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I have a nikon 3500 as my first camera, and I am starting to buy some lenses for basically travel and landscape photography. I bought so far a tokina 11-20 f2.8 DX to have a wide angle lenses, and now I wish to buy a a telephoto lens. I was thinking about the tamron macro 70-200mm 2.8 or the Sigma 70-200mm 2.8, but since my sensor is cropped I would be getting a 105-300mm. On the other hand there is the Sigma 50-100mm 1.8, that would be 75-150mm on my camera. They all have similar price (except for the tamron that is quite cheaper). I am not sure if having just a wide lens, and then one starting at 100mm would be good, or if the extra 30mm down would be nice. Also the 150mm extra when zooming all the way looks nice. What would be your suggestion for complementing my travel/landscape kit?

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    Aren't both of the 70-200 lenses you referenced full frame? You could save a lot of money with DX lenses, not to mention they would be much lighter. Aug 5 '20 at 18:02
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    Hello! Note that also your 11-20mm lens is cropped, i.e. equivalent to 16.5-30mm on Full Frame. Do you have something specific in mind that you want to shoot with your tele lens or is it just for all occasions when you need to get close to a subject but cannot do so physically (it is also totally fine not to have one specific application)?
    – Jonas
    Aug 5 '20 at 19:11
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    @user10216038 There aren't really any APS-C constant aperture f/2.8 telephoto zoom lenses on the market. Mostly because as the focal length increases, the size and cost savings between APS-C and FF become less and less.
    – Michael C
    Aug 5 '20 at 20:00
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    Your question is impossible to answer unless you tell us what you are interested in doing with a telephoto lens. A 70-200/2.8 would be better for some things, a 50-100/1.8 would be better for other things.
    – Michael C
    Aug 5 '20 at 20:01
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    Do you have the kit lens often sold with this camera to cover the normal range?
    – Eric S
    Aug 5 '20 at 23:05
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It would be beneficial to consider a lens in the normal range (~28-40mm for APS-C). Once you're familiar with normal, it should be easier for you to figure out what to do for wider and narrower.

Options to cover normal include:

  • 35mm prime.
  • 18-55/3.5-5.6 "kit" lens. It has since been revealed that you already own this lens.
  • 24-70/2.8.
  • 24-120/4. This is the usual travel/walkabout option.
  • Tamron 35-150/2.8-4.
  • Etc. There are simply too many to list them all.

For travel and landscape, weight is often a concern. Many simply go for a travel/walkabout lens (noted above), but that doesn't work if you need greater "reach". Some might go for a superzoom, as Tetsujin describes.

You pretty much have to weigh the pros and cons to decide for yourself what will fit your needs. Reasonable telephoto options include:

  • Prime lenses
  • 55-200/4-5.6
  • 70-200/2.8
  • 70-300/4-5.6
  • Others.

Many stores will let you try lenses to see how they handle (may be problematic with COVID-19). You can also rent (or borrow from friends) to try them in more realistic settings.


Note: Crop factor is used to compare different sensor formats. Since you have only one camera, there is no need to multiply focal lengths by crop factor. Doing so tends to be more confusing than helpful, especially if you are not careful about specifying whether a stated focal length is the actual focal length or the full-frame "equivalent" focal-length.

For instance, you state that a "Sigma 50-100mm 1.8... would be 75-150mm on my camera." That is technically incorrect. It would still be a 50-100mm lens on your camera, but would produce images that look like they were taken with a 75-150mm lens on a full-frame camera.

There is also ambiguity about whether any isolated focal length is an actual or adjusted value. For instance, you ask, whether "100mm would be good". Are you referring to an actual focal length or an adjusted full-frame "equivalent" focal length?

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    Re, "...no need to multiply focal lengths by crop factor." Unless you are talking to other photographers who use cameras with different-size sensors from your own equipment. The tradition of describing field of view as "equivalent to X mm focal length on a 35mm full-frame camera" has been with us for a long time. Aug 5 '20 at 19:09
  • Or even if you're just talking to your past self. I learned on full frame in the analogue era, and after years of shooting APS-C cameras, still cannot get used to the new "length scale". :)
    – Kahovius
    Aug 5 '20 at 20:06
  • @SolomonSlow Comparing with a non-existent full-frame camera is simply unnecessary. It also introduces complexity and confusion, especially when people are not careful with language. For instance, OP states that a 50-100mm lens "would be 75-150mm on my camera". That seems to indicate that the focal length of the lens itself changes. (I have seen questions that appear to make that assumption.) Further, it becomes unclear whether isolated focal lengths (eg, 100mm) refer to actual focal lengths or adjusted values.
    – xiota
    Aug 5 '20 at 23:11
  • @Kahovius If you know what's normal, it should be fairly easy to figure out what's shorter and longer. This is presumably OP's "first camera", so there should be no full-frame history to be concerned with. But what if someone's previous camera was medium (or large or subminiature) format? Then converting to full-frame "equivalents" would not be helpful.
    – xiota
    Aug 5 '20 at 23:15
  • @xiota, If everybody's camera had the same size sensor, then I would agree with you. IMO the best answer to the problem would be if we would all stop talking about focal length and start saying stuff like, "this lens, on your camera, would have a 100 degree field of view." But I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that day to come. Aug 6 '20 at 11:44
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Having a "hole in the middle" is more trouble than you could possibly anticipate as a newbie. Believe me, I did it & my hole in the middle was only between 55mm & 70mm.
For some bizarre "Murphy's Law" reason, everything you ever want to do seems to fall into that hole.

There is, of course, the inevitable GAS [Gear Acquisition Syndrome] that means we always really, really need just one more lens… but at least start with a one-size-fits-all lens that doesn't leave such a sizeable hole.

I eventually [after first buying 2 others that weren't as good] went for what I now call my guilty pleasure lens, the super-zoom Nikon 18-300mm.
It's not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but it does mean if I'm on walkabout I only need the one lens with me, rather than my whole bag. Focus speed, low light usability & VR are all better than you'd expect. Image sharpness is really OK & only softens right out at 300mm.

Of course, it's not as fast as the 2.8 zooms, but you end up needing all three of those, at about 7 grand if you get the Nikons.

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  • I must chime in whit the recommendation against having a hole in the middle of the range. I often am going out with a canon 17-40mm and a 55-200mm lens and for some scenes every other shot is on oposite ends of that divide causing constant lens changes that makes me miss shots. I am planing to get a 24-105mm lens to rectify this.
    – lijat
    Aug 10 '20 at 11:32

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