Prime lens help/suggestions.


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Dec 7, 2009
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I need a few suggestions, i think i have researched pretty much everything, but i still cannot decide.

I have a D90, and using the kit 18-105mm lenses so far. So i figued the first upgrade would be a 50mm 1.4G from Nikon. Then i realized one of the main uses for the lens would be dogs, specifically dog shows.

So i went back to all the pics i took at previous dog shows and checked the most common focal length, i figured this was a good way to do it. And i would say most of them were in between 70-105mm. So i am thinking, perhaps the 85mm or higher would be a good choice.

So i researched the new 85mm 1.4G, the 105mm DC, and the 135mm DC from Nikon. And here is my issue, they are all good. My concern with the 105mm and the 135 mm is they are pretty old lenses, and i had read somewhere it has AF issues, and might have trouble with the D90. If anyone can clear this for me that would be great, i couldn't find much info on the lens in regards to the D90.

And my issue with the 85mm 1.4G is, its 1600$, and for that money, i could get the 105mm DC and the 50mm 1.4 G. Too many choices.

I have thought about the new sigma 85mm, but all the stories of their quality control where ever i read is getting me a little freaked about getting the Sigma.

I chose prime mostly because of its low light optical performance, in dog shows, harsh lighting and lack of lighting is pretty common, and flash is not always a good idea.

So if anyone has any suggestions, that would be helpful.

Here are a few example shots, so you have a idea what i will be shooting. Both these are with the 18-105mm lenses.



Thank you all.
I would think that doing any type of action event where things can be at varying distances but you not always able to move up and closer in, a zoom would be a better idea than a prime.

I've never shot a dog show, but I'm thinking you have a spot to photograph from. So if the dogs get too close, and your lens is too long, well, you'll have a bunch of really nice shots of their ears.

I'm thinking a 70-200 f/2.8 would be ideal for this type of show, or any type of show. But if you have issues with the one prime being $1600, the 70-200 is more than that.

Unless you are shooting 2 bodies, one with a wider / regular lens and one with a telephoto lens, I'd go zoom instead of primes.

The 85 would be good in some cases, as the 135 would be good in others. Doing any type of action photography can get quite expensive. That is why sport photographers have so much gear as they have to deal with freezing action in low light, which means high clean iso and fast zooms
You do have a excellent point about versatility. The reason i did think of primes were, one, there is not much of a focal range i would be working in, i would average about 70-105mm, so when i did think of the 70-200mm, i thought it might be overkill, then again, if i did have the extra 100mm to work with, i might use it. Its something i have not thought about. Also i always thought the d90 couldn't use the 70-200 to its fullest, so i figured i would wait till i get a full frame camera to get the 70-200mm.

Also i might have issues with low light, and i know primes are generally faster than zoom lenses and have excellent optical quality, that is why i considered a prime, also i was planning on the 50mm 1.4 for general use, so i figured i would get a longer focal length and use it for sports.

The price is not the issue, i was just thinking, for that 1600, i could get two nice primes. I guess i was thinking too economically.

Thanks for your suggestion.
Your D90 includes a focus drive motor, so it could make good use of some older Nikon lenses.

$2160 for the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II
vs. $1100 for the AF 80-200mm f/2.8D

$440 for the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
vs. $330 for the AF 50mm f/1.4D

$1700 for the AF-S 85mm f/1.4G
vs. $1225 for the AF 85mm f/1.4D
Your D90 includes a focus drive motor, so it could make good use of some older Nikon lenses.

$2160 for the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II
vs. $1100 for the AF 80-200mm f/2.8D

$440 for the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
vs. $330 for the AF 50mm f/1.4D

$1700 for the AF-S 85mm f/1.4G
vs. $1225 for the AF 85mm f/1.4D

I'd recommend the af 80-200mm f/2.8d, and it shouldn't cost you $1100. I have a mint copy on the auction site right now, BIN is $599.

The 85mm f1.8 would also be a good choice.
The 85 1.4 is an amazing lens. Although it may not be ideal for you usage. If you feel that this focal length is all you need. Then don't hesitate. But from the sounds of it a nice zoom would be ideal. Whenever I've done a show or sport in the past I know that using a prime would have been a big headache. 70-200 = awesome, but the 80-200 is also a great lens and will save you some bucks.
Thanks for the suggestions.

So i am going out today with one the dogs, and do what some folks here in the forum have suggested to other members, that is set the focal length to the one desired(50mm, 85mm). And shoot only using those focal lengths, so i get a good idea of what i will be getting into.

I am going to read up on the 80-200mm.
So i went out and set my focal lengths to specific lengths on my 18-105mm and i have to admit, forcing myself to use a specific focal length made me view things a whole lot differently.

I tried and 50mm and 85mm lengths, and i am surprised to find how long 50mm actually is on a crop sensor especially when trying to do portraits, never noticed on the zoom because i barely look at what focal length iam using when taking pictures.

This is one i took at 50mm,


I also tried the 85mm, and it did seem pretty long for portraits, i had to keep stepping back to get everything in.


Since at the show i will be doing some portraits of a few peoples dogs, personal friends, nothing professional. I think i will go ahead and get the 50mm 1.4G like i first planned.

But I do need a longer focal length for the show itself, the events, i now some of you have suggested the 80-200mm, and i read some reviews, they all seem to say its optically a excellent lens, which is good.

So anyone has any personal experience with the 80-200mm on a crop sensor camera?..I am just concerned about the AF speed on the D90. Is it worth it to spend a few hundred more on the AF-S version of the 80-200mm?

Well if you were shooting baseball or some really fast action sports I might say the AF-S might be worth the extra money but if your doing shots of posed dogs or slow action I would save your money and grab the AF version.
So after some decisions, i decided to go with the AF 80-200mm f/2.8, and the 50mm 1.4G, and i will keep my 18-55mm lens if i need something wider, and probably sell off the 18-105mm.

Thank you all for your help.

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