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  • Lens Suggestion for Nikon D800

    I just pre-ordered my very first DSLR. Yay. While I'm familiar with the photography world. I am somewhat of an amatuer, I'm looking to go professional. I've been reading and scouring the internet learning everything I possibly can about lenses, but, it seems like without real world application of lenses, I feel like I'm falling short of really KNOWING which would be the best lens for me. So I was hoping someone could offer me some advise, based on what I tell you I'm thinking/Looking at.

    I plan to be doing alot of studio and portraiture work. I also am heavily interested in landscape photography (it's my understanding wide angles will work well for this ) I also, alas have a very curious eye for macro photography, but that won't come till much later...

    Anyways...I see alot of prime lenses, with reasonable prices, and than zooms, just seem out of this world. The one nikon zoom I am looking at is 24-70mm f2.8 for 1899. Starting out do you recommend zoom lenses? Also how important is the f/stop if having the availability of having a wide range of pictures..I see so many lenses with f3.5 (and usually with a variable max aperture...which I don't feel like I'm a fan of)....
    So I'm thinking of going with that first, and than going with some prime lenses...I just wondered what thoughts you all had on lenses, and if any of you have d800 specific thoughts on lenses because of the high megapixels, I'm wanting to of course get the most bang.

    Thanks in advance for your help!

  • #2
    the 24-70 would be a nice first choice. You'll eventually get more lenses. Since the d800 is full frame you'll stick to non-dx lenses and since you have really nice high resolution it makes sense to get good glass. Otherwise kinda like putting crap tires on a sportscar...
    Last edited by zona5101; 02-24-2012, 12:31 PM.
    "They call me Bruce."
    www.brucebphotography.com

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    • #3
      Starting out I would normally recommend a crop-sensor camera with an inexpensive zoom lens. This allows you to find out what capabilities you really want and what things aren't all that important.

      Since you're starting out with a full-frame camera, I'd probably recommend getting a fast 50mm lens (like the 50mm f/1.8D). It's an extremely sharp, very fast lens at a useful focal length and it will allow you to decide what you're missing before you spend thousands of dollars on a lens.

      None of this should be taken as a knock on the 24-70. It's a gorgeous piece of equipment and it's a basic professional tool for many sorts of photography. But it's big and expensive and I'd not recommend it until you actually know what you're buying.

      Finally, I wouldn't be worried about buying a lens with a variable maximum aperture. Sure it means that you'll have one more thing to consider when you're changing your focal length in low light, but the prices are normally enough lower and the lenses enough lighter that they're still worth owning. (And you can sell them if it turns out that you really don't like them.)

      Oh, and I would recommend against buying a DX lens, since it will vignette on that body unless you shoot with a cropped field of view -- and if that's what you want there are much cheaper bodies than that D800.
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      • #4
        Thanks Zona for your input. Well, I would like to spend around 1 to two grand on my first lens/lenses.

        Doug, you have given me some food for thought. Nikon has a f1.2 lense for 500...and actually I think the 1.8 50mm is pretty cheap if I recall. From what I understand the advantage of the prime is that I'm just stuck getting closer or further away from my subject. I wanted something versatile, but I guess at the range of 24-70 it's not very versatile anyhow? I want others to be able to use this camera too, and figure the zoom would be advantagous, but there goes my budget. I know I could go third party but would like to stick to a first party lens. What are the advantages to shooting with prime lenses?

        If I were to buy a few prime lenses with different mm, what would you suggest. thanks for the input so far.

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        • #5
          ...

          *looks at pole*
          "Nope... not long enough"
          ...
          I am responsible for what I say; not what you understand.
          adammontpetit.com
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          • #6
            The 24-70 is a very good lens, with the range for many common tasks, but it's quite expensive.

            What I'm recommending is that you buy a single inexpensive lens to start with and don't buy any more lenses until you know what you want and why. If you find yourself needing to use panoramic stitching quite a bit, then pick a wider lens. If you find yourself wanting to be closer to the subject, pick up a longer lens.

            But until you know what you want and why, don't spend $5000 on a suite of lenses just because someone said they're good.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Doug Sundseth View Post
              But until you know what you want and why, don't spend $5000 on a suite of lenses just because someone said they're good.
              If you're flush with cash why not just get the best right from the get-go?
              When you can swing your first dslr for $3k, it's not like you're looking in the couch cushions for change to pay for the rice and beans.
              "They call me Bruce."
              www.brucebphotography.com

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Doug Sundseth View Post
                The 24-70 is a very good lens, with the range for many common tasks, but it's quite expensive.

