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New to photography using DSLR.

I am planning to buying an entry level Nikon DSLR (perhaps the D3300). I read around and decided to buy the body only, excluding the kit lens.

I have decided to go with a 35mm f/1.8G for now and 55-200mm f/4-5.6G lens in the future.

Will the above set of lenses work for most (portrait, landscape, macro) cases or do I need others including the kit lens that generally comes with the camera?

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    Note that as a general rule, the more zoom range a lens has, the lower quality the images will be. There's a trade-off between the cost and convenience of having few general purpose lenses and the quality of having lots of specialized lenses. For a new photographer, I would say maximize zoom range. That will help you learn which focal lengths you might eventually want prime lenses for. Also, right now you'll get more results from improving your technique than you will from improving your equipment. – Era Apr 25 '16 at 18:21
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    Oddly, while you ask if any lens will serve for macro, you have not mentioned any one macro lens. If you are to do macros, you will need at least a suitable lens unless you are willing to use some other device such as reversal ring or extension tubes. – Itai Apr 25 '16 at 21:52
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    First of all: 55-200 VR. The non-VR ones became obsolete the moment VR version was introduced. Second: 18-55 is on the same quality level as 55-200. They're designed to complement each other. Discarding kit 18-55 only because it's called "kit" and then going for other lens of exactly same quality is just... silly. – Agent_L Apr 26 '16 at 16:18
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35mm is not wide enough for many types of general photography. With any group shots, (especially indoors) or any large outdor landscape scenes, you will need something like 16mm to 18mm to get everything in the frame.

The easiest way to accomplish this is by going with the 18-55mm kit lens. I don't know what you read but todays kit lenses are much better than the "old days" and really quite a bargain when bought with the camera.

Later you may decide to get more specialized lenses, but the kit lens is a great place to start.

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Source: B & H Photo

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It depends.

This is why getting a blanket lens recommendation almost never works. Everybody has a different set of priorities on what and how they want to shoot and how much they have to spend.

Getting a 35/1.8 and a telephoto could work really well for you. It also might not. Whether or not you "need" the kit zoom depends.

The main thing to keep in mind is that a body-only package isn't meant for a beginner to choose lenses a la carte. It's meant for the more experienced/equipped shooter not to get lumbered with yet another 18-55 kit lens when they buy a new body. :)

Each lens is a specific tool, and just as carpenters, plumbers, and electricians all have tool boxes, but fill them with different tools, what you shoot as a photographer will pretty much determine what your lenses will be.

Just me, but I'd say if you're buying new, get a kit that comes with an 18-55 instead of just the body. It'll only cost $100 more (it's a rare lens that costs so little), and you'll have the wide end covered for landscape/environment shooting, as well as fast normal and telephoto. And you'll have the "training wheels triple", to form a basis for all future lens purchases. You'll also be liable to replace all three of those lenses as you advance and discover more specific needs, but they're a good starter kit, and together probably cost about the same as one good midgrade lens.

If you think $100 is terribly expensive for any kind of lens, then you may want to rethink the dSLR purchasing decision altogether, because camera companies think that $300 or under is a cheapie lens, $600 is mid-range, and $1000+ is "expensive". I tend to tell folks that the cost of a camera+18-55 kit is probably only about half to a third of what you should plan to spend on a basic setup. Think more US$1500 than US$500 to go dSLR.

Does this mean you need a kit lens? Maybe not. We can't tell you if you need the kit or not. We don't know what/how you plan to shoot. But if you can't figure it out with simple research, then experience may be your only possible guide, and you can't experience a kit lens without owning one.

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portrait, landscape, macro

If these are the kinda of photography you intend on doing then maybe the kit lens is the better choice over the 35 prime. I assume you are going with the 55-200 regardless so the debate really comes down to the 35 prime V.S. the kit lens on a D3300. I happen to own both the kit lens and the 35mm on my D3300 so ill discuss some of the differences.

The kit lens is a great lens and worthy of some praise. It is very sharp and quite versatile considering the low price it comes in at when you buy the kit. The main functional difference between the kit lens (operated at 35mm) and the 35mm prime is the lens speed. In practice this boils down to better low light performance and a shallower depth of field at the low f stops. In reality at the higher F stops the lenses will yield the same images. If you intend on shooting mainly during the day I would advise the kit lens since you get the 35mm plus the whole spectrum between 18 and 55. You will not notice a difference in quality between the lenses.

With that in mind I have obtained great results with both lenses in all of the things you intend to photo. The 35mm will come into its own in low light and the kit lens will be more versatile when you need the range. For what its worth you can usually use the flash and get the same results at night with the kit lens. The prime stands out in situations where you may not want to use the flash. This is the main reason that I own the 35mm, its low light performance is far better than the kit lens. However if Im going out for the day I generally have the kit lens on.

