Monday, January 10, 2011

Which lens for my D7000???

One of the most common questions I've been getting recently is "What lenses should I buy?" While this question can be answered in a myriad of ways depending on what the photographer intends to shoot I wanted to create a quick list of lenses that should be taken into consideration when shopping for glass.

This article is applicable for any Nikon DX camera, not just the D7000

Pro glass
If you're planning on shooting weddings, or any other type of photography where you'll be collecting money from clients you should really be using Nikon professional lenses. In these days of high megapixel counts, the high resolution cameras will show any defect that a lens may have. High quality lenses are what you need if you're serious about your work.
  • Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G - This is the lens that will spend most of the time on your camera. From moderately wide to short telephoto this covers the most useful focal lengths. I see a lot of people recommending the 24-70 f/2.8G, but in my opinion this lens is better suited for DX. The 24-70 is just too long. The Nikon 16-35mm f/4 VR is a good alternative to this lens.
  • Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G VRII - This lens is just great. It's sharp as a tack. It's really expensive and really heavy as well. 
Unfortunately Nikon is lacking in a serious ultra-wide pro lens for DX. The 14-24mm f/2.8G is amazing for FX, but being a 21-36 equivalent it just doesn't fill the ultra-wide role. You're only real options are the Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 or the 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5.

Third party options
Not everyone can afford Nikon pro glass. Fortunately there are quite a few choices in good fast glass made by third parties. Personally, at this time I prefer Sigma over any of the other companies. The HSM motor is easily comparable to Nikon's Silent Wave Motor (AF-S) and the build quality is excellent. Tokina and Tamron lenses are known for their good image quality, but the focus motor is lacking, being slower and louder. Both of these companies are developing silent motors similar to AF-S or HSM, but I've yet to get my hands on one.
  • Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS - This is a great fast light-weight all purpose zoom. The Optical Stabilization works great and helps a bit in low-light and works wonders if you have shaky hands. It's nice and sharp. 
  • Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC BIM - This is a nice sharp lens. I used one for a few months and I was happy with the image quality, but was disappointed with the focus motor as I mentioned above.
  • Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS - Great fast, versatile telephoto lens. This is as close as you'll get to the Nikon 70-200mm /2.8 without dropping serious money. 
  • Sigma 8-16mm f/4.5-4.6 - This lens isn't exactly fast, but it's wide. It's the widest aspherical lens you're gonna find anywhere. Trust me, the 2mm difference from 8-10mm is definitely noticeable. 
  • Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 - This is the only ultra-wide lens that I'm aware of with a constant aperture. This lens is a little soft at the edges wide open, but it's still a pretty good lens. 
All-in-one zooms
Some folks like the convenience of a lens that goes from wide to telephoto. This means that you spend less time swapping out lenses and have less of a chance at missing a once in a lifetime shot. Of course this convenience comes at the cost of lens speed and image quality. The image quality is by no means terrible, but it will not compare to a good fast constant aperture lens. 
  • Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G VRII  - If you're looking to only carry one lens this would be my choice. It's the top performer of all super-zoom lenses. 
  • 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM - This lens gives a bit more reach than the Nikon version, but isn't quite as strong of a performer as far as sharpness goes. It is however much less expensive. 
  • Tamron 18-270 f/3.5-6.3 VC - This lens is a bit sharper than the Sigma as well as a bit longer. With a maximum aperture  of f/6.3 at the long end you're gonna need a lot of light or a high ISO if you plan on shooting any kind of sports or moving subjects. Tamron has announced a new version of this lens with their PZD silent focusing motor
Prime lenses
Prime lenses are a great option for people who want to travel light. What you lose in versatility you make up for in speed and sharpness (in a lot of cases). There are three prime lenses that I highly recommend.
    • Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G - At just around $200 you can't beat this lens. It's great for all around shooting. It's sharp and fast. I think everyone who owns a DX camera should have this lens in their bag. 
    • Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G - This is my favorite portrait lens for DX. It's not overly expensive, it's super fast, and very sharp. If you're serious about portrait work this is one lens you need. 
    • Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G VR - This is a macro lens that I found also excels for portrait work. SUPER sharp. 
 Kit lenses
Don't rule out the kit lens as a viable option. For most people's everyday shooting habits the kit lens is all that's needed. Before you go out and start dropping money on all kinds of different lenses spend a week or two shooting with it. If you find yourself lacking in some area then consider other lens choices. The Nikkor 18-55 f/3.5-5.6G VR lens is a really good lens, especially when you consider the price point. This lens is probably going to cover the needs of most beginning photographers.


Jörg said...

For a ultra-wide with constant aperture there is the Tokina 11-16 2.8:

J. Dennis Thomas said...

Thanks Jörg, that one snuck in under my radar. Looks like a great lens as well.

Lieven De Vlaminck said...

Where, in your opinion, do the 'medium zoom lenses' come in? E.g. the Nikkor 18-70mm, the 16-85mm and the 18-105mm?
Recommended or not really?


Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if this should be a consideration for an ultra-wide (although not constant aperture)
Tokina 12-24mm f/4 AT-X 124 AF Pro DX II Lens

macro lenses for d7000 said...

Staying under the $200 mark, and from the research I did, this little gem can take one heck of a picture, along with HD video, too! That's right, this tiny guy has 720p (1280 x 720 pixels) High Definition video. Something that is rarely seen in a camera this cheap.