Lens Junkies and penny pinchers, I need advice...

James W.

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I got my first DSLR a few months ago, it is a Nikon D5200 and it came with the 18-55mm kit lens that Nikon puts in all their camera combos. I have yet to purchase a second lens as I wanted to get to know the camera and learn to use the kit lens.

Well, five months onward, I've got a pretty good idea how my camera works including all the accessories. I haven't taken it off of manual mode for quite sometime and I've pretty much figured out the kit lens, so I'm starting to look around for future lenses but I've gotten stuck.

There's so many lenses to choose from that every time I go internet 'window' shopping I end up immersed in all this technical stuff, reviews, etc...

So then, I thought I'd cut through the fog and talk directly to photographers. I mostly like to take landscape photographs, so I guess I'll need a wide angle lens, something close to 50mm, and a telescoping lens. I plan to buy them one at a time and spend time (possibly a few months) with each until I get used to each new lens. I figure that for everyday stuff, my kit lens is adequate, but I'm looking to get my travel images sharper and more professional looking and it seems to me the only way forward is to buy a decent lens and set to work learning to master it.

With all that said, what lenses to you guys and gals use most when taking landscape pictures? And which lenses that fit Nikon DX DSLR's would you recommend for landscapes?

My guess is that I don't need the telescopic lens for a while and my kit lens is adequate for the 50mm range for the time being, therefore I'd like to focus on getting a good quality wide angle lens.

Oh, and money is not much of a problem as I plan to just stash cash in a jar until I have enough to purchase said lens. This means that although I won't be buying anything for a couple of months (and hence giving me more time to learn more about my camera and lens) I do need to plan ahead.

Thanks for the help.

--James
 

snowbear

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If you are trying to cover what you don't have, then, obviously something longer than 55mm is in order. If you want a faster lens, and are primarily interested in landscapes, maybe a 20mm or 24mm prime would be better.

You could also consider something like a 105mm and play with panoramas.
 
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James W.

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Thanks Snowbear! I was just looking on the Net and found the Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 lens which I'm reading a couple of reviews and watching a couple of videos. Seems to be a great lens considering anything like it is much, much more expensive. I've also looked up photos taken by this lens and it seems to be quite versatile. But I'll also look at something in the 20-28mm range.

As for telephoto, I see there are several zoom lenses that are 70-300mm. 300mm might be a bit much, but extra reach can't be that bad, right? Of the zooms, which one performs best and is it comparable to a 300mm prime lens?

Of course, with my Nikon D5200 most lenses have that crop factor thingy so an 85mm might be more than adequate.

Thanks again!

--James
 

480sparky

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The only issue with the Roki 14 is the very evident compound distortion. It won't be a problem in some situations (like a landscape with trees and mountains). But anything with straight lines, like the horizon of the ocean or a building, it will need to be dealt with. Depending on your editing software, you can correct for it. But you will lose a bit of the image doing so.

Nikon's current 70-300 G lens is a real bargain. Plus, it's a full-frame lens should an FX body be in your future.
 
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James W.

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Thanks sparky. I've never seen either the Pacific or the Atlantic, so oceans aren't much of a problem. To be honest, I see this 14mm lens for mountains, canyons, badlands, forests, and sky photos (both day and night if I every get into that). I have photoshop and lightroom, which I'm learning to use this winter and into spring, so a little distortion isn't going to scare me much.

Thanks for the opinion on the Nikon 70-300 G, I'll look into it.
 

480sparky

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Well, large lakes can still have a straight shore on the far side. Flat land where one might find a canyon (like the Grand Canyon) can show the distortion as well. Just be aware of it, and make checking / correcting for it part of your post routine.

PS probably has a profile for it. But it may be under one of the other monikers that lens sports. It has aliases of Vivitar, Samyang, ProOptic, Bower, Opteka, Bell & Howell, Falcon and Walimex. I think the Vivitar incarnation is touted as a 13mm.
 

goodguy

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First landscape-Nikon 18-55mm is a good lens, much better then people give it credit, it can do landscape wonderfully, my last trip to Israel I shot all my landscape with the 18-55mm and I loved the results.
Going wider you have the Sigma 10-20mm which I heard is a nice lens and not overly expensive.

For zooming in you should consider the Nikon 70-300mm VR, be careful not to get the non VR version of this lens as its not really good.

Nikon 50mm 1.8G is a great general use lens, its very effective on crop sensor but its not a landscape lens!
You can do portraits on DX body and street photography and its super sharp, super fast and very cheap.

Last this, you said you want to get better pictures, here is a little known secret, true magic is not the equipment, better equipment can give better results only if you know what you are doing, this means practice, practice, practice.

Good luck :)
 
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James W.

