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camera lens preferences

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camera lens preferences

Postby bscott » Sat Dec 28, 2013 11:36 pm

I have a Nikon D7000 that I use when I am trying to take serious photos (normally I just drag along a point and shoot). I am trying to get more serious about it and upgrade my setup with a long telephoto for when I go hiking and camping in the Sierra.

My current goto lens is a 18-140mm 3.5 - 5.6. I am looking for a lens in the 300mm range. The shorter end doesn't bother me so much, because I have it covered. However, if there is good value in extending the lower end, I would be willing to spend a little extra money (i.e. buying a 55-300 vs a 75-300). Most of my hiking photos are not action shots, they're landscape and sunset pics. Money is not an issue per se. I mean, I'm not looking to spend ridonkulous money, but nor am I looking for the cheapest way out. I'd like a serious lens that I won't have to upgrade.

For those of you who shoot, what do you use along these lines? Note: I have a Nikon camera, but I'm not a brand snob. If you have a good lens suggestion, I'm open to it.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby yetibreath » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:31 am

I carry a point and shoot most of the time, but for serious photos I currently use a Nikon D5300 with the same 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 lens that you use. For longer shots (wildlife, scenery, etc.) I use the Nikkor 55-300mm f/3.5-5.6. I have been very happy with this lens. The only down side is that it is not internal focus like the 18-140mm. This means that the end of the lens extends and rotates when you focus. This is a problem if you are using a graduated neutral density filter or a polarizing filter. Other than that, it's no big deal. I would encourage you to use the 18-140mm as much as possible because every time you change lenses, especially outdoors, you risk introducing debris into the camera which could eventually make it to the sensor. Hope this helps.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby jfrishmanIII » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:53 am

I shoot landscapes with a D7000 too, and since I've been increasingly attracted to telephoto perspectives, I treated myself to a Nikkor 70-300 VR this summer. I'm loving it, but the sucker is heavy. It's big enough that it may challenge your tripod setup; I asked for an L-bracket for Christmas to make working with it a bit easier. I chose the better ergonomics and image quality over the 55-300, but the latter's weight and cost savings are pretty attractive, especially if the 55mm end would save you from carrying a mid-range zoom. If you think you might ever upgrade to a full-frame sensor camera, the 70-300 has the advantage.

I looked quite a bit at third-party options, but never found anything that inspired confidence, and the offerings from the better off-brands, viz. Tokina and Sigma, aren't that much cheaper. There may indeed be good third-party lenses out there, but they don't get reviewed as extensively, and often tend to have more quality variation between individual copies, so it's harder to know what you'd be getting without stepping out and taking a chance on one. That said, I do shoot a Tokina 12-24 for my wide zoom, and have always been quite happy with it.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby Wastral » Sun Dec 29, 2013 7:51 pm

Well, offhand, I would ditch the clunky D7000 + gigantic lens due to the flip mirror design.

If that is not an option, get an old manual focus lens since you want it for hiking purposes anyways and nearly all of them are focus'd to infinity or close to it. Otherwise...

m4/3 gets same image quality and allows vastly smaller lenses or keep your lens and buy an adapter allowing a tidy 50% increase in telephoto over APS-C. Same quality since landscape/mountain shots do not care about depth of field. Noise is not present even on the 1" sensor in the Sony RX100 at base iso, let alone m4/3. If you want extra dynamic range, bracket shot the bugger.

Its not like the OOC JPG's from the d7000 are all that great. Compared to Olympus, fuji, newest Canon, Nikon bodies, so one still has to run the dumb things through Photoshop to get correct color. They are pretty good, don't skew my statement too far, just not what most would consider up to snuff. Hey, what does one want with an old body, technology does march onward.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby Damien Gildea » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:27 pm

brichardsson wrote: Most of my hiking photos are not action shots, they're landscape and sunset pics.


Then might you not be better off with an ultra wide lens, like the Tokina 11-16mm? I've never thought tele zooms with big high end numbers to be much good, you're just asking too much from one lens. You could get a long prime or similar but how many lenses and how much weight do you want to carry? How serious about photography do you want to get? If the glass is good enough, you've got enough pixels and the shot is good enough, can you not zoom and crop in Photoshop?
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby bscott » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:57 pm

Wastral wrote:Well, offhand, I would ditch the clunky D7000 + gigantic lens due to the flip mirror design.


not really what the op asked for, but whatever.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby bscott » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:08 pm

Damien Gildea wrote:
brichardsson wrote: Most of my hiking photos are not action shots, they're landscape and sunset pics.


