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  1. #1
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    Aug 2007
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    a bunch more lens questions...help...

    I have a Nikon D80 w/ the 18-135 kit lens,70-300VR, Sigma 10-20mm wide lens, and 50mm f1.8 (and I love it), and the SB800. I take a lot of low light shots w/ no flash (Concerts, dancers, indoor sports, in addition to landscape photos) so I realized after all this that I needed to upgrade my lenses. Even w/ the VR, in really low to no light and bumping up the ISO, I still can't get shots without some motion blur. I am strictly a hobbyist, so I can't afford the $1600 70-200VR f2.8 (although it's been on my wish list for a while). Someone on another board recommends I get this lens. $$$$$$

    I am debating getting the 85mm f1.8 and the Tamron 17-50 f2.8. Or, I may get the 85mm f1.8 and the Tamron 28-75 f2.8. (I'm concerned about the crop factor w/ getting a 28-75mm lens -- any comments from users on this? How much difference does the 17-28mm make? How far will I have to step back to get a shot if I got the 28-75mm vs the 17-50mm?)

    I also looked at the new Tamron 70-200 f2.8 at Amazon and am interested in that. My debate with this lens would be, should I get that lens, or get the older Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 for a couple hundred more? I am concerned as to whether or not a lack of VR will be an issue for me. I do have a tripod and monopod, but don't want to have to lug it everywhere I go. In fact, that's partly why I know I need faster glass, because my low light, handheld shots are not cutting the mustard.
    A few questions:
    1. One more thing, are any of the lenses above compatible wih full frame DSLRs? I'm thinking for the future; I wouldn't want to buy a lens that wouldn't be compatible with cameras of the future. Kind of a waste of money...
    2. Does anyone have a list of lenses that are compatible with current DSLRs and usable for full frame cameras?
    3. I am concerned that the 50mm/1.8 was not close enough at times and the 85mm/1.8 will bring me too close to the subject on stage in certain situations. Are there any other Nikon Primes people can recommend. Again, my dilemma is to buy the Tamron + 85mm/1.8 for now or buy a few fast primes in different focal lengths.
    4.What do you all recommend?
    5. Is there a huge difference in the 85/1.8 vs. 85/1.4 lens as far as speed and sharpness?

    In hindsight (always 20/20), I realize I should have just bought the body and the best 3rd party f2.8 lenses that I could afford, but being so new to DSLRs I didn't know what to look for and decided to take the 'safe' route by going with the Nikon entry level zoom lenses. These lenses are just not fast enough for the type of photography that I do. Any ideas or opinions?
    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Aug 2004
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    OK. First for the silly bit. YOU have an 18-135. Really, you can't figure out whether you would want that 17-28 range...all by your lonesome??? Put your camera on a tripod, set for 18mm, have a look, then do the same at 28mm. Do you need the wider setting? Most say yes. OK, I'm over it now.

    There's a lot of back and forth here. On the 85mm between the 1.8 and the 1.4....The 1.8 is an very nice lens. Rooz will confirm that. The 1.4 is much more expensive, but it is also one of the "legendary" Nikkors. You will be very happy with the 1.8. You will be stunned by the 1.4. Do you need to be happy or stunned? Can you afford to be stunned?

    I suspect the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is a DX type lens for APS-C sensors. About the only full frame 17-18 to whatever lenses that I know of is the 17-35 f2.8 Nikkor, and that's in the same price bracket with the 70-200VR (for good reason - back in there with the "legends" bracket).

    To be honest, it sounds like your budget is seeking good lenses at decent prices, rather than great lenses at whatever they cost. With that in mind, I can tell you that my Nikkor 17-55 f2.8 is my everyday lens, not my more convenient 18-200VR. So the Tamron 18-50 or the Sigma of the same length are probably the appropriate lenses here. If your budget also allows the Nikkor 85mm f1.8, then that would also be a very nice addition.

