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I Don't Know Where to Start...

Discussion in 'Nikon DX DSLR Forum' started by ShadowFox19, Aug 5, 2008.

  1. ...adding gear to my bag.
    My current setup is just a D80 with the 18-135mm kit lens, a tripod, a couple batteries, and a few memory cards. Just the basics.
    I want to add more items, but I don't know where to start. The way I look at it, I need a flash, faster lens(es), and a vertical grip.
    I guess, ultimately, I just don't know if I should add a flash to my bag before a faster lens. Or, should I go with a faster lens, then add the flash? Once that's figured out, which of which should I go after? That's when you'll probably say, "What type of shooting do you usually do?". Well, that's the tricky part, I shoot everything...landscapes, people, sports, and animals. I do some work for my employer with my camera (my next job is covering a 5k race they're sponsoring and I may have a big-time event to do a month from now), so I want to get the best results a possible.

    Here's a list of gear I'm looking at:

    This one's obvious, the MB-D80 (Most likely ordering this on Friday)

    Tokina 11-16/2.8 or Tokina 12-24/4
    Nikon 50/1.8
    Nikon 18-200 VR
    Nikon 80-200/2.8

    (I'm also contemplating a umbrella strobe kit for portraits)

    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2008
  2. nick,
    i'm glad you are here and posting this thread
    let me ask you an honest question so that folks can help you better

    how much do you really want to spend at this time?
    and how much do you see yourself spending in the next 3 months?

    this will help us guide you in the right direction
  3. Great point, Greg!
    Actually, I'd like to buy the grip ($130), a flash ($3-500), and at least one lens (>$950ish) within the next 3 months...heck, maybe even everything. I just can't add it all at once, that's why I was asking in what order I should buy things...basically one item a month.
  4. Such decisions start with introspection. Get a program such as ExposurePlot (I thin that is the correct name), run it on your last year's worth of images and see if you hang mostly at one end of the spectrum. If you shoot landscapes consider a good tripod/ballhead before any glass or a flash. Reverse the decision if you shoot indoors, and be sure to check out the flash tutorial at http://www.planetneil.com. If you REALLY get into flash, the Strobist blog can be good, otherwise you may find it to be a case of TMI.

    Glass decisions will also depend on the subject matter you want to shoot. The most common moderately priced zoom recommendations are the Sigma 10-20 or Tokina 12-24 (either one around $400 used, I have owned both as well as the Nikon 12-24, and prefer the Sigma), Tamron 17-50 ($3000 used), and Nikon 80-200 AF-ED ($500-$700 used, the range that this sells for is surprisingly wide). These three should cover 99% of your needs unless you shoot wildlife, the order in which you get them depends on what ExposurePlot tells you.

    There are equally good prime recommendations, I gave primes several tries and never grew to like them. As of a few days ago I have sold off all my primes except the Sigma 30/1.4, which I hardly ever use. The 50/1.8 is VERY tight on a DX. Unless you live in a 3000+ sq. ft. house you may find it limiting indoors.

    I would spend money on something else before the grip, but that is my personal preference. I recently downgraded from a D200 to a D40 because the D200 was way too heavy, will probably end up buying the upcoming D90 when they release it, unless it is priced over $1000.
  5. i hope that more folks will help nick out here
    now that he has stated his budget
  6. Thanks for the tips. I just realized that I do have a tripod, it's a Manfrotto my Dad gave me a few months back...and I use it quite a bit...brain fart, LOL.

    As for the lenses, you prefer the Sigma out of that bunch? Honestly, I was looking at that lens a while back, but have totally forgotten about it. It does take some beautiful pictures. The reason I was looking at the 11-16 Tokina, is because of the fact it's a 2.8 and I was thinking it would be more versatile than a 3.5 or higher. My D80 isn't the strongest when it comes to high ISO shots. See this album for my high ISO examples: http://picasaweb.google.com/nickknutson/FootballAug08?authkey=jYvzg5_BUyw Granted, those were shots taken in horrible lighting, with my kit lens, and of moving objects...a trifecta for bad results. I considered using my Dad's SB800, but didn't want to distract the players...that's why I was wishing that I had the 80-200/2.8 that night. I do shoot quite a bit indoors, and night/low light shots really do something for me.
    I did the Exposure plot analysis and found that I take 40% of my shots at 18mm and 40% at 80mm or above with my kit lens.
    Soooo, anyone else have any thoughts?
  7. After getting my D50 and 18-200 back in Dec 2005.....my next investment was a used SB600 for $120. For indoor shooting (and some outdoors) the flash was very helpful. The SB600 pretty well handles my needs. It was worth every penny!!
  8. ssjarz

    ssjarz Guest


    Be aware that the Tokina 11-16, which I just purchased has a very limited range of zoom. It is almost like having a prime in the fact that zooming doesn't change the picture much. I was frankly very surprised, but pleased with the size (small compared to the Nikkor 14-24) and the sharpness. It fulfills my need for a super wide angle lens at a reasonable price.
  9. gd1418


    Feb 3, 2008
    Gurgaon, India
    If money is not the issue then 18-200VR and SB900 is what I would opt for..

  10. It seems to me that you're most interested in outdoors shooting and that you have a good range covered with an 18-135.

    You've already decided on the grip. Fine.

    I'm not sure of the immediate value of a flash. If you're shooting animals, sports, etc. outdoors, the flash will be of limited value. I'd concentrate on a lens first.

    The Nikon 80-200 2.8 is certainly excellent. It'll give you great quality and is a lot cheaper than the 70-200 2.8 VR, and if you're shooting mainly in bright light and using fast shutter speeds you'll have little need for VR.

    I've shot sporting type events with the 18-200 VR and it's not an ideal lens for that. It can be slow to track motion and, as noted above, the VR isn't necessarily useful. Also, unless you're shooting at long distances you don't get the full 200mm at the far end. At closer distances the top end is effectively less than 200 mm.

    If you feel more of a need at the wide end, the 11-16 2.8 could be a good choice. I have no personal knowledge of it, but Tokina has a good reputation.
  11. Just a few thoughts...

    50/1.8: Sure, at $100, why not? But imho, the 35/2 is a more useful focal length on a DX camera.

    Tokina 12-24/4: Highly recommended. Built like a tank, sharp as a tack, and very affordable. It makes a great walkaround lens, and can even be used for portraits!

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    18-200: You've already got a superzoom... the 18-135. There's no need for another.

    80-200/2.8: It delivers pro images... a wonderful lens. But it's very heavy, and doesn't have VR, which is a great asset for sporting events like your upcoming 5K race. I sold my 80-200 in favor of the 70-300VR. Shooting in good light, its images compare favorably, the VR is fabulous, and the addtional reach is very useful for sporting events. This sample was taken at 1/200 f/5.6 300mm.

    View attachment 234784

    Flash: Save a few hundred bucks and get the sb800 instead of the sb900. Or buy two used copies of the sb600, which you can often find at $125 each. Use the extra money to buy an umbrella kit, like the $99 special from BH Photo. That's how I started. It's everything you need to get started, except for the flashes, and it's good quality gear.
  12. ^ Wow! Thanks for all your suggestions, Frank!
  13. The reason I want a grip is a combination of it being a little small in my hands, and that I'd like to add some weight to the camera body. I'm also leaning toward buying a flash this weekend too. Then, I might keep my eye open for a good used 80-200/2.8D...and a monopod.

    My local camera shop is having a "Tent Sale" next week, and they're going to be purging their used and late-model gear (up to 50% off), so I may wait until next week to make any purchases.
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