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I am set on getting a D7000 and am drooling already to get one. My only hurdle left is to determine whether the kit lens is good or if i should get the body only and put the 300$ difference between the body only and the kit towards a better lens?

The kit the comes with the camera is 18-105mm and from what I can tell is the same lens that comes with the D90 kit. I had the d90 kit and found i was not able to get good depth of field control.

Based on this I was thinking to get the body only and look at somethign like this 55-300mm for $350: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

Is this a good choice? What else would be a versatile lens that's a step up from the kit lens that I should look at? I want nice low light images and want a lens able to harness the ISO range of the D7000, so that i can sit in my seat at a party and get nice shots close up to subjects on stage... as well as nice shots of my kids indoors and out, and portraits of my beautiful wife.

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The D7000 isn't exactly "entry level", but much of the same applies. See also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/8467/… –  mattdm Feb 9 '12 at 4:20

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

55-300 is a telephoto zoom, not the most versartile lens for shooting indoors as it's relatively slow (doesn't let in much light). It's fine for outdoors/nature though. I would recommend getting something wider, especially if this is your only lens. 55mm on the d7000 is around a portraiture focal length, meaning it's usually used for close ups of people. If you attempt to shoot groups of people you'll find yourself backing off a long way to get everyone in!

Unfortunately shooting parties and telephotos don't mix very well due to the combination of low light, small aperture, camera shake and limited flash range. I would definitely recommend you getting a 50 f/1.8 lens as well as / instead of the kit lens. The 50mm will let in about 8x as much light as the 55-300 or the kit lens (it's about three stops faster). This comes in very handy shooting at parties.

However the 50mm isn't the most flexible lens, it suffers the same problems as the 55-300 in that it's not wide enough for many uses. I would still get one if I were you, but pair it with a standard length zoom. I'm not that familiar with the Nikon range but I'm sure someone here could suggest a few options.

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4  
I hear Nikon has a 'nifty-ish' 35mm thats making Canon users jealous, may be a good alternative to the 50mm. –  Shizam Dec 20 '10 at 18:11
2  
Or to put it another way, the 55-300 is not really a step up from the kit lens, but just a step into a different range of focal lengths. –  mattdm Dec 20 '10 at 18:16
2  
@Shizam : There's a f/1.8 35mm DX for Nikon thats under $200. –  rfusca Dec 20 '10 at 18:24
    
@Shizam @rfusca And it's a pretty neat cheap lens, I own one and love it, probably the best bang for the buck you can find –  t3mujin Dec 20 '10 at 19:25
    
thanks for the explanation and steering me in the right direction! –  kacalapy Dec 20 '10 at 19:41

I have just upgraded from the D90 and the lenses that I used the most were:

1) 50mm 1.4 - fabulous lens but as others have said limited if its your only lens 2) 35mm 1.8 - cheap as chips, quick and nice and wide -a very good alternative to the 50mm 3) 105mm 2.8 - wonderful macro lens, a touch too long for portraits

and finally the one that lived on my D90 and also on my D700 - the 35-70mm 2.8. A great 2nd hand find, quick, great dof and is the lens I use the most in the studio

The 18-105mm is a good lens to start with, gives you a nice range but as you say it doesnt have a wonderful depth of field.

In terms of telephoto's - I have a 70-300mm and probably used it only 3/4 times, I thought the extra zoom would be useful however I was very frustrated by the lack of dof - the only telephotos I have really liked so far has been the 70-200mm 2.8 (amazing but v pricey) and the new 28-300mm - has a better dof but is a pretty heavy lens for day to day usage.

So it was buying lens again - I would go for the 35-70mm and probably the 35mm 1.8

good luck :-)

edited to add this link:

Choosing first lens for Nikon D-90 body

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do any of those lenses allow me to zoom in and out. i dont want a prime as my first and only lens for a while. –  kacalapy Dec 20 '10 at 19:42
    
@kacalapy: the 35-70mm 2.8 she lists is a zoom lenses. The optics are better quality, but you're definitely losing a bit of range from the 18-105mm kit. –  rfusca Dec 20 '10 at 19:58
    
I agree you are loosing some of the zoom - I guess it depends how much you are going to use the zoom at maximum capacity –  Zoe Bailey Dec 20 '10 at 19:59
    
You're also losing quite a bit on the wide side as well. Personally, I'd rather have the 35-70mm, but if you plan on shooting much landscape, the 35 is kind of narrow. –  rfusca Dec 20 '10 at 20:05
    
@rfusca very true - i do have a 10-20 for when i want to do landscapes - i think the 18-105 is a nice starter lens –  Zoe Bailey Dec 20 '10 at 20:46

If you want wide-angle, zoom, the ability to limit DOF and affordable all in the same lens, you'll probably have to go to a third-party aftermarket lens. You won't be able to get anything like the wide-open performance of a prime lens, but Sigma has a 24-70mm f/2.8-4.0 and a 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 that might come close to what you want. And if you don't mind "breaking" at the 50mm level, investing in an 18-50mm f/2.8 now and adding a 70- or 80-200mm later will get you a kit that will cover most of your needs. (That said, the 35mm and 50mm primes are well worth having.)

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Others have talked about various fixed focal length lenses that are good choices for depth of field control.

All of your requirements is a pretty tall order for a single lens. For flexibility consider the 16-85 lens. That lens covers a lot of useful focal lengths. However it does not satisfy your desire to have better depth of field control. I personally have not used the 16-85, but on my film camera I used the 24-120 and the focal length range is really good for general shooting. You can also consider the 17-55 f2.8 which would give you better depth of field control and a pretty good focal length range.

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Those lens are all very nice - however the cost might be a bit too much for the OP –  Zoe Bailey Dec 20 '10 at 20:47
    
what characteristics should i look for to get good DOF? –  kacalapy Dec 20 '10 at 21:26
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Good depth of field is relative to what you are trying to accomplish. For example if you want to take a nice portrait of a single person you want a fairly shallow depth of field so their face (especially eyes) are in focus but the background is nice and soft. For that you need to use a wide apearature - f1.4-f2.8. If you are trying to take a landscape you may want to have near and far objects in focus. For that you need to use a narrow appearature - f8 - f22. You use the aperature of your lens to control how much DOF your picture has. –  Ian Lelsie Dec 21 '10 at 15:59

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