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MattNord

santa barbara, US
29 posts

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MattNord Registered since 04th Mar 2012
Tue 06-Mar-12 01:18 AM

Hi all,
I recently joined Nikonians and this will be my first post. If it is in the wrong category I do apologize, but it spans so many subject that it was hard to choose.

So, to start off I have a D800 on order. Why? Because I want to print BIG, and because the little boy in me who wants the shiniest thing on the shelf has a pretty strong voice. What I plan on doing with it is mostly landscape and macro, but also quite a lot of street photography etc (moving to Tokyo from Santa Barbara in half a year, and this will be my only camera).
So here's the problem: Apart from the camera, I only want to spend about $2000-$3000 more on lenses, tripods and such. I'm a sucker for wide angle (another reason I chose to go with FX), and here's a list of things I want (I have a 50mm 1.8 which will serve as my "out and about" lens):

14-24mm f2.8 (duh)

85mm f1.8 for getting a little closer for street candids etc

Macro lens (thinking either the 105 or 200mm, trade off range/DOF, also been looking at the sigma 150mm)

Gitzo tripod, perhaps the Magica system? This will be used for primarily macro and panoramas. Looking specifically at the GT3541LS (been reading everything in the "support" section, and I know that if I don't get the best from the start I'll just end up paying twice).

Starting to see my problem? Way too many wants and not enough gold to spare. So, any advice? It's not that I'm choosing which to buy, but which to buy FIRST. All of them will find their way home eventually.

Oh, and to add a little background about myself I am not making money off of my shots, but I do consider myself an dedicated amateur shooting for his own pleasure.

Thank you,
Mattias

TomCurious

Bay Area, US
2352 posts

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#1. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 0

TomCurious Registered since 03rd Jan 2007
Tue 06-Mar-12 03:19 AM

Welcome to Nikonians! And it looks you've done your homework well! I commend you for considering the tripod right off the bat, all too many folks forget about it, or start with some shaky $30 tripod and then wonder why the images are not sharp. Especially since your priorities are landscapes and macro, and you want to print big (from those D800 files!), the tripod should be next in line after the D800.

So, as to the tripod: The Gitzo model you picked out is excellent. I had a similar one (until I "upgraded" to the RRS model). The only thing you might reconsider is 3 sections vs. 4. The 4 section model you picked out will collapse to a smaller package for traveling etc. but it is a bit less stable than a 3 section model, and more importantly, you will be spending extra time to extend and collapse those extra section every single time you set this tripod up. It was enough of an annoyance for me to go to a 3 section model. So it will depend on your priorities: a lot of airline travel (4 section) or a lot of walking around / setting up / moving on (3 sections).

Beyond the tripod (and bullhead), there won't be much money left over in your budget. But that camera and tripod should last you a long time. For the macro lens, you can get very good quality even with a fairly inexpensive model. Practically all macro lenses are very sharp. I.e. check out the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 which has gotten very good reviews, and Thom Hogan says it's optics are on par with the Nikon 105mm f/2.8. Personally, I use the Nikon 200mm f/4, and this is the best macro on the planet if you ask me (and I tried many including Zeiss), but that may be beyond the budget. The advantage of a long macro lens is the extra working distance if you're into insects and such. If the Nikon is too rich, then the Sigma 150/2.8 that you are considering is very close at 2/3 of the price.

For landscapes, the 14-24 would not be my first choice. Yes it is optically excellent, but I found 14mm to be rather impractical for landscapes, while 24mm is often not long enough. My landscapes are mostly between 20mm and 35mm. That is subjective, though, some folks like the ultra wide angle. Another point against the 14-24 is that it is very impractical to use filters, that only works with an external contraption. I use Zeiss prime lenses for landscapes, but if your budget is used up by the tripod and macro lens, here is a "secret" tip: The Nikon 28mm f/3.5 AI lens is excellent for landscapes. I got mine for $50 at KEH (used) and it rivals many lenses that cost 10 or 20 times as much. As a side benefit, this lens is extraordinarily resistant against flare (beating the 14-24 by a big margin), so you can shoot even directly into the sun without ill effects. And stopped down it is sharp across the frame. Noted landscaper Bjorn Rorslett writes about it:

"The 28/3.5 performs excellently on the newer D2X and D200 digital bodies, giving very sharp and crisp images with just ever so slight trace of CA. Shooting into directly into the sun with this lens is a breeze. This lens is one I nearly always carry with me on field trips."

http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html


Hope this helps a bit!

