Just bought a Nikon 3100.

mudlady_gwMay 13, 2012

I am strongly considering the Nikkor AF-S DX VR 55-300 f/4.5-5.6 6G ED VR because I want to get up much closer than the 18-55 lens it came with. I am quite new to digital photography. Many years ago I was an avid 35mm SLR hobiest and I used a Nikon N90S with a variety of lenses, including the AF Nikkor ED 80-200mm 1:2.8 D. I shot macros of flowers and my love was shooting light houses and scenic pictures--mostly ocean, sun rise and sunsets, and fall foliage. I lost interest when film photography dwindled in popularity but I still have all the 35mm equipment I had back then. I recently decided to get a decent SLR digital camera but I am retired and didn't aim for equipment of the quality of the old N90S. I don't have much interest in printing my pictures because I can so easily share them on line. I rarely photograph people but do shoot my dog and cats. Does anyone have any suggestions other than the 55 -300 lens mentioned above? Should I be able to hand hold the 55-300 with a reasonably fast shutter speed? Lastly, if anyone has had a good experience with mail order stores that sell at a discount, please share.


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I shoot Pentax DSLR's so I am not really familiar with Nikon cameras & lenses however I will offer my humble opinions and allow someone more familiar with Nikon to correct me if I am wrong.

Normally I don't recommend lenses over 200mm for beginners, but you previously had experience with a Nikon SLR & an 80-200mm zoom, so I assume you have developed a good habit in how to hold both the camera & lens for maximum stability. Now when we consider the fact that most modern DSLR's and state of the art lenses are much lighter weight you should have no problem with a 300mm.

We can then factor in that your proposed 55-300mm has VR(vibration reduction) which will normally give you about a 2 to 3 f-stop advantage and I see no reason you should not get exceptional results with it.

If you then combine the 55-300mm with your 18-55mm you will have a full range of lenses from medium wide angle to a midline telephoto, so that would give you the full range that is used by most amateurs.

There are a number of mail order dealers such as Adorama or B&H, but I would also check Ebay.

On a quick check at ebay I found the 55-300 that you specified ranging from a number of slightly used lenses starting at $200+S&H to one that was opened and used as a store showcase display and a long list of new lenses in the $250 to $325 range.

Here is another trick to save you some money on lenses..
Find out what type of mounts are compatible with your body then watch for used lenses with those mounts that would work for you.

In this area I have a distinct advantage because when Pentax designs a new camera or lens system they do it in a manner that we can still use any genuine Pentax lense ever made. On top of that, Pentax put the image stabilization (vibration reduction) in the camera body so I have that availabe even when working with totally manual lenses from back in the late 60's.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 8:31PM
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I plan to buy the new Nikon D3200, which is the successor to your D3100 and takes the same lenses, and in fact comes with the same 18-55 lens that yours did. For close-ups of flowers, I plan to buy the Nikon 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR Lens because it lists for only $279 and focuses as close as 6.4 inches.

I also consider its relatively short focal length to be an advantage, because I have been taking floral closeups of my hybrid zinnias by using my wife's Kodak Z712 IS and I noticed that I get more depth of field at its shorter zoom settings and less at its more telephoto zoom settings. I realize that limited depth of field lets you throw unwanted background out of focus, but I also notice that not enough depth of field is a frequent problem with closeup pictures. That shows up in this recent picture of one of my hybrid zinnias.

The petals toward the front of the flower are in reasonably sharp focus, while the petals toward the back of the flower are in soft focus. The 40mm-2-8G-Micro-NIKKOR has the shortest focal length of the Micro NIKKORs, and hopefully the deepest depth of field capability. It does not have image stabilization, and I will be saving my pennies to buy the longer focal length 85mm f/3.5G AF-S DX ED VR Micro Nikkor because the VR (vibration reduction) indicates that it does have image stabilization.

I agree with LazyPup that the Nikkor AF-S DX VR 55-300 f/4.5-5.6 6G ED that you mention would be difficult to handhold at it longer zoom settings, even with its VR feature.

"...because I want to get up much closer than the 18-55 lens it came with."

The Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens will focus as close as 11 inches throughout that entire zoom range. At 55mm that gives you a pretty good closeup at 11 inches. The minimum focus distance of the AF-S DX NIKKOR
55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
is 4.6 feet. I'm not sure that is going to get you any closer than the lens you have on your camera, although it is a good lens, and would give you considerably more telephoto capability than you now have.

(not associated with any product or vendor mentioned or linked)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 5:27PM
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I have this lens and I am very happy with it. It is a bit slow on the auto focus - but I knew that going in and can compensate for that.

I have my camera set to burst mode - and it takes great photo's of fast moving things - animals and kids. Always handheld - always great pictures. I pretty much shoot entirely in Aperture Priority mode - although I do go full manual sometimes..

Here is an example with this lens. F11, shutter 100, ISO 100 - hand held:

    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 12:44PM
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Well if you can afford it, I would purchase the 85mm f/3.5G Micro lens, it's my all time favorite. Here's proof:

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 9:10AM
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I went back and forth trying to decide about the 55-300mm lens so I went to a store and tried it and also the 55-200mm. Well, there is a huge difference in the zoom capabilities. I'm getting the 55-300mm as it is relatively cheap and rated very well. Go to B&H website and read the reviews. Since I ordered it with my camera I got it cheap. (I ordered a d5100 to arrive in 2 days). I can't wait!
I'm saving for the 60mm macro lens as it's rated much better than the 40mm but not nearly as expensive or large/heavy as the 85mm.

Here is a link that might be useful: b&h photo

    Bookmark   June 15, 2012 at 11:56PM
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Hi all,

As an update on my comment that I expected the 55-300mm would be difficult to handhold at long telephoto settings, I am being successful hand holding it with the VR feature engaged.

This picture was taken at 300mm in the S mode with the shutter speed set at 1/1000th and the VR feature "On". The longer working distance of this lens makes it my "go to" lens for taking pictures of butterflies and other "shy" subjects.


    Bookmark   July 3, 2012 at 11:55AM
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That does a nice job! Yes, the vr is great. Think without the feature i would have alot of messed up shots! I use the 70-300VR and one of my most used & favorite lens!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 10:26PM
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