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Thanks good guy,

I'll take a look at the sigma while I'm at it, although I'm starting to like this 14mm, it seems like it can do a lot. I have to concur, the 18-55mm is quite good given that it's a $100 kit lens. It's not as sharp as I like, although I can improve it dramatically with the f/stop and ISO. The main thing is that the 18mm on it doesn't seem wide enough for some of the shots I'd like to get.

I've also heard great things about Nikon's nifty fifty lenses, but for the time being the kit lens covers that range so I'm not too concerned with that just yet.

As for the equipment vs photographer, there's a paradox to that statement. It's hard to practice and learn different lenses if you don't have them, which is why I'm looking around. I can always do better, but it's time to open up my flexibility a little bit to really let the creative juices flow. That being said, I'm still reading everything I can about the technical side of photography, and I'm continuing the take pictures, all while trying to perfect my technique on the kit lens. It's a long road to the top, so the learning won't end any time soon for me. Thanks for the advice.

--James Willmus
 

Derrel

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Like many landscape shooters, I find a *****telephoto****** lens to be my most favored landscape lens. I find most wide-angle shots boring. I want to see landscape features magnified, close-up, and made to look different than they appear to the human eye. My most favored landscape destination is the Oregon coast, so a 70-200, or a 70-300, or 80-400 zoom are the lenses I like the most, along with a 300mm f/4 AF-S Nikkor. After the telephoto lengths, I'd say I like a 35mm, a 45mm, and a 60mm macro, and a 90mm macro, as well as a 24mm prime.

The longer lengths make it easy to select segments of the world, and to reach out; at the coast, common shooting distances are 45 meters to about two miles.
 
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James W.

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That's true Derrel, which is why I want to end up with about three lenses that give me a pretty good coverage from wide angle to telescopic. The trouble with landscape, but also one of the attracting features, is how flexible you have to be. Sometimes a telescopic image makes the scene look best, sometimes a wide angle looks better, other times a standard lens is adequate. I want my range to be from 20mm and lower to about 200mm, although I wouldn't mind being more telescopic.

As for lenses, this just occurred to me, why not buy used lenses? I believe you can use AI, AI-S, AI-P lenses on modern Nikon DSLR's, it will just take one or two extra shots to get the shutter speed, f/stop, and ISO dialed in due to the lack of metering. I see that on B and H photo I can get a couple of lenses, a 43-86mm and a 70-210, both AI, and a 9+ rating (very clean, few marks) for $150. getting a lens under 20mm would still be hard to do, but then I could afford a much better lens of most of the money I'm saving went to that one lens while I collect used lenses as need be.
Besides, since almost everything I take pictures of isn't moving (or is moving slowly) I don't need to worry about auto focus.

Thanks!

--James
 

jaomul

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If you want a telephoto its hard to go wrong with the tamron 70-300mm vc usd. It pretty much matches (some say it betters) the nikon 70-300mm vr but at a much reduced cost. A friend (and many here) have and love the tokina 11-16mm f2.8. I have seen many very nice wide angle shots with this and f2.8 is nice to have.

As said above the 50mm f1.8g is a great value lens. I am not sure exactly what focal lengths you'll get but the nikon 35mm f1.8 dx is a low cost lens that is also imo great value
 

wezza13

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As for lenses, this just occurred to me, why not buy used lenses? I believe you can use AI, AI-S, AI-P lenses on modern Nikon DSLR's, it will just take one or two extra shots to get the shutter speed, f/stop, and ISO dialed in due to the lack of metering. I see that on B and H photo I can get a couple of lenses, a 43-86mm and a 70-210, both AI, and a 9+ rating (very clean, few marks) for $150. getting a lens under 20mm would still be hard to do, but then I could afford a much better lens of most of the money I'm saving went to that one lens while I collect used lenses as need be.
Besides, since almost everything I take pictures of isn't moving (or is moving slowly) I don't need to worry about auto focus.

Thanks!

--James

I definitely recommend buying used lenses, they are all that I buy now as it saves you so much money. Yes, there may be a chance of getting a dud, but I haven't found that out yet.

Also, I highly recommend trying out the 50mm AND 35mm primes. The 50 is a good lens, and also FF, but a lot of people with crop-sensors find the focal length very limiting when working indoors. Try the 35 too, you may find it suits your needs better.
 

jcdeboever

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I am no expert but what you have will work. I agree with Derrel on 70-200 or 300. To my surprise, I have found looking at some of the professional landscape images, are shot with these lenses. The wider lens make me want to crop mine into a more panoramic format to create interest because they look boring by themselves. I have found the 55-300mm zoom is easier to work the frame, I assume a 70-300 would do the same. I honestly get a little lost in the frame with 17, 20, or 35, for me, too much in there. I rented a wide lens (Sigma 10-20mm 2.8) not long ago and was not happy with it at all. Probably just me? I am not even sure if this makes sense but this is the best way I can describe it being a noob.


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