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View Full Version : D40 - Will there be a reasonably priced AF-S prime lens (50mm F1.8) lens?



swpars
10-02-2007, 12:49 PM
Hello all,

I'm considering the purchase of a digital SLR, and like many SLR newcomers, I'm considering the Nikon D40.

I love the LCD of the camera, the great solid feel, and the 3 autofocus points don't bug me as I don't take a lot of action shots -- more outdoor landscape photography and indoor portraits.

However -- I'd really like to get a prime lens that will autofocus on a D40. As it stands, I understand there is no Nikon AF-S prime lens (or 3rd party - Sigma HSM) that will autofocus on a D40.

I guess my options are:

1. Buy a D40 with kit lens for $500, wait, and hope. Possibly get the 55-200VR - slow lens, but good deal for a 200 mm max VR lens ($250).

2. Buy a refurbished D80 body from Adorama ($739) and get the Nikon 50mm F1.8 prime ($100) and the kit lens ($100). More AF points, similar high ISO performance to D40.

3. Buy a refurbished D50 body for $400 from Adorama, get the prime lens, the kit lens, and the 55-200 VR. $850 total, but I've got worse high ISO performance than a D40 or D80. Tiny LCD display too.

I appreciate thoughts and perspectives. Canon owners -- the XTi is an awesome camera, and it would be on my list, but the Nikon LCDs just seem more "real life accurate" than its LCD.

erichlund
10-02-2007, 01:08 PM
Hello all,

I'm considering the purchase of a digital SLR, and like many SLR newcomers, I'm considering the Nikon D40.

I love the LCD of the camera, the great solid feel, and the 3 autofocus points don't bug me as I don't take a lot of action shots -- more outdoor landscape photography and indoor portraits.

However -- I'd really like to get a prime lens that will autofocus on a D40. As it stands, I understand there is no Nikon AF-S prime lens (or 3rd party - Sigma HSM) that will autofocus on a D40.

I guess my options are:

1. Buy a D40 with kit lens for $500, wait, and hope. Possibly get the 55-200VR - slow lens, but good deal for a 200 mm max VR lens ($250).

2. Buy a refurbished D80 body from Adorama ($739) and get the Nikon 50mm F1.8 prime ($100) and the kit lens ($100). More AF points, similar high ISO performance to D40.

3. Buy a refurbished D50 body for $400 from Adorama, get the prime lens, the kit lens, and the 55-200 VR. $850 total, but I've got worse high ISO performance than a D40 or D80. Tiny LCD display too.

I appreciate thoughts and perspectives. Canon owners -- the XTi is an awesome camera, and it would be on my list, but the Nikon LCDs just seem more "real life accurate" than its LCD.

Wow. Let me address the last item first. While the LCD is nice for getting rid of throwaways (and the newest LCDs on Nikon D3/D300 are good for critical focus), it's the least of reasons to eliminate competitive cameras. Image quality, lens selection/quality and camera handling are what you should be deciding on.

Sigma make a 30mm f1.4 HSM. AFAIK, that's the only short prime that autofocuses on the D40(x). Nikon hasn't announced any change to that plan at this time, but I think most hope they will eventually upgrade the entire lens line to AF-S. Hoping and wishing ain't doing, so don't hold your breath.

I'm a bigger fan of the D80 than the D40, and if you have to have AF primes, then the D40 is not your choice, plain and simple. D80 vs D50 is more difficult, but only for budget reasons. The D80 is a superior camera to the D50, and the D50 is getting harder to find. There's a lot more advantages to the D80 than what you mentioned, and you will discover them with use. That would be my recommendation.

fionndruinne
10-02-2007, 01:43 PM
The Sigma 30mm EX HSM is the only option, as Eric mentioned (apart from some more expensive long primes) that will currently autofocus with the D40. It's a pretty good range if you want a standard or "normal" prime like what was so popular in the heyday of 35mm cameras, since with the addition of the crop factor on an APS-C DSLR, it's actually 45mm, almost the 50mm normal range. Whereas, on a DSLR like the D40, a 50mm is actually 75mm, which is a bit too long for general-purpose use. Another point in the Sigma 30mm's favor, at f/1.4 it's a super light-gatherer, and performs quite well at f/2.

K1W1
10-02-2007, 05:05 PM
I'm sure that ultimately the general answer to your question will be yes Nikon will make AF-S primes.
As you say that your interest is landscape type photography is it actually such a problem to manually focus anyway? It's hardly like the scenery is going to move dramatically and by manually focussing you can select what you want to be in focus rather than what is in front of one of the three focus points.

