Beginner Saving for new lens- Unsure what to go for.

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Conan
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#1
Hi everyone, thank you all for the advice you have given me on my photography journey so far.

I am looking into getting a new lens for my D3500, and am unsure what to go for, although I feel a telephoto zoom may be what I need- this still leaves me a bit confused.

My choices of primes are either a 35 or 50MM 1.8G lens, both the AF-S model with VR. The 35MM is £149, while the 50MM is £219. Not much difference, but on a budget every penny counts.

I feel a telephoto lens may be a better option than a prime though. I live on Canvey Island in the thames, and there is a lot of boat traffic, plus all around the island at the seawall there are some nice photo oppurtunities, such as the Hadleigh downs and castle, Southend pier, and also on the other side Kent.

My telephoto options are the AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II, going in at just £249, or the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR coming in at £339.

My kit lens is 18-55MM, so I like the sound of the 55-200MM as it is where my current lens is at its max. I could use that for my photos that are closer, such as with friends and family, and put on the telephoto with the kit lens in my pocket in case I see something interesting on my walks.

However, I wonder if the extra 100MM of the 70-30 will be handy for my needs or is overkill? I want to get the lens that will suit my needs best, and don't want to be disappointed with a lens that is cheaper if I won't be happy.

Thanks again, Conan.
 
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#2
When you say 'telephoto' I think you mean a zoom lens - many prime lenses are telephoto.

With modern lens design, the IQ difference between a prime lens and a zoom lens if fairly small. I would go for a zoom lens as it will be so much more useful. Any IQ improvement of a prime lens will be lost if you have to crop the image to get the results you want.
 
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Andy
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#3
If budget is important (hey, who isn't it important for? :LOL: ) then definitely look at buying second hand from a reputable dealer such as MPB. They have a good selection of zoom telephotos for your camera for less than £200 from good to like new condition. Not only are they the same lenses as new but they also offer 12 month warranties etc so you're covered there.

The 55-200 VRII for example can be had for £109 in good condition, the Nikon 70-300 DX lens from £179 in Like New condition, or there's also the FX lenses that are the Nikon 70-300 VR FX for £169 in good condition or the highly respected Tamron 70-300 VC in good condition for £174. There are also cheaper ones again that lack any stabilisation from the older generations of lenses that aren't considered to be amazing but the ones above enjoy good reputations I believe; I looked into the Nikon and Tamron FX lenses a few years back and both were said to be good performers but unfortunately I don't know an awful lot about the DX lenses.
 
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Alan
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#4
Conan, as you have an 18-55mm zoom that should help you decide between the 35 and 50mm primes although I personally would go for something around 24mm for a 35mm equivalent FoV. I've no idea what's available for your camera though but a bit of Googling would no doubt tell you. If you go for a prime.

I like Andy's suggestion to consider buying used lenses, a good proportion of my kit was bought used and doing so can save you money to buy more kit with :D
 
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Dave
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#5
I can't comment on the specific lenses you have mentioned Conan because I'm not a Nikon user.

However, in terms of the sizes/ranges of the lenses as noted above your kit lens should help you decide between a 35mm or a 50mm. Have a look at the shots you have taken, is there a bias towards 35mm or 50mm?

A 35mm would, on your camera give, approximately you the same field of view of a 50mm lens on a full frame DSLR (ie one with a sensor the same size as a 35mm negative). and such a lens was pretty much the 'standard' lens for SLRs back in the dark ages when I started with photography.

A 50mm lens on your camera would give a field of view that would be fairly reasonable for portraits. If that is something you are interested in it might be one to go for.

My lens set up is very simple/meagre/tiny as its a 18-55mm kit lens and a 55-300 zoom(I'm ignoring the 45 year old 50mm SMC Pentax I have because although it is a great lens I don't use it that much). I find this set up works for me as I do more landscapes than anything else, so the kit lens gets used a fair bit. Sometimes landscapes need something longer or I want to isolate an object from its background and the zoom lens helps..

It sounds from what you say that either the 55-200mm or the 70-300 would both fit the bill.

If you want to try some wildlife then the 70-300mm would be better, but 300mm is probably at the bottom end for wildlife lenses.

Dave
 
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Mike
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#6
I bought both the AF-S 35 and the AF-S 50 primes, for my daughter, and they are both cracking lenses. I got her the 35 when I got her the camera, as her only lens (when she wasn't nicking mine!) It has the 'standard' angle of view, on APS-C neither wide angle nor telephoto, and is a pretty useful all-round lens.

The 50? I'm a lot more sanguine about. The length was popularised by folk retro fitting 'old' usually fast aperture, and manual focus lenses from 35mm film cameras, which is a sub-topic worthy of mention, worth coming back to; but, a) both are withing the zoom range of the kit 18-55 lens, so you really have to want to experience primes to use them; but the 50, on an APS-C sensor camera, is a rather short telephoto, equivalent to about 75mm on full-frame or film.