                What I'm recommending is that you buy a single inexpensive lens to start with and don't buy any more lenses until you know what you want and why. If you find yourself needing to use panoramic stitching quite a bit, then pick a wider lens. If you find yourself wanting to be closer to the subject, pick up a longer lens.

                But until you know what you want and why, don't spend $5000 on a suite of lenses just because someone said they're good.
                Thanks. It's my understanding that 50mm is a pretty good middle of the road focal length to start with then? Those are definitely cheap, even with the high max aperture...and it would get me up and running. initially I know I will be using it for alot of studio and portrait shots, but I am really interested in landscape and macro photography (of course I have to like things at opposite ends of the spectrum) ....Thanks again for the advice!

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by zona5101 View Post
                  If you're flush with cash why not just get the best right from the get-go?
                  When you can swing your first dslr for $3k, it's not like you're looking in the couch cushions for change to pay for the rice and beans.
                  Haha, I'm not flush with cash, but I've learned to be particular about certain investments. If I've already invested 3k for my first dslr, I don't want to spend 10 dollars for a cheap lens (if only they were 10 dollars ) ... I want to make sure I'm getting my money's worth!...but your idea of getting the best right from the get-go is what I'm going for.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Sensorymoments View Post
                    Haha, I'm not flush with cash, but I've learned to be particular about certain investments. If I've already invested 3k for my first dslr, I don't want to spend 10 dollars for a cheap lens (if only they were 10 dollars ) ... I want to make sure I'm getting my money's worth!...but your idea of getting the best right from the get-go is what I'm going for.
                    Right and if you have $1800 bucks to spend, it's either the 24-70f2.8 or the 70-200f2.8vrii
                    And it's probably not either / or but more like which one first.... i'd say 24-70 as it will provide moderate coverages for both landscape and portraits.
                    "They call me Bruce."
                    www.brucebphotography.com

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                    • #11
                      While OS is backing away, may I quietly float the idea that I hope you are budgeting time to master dSLR photography as well as your gear before even thinking of hanging out a shingle? Owning a big expensive dSLR and pro lenses doesn't make you a pro. It just makes you the owner of expensive gear. This I know. From the inside.

                      You are definitely getting very nice gear if you go for the D800 and the 24-70/2.8. But I would also say that in your first post, you were absolutely correct when you wrote:

                      Originally posted by Sensorymoments View Post
                      ... but, it seems like without real world application of lenses, I feel like I'm falling short of really KNOWING which would be the best lens for me.
                      The thing here is that people can tell you what works for them or for other people, or their idea of what will be a good fit for you. But ultimately, only you are going to know what and how you want to shoot and what tools are going to fit that best. They may not be the tools everybody else uses. My first lens purchase after the kit and a fast 50mm, was an 8mm circular fisheye. It was perfect for me. Most folks will never rent a fisheye lens, let alone buy one. And if they do, it's typically diagonal, not circular. But I love mine. It lives in my bag and I'm never without it. So, be sure to keep in mind how you plan to use this gear. And go slow. Don't get a huge bunch of gear off the bat. You're going to have to learn the dSLR, as well as each individual lens. Space it out and give yourself some time to master this stuff.

                      Paying gigs are for pressure players who can operate their stuff on autopilot. Anybody can take a good picture with enough time and no pressure. Not everyone can do it with a client breathing down their neck.

                      Originally posted by Sensorymoments View Post
                      ... Nikon has a f1.2 lense for 500...
                      Read the description a little closer. That's a manual focus lens. I.e., it doesn't autofocus. At all. No matter what camera body it's on. Just thought I should mention that.

                      Also, as with zooms, you get what you pay for. The pro portrait prime lenses are probably the AF-S G versions of the 35/1.4 and 85/1.4, and the DC 105/2. They each cost four figures.

                      ... What are the advantages to shooting with prime lenses?
                      Smaller, lighter, sometimes less expensive, optimized for the specific focal length (zooms may (and often do) vary performance across the range), and FASTER (larger max. apertures). Zoom lenses max out at f/2.8. As you noted, Nikkor primes max out at f/1.2.

                      And since I'm not convinced you know about apertures and f-numbers , f/1.2 is 2.3 stops faster than f/2.8. That's 5 times more light. Think of it as being able to use 1/5 the iso, or 5x faster a shutter speed, or measuring your DoF in millimeters. But a larger max. aperture (lower f-number) will always mean a larger lens if both lenses are in the same mount system.

