{ 150 comments. } Add a Comment

1 Jose September 19, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Neil,

During portrait shoots, which lens do you find yourself using more often, the Nikon 85/1.4 or 105/2.8? I will use the lens mainly for portraiture on an APS-C sensor. The 85/1.4 is the ideal portraiture lens, but I hear great things in respect to sharpness of the 105/2.8. I am sure I can also find use for the short focus distance of macro lens.

Thanks in advanced!

-Jose

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2 Neil September 21, 2009 at 2:22 am

Jose … tough choice between the two lenses. They do overlap a little in use as portrait lenses .. but still, the two lenses have different application.

The 85mm f1.4 just begs to be shot wide open. That fast aperture on a short telephoto lens looks just wonderful.

At the moment I don’t use the macro 105 for anything else but close-up shots, since I lean heavily towards the 70-200mm f2.8 when I shoot portraits.

So with that, I’d say my vote would go towards the 85mm f1.4

Neil vN

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3 Minh September 23, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Hi Neil,

I am looking for a professional-grade portrait lens to use on DX. Bokeh and optical performance wide open are probably my primary concerns. Could you please give me some opinions on the following?

- The 85mm f/1.4;
- The 105mm f/2 DC;
- The 135mm f/2 DC.

Thanks a lot and have a nice day.

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4 Neil September 25, 2009 at 2:26 am

Minh .. I’ve owned the 105mm f2 DC lens, but sold it. Since I also had the 85mm f1.4 and the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 the 105mm f2 DC lens felt like too much of an overlap.

If I had to choose between the 3 lenses you mention there, especially with the DX crop sensor, then I’d go with the 85mm f1.4 lens.

Neil vN

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5 Jennifer September 28, 2009 at 1:12 pm

Neil,

I have been shooting with a standard zoom cheapie lens for awhile. I wanted to make sure I was ready to commit to photography as a business before I dumped a lot of dough into it. I have a wish list but not sure what to get first. I am shooting with a Canon 30D right now and will eventually upgrade my body down the road. I want to get a 24-70mm, a 70-200 f/2.8 and a 16-35 wide angle. Do I get the 70-200 first since it will cover portrait length then get the 24-70mm next year? Or should I get a general zoom like a 24-105mm now? Not sure what to do? I will be shooting on location photos of children, families, engagements, seniors and weddings.

Your input is greatly appreciated!

Jenn

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6 Neil October 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Jennifer .. this is a tough one for me to give advice on, since I don’t have much love for the Canon 24-70mm f2.8L .. for a truly believe it is a problem child of Canon’s. There is a tendency for this lens to back-focus or go out of alignment, or go soft as you zoom towards 24mm (while at infinity). This has been my experience with 3 copies of this lens .. and this experience is supported by many photographers on the various forums.

It really should be an obvious choice as a workhorse lens, but I can’t recommend it in all honesty.

A better combination would be the Canon 24-105mm f4L IS .. which is a sharp lens. The smaller aperture is less than fortunate, but it makes up for that perhaps in the versatility of its range.

A 70-200mm f2.8 IS / VR lens is indispensable in my opinion when you do portraits and weddings.

A general purpose lens would be the 24-105
.. but the lens that you really want, is the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS … it is perfect for portraits and seniors. And as a 2nd photographer at weddings, it will be your staple lens.

Neil vN

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7 Arun October 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Hi Neil,
I am a newbie. But lately developing quite a bit of interest in photography and learning a lot through reading and experimenting.
Currently my equipment is very basic (a D90 18-200 mm and 50 mm 1.8). I have now budget approved (by my wife!) for about 80,000 Yen (about 800 USD). If I had not stumbled up on your site I would have gone for another lens (say 105mm f2.8 / 85mm f1.4). But now I am in a dilemma whether to add another lens or buy a speedlight.

My work is just snapping (mostly indoors) my 10 month old baby and my 3 yr old girl.

Also could you compare (based on your experience) the bokeh on the 85mm f1.4 and the 105mm f2.8?

Arun (Tokyo)

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8 Neil October 3, 2009 at 8:34 am

Arun .. if you don’t have a speedlight at all, then I would say right now you are due for a good flashgun, rather than getting more lenses. It will open up more things for you right now than another lens would … although the 105mm f2.8 Macro and the 85mm f1.4 are exceptional lenses.

Neil vN

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9 Anoop nair October 7, 2009 at 8:46 am

Hello Neil

Iam a Nikon Shooter and Waiting for NIKON 70-200mm 2.8 VR2. and it says VR2 is equal to 4 Shutter stops but Existing Model 70-200 mm 2.8 VR is Equal to 3 Shutter stops. My question is New VR2 is 4 Shutter stops in addition of Existing model or Just 1 Stop. Should i wait for VR2 or Just Get Existing 70-200 mm 2.8 VR .
Thanks
Anooop

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10 Jose October 8, 2009 at 12:34 am

Anoop,

The new 70-200/2.8 VR2 can provide vibration reduction up to 4 stops total, not in addition to the previous version. So, it only offers an extra stop over the previous version. Not having used the new lens, I have heard that the new lens improves the corners for FX or full frame sensor as the previous version can be soft in the corners. However, if you shoot with a DX camera the previous version of the lens is excellent.

To help you decide, consider the price between the two lenses and whether you use or plan to use a full frame sensor with the lens. Personally, I use the lens with a DX sensor for the extra reach associated with a crop sensor and therefore don’t have the need for the new lens.

I hope this helps.

-Jose

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11 Etienne Bester October 9, 2009 at 4:27 am

Hi Neil,

Thank you for sharing your insights with us. As an owner of both the 200mm f2 and 70-200 f2.8 I would like your opinion please (as subjective as it could be I would still find it valuable)

I already have the 14-24/24-70 and 85 f1.4 and 105 f2.8 so in terms of focal length I have the range between 70-105 reasonably covered.

I sold my “Old” 70-200mm f2.8 because I had moved to full frame and had the issue with soft corners and vignetting (perhaps I just had that 1 in a million copy that was particularly poor).

My question is this. In terms of practicality/use, do you find yourself using your 200 f2 as often as your 70-200 for weddings/portraiture on full frame or is it still very much a speciality lens? I am looking at either the new 70-200 or the 200f2.

Kind Regards,

Etienne.

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12 Neil October 12, 2009 at 12:23 am

Ettiene … I don’t find the 200mm f2 as versatile a lens as the 70-200mm f2.8 VR. I like a zoom lens. With the new updated version of the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR II, it becomes an even more logical purchase over the 200mm f2

Neil vN

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13 Daniel October 16, 2009 at 5:35 am

Hi Neil,
let me first appreciate your contribution to our photography knowledge through your website.
I’m just switching to an all Nikon set up for my weddings and wanted to get you input in these lens line ups:

17-35/2.8
50/1.4 G
70-200 VR

or
Fisheye (/or not)
24-70/2.8
70-200 VR

Many thanks,
Daniel

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14 Neil October 18, 2009 at 12:45 am

Daniel, if I had to go shopping now for a top-notch kit that covers everything below 200mm, I’d instantly go for the three main zooms:
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 AF-S
Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR

There are non better than those. (But there is the brand-new Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 that is about to hit the streets.)

Neil vN

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15 Jose October 18, 2009 at 1:26 am

Daniel,

I think the workhorse of event photography is the 24-70/2.8. Following Neil’s recommendation, I would also recommend the 70-200/2.8 VR.

For a wide angle lens, I use the 16-85/3.5-5.6 VR DX. Although this lens is not nearly as good as the 14-24/2.8, I just don’t use lens wider than 24mm often to justify the added price.

For the amount I use a wide angle lens, I would get something less expensive and add a 85/1.4 or 1.8 and 50/1.4 or 1.8.

The 14-24/2.8 is definitely a great lens, and I believe it is used more often by landscape photographers. However for weddings or other events, I seldom use ultra wide focal lengths.

