Help me think through my setup...

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by Brian-S, May 21, 2007.

  1. Brian-S

    Brian-S

    300
    Feb 10, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    Hi folks,

    I've been starting to accumulate some gear and am now at the point where I need to decide what's for me and what should I should part with. I am a hobbyist, and my photography falls into 2 primary categories 1) people and portraits (this includes street photography day & night) and 2) landscapes (particularly during the early morning/evening hours with lowlight). I especially like cityscapes w/ the lights and a beautiful sunset sky, for example. A distant third is B&W photography, for which I love my F5 w/ the 50 or 85 prime. The rest of the gear I have is the following:

    Bodies:
    D70s
    D2h
    F5

    Lenses:
    18-200
    50/1.8
    105 non-VR
    70-200 w/ 1.4x TC
    85/1.8

    Flash:
    SB-800, SB-400

    Tripod:
    Feisol 3301N w/ Benro ball-head

    I see myself w/ 2 basic kits:

    1. Travel (which is also when I tend to take most people shots, whether travelling for 2 weeks or a day-hikes). These might be both outdoors as well as inside at night during dinner, on the street, etc.
    D70s
    18-200
    85/1.8
    SB-400
    +/- 105 if I think there might be some nice plantlife

    2. Serious setup (around town or when I have everything in a car and don't have to carry it). For me, this is typically walking around San Francisco.
    D2h
    F5
    70-200 +/- 1.4x (I really enjoy this for people shots as I can be a bit further away w/o having to be too conspicuous).
    50/1.8
    85/1.8
    +/- 105 as above
    SB-800
    Tripod setup

    So my questions are the following:
    Does what I have make sense for what I want to do with it?
    Is there anything I SHOULD have or am missing? Or put another way, is there something else you like when you do this type of photography?
    Is there anything that does't make sense to have that I should forego or exchange for something else?

    A few more notes:
    1. I'm not very good at wide-angle photography. I had a Tokina 12-24 for awhile but found that I never used it (with the 18-end of my 18-200 being more than wide-enough for me) and with my style of shooting, I didn't find myself wanting wider.
    2. I also had the 85/1.4 for awhile, but decided to forego the extra bit of speed in exchange for the 85/1.8 and the SB-800 and SB-400 since I figured I'd use the speedlights a lot (so far so good).
    3. I've thought about a fast wider prime like the 30/1.4 for awhile, but don't like the idea that it's for 1.5x sensors only, and that I couldn't even use it on the F5 or future digital FF. Also, the 28/1.4 is clearly out of my budget. The 35/2 seems nice.

    Would appreciate any of your thoughts on the matter.

    Thanks,
    Brian
     
  2. Seems you have thought it through pretty well. But of you like lighted cityscapes at night may I suggest the Nikon 17-55 F2.8. It is sharp at F2.8 and does very well at night. It also does very well for normal portraits of groups down to larger parts of an individual. And the flexibility of a zoom. And I use mine as a macro in a pinch, pretty nice Bokeh actually.

    and since you have a D2H that can handle non cpu lenses, I would consider picking up a used and cheap 28mm F2.0 AI-S, it is wonderful for night pictures with lights, I just love mine to death for those kind of shots. I bought mine for under a $100....
     
  3. Brian-S

    Brian-S

    300
    Feb 10, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    Andreas, that's a super thought on the 28/2.0 . I never really considered manual focus lenses before but for less than $100, it sounds like a steal and a nice way to try out manual focus. Edit: Not sure where you got if for < $100 but that was a STEAL! Going for $200-$300 from KEH it seems. I've used the 17-55 before, and would buy it in a heartbeat if I could also use it on my F5.

    Brian
     
  4. Cabrams

    Cabrams Guest

    I dont know if you would be interested in this but I am in the market for a d70 or d50 to turn into an infra-red camera only. You can do it yourself or have it done for about 200.00. This looks great for outdoor portraits and landscape shots. Not sure what the cityscapes would be like.
    I also consider the 17-55mm one of the best and if money is an issue, the tamron 17-50mm isnt a bad choice.
     
  5. fks

    fks

    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi brian-

    for #1, i would swap the 85mm with the 50mm as i've found 85mm to be too long for dinner table shots. it's also much less intrusive in situations like that.

    if nikon would only make the 50mm f/1.8 or 35mm f/2 work on the D40, they'd have a nice stealth camera (as stealthy as a DSLR can get of course).

    i feel you on both wide angle and the 70-200mm. i have a sigma 12-24mm that still counfounds me as far as how to use the extreme FOV successfully. my 70-200mm is also my favorite lens for shooting parades and street fairs because of its reach. it's not the most unobtrusive of lenses though!

    ricky
     
  6. cadman

    cadman

    301
    Dec 4, 2006
    Johns Creek, GA
    Brian,

    Actually as the following quote from Bjorn Roslett indicates, you can use the 17-55 on your F5. Although I have not tried it, I have seen other reports that there is a slight vignetting from 25-28 but it is fine above 28 and translates into a 28-80 2.8 FF very well.