That length was considered a 'useful' lens length for portraiture on film, because it begs backing up enough that it doesn't tend to spread perspective as much as a more wide angle lens, so doesn't make noses so big... for err GCSE photo, that featured that as a large portion of course content, combined with fast maximum aperture to OOF back-grounds made it useful for her... B-U-T, without these more specific and demanding topics high on the agenda... It's hard to recommend either particularly highly, but of the two, for more generalist work, the 35mm probably has it.

Back on the topic of legacy lenses... worth mention; you can fit many older Nikkor lenses from the film era to the D3xxxx series DSLR's they all share the legendary Nikon F-Mount. Many many more via a pretty inexpensive mount adaptor. A little inconvenient, that you loose Auto Focus, more inconvenient is that they dont' have the electronic coupling of more modern electric lenses, and you have to meter manually and set shutter and aperture manually... which may be a drag, if you rely on the automation. But, in recompense, old F-Mount lenses can be pretty cheap on the 2nd hand market; and very very good. Other moints, like M42, maybe not quite so good, but oft an awful lot more cheap! You might pick up an old manual Nikkor 50 for maybe £30-40 compared to perhaps £70 for the Electric counter-part, where you have to watch for earlier pin-drive AF variants that wont AF on the motor-in-lens only D3xxx series cameras, or around £90 for the AF-S verion that will AF on the D3xxx's.

B-U-T potential cash savings are to be found, a-n-d as a toe-ine the water experiment to go mess and see what you like and what you use, there's two things here; first is not looking brand new, but going 2nd hand, which can get you quite a bit more for your money to start with; but, second, you can buy a lot of very good legacy lenses to play with, for the price of just one pretty middling AF zoom, in the price range you are looking at.

When I got my D3200, I got an M42 screw-fit lens adaptor for it, so whilst I saved up for electric lenses for it, I could use some of my old M42 screw lenses from my film cameras. The ones, that I have kept over the years, have been a pentacon 29, which is probably the most oft used, the Zies 50 that was the 'standard' on my Sigma Mk1, a Hanimex, I think, 135 portrait lens, and a 300mm I cant remember what the brand name is! B-U-T you could procure a bag of glass covering that sort of range, for maybe £60... half what you are looking at for one electric lens; so you';d have plenty of scope to play and try and see what you use, like and want to upgrade to in an e-lens.... and likelyt not loose an awful lot in the upgrade, trade in or sell on.

When I bought a telephoto e-lens, the first got was the Nikkor 55-300. It is not a lens I am particularly fond of, or use all that often. With the crop-factor it sort of gives me about as much reach as a 450mm on a film camera, but I rarely went that long, and a 70-210 was usually more than enough. On the electric-picture-maker, the swap over point at 55mm I found anoying; the kit 18-55 doesn't go telephoto 'enough' and the kit telephoto doesn't start wide enough... but I think thats a perenial grumble for many. The 55-200, is probably a good shout.... and a lens I looked at getting for the O/H, mainly because she's heavy handed, and tends to use one extremity of the other, then moan with the 300 zoomed right in, nothing stays in the frame long enough to press the button! Not having the extra then saves the debate or tendancy, and the 55-200 has shown a cracking performer for the cost... and as said, 70-210ish was always a very useful telephoto range for film, equivilent to approx 45-140mm when you do the crop-factor conversions... like I say, I miss that 10mm extra wide more than I apreciate the extra 60 or 160mm at the tele-end!

Pays your money, takes your chances.... but to cover as much as you can and go see, that legacy lens option comes back with a lot of plusses.

BUT, it is an adventure, and I have to say I have always wanted more 'wide' than I have more reach; and that wasn't so easily obtained via legacy lenses, where few but fish-eyes were ever even as wide as the 18mm shortest focal length of the Kit e-lens!

And for the sort of street-scape- and urban landscape you hint at, I suspect that more wide will probably be what you end up yearning for; they are certainly more challenging to work with, as packing so much scene into the frame, they don't give as much instant hit impact as a tele cropping the clutter and making the main subject big and prominent in the frame for the viewer.

Which begs the notion... he kit 18-55 is a very useful lens with a very useful range of zoom around the 'normal'.... and you can do an AWFUL lot in post, stitching shots to montage a wide-angle view, or cropping a wide angle to get a telephoto tightness...

Here and now? DO you really NEED to go buy any other lens?

Until you are hitting the buggers of what you can get with it might be just an expensive indulgence or worse, mistake.
 
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conanthewarrior
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Conan
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#7
Sorry for my mistake- I thought telephoto meant a longer zoom!

At the moment, I tend to hover around 50MM for a lot of my images, but a lot are also taken at 18-24MM. I enjoy taking portraits of my friend, she loves having her photo taken and this has been a big help. Also when we go on our daily walks I take the camera, and I often spot things, but they also have a good eye and mention things that will be a nice photo.

