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What prime lenses worth getting for D5000?

Joe Bloggs , Jun 14, 2010; 10:05 p.m.

Hi all, I'm new to this forum (have been a dpreview regular). I recently bought a Nikon D5000, this marks my venture back into the world of DSLRs after 3 years in compact-land. Instead of the 18-55mm kit lens I opted for the 35mm DX f/1.8G and am glad I did--it allows me to get photos genuinely different from ones I can get with a compact that I can justify lugging the camera with me almost all the time.
Photos like this one:

The out-of-focus background really makes you focus on my son with his new toys :) (I could have sat further to the right, straighten the focus plane to put the toys in sharper focus, but this wasn't exactly a planned shot...)

However with that out of the way, I'm not sure where I should go from here.

My interests are landscapes, people pictures, and people pictures in landscapes. I think that means I should be well covered with another wide and short tele lens, both of them preferably of wide aperture. Now that I'm having such a pleasant time with the 35mm I'm reluctant to go back to zooms--they seem too much like a good way to carry much bulk in return for getting compact-like pictures, unless I invest in monster f/2.8 zooms or get a flash and associated paraphernalia to soften flash shadows. (I seem to end up in dim interiors way too often)

However there just doesn't seem to be many good choices for me. My D5000 won't move AF-D lenses, so it's either AF-S for me or learn to MF. The 85mm f/1.4 or f/1.8 would be a no-brainer if not for this. On the wide end, there's no good choices even if I were using a D300s--the closest thing would be the 20mm f/2.8, but I could just as well get a 17-50mm f/2.8 or something like that from Sigma or Tamron. That also happens to overlap with the 35mm prime in focal length, so I'm considering the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 or other wide zooms instead.

I could also get one of the Sigma f/1.8 primes in the 2x mm range, but the ones I tried when I was using a KM 5D in 2007 couldn't focus on the broad side of a barn, so I probably can't even use the rangefinder function on the D5000 and have to use liveview to focus...

The same goes for the Samyang 85mm, because as far as I see, a lens with no electronic contacts won't activate the rangefinder (this I tested by rotating my 35mm halfway off the mount to disable the contacts)...

Thoughts? I'm going slow on this as I won't have the finances to buy the next lens for a while anyway.


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Nish Nishant , Jun 14, 2010; 10:32 p.m.

Folks like you should really be getting the D90 instead of the D5000. For an extra 200 bucks or so (for the body), you open yourself up to a much wider range of primes that will AF with your camera.

Shun Cheung , Jun 14, 2010; 10:41 p.m.

I think Nish has an excellent point. Consumer DSLRs such as the D5000, D3000 and D40 are intended for casual photographers who will buy no more than a couple of consumer AF-S zooms. The 35mm/f1.8 AF-S DX works fine with them, but if the objective is to use some fixed-focal-lenght lenses and perhaps manual focusing, one should get at least the D90 for a better viewfinder.

I wonder why you want to use some "prime" lenses, especially if your background was digicams in the last 3 years. There are plenty of affordable DX zooms that can do a decent job, although perhaps a bit slow for indoors.

Joe Bloggs , Jun 15, 2010; 12:30 a.m.

Shun wrote:
"I wonder why you want to use some "prime" lenses, especially if your background was digicams in the last 3 years. There are plenty of affordable DX zooms that can do a decent job, although perhaps a bit slow for indoors."

Exactly! If I have to use flash for anything but fill (and even then worry about flash shadows), and not get subject isolation from the small aperture, I'm not getting a picture significantly different from what I'd get from a compact. I sold a Canon G9 in exchange for a Nikon D50 with kit zoom last year and could not justify the extra bulk with this combination--sold it back for a Canon S90. Had to rethink everything when the S90 was smashed to bits and settled on the D5000 and 35mm prime... didn't have the money for the D90. I knew going in that buying the D5000 would constrict my lens choice, unlike entry-level models for any other make, but I like Nikon ergonomics. Might have bought Pentax though, if I had found a better deal...

Eric Arnold , Jun 15, 2010; 12:47 a.m.

why not just use the 35 exclusively like Henri Cartier Bresson? you've effectively ruled out fast zooms, slow zooms, MF primes, AF (but non AF-S) primes, and third party primes. oh, and the 11-16 wont AF on a D5000 and you dont want it for kid pics anyway. there's nothing left, except the 50/1.4 AF-S. and if you're trying to shed bulk, might as well stay with what you have going now.

Long Tin Lo , Jun 15, 2010; 01:14 a.m.

if money is an issue, why not try the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 for portraits?
if u don't mind MF on the D5000, and have the money, Nikon 85mm f/1.4 is the right lens to go!

Leslie Cheung , Jun 15, 2010; 04:06 a.m.

You might want to try 12-24mm F4 tokina. It has an AFS version and F4 but still useful in most setting considering you can shoot at ISO 3200 at ease these day with DSLR. The soon to be sigma 85mm 1.4 has HSM so it will AF. Bokeh / OOF is a function of distant to subject ratio as well as aperture. It can be done with the "slow" 12-24mm f4

12-24mm F4 85mm F1.4

Philip Tam , Jun 15, 2010; 04:34 a.m.

If you like landscapes, an ultrawide lens will be very fun (albeit, challenging) to take pictures with. It also makes for interesting portraits because of the perspective distortion.

Note however, than with ultrawide lnses, you're usually not aiming to throw the background out of focus, so don't chase f/2.8 expecting that you'll get prime-like bokeh (my coworker made that mistake when he bought that Tokina lens you mentioned). The meat of these APS-C ultrawides is done around roughly f/8, to maximize sharpness, and to increase depth of field so everything is in focus. The wider you get, the more depth of field you tend to have.

Just throwing something out there: I know you're focused on landscape and people, but how about the 60mm AF-S micro? It's good as a longer portrait lens, and gets your foot in the door for macro.

C.P.M. van het Kaar , Jun 15, 2010; 04:59 a.m.

If still interested after reading all the responses up to here, ...
I hate to say this somehow, but Sigma beat Nikon , they make a new 85mm 1.4 lens that will focus on the nikon 5000 and alike, since it uses HSM for focussing. They also used their new SLD glass for this lens.
First impressions ( I tried it at a show in Belgium..) it looks and feels great and produces a pretty darn good imgage too ..... Don't know the price yet though ...

Kent Staubus , Jun 15, 2010; 08:56 a.m.

I generally don't like single length lenses as they aren't very versatile, but the new Sigma 85mm f1.4 has caught my imagination. I have the Sigma 30mm f1.4 and love it. Most of the time I greatly prefer an f2.8 zoom though.

Kent in SD

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