Nikon DSLR Lens Selection II:
Forget everything I said before in all the other threads . . .
Throughout these Epicski photo threads, I've been revisiting my photographic interests, analyzing my needs, and re-thinking my photographic style. Looking at new tools, I've been attempting to divine the essential reconfiguration of my "optimum" standard lens kit. An AF-S upgrade was needed, a long VR tele was sorely missing, and some updates were in order. I purchased some new glass, returned some, and discovered some rather surprising data during my testing (that I'll share in subsequent posts here). I'm planning to shoot an all new portfolio, and already have a few specific photo series in mind, so I have a fairly specific set of requirements to meet.
Since I was lucky enough to find a mint-condition, now, discontinued, AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D on Ebay, I don't shoot with my AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D anymore (plus, the fact that I dropped it, and it doesn't focus too easily anymore). Instead, I'm using my 18mm f/2.8 Nikkor (27mm-equivalent) as my all-around, wide-angle lens for landscape, scenic, editorial, etc. Thankfully, this lens is still decently sharp (more about this later), even when wide-open. Again, I was always on the short-end of my short zoom, so I figured, "Just get a short lens. Period."
Although, I'll still probably carry my old AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D in my bag somewhere (I just returned my new AF-S 50mm f/1.4G--more on that later), I'm absolutely in love with the idea of a new, improved, AF-S, VR version of the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 as my "long-normal," walk-around lens. I get a super-fast aperture, speedy AF-S, and shot-saving VR, all in my favorite focal length . . . 85mm. What more could I ask for? Oh wait . . . Nikon doesn't make this lens . . yet.
Change that to an AF DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2.0D "defocus control" portrait lens, instead. Kinda speedy at f/2.0, which is a whole stop faster than f/2.8. But, since 105mm translates to a "kind of long," 157.5mm on a DX camera, that means I'm going to have to carry FOUR lenses around, not three, and tote along my 50mm f/1.4 "normal" around, too. Darn it. Was really trying to get this down to three lenses. To summarize, based on recent data, here's my new, improved, "standard" carry-around lens kit . . .
1. AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D wide-angle (discontinued).
2. AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D (enables full-length shots with bokeh).
3. AF DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2.0D defocus control medium-telephoto, the "ultimate" portrait lens.
4. AF VR Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED long tele-zoom.
5. AF Nikkor 300mm f/2.8D ED, the "ultimate" bikini lens (someday).
Almost bought an old AF Nikkor 300mm f/2.8D ED on Ebay a few days ago, but I was too cheap to actually win it (it sold for only $1,250--damnit!). So, instead, I'll have to resort to using my trusty 'ole 50mm f/1.4 to get "okay" bokeh on full-length shots. As for my Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8, besides being too soft wide-open, it's just too damned big and heavy to carry around anyway. And, although I would love a new AF-S VRII 80-200mm f/2.8G, I just can't justify the cost or the overlap with my new AF VR 80-400mm.
Since buying the new 80-400mm VR zoom, I believe that VR capability is now virtually an indispensable, "must-have" feature for any long lens. I've also found that I can completely manage without AF-S, but I don't think I'll ever buy another long lens without VR.
Of course, that's all changed, now that I've decided on the DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2.0, instead of the non-existent 85mm f/1.4 "VR." The DC-Nikkor is such a specialty lens, so acclaimed for doing things no other lens can do, I have no choice but to buy this new, non-VR, medium-tele lens, and break my own edict (unfortunately, Nikon doesn't make a VR 'DC' lens, and no one seems to be expecting them to do so anytime soon).
Edited by studio460 - 5/22/10 at 6:21am