Neil – On average, what would you say is the percentage of your delivered shots are taken with 14-24 lens?

Hope this helps.

-Jose

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16 Neil October 18, 2009 at 1:46 am

Jose .. some weddings I don’t even take the 14-24mm f2.8 out of the bag. So overall I’d say I use it for less than 2% of images that I deliver.

But an ultra-wide angle lens is one of those lenses which, when you need it, you really do need it and nothing else will suffice.

Neil vN

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17 Anoop nair October 18, 2009 at 3:25 am

Hello heil

Iam Waiting for NIKON 70-200mm 2.8 VR2. and it says VR2 is equallent to 4 Shutter stops but Existing Model 70-200 mm 2.8 VR is Equallent to 3 Shutter stops. My question is New VR2 is 4 Shutter stops in addition of Existing model or Just 1 Stop. Shuld i wailt for VR2 or Just Get Existing 70-200 mm 2.8 VR

have recieved a Copy of your book and i must say i had that book before, Surprised? i have kept print out of almost all articles and Techniques and kept in a File and that was a quite good book for me. but i like the new version which is more organised . I have a Question About White balance, I have a Expodisc and thats quite good allways give me correct white balance. in a Situation where my subject is under Flourescent lighting and i want to add a soft touch of warm flash is it okay to keep my White balace in “PRE” after correcting with Expodisc and use the flash with 1/2 CTS Filter? i hope I will get a Proper color balace. Pls Advise.
Thanks
Anoop

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18 Bogdan December 23, 2009 at 9:14 am

If I may add my 2 Canadian cents to this list… As a long time Canon shooter I heavily relied uppon my 28-70 f2.8L for maybe 80% of my work.
One of those lens, aquired in good condition on the used market could be a pretty nice, less expensive alternative to the 24-70 f2.8L. It is also a bit sharper (albeit it’s contrast @70mm /f2.8 is nothing to write home about).
Cheers!

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19 Abbie December 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Do you think the Canon 85 1.2 is worth the extra money compared to the 1.8? I know many say the 1.8 is good value, lighter, faster to focus etc. But then people swear they love their 1.2

Do you think the difference between the 2 are huge?

Cheers!

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20 Neil December 29, 2009 at 9:13 pm

Abbie, I do think most serious or professional photographers, when they have the money, migrate towards the Canon 85mm f1.2 or the Nikon 85mm f1.4 .. over the f1.8 lenses.

There are times you need the extra bit of aperture. But I do think that part of the very wide lenses’ appeal, is the snob factor. And yes, I do subscribe to that. ;) I LOVE my Canon 85mm f1.2 and there is no lens better than that.

Do you really need it to create a specific look? Here I think that the difference between f1.8 and f1.2 is incremental.

Have a look at this recent post on how I used bounce flash to mimic window light, and there I specifically mention that even though I used the 85mm f1.4 that since I used it at f1.8 … I may as well have used the f1.8 optic for the same result.

Is it an excellent upgrade from the 85mm f1.2 to the f1.8 lens? Definitely.
Is it necessary? Not really, unless you need that extra stop.

And sometimes you do.

With this image, I wanted the last vestiges of the ambient light to still register, but also open up the lighting on the couple by bouncing flash off the side of the building.

For my ambient exposure I was at 1/100th @ f1.2 @ 1250 ISO
So as you can see, I am pretty much at the extreme edges of my settings. I couldn’t go much lower on my shutter speed without much more risk of camera shake.

I shot the image with the Canon 5D, and 1250 ISO was the highest I was comfortable in pushing the camera, and still be sure of getting good enough results for a large image in a wedding album.

And for that, I needed f1.2

So sometimes you need a lens like that, but more often than not, an f1.8 optic is a great choice too.

So there you have it .. no definitive answer.
I love it and wouldn’t want to be without it. (Or the Nikon f1.4)

Neil vN

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21 Aruna January 4, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Amazing articles and so much to learn from. I have been so scared of (and ignorant of) using the flash. You have give good insight with all your articles and I am determinded to practise with your techniques. Thank You Neil.

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22 Lorance February 14, 2010 at 12:58 am

Hi
I am really looking for a portrait lens, I am having a Sigma 17-70 lens canon 18-55 kit lens. Which one I should go for? reading soo many articles I am bit confused. Regards Lorance

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23 Neil vN February 15, 2010 at 3:57 am

Lorance .. what are the apertures of the individual lenses? I would always go for the faster lens, and the lens with a constant maximum aperture.

Neil vN

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24 Tad Gawin February 17, 2010 at 5:35 pm

I’m just before choice what lens would we good to my D300 for weddings. Reading many posts I’m little lost. 14-24mm f2.8 is not used often on weddings but you mean it fo FX format I suppose. What about this lens on DX body? I know, it’s heavy and big but what about it’s focal length? It is 21-36 mm on DX, how often would you use such range of focal length on weddings? Maybe it is useless and too often is nacessary to change it. 24-70 mm is next length avaliable in Nikon family. Would it be right choice for weddings? I also saw fast 24mm 1,4 which starts warming pfotographers lately. Maybe this is lens for weddings because of it’s 1,4 aperture for nice separation of subjects and propably nice bokeh too. What to do with this 24mm lenghth on wedding, is it usable? Maybe I should goal on 24mm 1,4 and be ready to take photos during whole wedding. As I said I’m little lost and mainly usable focal length interests me most, what length on DX format is most usable for you? Let me know your opinion.

Tangents are cool and I’m impressed. Very good job, not many peple is able to share it. Proffesional job!!

Regards, Tad

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25 Jose February 19, 2010 at 2:11 am

Tad,

For weddings, the primary lens you will use is a standard zoom lens. Therefore, you should definitely use the 24-70/2.8. I would estimate than more than half of the pictures will be taken using this lens. As a second lens, you can use the 70-200/2.8 VR or 80-200/2.8, however you will use this lens mostly for portraiture or candid shots. If cost is an issue, or you want a nicer portraiture lens, you can use the 85/1.4 or 85/1.8. The standard zoom should be sufficiently wide unless you don’t have a lot of working distance or very large group shots. In this case, I would recommend the 16-85/3.5-5.6 DX VR. This serves as nice wide angle lens and a slow backup standard lens. The new 16-35/4 if available, may be a nice wide angle lens.

If you don’t have one already, you will also need a flash. At a minimum you should have a SB-600, but if your budget allows, the SB-900 would be much nicer. Bring lots of batteries as the flash goes through them pretty quickly.

Keep in mind that for weddings you really want to have extra batteries and memory cards along with backup equipment in case the camera or lens malfunctions. You don’t want to be in a situation that you have to borrow a guest camera because you’re missing a critical piece of equipment.

I hope this information is helpful.

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26 Neil vN February 19, 2010 at 4:06 am

Tad .. I do believe you need a good wide-angle zoom before you need the 24mm f1.4
It’s certainly an enticing lens, but it is spendy for what it does.

I would definitely recommend the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 if you don’t have one, over the Nikon 24mm f1.4

A far as wide-angles go .. what about a used copy of the 17-35mm f2.8 AF-S ?
It’s a great lens, and you could get one for a decent price on the used market … and the range is perhaps more practical than the 14-24mm f2.8

What is a concern with the 14-24mm f2.8 is that the front element is really huge, and unprotected except for the flanges.

To figure out the equivalent focal length, multiply by 1.5x … therefore the 17-35 becomes a useful 26-52mm lens.
Wide-to-normal.

The lens that Jose recommends, the 16-35mm f4 looks like a great optic. There are other slower zooms out as well.