    As for the 70-80 to 200 lenses, Do you really need this range for your current low light work. What do you shoot in low light? I guess I should have asked that question earlier, but you seem concerned that the 28-75 is not wide enough, so where does that leave the 70-200. The Nikkor 70-200VR is near the top in all the lenses Nikon has ever built. The new 14-24 and/or 24-70 may have surpassed it in overall image quality. Do you want to compromise, or do you want to wait. The "clones" will be good, but at that range, there is nothing as good as the Nikkor. Again, it goes back to your budget and what you are trying to accomplish. It does seem that if you want the Nikkor, then you could get it instead of the combination of lenses you are talking about. But that does not seem to be what you are saying. You are saying that you would rather get the good quality lenses than hold out for the great lenses. The Nikkor 80-200 quality will vary slightly depending on which you get. There was an AF-S version that was exceptional, but you can only get that used, and it's very close in price to the 70-200VR. All the 80-200 Nikkors are professional quality lenses, but all are dated designs, so they may be noisier and slower to focus. If you are talking about adding this in addition to the other lenses, I would say that the Sigma or Tamron would be fine (The Sigma has a good rep, I know less about the Tamron). The 80-200 Nikkor will be built like a tank, but image quality may only be slightly superior to the 3rd party lenses.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
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    Since you aren't confused enough, let me throw in the Tamron 90mm Macro... The latest version for DSLRs. From what I have read it is VERY highly regarded. It is 2.8 and not 1.8 so you lose a tad of speed. But it is a great portrait, macro, and low-light lens. You would need a bit of working room at 90mm for a portrait since it is on the long end of a typical portrait lens. But this one is on my list.
    Nikon D70s
    Nikkor 50mm 1.8D (If you don't have it you need it)
    Nikkor 18-200mm VR II
    SB-600
    Bogen/Manfrotto Tripods/Heads
    NAS (D300, Nikkor 80-200mm (or 70-200mm)f/2.8, Tamron 90mm Macro)

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    OK. First for the silly bit. YOU have an 18-135. Really, you can't figure out whether you would want that 17-28 range...all by your lonesome??? Put your camera on a tripod, set for 18mm, have a look, then do the same at 28mm. Do you need the wider setting? Most say yes. OK, I'm over it now.
    You know, until you posted this, I hadn't really thought of trying it out myself to see what it looked like. (I must've been having a blonde moment.) I thought I'd post asking everyone elses opinions and then weight it out. Now that you mention it, I agree, on the APS-C sensors I'm sure most would say yes, it makes a difference.

    There's a lot of back and forth here. On the 85mm between the 1.8 and the 1.4....The 1.8 is an very nice lens. Rooz will confirm that. The 1.4 is much more expensive, but it is also one of the "legendary" Nikkors. You will be very happy with the 1.8. You will be stunned by the 1.4. Do you need to be happy or stunned? Can you afford to be stunned?
    Umm...I can afford to be stunned, but I can't afford to be stunned all at once with the various focal lengths and types of lenses that I'm thinking I'm going to need to take the kinds of photos I want to be able to take. I may have to settle with happy for now, and maybe upgrade later as my budget permits.

    I suspect the Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is a DX type lens for APS-C sensors. About the only full frame 17-18 to whatever lenses that I know of is the 17-35 f2.8 Nikkor, and that's in the same price bracket with the 70-200VR (for good reason - back in there with the "legends" bracket).
    Yes, I researched it and it is a DX type lens. But the Nikon 17-55 is also DX.

    To be honest, it sounds like your budget is seeking good lenses at decent prices, rather than great lenses at whatever they cost. With that in mind, I can tell you that my Nikkor 17-55 f2.8 is my everyday lens, not my more convenient 18-200VR. So the Tamron 18-50 or the Sigma of the same length are probably the appropriate lenses here. If your budget also allows the Nikkor 85mm f1.8, then that would also be a very nice addition.
    That's what I am leaning towards.

    As for the 70-80 to 200 lenses, Do you really need this range for your current low light work. What do you shoot in low light? I guess I should have asked that question earlier, but you seem concerned that the 28-75 is not wide enough, so where does that leave the 70-200. The Nikkor 70-200VR is near the top in all the lenses Nikon has ever built. The new 14-24 and/or 24-70 may have surpassed it in overall image quality. Do you want to compromise, or do you want to wait. The "clones" will be good, but at that range, there is nothing as good as the Nikkor. Again, it goes back to your budget and what you are trying to accomplish. It does seem that if you want the Nikkor, then you could get it instead of the combination of lenses you are talking about. But that does not seem to be what you are saying. You are saying that you would rather get the good quality lenses than hold out for the great lenses. The Nikkor 80-200 quality will vary slightly depending on which you get. There was an AF-S version that was exceptional, but you can only get that used, and it's very close in price to the 70-200VR. All the 80-200 Nikkors are professional quality lenses, but all are dated designs, so they may be noisier and slower to focus. If you are talking about adding this in addition to the other lenses, I would say that the Sigma or Tamron would be fine (The Sigma has a good rep, I know less about the Tamron). The 80-200 Nikkor will be built like a tank, but image quality may only be slightly superior to the 3rd party lenses.
    I really only need the 70-200VR for shooting my son's marching band and sports. Alot of times it's outdoors at night and my 70-300VR just wasn't cutting it. Even with bumping the ISO, I was still getting a lot of motion blur in the poorly lit high school stadiums at night. I know the VR only stops my motion, the lens wasn't fast enough to stop a field full of kids running around at night. And for low light indoor symphonic type performances when I am in the back of a concert hall, the reach and speed would work better for me. I'm always worried that I have to sit in the first couple of rows of the concert hall or forget about getting any decent shots.