Rooz
10-03-2007, 01:11 AM
I'm sure that ultimately the general answer to your question will be yes Nikon will make AF-S primes.
As you say that your interest is landscape type photography is it actually such a problem to manually focus anyway? It's hardly like the scenery is going to move dramatically and by manually focussing you can select what you want to be in focus rather than what is in front of one of the three focus points.

i agree with this. i would suspect that afs primes will come mid-late next year. with nikons new pro range of dslr's they need a prime update. HOWEVER, in saying that, the primes will probably be 1.4/ 1.2 and will be far more expensive than the 50mm f1.8.

indoor portraits i guess you can get the sigma 30mm but from my POV possibly the d40 with the sigma 18-50 f2.8 HSM is a lens that will suit your needs better. i would also consider getting the d40 kit for $500 and buying a hotshoe flash.

for landscapes the sigma 10-20mm is a far better option and will AF on the d40. (not that landscapes generally need AF anyway).

K1W1
10-03-2007, 02:05 AM
i agree with this.

You and I need to sort things out. We are starting to agree far to often. :D

tcadwall
10-03-2007, 07:56 AM
ok... I am starting to renig on my earlier post in another thread. These D40 vs ?? threads are starting to get a bit repetitive. LOL.

I am still not lining up with the recent tilt toward recommending a D40 over EITHER a D50 or D80. I think that sure there are people that will be perfectly happy with a D40 for what they need. But, especially in the case where a person states that they would like to use primes, I can't see recommending a D40. When it comes to recommending a specific lens, I think the OP needs to be a bit more specific on what they are trying to photograph. My recommendation on body would be a D80 in this case. Again this part is getting to be repetitve, but if someone has used a D70s or higher, they recognize how much easier it is when you have the front / rear dials to separately and quickly - even simultaneously - change aperture and shutter speed at the same time. I even wish my D70s had a third wheel for ISO! And no, I haven't misunderstood it. I know you can hold a button and spin the dial on the D40, D50... It just isn't as convenient or flexible. Sometimes the DOF preview is nice, but it alone wouldn't be the reason for upgrading for me. CLS flash system, very nice to have available even though I am not constantly using it - there are times where it is very useful. Focus points? well - one of the reasons that I would like a D300 is the 54 focus points. I prefer to compose my shot and choose the focus bracket - especially when using a tri-pod and remote release. Three selectable focus points on one plane doesn't give you much flexibility when framing in portrait orientation. Sure you can work around all of these, but why should you? When you add the fact that you are seriously limiting your lens selections that will AF, it becomes clearer. Even if you don't want a prime, but would be interested in purchasing a used 80-200mm f/2.8 for $600 rather than spending $1700 for an AF-S 70-200mm (which is superior, but far more expensive) the D80 starts sounding better and better, and maybe even a BETTER budget solution.

Landscapes I would want a wider lens than 30mm but it would certainly be do-able in many instances. For portraits? I don't think a 30mm is long enough. Group portraits? It probably would work well. Single person portaits? not so well unless you want to be cropping or getting up close - make sure you have an ample supply of breath mints if you are going to be doing headshots with a 30mm! :D Most photographers would suggest 80mm to 120mm for portraits (in 35mm film). So a 50mm prime which I have used, is still requiring some close work for head-shots. There is quite a bit of advantage to using slightly longer lenses for portraits especially if you are doing headshots. I am hoping to find a used Tamron 90mm for this purpose.

fionndruinne
10-03-2007, 11:40 AM
Modern DSLR photographers don't tend to see the use of an old-time "normal" prime, I'm thinking. Landscapes have moved more in the direction of wide, wide angle, and portraits are tighter than they used to be.

tcadwall, I think you're overdoing it just a little on the usefulness of dual dials. It's just a matter of getting used to the camera. A little more convenient, yes, but I wouldn't consider it enough to really factor in a DSLR choice. But hey, that's me.

tcadwall
10-03-2007, 01:31 PM
I have NEVER been accused of over-doing it! LOL! That is obviously far from the truth! :D

Didn't mean to come across that way, thanks for pointing it out. I think maybe since so many current threads are re-hashing the same things, it is being a redundant theme. There are tons of reasons that I think the D80 is a better route than a D40 for people that seem to gravitate toward getting more serious in future. I know I have said it before that I have recommended the D40 to a friend, and still don't regret it. I did tell him not to get the D40x since I felt that for his purposes, the bump in res. just didn't matter. He wanted a camera for shooting pictures of his kids. He has several years before his kids are old enough to play competitive sports, so he wasn't going to need the upgrade now.