Neil vN

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27 Adi February 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

Hi neil, love your work. I only have budget to get one fast lens. I am debating between nikon 85mm 1.4 or the 70-200mm. I am using nikon d300s. I would appreciate your opinion on this. thanks

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28 Neil vN February 19, 2010 at 8:14 pm

Adi, in my opinion, the 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR lens is much more versatile than the 85mm f1.4

Neil vN

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29 Jory S February 27, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Neil,

I was wondering what your thoughts were regarding lens filters? (ie. UV, polarizer, etc.)
I’m hesitant not to have one on all of my lenses for ‘protection’, but lately I’m falling into the crowd that feels that filters degrade image quality.
Your thoughts?

Jory, Omaha, NE

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30 Neil vN February 27, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Jory .. I go either way on the use of filters. It depends.

Neil vN

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31 TadGawin March 1, 2010 at 5:47 am

I’m about to buy 24-70mm f2.8 or 17-35mm f2.8 but my budget let me choice only one. Which one is more necessary for weddings on start? I know I’ll need both soon in future.
My thinking way is to buy glasses for FX cause it’s more than sure that I’ll need full frame body soon and my D300 will be second body covering different focal length on the same lenses. It’s more practical I hope or maybe I’m wrong.
Are these lenses sharp enough at open aperture? What is your opinion in this matter? It is necessary to open in low light conditions or have nice unsharp background when is needed.

Tad

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32 Neil vN March 1, 2010 at 10:22 am

I’d suggest getting full-frame lenses, because at some point in the future, you *will* own a D700 (or its successor). There’s a logical progression here. ; )

This way you aren’t stuck with DX lenses two or three years down the line.

Is the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 sharp enough? I can see the crispness of the image improving when I go from f2.8 to f4 … but f2.8 on this lens is as sharp as you will get a normal-range zoom to be. It really is an excellent lens, and for me, an indispensable lens in my work.

Neil vN

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33 Adi March 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Hi Neil, on my post #28 you commented that the 70-200mm is more versatile than 85mm 1.4. My question is for photographing children, do you find that it is very hard to move around following children with such a big and long lens?

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34 Neil vN March 3, 2010 at 9:41 pm

The 70-200mm snaps into focus much faster than the (screw-driven) 85mm lens. You will have a greater success rate with it. Also, you can go wider (and of course much tighter) than 85mm.

Neil vN

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35 Henry O. March 9, 2010 at 7:13 am

Hi Neil. I am just a starting hobbyist and I plan to go into event photography. I presently have a D90 with a 50mm and a 17-55 2.8. I’m eyeing the 70-200mm f2.8 vr. My question is will there be a big difference if I upgrade my D90? If so, what do you recommend? I know that at the end, it depends on the one taking the shots. Also, I’ve come accross a lot of videographers using the Canon 7D lately and the video looks quite good. Is there a Nikon camera that can match up with this video capability? Thanks.

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36 Neil vN March 12, 2010 at 1:57 am

Henry … the camera you’re looking for then is the Nikon D300s … it also features video capability, and has a lot of extra features.

Neil vN

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37 Ivan March 30, 2010 at 2:18 am

Hi Neil, have you try canon 28mm f1.8 usm ? I want buy that lens for my 5D MK II, do you recommend that lens? Thanks Neil

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38 Neil vN March 30, 2010 at 7:05 am

Ivan, I don’t have any direct experience with it, but by all accounts it is an excellent optic too.

Neil vN

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39 George April 11, 2010 at 3:11 am

Hi Neil, I am plan to go into event photography.I presently have a D700 with 14-24/f2.8 ; 50mm/f1.4 and 135mm/f2DC.
Are these lenses are enough to start until can afford to bye 24-70 and 70-200?
Your opinion is greatly appreciated!
Thank You
George

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40 Neil vN April 11, 2010 at 1:02 pm

George .. the 70-200 is such a versatile workhorse, I would seriously consider selling the 135mm f DC lens to offset the purchase of the zoom.

Neil vN

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41 Anthony April 12, 2010 at 7:26 am

Hi Neil,

I love your site and have been inspired by your articles to finally order myself a speedlight so I can try to put some of the techniques you describe into practice.

I’ve been asked to be one of the photographers at my brother’s wedding however my lens collection is missing the all important fast zooms. I have a Sony A100 (APS-C 1.5x crop factor, focal lengths in brackets are full frame equivalents) with 18-250mm (27-375 mm) f3.5-6.3, 30mm (45mm) f2.8 macro, 50mm (75mm) f1.8, 500mm (750mm) f/8 and 18-70mm (27-105) f3.5-5.6 lenses.

My budget will probably only run to one new lens and so my question is, given that constraint, what should my top priority be? It seems that I should be going for an APS-C standard zoom such as the Tamron 17-50mm (25.5-75mm) f2.8, but… perhaps I’ve just been using my superzoom too much but I can’t help being concerned that the 50mm long end might be just a bit too short at times. The other option would be to get a full frame standard zoom such as a 28-70 mm (42-112.5 mm) f2.8 which on my APS-C camera body would give a focal length range from just short of normal through the sort of moderate telephoto focal lengths generally associated with portrait photography. Am I wrong to worry about my fast glass being limited to 50mm and shorter focal lengths? How much am I likely to miss the wide angle coverage if did go for the 28-75instead?

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42 Rag April 15, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Hi Neil,

Love your site, addicted to it now. I bought your book as well but your site keep growing with new information & tips. Will all these be incorporated in your next book?

The second question is,
I am thinking of buying D700, 70-200 VRII, 24-70/f2.8 and

14-24/f2.8 OR 24/f1.4(recently released)

Can you please advise which one should I go for? I take potraits and landscapes as well.

Cheers.

Rag

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43 Brandon April 20, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Hi Neil,
I understand that most of your Prime Lens are 85mm, I seen some reviews commenting that 50mm f1.4 is more suitable for EOS 500D, while 85mm f1.8/1.4 are more suitable for FF like EOS 1D.

I would love to go for 70-200mm but due to budget constraint, what would you recommend if I would like to take photos for kids or maybe some events.

Your kind advise is greatly appreciated.

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44 Neil vN April 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Brandon .. for a not-too-tight portrait, the 50mm lens works well on the 1.6x crop sensor. But if your budget is tight, also look at the Canon 85mm f1.8 lens. Great optical quality for an affordable price. This then would give you a lens that can give you a nice tight portrait.

Neil vN

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45 Brandon April 20, 2010 at 11:00 pm

Hi Neil,
Many thanks for your kind advise. Currently the price between these 2 prime lens, 85mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.4 are not too far off, hence I shall go for 85mm right? Cheers.

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46 Neil vN April 21, 2010 at 12:51 am

Personally, I’d go for the 85mm f1.8 rather than the 50mm f1.4 although valid arguments could be made for either purchase. But I think the 85mm will give you a specific look to your photos that will be quite new and exciting. More so than the 50mm.

Neil vN

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47 mike April 26, 2010 at 7:11 am

Neil,
i have a 50mm 1.4 and dont use it much….i also have the 70-200 2.8 is but am thinking about buying the 85mm 1.8……everyone who has it seems to love it, do you think its a waste to buy it since i have the 70-200??? ty

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48 Neil vN April 27, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Mike .. unless you specifically need a compact short telephoto – as opposed to wielding the much larger lens in people’s face – then I’d still say the zoom is a more versatile lens. I wouldn’t call it a waste of money, but I wonder if you’d use it as often as the zoom.

Neil vN

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49 Brandon May 4, 2010 at 5:13 am

Hi Neil,
Seen thru most of your comments, and seem that it is more worthwhile investing in Canon L Lenses. For wedding and kids photography, it would be good to invest in EF 24-70mm f2.8 in long run or having a 85mm f1.8 is good enough? If in the case, there is no concern on budget.. : )

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50 Neil vN May 5, 2010 at 10:00 pm

I’m a big advocate of quality zooms. :)

Neil vN

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51 Brandon May 6, 2010 at 2:57 am

Hi Neil,
Thanks for your kind advise. I forget to mention that currently I only have the kit len 18-200mm f3.5-5.6. So far the quality taken is quite good and range wise is quite versatile. Hence in your opinion, shall I still get the 24-70mm lens? Or a 17-55mm f2.8 lens or 85mm f1.8 lens will be perfect? Thanks.

