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Need help w/ Camera Lens for D40

Discussion in 'Fine Living, Home, Design & Auto' started by Douglas, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. Douglas

    Douglas Well-Known Member

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    OK, so I am a very amateur photographer. I'm hoping some of the photography gurus of SF can give me a hand.

    I have a Nikon D40 which takes very nice photos, but I am an idiot at using it. I'm an always-in-full-auto-mode kind of guy. Still, I have something of an interest in photography, and would like to learn more. I'm finding as I take more photos, I am starting to realize some of the shortcomings of my lens and technique.

    Right now I use a Sigma lens with a pretty massive telephoto - I think it's a 28-300mm. But I am really finding the thing is awful in less than full light. All my indoor photos end up with a yellowish tinge unless I turn on the flash, which is really harsh and glaring.

    I'm having a baby soon, and would really like a nice lens I could use for basic indoor portraiture and fun shots - I guess I'm thinking 28-55mm or so - that lets in a lot more light than this current lens. Or should I just invest in an outboard flash?

    I'd gladly accept technique advice, too.
     
  2. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    A good flash is essential. I think the top nikon flash is the sbs-800 or something similar to that. Having said that, a good lens is important too. I'm guessing the sigma starts at a fairly high f-value. I'd want 2.8 or better. I don't really know the nikon lens lineup though.
     
  3. gdl203

    gdl203 Well-Known Member

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    Is there such a thing as a flash that doesn't make indoor portraits look horrible?
     
  4. rnoldh

    rnoldh Well-Known Member

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    I've got a D40 though I hardly use it.

    If you are going to use just one lens, the D40 kit lens, 18-55mm, is particularly rated highly. I also went ahead and bought a 55-200mm Nikon 55-200 AFS VR lens.

    The best lens is supposedly thought to be the Nikon 18-200 AFS VR by many D40 enthusiasts. That would allow you to use just one lens for just about any situation. It's a little pricey though at about $500+ used and about $799 MSRP.

    Here's a link to Rockwell's Nikon site. There's a lot of useful stuff on it, including a free guide to D40 use.

    In short, the basic kit lens is economical and probably your best bet ( I've seen them for under $100), The lens you are using now is probably great for sports shooting in bright light but is definitely not an all around lens, Also as you probably know ( read Rockwell's website ), the D40 doesn't have it's own internal auto focus motor, so you have to buy newer Nikon's newer lens's or comparable lens's that have their own auto focus motor. Does your Sigma telephoto lens auto focus?

    Here's something on the 18-55 mm Nikon lens.
     
  5. dhc905

    dhc905 Well-Known Member

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    I have the 18-200 VR, great lens although at 3.5f it isn't fantastic indoors in little light, particularly if you want to zoom in. If you think you're only going to be shooting indoors, a 50mm 2.8f (about $300) or 1.8f (much more) will give you great indoor pics (esp portaits) even in lower light situations.

    That said, a flash is pretty damn key. I have the SB-80dx, which works fine for every situation I've been in.
     
  6. chorse123

    chorse123 Well-Known Member

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    I worked in a camera shop (Central Camera Chicago) during high school and used my discounts to build a good range of Nikon lenses. The big thing for me was low minimum f. stop. It makes a huge difference. This can get pretty expensive when you add a lot of lenses, but you could always start with something like a 28mm f 2.8 nikkor.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/produc...AF_Nikkor.html

    As for the flash, the built in probably sucks. The built-in on the D80 is adequate, but I use an old SB-28 flash from back in the day. Maybe you can get a deal on a used flash.
     
  7. DNW

    DNW Well-Known Member

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    For indoor, no flash, portrait lens, few are better in terms of value than the prime Nikon 50mm f/1.4d lens. It's around $250 on fleabay new. Its cheaper, and slower brother is the 50mm f/1.8d, which is around $100. The only downside is that both of these lenses are fixed, so you'll have to move back and forth to get the frame right. Personally, I'm using a 18-105mm VR from the new D90 kit as a walk-around lens. But not so great in low light situations without the flash.
     
  8. milosh

    milosh Well-Known Member

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    You should check out both the Sigma 18-50 HSM 2.8 and the Tamron 17-50 2.8. There is also the Nikkor 17-55 2.8 but for the price of it you could get either the Tamron or the Sigma plus the Sigma 50-150 HSM 2.8. You should check out photozone.de for reviews of lenses mentioned here.

    The 50 1.8 Nikon is a great value.
     
  9. milosz

    milosz Well-Known Member

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    Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is the best option for a normal (40-50mm) lens.

    Any of the longer Nikons - 50/1.4, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 105/2 are good for low-light portraits.
     
  10. DNW

    DNW Well-Known Member

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    You should check out both the Sigma 18-50 HSM 2.8 and the Tamron 17-50 2.8. There is also the Nikkor 17-55 2.8 but for the price of it you could get either the Tamron or the Sigma plus the Sigma 50-150 HSM 2.8. You should check out photozone.de for reviews of lenses mentioned here.

    The 50 1.8 Nikon is a great value.


    Sigma 30mm f/1.4 is the best option for a normal (40-50mm) lens.

    Any of the longer Nikons - 50/1.4, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 105/2 are good for low-light portraits.


    Are you two related?
     
  11. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    Is there such a thing as a flash that doesn't make indoor portraits look horrible?

    Yes. Most good flashes you can swivel and tilt, so you can bounce light around instead of pointing it at your subject directly. It makes a huge difference.
     
