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by Bart Arondson

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I'll buy the D3100, now I have to choose the lens. Right now, I have two packs to choose from:

  • D3100 + AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR (pack price: 674€)
  • D3100 + AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR (pack price: 510€)

Which one is the best investment? Either way I would love to buy the Nikkor 50mm f/1,8G (229€). I couldn't find any physical store (at Portugal) that sells the D3100 body only. I think I wouldn't mind having just the 50mm for a while. My actual camera is a sony-h2 with a 36-402mm (6-72 x6 crop factor).

Is any of those two kit lenses decent enough to buy with the camera or should I buy the body (and the 50mm) and get a decent better lens later? For example I've seen a AF-S DX 55-300mm f/4,5-5,6 ED VR for 363€ that probably would be more interesting than both kit lenses (and has the same diameter as the 50mm, awesome!).

P.S: I'm a landscape and portrait (amateur) photographer :P

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Amazon has the body only, but it only saves you like 60 bucks - which is awfully cheap to pick up the 18-55. –  rfusca Aug 22 '11 at 13:42
    

3 Answers 3

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Having a body and a 50mm isn't a bad way to get started, but if you do a lot of landscapes you might find it a bit stifling.

I'd pick up the 18-55 pack, kit lenses are generally good enough for you to start learning what works best for you and then look at investing into glass then. I rushed into buying stuff 6 months after getting a camera and then realised my style and usage was completely different.

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+1, although a kit + a 50mm is a very nice combo for portraits! –  gerikson Aug 22 '11 at 13:25
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The kit + 50 is definitely a winning combo, if you can stretch your cash to go for both. I'm a Canon man so I'm not sure how good the 18-105 is, but that range of focal lengths in a kit lens doesn't usually indicate fantastic sharpness. –  Nicholas Smith Aug 22 '11 at 13:30
    
yes, the 18-55 + 50 f1.8 is a great combination –  decasteljau Aug 23 '11 at 17:24

When I bought my D90 I had the option of going for the 18-55 or the 18-105. I went with the 18-55 and am regretting it now, mainly because the extra focal length would be handy. Also having used both the 18-105 seems better built, for example a focus ring next to the body of the camera as opposed to a knurled end of the barrel of the lens.

If I had the option again I would go for the 18-105.

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Thx for the warning, I was almost decided with the 18-55. Isn't the 18-105 worst on image quality? –  dialex Aug 25 '11 at 16:10
    
I haven't done any detailed comparison on image quality between the two, but I suspect that you are right, in order to get a wider range of focal lengths there will have had to have been some more compromises made. In my situation I'd accept a slightly lower image quality for the increase in flexibility gained by having a wider zoom range, but your priorities may differ. –  Phil Aug 25 '11 at 21:04

Lens design is an exercise in compromise: which combination of image quality factors, size, weight, features, and price. Since everyone's idea of what the best compromise might be differs, there's different kit lenses to try and make as many people as possible happy. So, there's not really a "best investment" — just a different choice of compromise. The 18-105mm has more zoom range, but is significantly heavier and bigger, and has more distortion — and of course the higher price.

I started out with (and still stick to!) your idea of skipping the kit lens and going with primes instead. By removing the complications of zoom, you instantly cut out one of the biggest factors in the compromise equation. But I'm not sure you'd want just the 50mm on a crop-factor dSLR. That's a short "portrait-length" telephoto, and may be too long for general use. I started with the Pentax DA40mm Limited as my only lens, and have no regrets (although now I might go for their new DA35mm Macro Limited instead — that extra few mm would be nice). I'd suggest you consider supplementing your plan to get the "nifty-50" by also picking up the Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8 G. That'll give you the portrait range and also a nice, versatile "normal" focal length.

If you really can't find the camera body-only, my suggestion would be to get the fanciest kit you can find. Then you'll have better luck selling the unwanted lens to someone who started with only the basic kit and wants to switch up.

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Indeed I also looked at that 35mm but it feels quite redundant to me (same aperture and not so different focal length). What would it add that the 50mm can't? And is it so bad a 50=>72mm for portraits? I have no notion of how its magnification will look like. And what if I bought the 18-55 kit instead of the 35 prime? –  dialex Aug 22 '11 at 14:08
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35 and 50 definitely aren't redundant to most shooters. 35 is quite a bit wider and will let you get more 'in the action'. Whether or not that's conducive to your shooting style is up to you. 50mm is reasonable for portraits, I think thats what he was saying. As far as having the same aperture - they're both fast lenses....so thats a good thing. –  rfusca Aug 22 '11 at 14:12
    
@DiAlex: I'd say that a 35mm and a 50mm lens are actually significantly different in the way you would use them. 50mm is good for portraits, but too tight for a lot of general work, where 35mm is just about perfect. –  mattdm Aug 22 '11 at 16:23

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