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DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: volcs0
Date: December 09, 2006 11:15AM
I know I've asked a similar question in the past, but this one is a little different...

I want to buy a something new for my D70. I had debated upgrading to a D80 or D200, but it seems like consensus is that it is better to invest in glass at this point.

I mainly take portraits / family shots.

The D70 kit lens, as you know, is:

AF-S Nikkor DX 18-70mm f3.5-4.5G IF-ED Zoom

What lens (Nikon or otherwise) in the $500-$1000 range would be a "big step up" in terms of versatility and picture quality?

Thanks for the advice.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mattkime
Date: December 09, 2006 11:22AM
consider the 50mm Macro at under $400. You'll learn a lot from using a fixed focal length lens. Also, its very sharp.



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: volcs0
Date: December 09, 2006 11:27AM
I should have mentioned.... I also have this $100 lens:

[www.kenrockwell.com]
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: elmo3
Date: December 09, 2006 11:32AM
50mm is now called a "macro" lens?

Sheesh. A million years ago I had a Pentax camera with a 50mm f1.4 lens (the *expensive* one). Nobody thought of that as a macro lens in the least.

My, how times change...



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mattkime
Date: December 09, 2006 11:48AM
>>50mm is now called a "macro" lens?

Elmo, sometimes you're an @#$%& so far out of your league that its really truly amazing.

The defining feature of a macro lens is that it can focus close to the lens. Ordinary lenses can't do this because they don't allow the lens elements to travel far enough. With prime lenses, the closer you focus the further _out_ the lens needs to go.

Any other smart ass, condescending comments that reveal your ignorance?



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mattkime
Date: December 09, 2006 11:51AM
Ah, already have a 50mm...then you're looking at something a little bit longer.

Maybe you should get a good flash for the camera.



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: vision63
Date: December 09, 2006 11:59AM
boys boys.

That kit lens is not a bad lens at all. On a D70, shooting raw will give you the best results, but I rarely feel like processing raw images. The 18-200 vr is the ultimate in versatility.

But then that Sigma 10-20mm is tempting and is about $500 bucks. [www.amazon.com]
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: volcs0
Date: December 09, 2006 12:00PM
My current setup is:

D70
Nikkor 18-70 1:3.5-4.5
Nikkor 70-300 1:4-5.6
Nikkor 50 1.8
SB-800 AF Speedlight
and a nice bag

Thans.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: December 09, 2006 12:03PM
Honestly, at this stage of the game I would seriously evaluate if it's worth buying more Nikon glass.

I haven't bought any new Nikon lenses for a few years as I've watched the DSLR race pan out. Nikon is continually having issues with their CCDs, and the DX lenses pretty much say they've given up on a full-frame CCD.

They tried making their own CCD once, and that didn't work out so well. They went back to Sony. Well, Sony has now bought Minolta. Cannon is the #1 DSLR mfg and Nikon is a distant 2nd. Sony has said it plans on being one of the top 2.

So now the mfg of a major component in Nikon DSLRs is competing directly against Nikon.

I'm going to wait a bit longer, then sell all my Nikon stuff and switch to Canon.




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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: elmo3
Date: December 09, 2006 12:07PM
Quote
mattkime
>>50mm is now called a "macro" lens?

Elmo, sometimes you're an @#$%& so far out of your league that its really truly amazing.

The defining feature of a macro lens is that it can focus close to the lens. Ordinary lenses can't do this because they don't allow the lens elements to travel far enough. With prime lenses, the closer you focus the further _out_ the lens needs to go.

Any other smart ass, condescending comments that reveal your ignorance?

I misread, sorry. My fault.

(ps--glad to know that you're not an "@#$%& so far out of your league that its [sic] truly amazing")



---------------


In the words of DharmaDog: "it may or may not be utter horse@#$%&, but it shouldn't be dismissed simply because it doesn't agree with your opinion."

Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Trying is the first step to failure. -- Homer Simpson
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: vision63
Date: December 09, 2006 12:24PM
Quote
M A V I C
Honestly, at this stage of the game I would seriously evaluate if it's worth buying more Nikon glass.

I haven't bought any new Nikon lenses for a few years as I've watched the DSLR race pan out. Nikon is continually having issues with their CCDs, and the DX lenses pretty much say they've given up on a full-frame CCD.

They tried making their own CCD once, and that didn't work out so well. They went back to Sony. Well, Sony has now bought Minolta. Cannon is the #1 DSLR mfg and Nikon is a distant 2nd. Sony has said it plans on being one of the top 2.

So now the mfg of a major component in Nikon DSLRs is competing directly against Nikon.

I'm going to wait a bit longer, then sell all my Nikon stuff and switch to Canon.

I like the Canon stuff too, but I switched to Nikon almost exactly one year ago and do not regret making the leap. I find much more flexibility in their zoom ranges and lens prices.

Nikon has clearly caught up with Canon regarding high-iso noise performance, most significantly with their D50, D80 and now D40 cameras. The D50 is a much more satisfying camera than it's Rebel Xti counterpart.

Full-frame is a remnant from film days and is really no longer a factor for most people. Nikon doesn't offer full-framed choices because the demand isn't there.

Sony's first stab in the market is a fairly lackluster A100 which is kinda noisy in the upper iso ranges. Nikon is doing more with Sony's own sensor than Sony is. Pentax has thrown down the gauntlet with a new slate of killer cameras.

Canon is the champ in the iso 3200 ranges, the new Valhalla apparently.

I say, before you dump your Nikon stuff, give a serious look-see at their most recent offerings.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2006 12:26PM by vision63.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mattkime
Date: December 09, 2006 12:28PM
Do you have a nice tripod? Maybe get some strobes?

It sounds like you have a very complete camera setup. Maybe you're in need of inspiration more than equipment.



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: pRON aHOLIC
Date: December 09, 2006 12:33PM
Ok, before we get too far ahead of ourselves here, we need to figure out what needs are.

Now, volcs, what is it you are looking for that you are not getting now? From your description I cannot discern what it is you are looking to gain. There are plenty of step up options but it is so broad for that price. Are you looking for sharpness, more telephoto to isolate, vibration reduction? As you can see there are many answers so far because it was left wide open.



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: December 09, 2006 12:39PM
Quote
vision63
Quote
M A V I C
Honestly, at this stage of the game I would seriously evaluate if it's worth buying more Nikon glass.

I haven't bought any new Nikon lenses for a few years as I've watched the DSLR race pan out. Nikon is continually having issues with their CCDs, and the DX lenses pretty much say they've given up on a full-frame CCD.

They tried making their own CCD once, and that didn't work out so well. They went back to Sony. Well, Sony has now bought Minolta. Cannon is the #1 DSLR mfg and Nikon is a distant 2nd. Sony has said it plans on being one of the top 2.

So now the mfg of a major component in Nikon DSLRs is competing directly against Nikon.

I'm going to wait a bit longer, then sell all my Nikon stuff and switch to Canon.

I like the Canon stuff too, but I switched to Nikon almost exactly one year ago and do not regret making the leap. I find much more flexibility in their zoom ranges and lens prices.

Nikon has clearly caught up with Canon regarding high-iso noise performance, most significantly with their D50, D80 and now D40 cameras. The D50 is a much more satisfying camera than it's Rebel Xti counterpart.

Wow, I couldn't disagree more. I've used the D100's and D200's, and they have horrible noise problems and need high ISO just to get some decent light (indoors.)

Quote

Full-frame is a remnant from film days and is really no longer a factor for most people. Nikon doesn't offer full-framed choices because the demand isn't there.

I disagree on that one too. I run into a lot of issues that the smaller frame size creates, including added noise.

Quote

I say, before you dump your Nikon stuff, give a serious look-see at their most recent offerings.