Tom
Bay Area Nikonian


http://www.tkphoto.me/

MattNord

santa barbara, US
29 posts

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#2. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 1

MattNord Registered since 03rd Mar 2012
Tue 06-Mar-12 05:37 AM

Thank you so much for your informative reply!

I actually just managed to get my hands on a GT 3541LS for $650 on amazon. Seems they were selling them cheaper now when the new GT3542's came out. I have honestly never used such a high tech tripod before, and it's all very confusing. Do I need some sort of special leveling plate in between the ball head and the pod for easy panoramas and macro, or should I just put a Q10 on there and go for it? Also, if I want to put a focusing rail on it for macro, do I put that on the Q10, or how does it work?
And yes, I do travel quite a bit so the "4" outweighs the "3" for me.

For macro I plan on being very diverse, shooting anything that I find is interesting, of course including the smaller life forms. Do you think it might be worth to hold on for a while and save up to the 200mm for the range? Also, don't you get a very limited DOF with such a long lens? (I'm secretly also looking at the R1C1 flash system... but until I can justify that I'm going to use my SB-600 as a remote unit).

Good point about the 14-24. It's probably quite a pain to carry around as well. The 28mm sounds great! I looked it up and it seems the f2.8 AI/AI-s is just as good or better (couldn't find a f3.5 online), but only a little more expensive. I might just get that one for a very light setup (a few primes and the pod). Any experience with the 2.8?

Again, thank you for a very informative reply. This community has really helped me clear up some major questions in this sea of choices. I've literally spent 3 days reading through all the forums... hehe.

Mattias

TomCurious

Bay Area, US
2352 posts

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#3. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 2

TomCurious Registered since 03rd Jan 2007
Tue 06-Mar-12 06:07 AM

Glad it helped!

For the tripod, if you haven't used one of those carbon fiber ones, it's a cool experience, but you'll figure it out quickly. Yes there are leveling plates available, mainly for panorama use. I don't use one since I don't shoot that many panoramas. It's not required for panoramas, it simply speeds things up. Without that plate, you will need to level the base plate by extending / collapsing the legs. You can certainly start without leveling plate and add one later if you need it. Just screw the ball head directly into the tripod base plate. For macro, yes you can use a focusing rail. I can surely believe you have spent days reading about this stuff, hehe! I didn't knew about a focusing rail when I started with macro! But just as with the leveling plate, you can start without it. Personally I don't use one. In fact, for macro, I don't use a tripod at all. It's too limiting for my use. I mount my lens on a monopod, which allows to follow the insect much more easily, allows to move closer easily, and allows to change the height much more quickly than with a tripod. Yet with some practice it's stable enough.

As for the DOF with long macro lenses, this is common misconception. When using long lenses at normal focusing distances, we all know that the DOF gets rapidly smaller as the focal length goes up, and with tele lenses the area of focus is very thin. But the simple formula to calculate DOF actually only works for non-macro distances. Once you get close to 1:1, the DOF almost exclusively depends on the magnification ratio and not on the focal length. In other words, if you were to shoot a subject at 1:1 magnification, the DOF with 100mm or 200mm would be almost identical. Why is this? With the longer lens, you would be farther away from the subject, which will cancel out the smaller DOF from the longer focal length. If you want to study the details, look up the DOF calculations on wikipedia. So that means there is no downside for a longer macro lens, except for the price tag and weight/size to carry into the field. And yes if you want the best, sure go for the Nikon 200/4.

I have also tried the 28/2.8 AIS. It is a bit sharper than the 28/3.5 in the center and shines at close focus distances. You can almost use it as a macro, works great for flowers and such! But here is the downside: At longer focus distances, i.e. for landscapes, the corners are rather soft. Even at f/8 or f/11 the corners don't get fully crisp. The 28/3.5 beats it in this respect. So primarily for landscapes, I can't recommend the 28/2.8 AIS. If you will be shooting it on the D800 and make big prints, you will notice the weak corners. If you can't get a hold of the 28/3.5, you can also check out the 35/2 AF-D which is very sharp across the frame when stopped down a little.

