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Old Mar 18, 2012, 8:17 AM   #1
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Default Choosing a lens for D5100 using Lens Reviews

A non-technical gal, I'm trying to find the best lens to replace the kit lens on a D5100 which I am gifting to my daughter as a gift.

I own a D90 and have lenses she can borrow but want an all purpose lens for candid shots of her new baby and travel. Her main goal is low light, indoor, and travel. She is going on a trip to Disney and a cruise and I have been analyzing lenses and reading reviews and can not decide which flaw to live with. The lenses I'm considering are $400 - $600 but I'm not sure they are worth it.

I was ready to purchase the Sigma 17-70 f2.8-4 but analyzed the images on www.the-digital-picture.com and I don't see it performing better than the 18-105 kit lens. The Sigma looks soft.
http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=713&Camera=474&Sample=0&FLI=5&API= 4&LensComp=0&CameraCom

Is this approach to lens purchase the way to sort through all the conflicting reviews. Is there a zoom lens good enough in low light that doesn't cost $1000 - $2000 for beginners?

Lenses I've been considering besides the Sigma17-70:
Nikon 18-105 (exhibits CA but seems sharper than sigma1770)
Nikon 16-85 VR (not very bright)
Nikon 24-85 f2.8-f4 (Not wide enough for travel?)
Tamron 28-75 f2.8 (Not wide enough)
Nikon 18-200 VR (very expensive)
Sigma 18-250 or Tamron 18-270
Tokina 50-135 (Better than Nikon 55-200?)

I guess it boils down to which lens will give the best results for a DSLR beginner for the uses mentioned above?

Mrs.T
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Old Mar 18, 2012, 2:12 PM   #2
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Hi Mrs T,

I'll probably get shot to pieces for this but as most know I'm a 18-200mm Nikon fan.
It's not the best lens out there but I think it is the best walkabout lens. The alternative is carrying a selection of prime lenses and swapping them around as the occasion merits. I personally dont like the weight.
You will need the 18mm end for landscapes and if you feel you will need the extra reach of the 250mm or the 270mm both Sigma and Tamron seem to get decent reviews.Some years back and when I was on film I did have a Tamron 28 -200 mm lens that was a bit too soft for my liking and a Sigma 28-300 lens which over exposed every thing, both on a Canon. I sent them both back and spent a bit more on the Canon equivalent, much better , ever since I have stayed away from third party lenses but I expect they are a lot better now and would look at them at a push.I then bought a Panasonic FZ7 digital . When Nikon came out with the 18-200mm (Canon at the time did not have an equivalent) I jumped ship hence my Nikon set up which I am very happy with. If you can get hold of the first model Nikon 18-200mm lens you will get it for a decent price as they have now a mark 2. The good news is the older model is just the same except it doesnt have a zoom lock button ,which just locks the lens in the closed position only. Something that may cause annoyance if you forget to unlock it. If you can, take your camera into a decent shop and with your own SD card take shots of the same subjects with each lens and look at them on you PC at home .That way you will be happy with what you buy. The main thing is to get a lens you are happy with as bodies come and go ,I've had my lens now for a few years on two successive bodies .
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Old Mar 18, 2012, 2:29 PM   #3
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Hi Mrs T,

Hi Mrs T,

I'll probably get shot to pieces for this but as most know I'm a 18-200mm Nikon fan.
It's not the best lens out there but I think it is the best walkabout lens. The alternative is carrying a selection of prime lenses and swapping them around as the occasion merits. I personally dont like the weight.
You will need the 18mm end for landscapes and if you feel you will need the extra reach of the 250mm or the 270mm both Sigma and Tamron seem to get decent reviews.Some years back and when I was on film I did have a Tamron 28 -200 mm lens that was a bit too soft for my liking and a Sigma 28-300 lens which over exposed every thing, both on a Canon. I sent them both back and spent a bit more on the Canon equivalent, much better , ever since I have stayed away from third party lenses but I expect they are a lot better now and would look at them at a push.I then bought a Panasonic FZ7 digital . When Nikon came out with the 18-200mm (Canon at the time did not have an equivalent) I jumped ship hence my Nikon set up which I am very happy with. If you can get hold of the first model Nikon 18-200mm lens you will get it for a decent price as they have now a mark 2. The good news is the older model is just the same except it doesnt have a zoom lock button ,which just locks the lens in the closed position only. Something that may cause annoyance if you forget to unlock it. If you can, take your camera into a decent shop and with your own SD card take shots of the same subjects with each lens and look at them on you PC at home .That way you will be happy with what you buy. The main thing is to get a lens you are happy with as bodies come and go ,I've had my lens now for a few years on two successive bodies .I like low light shots myself and with the D5000 and a 1600 iso with Vr I get decent results at F3.5 the D5100 should be even better. Of course F2.8 would be better but you would sacrifice the long end unless you have megabucks. Have a look at my threads and find the one D5000 + 18-200 combo, the Monserrat Church Black Madonna shot, that was taken in the dark at 200mm.F5.6. Not perfect but good enough for me.
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D5100 +18-200mVR Nikkor lens.
SB400 Flash, ML-L3 Remote.
SB 700 Flash
Holster + Shoulder Bag.
Beike carbon 4 section tripod/monopod
Gorillapod SLR Zoom + BH1 ball head
Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic FZ200
Nissin D i40 Flash
+ SLR Gorillapod

