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Photography Question 
Mike  Moore

Lenses for Beginners

I am starting out in photography wanting to do more than just point and shoot and am looking at what systems to get. Im okay with the body I want to get (nikon n80) but the lenses are where Im having difficulty. I'm pretty happy spending $600-800 on lenses but have no idea what to go for! As for lens kits: Primes or Zooms - or a mixture. I think two-three lenses would be a good start? I intend to do landscapes and scenes and am looking for lenses that will help me to learn construction and the actual mechanics of manual photography. Does anyone have any good recommendations ?



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1/25/2005 5:14:14 AM

doug Nelson   Begin with a 50mm. Nikon makes no bad ones. When you want to focus closer than about 18 inches, use a simple, inexpensive 25mm extension tube. For landscapes, I like the 35 or 28 wide angles. IF your landscape work will include cityscapes, such as castles, or shooting through arches, I strongly discourage using the wide end of most affordable zooms. The distortion of straight architectural lines at the edges of the image will be noticeable. Prime lenses tend to do this a LOT less, so as to be unapparent, if there's any distortion at all. Nikon makes excellent 85 and 105 lenses, great for portraits or for selecting parts of a landscape. If you really want a zoom, read reviews, or you may get a comment here about a zoom a user likes.

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1/25/2005 6:02:03 AM

Michael H. Cothran   Mike - Doug's right that Nikon makes no bad 50's, and hardly any bad lenses at all for that matter. However, even though I grew up in the fixed focal length era, I now shoot zooms, since their overall quality has improved so much over the last couple of decades. They are just so much more convenient to use than fixed focal length lenses. And while the 50/1.8 is as good and cheap as they get, it's extremely limited by being just one focal length. And yes, I know, back in my day, a 50 was always the first lens one bought, but not necessariy so in this day of quality zooms.
By the way, the N80 is a great body!
If you want ONE lens to cover most of your shooting, the 24-120 zoom is hard to beat. I own one, and wouldn't part with it. Anytime I want to travel light, or for recording family events, that's the one lens that goes on my body.
In general, the vast majority of your shooting will probably come inside the 24-200mm range.The farther one ventures from 'normal' - ie 50mm, the less one seems to use the lens. In Nikon's amateur lineup, a 24-85 coupled with a 70-300 or 80-200 would be a hard pair to beat if you want to go with two lenses. Also, Nikon makes some great pro line zooms, all in f2.8, but these really get pricey and heavy. If you've got the moola, you could supplement a couple of lenses with a faster fixed focal length lens such as the 50/1.8 for dim available lighting, or perhaps a micro/macro lens for closeup shooting, or if you're a wide angle nut, maybe something in the 14-18mm range!
Michael H. Cothran

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1/28/2005 11:42:12 AM

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