I like the overall functionality of the D200, but the image quality is horrible. There's a couple things I like more about the Nikon bodies, but I can't handle the poor image quality of the Nikons.

Edit: Anyway, I don't wanna hijack your thread with a Nikon vs. Canon debate, just though I'd bring it up before you spent more money on Nikon lenses.




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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2006 12:40PM by M A V I C.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: vision63
Date: December 09, 2006 12:48PM
Well I'd take a Canon 5D over all of the Nikons, which appears to be the machine you're about to buy. I didn't mention the D200 but I wouldn't call the noise "horrible." Just not as good as it could be.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: December 09, 2006 12:52PM
Quote
vision63
Well I'd take a Canon 5D over all of the Nikons, which appears to be the machine you're about to buy. I didn't mention the D200 but I wouldn't call the noise "horrible." Just not as good as it could be.

One of the shoots I do is indoors and in low light. No flash allowed. With my Fuji S2, I can set it to ISO 800 or 1600, 2.8, 1/90 and get vivid, sharp, well-lit pictures. With the D200 and ISO 1600, 2.8 (same lens), 1/80 I typically get nothing but black.




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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: December 09, 2006 12:55PM
And my advice on lenses is to always get the best glass you can afford. If you tend to break your stuff often, that may not apply. But if you take care of it... and that's another piece of advice, if ya didn't know, is to take care of your gear. A friend of mine and I shot a state fair at night using the same gear one time. It was amazing to see the difference between gear that has been kept clean and cleaned properly. It makes a bigger difference than what glass you get.




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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mjgkramer
Date: December 09, 2006 12:56PM
I've been using Canon EOS gear since the 80s and have accumulated 7 EF lenses, all Canon. I recently added two lenses, an Ultrasonic EFS 17 - 85mm and an Ultrasonic EF 100 - 300mm, both with image stabilization. They are the basis of essentially all my picture taking these days. Although they both have macro capability, for close ups I will probably continue to use my 100mm Macro.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: volcs0
Date: December 09, 2006 12:57PM
pRon,

I would like my candid indoor shots of my family to look nicer.

I have a hunch that this can be accomplished by learning better how to use the equipment I have.

As an example:

Here is a pic of my wife and father (no making fun of my dad!)

[tinyurl.com]

I'm more or less happy with that pic, thought it appears "harsh" because of the flash.

Here is a pic of my son that could have come out a lot nicer...I don't like the lighting at all.

[tinyurl.com]


I find that with ambient light (using the 50mm), I like the pictures the most. I didn't use flash on either of these.

[tinyurl.com]
[tinyurl.com]

But, I can't use the kit lens for ambient light, the pix are too dark.


So, obviously, these pix and comments will showcase my general lack of real photography knowledge, but I am slowly learning. I thought that if I bought "nicer" or more expensive telephoto, it would extend my picture taking abilities. Like I said, perhaps I need to learn more about my flash and composition, etc., and save the money for something else.

Thanks for the advice and help.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: vision63
Date: December 09, 2006 12:58PM
That must be some seriously low light. [regarding m a v i c's post].



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2006 12:59PM by vision63.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mattkime
Date: December 09, 2006 01:40PM
I'd recommend getting your SB-800 off the camera. either hand hold it or put it on a bracket. the general rule for flashes i that the further away from the camera they get the better they look



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: Andrew
Date: December 09, 2006 01:41PM
Too bad this degenerated into a Canon vs. Nikon thread. I seriously doubt one brand or another is going to make anybody on this board a better photographer.

To address the original question-- you already have a nice range of focal lengths, but you're lacking speed and super wide angle.

I'd recommend either a super wide angle or a fast lens for portraits since you said that's what you like to take. The 70-300 is nice on a sunny day, but slow for good portraits in interesting lighting. I'd recommend a fixed 85mm (f1.4 or 1.8) or 105mm prime. Alternatively, step up and get a used 70-200 2.8, although for me it's a bit bulky to be much fun.

