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Need helpw with Lens choice

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by gmaker1, Jul 20, 2005.

  1. Everyone:

    I would like your help and suggestions for a lens. I presently own:

    28mm F2.8 AF
    85mm F1.4D IF AF
    Sigma 105 macro
    300 F4 ED-IF AFS

    I feel I need something between the 105 and 300. Any suggestions?

  2. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Re: Need help with Lens choice

    Gil :

    I'd put in a vote for the 70-200mm AFS/VR for maximum flexibility. It's not going to be quite as sharp as the 85mm f/1.4, but it's going to be darned close through almost all of its range. Sweet, sweet zoom lens, pleasing bokeh, and fast fast focus.

    If you're looking for a prime, I'd put a wholly different vote in for the 105mm DC f/2 (I'm assuming you're not shooting the Sigma 105 for the same things) . The 105 DC is a wonderful and fun lens to shoot with, despite its closeness in FL to the 85mm. The defocus control is almost everything it's billed to be, and gives a delightful 'forties style to shooting people. It's nowhere near as expensive as the 70-200mm, but it brings a smile to my face every time I shoot with it, as the defocus gives such intriguing results. Having said that, I do use the 70-200mm more often because of flexibility and faster focus with the AFS feature.

    For some reason, the last couple of people I've talked to about the 135mm DC f/2 haven't found it quite as good as the 105mm DC, but that may just be personal preference. Having one DC lens is enough for me, so I haven't actively sought out the 135mm DC (although I'd freely accept one if I found it for next to nothing... :lol: :roll: :lol: ). Still, it might be an interesting prime lens more in the middle of the focal length range you're looking at - it's reasonably "fast glass", and has the DC attribute.

    I test shot several weeks back with the 180mm f/2.8, and thought it was a nice lens, although I had poor results purely through my own fault(s) in shooting. It seemed a bit slow on AF to me, but that may just be in comparison with some of the AFS lenses we were using. Nice heft and handling, IMO. I think Jim F. may have been shooting with one a bit back - perhaps he could comment at greater length.

    Of course, you could try the new 200mm f/2 VR if you're wanting the best of many worlds...

    ... and a "planetary" expense ( about $4K ? ).

    You might spend some time looking at Bjørn Rørslett's evaluations on Nikon lenses ( http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html ). I'd truthfully consider his discussions some of the best balanced ones available on the internet, as well as pretty comprehensive across the Nikon line.

    John P.
  3. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi gil-

    if you're looking for primes, there's the 180mm f/2.8 and the 200mm f/2 VR. if you're looking for a zoom, the 70-200mm VR is a great lens.


  4. well, what's your budget?
    And do you prefer prime or zoom or either?
    I've compiled a little selection of lenses that may fit your fancy, including prices, with my conclusion at the bottom.
    It seems you like primes judging by your list.
    So, I'll start with primes
    Nikon has 4 lenses greater than 105 but less than 300 in the prime category.
    In order of focal length and aperture they are:
    Nikon AF 135mm f/2.0D DC-Nikkor
    Nikon AF 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF
    Nikon AF 200mm f/4.0D ED-IF Micro-Nikkor
    Nikon AF-S 200mm f/2.0G ED-IF VR-Nikkor
    The 135mm is by all accounts a great lens, and the large aperture and Defocus Control are great features.
    The 180mm f/2.8 is the best of the best. A tried and true design that is by all accounts as sharp or sharper than the 70-200mm f/2.8G VR. I've never heard a bad thing, and it is considerably shorter and lighter than the VR.
    The 200 f/4 Micro i've not heard much about, but I seem to recall it being pretty well regarded.
    The 200 f/2.0 VR is fantastic. Huge aperture, Af-S, VR, this lens has it all. Another lens that i've never heard anything bad about. Its main drawbacks are price and Size/weight. at 6.5 pounds, 5 inches in diameter and 8 inches long, this is a monster! At $4000, it is also over twice as expensive than any of these lenses.

