Of Nikon and Tamron lenses

AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED

A while ago, a reader of j.ronald.lee asked me for some camera and lens recommendations. Being a Nikon shooter, if you ask me for my opinion, you’re going to hear about Nikon. What you might be surprised to hear is that I did not recommend a Nikon lens for someone getting started in the world of DSLR photography.

I own two “kit” lenses… these are lenses that Nikon sometimes packages with the D90. First I own the AF-S VR Zoom-NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (shown above). It’s a long range zoom lens, and for the money, a decent piece of glass. The other one I own is the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, which lists for $399.95. This is a standard zoom lens. Everyone needs a good standard zoom lens.

Unfortunately, this is not a good standard zoom lens.

Don’t get me wrong, a lot of the photos you’ve seen on this site have been taken with that glass, but while it’s range makes it the most versatile, the lousy aperture makes it the least photo-friendly. So when Sonya asked me for a recommendation, I told her to spend a hundred bucks more and get the Tamron lens instead. Here’s a link:

Tamron AF 28-75mm f/2.8 SP XR ZL Di LD Aspherical

At one point, this glass listed for about a thousand bucks, but it’s seen recent discounts so it’s now around $500, and there’s a $25 rebate available in the U.S. right now. I recommend this lens because of its larger aperture at 2.8, and its ability to get in close. Really close. Take, for example, the shot above. It’s a photo of Nikon glass – that I took with the Tamron lens at the camera store while I was still thinking about buying it.

I don’t own a macro lens, so to get in close I’ve used Quantaray close-up filters. They produce some great shots, but the depth of focus is severely shortened when you do this, making focus very tricky. I usually use a tripod to avoid any extra movement.

This shot, however, was no filters, just pop the lens on, zoom in all the way, and press the shutter (awful store lighting, too, I might add). Here’s a closer look:

close up

Even at full magnification, this lens holds up very well. Aaaand… since it’s my birthday… and my family loves me… and the jar that holds my extra coins was getting full… I bought it. Yes, it lacks the image stabilization of my 18-105. Yes, it’s a shorter zoom range.

Oh, and yes, it takes much better photos. I’ll share some over the coming days so we can see if I made a good call together.

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