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Unread 02-23-2014, 10:00 PM   #1
KoalaKidd
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Amateur Lens Question

Hello there! This may be a rather simple/silly question, but I would definitely appreciate advice from more experienced people!

I'm an amateur/occasional photographer (who greatly enjoys it!) with a Nikon D40 and kit lens. Now, I've managed to get by with it for a while now, but I'm thinking of investing in a better lens for portraits and cosplay shoots, with a higher aperture for both DoF and low-light reasons.

Given my budget, the two lenses I'm deciding between are the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8g or the 50 mm version. My understanding is that given the body of my camera, the 35 mm will yield an angle of view roughly equivalent to that of a 50mm on different camera body. Alas, I don't have the money right now to invest in both or, say, an 85mm and a 35mm. Just one -_-

Now, what prompted me originally was the thought of portraits/cosplay. I do like tight face/detail shots, and I'm a big fan of bokeh. However, it would also be nice to have a versatile lens to have for hallway con shots and perhaps general shooting. I've tested out shots as 50mm and as 35 on the kit lens, but haven't concluded anything from taking pictures of objects in my house. --;

If anyone has an idea of which lens might better suit my purpose, I'd appreciate input! Thanks!
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Unread 02-23-2014, 10:23 PM   #2
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Whats your budget? I honestly would suggest a zoom, but it seems you are looking for a fast lens. It really depends on money, and what you want more, versitility or speed/bokeh.
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Unread 02-23-2014, 10:29 PM   #3
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Budget is quite low; I'd like to keep it under $200-250. ^^; I suppose I do have to figure out my priorities. Would the 50mm work as an indoor/con lens, or might it be a bit long given my camera? I guess that's the real question behind those chunks of text up there. Thanks!
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Unread 02-23-2014, 11:05 PM   #4
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I think the 50mm on an APS-C sized sensor is ok but not great for indoor hallshots. You may have to stand back a ways to get a full costume shot. With an 85mm equivalent at the normal-ish 8 feet or so, you'll probably get a half body shot, which may be enough or not for your tastes. An easy way is that since you have a kit lens, you can just put that to 50mm and see how far you'd have to stand in front of the mirror to get a full body shot of the person in the mirror (you).

I think you should just get a zoom lens, though. If you really think you want to force yourself or just eliminate the need to make a decision, then sure, get the 35mm. You'll be able to get the full body easier, and if you want close ups, you'll walk up closer and slightly distort the perspective which in cosplay I often find is ok since it adds drama.
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Unread 02-23-2014, 11:12 PM   #5
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The 35 1.8g is the way to go...ultra quick and silent...bokeh is great....i busted it out today for my sons bday today and fell in love with it again....i had gotten lazy with 2.8 zooms..but the 1.8 really separates the subjects from backgrounds...ps im on a crop too.
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Unread 02-23-2014, 11:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoalaKidd View Post
Budget is quite low; I'd like to keep it under $200-250. ^^; I suppose I do have to figure out my priorities. Would the 50mm work as an indoor/con lens, or might it be a bit long given my camera? I guess that's the real question behind those chunks of text up there. Thanks!
Two totally awesome lens choices.

35mm F1.8 on the D40 will give you a more flexibility if you're hoping to shoot in smaller con areas with less available space. Recommended for sheer usefulness!

50mm F1.8 can be a little tight for shooting at conventions with a cropped body camera if you're hoping to catch more of the costume in a single image. The longer focal length will definitely be more flattering for tighter face shots so it's a trade off.

For many years I used a 50mm on my Nikon D200 and it was a fantastic combo. If I was shooting in crowded spaces, I just had to use a bit more creativity to make it work. Even some of my friends shoot with 50mm lenses only!

I am a bit ashamed to say I have owned/bought 5 of the modern versions of this lens... (1.8D,1.8G, 1.4D, 1.4G, 1.2 AIS). But I digress!


With both lenses you should be able to get some decent DoF shots and low light performance. See if you can get the 35mm F1.8 on a good deal and then try to save another $100 to get the 50mm F1.8 used. ($200 + $100 = $50 over $250 xD)

After that... 85mm F1.8 is a good consideration for a longer lens too... ($400).

Quote:
Originally Posted by FootNote View Post
Whats your budget? I honestly would suggest a zoom, but it seems you are looking for a fast lens. It really depends on money, and what you want more, versitility or speed/bokeh.
Honestly, I think the only really good fast zoom lens for Nikon on cropped bodies is the 17-55mm F2.8 (24-70mm full frame equivalent). Which is has a terrible price of $1400. I owned this lens and rocked it as my main lens for almost 6 years, but would never recommend anybody to buy it any more due to cost.
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Unread 02-23-2014, 11:49 PM   #7
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I'd recommend the Nikon 35-70 f2.8. If I had a Nikon this would be the one lens I'd go after first. With that said, I don't own a Nikon and have never used this lens, but the specs are exactly what you need for a convention type setting. I think used ones go for under $200.
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Unread 02-23-2014, 11:49 PM   #8
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@WonJohnSoup (a name that makes me smile, by the way):... Why did I not think of this before? Great idea! I just stood in front of my mirror, and while not terribly far, at 35 it felt better. Alas, right now a zoom lens is out of my limited budget, but who knows? Perhaps someday...


