DSLR lenses for my Nikon D40...so confused! ?
Ok, I purchased my Nikon D40 a couple months back for my birthday. I love this d**n thing. I can't seem to put it down. I have come to a point where I feel like I would benefit a lot from a stronger zoom/lense. Looking at either a 70mm-300mm or a 55mm-200mm. I have been shopping around for a while now on the internet and completely confused. If someone could clarify somethings for me that would be great.
1) Is the Vibration Reduction (VR) feature worth paying 2x-3x more than a lense without? because the lens that came with my D40, the 18-55m seems to output extremely crisp photos w/o the VR feature, or maybe it's just my amateur eyes.
2) Besides the material (plastic vs metal) used, what's the main difference between Nikon, Sigma and Telephoto lenses?
3) Besides the material used and VR, why are there $150 and $4000 that have the same zoom strength of ie. 70mm-200mm lenses? What's the main difference/ picture quality.
Finally, can someone suggest an all around, bang for your buck, lens for my D40 that doesn't break the bank but also allows me to take professional pictures, or as close to one as I can. Web links/sites/model #'s all greatly appreciated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Best answer gets best answer choice!
Asked By: itsmecasper - 12/10/2008
1) VR helps more and more as the focal length gets longer and longer.
As a general rule, you can safely handhold at a shutter speed that is the inverse of the focal length, and with the 1.5x crop sensor in your D40 you multiply the focal length by 1.5. So with your D40, you can safely handhold at 100mm with a shutter speed of 1/150 second or faster. Also, if you set your camera on continuous shooting, generally the 2nd shot will have less camera motion than the 1st.
But it also depends on what kind of shooting you do, because VR doesn't help with fast-moving subjects. And, VR also makes a lens heavier, which can make it less fun to lug around.
But for most people, most of the time, VR on a telephoto lens is a good thing to have.
2) Many people say that camera-brand lenses like Nikon are better than 3rd-party lenses like Sigma & Tamron. But that contradicts not only independent test results, but also user reviews by people who have tried both.
For example, among people who have tried both the $400 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 and the $1,200 Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8, most prefer the Tamron overall, even if they don't care about the price difference. And independent tests generally show the Tamron to be a bit better overall, though the Nikon is stronger in some aspects.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about lens brands is this: All brands have great lenses and all brands have not so great lenses. For each lens you're interested in, you need to check into that specific lens' reputation and test results.
However, there IS one way in which Nikon lenses will always be a bit safer than any 3rd-party lens: None of the 3rd-party lens makers pay for the full specs of the camera interface. Instead, they reverse-engineer. They usually do a fine job, but sometimes there are bugs that must be fixed by sending in the lens to be re-chipped (have the microchip replaced). But this does not affect most people who buy 3rd-party lenses.
Regardless of brand, the more expensive, professional-grade lenses are built to last longer under constant use. Inexpensive consumer grade lenses are built to be used by non-pros who aren't out there shooting with them all day long, day after day.
3) The main difference you're seeing there is how fast the lens is; that is; how wide is its widest aperture. It's harder to make it sharp at the wider aperture, and requires a lot more expensive specialized glass. And all that weight requires a stronger construction, stronger autofocus motor, stronger VR motor, etc. And, since they don't sell anywhere near as many of them, they don't have the economy of scale of the cheaper lenses.
Also, traditionally, the faster, more expensive zooms were sharper at their widest aperture, say, f/2.8, than the cheaper ones were at their widest, say, f/3.5 or f/4.0. So with a cheaper one you'd need to shoot at, say, f/5.6 or smaller to get a sharp picture. But today, many cheaper ones are closing the gap.
"Finally") With your last question, I assume that by "all around", you mean an upgrade to your 18-55. I also assume you want auto-focus, which with your D40 requires that the lens have its own autofocus motor.
The Nikon 18-70mm would be a significant step up in overall image quality. The Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6 or the Nikon 24-85mm f/2.8-4 would also be good choices if they don’t break the bank.
The Nikon 24-120 VR is not really a bad lens, but probably not better overall image quality than your 18-55.
The Sigma 18-50mm /f2.8 is an excellent lens, better than even the Nikon 18-70 (it's closer to the image quality of the $1,200 Nikon 17-55) and yes it has an in-lens autofocus motor. Note, Sigmas have really awful lens caps, so you might want to get a Nikon lens cap for this lens.
I'd suggest the Sigma, but if you must have a Nikon lens, I'd suggest the 18-70.
All of those lenses are bigger and heavier than your 18-55, and you should consider their weight before buying.
If you're looking for the best image quality, avoid very long zoom ranges, like the Nikon 18-200mm. When people say a lens like that is great, what they really mean is it's great for its focal range.
Getting back to your "looking at" a 70-300 or a 55-200:
For a 70-300, your choices are Nikon ED without VR, and Nikon ED with VR. The others would all be manual-focus on your D40.
The Nikon ED is a very good lens. The Nikon VR is a significant step up from it in image quality, in addition to the VR. Both get soft around 300mm.
For 55-200mm, your choices are Sigma, Nikon cheap, and Nikon cheap with VR. The Tamron would be manual-focus on your D40.
If you must have VR, the 55-200 is a cheaper way to get it than the 70-300, and the image quality is not bad. For the cheap 55-200, expect only adequate performance. But expect the full range to be useable, compared to softer images at 300mm on the 70-300s.
My suggestion: if the 70-300 doesn't break the bank, you'll probably be happiest with it. Otherwise, the 55-200 VR.
Good luck and have fun!
Answered By: greglovern - 12/11/2008