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Lens for D5100

edited August 2013 Posted in » Nikon Lens Talk
I have had my D5100 and kit lens for 6 months now, and I'm really wanting to venture into getting a new lens. It has been suggested to get the 50mm, 55mm, or 35mm. Can someone explain the differences and what would be the best option for me?

I am shooting landscapes and have a newborn that I've been capturing photos of as well.



  • edited October 2013
    If you want a fast lens for cheap, I love primes. I'm going to say it again because it's true, I love primes. I have three of them.

    If landscape is what you're after, the wider the better (in most cases), so you really can't go wrong with the 35mm f/1.8G. I suggest the G lens because it doesn't require your body to have a focusing motor.

    That lens will work fine for your baby, although a 50mm or 85mm f/1.8 are far better lenses for portraits for a few reasons. Those reasons are less noticeable on newborns than on adults. The longer focal length tend to compress facial features a bit and make them more flattering.

    If I was you, I would get the 35mm f/1.8 first and get to know it. Then, if an 85mm seems like a good fit down the road (or a 50mm) then go ahead.

    Primes are lenses that have only one focal length (don't zoom in and out) and are lighter, smaller, cheaper, and for the most part perform far better than lenses that cost 5-10 times as much. They also make you really think about your composition and not get lazy with your photography. :)
  • edited October 2013
    Oh, and don't forget the crop factor of your camera.

    Multiply the focal length of whatever lens you get by 1.5 to get what you're really seeing.

    The 35mm is more like a 52.5mm, which is the "normal" focal length that many people prefer for "street photography" and a lot of other things.

    50mm = 75mm
    85mm = 127.5mm

    Just something to consider as you make purchases.
  • mgmmgm
    edited October 2013
    Thanks so much for your advice, I really appreciate it! Would the 35mm do well if I was doing photographs of adults outdoors also, or would the 50-85mm be a better option for that?
  • @mgm - The 35mm f/1.8G would be a better option if most of your shots will be done indoors. The wider field of view makes it easier to frame subjects in smaller sized rooms.

    However, if the majority of your shots will be done outdoors, the 50mm f/1.8G would be the better option as it would allow you to shoot from a more comfortable distance, which results in better candid shots and more natural expressions. All the best!
  • edited April 2015
    Hi Moose. I'm planning to purchase one of your cheat sheets. I have a Nikon D5100 and I have a Nikon 35mm f/1.8G lens and Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens. Before I was using my 35mm lens a lot but now I'm mostly using the 85mm shooting outdoor and indoor pictures. Just wondering what cheat sheet should I buy that would work with my Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens? Thanks in advance. :)
  • edited April 2015
    I have the Nikon D5100 with both kit lenses 55-200mm and 18-55mm but also purchased the 50mm which I love for portraits. My question is this: shooting indoors, from the balcony, with tripod, a band concert on the stage below, with flash (Altura Photo I-TTL Auto-Focus Dedicated Speedlite Flash), after a performance as they all sit still and look up at me, which lens and settings would be best since I am allowed to use the flash? I tried today to take some test shots without the tripod and leaned against the rail, using the 55-200mm and flash, ISO 1600, f/4, 55mm and did pretty well but slightly blurred and grainy obviously at such a high ISO. I'm sure the tripod will help with the blur. Any suggestions or comments? I'm new to this forum so I'm not sure if I'm able to post a picture for you to see. Thanks.
  • @jussaga - The set for the 35mm f/1.8G will also work with the 85mm f/1.8G. All the best!
  • Hey @Lhug143 - The 50mm f/1.8G would actually be your best lens for this particular situation. I would set the aperture to f/2, mount your camera to a tripod and shoot from about 20 feet away. If your speedlight can be triggered off camera at an angle that would be best for a more creative/dynamic look. The ISO and shutter speed will vary if you use flash or not, but try to keep the ISO down to 800 if possible. You can post some examples to an online gallery (like Flickr) and then just link to it for me to check out. All the best!
  • edited April 2015
    @Moose Thanks for your reply. That's good to know for the next time. I shot it a few days ago with the 55-200mm but had actually considered the 50mm. I should've trusted my instinct but I had not taken any test shots so I didn't want to chance it. The few seconds I was given to get the shot before the lights came back up and the next band came on stage had me a bit nervous too. Here's one I took.
  • edited April 2015
    @Moose sorry but I'm a bit confused how to just share the link and not the actual image from Flickr. It's been a while since I've used it. I also don't want someone to copy it to another site so I'm checking the settings. Settings were: manual, 1/80 sec, f/4.0, ISO 1600 (required a noise reduction software in post), 55mm (55-200mm), speedlight flash attached fired, matrix. I had to be easily more than 20 feet away though, in the back of the balcony.

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