It is on these walks I really have thought about a lens that allows me to zoom in further due to the boats and other things in the thames estuary. I realise a 200MM lens would be equivalent to 306MM on a full frame camera- upgrading my body will not be an option for the foreseeable future, so I want to stick with DX at the moment. 306MM is quite lot!

@Teflon-Mike "Which begs the notion... he kit 18-55 is a very useful lens with a very useful range of zoom around the 'normal'.... and you can do an AWFUL lot in post, stitching shots to montage a wide-angle view, or cropping a wide angle to get a telephoto tightness..."

I am using darktable for my post production, and am still learning. I have no idea how to stitch shots (something I want to do, as there is artwork on the seawall, I took an image of each piece of work and want to stitch them together), and also do not understand the 'telephoto tightness'. Thats my fault, not yours.

Do I NEED a new lens? The answer is probably no in all honesty, but it would be nice to have. There is only so far I can crop before things start looking dodgy in post production.
 
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Bazza
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#8
On my Nikon D300 I keep a 12-24mm f1.4G lens for those wide shots, but now I use mainly my D810 and the 24-70mm f2.8 is the first choice. The 50mm f1.4 lens is good for street work but on a DX camera that is times 1.5 magnificationi
 
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Alan
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#9
I am using darktable for my post production, and am still learning. I have no idea how to stitch shots (something I want to do, as there is artwork on the seawall, I took an image of each piece of work and want to stitch them together), and also do not understand the 'telephoto tightness'. Thats my fault, not yours.

Do I NEED a new lens? The answer is probably no in all honesty, but it would be nice to have. There is only so far I can crop before things start looking dodgy in post production.
If your existing software can't stitch I'm pretty sure there is some free software that can. When you get something that can do it all you need is practice :D Even I've managed it :D

Telephoto tightness is probably... compression which is sometimes called flattening and is the appearance and how the spatial relationships between the things in the frame look. Probably not well explained by me :D It's the look you can get when using longer lenses but in reality this isn't anything magic as it's a factor of the perspective, that is distance between the camera and the subject, and the field of view. If you take a picture with a 300mm lens and then take a picture from the same position with a 35mm lens when you crop the 35mm shot to give the same field of view as the 300mm shot both pictures will have the same "tightness," compression or whatever you want to call it.
 
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conanthewarrior
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Conan
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#10
@woof woof , I am pretty sure darkroom can do it as it is meant to be pretty capable. If not I am sure the GIMP can :) , I will do some research to find out.

That explanation makes sense to me. I have been reading as much as I can when it comes to my learning, I feel I understand the basics- now is the hard part of me putting these to use and getting some good images.
 
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Alan
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#11
@woof woof , I am pretty sure darkroom can do it as it is meant to be pretty capable. If not I am sure the GIMP can :) , I will do some research to find out.

That explanation makes sense to me. I have been reading as much as I can when it comes to my learning, I feel I understand the basics- now is the hard part of me putting these to use and getting some good images.
With digital practicing is pretty cheap as "all" it costs you is electricity and the wear and tear on your camera gear and computer. Practice and learn and in about a week you'll be better at anything than me :D
 
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Tom
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#12
Depends what you’re shooting. I have the the 70-300 af-p which is great for long-lens landscapes. I also have the 50mm 1.8g which produces beautiful photos and on my d3300 is great for people - in my case friends and family. Although it overlaps with my 18-55 kit lens the quality makes it totally worth it. Now I only use my kit lens as a wide angle for landscapes. If you shout landscapes I would go for the telephoto zoom but if you shoot friends and family/portraits I would go 50mm 1.8 or maybe 35mm 1.8 - both great lenses and the 35mm is cheaper.
 
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Bazza
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#13
on my Nikon D300 which is a DX camera this might give some idea of area covered. Taken from same spot. Sorry about quality photos to show distance only. tree 57ft away

at 12mm


At 50mm



120mm



200mm



300mm



400mm

 
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Nod

Krispy and Kremey
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Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
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#14
Sorry for my mistake- I thought telephoto meant a longer zoom!

Basically, a telephoto is a lens with a focal length longer than the diagonal of the sensor/film frame, so on a Dx body, longer than about 35mm and on an Fx body, longer than about 50mm. A zoom lens is any lens with a variable focal length - there are plenty of wide angle zooms around.

In your shoes, I'd be looking for a good second hand 70-300 VR - Fx ready for if/when you make the jump.
 
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Tom
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#15
In your shoes, I'd be looking for a good second hand 70-300 VR - Fx ready for if/when you make the jump.
This is exactly what I did. Went for the af-p 70-300mm 4.5-5.6E which is a great FX telephoto zoom. Still waiting to make the jump to full frame though!
 
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Soeren
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#16
When asking if you should get a 35mm, 50mm or a telezoom the ansver must be none of them. You havnt reached the limits of what you got and havnt yourself experienced a need so keep on shooting untill you know positively what your needs are.
 
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