Go Back   Steve's Digicams Forums > Digital SLR and Interchangeable Lens Cameras > Nikon Lenses

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old Dec 29, 2009, 12:40 PM   #1
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 13
Default primes vs zooms?

I am looking at some lens upgrading, but am very confused, please help! I want good sharp results for landscape(including lowlight), macro, travel and people, including the occasional wedding. Am I better off with a couple primes or a couple small zoom ranges? I don't need anything super long as I use my nikon 300mm f4 with TC17ED for wildlife and it is fun and will do until I hit the jackpot and can get a 600mm(Gotta have a dream!) Really appriciate suggestions and comparisons on some good lens choices.
Kona is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Old Dec 29, 2009, 2:45 PM   #2
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

Primes are nearly always going to give the best results in both terms of sharpness and the ability to shoot at wider apertures, they are also usually lighter than a zoom. The zoom means you are covering a lot more focal lengths in one lens.

For landscape you are usually shooting at narrower apertures so you don't see the same sort of gains going for a prime over a zoom, although you can often find distortions are less.

Macro is better with a prime.

Travel and people, for flexibility then a zoom is my usual choice, although if I can shoot with a prime I just love the extra quality.

When I shoot a wedding, unless I'm struggling for light and not able to use flash then I use a couple of zooms.

If you want specific options for you then please let us know what other lenses you have apart from the 300mm.
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 4:06 PM   #3
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 13
Default

I also have an 18-55 kit lens and a 55-200 VR. Seems like I also should maybe consider an external flash?
Kona is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 4:35 PM   #4
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

If you are ever going to shoot a wedding then yes, external flash is essential. Also a faster standard zoom might help when shooting indoors or you might want a fast prime lens such as the Sigma 30mm f1.4. For landscapes the kit lens is probably fine.

Macro is another element that is not covered so far, you can either get a macro lens or purchase some extension tubes and use one of your current lenses.
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 4:43 PM   #5
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

An SB-600 would make a great addition to your kit if you don't have an external flash yet.

As Mark1616 pointed out, primes are usually great because you get a lighter lens with higher quality, if you can live without the flexibility of a zoom.

There are some exceptions to the quality part though. For example, in the Nikon lineup, I've seen Thom Hogan (see http://www.bythom.com if you're not familiar with Thom) write more than once that the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G is better than any primes Nikon offers in that focal range. Of course, with a price tag of around $1800 at most popular vendors, I'd expect it to be a good lens. ;-)
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 6:33 PM   #6
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 13
Default

The Macro tube seems like a good idea rather than a dedicated lens, unless the macro lens would be good for other things as well? Is there a noticable loss in IQ using a macro tube on a regular zoom? Is the SB-600 the best choice for a flash? I am not opposed to primes at all as I really love my 300mm. Is the Sigma 30mm 1.4 you mentioned comparable in IQ to a Nikon? And is 30mm ok for portraits, most I've read indicate 70 - 105mm for portraits and weddings? Also what faster standard zooms do you reccomend? Sorry, the more you guys tell me the more questions I have!
Kona is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 6:45 PM   #7
Super Moderator
 
Mark1616's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 7,452
Default

The 30mm gives a normal focal length so a little short for pure portrait work but a really nice lens with good IQ.

Extension tubes are only affected by the quality of the air so they are pretty fine LOL. An out and out macro lens will be better though and they can make lovely portrait lenses as well. I'm not a macro specialist so I would suggest asking in the macro section to see what the guys are using to get some of those results.

The SB-600 is a stunning flash, you are fortunate, Nikon has the best flash system out there, which is a pain for me as I shoot Canon
Mark1616 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 7:26 PM   #8
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 13
Default

LOL, so I guess you know I've never used a macro tube!
Kona is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 29, 2009, 7:55 PM   #9
Senior Member
 
TCav's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Washington, DC, Metro Area, Maryland
Posts: 13,572
Default

Extension tuibes ("macro tubes") are a good way to get into macrophotography and get good results without spending a lot. But there are some things about them that you should know.
  • While they have no optical elements of their own, they greatly accentuate the flaws in whatever lens you use them with. So whatever lens you use with extension tubes, it should be very good. The 18-55 VR doesn't qualify.
  • Extension tubes not only greatly reduce the minimum focusing distance of a lens, they also severely reduce the maximum focusing didtance. When using extension tubes, you really can't use the camera for anything else without removing the tube and reinstalling the lens.
  • Extension tubes fit between the lens and the camera body. To install extension tubes, you need to remove the lens, mount the tube, and then mount the lens. Removing the tube is the reverse process. This is not something that you should try in the field, as dust can easily enter the camera and spoil your images.
For all these reasons, extension tubes are not for the casual user. An inexpensive Macro lens is a better alternative.

On the other hand, a stabilized lens will project a stabilized image, even when it's mounted on an extension tube. There are only two stabilized macro lenses for the Nikon mount, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF ED (~$890) and the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR (~$515). All other Macro lenses will not be stabilized, so you should use a tripod.
__________________
  • The lens is the thing.
  • 'Full Frame' is the new 'Medium Format'.
  • "One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Tex Johnston, Boeing 707 test pilot.
TCav is offline   Reply With Quote
Old Dec 30, 2009, 5:40 AM   #10
Administrator
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Savannah, GA (USA)
Posts: 22,378
Default

But, apparently VR does not work well at closer ranges. ;-)

You'll see Thom Hogan discussing that in his review of the Nikkor 105mm VR Micro on this page:

http://www.bythom.com/105AFSlens.htm

Here's a quote from it:

Quote:
  • VR degrades with focus distance. If you were expecting VR hand holding at 1:1 you'll be disappointed.
JimC is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 3:43 PM.