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Help a newb with a lens question...please

Discussion in 'Lens Matters' started by Duncs, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Duncs

    Duncs Active Member

    I have a Nikon D5000 with an AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 kit lens and an AF-S Nikkor 70-300mm 1:4.5-5.6 lens. Both have done me good so far...I took some great safari shots using the 70-300, as well as a couple of good ones of the Forth Rail bridge last week. Also taken a few other pictures that I'm really happy / proud of. However my question is...are the lenses enough? By that I mean, is the kit lens an ideal, everyday lens, or should I now be looking at getting something else?
    I like to take landscape shots, as well as animals / wildlife, both from near and far. I’d like to have a foray into the world of macro photography. My main concern is that I don’t want to go out and spend a huge amount of money on a couple of lenses when I may not really use them. I am also looking into a tripod...I know, still haven’t bought one yet!
    So, any suggestions on the lens question and any suggestions on a tripod would be good. Again,as with the lens, I don’t really want to re-mortgage the house for the tripod & lens(es). Similarly, I don’t want to scrimp on them only to find that I need to get rid after a while...I know, I don’t want much do I!!!!
    As I say, your advice and comments will be gratefully appreciated.
  2. beejaybee

    beejaybee Marvin

    The lenses you have are almost certainly "good enough"! They may not be entirely suitable for some subjects, but throwing money at a lens upgrade isn't going to make you a better photographer.

    Get a tripod. A good one. There are several good brands but you should be concerned about not buying one which is too light to support your kit properly. A 300mm lens requires quite a lot of support. If you need to carry it around a lot weight is an issue, a lighter one will cost more money.

    A good tripod is a lifetime investment, spending upwards of £200 is very reasonable. A cheap one is likely to be about as much as a chocolate teapot and will probably fall apart in months if not weeks. Some are easier to use than others, and handling is rather personal: some people love Benbos, others find using them like wrestling with bagpipes. Either find someone near you who will let you play with theirs, or go to a really good camera shop with your camera & tele zoom & try a few.

    After you've got the tripod: get a cable release to enable you to use it effectively (the electronic variety are not particularly cheap, but far more convenient than a cable release with modern cameras which have no cable socket), then consider a decent macro lens (the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro comes highly regarded by a number of users on this forum, including me, and is really rather good value for money).
  3. nimbus

    nimbus Well-Known Member

    If you are happy with your existing set up and results it is perhaps not necessary to add anything significant to it at this time. Certainly a tripod or monopod might be a good idea, given that you have a lens that extends to 300mm. With regard to lenses, the Nikon 35mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.8 (AFS) are excellent performers at reasonable prices, and will outperform your 18-55 kit lens. I would advise you to check your results and find out the focal lengths that you use most before buying anything lens wise.
  4. DaveM399

    DaveM399 Well-Known Member

    As already stated, a good tripod should be considered, as it will be helpful for macro work, landscape stuff and low light photos. Regarding makes, I have a Manfrotto 055, which I am very pleased with. The 190 model is a bit cheaper but still well regarded. Bear in mind that that you will also need a head to attach to the tripod legs. I have read good things about Redsnapper tripods as well. As BJB said, a good tripod will be a lifetime investment - the old adage "buy cheap - buy twice" is true regarding tripods.

    There are a couple of (Nikon) options for firing the D5000 remotely whilst placed on a tripod, the MC-DC2 (£26), or the ML-L3 (£17). I believe there are third party options as well, including some copies of the Nikon ones on Ebay.

    I also have the Tamron 90mm macro lens, which is good, but you will need to budget about £250 for a secondhand one. A cheaper way into macro is a set of extension tubes which fit between the body and your lens to enable you to focus closer to your subject. Tubes are available either as automatic (retaining focus and aperture control of the lens) or manual.

    As others have said, your current lenses are fine for the present. For landscape, you might want to consider a wide angle lens in the range of 10-24mm. A favourite lens used by many is the Sigma 10-20mm, but there are alternatives from Nikon, Tamron and Tokina. Costs are around £250 to £300 for a secondhand lens.
  5. Snorri

    Snorri Well-Known Member

    The lenses are something to think about. But you should try to figure out where you feel that you are running into problems first and where you want to take your photography. A 10-20mm zoom for Landscapes, macro lens or a 30mm prime are all options to look into but if you won't use them they are just expensive weight in your camera bag.
    As for Tripod you really need one, and you need to look into few things while choosing one. In my opinion (that can be very different from others;) ) There are few very importand things to keep in mind when choosing a tripod.
    First, Ball head and you should choose it well. You want one that can support your gear so ( I went for 4Kg) and one that has a water level so you can keep your pictures straight.
    Second, You want the tripod to pack down to a small enough so you actually take it with you but still high enough so you can get you camera to eye level if needed.
    Third, is weight again light enough so you take it with you but heavy enough to stay stable even though there is a bit of wind.
    A bag is always a bonus, and if you look around you should be able to find one in descent price as well. Leave the "cheapos" to the store as they are just waste of money.
    I got a Velbon Sherpa 603R II tripod with a QHD-53D ballhead. Has served me well and fits the above description and I think I paid something like £100 for it.
  6. ChrisNewman

    ChrisNewman Well-Known Member

    Although I chose the 17-55mm F2.8 rather than a “kit” lens for my D90, I agree with those who suggest you will gain far more from adding a different lens, that will give you new opportunities, than from a replacement for your 18-55mm that will take pictures that are identical apart from being technically very slightly better.

    In addition to a mid-range zoom and telephoto zooms, I have the Nikon 85mm f3.5 DX Macro, because it is small and light, and I value the VR for when I don’t have a tripod or it isn’t practical to use one. I also have the Sigma 8-16mm, because it goes so wide. My main tripod is a Benbo Trekker, which is wonderfully versatile for macro work (but I have just bought a pan-and-tilt head as an alternative to its ball head, with which I struggled to aim a very long telephoto accurately.)

    Two months ago I bought the Nikon ML-L3 Remote Controller through Amazon from Zeus photo for £10. It is just the job for triggering the shutter without disturbance when the camera is on a tripod, if you want quicker results than from using the self-timer. But I saw non-Nikon-branded look-alikes advertised for less than £2 including P&P. At the time, I didn’t know what I should expect from the genuine article, but mine will trigger the shutter from about 7-8 m. If I lost mine, I would probably risk £2 on an alternative, and if it seemed inferior, write that off and buy the Nikon one.

    By the way, if you set up for remote operation on a tripod, my D90 has an “Exposure delay mode” which gives about one second for the camera settle after the mirror has been raised before opening the shutter. If your D5000 has a similar option, it may be worth using for telephoto and macro work.
  7. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    If you haven't got a tripod and are interested in macro then that is the first issue to be addressed. A focussing rack is also very helpful, or should that be essential. If there is any possibility that you may go fanatical over macro then get a focussing rack that can be used for focus stacking, or at least modified by adding a largish disk to the adjustment screw.
    As to a lens, (and that is the expensive way forward), since you are a Nikon user then the 105 Nikkor is a pretty obvious choice but I understand that Sigma have recently introduced longer lens that would be more convenient for some subjects.
    Be aware that there are many fairly low cost options available for macro. The bits have to be bought but much personal ingenuity is involved in putting them together for a particular task. Manual focus is often appropriate for macro and older lenses, especially of a symmetrical design, can be put to cost effective use. As ever if any of your 'lashups' need reversing rings or stepping rings, or mount conversion rings we all know a possible supplier. But be fair to them; you must know exactly what you want. You can't expect free consultancy from a maker of fittings, although they are very helpful to genuine potential customers.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2012

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