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Old Oct 17, 2011, 12:31 PM   #1
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Default Advice for purchasing D5100 and lenses HELP!

I'm new to photography and looking to purchase my first DSLR. I've decided on the Nikon D5100, but I'm trying to figure out what lens. I'm interested in a variety of shots...action (I have a greyhound I'd like to get action shots of), wildlife/landscapes, some portrait...basically a little of everything at the moment. I'm sure that will change as I start shooting.

Now I've found lots of deals on D5100's that have kit lenses with them, usually 18-55mm VR and/or 55-300mm VR. I've been told I'd be better off buying the body and getting a better lens. I was recommended Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 as a good everyday use lens. I have a few questions though...
-Is there any image stabilization with these lenses? How important is it?
-Should I get a kit setup with the Nikon 18-55mm lens then look for a Tamron Telephoto (or vice versa)? I would like to have the option of a longer lens, but I'm trying to keep the initial cost down.

Anyother advice? I'm very new and trying to get better informed....oh and NOT GO BROKE!
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Old Oct 17, 2011, 1:38 PM   #2
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Personally, I find the kit lenses just too dark to suit my needs. So I agree with the idea of buying the body and lenses separately. If you don't do indoor event shooting or the like, then the kit lens might do you fine. The kit lenses are adequately sharp, just not bright enough.

As to VR, this really varies with the individual. Personally, I have no interest in VR in any lens below about 100mm, but I absolutely require it on a long lens. So, with the Tamron 17-50, I wouldn't care one whit whether it had image stabilization or not. BTW, it comes in two versions, one with stabilization and an older version that I think is still available (if not, it is widely available used) that lacks VC (Tamron's name for VR). Both lenses are nice and sharp, even wide open, although the non-VC version is a tad sharper. But they would both be a major leap forward over the kit lens.

I have the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8, which is my absolute favorite lens. It is sharp wide open and its zoom range better suits my shooting preferences (it's a very nice portrait lens and has the reach that I find appropriate for things like school performances as long as I am sitting toward the front.) The 28-75 is not available with stabilization.

When I first got my D5000, I purchased it with only the Nikon 35 f/1.8. I used that lens alone for a couple of months and was very happy with my purchase. The 35mm lens is a very good bargain, and that focal length is well-suited to general photography on a DX body. It is a tad short for portrait shots, but not as bad as people will sometimes suggest. If you shoot half-body or longer, you won't have any problem at all with that focal length IME.

For a long lens, I got the Nikon 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR. A lot of people rave about it, but I am ambivalent about it. It is qute a dark lens -- especially if you are shooting long. At 300mm, you are best served by stopping it down to f/8 or so, which is pretty limiting. For a long lens, I would want the Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VRII with a Kenko 1.4x TC. But that lens and TC alone will run you over $2500. I haven't found a low-cost tele solution that I am really happy with and can afford. I had the Nikon 55-200 f/4-5.6 VR before I got my current lens, and it was almost as good as what I switched to. There's really no substitute to the expensive options when you go long AFAICS.

I also have the Tokina 12-24 f/4 DX II, which is an absolutely wonderful ultra-wide angle lens. Like the Tamron, it is good and sharp wide open and has excellent contrast. I am completely satisfied with it and my 28-75. If you decide you want the 17-50, you might consider what you would get at the short end. Some folks really like the Sigma 8-16 (a really dark lens, but otherwise apparently quite nice if you are into extreme UWA).

My zoom triumvirate is Tokina 12-24, Tamron 28-75, and Nikon 70-300 VR. The thing that works especially well for me with this division of lenses is that I approach UWA shooting quite differently than standard focal length, and tele differently still. My lenses are divided up pretty much in the same way as my shooting style -- when I switch zoom, I am reminded to switch my mental approach to my subject. The problem I have with something like a 17-50 and 50-300 (or 70-300) combination of lenses is that it doesn't break down in the way that my shooting does. I am quite capable of zooming into a range that needs me to think about composition differently without ever making the mental switch until I get back home and examine my work on my computer screen. If you are a more disciplined shooter, you may not have similar constraints. FWIW
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Old Oct 17, 2011, 4:18 PM   #3
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The D5100 together with the 18-55 kit and the 55-300 isn't a bad combination. For a little more money, the stabilized Tamron SP 70-300 USD VC would be a good replacement for the Nikon 55-300. The 18-55 isn't bad, but as tclune pointed out, it is dim, and there are better choices, stabilized or not. The Stabilized Sigma 18-50/2.8-4.5 is a little better, a little faster, and only a little more expensive. The unstabilized Tamron 17-50/2.8 is as good as anything similar at any price, but if you need stabilization, the Sigma 17-50/2.8 and Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.0 are better than the stabilized Tamron. Also, the 17-70 is long enough and fast enough to serve as a portrait lens of sorts, as well. It's also capable of 1:2.7 macro, if you're interested.

Do you need stabilization? Passing on the Tamron 17-50/2.8 because it's not stabilized is a shame. If you'll be shooting in reasonably good light (with the benefit of the f/2.8 maximum aperture) and/or you'll be using flash, then stabilization for shorter focal length lenses isn't a big deal. But if you'll be using flash, the 18-55 kit lens might be good enough. The Tamron 28-75/2.8 that tclune mentioned is also a very good lens if you don't need the stabilization, and it's also a good portrait lens.
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Old Oct 19, 2011, 5:26 PM   #4
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Don't forget, your D5100 does not have a drive motor to power a lens, so you will want to have a lens that is motorised itself.
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Old Oct 20, 2011, 6:21 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by norm smith View Post
Don't forget, your D5100 does not have a drive motor to power a lens, so you will want to have a lens that is motorised itself.
The Sigma lenses I mentioned are all HSM lenses, so they have their own Hyper Sonic Motor. Most, if not all, Tamron lenses for the Nikon mount have their own AF motors, including the two I mentioned.
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Old Oct 21, 2011, 3:03 PM   #6
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Default Wow...didn't even think of that!

So is there some initial that is in the name of the lens that tells me if it has a motor or not. Kind of like VR for Vibration reduction, or VC for Vibration compensation...etc? This is getting complicated! Here is what I think I am leaning to...The D5100 body, with Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 without VC (I don't think they make VC with that lens). Then save up for a 200 or 300m camera with some vibration correction/reduction since its probably more important at that distance...correct?

Ok...next question...what are the reputabile sites that sell cameras and/or lenses for the best price?

Thanks!
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Old Oct 21, 2011, 3:21 PM   #7
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Sigma uses HSM for it's lenses with Hyper-Sonic Motors, and Tamron has designations for some of its lenses with built-in motors, but the absence of any particular designation doesn't mean a lens doesn't have a motor. You can check for sure by going to their respective websites.

As for reliable on-line retailers, there's Adorama and B&H Photo Video, among others. You might find this useful: http://www.resellerratings.com/. That should help you avoid the places you should stay away from.
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