I have my good old Nikon D40. Almost all time I was using default "boxed" 18-55mm lens, but now I feel a big need to buy a lens for getting pictures that I can't get now. I travel a lot and like to take pictures of nature (mountains), architecture (cities) etc. I want to buy one additional lens for such purposes. If it's not possible to combine needs - the priority is a lens with deep zoom.

I'm not selling photos or printing high resolution pictures; I mostly take pictures for my collection.

Price range: up to 600$; Skill level: basic

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    Hi anatoliiG. Welcome to photography stack exchange. It is hard for us to answer what the "best" lens is for your camera, as every person has a different opinion on this. If you are looking for a lens for a specific shot or situation, that would be a great question. We also would be interested in the price range, your skill level, and desired output format. Could you potentially edit this question to include that info? – dpollitt Dec 27 '11 at 20:55
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    There are no "best lenses". If there were, there wouldn't be so many options — the path would be clear. The best types of lenses for architecture and for nature may overlap, but there are different considerations — it might be best to make those two separate questions. The question of whether the D40 is "enough" is definitely a separate question, although I can answer it right away; yes, it's enough, but a fancier camera may be more convenient and a higher-resolution sensor could provide more detail. – mattdm Dec 27 '11 at 20:58
  • @dpollitt Ok. I'll add additional information. – anatoliiG Dec 27 '11 at 21:07
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    @anatoliiG — the edit doesn't really help much. Is portability a priority? When you say you can't get pictures with the 18-55mm lens, what limitations are you running against? Do you want a single lens for architecture and for nature? Are "mountains" your primary natural subject or just an example? Are you in the mountains, or taking pictures of them from far away? Are you printing the results? How large? Do you want more image quality, or are you just looking for a longer zoom range? When you say "amateur, semi-prof", does that mean you're hoping to sell the results? – mattdm Dec 27 '11 at 21:45
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    @anatoliiG: You don't have to take my word on the clarity, given that the question has one downvote and two people have already voted to close it as "not a real question". I'm commenting not to criticize but to help get the question cleaned up so a) you will get good answers and b) we'll have good question useful to future visitors of the site. From your comment here, do you mean you are looking for one lens that will do all that? Do you want to replace your 18-5mm lens or augment it? Is the zoom range the primary limitation you are running against or is there something else? – mattdm Dec 27 '11 at 22:27

Well for architecture you typically want a few things. It depends if you are doing indoor or outdoor shots, but a wide range is usually necessary. Since you already have a 18-55mm general purpose zoom, you might want an ultra wide angle lens such as the 10-24mm Nikon. It runs about $800USD. Other options would include a telephoto lens such as the one mentioned below, or a tilt-shift lens, which would probably be quite a bit above your price range. It really depends on what you want to create as far as architectural photographs. Almost any lens can at least create some images of architecture, but only you know what result you want, and thus what lens to purchase. You may be best off replacing your current kit zoom lens with a higher quality one, with a wider aperture and higher quality optics.

If you are looking for "deep zoom" you probably want something in the range of 70-200 or 70-300mm such as the Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR($600USD). That fits nicely in your budget, and gets great quality.

Another option is to jump up a bit over your price range, and get a higher quality general purpose zoom lens such as the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S. It would extend your current range up to 200mm, and provide higher quality while doing it.

  • Would you say the 18-200mm is higher-quality than the 70-200 or 70-300 options, or just more expensive due to the increased zoom range? – mattdm Dec 27 '11 at 22:46
  • @dpollitt And what about Sigma lenses? – anatoliiG Dec 28 '11 at 13:38
  • @anatoliiG - If you have a specific sigma lens that you are considering over a Nikon equivalent, I would suggest posting that as a new question. I can't comment on Sigma as an entire group of lenses in this short of space, it would require a book :) – dpollitt Dec 28 '11 at 15:09

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