I bought my first DSLR [D5100] 4 months ago with the kit lens. It was cool though but now want to buy a lens. I've focused on

  • AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

  • AF-S DX VR Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G IF-ED

  • AF-S DX NlKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

I love to shoot in outdoor most [handheld] from portrait to landscape with out changing lens. Which one will be good for me to start outside kit lens ?
Does those prime lens comes with VR or dont need the VR ?

To get a glimpse on what I love to shoot visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/souravghosh/

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    Why did you pick those lenses as possibilities? I think those lens choices go against your goal of jumping from portraits to landscapes without changing lenses, so I'm not sure what makes you want to consider those options. – Dan Wolfgang Aug 6 '13 at 16:02
  • As I'm on a budget, thats why have shortlisted these ones only ! Plz view my flickr acc too to know what I love or do clicks generally – Sourav Aug 7 '13 at 0:55
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    This is both subjective and very specific to your situation. There's no right answer, except for for you. If there were a general answer, there wouldn't be so many lenses on the market. – Please Read My Profile Aug 7 '13 at 3:21
  • You might look at photo.stackexchange.com/questions/6166/… for someone looking to make a similar decision. (And see the links in the comments to that question.) – Please Read My Profile Aug 7 '13 at 3:24

If you want to go from portraits to landscapes without changing lenses, then I'd recommend against the primes. Primes are great for quality and being fast, but they are not as versatile, at least in terms of field of view. They offer great value for the quality, but require swapping lenses if your field of view is too far removed from what the focal length of the lens is. Portraits tend to be tight and longer while landscapes tend to be rather wide angle. There are situations where a standard or even telephoto can be useful, but when you want to capture a broad scene, wide angle is the way to go unless you want to do a panoramic shot (which would use more of a standard or even light telephoto lens with multiple images. You do this to avoid distortions you get near the edge of a wide angle lens.)

That said, the lenses you list are two fairly standard length primes and a telephoto to super-telephoto. Neither prime is particularly wide, though the 35 could probably work for landscapes. On a crop body, the 55-200 is more telephoto to super-telephoto range, so not really for landscapes, though the shorter end could be used for portraits, particularly close portraits.

The 50 prime would be great for portraits and is probably the most balanced of the three lenses you listed, but you really want a standard zoom. Something in the 24-105 or 17-70 kind of range, but staying at a 24 or lower start. I don't know the Nikkor line well enough to suggest a particular lens.

If you are willing to swap lenses, using the 50 for portraits and the 35 for landscapes would work well enough (though you could go wider, even 17 would be good). They are not stabilized as they lack the VR marking, but they shouldn't really need stabilization as they are both reasonably short lenses. Ideally you should be using a tripod for portraits and landscapes anyway.

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    I strongly disagree with the assertion that prime lenses are "one trick ponies". A prime lens from the wide-normal to short telephoto focal length can be very, very versatile. If anything, a 18-270mm superzoom is a "one trick pony" (that trick being "lookit all that zoom"). And you don't have to take my word for it — see for example this essay: theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2007/…. – Please Read My Profile Aug 6 '13 at 17:28
  • @mattdm - I'm oversimplifying a bit. I realize you can do multiple things with a given focal length, but it has a limited number of uses without having to swap lenses where as a zoom lens can do a wider range of things, but not do them as well. Superzooms have no tricks as they do everything poorly. :) – AJ Henderson Aug 6 '13 at 17:57
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    I realize you're oversimplifying for effect, but I think it's the wrong effect. :) And, even with a limited definition of what "versatile" means, focal length isn't the only aspect. Is an f/1.4 lens really more limited than one which maxes out at f/5.6 with the same field of view? – Please Read My Profile Aug 6 '13 at 18:00
  • @mattdm - in the context of this question, you aren't going to be using a 50mm on a crop frame to get landscape shots and you aren't going to be using a 17mm landscape lens to get portraits. They simply are too far apart. The article you linked to simply indicates that primes can be used slightly in to either side of their range by choosing your composition, which is a good way to think about composition and good practice, but still not as versatile as having the ability to choose your focal length. Having faster is a slight bit of versatility if shooting in low light is a concern... – AJ Henderson Aug 6 '13 at 18:03
  • or for very narrow depths of field, but it's still a more specialized tool than a zoom. Zooms are generally considered the jack of all trade lenses where as primes are the masters of particular trades. If you want to go from the wide angle world to the standard or short telephoto world, you need a zoom. No prime will handle that. – AJ Henderson Aug 6 '13 at 18:05

Of the lenses you mention, the 35mm is probably the most versatile. It's a decent landscape lens (though not for the wide open vistas you see in National Geographic), does well for close range portraits (though less so for facials, full or upper body portraits work better with it), and can make for a very good lens in urban conditions (cityscapes anyone?).
The 50 is slightly more adept at portraiture, at the cost of losing field of view for landscapes.
Personally I severely dislike the longish teles, especially consumer grade ones, as the invariably sacrifice optical quality for cost and weight reduction.
So out of the three you mention, I'd go for the 35. In fact, I own one, though mine is the older 35mm f/2.0 AF-D, and it's probably the most used lens in my inventory short of the 70-200 f/2.8 (which sees use as a landscape lens as well btw, the field of landscape photography is so large you can find a use for almost any lens you can dream of, I've shot lanscapes with a 500mm supertele and a 10mm fisheye, and everything in between).

Ideally though you're looking at at least 2 lenses. A spread like a 35mm for landscapes (or a 20 if you can afford it) and a 70mm for portraits is a classic combo and for very good reasons.

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