A new Nikon D80 body sitting beside a recently-opened box on your table is one of the most amazing sights to behold. You’d have to get one for yourself to understand the sensation.
A digital SLR camera on its own, however, is pretty much next to useless – you’d need to buy a lens (or two, three or more) in order to start taking photographs with it. The only problem is, there must be something like 1,013 lenses out there to choose from, at least, it starts feeling like it after you spend hours, if not days ,thumbing through catalogs and spec sheets, browsing forums, reading debates and arguments over which lenses to buy (or not to buy) and getting advice from one friend too many, other enthusiasts and professionals in the field.
All you’d really like to know now is, what are the best lenses for your Nikon D80?
I have some good news for you – if you’re simply coming into SLR photography for personal pleasure, as a pastime or simply to get better pictures for sharing with your family and friends, I can quickly list down 3 lenses you can get right now without having to bust your bank account. From the selections below, simply select lens #1 only, #2 only, #3 only, #1 & #2 or #1 & #3 depending on your budget.
Nikon Lens #1 – The Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D AF lens. For $100 or less, there is no other lens out there that can give you sharper images for the money. You can buy $400 lenses which give marginally sharper pictures, but the 50mm f/1.8 lens has the highest sharpness / dollar-spent ratio in the industry. Its maximum 1.8 aperture also allows you to take great-looking portraits with a blurred background, the kind you see in some professional shots. It’s small, it’s light, it’s great for taking photos in dimly-lit locations where flash is not allowed.
Nikon Lens #2 – The Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom lens. That was a mouthful, wasn’t it? Yes, this is a zoom lens, unlike the 50mm f/1.8 mentioned above. Meaning you can take big-group shots in tight locations and include everybody into the picture, and it also allows you to go to 70mm for relatively tight portrait shots. Hunt around for $320-ish prices, and not a penny more, at your camera stores. Before the availability of Lens #3 that I’m about to mention, this glass was a firm favourite among many casual photographers who shoot travel and vacation images.
Nikon Lens #3 – The Nikkor 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6g IF-ED AF-S DX VR.This lens is so hot. How so? Well, it’s hot enough to be out-of-stock at virtually all stores, but you can find one if you’re a walk-in customer, and Nikon is bending backwards to ramp up production to meet demand. Why is it hot? Well, because it’s the only lens on the market offering such a huge zoom range, with fast autofocus action and even a VR mechanism that helps you get steady shots without the use of flash. You’ll appreciate how useful the VR is if you’re in a museum that doesn’t allow you to use flash and tripods – the new version of the VR technology Nikon made available on this lens allows you to eliminate handshake at ever slower shutter speeds which beats out the VR capability in more expensive, but older lenses. $750 is all you need to own this lens which you can take 90% of your shots with.
So, there you have it, the lowdown on which lens to get for your D80. Are there better lenses to be had? Of course, but you’ll be paying through the nose for those, and the high prices can only be justified if you have special requirements in your photography pursuit, or if you’re an enthusiast who cannot tolerate not having the absolute best lenses on hand. Be careful though, lusting over pricier and bigger lenses without knowing how to value or profit from them is only going to mean more money down the drain.
Good luck in your decision, and enjoy an amazing photographic experience with your new D80 and lenses!