Tom
Bay Area Nikonian


http://www.tkphoto.me/

Leonard62

Pa, US
4419 posts

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#4. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 2

Leonard62 Gold Member Awarded for excellent contributions and sharing his in-depth knowledge and experience with the community, especially of Nikkor Lenses Writer Ribbon awarded for his contributions to the Nikonians Resources articles library Nikonian since 15th Mar 2009
Tue 06-Mar-12 12:16 PM | edited Tue 06-Mar-12 12:25 PM by Leonard62

>
>Good point about the 14-24. It's probably quite a pain to
>carry around as well. The 28mm sounds great! I looked it up
>and it seems the f2.8 AI/AI-s is just as good or better
>(couldn't find a f3.5 online), but only a little more
>expensive. I might just get that one for a very light setup (a
>few primes and the pod). Any experience with the 2.8?
>

I agree with Tom about the AI 28mm f3.5. I have the AI 28mm f2.8, AIS 28mm f2.8, AI 28mm f3.5, the AF 28mm f2.8 and the AIS 28mm f2. I tested them all on a landscape scene using a D700. I found both of the f2.8 mf lenses had good center sharpness but were terrible on the edges from about 50 feet to infinity. The f3.5 and the f2.0 didn't have this problem. I generally will grab the f3.5 lens first. It is a fine lens. I also have the AFS 14-24mm but normally it stays at home because of it's much larger size and weight.

The only place I found the AIS 28mm f2.8 to be very good is on close-ups like in rooms about 15 feet long and shorter. It has extremely sharp center resolution at these close distances with the edges not as good.

edit:

My evaluation photos are in this thread.

https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=301&topic_id=7613&mesg_id=7613&page=2


Len

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blw

Richmond, US
28703 posts

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#5. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 0

blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004
Tue 06-Mar-12 08:43 AM

> 85mm f1.8 for getting a little closer for street candids etc ... Macro lens (thinking either the 105 or 200mm, trade off range/DOF, also been looking at the sigma 150mm)

How about using the Tamron 90/f2.8 for both of these? Particularly with an FX body, high ISO shouldn't be an issue, and I doubt you'd be needing much high ISO on the street at f/2.8 anyway. There is very little difference between 85 and 90 as far as FOV goes, and one surely cannot complain about the sharpness of the Tamron. The focusing on the Tamron isn't blindingly quick, but it does have a focus limiter that is quite useful. The older 105/f2.8 AFD Micro also suits this well. You can save a bundle by getting either of them on the used market - I got my 105 for about $320 and the Tamron is even less than that, even in pristine condition.

> been looking at the sigma 150mm

Like Tom I use the 200/f4 for my long macro, and I prefer it to the shorter ones - but that's an operational / shooting style thing. I do most of my macro work on a tripod at a blinding ten frames per hour. But it's not cheap: they run about $1600 these days. The Sigma 150, particularly the now-discontinued non-OS version, is right in there too, but at almost $1000 less. It doesn't say NIKON on the lens cap, but one can't argue with the results. You ought to be able to get both a Tamron 90/f2.8 and Sigma 150/f2.8 non-OS for about $1000.

> Gitzo tripod

Don't forget that you'll also need an L-bracket for your camera ($180) and probably some plates for lenses with their own tripod collars like the 150 or 200. And a remote release like an MC-30 or one of the radio remotes. There is no point in paying for all that high res sensor and good glass only to goof it up by shaking the camera during exposure.

_____
Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10631 posts

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#6. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 0

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Tue 06-Mar-12 12:11 PM

Welcome to Nikonians!

You've got several questions and each may get a better response in the dedicated forums for Tripods and Lenses.

I've got the Sigma 150 and Nikon 105 f/2.8 VR for macro. The Nikon 105 is a very nice focal length for portraits and street photography, and the VR is a nice plus in that role. It also works with Nikon teleconverters so you can create effective focal lengths of 105mm, 150mm, 175mm, and 210mm. The Sigma is a very nice lens with OS and a tripod foot - nice for macro but a bit heavier and bulkier for street and portraits.

On your tripod, you might consider the Q20 over the Q10. It is a little bigger and provides more certainly if you add long lenses or lenses that do not have a tripod foot. The Q10 will hold everything you are considering but the Q20 or RRS BH-55 future proofs you a bit. I use the BH-55 with the lever release and RRS L-brackets.

I have the 16-35 f/4 VR for my wide lens. You may be giving up a bit in the corners, but VR has been a real plus for use on the water or other situations where tripods are not allowed or effective. The 16-35 also has filter threads - a nice plus allowing use with a CP or my Vari-N-Duo filter.



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MotoMannequin

Livermore, CA, US
8582 posts

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#7. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 0

MotoMannequin Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography Registered since 11th Jan 2006
Tue 06-Mar-12 02:02 PM | edited Tue 06-Mar-12 02:07 PM by MotoMannequin

Hi Mattias,

You've got some great advice so far. Let me add my voice to those who've said

(1) the 14-24 is not IMO the best choice for landscapes. Nikkor 16-35 f/4 VR or Tokina 17-35 f/4 are more practical focal lengths for landscape, and they take filters. Or a set of primes. Also the very inexpensive 50mm f/1.8D makes a good complement to these, and for landscape work stopped down to f/5.6 or smaller it's indistinguishable from it's more expensive siblings.

