Slipping into Nikon with less dollars – Peter Gregg

It is amazing to see how many wedding and active photographers switching cold turkey from Canon to Nikon. And then there are just as many trying to slide quietly into Nikon gear having fear of “the wife” or having a low availability of funds.

The typical set up for an action photographer would be getting a new Nikon body and the famous lens “triplets”. This would indeed cost a lot to dive right in, but I have a few friends that have done just that. There is a few different ways to enter into the Nikon world and I will give you a few suggestions and also some really good alternatives.

The most expensive, and the most desirable lenses for shooting wedding and active photography  on the Nikon side are a combination of both zooms and primes. For a starting point I am going to concentrate on the zooms as they give the most bang for the buck. The Nikon top of the line pro zooms today are:

Wide zoom – Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8:

This is simply a fantastic lens, sharper outright than many primes and that is a mouthful. So many wedding and action photographers gyrate towards the wide side of lens choices trying to show a story in each picture. There isn’t a better wide zoom lens out there.

Standard length zoom – 24-70 f/2.8:

Nikon has somehow found the right combination to get into that secret vault of zoom lens secrets for unbelievable quality. The 24-70 f/2.8 is a joy to use and you can actually shoot a whole wedding with that one lens alone and still do exotic and amazing shots. It is the current sharpest standard zoom lens.


Telephoto zoom – 70-200 VR:

The negative is it has a touch of vignette at the corners. The plus is the lens is sharp at 2.8 and while not up to the first 2 brothers of the lens “triplets”, it is a must have and delivers amazing shots. There has been talk of Nikon upgrading this lens, but is seems Nikon got on the slow train to lens upgrades so you should not hold your breath.

The point of this story is to quietly slip into Nikon gear with LESS money though, so going with the triplets will certainly put a nice dent into your wallet. There is another way to start adding Nikon gear to your camera bag with less of a jolt.

First, the camera body. Half the magic starts with one of the newer Nikon bodies. The D700 is the entrance ticket that can hold you for quite a few years. It has many strengths, few weaknesses and is ready to rip thru a wedding assignment with gusto.

The stealth or sleeper lens on the Nikon side of things is the 35-70 f/2.8 lens. It isn’t the sexy new 24-70 f/2.8 lens, but it will be incredibly sharp and gives you the same advantages of being a 2.8 lens as it’s bigger brother. It costs 2/3rds less and that makes this guy very appealing. It also may make entry into the Nikon world actually a realization for some folks. It has a push/pull zoom activations rather than the standard zoom turn ring and along with the smaller zoom length of 35-70 compared to the 24-70 it still is quite a catch. It also has micro (Nikon’s word for macro) that the other standard fancier lenses do not have. While this is a fast auto-focusing lens, micro mode is strictly manual focus.

Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8:

For a wide zoom lens, if you are shooting Canon then you certainly have seen, heard of, or bought the 17-40L f/4 zoom lens. The Nikon version of this is also a Nikon sleeper lens. The 18-35 f/3.5-4.5 is so sharp it gets in there closer to the big 14-24 than you would it expect it to. it also cost less than 2/3rds the price of the big brother. You give up the bleeding sharpness of the 14-24 and you also give up the f2.8 for an average f/4, but you get a lens you can buy now with high quality for less money, you get more reach, and the lens can have filters on it as the 14-24 cannot. A real buy for the bargain hunter.

Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5:

To start with Nikon or to add Nikon to your gear bag getting a D700 and the 35-70 f/2.8 along with the thrifty fifty 50mm f/1.8 lens will get you going happily going shooting Nikon and allowing you to add what you see fit to add.


Nikkor 50mm f/1.8:

While the world heralds the $1700 lenses, and we all wish we could run right out and buy them, some need a secret way to start shooting Nikon. This is your recipe guys to have your cake and eat it too – now!

Happy shooting and see you online.

Peter Gregg

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