things I mentioned most of his questions would be answered and any new ones he might come up with could be addressed with the proper terminology without fear of being misunderstood.
 
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Mehn

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Did u feel the need to have any other lens? How about portraits with this lens? Can u please post up some pictures so that i can see please???
 

PaulWog

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I would take a look at the 35mm 1.8G or 50mm 1.8G. Either of these lenses will take photos like the ones you've linked quite handily. The ones you've linked are fairly easy to take and the 18-55 can take the second shot easily in good light (the first shot would be more tricky I think).

If you're happy with your focal range already, take a look at the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8. It will offer approximately the same focal range, but it gives you a constant aperture of f2.8, which will allow you to take the kind of shots you want. If budget is an issue, this lens is a great one to look at to replace your current lens.

If you want to spend less, I'd say get a 35mm 1.8G. It's a great all-around lens that I've been enjoying as a beginner. Shots look professional with it on my D5200. The DoF is very narrow at f1.8, and you can get the kinds of shots you'd want very easily with it.
 
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Mehn

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Thank you PaulWog! ...
 

thereyougo!

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Your best bet on a DX camera will be the 50 1.8G. Relatively inexpensive and a very sharp lens and will work on full frame if you end up going in that direction. On DX it will give you a equivalent field of view of 75mm which is very good for portraiture. Having the maximum aperture at 1.8 will give you flexibility - often stopping down a stop or two will get you sharper shots while still keeping a good out of focus area
 

sashbar

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Your best bet on a DX camera will be the 50 1.8G.

Yep, if you are on the budget, this is the way to go. Ridiculously good lense for the money. I have both D5100 and this lense and it works great.
 

sm4him

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I agree; if your budget is pretty limited, get the 50mm f/1.8g lens and KEEP the 18-55 kit lens.

I started with the D5100 and kit lens, then added a 55-200mm and the 50mm f/1.8. I've since upgraded to the D7000, but I still love that 50mm lens. I don't use it a lot, because it doesn't really suit what I mostly do (bird photography and macro) but when I do portraiture, I love that lens.

But don't get rid of that kit lens either. I still have mine and use it quite a bit--it's a perfectly capable lens to use until you can afford the higher-quality lenses.
 

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