Advice needed on an economical portrait lens with fairly large aperture (newbie!)


Dec 22, 2011
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#1
Hi CS members!
I am a new member of CS and I've had my Nikon D3100 for a couple of months already together with the kit 18-55 AF-S lens. I find it great to take most shots but I have developed an interest in taking good portrait photography and macro (not the insect kind) photos. However with my current kit lens, i find that the aperture isnt big enough for the background of my subjects to be blurred completely and i wish that my macro pics can be sharper. I'm wondering if i should get a prime lens for portrait as that is my favorite part of photography. Is there any recommendations for economical lenses that can meet my need? :)
I am not working at the moment so i can only save up for any lens so i hope to be able to get either a good priced first hand lens or a decent second hand lens. I'm also not sure where is the best place to get so i will really appreciate any pro-er photographers assistance! Thanks so much in advance!
 

Irvine

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Jan 1, 2010
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#2
If space is an issue (i.e indoors): Sigma 30 f/1.4 and Nikon 35 f/1.8G.

If space is not an issue: Nikon 50 f/1.8D, Nikon 50 f/1.8G, Nikon 50 f/1.4D, Sigma 50 f/1.4 and Nikon 50 f/1.4G (ranging from cheapest to the most expensive, although I'm quite unsure whether the Sigma 50 f/1.4 is cheaper/more expensive than Nikon's own 50 f/1.4)
 

luckyorange

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2011
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#3
1) AF-S 35MM 1.8G ($3xx)
2) AF-S 40MM 2.8G Micro ($3xx or $29x) not sure
3) AF-S 50MM 1.8G ($27x-$29x)

Above is my recommendation.
 

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luckyorange

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Jan 13, 2011
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#5
luckyorange said:
1) AF-S 35MM 1.8G ($3xx)
2) AF-S 40MM 2.8G Micro ($3xx or $29x) not sure
3) AF-S 50MM 1.8G ($27x-$29x)

Above is my recommendation.
And all can AF on D3100
 

Dec 22, 2011
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#6
Thanks guys! two more questions though from a noobie: what is the difference between the 30mm - 50mm lens? will the difference in focal length have an impact on the kind of photos i can take? or which of the focal lengths will be better for me to take portraiture?

also, can you guys recommend places that i can search for decent 2nd hand lens of those recommended or places that sell cheap lens? I saw yesterday at the camera workshop that they are selling brand new AF-S f1.8g nikkor for $330 about there. can i get cheaper prices anywhere else? thanks again!!

p.s Irvine: Are sigma lens good to invest in? cos i read somewhere that there are lotsa problems with sigma lens and also read somewhere that nikon body works best with nikon lens! thanks anyway for you advice :)
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#7
Thanks guys! two more questions though from a noobie: what is the difference between the 30mm - 50mm lens? will the difference in focal length have an impact on the kind of photos i can take? or which of the focal lengths will be better for me to take portraiture?

also, can you guys recommend places that i can search for decent 2nd hand lens of those recommended or places that sell cheap lens? I saw yesterday at the camera workshop that they are selling brand new AF-S f1.8g nikkor for $330 about there. can i get cheaper prices anywhere else? thanks again!!

p.s Irvine: Are sigma lens good to invest in? cos i read somewhere that there are lotsa problems with sigma lens and also read somewhere that nikon body works best with nikon lens! thanks anyway for you advice :)
how much cheaper can you get?
why don't just a new piece for the convenient, peace of mind and also warranty.
 

luckyorange

Senior Member
Jan 13, 2011
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#8
Thanks guys! two more questions though from a noobie: what is the difference between the 30mm - 50mm lens? will the difference in focal length have an impact on the kind of photos i can take? or which of the focal lengths will be better for me to take portraiture?

also, can you guys recommend places that i can search for decent 2nd hand lens of those recommended or places that sell cheap lens? I saw yesterday at the camera workshop that they are selling brand new AF-S f1.8g nikkor for $330 about there. can i get cheaper prices anywhere else? thanks again!!

p.s Irvine: Are sigma lens good to invest in? cos i read somewhere that there are lotsa problems with sigma lens and also read somewhere that nikon body works best with nikon lens! thanks anyway for you advice :)