But heck, if he was talking primes / theater lighting / manual control / indoor sports etc. then I would have suggested something that wasn't quite as limiting.

Rooz
10-03-2007, 04:18 PM
But heck, if he was talking primes / theater lighting / manual control / indoor sports etc. then I would have suggested something that wasn't quite as limiting.

i think a more pertinent queestion may be...why does the OP want primes ?

swpars
10-03-2007, 07:59 PM
i think a more pertinent queestion may be...why does the OP want primes ?

Hey all,

Thanks for all of the comments.

The reason that I want a prime lens is for speed -- I'd like to be able to shoot in fading evening light outdoors without the need for a tripod. Maybe some night street shots in city as well with street lighting/building-- and the Nikon 18-55mm kit lens at f3.5 minimum just isn't fast enough, at least based on my experience with a P&S superzoom camera with manual controls that has F2.8 at the widest angle setting on its 12x optical lens (although my ISO 400 is pretty worthless -- probably comparable to ISO 3200 on a D40).

Good bokeh is a nice thing to have, too. I'd like to be able to focus on one subject and minimize distractions in the background (kind of different from my primary area of shooting landscapes, but an area I'd like to explore more).

I didn't know about the Sigma 30 mm f1.4 HSM. More expensive than the 50mm f1.8 ($429 or so) but more useful for the shooting I'd do, AND it will AF on a D40.

Rooz
10-03-2007, 08:50 PM
i'm not discouraging you from a prime lens, far from it. i love my 50mm 1.8. however you also need to make sure that you are aware that the DOF @ f1.8 on the 50mm is very, very shallow indeed.

due to the small sensor size of a P&S, the dof from f2.8 is the equivalent to something like f8 on a dslr so you always have alot of your shot in focus. not so on a dslr. you barely get anything in focus at all at that aperture.

thats not necessarily a problem per se, becasue i like that for portraits and as you mentuioned isolating the subject. just make sure you're aware of the differences in dof beetween cmpact and dslr and whether that small aperture will suit your intended purpose. i have rarely if ever seen street photography shot at f1.8 for example and for landscapes its pretty pointless.

fionndruinne
10-03-2007, 08:54 PM
Personally I think the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 would make a killer low-light street lens; as far as I know, there's only one larger aperture (f/1.2... am I recalling it right, or just insane?), and you'll likely need mountains of cash for that. Plus 30mm (45mm) is about right for that kind of thing.

r3g
10-03-2007, 09:18 PM
+1

The 30mm 1.4 is well worth its price. Hope on flickr and search "Sigma 30mm 1.4" and witness its awesomeness. Now that I have my zoom taken care of its next on my list of glass.

tcadwall
10-04-2007, 07:30 AM
I didn't know about the Sigma 30 mm f1.4 HSM. More expensive than the 50mm f1.8 ($429 or so) but more useful for the shooting I'd do, AND it will AF on a D40.

These are the things that are definitely worth talking about.

First, as stated by others, you can't base anything on your P&S experience. A DSLR will blow away even the best P&S cameras.

Second, since the 50mm f/1.8 is $300+ less than the 30mm based on the price you list here, then you might consider that a D80 and a 50mm would be very close in price to a D40 and 30mm. The 50mm f/1.8 is an extremely good performer. And you would have all the advantages of a D80 over a D40 which means additional potential for savings on glass later. I know that concept might be hard to understand, but it is true.

Third, if you are shooting non-moving subjects in low light, you might be better off with a slower lens that has VR... WHAT?!?!? yes. As mentioned the shallow depth of field that you will get from the larger aperture MAY not be what you would consider ideal for many situations. Though sometimes it is the perfect effect. With an f/3.5 aperture and VR you can shoot pretty darn slow shutterspeeds hand-held as long as your subject is not moving. This provides more DOF. You can get suprising results at smaller apertures handheld with VR too - again, as long as your subjects aren't moving. I have even seen a comparison of a 50mm at f/1.8 handheld, and the 18-200mm handheld with VR on, and you would assume that the 18-200mm was sharper because the DOF is deep enough that more of the subject is in focus. This isn't the case, the 50mm is way sharper, but you probably get the idea. There are many variables.

e_dawg
10-04-2007, 08:20 AM
^^^ the man speaks the truth. Sometimes we forget that a fast lens with large aperture is not what everyone should have for low-light, even though it seems that way on some of these fora...

