Im getting a nikon d5100 in a week or so, And i was woundering which lens to get with it? Im stumped this will be my first dslr and i know nothing about lenses. And i have a budget of $200 for a lens. Please let me know if you have any suggestings.

  • \$\begingroup\$ What kind of photos do you intend to take? \$\endgroup\$
    – rfusca
    Mar 24, 2014 at 18:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ I like to take sports and wildlife pictures but i also like to take portraits \$\endgroup\$
    – ckimball
    Mar 24, 2014 at 18:29
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related, if not quite a duplicate: Should a telephoto zoom be my next lens after the kit lens?. I think the real answer is "decide what you care more about photographing". \$\endgroup\$
    – Philip Kendall
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you getting the D5100 with the kit lens, and thinking of adding a second, or getting it body-only and planning to get one of these? \$\endgroup\$
    – mattdm
    Mar 25, 2014 at 1:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this going to be your only lens? Or are you getting it together with a kit lens? If it will be your only lens, then the answer will necessarily have to be neither ... if not, it depends on what you like to do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Szabolcs
    Mar 25, 2014 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


I'd probably suggest neither. For the range of things you want to do, the 50mm isn't going to cover shots from far away, despite the fact it would be a great portrait lens. The 55-200 on the other hand covers a long range, but it is probably a bit too long to handle all of the situations well.

If you have the kit lens, I'd probably start out with a lens more focused on the telephoto range for getting photos from a distance and then get a prime later to improve portraits.

Forced to choose between those two, the 55-200 is the obvious choice since you need telephoto for sports and wildlife, but it probably isn't the best.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Hmm... ignoring for the moment that it's a consumer grade lens, the 55-200 covers a pretty good range on the portrait and sports side of things. Even on a crop sensor, the tradition ranges for portrait are still good here and it's not too long for sports/wildlife. It may even be a little short depending on the subject. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ JoanneC: I meant that it may be too superzoomy. 55 is center of standard and 200 is pretty zoomed. I'm not familiar with that particular lens but it seems pretty Jack of all trades rather than being strong at any. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ As a consumer zoom it probably is a jack of all trades, but for her stated purposes it would be okay if OP is in a budget condition. The 50mm prime is a nicer lens, but not going to help on the sports stuff. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ JoanneC: - I concur, my point was that if they already have a standard kit lens, that can handle the portraits and they would be better served to focus on the sports/wildlife telephoto side of things to get some additional reach and quality for the price. I'd go with something more like a 100-300mm or even 125-250mm or something similar. Maximize the quality and reach for the price since the portraits can already be covered by the kit lens. \$\endgroup\$
    – AJ Henderson
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's a good clarity question... I don't think you can buy the D5100 new now, so I would hazard that this is their one lens. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joanne C
    Mar 24, 2014 at 21:53

The 50mm/1.8 lens is a very sharp prime lens and one of the best lenses I have for D5100. I just love it and use it very often. You have lots of room for cropping your images due to its sharpness. For example, if you cut off 1/2 of the image, you'd have the 100mm equivalent and still 8 megapixels of resolution. Also, this lens works very good for portraits (headshots). Having a lense with f1.8 will also give you a feeling of what a fast lens can do. You can take pictures of a face where the ears are already out of the depth of field, the eyes sharp as hell.

I don't know about the 55mm-200mm, I got the 55mm-300mm lens. That one works quiet well outside, I did a lot of dog action shooting with it. It is not as sharp as the 50mm prime lens but still shows a decent image quality. Usually, zoom lenses have problems on the "long end" and work quiet well in the middle range, so for the 55-200 it would probably be around 135-150mm, and for the 55-300 it would be around 150-200mm where you can expect the best results. Due to the long focal length you can also use this one to do great portraits, as the background will be very soft and the proportions of the subject are very close to reality if you are in a distance between 7 and 9 feet (2 and 3 metres).

For wildlife and other 'paparazzi' stuff, well... longer is better. You can also try to crop, but that requires a sharper lens.

So I think the 55-300mm will do a good job in the beginning. Also, compare these images regarding sharpness: http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=668&Camera=614&Sample=0&FLI=5&API=1&LensComp=735&CameraComp=614&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=4&APIComp=0

Once you have tasted the blood of a 50mm 1.8 you'll think that every other lens is crap. But if you shoot in RAW and use some RAW Converter, like Lightroom or RawTherapee, life is not too bad at all :-)



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