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52 Neil vN May 10, 2010 at 11:33 am

Brandon, what lens do you NEED?
Personally, I would always go for the full-frame fast zoom.
24-70mm f2.8
It will be superior to the do-all wide-range zoom.

Neil vN

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53 Alexis Hadjisoteriou May 10, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Hi Neil
I am regular reader and a big fan of your work and articles and also love your book.
I am an aspiring amateur but this year my photography has started earning me a little bit of money – mainly weddings and I need to up my game if I am going to start (near) serious money for my work.

Presently I have 2 bodies: Canon 50D and 20D and the following lenses: Sigma: 8mm, 10-20, 18-50 f/2.8 macro and Canon 85mm f/1.8 and 70-300IS. I also own a 430EX flash with Gary Fong Lightshere.

I have about $1300 to spend and the obvious choice was 70-200 f/2.8L in place of my 70-300 but cannot afford that lens in either MkI or MkII form so was looking at the f4/IS which I can afford. Alternatively I can sell the 8mm which I don’t use a lot and blow my ENTIRE budget in the MkI – do you think its worth it or shall I stick with the f/4IS. The above budget needs to cover some of my flash needs as well but that’s for another thread.

I was also looking at the Sigma 500-150 f/2.8 but getting really varied reports regarding quality and consistency.

Your advice would be hugely appreciated.
Alexis

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54 mike May 11, 2010 at 6:42 am

alexis,
you can get a good used 70-200 2.8 with IS on ebay for around $1500, but another lens you should look at is the canon 24-70 2.8, that will be used for more than half of your shots, combine that with your 85mm 1.8 and you could get most of your shots at any wedding, mike

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55 Alexis Hadjisoteriou May 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

Hi Mike,
Thanx for the feedback – there are 3 reasons that I would not consider the 24-70 2.8:
a) I have a Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 which I am very happy with its optical quality, build and price
b) 28mm as a minimum would be restrictive on a crop camera such as my 50D and 20D
c) Reports of back-focusing have put me off this particular lens.

I totally agree with you that the 85mm is an invaluable tool in ANY wedding – the question that I am asking is whether I should buy a new 70-210 f4IS or (as you suggest) a used MkI 70-200 IS f2.8. Your views would be most welcome.

regards and thanx again
Alexis

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56 mike May 12, 2010 at 9:45 am

alexis,
I am NO expert but I think the extra stop you will get will be a big help since you are using a 50d where you are limited as to how high you can go iso wise…i bought a used 70-200 2.8 is and its a great lens(although) can be very heavy after a day of shooting….I am sure Neil has more info from his years of experience, Mike

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57 Alexis Hadjisoteriou May 13, 2010 at 8:23 am

Thanx Mike – I was hoping that Neil was going to comment on this but alas he has not been tempted!

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58 Neil vN May 13, 2010 at 8:35 am

Get the faster lens, with stabilization. :)

Neil vN

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59 Tom May 16, 2010 at 2:06 am

Hi Neil,

I have a Canon EOS 40D with 70-200 2.8 IS, 50mm 1.8 and 17-85 IS.
Would a 17-40 F4 be a worthwhile upgrade from the 17-85 IS? I can get a second hand one at a reasonable price.

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60 Neil vN May 17, 2010 at 2:07 am

Tom .. I don’t think the 17-40mm f4 will offer you much more than your 17-85mm does. It would be an obvious upgrade or change if you changed to a full-frame camera, since the 17-40mm is a full-frame lens.

Neil vN

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61 Tom June 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Hi Neil, have you had any experience of the EFS 17-55 2.8?

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62 mike June 14, 2010 at 10:56 am

nice lens for a crop camera

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63 Neil vN June 15, 2010 at 10:25 am

Hi there Tom … I don’t have direct experience of the Canon 17-55 f2.8 but by all accounts it is an excellent optic.

Neil vN

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64 Trina Cheney July 15, 2010 at 9:11 am

Hi Neil,

I am planning on buying the Nikon 24-70 2.8mm lens. Is that lens sharper or better than the Nikon 18-200mm 3.5-5.6 lens, which I already own. The reason I was purchasing the 2.8 was the ability to chose my aperture, unlike the 18-200mm. I can hold off and save some more money if the picture quality is the same.

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65 Neil vN July 15, 2010 at 1:25 pm

Trina .. I don’t know the 18-200 at all, but I would be hugely surprised if the 24-70mm f2.8 lens isn’t superior in every aspect.

As a related story – the first time I used a pro-level zoom, was the old Nikon 35-70mm f2.8D AF lens. It just blew my socks off with how sharp it was, and made me realize that the f4-f5.6 zooms I had been using at the time, just don’t compare.

The f2.8 also gives you the advantage of being able to isolate something against the background with a wider aperture. Alternately, the wider aperture also allows higher shutter speeds.

Neil vN

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66 Ivan July 26, 2010 at 8:03 am

Hi Neil,

I am planning to buy Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM (Non IS Version). My question is :

1) Do you have experience with this lens?
2) How important is image stabilization in a lens?
3) Can you suggest me,how minimum speed when focal length 200mm without is (image stabilization)on APS-C (canon 550d) camera to get sharp image?

Thanx Neil

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67 Neil vN July 26, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I only have experience with the two IS lenses. I wasn’t ever really impressed with the first version of the IS lens when used wide open. It only got some snap to the image from f3.5 onwards. The new lens is magnificent though.

Depending on your needs and style of shooting, I’d say the IS lens is essential. I certainly get photos with the stabilized lenses that I’d never be able to get with the non-IS / non-VR lenses.

re the minimum handholdable speed .. that’s impossible to give a specific numerical value to. It depends on how stable YOU are, and how stable you can hold a lens. One thing to keep in mind, that there is no magical cut off shutter speed, eg … everything over 1/125 will be sharp, and everything under 1/125 will have some degree of blur. That kind of absolute definition of how one shutter speed might or might not be handholdable, is unrealistic. It’s a sliding scale. Shades of grey.

Neil vN

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68 Arun (tokyo) July 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Hi Neil,
I have gotten advice from you earlier on my next purchase and would like to try my luck again getting advice from you on my next purchase. (Btw, I am just a hobbist usually taking portraits of my kids )
I currently own a
- Nikon D90
- SB600 (suggest by you, elevated my photography to next level)

- 50 mm f1.8 – not so good but was cheap, when I wanted to take photo in the hospital during delivery of our second child.

- 18-200 mm I am pretty impressed with it when I used it in the mid zoom range stopped down from f6.0 – f13.0, it is quite sharp in this range imho, but have to use flash a lot to make up for the lost light in smaller aperture.

- Tokina 11-16mm f2.8 – Purchased it as I got bored of shooting thousands and thousands of tight portraits of my kids. But still struggling to learn to use it. I have to admit that gettign a good composition here with kids in the foreground is very challenging.

- Now What Next?
I would like to take portraits with
- nice soft buttery bokeh (18-200 gives that sometime but not always so not sure what really affects the bokeh! is it the rounded 9 baldes? or the coatings? or quality of light)
- at times only with avaialble light
- and need a lens quite fast in nailing down the focus, as with my 18-200 sometimes miss the shots of my kids running, part to blame my be my D90 and myself :)

I restricted my choices down to (not in any particular order)
- 105 mm f2.8 micro nikkor (can also use for macro / cheapest of the bunch / bokeh quality not sure / focus I have heard not so fast)
- 85 mm f1.4 (really wide/ cost mid of the three / bokeh according to your article best of the bunch / focus not sure)
- 70-200 mm f2.8 (flexible zoom range, bokeh quality good / cost most expensive of the three / heavy not sure if i can run around with my kids / focusing – you had mentioned it is blazing fast on a D3 so should be ok on a D90 ?)