It works well for portraiture or isolation shots in low-light, but if you want to capture subject + room or background detail too, f/1.4 won't help you.

erichlund
10-04-2007, 08:32 AM
While the main focus of this thread is on primes, I seem to have picked up a desire to avoid tripods and a primary desire for landscape. These two are at odds. If you are truly shooting landscape, you want to do everthing you can to eliminate camera movement. A good tripod is absolutely essential to landscape photography. If you want to discuss this more thoroughly, we should probably start another thread.

e_dawg
10-04-2007, 10:05 AM
Yes, using a tripod is a best practice. But it is a PITA. People don't want to carry it around on vacation with them, especially if you are traveling with your s/o and/or kids, hence the popularity of a single lens solution like the 18-200/VR.

herc182
10-04-2007, 10:32 AM
Hey all,


The reason that I want a prime lens is for speed -- I'd like to be able to shoot in fading evening light outdoors without the need for a tripod. Maybe some night street shots in city as well with street lighting/building-- and the Nikon 18-55mm kit lens at f3.5 minimum just isn't fast enough, at least based on my experience with a P&S superzoom camera with manual controls that has F2.8 at the widest angle setting on its 12x optical lens (although my ISO 400 is pretty worthless -- probably comparable to ISO 3200 on a D40).

Good bokeh is a nice thing to have, too. I'd like to be able to focus on one subject and minimize distractions in the background (kind of different from my primary area of shooting landscapes, but an area I'd like to explore more).

I didn't know about the Sigma 30 mm f1.4 HSM. More expensive than the 50mm f1.8 ($429 or so) but more useful for the shooting I'd do, AND it will AF on a D40.


The 50mm is not an ideal lens for outdoors in a city. Its effectively a 75mm focal length lens when on any of the cameras you mention which is a fair ol bit of zoom. I have the sigma 18-50mm f2.8 macro and its excellent for what you mention as well as providing good bokeh. It will give you more options and flexibility by being able to zoom in and out. The price is reasonable and i picked one up on ebay for 150 which is approx US$300. Bargain.

Also depending on what type of photography outdoors, in terms of isolating backgrounds you could try the 70-300 F2.8 (which is very pricey but stunning from what i hear).

Alternatively if you are hell bent on a prime then a reasonable focal length (like the sigma) is the 30mm nikon F2 (which i own). I got this on ebay for 135 and it produces stunning images. but if i was going to get one lens, for the purpose you mention, it would be the sigma 18-50mm

I hope i have not misinterpreted your initial query!

erichlund
10-04-2007, 11:19 AM
Yes, using a tripod is a best practice. But it is a PITA. People don't want to carry it around on vacation with them, especially if you are traveling with your s/o and/or kids, hence the popularity of a single lens solution like the 18-200/VR.

Just to clarify...vacations photos may be photos of landscapes, but actual landscape photography is an entirely different animal. Landscapes don't move (water being the exception, . They just are. Your goal in a landscape is to capture as much detail as you possibly can, because the ultimate goal of a landscape is to go big on the print. I'm not an expert, yet, but this is an area of interest for me.

To maximize the quality of every pixel, you have to stabilize the equipment. In this regard, VR is a compromise. Hand holding rules are a compromise. A stable tripod is a must. Top quality landscapes are taken with mirror locked up, even in full daylight, and cable or electronic shutter release.

For a landscape, you don't care if your lens is capable of f/0.000001. You use the lens sweet spot (usually f8 to f11), or if you want more depth of field, up to the refraction limit. Understanding the hyperfocal distance of your lens is important.

For a landscape, you have objects of interest near, middle and far. You follow the rule of thirds.

Once you master all those, and probably some others I'm not thinking of, then you can selectively break rules. But, you break rules because they add to the image, not just for convenience.

tcadwall
10-04-2007, 12:36 PM
Wow, we are all bored!!!

If you want to get into "true" landscape photography, some will tell you to spend more on a tripod than on your camera body. Ok, if necessary and that is what you want. Mirror lock... If your body has it (D40 doesn't - D80 does have a delay MUP / Shutter release). Remote release - ML-L3! buy 2 of them since they are so cheap (and tiny, and easy to mis-place). Might not be needed with the delay MUP/Shutter release o n D80.

