Getting Back into Photography - Lens Debates

I'm getting dangerously close to GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome), as I've just purchased a dream lens (the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR), and now I'm thinking hard (probably too hard) about whether I should sell a couple other lenses and get a nice f/2.8 wide angle zoom lens.

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 at Ordinations
The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 is an amazing lens (D3, 70-200mm @ 70mm).

I know that lenses don't define pictures (nor do cameras!), but 95% of my shooting is indoors, and most of that is without any artificial light... meaning a fast lens is never fast enough. I often use a 50mm f/1.4 prime (my 'light vacuum' lens), or a 35mm f/1.8, both of which create pleasing photos on my D7000. However, I've almost always wanted the ability to zoom, because moving back and forward isn't always an option, and switching lenses is a pain.

I bought an 18-105 VR lens, thinking VR could help me get past the slow f/3.5-5.6 aperture... but alas I'm still not happy with this lens. I fear that I won't be satisfied until I try out and acquire either the Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 DX lens, or the 24-70 f/2.8.

Nikkor lenses (courtesy

I've been reaching out to some fellow photographers on Facebook and Twitter, and gotten some good advice, but what do you think? I'm probably going to look for a used copy of the lens to save 30-40%, and I'll probably end up selling a combination of primes (I have the 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4 and 180mm f/2.8 right now) to fund this new lens. I would probably end up selling the 18-105 VR as well, as I don't think I could ever go back to more than f/2.8 once I dip my toes in that water :).

[Aside] Another cool photo resource I found recently, which explains the Nikon AF system used in the D7000 quite well, better than Nikon's own manuals: D7000 Focusing Guide. (I was always a bit confused by the different AF-C modes and zones... and it'll be fun to try them sometime at a sporting event).


The 70-200mm f/2.8 VR is an awesome lens; I used one for a weekend and was suitably impressed. I particularly liked its lack of optical aberration as well as good performance indoors.

Now if you had gotten a D700 or D800 as you should have, I’d recommend the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S super wide zoom lens, but it is wasted on lesser cameras. (Ok, yes, the D7000 is also awesome). Both lenses you are looking at appear to be quite fine and are well-regarded.

My favorite lens is an 85mm f/1.4; and I really appreciate its fast aperture, narrow depth of field and nice background blur, but manual focus is a pain. The Nikon 135mm f/2 DC lens would be superior but is out of my price range.

I'm thinking about trading up to a D700 sometime; for what I do (mostly indoor/low light), no DX sensor can come close to the light-gathering powers of the D700/D3/FX cameras (at least not yet!).

I really need to try out one of those ultrawides on an FX body sometime. I just haven't had the need (yet). I do a lot more 'people' work, and am not creative enough to use ultrawides for portraits/events (it'd definitely be a more special purpose lens).

I've been slowly shying back away from primes recently, as I have the 35, 50, and 180 (notice the huge gap that could be filled by an 85 and 135...). But I'm a lot more productive with zooms in my work, so I'm looking to possibly go all-zoom, maybe with the 35mm for keeps, since on DX bodies its an amazing and sharp little lightweight body cap lens!

I wouldn’t use an ultra wide for portraits or events, because of their often-comical or bizarre distortion. This is also the case for architecture or landscapes, where one would otherwise think that they would be particularly useful. But in all these cases, the distortion can overwhelm the subject. I’ve seen very many ultra wide shots at the Cathedral, and these tend to call attention to the technology itself, while degrading the dignity of the church.

They are more useful where you need extreme depth of field, having something both near the lens in focus, as well as the background. I’d use it, for example, at the Cathedral, getting an extreme closeup of a detail of carving while keeping the entire background in focus. But I would not use it to ‘get the whole scene.’

The 70-200 should work as a good replacement for the primes I mentioned, particularly wide open at 200 mm. It beats all of them in potential background blurriness, and there is little reason to have them otherwise, except for weight and bulk.

I'm definitely headed down the road of selling off at least the 180mm prime, probably the 50mm as well (though I absolutely love using it on a D3!).

I think I'll stick to DX for the foreseeable future, so I'm probably going to try to fund a 17-55 2.8 next, and that should keep me covered for most of what I do.

If possible, and if a good deal crops up, I might also grab a cheap used D40, just so I can have a throwaway backup body go my other lenses, and a camera to take to outdoor or family events. Even the D40 is no slouch with a nice pro lens like the 70-200; as long as it has AF-S.