Again I am not a pro and I cant recoup any of these investments other than the statisfaction I get taking good pics of my kids.

Thanks
Arun

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69 Neil vN July 31, 2010 at 3:26 am

Arun, it is difficult not to recommend the amazing Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 AF-S VR II zoom. I do think it will be a more flexible optic for you than the two fixed focal length lenses. It might be a bit bulky for photographing children indoors though.

But it does focus faster than the 85mm f1.4

Neil vN

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70 Ivan August 3, 2010 at 11:38 pm

Hi Neil,

I need your suggest, Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS USM or Canon 135mm f2.0 L USM?

Thanks Neil

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71 Neil vN August 4, 2010 at 3:24 am

Ivan, you don’t say whether you have the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II lens? If so, then the Canon 100mm f2.8 IS lens would be a better complement to the zoom than the 135mm f2 lens.

Neil vN

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72 Clifford August 13, 2010 at 9:47 pm

re: Canon 24-70mm

It seems like the consensus for this lens is a mixed bag. Unfortunately, as a 5Dmkii owner my options are limited to either the Canon or its much-cheaper Sigma counterpart. Putting aside the back-focus and softness at infinity issues mentioned earlier on, what’s your take on its overall IQ? Thanks

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73 Neil vN August 14, 2010 at 1:27 am

Clifford, if you can work with a max aperture of f4 then the Canon 24-105mm f4 (B&H) is, in my opinion, a more reliable lens. The range is certainly great.

Neil vN

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74 Roel August 16, 2010 at 4:41 am

@Arun: I coupled a Tamron 28-75 2.8 to my D300 for shooting kids indoors… much to my delight! Razor sharp (after some tweaking), great blur, very light weight (350g), small and cheap (I paid mine €200 second hand).

Excellent bang for the bucks.

Roel

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75 Jonas August 18, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Hi, really interesting.

I use a D700 and 85 1.8 for portraits. My partner shoots with a 5Dmk2 and 85 1.2L. I love the bokeh on the Canon lens but have been torn between the cheaper option of buying the Nikon 85 1.4 on my 12MP D700 camera, or getting a 5DMk2 and 85 1.2 as a one trick pony for portraits, and a wider angle 35m F2 so I can use it for large group shots.

What do you think?

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76 Neil vN August 21, 2010 at 2:06 am

Jonas .. as wonderful as the Canon 85mm f1.2 might be (and it really looks great on the 5D), if you have a D700, I would recommend the Nikon 85mm f1.4 to you.

In practical terms, I don’t believe there is very little (if anything) to discern between the images from either lens. Check my comment #6 in that post.

Neil vN

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77 Steve August 28, 2010 at 10:59 am

I currently own a Canon 5dII and 24-70L.

I am starting to get more portraiture gigs this fall, so I am looking for a great portraiture lens that will make my work stand out against the ever growing crowd. Ideally I’d buy both the 85 1.4L and the 70-200 2.8 IS II, but considering their pricetags, I’ll have to make due with only one for a while.

My two main criteria are stellar bokeh (both quality and quantity for great subject isolation) and something to fill the gap in my longer focal range. I’d say that right now, the bokeh is more important to me than the longer end afforded by the 200vs85.

I’d imagine that the 85L’s fixed focal length wouldn’t be too much of a problem when shooting portraits (seniors, families, etc) because I’m pretty much in control of the situation and can pose, etc. That’d be less the case for weddings next summer, so the 70-200 would better for that.

That said, I don’t currently have any weddings lined up for next summer (here’s to hoping!), but I’d imagine the versatility for the 70-200 would be much better for weddings, so I’d like to be prepared for that. Though, having the 85L could really make my work stand out and catch people’s eye and get me some more gigs (wedding or not) which would speed up saving for the other.

What are your thoughts?

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78 Neil vN August 28, 2010 at 12:16 pm

As great as the 85mm f1.2 II is, the new Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 II is such a versatile lens and sharp (and has stabilization), that it has to be the first choice.

Neil vN

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79 mike September 6, 2010 at 7:20 am

NEIL,
I am waiting for the new d7000 and want to know what lens to go with….the 17-55 or the 24-70……full frame is not in the cards in the immediate future, thanks

I am more concerned with image quality than focal length, is the 24-70 worth the extra $500????

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80 mike September 6, 2010 at 7:41 am

Make that a $300 difference

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81 Wilma vd Merwe September 6, 2010 at 3:51 pm

OK Neil… Ek het dit gedoen! :-)

I have just ordered my Canon 5D and 70-200 f.28 II… I’m all excited and feel a bit sick after spending so much money… but hey! It was a tough choice between the 7D and the 5D, but you helped me to make up my mind.

Thanks for your advise and guidance on your website. I love your book, and need to read it over and over again.

Wilma (Karen Opperman se sus)

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82 mike September 14, 2010 at 11:15 am

NEIL,
I am waiting for the new d7000 and want to know what lens to go with….the 17-55 or the 24-70……full frame is not in the cards in the immediate future, thanks

I am more concerned with image quality than focal length, is the 24-70 worth the extra money????

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83 Keram September 20, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Hello Neil,

hope all is well with you.

i have a d3s body – need to decide 24-70 or 70-200 vr 2 for wedding and portraits. also, am sure u heard about the issues with the 70-200 (chipping iside the barrel)is it really serious or has no short/long term impact im IQ.

thanks for your continous advices. if u charged 1 dollar for each answer u would add an easy 100k to your BA. (hope am not giving you any ideas.:))

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84 Neil vN September 20, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Mike, the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S is unsurpassed as a medium-range zoom. It is simply the best that is available in that range. A used 17-55mm f2.8 might be better value for money though.

Neil vN

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85 Andy October 28, 2010 at 5:50 am

Hi Neil, i need suggestion from you, i want buy lens with big aperture, canon 135mm f2.0 or canon 70-200 f2.8 (non is), for me canon 70-200 f4 is too slow and canon 70-200 f2.8 is or is II out from my budget. Thanks Neil

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86 Neil vN October 30, 2010 at 6:13 pm

I’d go with the f2.8 zoom every time. However, without the IS you lose a lot of benefit. Tough call.

Neil vN

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87 Jerry October 31, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Hello Neil, my question is what do you think of the Nikkor 80-200mm f.2.8 Af-s. Although it has no VR at this point the new 70-200 vr2 is a little pricey for me. I presently have the nikkor 50mm f1.4D, sigma 24-78mm f2.8, nikkor 24mm f2.8 and my old 80-200mm f2.8 push and pull from my film days. However I wish to upgrade, I still however shoot with the old faithful. I just want your suggestion and opinion of this.
Thanks Jerry

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88 Neil vN October 31, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Jerry, I had that old push-pull 80-200mm f2.8 lens and loved it! I never used the AF-S version, but I am sure it’s a fantastic lens as well. If the upgrade isn’t that expensive, it might make sense … otherwise keep shooting with the older lens, and wait until you’ve saved up for the VR II version.

Neil vN

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89 Teri Davis November 1, 2010 at 1:57 pm

Neil
I need/want, (ha, what’s the difference) to purchase the Canon 70-200 but my question is, the older version is about $1,000 less then the newer 70-200 f2.8 IS II usm. I asked the sales rep at B & H and he said that the the newer model is not worth that much of a jump in price and i’d be safe with the 70-200 f2.8 IS USM.
I know you use this lens. Is the difference really that telling? ….or am I safe with the $1200 model.

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90 Neil vN November 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Commendable of the B&H salesperson not to push new gear on you, insisting you need it. That’s rare.

For me, the new Canon 70-200mm f2.8 II would’ve been an automatic upgrade. it is significantly sharper wide open. Check my review in the link.