    I'm actually debating right now just sucking it up and getting the 17-55, 85 1.8, and 70-200VR Nikkor lenses. In the long run it's probably going to cost me more to get less and upgrade later, unless the 3rd party lenses hold their value, right? However, I really dislike the fact that the 17-55 Nikkor is DX. I'm afraid that in a few years it will be obsolete with the direction that the new DSLRs are taking (full frame). So that alone may be enough to convince me to perhaps get the cheaper Sigma or Tamron for now. AARRGG!!! (Sorry if my back and forth self debate is irritating to you, but I am an analytical type of person and I need to look at all the angles before I decide.)

    I've looked all night and I can't find anywhere online that has the USA version of the 70-200VR available. It's all back ordered or not showing up. Do you know of any place that has it in stock to order it that is reputable?
    Thanks!
    Last edited by SUITEFREAK; 02-18-2008 at 06:45 AM.

  5. #5
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    Aug 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by tcadwall View Post
    Since you aren't confused enough, let me throw in the Tamron 90mm Macro... The latest version for DSLRs. From what I have read it is VERY highly regarded. It is 2.8 and not 1.8 so you lose a tad of speed. But it is a great portrait, macro, and low-light lens. You would need a bit of working room at 90mm for a portrait since it is on the long end of a typical portrait lens. But this one is on my list.
    Thanks tcadwell...I appreciate the input.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
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    Lenses are made in batches. The same line will be used for a different lens when a batch is complete. So, you tend to have a glut of lenses available, diminishing to near none. However, you might try actually walking into your local camera shops.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    116
    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    Lenses are made in batches. The same line will be used for a different lens when a batch is complete. So, you tend to have a glut of lenses available, diminishing to near none. However, you might try actually walking into your local camera shops.
    Thanks, but I have. The only decent store we have where I live is a Ritz Camera, and they only have the Tamron 28-75. They are back ordered on the Sigma, and they don't have the Nikons in stock either. Other than that we have like Best Buy and Circuit City and they only sell the junk stuff. It's very sad. We used to have one family owned high end camera store that catered to professional photographers and filmmakers, but they went out of business about 4 years ago. Really sad...
    Are you saying that you don't think I should have to worry about the Nikkor 17-55 ever being obsolete despite the fact that it's DX and made for smaller sensor cameras?

  8. #8
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    Aug 2004
    Location
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    It will not be obsolete for a long, long time. Nikon is not going to go full frame across the board anytime soon, so there will always be buyers for used Nikkor equipment. And, because it's Nikkor, it will retain value better than Sigma, Tamron or Tokina.

    So, when an affordable full frame camera does arrive on the scene, there will still be a market for your used DX type lenses.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2007
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    670
    I'm not sure what to recommend, because I'm not sure what focal length ranges you really need. For myself, I can say with absolute certainty what focal lengths I use typically and what types of shots I usually take. This makes it a lot easier.

    For example, you are wondering if 85 mm is too long, yet you're considering lenses that reach 200-300 mm. What are your 2-3 most common photographic situations and what are your desired focal length ranges for each? If you can describe them specifically, that would help greatly.

    For the 50-85 mm range, you mentioned the 50 not being close enough, and the 85 being too close... that leads me to believe that the Tamron 28-75/2.8 would be an excellent choice for you. It is a full-frame capable lens too. I find it to be optically excellent and is the lens I use for indoor sports that are relatively close. I assume it would be the perfect focal length range for ballet/concerts if you're sitting pretty close as well.

