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Thread: Which Nikon prime lens should I get? (35mm vs 50mm)

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    Which Nikon prime lens should I get? (35mm vs 50mm)

    I've been a yearlong owner of a Nikon D40 but just recently upgraded to a D90 (my hobby time or skills isn't serious enough yet to upgrade to a full frame unit) and I'm a Nikon loyalist, so no Canon comments please.

    Currently i'm using an Tamron 18-50mm f2.8 and 18-250 f3.6 lenses as my general purpose ones, and I am shopping for an ultrawide, at least one decent prime lens and eventually a serious fast telephoto for wildlife and sports shooting.

    So i'm browsing on amazon.com and check out two different Nikon primes, a Nikkor 50mm f1.8

    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-50mm-Nik.../ref=pd_cp_p_3

    and a Nikon DX 35mm f1.8 (autofocus motor built in, so it'll also be compatible on my D40 in case i use it again)

    http://www.amazon.com/Nikon-35mm-AF-.../ref=pd_cp_p_1

    so yeah I know the 50mm will be the equivalent of 75mm on a full frame and 35mm will be scaled up approx to a 50mm,

    I intend to use this primes for mostly indoor and outdoor people portait shooting. I don't know what else off the top of my head but i wonder, esp when shooting in enclosed rooms, wether the 35 or 50 will be more convinient, esp if I shoot in cramped spaces.

    Also other prime lens users, what other kinds of shots do you use prime lenses for? Outdoor action? Nature? Indoor objects?

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    Dr_Q's Avatar
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    I think the 35mm is the better lens on DX because it has a much more useful focal length and as you mentioned will autofocus on cameras such as the D40. The problem is that this lens is DX only so if you upgrade to a full frame digital or want to use a film body it's not going to cover the entire frame.

    I only own the 50mm myself and I'm very pleased with its performance optically as well as its price but it's not a brilliant focal length for everyday use. If you wanted another option you could look into the Sigma 30mm 1.4 which would give you the best of both worlds but with a price tag to match.

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    I LUV MY PRIUS!!! the Interceptor's Avatar
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    The 35mm DX is the perfect do-it-all prime for your D40. The 50mm is good for portraits, but too long for getting more than just people on the frame when shooting indoors.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Q View Post
    I think the 35mm is the better lens on DX because it has a much more useful focal length and as you mentioned will autofocus on cameras such as the D40. The problem is that this lens is DX only so if you upgrade to a full frame digital or want to use a film body it's not going to cover the entire frame.

    I only own the 50mm myself and I'm very pleased with its performance optically as well as its price but it's not a brilliant focal length for everyday use. If you wanted another option you could look into the Sigma 30mm 1.4 which would give you the best of both worlds but with a price tag to match.
    Thanks are you referring to this Sigma lens?

    http://www.amazon.com/Sigma-30mm-Nik...5570877&sr=1-2

    unfortunately that price kind of hurts

    Quote Originally Posted by the Interceptor View Post
    The 35mm DX is the perfect do-it-all prime for your D40. The 50mm is good for portraits, but too long for getting more than just people on the frame when shooting indoors.
    What I worry being a DX mount, I'm going to use my D90 more of the time and with the built in AF motor, will it have a slower focus that a lens designed to use the D90s body AF motor?
    Last edited by edkwon; February 7th, 2010 at 7:30 PM.

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    Yes, that's the one but it was mainly just for reference. The 35mm is very good value for what it is so even if you can't use it at some later date I'm sure you will have a lot of fun in the meantime with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Q View Post
    I only own the 50mm myself and I'm very pleased with its performance optically as well as its price but it's not a brilliant focal length for everyday use.
    ^ That

    If you have plans to use it indoors the 50mm just too long, I'm seriously considering the 35mm for that very reason, but I'm kinda broke right now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by edkwon View Post
    What I worry being a DX mount, I'm going to use my D90 more of the time and with the built in AF motor, will it have a slower focus that a lens designed to use the D90s body AF motor?
    Reviews say the 35mm DX focuses very fast and silently, so not using the body's motor (given it has one) shouldn't be a disadvantage.
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    I say they are both good enough and both cheap enough lenses to buy both. But, if you're shooting crop frame and can only afford one, then the 35/1.8 is the one to get. Nikon is seriously undercharging for this lens by at least $100 (but don't tell them ).

    The only fault I can give it is that it has some noticeable barrel distortion, but it is entirely and easily correctable.

    What I worry being a DX mount, I'm going to use my D90 more of the time and with the built in AF motor, will it have a slower focus that a lens designed to use the D90s body AF motor?
    OK, Nikon has two AF systems: the AF-D (lens-based motor) and AF-S (lens-based motor).

    An AF-D lens requires a body capable of driving its autofocus mechanically with the in-body motor and will always use this in-body motor. The D90 does have this motor and, with the 50/1.8, it's bloody quick; easily as quick as the 35/1.8, if not quicker. Heck, it's even strong enough for drive the AF on the big, heavy 80-200/2.8 AF-D with competence. AF-D lenses will meter, but not AF, on lesser bodies like the D40.

    An AF-S lens will always use the in-lens motor for autofocus. They do not have the coupling nor mechanics for their AF to be driven by the in-body motor. These lenses work fully on all Nikon digital bodies, in-body motor or not.

    tldr: between these two lenses on a D90, AF is fully capable on either one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by epp_b View Post

    An AF-D lens requires a body capable of driving its autofocus mechanically with the in-body motor and will always use this in-body motor. The D90 does have this motor and, with the 50/1.8, it's bloody quick; easily as quick as the 35/1.8, if not quicker. Heck, it's even strong enough for drive the AF on the big, heavy 80-200/2.8 AF-D with competence. AF-D lenses will meter, but not AF, on lesser bodies like the D40.
    Yes I've used the exact Nikkor 80-200 2.8 lens youre referring to, rented it from a camera shop for a few days when I still only owned my D40, great lens but like you said, did not AF with the D40 body so I had to manually focus everything which didn't always turn out well because my eyesight isnt accurate.

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