  12. milosh

    milosh Well-Known Member

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    ^^- I'm pretty sure we're not. [​IMG]
     
  13. Chiaroscuro

    Chiaroscuro Well-Known Member

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    Is there such a thing as a flash that doesn't make indoor portraits look horrible?

    No, but thats why you have diffusers.
     
  14. Renault78law

    Renault78law Well-Known Member

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    A lot of "interesting" information here.

    I have a D40, and I'm somewhat of a camera enthusiast. I've read books about exposure, composition, and follow the Nikon message boards. I bought the D40 for the very same purpose, to take photos of my child to be.

    Since most of the photos you plan to take will be indoors, I highly recommend a external flash. This will increase your image quality much more than any new lens. The most basic external flash from Nikon is called the SB 400. It is an exceptional value, small, light and has bounce capability. It is completely idiot proof and will give you great captures right out of the box. The next step up is the SB 600, which is much larger and heavier, but more versatile. For instance, you can bounce the flash when you're shooting in portrait and you can also bounce behind you - two features that the SB 400 does not have. (GQGeek, FYI the SB 800 has been discontinued, the new top of the line flash is the SB 900).

    With respect to the other posters, an ultra wide aperature lens is not going to be much help. First, the OP shots in full auto. Second, in low light, he'll have no choice but to shoot wide open, which will give him little depth of field. Literally, you'll get shots where your baby's ear is in focus, but the face is not.

    Finally, if you do get a new lens, make sure it is compatable with the D40. Nikon lenses will have AF-S in the title somewhere. Otherwise, you may end up with a lens that will not autofocus on the D40 body. I would also recommend a lens that has VR (vibration reduction).
     
  15. A Y

    A Y Well-Known Member

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    Most flash-looking pictures are caused by the flash being on the camera right above the lens. If you want better looking flash pictures, move the flash off the camera, and learn more about balancing your flash's light vs. the ambient light instead of depending solely on your camera's exposure computer. There's a very useful and fascinating blog devoted entirely to this:

    http://www.strobist.blogspot.com

    --Andre
     
  16. DNW

    DNW Well-Known Member

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    Finally, if you do get a new lens, make sure it is compatable with the D40. Nikon lenses will have AF-S in the title somewhere. Otherwise, you may end up with a lens that will not autofocus on the D40 body. I would also recommend a lens that has VR (vibration reduction).

    Good catch. I forgot the D40 and D60 do not have autofocus motors in the body. Because of this, shooting with any lens without AF-S is a PITA.
     
  17. GQgeek

    GQgeek Well-Known Member

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    A lot of "interesting" information here.

    I have a D40, and I'm somewhat of a camera enthusiast. I've read books about exposure, composition, and follow the Nikon message boards. I bought the D40 for the very same purpose, to take photos of my child to be.

    Since most of the photos you plan to take will be indoors, I highly recommend a external flash. This will increase your image quality much more than any new lens. The most basic external flash from Nikon is called the SB 400. It is an exceptional value, small, light and has bounce capability. It is completely idiot proof and will give you great captures right out of the box. The next step up is the SB 600, which is much larger and heavier, but more versatile. For instance, you can bounce the flash when you're shooting in portrait and you can also bounce behind you - two features that the SB 400 does not have. (GQGeek, FYI the SB 800 has been discontinued, the new top of the line flash is the SB 900).

    With respect to the other posters, an ultra wide aperature lens is not going to be much help. First, the OP shots in full auto. Second, in low light, he'll have no choice but to shoot wide open, which will give him little depth of field. Literally, you'll get shots where your baby's ear is in focus, but the face is not.

    Finally, if you do get a new lens, make sure it is compatable with the D40. Nikon lenses will have AF-S in the title somewhere. Otherwise, you may end up with a lens that will not autofocus on the D40 body. I would also recommend a lens that has VR (vibration reduction).


    I'm on the Olympus system so I don't know how the Nikon flashes breakdown, but initially I got the FL-36 flash, which had most of the same features as its big brother but less range and a longer recycle time. The recycle time was slow, which was annoying because it made me miss shots. I'm sure the Nikon flashes are the same. My recommendation for flashes is always to get the big one. It's more expensive and a little bit bigger, but you won't find yourself cursing when you miss a shot while you're waiting for it to charge up again.
     
  18. otc

    otc Well-Known Member

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    To echo some of the advice given here

    The 50mm f1.8 is a great deal and can be had for less than 100 (this applies to canon people too). It is faster than any lens you will ever own unless you start buying even faster primes (there aren't really any zoom lenses that go faster) and the fixed 50 is a good length for portraits with your camera and will make you a better photographer by forcing you to think a little bit about framing.

    The SB 400 flash is a great thing. I WISH there was somethign comparable for canon bodies (the small canon flash is fixed--you cannot bounce the flash) as it lets you have the core features needed in a flash without the giant box stuck to your camera.
     
  19. Brian SD

    Brian SD Well-Known Member

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    I bought the VR 18-200 and its been fuckin awesome.

    That said, I still bust out the famous 50mm / 1.4f and the image quality tends to be astounding. Color representation isn't as good on the 50mm, but for a new photographer it might produce more along the lines of what you're looking for.
     
  20. greg_atlanta

    greg_atlanta Well-Known Member

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    Is there such a thing as a flash that doesn't make indoor portraits look horrible?

    The trick is to not make the flash work too hard. The flash is just there to cheer things up, not to turn night into day. If you don't have decent lighting to begin with, the flash will go off at high intensity and kill everything (visually).
     

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