Last edited by deadshot; Mar 18, 2012 at 2:31 PM.
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Old Mar 18, 2012, 2:34 PM   #4
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Hi Mrs T,

I'll probably get shot to pieces for this but as most know I'm a 18-200mm Nikon fan.
It's not the best lens out there but I think it is the best walkabout lens. The alternative is carrying a selection of prime lenses and swapping them around as the occasion merits. I personally dont like the weight.
You will need the 18mm end for landscapes and if you feel you will need the extra reach of the 250mm or the 270mm both Sigma and Tamron seem to get decent reviews.Some years back and when I was on film I did have a Tamron 28 -200 mm lens that was a bit too soft for my liking and a Sigma 28-300 lens which over exposed every thing, both on a Canon. I sent them both back and spent a bit more on the Canon equivalent, much better , ever since I have stayed away from third party lenses but I expect they are a lot better now and would look at them at a push.I then bought a Panasonic FZ7 digital . When Nikon came out with the 18-200mm (Canon at the time did not have an equivalent) I jumped ship hence my Nikon set up which I am very happy with. If you can get hold of the first model Nikon 18-200mm lens you will get it for a decent price as they have now a mark 2. The good news is the older model is just the same except it doesnt have a zoom lock button ,which just locks the lens in the closed position only. Something that may cause annoyance if you forget to unlock it. If you can, take your camera into a decent shop and with your own SD card take shots of the same subjects with each lens and look at them on you PC at home .That way you will be happy with what you buy. The main thing is to get a lens you are happy with as bodies come and go ,I've had my lens now for a few years on two successive bodies .
__________________
D5100 +18-200mVR Nikkor lens.
SB400 Flash, ML-L3 Remote.
SB 700 Flash
Holster + Shoulder Bag.
Beike carbon 4 section tripod/monopod
Gorillapod SLR Zoom + BH1 ball head
Panasonic FZ1000
Panasonic FZ200
Nissin D i40 Flash
+ SLR Gorillapod
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Old Mar 18, 2012, 3:45 PM   #5
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You want a large(ish) aperture and a large(ish) zoom range. That's tough to do.

The Sigma 17-70/2.8-4.0 OS HSM is a large(ish) aperture, stabilized, standard zoom. It may not be great, but it's the only one of its kind. The Sigma 18-50/2.8-4.5 OS HSM is better than the kit lens, and it's not very expensive, but it doesn't have a great zoom range. The Nikon 16-85 is optically better, but it's got a smaller maximum aperture. In fact, every other lens in this class will have an f/5.6 maximum aperture, or smaller.

Another option might be the Tamron 17-50/2.8 (non-VC version.) It's an excellent lens, but it's not stabilized, and the stabilized version isn't as good. The Sigma 17-50/2.8 OS HSM might be a good choice.

You need to compromise a little on the aperture, the zoom range, or the image quality.
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Old Mar 18, 2012, 9:06 PM   #6
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Default One more option...

I see what the problem is thanks to informative replies.

Since it is very convenient for my daughter and I to share lenses I think it makes the most sense to get a brighter lens and she will always have my zoom for those times she feels she needs it.

I like the idea of the 17-50 f2.8 very much.

I have read some good things about one more lens, the 24-120 f4. I know this lens is meant for full frame bodies. The question is will it be good for the majority of her shots which are of the baby and social settings mostly indoors?
Can you take macro shots with this type of lens? Is it something I should consider?

I appreciate the replies.
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Old Mar 18, 2012, 9:58 PM   #7
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Have you considered buying her a good external flash she can bounce for more diffused light instead?

That way, she'd still have the focal range flexibility her existing lens provides. For example, something like the new SB-700:

http://www.nikonusa.com/Nikon-Produc...peedlight.html
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Old Mar 19, 2012, 6:40 AM   #8
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The 24-120 is a fine lens. It is capable of a maximum magnification ratio of 1:4, which is the outer edge of what you can call "macro" and get away with it. 24mm is not very wide on an APS-C body, but since her subject is small, your daughter might get away with it.
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Old Mar 19, 2012, 8:19 PM   #9
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I went to the local camera shop today and looked at various camera bodies.
They had the Sigma 17-50 f2.8 and we put it on the camera.
My daughter doesn't think it has enough reach but I think she'll enjoy this lens for her needs.

I really like the idea of one of the 18-250's out there knowing it isn't perfect. For indoor low light she can use my 50 f1.8 or use the flash which I think is a great suggestion.

I think I'm getting closer to a decision.

Thanks
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