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91 Eduardo B. November 7, 2010 at 4:38 am

Hi Neil, Can you help me? I shoot Nikon and Im thinking on switching from DX to FX. I will buy the D700 and and I dont know what is the best lens choise. Im in doubt between the 24-70 F2.8 with 70-200 f2.8 or the new 24-120 F4 with 85G F1.4. I have 2 fix lenses, 24 f2.8 and the 50 F1.4. What do you think is the best choise?

Thanks.

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92 Neil vN November 7, 2010 at 4:40 am

Eduardo … the two zooms, 24-70 and 70-200 will be a more versatile combination.

Neil vN

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93 Corby Chapin November 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Hi Neil,

Great topic as always. I do have a suggestion for you since you seem to be expanding well beyond your “usual” scope when posting recently.

Related to lenses, it’d be really cool to know why/when you would use a specific lens. I think this would be especially useful for those of who have been given the “why would anyone want a 24-70 lens” speech, because “it doesn’t give you separation from your background like a telephoto, or the compression of a wide angle.”

Obviously you use a particular lens for a certain reason, so it’d be really awesome to know why you made the choice.

Keep up the awesomeness!

CORBY

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94 Neil vN November 9, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Corby, check out this recent post on choosing lenses for wedding photography.

Anyway, the 24-70 zoom is a workhorse lens for me, and I think anyone who disdains it for wedding photography is just being pretentious.

Neil vN

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95 Rob Dunbar November 11, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I’m looking to buy a new lens. Since I upgraded to the 5D Mark II my only 2 lens are the 50mm ƒ/1.4 & the 70-200mm ƒ4. I plan on eventually getting the 85mm ƒ/1.8 down the road but for now I am looking at the 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 IS II or the 135mm ƒ/2. I would sell my 70-200mm ƒ4 to get one of these. The 135mm is cheaper and is stuff of legends but I like the versatility of the 70-200mm. I do mostly portrait work but have started helping friends out with weddings. Your thoughts?

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96 mike November 11, 2010 at 4:56 pm

70-200 f2.8……..hands down………versatile and a great lens….add the 24-70 2.8 and you can shoot almost any assigment that comes your way……

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97 Neil vN November 11, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Rob, hands down the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II … it is the more versatile lens.

Neil vN

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98 Eduardo B. November 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Neil, Did you have any kind of light leak problem with your Nikon 24-70 F2.8?
I saw this video: Nikon 24-70 F2.8 Light Leak Problem.

I tested my lens and I had the same thing. I put the lens on 55mm, High iso and 10 seconds exposure and I find some lighs leaking in to my camera… Is this normal or a bigg issue?

Thank you.

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99 Stephen November 24, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Eduardo,
I have this lens, and I do not think this an issue for portrait photography, because I am not using 10-second exposures or very high ISO in those cases.

However, if I were a landscape photographer and need the long exposures to create light streaks, this is more likely a problem.

–Stephen

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100 Neil vN November 25, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Eduardo … I am sure the problem does exist, and that the lens does what is shown there. I’m also quite sure the “problem” isn’t actually a real problem you’d ever encounter in a real shooting scenario. So no, it isn’t “normal”, and no, it’s not an issue at all, whether big or small. No concern to me at all.

Neil vN

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101 anthony orcena December 19, 2010 at 10:24 am

Hi neil,
I Have a 16-85 lens on my d-90 and i would like to buy either a flashgun or lens. I am thinking of buying 50mm f1.4 or 85 mm f1.4. I am also considering to buy a flash gun. I am a newbie in photography and want to enjoy my camera more and slowly learn photography with the help of your great website. I need your advise.

anthony

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102 Neil vN December 19, 2010 at 7:09 pm

Anthony … I think right now the speedlight and a 50mm f1.4 would make more difference to your photography than just the 85mm f1.4 would.

Neil vN

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103 Lisa December 19, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Hi Neil!

I’m a great admirer of your works and love your blog. I would like to ask your opinion. I’ll be shooting a wedding in April, 2011 outside and the reception will be inside a mansion. What lens(es) would you recommend I use for these two setting? I’ll be using the D7000 (which should be arriving soon)!

Thanks in advance for your great counsel and expert advice.

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104 Neil vN December 19, 2010 at 7:20 pm

In my opinion, the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 (B&H) would be the best choice for a DX sensor Nikon body. The fast maximum aperture will be a huge help with an indoor wedding reception. THe 17-55mm range on a crop sensor translates into a good focal range.

Neil vN

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105 john December 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Do you have an opinion on the nikon 24-120 f4?
It seems ideal for full frame. Will you choose it over the 24-70 2.8 the same way you did with the canon?
It seems such a great focal length range.

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106 Neil vN December 22, 2010 at 7:05 pm

John … I actually have one on loan at the moment for testing purposes, so will post a review in the next few days. Check back!

[ placeholder ]

Neil vN

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107 Laura February 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Hello Neil,

I have just graduated from a D80 to a D700. I admit when I bought the D80 I did not do enough research and did not necessarily make the best choices for lenses. Right now I have:
DX 500-200 f 4-5.6
DX 18-135 f3.5-5.6
DX 18-70 f 3.5-4.5
50 mm f 1.8

Now that i have the D700 I am looking for one good lens for portraiture, I specialize in maternity and newborn as a sideline to my Doula business. This time I want to make sure that the lens is going to grow with me. I am also selling my D80 and am would like to include one of the lenses with it, my first instinct is the 18-135, but I am second guessing this.

I love your website and wish I had discovered it a long time ago.

Regards,
Laura

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108 Neil vN April 24, 2011 at 4:12 am

Laura, the lenses you list there are all slow-aperture zooms. Even the lens you’re looking at. The one lens I think that will make an immediate difference (and is affordable), is the Nikon 85mm f1.8 (B&H)

I think this will give you an entirely different look than the zoom lenses you already have.

Neil vN

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109 Annette May 9, 2011 at 11:28 am

Hi Neil

I was asked to be the photographer at a friend’s wedding, and I own a Canon EOS 50D. What kind of portrait lens do you recomment for this particular camera? You mention the EF 24-70mm F2.8, but I am not sure if it works for my camera… And what about the EF 85mm F1.8? So far I only have a Canon EF 18-200mm lens and am not entirely happy with it.

thanks for your help!
Annette

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110 Neil vN May 14, 2011 at 4:19 pm

Anette … either of those lenses would work with your 50D.
The crop factor of the 50D would make the 24-70mm f.2.8 a good portrait lens. Similarly, the shallow depth-of-field of the 85mm f1.8 would be of great use. They are different lenses, but either would be help you change the look of your images from the 18-200mm

Neil vN

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111 Viren May 15, 2011 at 1:33 am

Hi Neil,

I currently use a Nikon D90 and do not see myself going to a full frame camera. What is the best set of fast zooms for a DX camera

12-24?
17-55?

Viren

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112 Neil vN May 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm

Viren .. my first choice there would be the Nikon 17-55mm f2.8 (B&H link)
It is a more immediately useful range than the 12-24 if you have no other lenses.

Neil vN

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113 Viren May 21, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Would it make sense to get the 24-70 2.8 for a D90, because of its better quality

What would be the benefits of moving up to a D700 full frame camera?

Viren

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114 Neil vN May 22, 2011 at 3:10 am

The Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 zoom is in a class of its own. Just superb. With the crop factor of the D90 it would behave like a 36-105mm lens … a nice portrait length. So it really depends on what you want to photograph.

The D700 offers you much cleaner files at higher ISO settings. Also, the D700 body feels more solid than the D90, and is a definite step up in every aspect, even though you’d lose HD Video capability if you went with the D700.

Neil vN

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115 Cliff Beard May 30, 2011 at 6:32 pm

Neil, I currently use the Nikon 24-70 and 70-200VR2, as well as various primes for a small number of weddings and christenings etc each year. My main wedding body is a D700, seconded by a D300.

