Lens for Nikon D80


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Nov 30, 2007
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Fukuoka, Japan
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I've asked for advice about which camera to buy two weeks ago, and after some good comments, a lot of reviews and thinking, and considering the fact that my father has a Nikon F-501 and some lenses, I went for the Nikon D80 and took my father's lenses since he didn't use the F-501 in (many many) years. As for the lenses, I've got three Nikkor AF lenses:
  • 35-135mm f3.5-4.5
  • 70-210mm f4-5.6
  • 75-300mm f4.5-5.6
This is a solid start, especially considering I am a SLR beginner, and don't need much for the moment. However, after playing around a bit with the three lenses, I realized I REALLY need a lens for close-ups, maybe macro photography and portraits, suited for low-light environments, and of course not high-end, since I don't have the money for such gadgets. So, I've been thinking about the following lenses:
  • Nikon Ai AF Nikkor 50mm f1.2S
  • Nikon Ai AF Nikkor 60mm f2.8D Micro
  • Sigma 24mm f1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro
  • Sigma 30mm f1.4 EX DC
As I said, I like taking photo's up and close, mostly of immobile subjects (no bugs etc.). I would also need a lens which could take decent portraits indoors, without using flash. So, I can afford only one lens in this price category, and I'd prefer a lens which offers the best of the three things I want (sorted by priority):
  1. good low-light performance
  2. good close-up lens
  3. decent portrait ability
Any advice concerning, or experience with the mentioned lenses, as well as other lens suggestions is highly welcome!
If you're trying to do macro and 1:1 close-up photography, I would recommend the Sigma 105MM f/2.8 lens. I have seen nothing but awesomesauce from folks using the lens (well folks who didn't suck). It focuses up to a foot, which on a 105MM is pretty damn good. 400 bucks though.

Some shots of the 105MM.
Some pictures do seem really good, and the price is acceptable, yet I'm still undecided between the f1.4 and f1.2 lenses and the f2.8 macro lenses. I'm really stuck here, and lack of experience certainly doesn't help. Would like to be able to attached some of these lenses, then I would know more...
Well, what lens you pick will really depend on what you are going to use it for the most.

The 30MM and the 24MM both have focusing distances of 15 and 7 inches respectively. The 30MM however is not a macro lens.

With the 105MM from the same distance as the 24MM (about a foot), you're able to grab bug/animal shots w/o having to actually move in (to make up for the reduced focal length of the 24 versus the 105MM). That would be the main point for me. A 105MM would work for portrait shots AND macro shots, as well as shots where you cant get in "close".
How big would the difference in low-light performance be between the f2.8 and f1.2/f1.4. I know how to calculate exposure, bit still have a bit of a problem of understanding the difference in practical terms, since I never really used any of these or similar lenses in low-light.
From 1.4 to 2.8 that's a couple of stops, so every "stop" you are losing 1/4 or 1/3 of the light of the previous F-stop.

My question is, what low light environment are you actually going to be shooting in that you can't actually CONTROL the amount of light you are working with?
2.8 to 1.4 is 1 and 2/3 of a stop...so it is kind of a big deal if it's super dark...but taking portraits inside with no light....is not exactly a regular situation. Turn on a light...turn up the ISO a tad...

I would say that the 105mm Macro is a good investment for you...it's a pretty versatile lens.

By the way....2.8 is by no means slow...
f/2.8 to f/1.4 is two stops. Each stop is a halving or doubling of the light, so f/2.8 lets in 1/4 of the light that f/1.4 does.

Is there a 50 mm f/1.2 AF Nikkor? I've never heard of one. The 50 mm f/1.4 AF would be a decent lens for indoor portraits with the D80 if you are not using additional light sources. The f/1.8 is only 2/3 stop slower than the f/1.4, and quite a bit cheaper. Personally I'd prefer to have the f/1.4 for low light work.

When you say 'close up', what sort of size objects are you referring to?

Close up like stones, plants, tableware etc. Also human faces and facial features (eyes, ears) hands and fingers. Basically macro.
I guess I could control the light conditions, but at the moment I do not have the resources to do so, and would prefer a lens which would allow more versatility without having to control the light.
As for the Nikon Ai Nikkor 50mm f1.2S, I have a reference to the japanese page, but I guess there should be one on the US/UK page as well. Here's the japanese link:

" As for the Nikon Ai Nikkor 50mm f1.2S, I have a reference to the japanese page,..."

That isn't an AF lens, it is manual focus. I have one. It isn't particularly sharp at f/1.2.

The 50 mm f/1.8 is usable close up with the better quality close-up lenses (eg the Nikon 4T). If you want I could post some photos taken with the f/1.4 AF-D with the 4T on a D40x. I don't have the f/1.8 - only the 1.2 MF, 1.4 AF-D and older f/2 MF. I also have the 60 mm Micro-Nikkor, so I could add that into the comparison.

Any shots and comparison info would be very welcome! Sorry 'bout the AF with the f1.2 lens. Don't know who that got in there.
i have the Nikon AF 60mm f2.8D and it is a great lens but their are times where a lower fstop would be helpful.

does anyone find the 105mm limiting for inside pictures? sometimes while I'm taking portraits I want to step back and get a full body, or multiple people in the shot. i guess the lens wasn't designed for this, but in a small room I'm bumping into things. Just thought I'd throw that out there and see what people think.
I'm also quite worried about the 105mm when it comes to taking photos of people in small rooms. All the lenses I have are also not really suited for the job, so I'd like a lens which could do good indoor photos of people or groups, and have good close-up, even if not real macro, performance.

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