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Old 02-09-2013, 02:26 PM   #1
lhermiston
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50mm vs. 55-200mm?

I have an 18-55mm lens that came with my camera, a Nikon D5100, and I'm looking to get another lens.

I'm trying to choose between a 50mm or a 55-200mm and I don't know which would be best for me.

Right now, I predominantly take photos of my two daughters, our beagle and some photos for the newspaper I write for, but I'm taking a photography class and I want to branch out into nature photography a bit. I also want a lens that I can take on hikes, vacations, baseball games and, of course, WDW.

Any advice on the pros and cons of each lens and situations where they are most useful would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:34 PM   #2
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Well, they're two completely different types of lenses. The 50mm prime will be faster and sharper than a zoom lens. A lot of people find it a little long on a crop camera. It's good for low light, portraits where you want a shallower depth of field, and can be a good lens for distant landscapes. The 55-250 is a telephoto zoom. It will be slower than the 50mm and won't be great for low light. It can be a nice outdoor portrait lens, especially at longer focal lengths where you compress the background to bring things visually closer to your subject. It's also the better choice if you want to shoot wildlife or outdoor sports.

You would probably not want to put either of these lenses on your camera as a walk around lens in most situations. I use a 50mm that way when I'm night shooting, but that's about the only time.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:41 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by photo_chick View Post
Well, they're two completely different types of lenses. The 50mm prime will be faster and sharper than a zoom lens. A lot of people find it a little long on a crop camera. It's good for low light, portraits where you want a shallower depth of field, and can be a good lens for distant landscapes. The 55-250 is a telephoto zoom. It will be slower than the 50mm and won't be great for low light. It can be a nice outdoor portrait lens, especially at longer focal lengths where you compress the background to bring things visually closer to your subject. It's also the better choice if you want to shoot wildlife or outdoor sports.

You would probably not want to put either of these lenses on your camera as a walk around lens in most situations. I use a 50mm that way when I'm night shooting, but that's about the only time.
Thanks for the feedback. What do you use for your walkaround lens? Can I shoot fireworks with a 50mm?
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:43 PM   #4
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Thanks for the feedback. What do you use for your walkaround lens? Can I shoot fireworks with a 50mm?
You can shoot fireworks with any lens because you generally need a little bit longer exposure and are stopping down the aperture anyway. The secret is to fireworks is using a tripod.

My walk around lens is an older Canon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 that I've had forever.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:48 PM   #5
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You can shoot fireworks with any lens because you generally need a little bit longer exposure and are stopping down the aperture anyway. The secret is to fireworks is using a tripod.

My walk around lens is an older Canon 28-105 f/3.5-4.5 that I've had forever.
Wowzer. I think a lens like that might be a little out of my price range right now. I'm just starting out with photography, so I'm not ready to invest a grand in a single lens.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:51 PM   #6
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Your kit lens is a good focal length for walk around. And it will do fireworks just fine.
The 50mm is more of a specialty lens -- great for low light and portraits. At Disney, it would let you shoot dark rides.
The 200mm lens is simply a way to get more focal length, in good light. For Disney, such a lens is good for stage shows and the Animal Kingdom safari.

If you want to simply upgrade your kit lens, tamron makes a 17-50/2.8 that isn't too expensive, and you can find used copies.
But if you're just starting out -- you may not even notice the difference between the kit lens and the Tamron. (Which will perform better in lower light, and be a bit sharper ).
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:31 PM   #7
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Thanks for the tip, havoc. Maybe I'll just plan on bringing my kit lens to WDW and not worry about lugging around much else.
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Old 02-09-2013, 06:07 PM   #8
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Wowzer. I think a lens like that might be a little out of my price range right now. I'm just starting out with photography, so I'm not ready to invest a grand in a single lens.
Ahh... my lens isn't actually the 24-105 f/4L that costs that much. It's an older Canon lens that's not in production any longer. But that does bring up a good point. Old lenses are a great way to save when you're trying to build a lens collection. KEH.com is a great place to shop for used glass. They price fairly and stand behind what they sell.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:39 AM   #9
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Ahh... my lens isn't actually the 24-105 f/4L that costs that much. It's an older Canon lens that's not in production any longer. But that does bring up a good point. Old lenses are a great way to save when you're trying to build a lens collection. KEH.com is a great place to shop for used glass. They price fairly and stand behind what they sell.
I have found some 18-105mm lens...is that a viable alternative?