    "This fast 3X zoom lens is obviously intended to replace the venerable, fast f2.8 AFS 17-35 and 28-70 Nikkors for press and general photography. The lens, being a DX design, is intended only for Nikon DSLRs, but will work on a 35 mm camera in the range 35 - 55 mm, too."

    I love it as a fast walkaround/travel lens as well as a wonderful landscape lens. It does however have some flare issues so I use the hood. It is a great people lens and is the lens that always goes back on when the day is over so that is ready to be first out of the bag.

    JMHO
     
  7. weiran

    weiran

    966
    Jan 2, 2007
    Nottingham, UK
    cadman: you mean a 28-55mm f/2.8 FF.
     
  8. cadman

    cadman

    301
    Dec 4, 2006
    Johns Creek, GA
    Sorry,

    Yes I did mean 28-55. Actually Thom Hogan says it will work at 26 but with some vignetting from any filters. Have never tried so I am just repeating second hand info.

    Thanks for the correction.
     
  9. OOPS the 28mm F2.0 is being discovered.... I bought mine on Ebay 2 years ago or so.

    As for the 17-55 as others have noted it does work on a F5 but not at 17mm, you have to zoom it in to say 26 or so and then it works ok , I have not tried it extensively, but it does work on my N80.

    BTW the 24mm F2 is not considered the best of lenses....
    The 20mm MF is ok, the 20mm AF is quite good.

     
  10. Brian-S

    Brian-S

    300
    Feb 10, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    Everyone,

    Thanks for the great additional thoughts!

    Cabrams: Never really thought about IR photography before, though from what I've seen, it looks very intriguing and worth a deeper look. Would probably have to pickup another D70 for that though, since I want to keep my current one for regular travel and light photography.

    Ricky: Nice thought on the 85 vs. 50 suggestion. In fact, I was thinking of replacing the 50 with an even wider lens (i.e 30/1.4 or 35/2) and so would have the 85 and 30-something as a very light kit while travelling. Unfortunately AIS lenses don't work so well on the D70s, so the 28/2.0 wouldn't work there, but certainly would on the D2h. As for the 12-24 range, it's strange because I've seen many great shots at that wide-angle, but simply can't seem to make it look right. My sense is that 12mm photography looks best when 1) you have a nice primary subject right in front or something that leads to the primary subject 2) all other subjects are relatively close so the FOV doesn't look super distorted, and vivid colors always make things look better. I found that the 12-24 wasn't terribly effective in lanscape shots where the mountains, bridge, etc. were far away because using the 12-24 just made them look even further away. If anyone else has any tips on this they would be very appreciated.

    Cadman, Weiran, and Andrea: Thanks for sharing the info about the 17-55 on a full-frame. Certainly very good to know, and 27-55 on a FF camera doesn't sound bad at all. In fact it sounds like a nice alternative to the 17-35, which on a FF would be like my 12-24 on a 1.5x crop. I'd probably still be unable to get shots that I'd like whereas 27-55 goes from normal to wide. Looks like I might be in the market for a 17-55 after all!

    Andreas: Yes, it seems as though the 28/2.0 IS being discovered! While stlll not very pricey, it's certainly more than the <$100 you paid 2 years ago!! Thanks also for letting me know about the 24/2 and 20 variants.

    Brian
     
  11. Brian-S

    Brian-S

    300
    Feb 10, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    UPDATE: Well folks, I broke down tonight and ordered the Sigma 30/1.4 from B&H (they have it in stock, but probably not for long!). Have read too many good things about this lens to not give it a try, and love the idea of a normal perspective w/ 1.4 on my D70s for travel. Gets here Thursday so hopefully I can take it about it's paces this memorial day weekend.

    Brian
     
  12. I think you should go out and take pictures. Buying and selling lenses and wondering what to buy next and what you might be missing takes time away from shooting. Fully understanding what you already have comes from repeatedly using what you already have.
    I have been giving myself assignments to go out and fully utilize what I already have and see what I can do with it.
     
  13. Brian-S

    Brian-S

    300
    Feb 10, 2007
    Bay Area, CA
    William: That's a good idea and what I'll be doing this weekend! Stay tuned for some coming pics...
     
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