Just go funan (those recommended shop) and buy! Somehow I find the price here in BnS are not worth the saving..

would rather you spend abit for new and with full warranty =)
 

Irvine

Senior Member
Jan 1, 2010
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#9
p.s Irvine: Are sigma lens good to invest in? cos i read somewhere that there are lotsa problems with sigma lens and also read somewhere that nikon body works best with nikon lens! thanks anyway for you advice :)
Well sigma lenses are known for back/front focusing issues. Nikon lenses are also not totally free from such problems, just that Sigma lenses are more prone to such issues. Nikon lenses definitely work the best on Nikon bodies, but there are certain Sigma lenses which are better than the original's counterparts (such as the Sigma 50 f/1.4 vs Nikon 50 f/1.4) and that makes certain 3rd party lenses very tempting. The only thing about 3rd party lenses is that you have to send it in to the service centre if you upgraded your camera to one that is of the latest model. Need to do re-chipping so that the 3rd party lenses can AF properly with the latest camera.

So to ensure that you get a sharp copy and free from front/back focusing issues (not just limited to purchasing 3rd party lenses), just remember to test them before purchase and try several copies if you want to. Bring a focus chart along too for a peace of mind.

Just to let you know, it happened to me once, and it was with the Nikon 50 f/1.8G. It actually turned out to be front focusing on my d300s (thankfully I can correct it with AF fine tune with +15) and I regretted not testing it out extensively enough before purchase.

Even if you do get a lens that front/back focuses, you can still calibrate them again by paying the service centre a visit. It's FOC since it's under warranty.

Btw, like others had mentioned, just get a brand new one for a piece of mind. The price of a brand new one does not differ that much from a 2nd hand one
 

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Irvine

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#10
what is the difference between the 30mm - 50mm lens? will the difference in focal length have an impact on the kind of photos i can take? or which of the focal lengths will be better for me to take portraiture?
30/35mm has a wider field of view, while 50mm has a narrower field of view. You can see the differences by setting ur kit lens to 30/35mm and 50mm and take photos at these focal lengths only. What you will notice are the differences in the depth of field between 30/35mm and 50mm at the same aperture, changes in your working distance for the same subject and also perspective distortion (shooting at 30/35mm will have more perspective distortion as compared to when shooting at 50mm)

They are all sufficient for portraiture. Like I said, if space is a constraint, the 30/35mm primes will be better, just be mindful of the perspective distortion though.

more info on perspective distortion: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perspective_distortion_(photography)
 

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Dec 22, 2011
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#11
how much cheaper can you get?
why don't just a new piece for the convenient, peace of mind and also warranty.
I intend to get new piece if i can, I was at far east today and i casually asked a few cam shops around the 1st level and I got quotes of $179+ for new piece! can it be trusted? the camera workshop quoted $330+ !
 

Dec 22, 2011
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0
#12
Well sigma lenses are known for back/front focusing issues. Nikon lenses are also not totally free from such problems, just that Sigma lenses are more prone to such issues. Nikon lenses definitely work the best on Nikon bodies, but there are certain Sigma lenses which are better than the original's counterparts (such as the Sigma 50 f/1.4 vs Nikon 50 f/1.4) and that makes certain 3rd party lenses very tempting. The only thing about 3rd party lenses is that you have to send it in to the service centre if you upgraded your camera to one that is of the latest model. Need to do re-chipping so that the 3rd party lenses can AF properly with the latest camera.

So to ensure that you get a sharp copy and free from front/back focusing issues (not just limited to purchasing 3rd party lenses), just remember to test them before purchase and try several copies if you want to. Bring a focus chart along too for a peace of mind.

Just to let you know, it happened to me once, and it was with the Nikon 50 f/1.8G. It actually turned out to be front focusing on my d300s (thankfully I can correct it with AF fine tune with +15) and I regretted not testing it out extensively enough before purchase.

Even if you do get a lens that front/back focuses, you can still calibrate them again by paying the service centre a visit. It's FOC since it's under warranty.

