Best lens for landscape and zoom pictures

edited January 2015 Posted in » Nikon D5100 Forum
I'm sure by now this topic has been beaten like a dead horse, but all this language is very difficult for me to understand. I am a novice photographer that doesn't know much about the lingo or anything, so feel free to educate me along the way. :)

So here's my ordeal. I just recently moved to Hawaii, and love to take pictures of the landscapes. During my last outing, I realized that the stock 18-55mm lens that I have did not give my pictures of the giant waves the glory they deserved. So, of course, I am now in search for a new lens.

That's where I need the help from the seasoned professionals. Since I am just a hobbyist, I don't really want to drop thousands of dollars on a lens, but I know they can be pricey. Today, I looked at a Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS, and the AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. Am I looking in the right direction?

Would you suggest one over the other, or even a totally different lens? I do have a tripod, that I can use as well. What is everyone's favorite lens to use?

My ultimate goal is to take breathtaking landscape pictures, as well as to be able to zoom in to get good pictures of the surfers out on those 40' waves.

Oh, by the way, I also bought the cheat sheets, so I am pumped to them out!

Thanks so much for the help and I apologize for the rambling.


  • edited January 2015

    I think that I read just about every single post in the forum that had to deal with landscapes/oceans etc. I totally felt like a solid decision was to purchase the Nikon 55-300mm VR f/4.5-5.6G AF-S DX, as well as the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX, until I started reading reviews online regarding the Nikon 55-300mm VR f/4.5-5.6G AF-S DX vs the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR on Amazon. Now I'm just at a loss.

    I do know that I'm going to buy the 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX, since it seems to be one of the best bets for low-light photography, but now I have to ask, is the $190.00 price increase for the 70-300mm worth losing coverage from 55-69mm loss?
  • edited January 2015
    You’re on the right track in looking for a telephoto lens. The Nikkor 55-300mm is a good choice for what you’re trying to do with it. Use it outdoors in daylight, and you’ll be very happy with it.

    Don’t worry about spending thousands of dollars. Those lenses are often fast zooms. For what you want to do (i.e., landscapes and daytime surf shots), you don’t need a fast lens.

    I’m personally not a fan of super zoom lenses like the Sigma you mentioned. Nikon also has a few; the 18-200mm and the 18-300mm. If you get one, then that lens will probably be permanently mounted on your camera. Whether that’s good or not, depends on you.

    If you’re shooting landscapes, definitely use your tripod, but forget about it when using it to shoot surfers. Stabilizing your camera won’t help with freezing the action. Only fast shutter speeds can do that.

    Favorite lens? I can’t pick one. I love every one of my lenses! It depends on shooting situation.
  • edited January 2015
    Thanks for the response! I think you were probably typing it out when I posted my update. :) Should I just pay the extra $200 bucks for the 70-300mm instead? It seems a bit faster than the 55-300mm.

    Yeah, I pretty much ruled out the Sigma lens, too. Thanks so much for your input thus far!
  • edited January 2015
    The 70-300mm and the 55-300mm are both f/4.5-5.6.
    The 70-300mm is more expensive and heavier.
    So there's really no reason to get it over the 55-300mm.

    The 70-300mm is a FX lens, so it's a budget tele lens for full frame users. For DX, stick with the 55-300mm (unless you're looking for a f/4 or f/2.8 zoom).
  • edited January 2015
    Awesome! Thank you for making this decision so easy for me, and even bigger thanks for saving me $200.00! Have a good day!
  • edited January 2015
    Cool! You're very welcome.
    The DX tele lenses are quite a value. Just be aware of their limitations. Like I said before, use it outdoors in daylight and you'll be very happy with it. When the sun sets or when you move indoors, don't expect it to perform as well.
  • edited January 2015
    I have the 55-300mm and it's good and sharp. It's a good companion to the 18-55mm. At the far end toward 300mm it loses a little sharpness, but not much. It's not terribly fast, but with a high ISO it can still function pretty well in dimmer light if you don't zoom it all the way to 300mm. It's a good traveling lens, and a good bargain at the price.

    You can put the $200 you save into that 35mm prime lens.

    You'll get better outdoor performance out of the 18-55mm with a good lens hood. It's nice and sharp, but a bit wan in contrast, and anything you can do to reduce flare will often help a lot. A hood designed to work with an FX 35mm lens will often work just about right on this. If trying it out, look for vignetting (dark corners) at 18mm. Take an actual picture and look at it, as the viewfinder coverage is not 100 percent. If it's OK, then the hood is OK.
  • edited January 2015
    Thanks for all the input! I ended up getting a pretty killer deal online. I got BOTH the Nikon 55-300mm VR f/4.5-5.6G AF-S DX and the 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX for $393.99 (brand new, not refurbished)!

    Not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I'm not going to complain. Now, that leaves me with even more money to buy other cool things for the camera!
  • edited January 2015
    In the "other cool things" category, aside from a good hood for the short zoom (and one for the 35mm if it doesn't come with one), I would suggest a circular polarizer for the 35mm. Alas, one cannot easily use a polarizer on the zooms, both of which have rotating front elements, but you can on the 35, I think, That will help cut reflections on water and also to darken blue skies.

    To clarify, in case not understood, a polarizing filter cuts reflected glare and in the process tends to darken blues as well as making water more transparent. It is rotated for best position, so a lens that itself rotates is unsuited to it. The 35mm prime does not rotate when it focuses, so it is fine. You can use the same filter on the short zoom too, but only if you turn off AF and adjust the polarizer after you have finished focusing. A polarizer is one filter for which there is no post-processing substitute.
  • edited January 2015
    There’s an official Nikon hood that you can get for the 18-55mm, but there’s also third party ones that are a lot cheaper. I’d suggest against getting the pricey Nikon version. I just feel it’s not a very good investment to put more money into this kit lens.
    Besides, after your 35mm arrives, your 18-55mm might never see the light of day again.

    The 35mm does come with a hood but Nikon appears to forgot that this lens is meant to be on a DX body and made it too short. It’s better than nothing and does serve as an extra level of protection for the lens.
  • edited January 2015
    I would agree. If you can find the screw on metal HN-3 or something like that it will protect the lens better than the plastic snap on hood. A sturdy hood is also handy when changing lenses as it can be stood safely on end.

    Nikon lens caps are made to snap inside a hood that is either screwed in or designed to snap on upside down (the 55-300mm inverts for storage, so you'll see how that works). I leave the HN-3 on, and the hood sits nicely inside it.

  • Thanks for some great and totally useful info I'll be back to pick your brains thanks again
Sign In or Register to comment.