    One thing I should mention is that I find is that a fast lens (well, f/2.8) is not enough to prevent motion blur in a relatively dim indoor environment. Even with my 28-75/2.8 and my D80 set to 1600 ISO, I was still getting motion blur when I was taking pics of table tennis in relatively poor indoor lighting. And flash in this case would have probably got me thrown out. I would have needed about 2 more stops of speed to make it work. So, either 6400 ISO (need a D300 or D3 for that) or 3200 ISO and a faster lens (f/1.8 or f/2).

    How dim is the lighting in your situation? An extra stop or two switching from the 70-300/VR to an f/2.8 lens still may not be enough!

    Speaking of faster lenses, I used to be on a prime kick, but generally find that primes are far too restrictive and inflexible to handle dynamic shooting situations. Unless i'm in a studio / portrait situation where the subject(s) are in a generally fixed position, I really prefer the ability to zoom in and out. A prime gets you more speed and subject isolation, but they're a lot harder to use in dynamic situations and put a lot more pressure on the photographer to nail the focus in an action situation because of the tiny DOF. And speaking of DOF, I usually need more DOF than f/1.8-2 can provide anyways. I find f/2.8 to be the widest aperture I can use and still maintain enough DOF.

    That's why personally, I wouldn't go the fast prime route, but rather, stick with my f/2.8 zooms and get a body that's capable of higher ISO (e.g., D300 at 3200 ISO would be at least as good as the D80 at 1600, IQ wise, and 6400 ISO wouldn't be too much worse, I think)

    As for long and fast zooms, what is your preference wrt size/weight? As for my personal take on the 70-200 and 80-200/2.8 lenses, I hate large, heavy lenses, partly because i find tripods/monopods generally inconvenient and restrictive. And I consider anything over 2 lbs (900 g) to be heavy. Yet, there really is no way around it if you need the speed, though. Unless you know you don't mind the weight of these lenses, I would try handling one of them first before ordering online.

    Finally, I would not make lens purchasing decisions based DX-only or full-frame capable designs. Unless you know that you will be switching to full-frame if a lower cost version of the D3 comes out, for example, it's like planning ahead for a friend's wedding when they haven't even gotten engaged yet.
    Last edited by e_dawg; 02-18-2008 at 01:17 PM.

    Nikon: D300, D700, Nikkor: 24-70, 70-200, 70-300/VR, 24/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.4G, 60/2.8G, 180/2.8,
    Sigma: 10-20, 50-150/2.8, 50/2.8, Tamron: 17-50/2.8, 28-75/2.8, Tokina: 12-24, Zeiss: 25/2.8
    Olympus: E-520, E-3, 7-14, 9-18, 11-22, 12-60, 14-35/2, 14-54, 35-100/2, 50-200, 25/2.8, 35/3.5, 50/2
    Panasonic: G1, Leica: 14-50, 14-150, 25/1.4
    Sony: A700, A900, 24-85, 35-70, 70-210/4, 20/2.8, 24/2.8, 50/2.8, T 90 macro, Zeiss: 24-70/2.8, 135/1.8
    P&S: Canon S90, Panasonic: LX3


  10. #10
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    Aug 2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by e_dawg View Post
    I'm not sure what to recommend, because I'm not sure what focal length ranges you really need. For myself, I can say with absolute certainty what focal lengths I use typically and what types of shots I usually take. This makes it a lot easier.

    For example, you are wondering if 85 mm is too long, yet you're considering lenses that reach 200-300 mm. What are your 2-3 most common photographic situations and what are your desired focal length ranges for each? If you can describe them specifically, that would help greatly.
    I need the fast lenses for low light concert and show photography, and sports photography.

    For the 50-85 mm range, you mentioned the 50 not being close enough, and the 85 being too close... that leads me to believe that the Tamron 28-75/2.8 would be an excellent choice for you. It is a full-frame capable lens too. I find it to be optically excellent and is the lens I use for indoor sports that are relatively close. I assume it would be the perfect focal length range for ballet/concerts if you're sitting pretty close as well.
    Well, I recently sat in the 3rd row of my son's concert hall, and the 50mm 1.8 wasn't close enough. He a percussionist, so is almost always at the furthest back position on the stage. So that's why I thought the 85mm would have given me a little more leeway to zoom in on him. I need the lens to be fast enough to handhold because they don't always allow tripods, and almost never allow flash photography in various performance venues. (And the flash wouldn't travel that far anyway, I don't think.) I am concerned that it may end up being too close in other situations, especially since it's a fixed focal length, so less flexible. However, for the concert stuff, it would probably be perfect -- unless for some reason I can't get a seat that's close to the front of the stage. In which case, I would like to have the 70-200f2.8 for those times, and for sports and marching band performances. In my experience sitting in the stands, if I get too close to ground level, I won't get as good of a shot. I prefer to be higher up, further away and zoom in. I can use a tripod in these situations, and have, but still had subject motion blur using my 70-300 VR, unless we were in a very well lit college stadium.

