Post # 1
I’m an amateur who shoots portraits or events for friends/family. I’m also a second shooter for pro photographer. She shoots Canon, so she isn’t quite as familar with my equipment. I have a standard Nikon D3000 entry-level package with an AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm lense. I’m looking to upgrade my lense for portraits to have a higher ISO/aperature for better quality in dim lighting. I have a Nikon Speedlight SB-700 flash, but I’d like to rely more on my camera than my flash for sharp photos.
Question #1: What lense should I get? I would be willing to spend up to $500, unless…
…Question #2: Should I upgrade my camera body instead of the lense? I’ve heard conflicting opinions.
Post # 3
I too shoot with Canon, but I can say this… You want a lens that is good in low light situations, because there are times you may not be able to shoot with your flash. You also want good Bokeh. I don’t think you need to upgrade your camera, you can can have the most expensive camera and take crappy photots. I remember when I first got into photogoraphy and I puchased an Olympus e-5oo which I still have and love it. I was taking an intro to photography class and my instructor was a Canon and Nikon snob and said everythiign else including Olypus was substandard, yet whenever we had assignments whewre we had to bring in photos, my Olympus photos were at the top of the class.
So I say all of that to say, while the camera does matter, the lens matters even more, the settings matter and the photographer is most imortant. One think I learned after buying my olympus is never by a kit, just by the body and purchase your lens separate, kit lenses can’t accomplish all that you want to accomplish.
Here is a great article on Nikon lenses I found and it makes recommendations on price points.
Also when you get ready to purchase a lens, http://www.bandhphoto.com and http://www.adorama.com have the best prices I have found.
Here are a few of my samples
Post # 4
Post # 5
The 50 mm 1.4! beautiful creamy bokeh!
Post # 6
The nifty fifty would be my #1 recommendation for your first real lens. It’s a 50mm 1.8, and the low aperture gives that nice creamy background. 50mm on a crop sensor camera is your perfection zone for portraits, and it’s also surprisingly sharp for such a cheap lens! It’s around $150, depending on where you buy it. You can get this lens at any store that sells prosumer cameras (futureshop, bestbuy).
My second suggestion would be an 85mm 1.8. This is still my all-time favorite lens – it’s around $550, and it’s so sharp and SO creamy. The subjects just pop right out of the frame and the background fades into perfect pretty bokeh. 🙂
Third suggestion would be the 35mm 1.8. It’s around $350, and it’s an ‘eye level’ lens. There’s no zoom, or wide angle… it captures things almost exactly as you see them. This is a great walking around lens as it captures things pretty much just as they are in real life.
I suggest you keep your camera on aperture priority mode if you’re not comfortable in full manual, and keep your aperture set between 1.8 or 2.8 to get the best results with these portrait lenses. You just have to be quick at focusing, because if your focus is off a little it’ll make your photo look blurry.
As for camera upgrade… I wouldn’t upgrade your camera until you find the camera itself is hindering your results. When you have learned all you can about your camera, can shoot in full manuel mode with no issues and realize that it no longer meets your needs, go for a d7000.
If you have any questions, feel free to pm me. I’m a photographer, and shoot with nikon.
Post # 7
@OnceUponATime: Don’t upgrade your camera yet, go with a second lense. if you are lookign to do portraits I’d go with a 35mm, they offer great background blur and are great in various lighting. I gotthis lense, and once forgot my camera bag for my sister’s wedding, and had ONLY this lens for her wedding, and ALL of the pictures came our PERFECT and beautiful!
You could also afford a 55-200 zoom lense if $500 is your budget since those run around the same price.
WHATEVER YOU DO! when you upgrade your body someday DO NOT think that more megapixels is necessarily better. I had a D3100 10 (or 12) mp, and i upgraded to a D5100 16mp and I honestly miss my D3100, The D5100 has some great features, but I find the pictures from the D3100 were a little better quality. Also too many megapixels in a mid-priced DSLR will become distorted because of the small image sensor. They just want people to think it’s a better camera by packing on the megapixels but it’s not necessarily true.
Post # 8
@rex-tographer: Thanks for your suggestions. I typically shoot in aperature. The most recent wedding I shot had the most awful lighting you can imagine (bright light streaming in through two massive barn doors and candle lighting on the other side. It was terrible! I couldn’t adjust my settings fast enough to zoom, so I moved my body instead of my zoom. It worked surprisingly well!
I was reading a few articles about lense suggestions and they mentioned the first two that you provided. I can’t help but feel stumped, though. The price ranges are all over the place. I’m trying to understand if higher price actually = high quality. Your top suggestion is much much cheaper than your second. I’m assuming it’s not actually better, just a better deal for the cost?
I’m quite intriqued by your third suggestion. I always get annoyed when my shot doesn’t look like what I saw when I took it. (I know there’s a lot more to it than the lense itself, but that’s my goal. I can see the shot I want, I just can’t always get it.)
Post # 9
@OnceUponATime: I suggested the 50mm first because it’s the most cost effective.
The 85 is a much higher quality lens, but it’s a bit more money, and I think a 50mm is more important to have than an 85. I would consider a 50mm a ‘standard’ portrait lens, whereas the 85 is more of an ‘art’ lens (if that makes sense). I think every photographers main ‘kit’ should include a 35, 50, and 85, and then maybe a longer zoom (like a 135 or 200) and then a wider angle (like a 16mm). But the 50 should be the first purchase as it’s the most versatile, and then either the 35 or 85 depending on which you prefer. 🙂
If there’s a henrys or futureshop nearby, you can rent any of these lenses for less than $40 for a full weekend so you can try it out and get a feel for which you prefer!
Post # 10
+1 for 35.18. It basically never leaves my camera. I shoot weddings with 2 bodies (full frame, though), and I use the 70-200 on one and the 35 1.8 on the other*.
FWIW, I’ve had a 50 several times, and I never really used it. Other people are the completely opposite.
*the 35 1.8 is a DX lens and on the FX body, I have to enable a setting to allow it to work with the full frame. Then I have to shoot wide open and correct vignetting in post. It’s still worth it, to me. It gives me great results!