Also, if I got an 18-105, would it make sense to sell my 18-55mm since keeping the two would be redundant? I could pick up a travel tripod and remote and start practicing my fireworks shots
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:48 AM   #10
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I don't know the particular lens, but lenses are about much more than focal length. Different lenses have different strengths in weaknesses. Look at the aperture of each lens, which lens is faster. Read reviews of the lenses -- which is sharper. Does either lens have macro ability.

They might be redundant or they can be very different lenses.
For example, I have a 70-300 and a 70-210. At times, they are redundant. But the 210 is faster with a constant aperture, produces amazing colors, and really nice bokeh.
So the 300 is my lens for outdoor sports and nature. The 210 is for indoor sports and outdoor portraits.

Just like a 50/1.8 is not redundant with a 18-55.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:59 AM   #11
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I use an 18-200 VR lens as my walk around lens and I love it. I have a 50-300 but don't use that as often.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:08 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhermiston View Post
I have found some 18-105mm lens...is that a viable alternative?

Also, if I got an 18-105, would it make sense to sell my 18-55mm since keeping the two would be redundant? I could pick up a travel tripod and remote and start practicing my fireworks shots
I'd keep the 18-55 myself. Sometimes you may just want to travel lighter and those little lenses come in really handy for that. But others would sell it, seeing it as redundant.

As far as the 18-105... if it's got the focal range you want, is fast enough for you (wide enough aperture) and is sharp enough to satisfy you then it may be a good lens for you. It's all really about personal preference here.

Edited to add.... macro was mentioned ... zoom lenses are rarely true macro lenses. Macro traditionally means 1:1 representation on the film plane. There are many lenses that are labeled macro because they are 1:4, which is 1:1 on a 4x6 print from a 35mm sized original, but if you really want to do macro work they may come up short (depending on your expectations) because they just do not get the details you get with a true 1:1 representation. The designation also does not change with the crop factor (with DSLR's) because it's about the projection from the lens which does not change from crop to full frame with a DSLR.
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:35 PM   #13
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm having a really hard time deciding between a 50 mm, 55-200mm or a 18-105mm.

My ultimate goal is to get some great WDW photos, but since I'm only going to make it down there once every few years (at best), I want to get a lens I'm going to get a lot of use out of back home (kids, pet, outdoors, etc.)
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Old 02-16-2013, 12:45 PM   #14
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When we went to WDW, I mostly used my 18-55 walking around the parks. Everything is so close, you need a wider lens. I really only used my 55-300 in Animal Kingdom, especially on the Safari ride. I also have a 35mm that I used at nighttime during the parades. I did not attempt firework shots.

If you're looking for a longer telephoto, I recommend the Nikon 55-300, you can get it for around $400.
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Old 02-16-2013, 01:07 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhermiston View Post
Thanks for the advice everyone. I'm having a really hard time deciding between a 50 mm, 55-200mm or a 18-105mm.

My ultimate goal is to get some great WDW photos, but since I'm only going to make it down there once every few years (at best), I want to get a lens I'm going to get a lot of use out of back home (kids, pet, outdoors, etc.)
The lens won't get you great photos any more than the camera will. That's still on the photographer. And honestly the 18-55 you have is more than adequate for most situations. There is a reason it's the standard kit lens. The big exceptions at WDW are night/low light shooting and the safari at AK. And you'd need both the 50mm and the 55-250 to cover both of those.

It really comes down to where you most feel the lens you have comes up short for you. That's the best indicator of which direction you should go for your next lens.
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