    If you're not looking for top-notch lens quality, which judging by your list is probably NOT the case, the 70-300 ED Nikkor or the Sigma 70-300 are ok lenses, but the f/4-5.6 aperture is less than stellar and the quality is far from your 85 or 300.
    If you want a really good lens, there are a few options.
    One is an 80-200 f/2.8 ED Nikkor. There are lots of models, but the best are the recent AF-D and the discontinued AF-S model. Both are extremely sharp, fast lenses. I've owned the AF-S in the past and loved it. The AF-D version is cheaper, smaller, but uses screwdriver AF.
    Nikon's 70-200 f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR is king of the hill at the moment in my opinion. I upgraded from the 80-200 AF-S. It has nice styling, good feel, but most importantly, amazing sharpness, AF-S focusing, and Vibration Reduction, which I find indispensible.
    Sigma also makes a 70-200 f/2.8 EX HSM lens, which is reportedly very sharp. It has their equivalent of AF-S. Of course, it lacks the VR of the Nikkor.
    There is also an 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED AF VR nikkor, but I think that the overlap with the 300mm f/4 and its aperture might make it less appetizing. Its AF is screwdriver type, slower than some other telephoto lenses, but many say it isn't that bad. On the other hand, it has Vibration reduction. It is of course the earliest VR lens, and I do believe that newer VR lenses have improved upon the technology.
    Nikon makes (or rather, until recently made) one other lens that may interest you, the 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6 ED AF-D Micro-nikkor. It is a macro lens, but has reportedly been discontinued lately. It has gotten some attention lately, and all I have heard is positive.

    Budget Could also be a concern, I would think, and here are the prices for the lenses I've mentioned, from BH Photo, US version unless noted otherwise
    135mm f/2.0 DC: $1069
    180mm f/2.8 ED-IF: $749, $70 rebate, $679
    200mm f/4 Micro: $1339
    200mm f/2.0 VR: $4000
    70-300 ED Nikkor: $309, $50 mail in rebate, $259
    70-300 Sigma: $220
    80-200 f/2.8D AF Nikkor: $920, $100 rebate, $820
    80-200 AF-S: Discontinued, used only
    70-200 Af-S VR: $1619, $150 mail in rebate- $1469 final
    70-200 HSM Sigma: DG version: $840 Non-DG version: $770
    80-400 VR Nikkor: $1429, $100 rebate, $1329
    70-180 Micro-nikkor: $1020, out of stock, possibly permanently.

    My advice:
    it's really up to you, but if you want to stick with quality lenses, the choices are fewer.
    For primes, which from your list seem to be your current weapons of choice, I will suggest two lenses strongly, and one if you have the budget.
    AF 180mm f/2.8D ED-IF- One killer lens. I've heard so much good about it, I've put it on my list of lenses to buy (hoping for an AFS upgrade). Owning the 70-200 VR I can vouch for the fact that it is a Big, Heavy lens, almost exactly the same length weight and diameter as your 300mm. You may prefer this as a potentially sharper, definitely lighter and smaller, and much less expensive lens. At under 700 bucks, talk about bargain! I'd suggest you buy this lens or the 70-200 VR, and due to your prime affinity,probably give this one an edge.
    AF DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2.0D- Not much of an increase over your 105, but it does have Defocus control and an f/2 aperture. I don't know if this could fit your style, but if it does it may be a nice asset.
    I won't suggest that you buy the 200 f/2 VR unless you're loaded. Of course, at nearly the cost of a D2X..... and i see you have a 2H from your pbase gallery, you could sell the D2H and upgrade the camera as well as buy a 180 2.8D for the same net cost to you.
    As far as zooms go, I'll only give you three.
    If you want a zoom, and can afford it, buy a 70-200 VR. I love it. Big and heavy, but it is soooooo good!
    If you don't need the 2.8 aperture and would like the range, try the 80-400 VR. Everyone here loves it :) 
    and if you don't mind VR or can't justify the cost, get one of the 80-200 f/2.8D Nikkors. They are amazing pieces of optical mastery.
    I hope I've been some help to you. I tend to be long-winded and the like, but I at least try and get it all done and covered.

    p.s. i've noticed that you have the 28mm f/2.8D, but your pbase gallery marks the shots at aperture f/1.4 despite recognizing a 2.8 lens.....odd huh.....
  5. You've also got a pretty big gap between 28mm and 85mm, Gil.
  6. Hi Gil,

    You've gotten some great advice already. Assuming you favor primes, I would echo the suggestions for either the 180/2.8 or the 135/2 DC.