Then might you not be better off with an ultra wide lens, like the Tokina 11-16mm? I've never thought tele zooms with big high end numbers to be much good, you're just asking too much from one lens.


I've actually contemplated that. At the risk of going all tl;dr, my dad gave me a bunch of camera equipment when he started to lose his eyesight, an old Nikon body with a slew of lenses, filters, etc... I bought the best current body that would fit the biggest number of lenses that he had (there's about $4K worth of lenses). There are two holes in his set up for things I would like to do, one is wide angle, and one is long range. I like being able to zoom in on far off objects to get interesting views from unusual angles.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby 8kclimber » Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:13 am

The biggest improvement you will ever see is to use pro grade fast quality lens as opposed to consumer lens. I know, now you don't like the cost, but with photo gear the gear makes the difference. A 70-200 2.8, 300mm 2.8, 11-16mm 2.8 and 50mm 1.2 are our staples.

IMHO, your better off having one pro grade $2-4K lens than a bag full of consumer grade stuff that will never take the photos you really want to take no matter how hard you try. They just do not have the capability.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby nartreb » Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:24 am

The problem with telephoto lenses is that they're big and heavy. You better have a firm idea of when and how to use them, or you're better off leaving them behind when doing a route of any difficulty. Try renting a 100-400 or so and just walk around your backyard hills for a while, see if you like the shots you get and try to imagine bringing the thing along on your typical routes.

I love the freedom of composition (and time saved not changing lenses) I get from a zoom, but there are serious drawbacks in both weight and quality compared to a prime, or even comparing a wide-range to a limited-range zoom. I've got a 100-400, but I leave it at home a lot of the time due to its weight and bulk.

If you have a use for it (wildlife photography), consider a prime lens, maybe 300mm, and maybe an extender for when you want even more reach. That's a light, fast setup (though with an extender you'll usually also need a tripod).

Note that a good telephoto lens is truly expensive: a used 300mm f/2.8 goes for around $3,000. For that kind of money, most folks should consider upgrading their camera body instead: extra pixels and higher ISO (without extra noise) can go a good ways toward replacing a telephoto and a fast lens, respectively. The D7000, at 16mp and 6400 ISO, is only just barely behind the state of the art for the "prosumer" price range, so you won't see a dramatic improvement unless you spend a fortune. But for $3000, take a look at the D800: bigger sensor, enough extra pixels to make a real difference.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby crusher » Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:27 am

Width and reach.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B008B14VAK

Not very fast, but any long zoom lens will be in the f3.5/5.6 range anyway. Unless you really want to drop some serious coin.

In the back country I generally go with just one lens, like the one above (I shoot Canon). It is less weight, less changing of glass which saves on the chance of dropping them. And I also use off brand glass, too. Both Sigma and tamron make some decent glass at a fraction of the cost of a name brand. And when you are taking them to some place where they might be damaged, I would much rather damage a 300 dollar lens over a $1000 lens any day.

Good luck in your purchase!
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby 8kclimber » Mon Dec 30, 2013 2:36 am

But even the best body on the market will not take good shots with consumer grade lens. It all starts with the glass. you can have 100mp but if your glass and lens is poor your done before you even start. 16mp is plenty. There are a lot of photos in NG with less than 4MP ;')


nartreb wrote: Note that a good telephoto lens is truly expensive: a used 300mm f/2.8 goes for around $3,000. For that kind of money, most folks should consider upgrading their camera body instead: extra pixels and higher ISO (without extra noise) can go a good ways toward replacing a telephoto and a fast lens, respectively. However, the D7000, at 16mp and 6400 ISO, is only just barely behind the state of the art for the "prosumer" price range, so you won't see a dramatic improvement unless you spend a fortune.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby Wastral » Mon Dec 30, 2013 7:44 am

8kclimber wrote:But even the best body on the market will not take good shots with consumer grade lens. It all struts with the glass. you can have 100mp but if your glass and lens is poor your done before you even state. 16mp is plenty. There are a lot of photos in NG with less than 4MP ;')


nartreb wrote: Note that a good telephoto lens is truly expensive: a used 300mm f/2.8 goes for around $3,000. For that kind of money, most folks should consider upgrading their camera body instead: extra pixels and higher ISO (without extra noise) can go a good ways toward replacing a telephoto and a fast lens, respectively. However, the D7000, at 16mp and 6400 ISO, is only just barely behind the state of the art for the "prosumer" price range, so you won't see a dramatic improvement unless you spend a fortune.


