Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   Nikon Lenses (
-   -   Need help with a lens for my Nikon D50 (

sidle Aug 25, 2009 2:37 PM

Need help with a lens for my Nikon D50
Don't laugh.
I know it's a dinosaur, but it's my first DSLR, had it two weeks, and I loooooove it.
Baby steps.

I have the 28-80 and the 70-300 kit lenses that came with the family sport (or whatever you call it) package.

I'm looking at another lens for Christmas, because, well, that's what one does, yes?

But, naturally, that pesky money stuff is a buzzkilling factor.
What lens comes closest to filling this tall order?

Inexpensive, portrait lens (mainly faces) that I could maybe get half-decent bokeh on.
I keep hearing 50mm 1.4, 1.2, or 1.8, but with the multiplication factor, do I need a 35 or so to equal 50?
And how critical is a prime lens anyway? Could I also look at 18-to-whatever lenses?



JimC Aug 25, 2009 2:42 PM

I'd get a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AF lens for portraits if you're mostly interested in head shots and don't have a lot of room to work with. You should be able to find one for around $100.

You may also want to consider a zoom lens starting out at around 18mm for general purpose use, as your existing 28-80mm zoom may be a bit too long to fit what you want into the frame in closer quarters (group photos indoors, etc.), as you can only back up so far in many conditions.

I'd probably go that route first (a better walk around lens starting out wider). Then, after you've used the camera and lens combo for a while, you'll have a better idea of what you need to invest in for good results.

sidle Aug 25, 2009 2:53 PM

Thank you, Jim.
I see you're right down the coast-I'm in Charleston.

So how far back will I physically be from the subject, approx, with the multiplication factor? Does that make any sense?
And I keep hearing I need a prime, but not sure why. Is it mainly a sharpness/good DOF/speed thing?

sidle Aug 25, 2009 2:54 PM

Or just get an 18-55 first and go from there? Is that what you meant?

TCav Aug 25, 2009 3:00 PM

If you want the out-of-focus blur of background objects in your portraits, that only comes with large aperture lenses. That definately rules out the "18-to-whatever" lenses. You might be able to get some good portraits with a shallow depth of field with a medium telephoto zoom that has a constant aperture of f/2.8 (like Sigma's 50-150mm f/2.8 (~$750) or Tamron's 28-75mm f/2.8 ($470)), but a larger aperture would be better, and that rules out zoom lenses, so all you're left with is primes.

50mm is ok for couples portraits and environmental portraits, but it's too short for the typical head-and-shoulders stuff.

For 35mm film SLRs and 'Full Frame' dSLRs, the rule of thumb is that a portrait lens should be from 85mm to 135mm. To get the same angle of view on an APS-C dSLR (like your D50, which is a fine camera, btw), you'd use a lens with a focal length from 57mm to 90mm. There are a number of those from which you can choose, but again the maximum aperture needs to be large (numerically smaller f-number.) For head-and-shoulders protraits, something like Nikon's 85mm f/1.8 D (~$450.)

But an inexpensive fast 50mm lens will get you on your way.

sidle Aug 25, 2009 3:25 PM

Thank you very much TCav. Great explanation-I understand better now.
I do get blurring with my present zooms, but it tends to be of the apparently dreaded donut variety.
Not that I ever need to be perfect or anything--I just chase my own children and the occasional dragonfly, but I'm just in rookie obsessive mode right now.

TCav Aug 25, 2009 3:48 PM


Originally Posted by sidle (Post 995046)
I do get blurring with my present zooms, but it tends to be of the apparently dreaded donut variety.

The donut bokeh is characteristic of catadioptric (mirror, or reflex) lenses. Can you post an example of what you mean?

mattyb Aug 25, 2009 4:56 PM

Why not try an 18-55mm? I love working at 18mm (27mm in full frame) on my D40. Now I'd just like something fast at this length.


sidle Aug 25, 2009 5:28 PM

Here's the first pic I ever took (only had the camera two weeks as of yesterday) that had the bokeh circles.
Aren't they technically "bad" because the discs don't smoothly run together, but have brighter rings around the edges?
Not that it should really matter to me. I'm just messing around-not trying to compete with pros or 30 year hobbyists or anything.
I'm just becoming really fascinated with the process.[email protected]/3830987691/

TCav Aug 25, 2009 6:06 PM

While the bokeh in that shot isn't particularly good, it isn't particularly bad either. And it wasn't the donut bokeh you referred to. You applied a number of "Rules" of photography, and the result is an image that has a lot of out of focus background, and the lens you used at the aperture you used doesn't create the "buttery" bokeh that people talk about. Next time, try something else.

Take alook at the sample photos here:

Those shots were taken with a catadioptric lens, and have the donut bokeh.

I think you're getting wrapped around the axel about something that is incidental to the subject. You definately need a large aperture lens to do portraits, and with that will come the bokeh.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 3:01 AM.