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Lens help

edited July 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3200 Forum
I am looking to get a a lens or two so I can continue my blogging and low grade photography business. I would like a lens for the up close waist up and some just face shots. I want it to be able to have a low f stop, I believe, in order to blur the background out. Also would like a lens for landscape/ architecture. Could I use that same lens for taking pictures of people with a nice background as well? I am looking for a low price lens that isn't expensive Would you care to give me a few options for some low price and a few more expensive as well?


  • edited July 2016
    For portraits of the sort you're looking at, a 50mm f/1.8 AFS lens seems like a good bet, and one of the better bargains. But you might find that a bit too narrow for much landscape and architecture. On the D3200, 35mm is more like a general purpose "normal" focal length. There's a 35mm f/1.8 DX lens that's also a good buy, well liked. Even that is not particularly wide angle. How wide you want to go will be a matter of taste. Very wide angles will tend to get more expensive.

    For much of the landscape and architecture work, where you are likely to want a good bit of depth of field, you might find the kit zoom does well enough. You're less likely to need the large apertures of the prime lens. Although the faster prime has several advantages, including likely faster auto focus, it's unlikely to be sharper overall.

    If you're not sure what focal length is best for your purposes, it would be a good idea to mess about with the kit zoom first, and make note of what focal lengths you tend to favor. Even if you don't remember, every shot you take will have an "EXIF" file attached, which you can read, either in the camera or in software, and that will tell you what settings were used. The kit zoom's 18mm setting is wide angle, but not super wide. Before you go too far you need to decide whether it's wide enough. It's a good length for landscapes in general, and not bad for architecture outside. You might find it a little narrow for interiors, and for shots where you must be close.

    If you're not in the mood to spend the bucks on a wide angle, another alternative these days is post-processing panoramic shots. There are various software packages that make this possible, including the surprisingly decent free Microsoft program called "ICE". The wider a panorama the harder it is and the more likely to be oddly distorted, but you can double or triple the width of a normal lens pretty easily. It's a different approach, but one you might want to try and see if you like the result.
  • edited September 2016
    Just a suggestion that is a bargain, Sigma 70-300mm DG AF f/4-5.6.
    This lens has the best Bokeh and is the official name for a specific photography effect. The name actually comes from the Japanese word for blur or haze, boke. It also comes from the Japanese word for blur quality, boke-aji. All you need to know is that bokeh is the aesthetic quality of out-of-focus blur in a photograph that I have seen.
    Also 1:2 macro. Note there is no vibration assistance on this lens, but the image quality is excellent for around £90; you won't get better.
    There's also the Sigma 70-300mm APO DG AF f/4-5.6 with slightly better glass and a nice case for about £150.
  • edited September 2016
    @Bruto - 1) What if I took portraits with a 35mm opposed to 55mm, or 50mm, how would they look different? 2) What is the difference between f/1.8 or f/1.4? 3) What is a AFS lens? 4) What aspects of the lens should I pay attention to when buying?
  • edited September 2016
    The difference between 35mm, 50mm and 55mm lenses will be largely one of the angle of view - that is, what is in the picture when you are standing in the same place. To get a good idea of this, if you have the usual kit zoom lens, which goes from 18 to 55 mm, you can stand in one place and zoom it, and this will give you a feel for how the views differ.

    In addition, though, depth of field will decrease as you go to a longer focal length. With all settings the same, the longer focal length will give you somewhat shallower depth of field. You want more depth of field to get everything in focus, for scenery and the like, but less to get selective focus and to make a subject stand out, in portraits and the like. That is why, for example, many people like a 50mm for portraits a bit more than a 35mm. Again, if you have the 18-55mm kit zoom, you can observe this effect if you take the same picture at different focal lengths.

    You can still get good portraits with the 35mm lens, though it will be a little harder to get soft backgrounds. Careful choice of background and position can help. 35mm is a "normal" perspective for the DX format camera, and in some ways is more versatile for general use.

    The difference in aperture between 1.8 and 1.4 is that the smaller number denotes a larger aperture. This means first of all that more light will get in when the lens is wide open, and second that depth of field will be shallower. In lenses that are similar except for aperture, the faster one will usually be a good bit more expensive. You may also pay a price for speed in the form of greater distortion, or other tradeoffs. Very fast lenses may not be as sharp as somewhat slower ones, but find favor among those who need the extra light gathering, and the shallowest depth of field. The difference between 1.8 and 1.4 is not very great, but the difference in price may be considerable. In Nikon, the 50mm f/1.4 lens is very expensive, and very well made. The f/1.8 is much cheaper, and the construction not as high grade (though still OK). In image quality, they are pretty similar, and the f/1.8 may be a little better at some settings.

    An AFS lens is one that has the focusing motor built in. Higher end, and older, AF cameras have a focusing motor in the camera, and the original AF lenses did not have their own motor. The Nikon D3xxx and 5xxx family of cameras do not have built in motors, so can auto focus only with an AFS lens. If a lens just says "AF" or "AFD," it's going to be the older "screwdriver focusing" type. Older AF lenses will function, and meter with a D3200, but focus will be manual.

    As to what aspects you should pay attention to, I'd say it varies. But first of all, of course, is compatibility. Make sure your AF is compatible, or at least that it is what you expect. If you have an older camera, it may not function properly with the newest electronic apertures, but the D3200 can. I am pretty sure that any DSLR of the D 3xxx, 5xxx and 7xxx family can, but older ones such as the D70, 40, 50, etc. cannot. You can mount nearly any Nikon lens on a D3200, but will get full function only with an AFS lens. Older AF lenses will meter but not auto focus. Older manual lenses will neither meter nor auto focus, but will work in fully manual mode.

    Vibration reduction is very nice to have in longer focal lengths, and something you should probably make sure is present for any telephoto or longer zoom lens these days. For shorter focal lengths, such as the prime 35mm and 50mm lenses, it will likely not be present, and you can do without it. Once you get beyond about 50mm, VR will become more important. Even the earliest generation of VR is pretty good, and the latest is very good.

    Overall quality is a matter of judgment, of course, and price will come into play. If possible, check reviews to see if the lens is well regarded for sharpness.

    Speed (maximum aperture) is a consideration if you expect to shoot sports and the like, especially indoors. You'll pay for speed, though. In addition, some lenses simply have better construction and you'll pay for that as well. The Nikon 70-300mm AFS zoom is more than the 55-300mm DX zoom, even though both have similar apertures, partly because it's compatible with full frame, and partly because it's more robustly made, and focuses better.

    One factor that may or may not affect you is whether the lens is internal focusing or not. IF is nice, in that the front element of the lens does not rotate when it focuses. A rotating front element makes it impractical to use a polarizing filter or to use graduated neutral density filters, because a polarizer changes its effect as it rotates, and a GND filter changes its density on a horizontal line. Not a deal killer, but it's handy to be able to use a polarizer sometimes.

    Beyond this, things get subjective. What focal lengths you like the most, what apertures, and how much you're willing to pay.

    Read the reviews, and save in the long run. Nikon P900 exceeds your needs.
  • An all in one camera such as the P900 has a lot going for it, and that particular one has an astounding telephoto range. The pictures I've seen look pretty good too. If you don't need the incredible telephoto capability, I think there are others in the series that cost less and still zoom in pretty well.

    An all in one camera will limit some of the creative possibilities you might get with a variety of lenses, and of course if you already have an SLR it might not be the best solution, but it's worth checking out.
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