On a slight macro note, none of these lenses are capable of true macro focusing for that you will need a true macro lens.

  • This phrase a shallower depth of field at the low f stops is a little misleading. I know you mean that the 35mm f/1.8 can produce images with less depth of field because it can go to lower f stops, but someone new to photography might reasonably think you meant that DOF is less on the 35mm prime than at the same aperture on a kit lens. – Caleb Apr 27 '16 at 14:38
  • I thought I had clarified it in the next sentence saying that the lenses will produce the same images at higher F stops but I will think of a way to reword it to make it a bit clearer. – Dave Apr 27 '16 at 15:12
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I go for a Tamron 16-300mm all purpose lens combined with a fast portrait prime like a 50mm f/1.8.

The 55-200mm f/4-5.6G is a specialised lens, new user won't use very much, and you will miss the more useful focal lengths (16-50mm on APS-C or 24-70mm on FF).

Prime are good but specialised as well, and not for everyday use for beginners.

Note: D330 apparently can't AF with f/6.3, so that exclude all the superzoom lenses, I'll have to recommend a different camera then. A Canon maybe or a better Nikon model. The 35mm f/1.8G and 55-200mm f/4-5.6G combo is not suited for beginners, but it will work obviously.

  • Problem with that tamron is Nikons will not autofocus at f/6.3. – Matthew Whited Apr 25 '16 at 20:54
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    I do not know about the D3300, but I absolutely guarantee D7200 will have no problems AF w/this lens at 300mm. – Goat Apr 25 '16 at 21:10
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    @MatthewWhited specifically, the D7100, D7200, D500, D600, D610, D750, D800(E), D810(A), D4, D4S, and D5 all can autofocus using optics with a combined open aperture of ƒ/8, with a subset of the body's AF sensors. See also: Why does Canon and Nikon limit or disable autofocus beyond certain f-numbers?; Will a Nikon Autofocus at an Aperture of Less Than f/5.6? – scottbb Apr 25 '16 at 23:36
  • Thanks for the clarification but that still applies to the D3300 noted by OP. – Matthew Whited Apr 26 '16 at 13:53
  • The 16-300 costs US$550. Add in the 50/1.8G, and the total's $725. So, how exactly does this work as a reasonable choice for an OP that states he can only afford about $300 in glass, total? (i.e., 35/1.8 and 55-200 are about $150 apiece). That's more than double his budget. – inkista Apr 26 '16 at 17:52
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I am planning to buying an entry level Nikon DSLR (perhaps the D3300). I read around and decided to buy the body only, excluding the kit lens.

Hum. I do not know on what basis you have decided to exclude the kit lens. It is an entry level camera, and entry level lens, but that does not mean it is a toy lens. It is a good enough lens for an entry level photographer. A general purpose lens.

Will the above set of lenses work for most (portrait, landscape, macro) cases?

A great portrait depends on the light, the model, the background, the wardrobe, the mood, but mostly on the photographer directing all the previous. The lens will be a small percentage of all that. The same with landscape.

I understand the preocupation on pushing the envelop on your budget. But you buy a lens when you need it, when you want to experiment further, when you have taken enough photos to know what is the next step, not when you have readed enough reviews.

Forget the myths about "oh, you need a Xmm f/Y" for a portrait. Yes. There are recomendations. But is better if you find out yourself!

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The 35mm Prime Lens will always have a better image than a 18-55mm, and I would suggest if would use to shoot Portraits exclusively. Since It won't be wide enough for group photos/landscape or architecture. Being a Nikon user myself. I would go over the line and say that it would be a crime not to get the kit lens especially if its VR-II. since the quality is superb(subjective), and with the versatility you get with zoom range. Its a no brainer to get it, especially if its just 100$ bucks more with the body even if your photography mainly revolves around portrait photos, macros or long distance wildlife.

Photography is an expensive hobby. If you don't get the 18-55mm , just absolutely make sure you won't need it in the future.

  • Why do you say that the 35mm lens will "always have a better image" than the 18-55mm? Better in what way, and what makes it superior in all situations? – mattdm Apr 26 '16 at 22:02
  • Its a prime lens manufactured for one particular focal length (35mm). Having a variable focal length (18-55), would need some sacrifices made on the lens quality which is a compromise necessity for convenience – Barath Ravikumar Apr 26 '16 at 22:08
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I recently purchased a D3300 in a package with both kit lens (18-55mm and 55-200mm). After a couple months I also purchased the 35mm f/1.8 and am thrilled with the results.

This is my first DSLR and the combination of the three lens has given me plenty of room to learn and develop.

Some pictures look better with the 35mm lens and then cropping the image in post. Other times it is better to zoom in with the 200mm lens and fill up the frame. I don't know what is going to look better so I usually try them both before moving to another shot.

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