    One thing I should mention is that I find is that a fast lens (well, f/2.8) is not enough to prevent motion blur in a relatively dim indoor environment. Even with my 28-75/2.8 and my D80 set to 1600 ISO, I was still getting motion blur when I was taking pics of table tennis in relatively poor indoor lighting. And flash in this case would have probably got me thrown out. I would have needed about 2 more stops of speed to make it work. So, either 6400 ISO (need a D300 or D3 for that) or 3200 ISO and a faster lens (f/1.8 or f/2).
    How dim is the lighting in your situation? An extra stop or two switching from the 70-300/VR to an f/2.8 lens still may not be enough!
    Along the lines of Dim concert halls, Dim high school stadiums, and evening landscape shots. I thought of upgrading to a D300, but I just got my D80 a few months ago. I don't think my DH would go for that...It's not like I'm getting paid to take pictures.

    Speaking of faster lenses, I used to be on a prime kick, but generally find that primes are far too restrictive and inflexible to handle dynamic shooting situations. Unless i'm in a studio / portrait situation where the subject(s) are in a generally fixed position, I really prefer the ability to zoom in and out. A prime gets you more speed and subject isolation, but they're a lot harder to use in dynamic situations and put a lot more pressure on the photographer to nail the focus in an action situation because of the tiny DOF. And speaking of DOF, I usually need more DOF than f/1.8-2 can provide anyways. I find f/2.8 to be the widest aperture I can use and still maintain enough DOF.
    That's why personally, I wouldn't go the fast prime route, but rather, stick with my f/2.8 zooms and get a body that's capable of higher ISO (e.g., D300 at 3200 ISO would be at least as good as the D80 at 1600, IQ wise, and 6400 ISO wouldn't be too much worse, I think)
    I kind of felt the same way that's why I was comparing the Tamron and Sigmas in the first place. (in another post) But after much feedback on this and other forums, I'm pretty convinced that for my low light concert photography I'll need the 85/1.8 for handheld and no flash.

    As for long and fast zooms, what is your preference wrt size/weight? As for my personal take on the 70-200 and 80-200/2.8 lenses, I hate large, heavy lenses, partly because i find tripods/monopods generally inconvenient and restrictive. And I consider anything over 2 lbs (900 g) to be heavy. Yet, there really is no way around it if you need the speed, though. Unless you know you don't mind the weight of these lenses, I would try handling one of them first before ordering online.
    Of course I prefer lighter lenses especially if I'm going to be traveling, however, I prefer that I have a better chance of getting photos that come out. How much is that worth to me? Priceless. I only have one child to photograph. Even now, when I travel I still lug around a CF tripod and monopod, so that won't be something new for me. If I am anticipating taking low light, night photos, they won't come out hand held with my current lens set up. (Except for the 50mm/1.8.)

    On a side note, I took some photos today from a boat and using my 70-300VR, zoomed all the way out at 300mm I was able to get some shots of whales. (This was during the day.) I know after today, that if I get the 70-200/2.8, the reach won't be enough for me in those types of situations. I'll probably have to get the 1.7 tele converter. So just because of this, I may have to wait until I can afford to get the 70-200+ tele converter, because I know I won't be happy with just the lens. (Well, maybe if I knew how to crop in Photoshop, etc, I would be happy with that length, but since I don't know how to do that yet, I'm pretty certain I wouldn't be happy with the zoom length.) I'm just going to have to make sure I get a close up enough seat for now at concerts and games.

    Finally, I would not make lens purchasing decisions based DX-only or full-frame capable designs. Unless you know that you will be switching to full-frame if a lower cost version of the D3 comes out, for example, it's like planning ahead for a friend's wedding when they haven't even gotten engaged yet.
    Thanks. After evaluating everything, I agree.

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