@JonAshley: Good to know! I've heard mixed reviews about the 35's bokeh, so it's good to hear from a cosplay photographer who likes it

@SolarTempest: Thank you for the tips! And never be ashamed! And I appreciate the lens road map. ^^

Thank you all for the input! I really, truly appreciate it. I think I'll go with the 35 for flexibility--it'll still be an upgrade over what I have. And, if I find myself in love with portrait photography down the line, then I can invest in a higher-end/more specific portrait lens.
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Unread 02-24-2014, 12:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KVN View Post
I'd recommend the Nikon 35-70 f2.8. If I had a Nikon this would be the one lens I'd go after first. With that said, I don't own a Nikon and have never used this lens, but the specs are exactly what you need for a convention type setting. I think used ones go for under $200.
Ah! Thank you for the recommendation! In a quick search used ones seem to be going for ~$300, which is still on the inexpensive (my budget xD) side!

The only issue is that because I have the most basic DSLR from Nikon, this less expensive version of the lens won't auto-focus on my camera. I suppose I could manual focus all the time, but I'd imagine that isn't always ideal for a con environment.

Alas, the alternative would probably be the one SolarTempest mentioned, which still runs at ~$800 used, that I can see.
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Unread 02-24-2014, 01:18 AM   #10
KVN
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoalaKidd View Post
Ah! Thank you for the recommendation! In a quick search used ones seem to be going for ~$300, which is still on the inexpensive (my budget xD) side!

The only issue is that because I have the most basic DSLR from Nikon, this less expensive version of the lens won't auto-focus on my camera. I suppose I could manual focus all the time, but I'd imagine that isn't always ideal for a con environment.

Alas, the alternative would probably be the one SolarTempest mentioned, which still runs at ~$800 used, that I can see.
$300 is on the high side. You can probably get one for $220-$250, although it's possible you could eventually end up with one in the $180-200 range. Unfortunately, you probably need to upgrade to a D80. A d90 is a nicer upgrade, but it also costs a little bit more. The only alternative is purchasing a tamron 17-50mm 2.8. I think that will work on the D40.
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Unread 02-24-2014, 03:25 AM   #11
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I would totally go for the 35 rather than the 50, especially if you like to get full body shots to get the whole costume. It's very difficult to do at cons with a 50 (I tried... and then I got a 35)
My crop Nikon shooting friends all have the 35, and they all love it
I wouldn't take a zoom instead, but well I'm a prime shooter myself so I'm a bit biaised.
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Unread 02-24-2014, 06:02 AM   #12
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I know its not a con..but here's a few real world shots from yesterday with a d90 and 35 1.8g....

Shooting Wide open on the top 2

Blowing out the candles by -FaM-, on Flickr


Shooting at 1.8 by -FaM-, on Flickr

And...when you stop it down it starts to get a lot sharper (the reviews said at 3.5 and smaller it gets sharpest...but this one is at 2.4

Sad Dog at Birthday party by -FaM-, on Flickr
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Unread 02-24-2014, 08:03 PM   #13
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@KVN: I did find one for $270! Unfortunately, at this time, I don't have the money to invest in a new body, either. I am interested in a wide(r) aperture lens as well. ^^

@Ashurachan: Super good to know! Thanks! I think a prime might be a good fit, but I'll never know unless I try!

JonAshley: Thank you for sharing your pictures! They're quite lovely. And good to see the result of the 35 of a crop body. I appreciate it! (Also, awww, sad dog.)
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Unread 02-25-2014, 03:32 PM   #14
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Sort of unrelated, but related - all you Nikon full frame shooters may be excited about the new 35mm F1.8G FX lens ($600) that was announced earlier this month.

Very tempting!

@KoalaKidd - Side note: this FX lens is double the price of the DX version, which isn't worth it for you. Just save and spend that money elsewhere. =)
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Unread 02-25-2014, 08:24 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by KoalaKidd View Post
@KVN: I did find one for $270! Unfortunately, at this time, I don't have the money to invest in a new body, either. I am interested in a wide(r) aperture lens as well. ^^

@Ashurachan: Super good to know! Thanks! I think a prime might be a good fit, but I'll never know unless I try!

JonAshley: Thank you for sharing your pictures! They're quite lovely. And good to see the result of the 35 of a crop body. I appreciate it! (Also, awww, sad dog.)
I think you're best bet is the tamron I suggested then. I have a copy. It's an amazing lens, but I am upgrading to full frame soon and now I have no use for it. I think it cost me about $130 or so. For me to get an equivalent lens for full frame in the 28-70 range it'll cost me several hundreds of dollars for the pro stuff. That's how good the Tamron 17-50 Non VC is. The cheaper lower end 28-70 2.8 lens from sigma and tamron don't match up even remotely on lens sharpness tests. I may just have to settle for a 50mm 1.8 on a full frame for now.
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