                      If I were to buy a few prime lenses with different mm, what would you suggest. thanks for the input so far.
                      If you want to sound like you know about lenses , say "focal lengths" instead of "mm". The old school advice was to get primes in "doubles". So, a 24/50/100 set, or a 35/85 set are likely to be good matches, where there's enough difference that you aren't overlapping, but not so much difference that you'll miss a lens. DO remember, as has been stated before, though, that DX lenses are out for you, as a full-frame shooter. You need FX lenses if you want to cover the sensor. Personally, if you want a good portrait lens for lower cost, and you mostly are framing the face/torso, rather than full length, I'd go with an AF-S 85mm f/1.8G or (if you wanna spend a ton) the AF-S 85 f/1.4G.

                      Focal lengths affect not just how "zoomed in" you are, but also your working distance, possible distortion, and the amount of out of focus blur you can achieve. Some folks prefer their lenses long, others prefer them wide or normal. There is no single "best" length that's a perfect fit for everyone. As you can see from the recommendations you're getting or that you'll read on messageboards.

                      Originally posted by Sensorymoments View Post
                      Thanks. It's my understanding that 50mm is a pretty good middle of the road focal length to start with then?
                      Old school would say yes. It's the "normal" lens that most folks started with on film. But it can be an individual thing about where you want to sit. I'd say if you're getting the 24-70/2.8, hold off on getting a prime. Shoot a ton with the 24-70, then analyze your EXIF and see what focal lengths you favor in that range. It should help you decide between a 35, 50, or 85.

                      Originally posted by Sensorymoments View Post
                      If I've already invested 3k for my first dslr, I don't want to spend 10 dollars for a cheap lens (if only they were 10 dollars ) ... I want to make sure I'm getting my money's worth!...but your idea of getting the best right from the get-go is what I'm going for.
                      Here's the thing, though.

                      The pro-end four-figure glass is better than the midrange three-figure glass, no question. But the improvements you get are marginal, not order of magnitude. And it often takes experience and a specific critical eye to be able to even see those improvements in your final images. And it's expensive. If you don't know what's best for you, it may be better to simply get the cheap glass, grit your teeth, and get the experience to know what IS going to be a good fit, with a view that it's just temporary.

                      Also, paying a higher price for a dSLR doesn't necessarily mean you're going to keep it any longer than a cheaper camera. These are digital electronics. How long do you hold onto a computer? A cellphone? That might be a good guide for how long the D800 is going to last you before it either goes belly up, or you jones for a shinier piece of kit. Camera gear is, typically for most of us, not an investment so much as a money pit.

                      For the price of the 24-70/2.8 you could get a 3rd party 24-70, a copy of Photoshop CS5 and an SB-900 or a good tripod. And that flash may be more important for portraits, and that tripod more important for landscape shooting than whatever lens/camera combo you end up using.

                      This is the other thing you don't yet know. Sometimes it's not a lens you need. Sometimes it's a tripod. Or a flash. Or post-processing software. Again, experience will tell you what piece of gear is most appropriate. Personally, using iPhoto or Picasa with the D800's JPEG output would be pretty similar to putting the 28-80 f/3.5-5.6G film kit lens on it. It's a fine and noble ambition to start at the top, but most of us work our way there one piece at a time.
                      Last edited by inkista; 02-24-2012, 11:26 PM.
                      I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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                      • #12
                        And that's why I kept my mouth shut; I wouldnt have been as... diplomatic.
                        I am responsible for what I say; not what you understand.
                        adammontpetit.com
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                        500PX | Graphic Design

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                        • #13
                          That's what having posted on the 'net since 1985 does to you, man. It just drains out all the snark.
                          I shoot with a Canon 5DmkII, 50D, and S90, and Pansonic GX-7. flickr stream and equipment list

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                          • #14
                            ok. lens narrowed down, but what the heck is D vs. G?

                            Ok, So, given the suggestions, along with the research I've been doing, I'm settling in on getting a 50mm f1.4 Nikkor lense to start off with. I decided while it will be great to have range, i'd love to have a cheaper(but not in quality) lens to start off with to get to know my camera, and I can also use it on my boyfriends' d100 in the meantime, and after i get my camera...he has a sigma lens, that I'm hoping may still work on my camera(although I doubt it's going to be the best on my camera..but it will do if I need range.) So...with THAT being said..I noticed a difference between D and G on the lens....which from my understanding has to do with an aperture ring that allows you to manually focus while shooting, given that the d800 has video, does anyone know which would be more beneficial, and what the practical differences are. I plan to possibly rent this out for videographers as well, so that functionality is pretty important to me. I appreciate everyones input in this. I'm trying to make sense of EVERYTHING I'm reading.

                            Flickr: Sensorymoments' Photostream

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by inkista View Post
                              That's what having posted on the 'net since 1985 does to you, man. It just drains out all the snark.
                              If you count dialing into BBSs as "on the 'net", it's been longer than that for me. I still have snark left.

                              We each have our talents, I suppose.

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