    But here's an additional thought -- Have you considered looking at a couple of the excellent AIS manual focus Nikkors?? For example, the AIS 135/2.8 and AIS 200/4 are superb. Extremely well built, compact, with top notch image quality. And current used prices make them outrageous bargains.

    Worth a look.

    Best wishes,

  7. Thanks, all.

    I am wavering between the 180 and 70-200 VR. My only reservation is that with the zoom I will stop using the 85 since I have it covered in the zoom. And the 85 is such a good lens. I don't mind the hole between the 24 and the 85 because the 24 meets my needs.

  8. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    Which body do you have? Or will you require fast focusing for your shoots at 180mm? The 180mm is not AF-S so you can't use nikon teleconverters with it (but you can use 3rd party). Also the 180mm focuses rather slowly from what I hear being a screwdriver lens.

    If you got a D2 class body then this shouldn't be such a big deal, but I heard the 180mm is a bit slow on the focus.
  9. Thanks for the info, Carroll. I have a D2H body. It seems that the zoom will be the way to go. Now I hve to find a used one if possilbe since the full price is rather steep.

  10. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Gil :

    Trust me, amigo, you won't stop using the 85mm f/1.4 . I have the 70-200mm AFS/VR and the 85mm f/1.4, and I purely love shooting with the 85mm still. I may use the 70-200 more because of flexibility, but the 85mm is very much a part of my "stable".

    You'll know in a heartbeat when you want to use the 85mm instead of the zoom.

    John P.
  11. Thanks, John.

    Great to hear from you. Hope all is well. I have pretty much decided on the zoom. Now I am looking for a place to purchase it.

  12. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    I have a D2H as well so I figured the 180mm f/2.8 prime would focus "fast enough". I am leaning towards the 180mm ... why are you leaning towards the zoom? Just curious to see if I am forgetting something in my own buying decision.
  13. Carroll:

    I guess because of the slow focus, but I have to think of what I will use it for, and what does "slow" really mean? That is why lens buying is always driving me crazy.

  14. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    I'm not sure how slow. I mean everyone has their own idea of speed. Some people tell me it is slow, others say it is 'okay'. It WAS originally meant for photojournalists, sports photography, etc. I figured the focus speed had to be remotely decent.

    I would 'guess' it's not bad on a D2H. Maybe I will go rent one one day, and then I can run some focus speed tests on it. :) 
  15. Carroll:

    If you do rent, please post your results. I'm preparing for a trip to Yosemite and want to get something before I go.

  16. With the fear of looking like a complete dummy:

    Now that I have begun purchasing other lenses, is there any rule of thumb what lens should be used for what type of shots? Just curious to see if there are "any rules of thumb".

  17. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    To buck the trend, don't let anyone tell you what a lens is "meant" to do or not. You might create unique and interesting photography if you buck the trend.

    On the other hand, lens don't "really" have a particular purpose. They only seem so because on a 35 mm body and given a certain, fixed field of view, some lens' focal length are ideal for some types of photographs because with all of those prerequisites you are given a particular perspective. (note: perspective is still ONLY a function of subject distance and has nothing to do with focal length, but for someone to fill a fixed field of view i.e. having a person's face fill up the frame, and given the distance required on a given focal length, you have a fixed perspective which is ideal for that type of photography.)

    It's good to know the "rules of thumb" but don't let that stop you from experimenting.
  18. No offense, and there is considerable nitpicking here.......
    The Nikon AIS Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 has a particular purpose.....
    of course, that would be just about the only one that does :) 
  19. ckdamascus


    May 14, 2005
    New Jersey
    Haha! True true. Okay some do have some general goals in mind... you aren't going to necessarily get the best performance for long distance sharpness with a Micro Nikkor lens, etc.
  20. Chris101


    Feb 2, 2005
    And the 85mm PC Nikkor seems a bit speciallized as well.

    But any lens can be pressed into any cause where focused light is called for - even a Noct. So I say, if you can mount it, and you want it, buy it. As for the rift between 70-200vr affictionados and fans of the 180mm f/2.8, this depends more on your personal desires than it does on the qualities of the lens.

    The 70-200 has zoomability, faster focusing and VR and a slight edge in bokeh going for it. The 180 has cost, size, weight and a slight edge in sharpness going for it. But the images obtained by either are more similar than different.
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