Btw, like others had mentioned, just get a brand new one for a piece of mind. The price of a brand new one does not differ that much from a 2nd hand one
Oh i see, thank you for you valuable advice! i got one question though (dont laugh) what is back/front focusing issues? cld u enlighten? heh.
 

catchlights

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Sep 27, 2004
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#13
I intend to get new piece if i can, I was at far east today and i casually asked a few cam shops around the 1st level and I got quotes of $179+ for new piece! can it be trusted? the camera workshop quoted $330+ !
what you say leh? everybody is selling at $300++, they offer you $179, do you want to try your luck?

AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
$380 w/GST (MS, Mar09 - gimj)
$331, (Parisilk, Jul10, vengels)
$350, (MS equote Jul10, vengels)
$340, (MS, Oct 2010, new1181)
$330 w/GST (TK foto, Dec 2010, Teufelhunden)
$326 Cash (SLR-R, May 11, fndjufri)
$330 Cash, (Orient Photo, May 2011, Jerry2308)
US$199 no GST (AMAZON US Online, Jun11, DM101) free TIFFEN 52mm UV Filter, VPOST $35
 

Irvine

Senior Member
Jan 1, 2010
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#15
I intend to get new piece if i can, I was at far east today and i casually asked a few cam shops around the 1st level and I got quotes of $179+ for new piece! can it be trusted? the camera workshop quoted $330+ !
$179 for that lens is too good to be true. They definitely have some tricks up their sleeves to cheat you, making you pay more in the end.

Stick to the reputable shops as listed in the price guides: http://www.clubsnap.com/forums/price-guides/458315-nikon-price-lists-singapore-2009-2011-a.html
 

Dec 22, 2011
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#16
what you say leh? everybody is selling at $300++, they offer you $179, do you want to try your luck?
serious ah.. but they got the nikon box and all! what are the risks though? in a camera brick and mortar shop that looks pretty decent!
 

Aug 28, 2008
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#18
Did u ask for the correct lens? Or the shop quoted u for the wrong lens?
Eg. Af 50mm f/1.8d is 180+ brand new, but cant af on ur d3.1k.

New or used, its subjective, for such 'cheap' lens, not much savings, imho, just get a brand new lens.

Regarding warranty, how often you would use the lens? Imho, for eg, if u utilise the lens, 24x7 or 12x7, it has a higher chance of failure (e.g. MTBF) of the afs- swm. On the other hand if its like hibernating in the dry cabi like; 24x6, and the actual usage rate is so low, that it may not reach the MBTF and hence you may not utilise the 'warranty' . So in this case, your might just wanna consider a used copy, provided if there substantial savings.

Just my humble 0.0002cts worth.


*p/s: disclaimer: btw I not selling new lens or selling used lens.
 

Dec 22, 2011
19
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0
#19
Did u ask for the correct lens? Or the shop quoted u for the wrong lens?
Eg. Af 50mm f/1.8d is 180+ brand new, but cant af on ur d3.1k.

New or used, its subjective, for such 'cheap' lens, not much savings, imho, just get a brand new lens.

Regarding warranty, how often you would use the lens? Imho, for eg, if u utilise the lens, 24x7 or 12x7, it has a higher chance of failure (e.g. MTBF) of the afs- swm. On the other hand if its like hibernating in the dry cabi like; 24x6, and the actual usage rate is so low, that it may not reach the MBTF and hence you may not utilise the 'warranty' . So in this case, your might just wanna consider a used copy, provided if there substantial savings.

Just my humble 0.0002cts worth.


*p/s: disclaimer: btw I not selling new lens or selling used lens.
Maybe.. but what's so bad about manual focus compared to auto? should i get the auto one or the manual one? and i will be using it very often, i am using my 18-55 like crazy! i take photos very very often.
 

spree86

Senior Member
Feb 3, 2009
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#20
Maybe.. but what's so bad about manual focus compared to auto? should i get the auto one or the manual one? and i will be using it very often, i am using my 18-55 like crazy! i take photos very very often.
Just so you know, the 50mm f1.8D is not a manual lens, so the focusing ring is not well dampened and manual focusing on it is not easy. There's nothing wrong with manual, its just that if you use the 50mm f1.8D with the D3100, you can't fully utilise the lens.
 

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