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The title really says it all. My wife and I have just bought a Nikon D7100, and we're both very eager to learn and get up to a good level fairly quickly.

We've got the standard zoom lens that comes with it, but everyone I know keeps recommending getting a prime lens.

Could anyone give any tips on the best "normal" prime lens to get for this (in terms of quality and focal length), and also, if we went for different focal length prime lenses down the line, what each lens is good for?

I know 50mm lens are "normal" for full frame, but with this camera being DX format I'm a little confused of what to go for.

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marked as duplicate by mattdm, Paul Cezanne, MikeW, AJ Henderson, Michael Clark Jun 13 '13 at 20:09

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2  
"Best" is always really hard; there's rarely a single objective answer to that, even with qualifiers like price range. Can you rephrase the question? –  mattdm Jun 6 '13 at 13:36
    
A lot of what you are asking is covered by existing information in the focal-length tag. For example, What focal length gives a “normal” field-of-view on APS-C cameras? and Which focal-length lens is usually used for portrait photography, and why? –  mattdm Jun 6 '13 at 13:49

4 Answers 4

Taken the crop factor into account, a good and also cheap "normal" lens is the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G

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OK great. Is that about the best one I can get at a reasonable price (£250 maximum)? –  user2185625 Jun 6 '13 at 11:50
2  
If you do not plan to upgrade to fullframe, there is no real competition for the 35mm Nikon in this price segment. –  Bruno Jun 6 '13 at 12:08
    
OK, cool. I'll check one out. How much more would you have to spend to get a considerably better lens in this 32mm range? –  user2185625 Jun 6 '13 at 13:29
    
While the build quality is superior for sure on lenses like the Nikon AF-S 35mm 1.4G (about 8x the price of the DX lens) or the Sigma AF 35mm 1.4DG (4-5x the price) i don't think those are considerably better lenses regarding the optical qualities. –  Bruno Jun 6 '13 at 15:35
    
Thanks. Appreciate the advice. –  user2185625 Jun 6 '13 at 15:38

Really depends on what you are trying to do with it. Portraits, street, landscapes? I use a 50mm 1.8 (1.4 is too soft) on my d200 and it is perfect for portraits and some street level shooting. In my mind 75-85mm is where you want to be for people shots so 50mm on a DX is about right.

50mm 1.8 on a D200 at the park.

50mm 1.8 on a D200 guy and his buddy

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If you really want a lens with normal focal length for Nikon D7100, the Nikon 35mm f1.8G is pretty much the best you can get.

However, I feel that the best lens you can get is the one you really want to use. There are considerations like focal length, aperture and things like that, but ultimately, the "best" lens in these categories will not be the best for you if you won't use it.

Generally when purchasing lenses I would recommend you to find out what kind of focal length you really like to use, i.e. start with the kit zoom and look at your images, filter them down to the ones you really like, in order to find out which focal length you most often want to shoot at. Don't get a "normal" lens because everyone says they're good and cheap. I have one; it's really good and really cheap, but I almost never use it, because I've never really been fond of the perspective i get from 50mm lenses. Focal length determines the general look of the photo in terms of the perspective.

Next thing you would look at is the aperture. Generally for "normal" primes, f1.8 is pretty standard. If you need a bit brighter, go for the f1.4.

Last thing you would consider is image quality, and price. There is no point buying a 70-200 f2.8 if all you want to do is shoot at 35mm. Again, I'm not saying getting a "normal" focal length lens is wrong, but do consider your own tastes and preferences before buying a lens blindly, solely based on the fact that it is cheap and good. Hope this helps.

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You mentioned the camera came with a kit lens; figure out at which zoom most of your pictures are taken at, 18mm, 35mm, 50mm…..? This will help you decide if you need 35mm f1.8 or 50mm f1.8 or even maybe an 85mm f1.8. From my own experience (I own 35mm f1.8 and a friend owns a 50mm f1.8) 35 is very useable indoors for family shots, 50 seems to close and you will need to move back if you have the room, same would go for 85. But when outside I find sometimes that 35 is too far and would have loved to have 50mm or even better a 85mm prime. 85 will allow you to take more candid pictures without attracting attention and your subject will feel more at ease.

Hope this helps, Vadim.

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