I used to love the 50mm on 35mm but I don't like the angle of view so much on the DSLRs. I think there is a reason that 75mm was never a very common focal length in 35mm.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mjgkramer
Date: December 09, 2006 02:06PM
Andrew - Read my post again. It didn't say anything about Canon vs. Nikon. Sorry I used the "C" word as it apparently offended you. Indeed there is little difference in the two these days from what I read. The point I was trying to make was that with two or possibly three lenses, one can cover most any situation.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: M A V I C
Date: December 09, 2006 02:08PM
Quote
mattkime
I'd recommend getting your SB-800 off the camera. either hand hold it or put it on a bracket. the general rule for flashes i that the further away from the camera they get the better they look

True, but learning how to bounce it can help a lot. I usually shoot with the deflector card up, and the flash bouncing off the ceiling. Then there's light directly down on the subject, but the card also fills in the shadows enough that it doesn't look harsh. It also tends to have a slimming effect on faces.

Quote
Andrew
Too bad this degenerated into a Canon vs. Nikon thread. I seriously doubt one brand or another is going to make anybody on this board a better photographer.

Guess you missed my example above ;)




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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: Andrew
Date: December 09, 2006 02:35PM
I wasn't referring to your post. Agree there is little difference, in terms of output, between the two. It's not like PC vs. Mac at all. :-)



Quote
mjgkramer
Andrew - Read my post again. It didn't say anything about Canon vs. Nikon. Sorry I used the "C" word as it apparently offended you. Indeed there is little difference in the two these days from what I read. The point I was trying to make was that with two or possibly three lenses, one can cover most any situation.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: volcs0
Date: December 09, 2006 02:47PM
So, you mean something like this?

[www.amazon.com]

or this:

[www.amazon.com]


That looks like a lot of lens!

Is there a Sigma or Tamron equivalent that would work well on my D70?
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: robfilms
Date: December 09, 2006 02:53PM
volcs0-

i agree that the flash shots u posted were too harsh. i also agree that shooting with available light is nicer, easier and often produces more natural results.

two thoughts on use of flash: 1-i agree with the above poster. move the flash off the camera body and onto a bracket. 2-learn to really, really use your flash.

please don't take #2 above or what i'm about to suggets in the wrong way. i've been shooting 35mm and now dslr (pentax) for 30+ years. i'm a professional film/video documentary maker. and from both of these realms of experience, one a hobby and the other my profession, i can draw a simple lesson, i want to be better at what i do. for me to make that happen i often think that equipment will fill the need. sometimes that is the case. but most times buying technology will not solve the problem. learning new ways to accomplish my goals with the technology i have at hand often does solve the problem.

what would i buy? a class, a tutor, a mentor. i would buy the time of a friendly hand that could offer u experience and feedback so that your learning curve is not so steep.

this is not to suggest that u don't already have a base of experience and produce images that are lovely. my point is that another lens won't change your need to get better images but more knowledge thru a class or program might offer what u want.

doesn't nikon offer master classes in specific areas of photography? look for someone who specializes in low light shooting. if so, look over their work, find an image u like and ask them exactly how they did it. try to emulate their procedures. see what works and what doesn't and then try it all again.

hope the above is helpful. it is offered as a positive statement in that all those of us who shoot images can learn more from those who images we admire.

just one person's thoughts.

be well

rob



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2006 02:55PM by robfilms.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: volcs0
Date: December 09, 2006 02:58PM
Thanks very much for your thoughts. I had a hunch that throwing money at the problem would not solve anything. I think also that my tech-nerd side always feels like "more is better".

I'm going to spend some time here:

[www.softstonegroup.com]

and learn more about this expensive flash I have - no doubt I'm only using a fraction of its power.

Also, I've always wondered about getting a braket - perhaps now is the time.

If I can find time, I will see if there is a local class I can take - I'm sure there are some local groups as well.