Really, I didn't take it that the OP was looking to get that serious - but since the discussion has gone that way, I have to agree. The best landscape lighting (sun) will normally be found near sunrise / sunset or (moon) after dark. Not to say a blue sky doesn't work, but the tonal range is not quite the same as during the sweetspots. So yes, f/11 (on a digital sensor to not introduce diffraction) with a slower shutterspeed, you would be likely to want to introduce as little movement as possible.

Vacation type or just lazy shooting. f/11, brace yourself against a tree, turn on VR, manual focus, and put the thing in continuous mode to increase your odds of getting one or two good ones out of a dozen. You might be suprised, and you might be let down. The result will tell you whether to take a tripod with you next time. ;) Even at 1/6th second with VR i have gotten a couple good ones out of a dozen before. Sure, not perfect... but good.

swpars
10-04-2007, 12:40 PM
Eric, thanks for the response.

I would like to avoid carrying a tripod around if possible. It really is a pain in the rear -- and the type of landscape shooting I'd plan to do would be handheld (not true landscape photography, as you mention) -- with the exception of night landscapes (mountains/water lit by moonlight) where I'd need to use a tripod to ensure camera stability.

Your point is well taken -- the need to minimize camera movement for landscape photography even in daylight is something I hadn't really considered before. Definitely something to try once I get my DSLR.

The D40 is still looking good. My plan as it currently stands:

- Acquire D40 + kit lens ($500). Shoot with it.
-Acquire additional lenses as I run into areas that I'd like to expand into.
-Several years down the road, sell the D40 body for whatever I can get for it and get a D80 or D80 successor for better body features.

erichlund
10-04-2007, 01:36 PM
Gotcha. Not an unreasonable set of goals.

My reason was to expose you to the idea that there is a difference between the casual shooting most of us do and what a true landscape photographer starts with as a set of rules. Roman Johnston is a landscape photographer in Oregon. He recently had a public exibit of his work, some of which might be on his site (http://www.pbase.com/romansphotos/).

The process he goes through on a lot of his photos is the source of a lot of the information I used for those rules I mentioned. He's more likely to tell you there are no rules, but I think even he would agree that you should learn the existing rules and master them so you understand why you are breaking them and that it's for the right reasons.

He's gotten his images to the level where his D2X is sometimes limiting his work and he has to take multiple images and combine them to get enough resolution for the sizes of prints he sells publicly (I recall some 40" x 60"). OTOH, he makes enough off his landscape photos that he can seriously consider a 39mp Hasselblad ($60,000 outfit) in his relatively near future.

I really didn't mean to hijack this thread, so, if we really want to discuss landscape, we should take it elsewhere.

fionndruinne
10-04-2007, 05:31 PM
I'm thinking the bokeh on a 30mm lens would be significantly less than from a longer lens? How much less, though, I don't know. Would f/1.4 @ 30mm be comparable to f/1.8 @ 50mm, or still significantly greater? I'm still a "newb" when it comes to large apertures.

erichlund
10-05-2007, 08:24 AM
I'm thinking the bokeh on a 30mm lens would be significantly less than from a longer lens? How much less, though, I don't know. Would f/1.4 @ 30mm be comparable to f/1.8 @ 50mm, or still significantly greater? I'm still a "newb" when it comes to large apertures.

Bokeh relates to the ability of a lens to isolate the subject relative to it's background. But, it refers more to the quality of the background. Does the background blur to creamy smoothness, or harsh geometric shapes like hexagons or septagons. So while a 30mm lens is not going to useful as a portrait lens (for many reasons), the quality of its bokeh is more dependant on the mechanical design of the lens. One of the strongest influences on bokeh is the design of the diaphram. If the blade tips are rounded and there are 9 blades, you are likely to get much better bokeh than with a five bladed aperture that has flat tips (creates strong pentagons).

fionndruinne
10-05-2007, 05:16 PM
Alright. I was wondering more about the amount of bokeh, not the quality, but to be more precise, I'll say the depth-of-field. Is is much narrower on a 30mm f/1.4 than a 50mm f/1.8?

In other words, I'm wondering to what degree focal length governs DoF.

erichlund
10-06-2007, 11:37 AM
I think, in general, you can expect a deeper depth of field with wider angle lenses than with more telephoto. Depth of field follows this formula:

29486

where:
N= f-number, c=circle of confusion, f=focal length, and s=subject distance

So you can see, there's a lot more to determining depth of field than just the lens you are using. Circle of confusion is a constant associated with the image format such as APS-C (c= 0.018).

Of course, this all just makes my head hurt. :o