The 24-70 seems to get good reviews and you are clearly a fan. I find myself sometimes being a bit disappointed. It certainly isn’t as razor sharp as my 70-200 anywhere. The main issue I have is that off-centre subjects often appear soft or slightly blurred. This can occur even when shooting a couple together, but especially with groups of 3 or more. I alway focus on the eye of one subject by moving the focus point, to avoid focus errors caused by recomposition. I like to shoot at f4 or so but even at f5.6 and f8, where DOF should be decent, I have found unsatisfactory sharpness away from centre. I have checked focus accuracy and it seems ok. I have seen some stunning shots taken with this lens on your site, but generally with one subject or subjects close to centre. Have you found an issue with this lens when shooting off-centre. I’m not sure if its a design issue with extreme field curvature or if mine is de-centred. I’d be interested in your experience of using it for group shots.

Regards,

Cliff

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116 Viren June 19, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Hi Neil.. Appreciate your comments. I just finished reading your book on On-Camera Flash. Let me say that is the best book I have read till now on the subject.. I commend you for writing such a great book!

I have a Nikon D90, a SB-800 and a Nikon 18-200 VR lens. I have decided to move to the FX world and invest in the Nikon D-700. Some questions where I need your guidance

1. Will the 18-200 be any use to me with a D700 or should I sell it?
2. I like taking portraits, family functions and some landscapes (while travelling). I know you would recommend the Nikon 14-24, 24-70, 70-200. However getting 3 lens is not in my budget. I can definately get one .. maybe the second after a few months. What will you recommend in terms of usage for me
3. I presume the SB-800 will still serve me well on the D-700

Thanks
Viren

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117 Alex June 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Hi Neil,

Sorry for my question which is not about RAW and so on.

Have you ever try to shoot portraits with Nikon 135mm 2.0 DC lens? I know that 85mm more comfortable and universal but result very interesting as for me. And yes, 135 is old lens with chromatic aberrations on 2.0 and soften because of that … but 2.8 is incredible.

Interesting you oppinion about this lense.

Regards,
Alex.

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118 Bipin August 5, 2011 at 11:41 am

Viren, Is there any reason why you want to move to full frame?
D90 is a decent camera and if I were you ,then I will get rid of the 18-200 and get the 24-70 and 70-200 (or 85 1.4)and retain the same body.Not that moving to full frame is not good ,it is just that I will give priority to get good glass first.
But, If you are going with D700 ,SB-800 will definitely serve you well.
Just my thoughts ,probably Niel will share better thoughts :)

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119 Lance August 5, 2011 at 4:12 pm

I’m going to preface this with a note: I have limited experience with really nice lenses, and no experience at all with a full-frame digital body.

However, I have used both the 24-70 and 70-200 VR, on crop-sensor bodies (D300 and D7000).

My thoughts are thus: while these are both excellent lenses, they both leave somewhat to be desired when used on a crop-sensor body. The 24-70 becomes an odd 36ish – 100ish lens, which is moderately useful as a portrait lens I suppose, but it’s neither particularly wide at the short end, nor particularly long at the long end. I’ve more experience with that lens than with the 70-200, which I rented once for an engagement session. That lens becomes a monstrous 100ish-300ish on a crop sensor body. I found this to be incredibly awkward while shooting an engagement session. Before long I swapped back to my runty little sigma 18-50 2.8 just so I wasn’t shouting direction at the couple from 30 yards away. It’s just too long to be useful (Unless you NEED to be far away, I suppose).

I believe that to get the most out of Nikon’s professional lenses, you really do need to consider a full frame body (unless you’re shooting wildlife, using the even longer pro lenses, in which case I can see a crop body being beneficial to a point).

I’d be interested to know if anyone else shares these sentiments.

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120 Neil vN August 5, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I’m going to have to go with Lance.

Especially in that the 70-200mm focal length makes most sense (as a portrait type lens) on a full-frame body. It’s just too tight on a crop sensor.

Neil vN

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121 Laura N. August 10, 2011 at 11:14 am

Hi Neil,

I need a wide angle lens, but cannot decide on which would be the best choice. My lenses so far are Canon 50 1.2, 85 1.8, and 100 2.8 macro. Initially, I had planned on only doing portraits and lifestyle shots (which required indoor shooting – hence the primes), but lately I’ve been asked to shoot weddings as a second shooter. I had my eye on the 35 1.4, but now think the 16-35 2.8 might be better. BUT you mention the 24-70 as a great lens. I just got my 5D Mark II, so any advice would be awesome.

Thanks!

Laura N.

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122 Neil vN August 11, 2011 at 8:44 am

Laura … the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II, is one lens I can unfortunately not recommend. My experience with the 5 copies I had tried, was miserable. And it was this lens that finally tipped me over into switching back to Nikon when I saw how absolutely brilliantly sharp the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 was in comparison.

Neil vN

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123 Ivan R. September 27, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Hello Neil,

could I ask you what is your opinion about Canon 50 1.2 ? I’ve got Canon 50mm f1.8 mkI, sometimes I like the images it produces, but it feels so unreliable – slow AF, hunts in low light etc – I missed a lot of shots because of this. I’d like to upgrade it, but when I borrowed my friend’s 50 1.4 I didn’t see much improvement over the 1.8 (my 1.8 was sharper until ~ f2 and somehow the 1.8 seemed lock in the focus more reliably)

So I was wondering how the 50 1.2 compares to those two… It seems to get quite mixed reviews – some people like it, but quite a few complain about its back focus issues and say the image quality is not that different from 1.4. Do you have any experience with the 50 1.2, which you could possibly share ?

I’ve got 5D mkII, 16-35 mkII, 50 1.8, 100 f2 and 70-200 f4 IS but I found myself taking more & more pictures with the 50mm, even though the Canon 50mm 1.8 is kind of ridiculous. I’m shooting mainly family & friends as a hobby, sometimes portraits, locations, events and music bands for my webdesign business (mostly with the 16-35 and 100mm). Do you think the 50 1.2 would fit in this setup?
I’m not so keen on a mid range zoom – 24-70 is quite bulky and I’m not so keen on 24-105 f4 either, my 70-200 f4 is often too slow to be useful indoors.

Any advice would be highly appreciated.

Anyway, thank you very much for what you are already doing – your books and site are really great!

Best Regards

Ivan R.

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124 Neil vN November 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Ivan, the Canon 50mm f1.2 is a fantastic optic, but there is an inherent problem with the optical design .. the focus shifts at close distances. It may or may not be a problem, depending on how you use the lens.

Neil vN

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125 Sayed December 29, 2011 at 7:55 am

Hi Neil..

I’m completely a newbie in fotografy. I’ve Nikon D90 with it’s kit lens and Sigma 17-70 USM lens. Now i wish to buy a macro/micro lens mainly for copying photographs/paints and for portrait work. I conclude my list into tow ie, 1) Nikon 60mm AF-S f/2.8g micro & 2) Sigma 70mm f/2.8 EX DG macro. Focal length is not a prob for me as i don’t want to shoot anime. Also focus speed is not a deal for me, as I use MF for copying. I need sharper, crisper, colorful, high resolutioned one from the above lenses. Thanks in advance for your valuable suggestion.

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126 Neil vN January 2, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Sayed … I don’t have experience with either lens. I would naturally gravitate towards the marquee lens, ie, the Nikon … but that said, every report I’ve seen on the various Sigma macro lenses have been very favorable. So it would seem like you can’t go wrong either way.

Neil vN

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127 Farrah January 30, 2012 at 2:55 am

I use the Canon Rebel T2i and am looking to upgrade to the Mark D 2. I am needing a lens that can be used for large groups and family pictures , that can be used for inside studio and outdoor sessions. Can you please help in any way. Thank you so much! Farrah

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128 Neil vN February 2, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Farrah … the Canon 24-105mm f/4 USM (B&H) is probably your most versatile choice here.