Thanks for the encouragement.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: Andrew
Date: December 09, 2006 03:29PM
I was really thinking more along the lines of this for your needs:

[www.amazon.com]

There is a big difference between 50mm and 85mm. The 85mm will put you into classic portrait territory.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: mjgkramer
Date: December 09, 2006 03:37PM
It's kind of like when the little old lady says "What a great photograph. You must have a very good camera!"
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: Andrew
Date: December 09, 2006 04:09PM
Robfilms has good advice, and I agree that no one should buy a zillion expensive lenses expecting to get much better results.

That said, if you have found that portraiture is your thing, life is short and it makes sense to have one 'portrait' lens. Even if you use a flash, with a wider lens you can blend in more ambient light, and you can get shallower depth of field. That's the great thing about an SLR, you can tailor it to what YOU like to do.

Incidentally, for portraits I often use a Nikon manual focus 85mm f2.0 that I got for $90 (but a D70 won't meter with old manual focus lenses. You need to get a D200 for that.) winking smiley
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: sscutchen
Date: December 09, 2006 05:24PM
A diffuser on the flash might also help the harshness. And it will help with the center of the shot looking burned in and the edges underexposed.





Don't ask who the bell's for, dude. It's you.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: pRON aHOLIC
Date: December 09, 2006 05:46PM
Volcs, if you are looking for macro or portrait in the Nikon brand flavors, the offerings are the 60mm, 100mm, 105mm VR, 200mm. Canon is 50mm, 60mm EF-s, 100mm, 180mm.

If you are looking for sharpness in a zoom for family type shots look into the 28-70mm 2.8 or the 17-55 if you need to go a bit wider.

If you want some telephoto a used but good and sharp 80-200 2.8 in the push pull is about $500.

As for lighting, you could even make your own bounce card at first of get the diffusing accessories.

There are a couple options to alter your lighting before spending money if you get creative. In a pinch I once used a night light dome as a diffuser. Worked like a charm.



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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: Kraniac
Date: December 09, 2006 06:06PM
Flash diffusers...keep in mind, when diffusing any light source, that the main factor in creating a softer light is the size of the light source in relation to the object you are shooting.

If you can find a diffuser that actually increases the size of the light source then you will accomplish something in terms of softening the shadow edge..diffusing it.

Evening out a light is a bit different than creating a softer shadow edge to your light. If the diffuser is the same size as your flash head you wont kill the hard edge of the shadow...you may even things out a bit if hot spots are a problem.

Pron's suggestion for making something is the way to go. You can do lots of different things.

Point your flash straight up and secure about a 8x10 piece of white cardboard to the flash...white side facing the subject...velcro tape is brill for this, I have velcro tape on all my flashes...then bend it so it leans out over the flash a bit..what you are trying to acomplish is basically this..

[forums.dpreview.com]

It works just as well except better cause you can adjust it...i usuallu paint mine with a flat neutral white paint. these work well because they do actually increase the size of the light source..and, they tend to throw more light around the room so you don't end up with flash black backrounds when you don't want em.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: pRON aHOLIC
Date: December 09, 2006 08:44PM
In my college days before I could afford more light shaping accessories I created things resembling what is on this website. Nothing on there can't be duplicated, you just need a bit of creativity.

[lumiquest.com]

Not the fanciest pics on their sample page but you get the idea of what they are trying to sell you.
[lumiquest.com]



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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/09/2006 08:47PM by pRON aHOLIC.
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Re: DSLR lens recommendation
Posted by: vision63
Date: December 10, 2006 11:35AM
I use the lumiquest pocket bouncer when the ceilings are too high or outdoors. Very nice soft diffused light. I use a thick rubber band to attach it to my flash unit to avoid using the stick-on velcro. I admit that I don't like looking like a photo-nerd with the durned thing though.

The simplest portrait improvement comes from bouncing light off of the ceiling. The SB-800 or SB-600 units are extremely powerful. You can bounce off of a very high ceiling and still get great results.
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