Since the cost for the camera was fairly high, I tried to keep my total purchasing cost down.
Since I did not know what my preference of shooting would be, either wide angle or telephoto I spit the horns of the dilemma by deciding to purchase both. Given that I never owned an SLR of any type before, and the abundance of choices made decision making difficult I went to the Internet for advice. While there are a lot of sites that give information on the various lenses and bodies I really did not want information as much as opinion. Not soft, mamby-pamby opinions, but the kind that stares you straight in the eye. And that is the kind of opinion found Ken Rockwell’s website and, to be fair, there is a good amount of evidence to back his beliefs.
His philosophy, which seems to be echoes elsewhere, is that even the cheap, plastic lenses today are better than many of the glass and metal lenses of yesteryear. While the more expensive lenses are better lenses and will produce better results, one can still get great pictures using the cheaper lenses.
To make a long story short, his advice came down to this, if you have the money purchase a moderately the expensive lens A which will cover the range for both lenses. If you don’t have that much money to spend, buy the less expensive lenses B and C. The B and C lenses are what is known as “kit” lenses, the types of lenses thrown in with a camera bodies to provide a reasonably priced package solution for the mass market.
So, a few years of use, and thousands of pictures on the Nikkor 18-55 and the Nikkor 70-300 lenses proved Ken’s philosophy to be correct (anecdotally at least). While I do plan to upgrade the 18-55 lens someday, my priority is to fill out my gaps in my lens. In other words, I want to get lenses that are currently provide capabilities currently beyond me .
As far as quality is concerned, the 70-300 is a better lens, but unfortunately, it is the lens I shoot with the least. While the Nikkor 18-55 has served well, it isn’t without some problems. The elements of the lens are a tiny bit “loose”. When locked into focus, the barrel, if touched, moves. This is disconcerting if, after composing a shot, you press the lens against a chain-link fence. (Yes I do those kinds of things).
The other issue with the 18-55 is that it does not have a lens hood ,thus making it very susceptible to lens glare in bright conditions. I need to see if an after-market solution exists.
I did purchase a 50mm prime lens (it doesn’t zoom) as a low-cost fast lens solution since I like to shoot in low light conditions AND this lens is a good choice for portraits.
So, what lens should you buy? That depends on your purpose and your budget. There are so many photography specialties and if you want to get into a niche market, that may require the purchase of more expensive lenses.
Don’t let the vast number of choices in lenses get you down. Purchasing a less expensive lens until you get familiar with your camera and your tastes might make good financial sense. The good thing is that skimping on a lens does not mean your pictures will suffer because even a cheap lens produces images of acceptable quality….for now at least.