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Old Dec 28, 2011, 6:28 PM   #1
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Default First time Nikon SLR'er seeking help w/lenses!

I got into photography a few years ago with a Sony cyber shot DSC-H9 camera which served me well but I think I have out grown it. I Recently picked up a used Nikon D5100 body online at a good price ($450) and am looking for feedback on which lenses to buy for it since I'm still a relative newbie to photography, especially SLR's and interchangeable lenses.

I want more manual control over my shots, especially controlling depth of field and focus through aperture settings etc. Having the option to change lenses now has made me more confused than ever! I don't understand all the nuances or what I should be looking for in a lense that would be best for me at this stage! I see all these AF, VR, f-stops, focal lengths and most importantly right now, prices! There's such a huge difference in prices between these lenses and I don't know enough yet to know what is right for me at this stage and what is overkill.

Here are some things to consider:

1) I'm still learning photography. It's still a hobby so I don't want to invest thousands of dollars on lenses. I'm looking to take the next step in my development and buy a lense (or lenses) which offer me more control than I had with my DSC-H9 but don't want to break the bank buying a lense or lenses I won't be able to take full advantage of yet given my skill set.

2) Convenience: I'm not sure if I'm better off buying a kit of lenses (e.g. 18-55mm & 55-300mm) or a single lense (18-200mm)? I'm still learning so I think having one lense capable of both wide angle and telephoto would be better but I'm not sure of the pros and cons.

3) Nikon vs. 3rd Party Lenses: Researching online it looks like Nikon lenses are way more expensive overall than some of the other manufactures that will work on the D5100. Would I be paying for quality or the brand name? e.g. The Nikon AF-S 18-200mm F3.5-56 DX VR II IF-ED sellls for about $760 but the SIGMA AF 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC is around $375. And the Tamron AF 18-200mm XR F3.5 - 6.3 DI II is even cheaper at $289. Why the huge difference in price? Quality? Brand name? Image stabilization? I just don't know.

So any feedback would be appreciated from more experienced users!
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Old Dec 31, 2011, 10:52 AM   #2
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Congrats on getting a pretty fine camera which should provide you years of enjoyment. It certainly has the sensor to all allow you to take excellent images.
And, there-in lies the rub as buying a kit lens really won't get allow you to capture all the detail that the sensor is able to provide. And, since you really haven't given any detail as to the type of photography you enjoy, it is hard to make any specific recommendations.

However, there are 2 lenses that I would suggest you add to your list under consideration.
The Nikkor 70-300mm VR lens is a fine lens. It has vibration reduction (image stabilization). It also is a pretty sharp zoom lens with really no major issues and would be a good combo with the D5100. The lens sells for under $600.00 but can be found on the used market for under $400USD.
Also, The Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 is a fine medium zoom lens that also will give you room to grow. It sells for around $420 to $450USD new.

If you can find either or both of these on the used market, that would be ideal as if, or when you decided to look into another lens, you could always sell either one without much if any loss of investment.

As far as why some lenses are more costly than others, it really has to do with build quality and the type of glass used.

Hope this helps.

Zig
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Old Dec 31, 2011, 12:06 PM   #3
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If you want to play with the depth of field, you need larger apertures (numerically smaller f-numbers) to be able to do that. A good place to start is Nikon's own 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX ($197) and 50mm f/1.8G AF-S ($217).

Something you need to be aware of is that your D5100 doesn't have an internal autofocus motor, so only lenses with their own AF motors will autofocus. Nikon's own product line includes some lenses identified as AF, but they won't AF on your D5100. You need to narrow you selection to their AF-S lenses. For instance, Nikon's 85mm f/1.8D AF ($459) won't AF on the D5100, but their 85mm f/1.4F AF-S ($1,700) will. All Sigma's HSM lenses will AF for you, as will most of Tamron's lenses, but most Tokina lenses won't.
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Old Dec 31, 2011, 3:02 PM   #4
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you could pick up a nikon 50 f 1.8 and a tamron 70 - 300 for the same price as a nikon 70 - 300 although the f1.8 wont auto focus either ....

but you mention both wide and tele so i would maybe go with a all in one to put you on then upgrade when you find your feet
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Old Dec 31, 2011, 3:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by simple View Post
... although the f1.8 wont auto focus either ...
The $217 Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G will AF on the D5100.

Quote:
Originally Posted by simple View Post
... maybe go with a all in one ...
But the maximum apertures on "all in one" lenses is too small to give much variability to the depth of field.
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