Exactly why I wrote to ditch the d7000 or buy an old manual lens. Cost of an excellent lens is enormous. Drop down sensor size to m4/3 and great lenses are far cheaper and on top of that the entire set up will be vastly lighter as well. A very significant fact when backpacking, climbing, etc.

Personally, if Sony made an interchangeable mirrorless camera based on the 1" sensor I would buy it in a second. Why? 1" sensor today is as good of image quality as pro FF sensors from 8 years ago. They will only get better. True, one eventually runs into diffraction problems, limiting resolution available even with top notch glass, but one does not need greater than 12-16mpix except in extreme cases. That resolution out of good glass already allows one to easily print 20-24 high. Even then,if worried, stitch. Want better color/dynamic range? HDR+tone mapping gets correct colors instead pastel crap that most HDR folks do. Tone mapping software is getting downright cheap these days. Tone mapping is the exact same thing your camera already does INTERNALLY to create its jpg's etc.

All those options to increase image quality, dynamic range and color space, will vanish as the 1" sensor range improves its signal to noise ratio making all those work arounds I listed above to modern FF equivalents pointless. Only problem? Depth of Field out of focus backgrounds, well lack thereof and for that reason will never be used for portrait work, street photography, and other shots like this. But for landscape photog where one generally is begging cameras for MORE depth of field to get the foreground in focus getting in focus flowers instead of mush, vastly superior.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby peninsula » Wed Jan 01, 2014 3:57 pm

brichardsson wrote:My current goto lens is a 18-140mm 3.5 - 5.6. I am looking for a lens in the 300mm range. The shorter end doesn't bother me so much, because I have it covered. However, if there is good value in extending the lower end, I would be willing to spend a little extra money (i.e. buying a 55-300 vs a 75-300). Most of my hiking photos are not action shots, they're landscape and sunset pics. Money is not an issue per se. I mean, I'm not looking to spend ridonkulous money, but nor am I looking for the cheapest way out. I'd like a serious lens that I won't have to upgrade.

For those of you who shoot, what do you use along these lines? Note: I have a Nikon camera, but I'm not a brand snob. If you have a good lens suggestion, I'm open to it.


If you are backpacking as opposed to day hiking, overall weight becomes a more serious consideration. Finally, it comes down to angle preference. Wide or long. You indicate a preference for both. If you are content with the 18-140, pair it with a 70-200/f2.8 VR plus a 1.4 teleconverter. This is a high quality lens, but it is heavy! Any of the quality, longer zoom lenses from Nikon are going to be heavy. You could also consider the 80-400 f4.5/5.6... not much different in weight but also comes with VR and without the need of a teleconverter.

Personally, I shoot wide angle for landscapes and use prime lenses for the highest quality prints.
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Re: camera lens preferences

Postby CClaude » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:03 am

I have to go with 8Kclimber. A Nikon D7000 with 1 or 2 fixed aperature pro quality lens will do much better than a backpack full of mediocre lenses. Poor quality lenses will destroy anything the sensor will capture.

Really depends on what you want to do with your photography.If you are willing to carry the weight ((I just do with less food) If you want to do a lot of low light photography, I'd stay away from a 4/3rd's sensor. The smaller the individual pixels are, you usually pay for it in noise. Personally 50% of my photography is between sunset and sunrise so I go with a full frame sensor (used to be a Canon 5D M2 until it was stolen and now stepped down to a 6D because of low light capabilities.

You already have a Nikon D7000, which is a really good camera (while most of the people I know who adventure or climbing photography for magazines use a Canon 5D Mark 2 or 3, one of my friends uses a D7000 for professional work). Invest in one REALLY good lens that is mid range, then invest in a really good tripod, and then invest in a second REAlly good lens. 2 or 3 or 4 REALLY good lenses and a really good tripod is all you really need. Usually the better lenses will have fixed aperatures, ok. actually all the good lenses.
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