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Author Topic: What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?  (Read 3376 times)

frozenintime

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« on: January 10, 2008, 04:47:57 pm »

Hey all

This may seem a ridiculous question, but hear me out.

I'm a hobbyist, digital photographer that has none the less attracted a bit of interest from some boutique stock agencies.  At the time being my gear is solely a Nikon D80 and Nikons cheap (like $150 cheap) 18-55 f3.5-5.6G lens (it's the original, not the newer "II" model that comes stock with the D40).

I kind of love this lens, but am swayed by the idea of something better out there that might help me land more work.  I've tried a few Sigma's as well as Nikon's higher-end stuff but have found them to be really awful regarding lens flare compared with the 18-55.  

I recently bought the 17-35 f/2.8 Nikon lens (for $1100, used) and have a few days with it before I have to decide whether I'm keeping it.  It does deal with flare better than the other lenses I tried, and is certainly a nice lens. But I'm somewhat at a loss in my brief dealings with it to see why it's that much better than this consumer-grade lens I've been using for the last two years.

Clearly people love some of these nicer, (much) more expensive lenses, and it can't all be the psychology of liking something in direct proportion to how much it cost.

I realize that answer could easily be - if you like your gear, stick with it.  I may very well do that.  But I'm curious what I'm missing.  What is a pro Nikon lens rendering better than my current lens? Perhaps a bit less chromatic aberration?
Any thoughts?

Thanks for your time...
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DarkPenguin

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Curt

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 05:13:30 pm »

You have a nice problem. Your chosen focal length may be the best for your purpose, only you know that for certain.
What is important is "vision", apparently you have talent if the shops are interested. Vision & good lighting are more important than the camera/lens. Having said that I believe there is a gearhead in all of us. Good Luck!
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GregW

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 06:11:23 pm »

Nikon's consumer lenses are normally very good especially when stopped down so if that suits your shooting style why change?

That said there are a number of advantages to using Nikon's pro zoom lenses.  Depending on your shooting style some will be more important than others and are lens dependent.

- Improved edge to edge sharpness
- Better CA handling, depending on the lens
- Faster AF response particularly in lower light
- Smoother/more pleasing Bokeh (Rendering of the out of focus areas)
- More robust often with heavier weight hoods.
- Weather sealing
- Improved contrast
- Wider aperture.

If you are looking for some of the above then the 17-55mm 2.8 DX is one of the best mid zooms Nikon has produced.  Cast off any UV filters, use the hood, shoot with care and you find that flare is well managed.  

Despite the D3 upgrade the 17-55mm will continue to have a place as long as I continue to use a DX body (Which will be quite some time).  I've not formally compared it to the 24-70mm 2.8 but in prints the two look very close and without a loupe indistinguishable.
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kitalight

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2008, 08:15:52 pm »

This may seem a bit ridiculous, but hear me out.

Get a D40...NOT the 40x...the D40 will take those older MF Nikkors everyone loves...you won't get use of the metering, and of course no AF...but you will get auto-aperture...those pro lenses work on the D40 and no other Nikon short of the D200/300 series...for $1000+ more...

I love my MF Nikkors...85/2, 135/2.8, 200/4 and 350/4.5...and will definitely add a 180/2.8 someday...all to use on my CANON Dslr!!!

P.S. All the above lenses can be had for under $150 on fleabay.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2008, 08:18:46 pm by kitalight »
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CJL

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2008, 07:52:18 am »

Quote
This may seem a bit ridiculous, but hear me out.

Get a D40...NOT the 40x...the D40 will take those older MF Nikkors everyone loves...you won't get use of the metering, and of course no AF...but you will get auto-aperture...those pro lenses work on the D40 and no other Nikon short of the D200/300 series...for $1000+ more...

Downgrading from a D80 to a D40, with its lower pixel count, would be a big step backwards, especially if the OP is looking to get into stock photography.

The D80 has the same rather limited capability with older MF Nikon lenses that the D40 does.
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Hank

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2008, 11:03:06 am »

A whole, whole bunch depends on how you shoot and how hard you are on gear.  The consumer lenses are mostly not as tough as the pro versions, but that is not an issue if you're easy on gear and if the individual consumer lens meets your quality needs.  Between my wife and I we have three of the 24-120VRs and could probably justify a 4th since we're each using multiple bodies.  That's a reflection of the usefulness of the focal range, but for toughness reasons we'd replace them in a heartbeat with a pro version if one came available.

I used to think the 17-35 was my next favorite lens, but it became a dust collector when I got the Nikkor 12-24.  My wife kept borrowing it, and based on reco's from other pros I got her the Sigma 10-20.  I now borrow her Sigma rather than using the Nikkor whenever I can, even if the lens cost half the Nikkor.  The wide end is so immensely useful at times, and the 10 is significantly wider than the 12 on the Nikkor.  The Sigma is also noticeably more contrasty and "snappy" than the Nikkor.  

In your shoes I'd confer with the stock agencies to make sure that the files from your D80 are acceptably large for the broad range of needs.  If so, fire away.  If not, then long term a move to something like the D300 might be in order.  I haven't handled it, but am impressed with what I've heard about features and image quality, so if larger files were indicated it might be an opportunity to make your job a little easier.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2008, 12:12:23 pm by Hank »
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frozenintime

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What am I looking for in an expensive Nikon lens?
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2008, 04:38:29 pm »

hey all
thanks for the thoughts

i ended up returning the 17-35.  i just couldn't justify it in my head. if the photographs it took were a revelation vs. the 18-55 cheapo, maybe... though 2.8 throughout the range would be great.  i do love how light my current set up is, too, though.  i also get the feeling that the less fancy and imposing someones camera and lens appear, the more at ease they'll be. depends, of course.

i am generally very good at keeping equipment in one piece and the stock agency is sure that anything shot on a D80 shot at ISO250 or below should be fine.

i have considered the 300, though i'm not sure how much more ISO it'd be able to wring out if it for stock purposes...


thanks!
b
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