Neil vN

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129 Stehen March 4, 2012 at 8:00 am

Great amazing site Neil. You are a true master and a giver to provide so much info to us non-pros here.

Looks like the lens threads is the most popular here :)

I am using a Canon 60D (crop 1.6x sensor)
My current lenses are:
50mm 1.8 (80mm FF equivalent)

15-85 3.5/5.6 zoom with IS (24-136 mm FF equivalent) – my walk about lens for most situations

what would you consider a good choice for my next lens?
Not thinking of going FF any time soon

Should I look at the Canon 10-22mm 3.5/5.6 or is that too much overlap from my 15-85?
or should I get a faster wide angle prime like a 24mm or 35mm?

not much choices for us crop sensor folks with good fast optics

I know most portraits are using the 85mm or 105 mm lenses

I shot all types of shots. nothing in particular

thanks so much for your blog. looking forward to learning a LOT more to improve my skills dramatically

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130 Neil vN March 4, 2012 at 5:40 pm

I think a fast prime would give you a different look to your photos, and open up new possibilities for you that the slower zoom can’t give.

But, I wouldn’t buy into lenses for the cropped sensor. I think it is near-inevitable that you will have a FF camera at some point in the future. That’s the usual progression.

Neil vN

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131 charlou April 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Hi Neil,

i am using a Canon 5d MK1 and 40D. I’m working in wedding event with both camera : 17-55 2.8 IS Canon with 40D and 70-200 2.8 IS v1 with my 5d Mk1. I find my 17-55 not very ergonomic and would like changing it with 24-70 2.8 Canon v1. Is it a good choice ? (24-70 on 5d mk1 and 70-200 on 40d).

thanks a lot for your blog ;) Very nice…

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132 Neil vN April 9, 2012 at 11:14 pm

Charloy, I’d strongly recommend waiting for the new Canon 24-70mm f2.8 II lens since the older version isn’t the most reliable lens. Unfortunately.

Neil vN

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133 charlou April 10, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Are you sure i’ll see a better quality with my 12 MP (i’ve 5dmark1) ??

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134 Neil vN April 10, 2012 at 4:24 pm

You will most certainly notice a lens that back-focuses, or is uneven from left to right, or has smudged corners at wide angles.

These aren’t “theoretical” considerations, or related to careful pixel-peeping.

Neil vN

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135 charlou April 10, 2012 at 8:08 pm

I didn’t have enough money for new 24-70. Buying a 24-105 4L could be a nice choice ? Using a 24-105 @f/4 with 5d, could I’ve same bokeh than my 17-55 2.8 @f/2.8 ? What about autofocus ?

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136 Neil vN April 11, 2012 at 10:35 am

Before I can answer that, it is important to know that:

bokek is NOT the same as shallow depth-of-field
and conversely,
(shallow) depth-of-field is NOT the same thing as bokeh

So, comparing the Canon 24-105mm f4 (with its spectacularly poor bokeh) @f4 on a full-frame camera, to the 17-55 (@f2.8) on a 1.6x crop-sensor camera .. will give you approximately the same depth-of-field.

But I can’t comment about how their bokeh would compare, since I don’t know the 17-55mm f2.8
But the Canon 24-105mm f/4 has harsh bokeh.

Neil vN

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137 Charlie April 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

But for wedding, it could be a good choice… Completed by a 70-200 2.8 l is on aps-c. There are none superposition range..

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138 Syed April 13, 2012 at 5:54 am

Hi Neil

I am a serious hobbyist and planning to shift from DX to full frame body. In order to match the full frame planning to buy FX lenses. I am bit confused between Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 and 24-120mm f4 VR lens. I will appreciate if you could advise me in this regard which is going to give a good service in general photography such as family events, architecture and general landscape.
Thanks

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139 Neil vN April 15, 2012 at 3:30 am

Syed, for those times when I only want to walk around with one lens, and I’m not working in low light, then the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR (B&H) is the lens I grab. But for any work where I need the wider aperture of f2.8 then the Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 AF-S (B&H) @ 6 is essential.

I have both lenses, and they each have their specific use. But my first choice would be the 24-70mm f2.8

Neil vN

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140 Syed April 16, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Hi Neil

I appreciate your suggestion and surely will go for 24 -70mm.

Thank you once again for the reply

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141 Hannes May 31, 2012 at 6:07 pm

Hi,

thanks a lot for this article. I’m studying landscape photography for years now, but I think it’s time to expand my skills. Basically, I now have to choose my lens. I don’t really like zooms (maybe because I can’t afford such great 70-200 f/2.8 lenses – cheaper ones are crap imho), so the decision is between a 50mm f/1.8 and a 85mm f/1.8. I don’t consider a 50mm f/1.4 as the 1.8 for E-Mount seems to be awesome for it’s price right now.

So which lens would you buy for an 1.5x crop body? Are the perspective extremely different?

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142 paul June 13, 2012 at 11:37 am

Hi Neil, firstly I’d like to thank you for all the info you provide everyone on this site. It’s amazing the work you must do to keep up with it, very impressive.
My question relates to cameras. I was thinking of buying a 5d mark III or the nikon D800. Pushing me towards the nikon would be that you rate the 24-70 a better lens in the nikon. What’s your thoughts on which direction to go.

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143 mike August 27, 2012 at 10:40 am

Neil,

Is it worth the cost (around $600) to upgrade to the VRII version of Nikon’s 70-200 2.8 from the VRI?? I have both D700 and D7000 bodies. thanks, mike

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144 Mitch November 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hi Neil,
I have the Canon T4i. Along with that camera I have the following lenses.
EF 40 mm f/2.8 STM
EF 50 mm f/1.8 II
EF 85 mm f/1.2 L II USM
EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
I will be looking to add the Canon 5D Mark III to the inventory and when I do I want to add some quality lenses. I have three in mind. Think this sounds all around effective?
EF 16-35mm f/2.8 L II USM
EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L II USM
EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM
Thanks for your thoughts.

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145 Carlos Ribeiro November 22, 2012 at 1:10 am

Dear Mr Neil,
May I use isopropyl alcohol to clean objectives?
Thanks in advance,
Carlos

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146 Keith November 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Neil,
Hello! I purchased your flash photography book a couple years back and continue to reference it often. You have been a constant help! Though I am mostly involve in photographing indoor sports, my interest are very broad. How do you feel about the Canon 17-40mm f/4 vs 17-55 f/2.8? Also: 40mm f/2.8 vs 50mm f/1.4? I have a canon 40D.
Thanks for everything, your opinion is greatly respected!

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147 Elisabeth December 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Neil,
I have been practically crippled forcing my very small hands to wield my Canon 5D Mark II + heavy lenses so now I am moving to a smaller DX format camera. The new, not yet available Nikon D5200 is looking really good to me and I have been researching lenses. The available choices are leaving me really confused. I am trying to pick out a portrait lens as well as zoom that are the sharpest possible that are also lightweight. Any advice for a basic selection would be most welcome!
Thanks for this site!

Elisabeth

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148 Dimas February 1, 2013 at 2:27 am

Looking to buy some lenses for my canon 5d mark iii
In your opinion what are the essential lenses for wedding photography. Best lenses for the money..
thank you

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149 Tom February 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm

Hi Neil

May I ask you for some advice please?

I have the budget for a Nikon 24-70 AF-S 2.8 G for my D700 but have seen the new Tamron 24-70 2.8 with stabilisation which is 30% cheaper. The money I save would go toward a Nikon 80-200 VRll.

Whats your view Neil?

Regards

Tom

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150 Neil vN February 14, 2013 at 6:36 am

In my experience, the Nikon lens is better than the Tamron. Now it’s just a question of how much of a compromise you are willing to accept.

Neil vN

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