(2) You can combine your street goal with a medium macro lens, like Nikkor 105/2.8, Tamron 90/2.8 or Sigma 70/2.8 which are all excellent. You'll probably want a longer macro lens later but this gets you started.

(3) Panoramas! Start here and prepare to spend the rest of your money: www.reallyrightstuff.com (my wife would probably prefer to find a playboy tucked under my mattress than the RRS catalog). They have some great pano tutorials there as well. They sell leveling bases compatible with your Gitzo Series-3 Systematic, but like Eric says, this is basically a time-saver compared to leveling by adjusting the legs. You can use a leveling base combined with a ballhead as your panning base, or get their PCL and use your ballhead as the leveling base. None of that probably makes sense but read the RRS tutorials then it will. For panos I strongly prefer RRS clamps/rails/brackets because they all have nodal index marks and make setup for panos a breeze.

Start here for their pano tutorial:
http://reallyrightstuff.com/WebsiteInfo.aspx?fc=108

Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery

www.tempered-light.com

chiefmasterjedi

US
313 posts

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#8. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 0

chiefmasterjedi Silver Member Nikonian since 26th Feb 2009
Tue 06-Mar-12 04:07 PM

I can vouch for the Nikkor 16-35vr and the Sigma 150mm macro, both are great lenses and I intend to put them to good use on my new D800. I also have a Tamron 90mm macro (my wife's) and it is a very sharp lens. My other lenses are 50mm 1.8D, 85mm 1.8D, 300mm AF-s F4 and my favorite the Nikkor 24-120vr F4. For walk around and street photography I don't think the 24-120F4 can be beat and even when IQ is critical, like on a model shoot, I have started to use the 24-120F4 over my primes.



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MattNord

santa barbara, US
29 posts

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#9. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 0

MattNord Registered since 03rd Mar 2012
Wed 07-Mar-12 04:27 AM

Wow, you guys are good! Glad I found this place. After all your advice (and reading through the panorama tutorial at RSS), it now seems this is the plan:
28mm f3.5
50mm 1.8
105mm nikkor, 100mm tokina, or 90mm tamron, for combined macro and street candids. Figure I'll do this until I have the budget for a 85mm, and I'll see if 100mm is long enough for my macro.

Looking at both the RSS BH-55 PCL and Q-20 ball heads. The RSS with PCL sure seems nice for panoramas, but with a price tag of $575 it would hurt. Any difference between RSS and markins in quality or operations?

I never thought this is where I would end up a month ago when my trusted F5 and the rest of my gear (sans 50mm 1.8) got stolen out of my car. Going digital! Late? Nah...

ericbowles

Atlanta, US
10631 posts

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#10. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 9

ericbowles Moderator Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level skills in various areas, especially Landscape and Wildlife Photoghraphy Writer Ribbon awarded for for his article contributions to the community Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2005
Wed 07-Mar-12 11:37 AM

The RRS BH-55 LR ($455) is most comparable to the Markins Q20 $409). Functionally they are very similar. There are some differences in materials and processes. Generally Markins is positioned to be slightly cheaper across their product line. RRS is recognized as a premium product.

If you want a pano kit, that's a separate purchase with either product line.

There is a lot of discussion about both ballheads in the tripod forum.
https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=159&topic_id=42099&mesg_id=42099&page=

https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=set_threaded_mode&forum=159&topic_id=41175&prev_page=show_topic&gid=41175#41323



Eric Bowles
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MattNord

santa barbara, US
29 posts

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#11. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 10

MattNord Registered since 03rd Mar 2012
Tue 13-Mar-12 08:49 PM

Recieved my Gitzo 3541LS and RSS BH-55 ballhead with PCL today. Woho! These are not photo equipment... they're works of art! Thanks for all the help choosing, now I'm just waiting for the camera!

MotoMannequin

Livermore, CA, US
8582 posts

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#12. "RE: Prioritization?" | In response to Reply # 11

MotoMannequin Awarded for his extraordinary skills in landscape and wildlife photography Registered since 11th Jan 2006
Tue 13-Mar-12 11:29 PM

>Recieved my Gitzo 3541LS and RSS BH-55 ballhead with PCL
>today. Woho! These are not photo equipment... they're works of
>art! Thanks for all the help choosing, now I'm just waiting
>for the camera!

Indeed that's like expensive jewelry for your camera! Excellent choices, you won't be disappointed!

Larry - a Bay Area Nikonian
My Nikonians gallery

www.tempered-light.com

G