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Which lens should I buy for my Nikon D60?

I have an important question for all the experienced photographers who happen to read my blog. I just spent a couple of weeks working with my colleagues in the Google Dublin office. Everyone there is great, and it’s really impressive how they cover so many different languages and help webmasters in so many different markets.


Despite Ireland’s rainy reputation I had plenty of opportunities to take photos, and you can see a picture from the top floor of one of the Google Dublin buildings at the beginning of this post. I also managed to drop my camera, a Nikon D60, lens-first to the pavement. This was right before a trip to Ireland’s beautiful west coast, including Connemara. My 18-55mm Nikon kit lens wasn’t completely smashed, but zooming is painful, autofocus doesn’t always work, and something is out-of-plane because I get annoying directional blur in the sides and bottom corners of most shots.

So I need to replace the 18-55mm. I don’t have a lot of budget for cameras and equipment, hence the D60. I have a few ideas about what I might get, but between the experienced photographers I know and rest of the web I hope to get some suggestions, pointers, and other wisdom.


Here’s what I’m thinking about:

Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM. I keep wanting more telephoto than my kit lens, and I’d like to have one versatile lens that I can leave on the camera for entire trips. It’s got decent reviews, and more importantly, it looks like I can pick it up for under $500, compared to $750+ for the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S ED VR II. One drawback with any super zoom lens is weight, and this one clocks in at 628 g. I might also consider the older Sigma 18-200mm is it’s significantly cheaper.

The Nikon 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S DX VR ED Nikkor Lens is tempting too, but Ken Rockwell isn’t a fan and I’ve had luck with his recommendations in the past. It looks like I can pick it up for $360 and probably get a lightly used one for even cheaper – this is the kit lens for some cameras so a lot of people sell it when they upgrade. Not as much zoom as the Sigma but also not as much weight – only 420 g.

I’m also really interested in picking up a prime lens at some point. I take a lot of photos of my kid, and she’s moving faster every day. Any recommendations on 55mm vs 35mm? Should I pick up a used 18-105mm and use the savings to pick up a prime lens too, or is buying used a big risk with these kinds of lenses?

Please tell me what you think (or that I’m crazy and should pick up something completely different instead) in the comments below.

Sifting through 1100+ photos

My Nikon D60 is set to continuous release mode. This is great, because it allows me to capture ambient-light images of normally motion-blur-prone children. I took some photos at my nephew’s first soccer game and the continuous shutter works really well for action photos too. Instead of snapping one shot and finding out later I was too slow or the kids too fidgety, I can snap a few and pick out the good one later.

So a shot like this is culled out of a series of blurred frames:

Looking up

The not-so-great part of this technique is what happens after a week visiting family across the country. I have 1100+ photos to sift through, and that’s after some in-camera deletion of obviously useless shots.

I use Picasa to manage the photos on my hard drive, it’s fast and has a nice UI. My usual tactic is to make a couple passes through, starring good shots. Then I make a final pass through the starred photos where I might crop or adjust levels a bit (that’s the Tuning tab in Picasa) and finally export to a folder. From there I can upload to Flickr, Facebook, Panoramio, and any of the other places I find myself sharing photos.

Anyone have any helpful tips for speeding up this workflow? Any actual professional photographers out there who deal with this on a regular basis? I remember similar problems when I worked in newsrooms but that was a while back and I don’t remember a good solution existing at the time.

My Photography Featured on Flickr?

Small steel mill building set aside for a future museum This is cool – I’m not sure how the honor is bestowed, but I happened to be looking through Flickr’s Places feature and noticed that I’m a featured photographer for Cleveland.  You may have to reload a couple times, they only display two users at a time and there are at least 6 or so featured.

Perhaps not real fame but these are the sorts of inconsequential online vanity things that make me happy. I’d actually be even happier to know that I was chosen complete algorithmically, rather than by human editors, because it means some code somewhere though my pictures were good in some flawed, but slightly more objective way.

This is also an example of why I’m still using Flickr more than Google’s Picasa, even though I use the Picasa application to organize all the photos on my hard drive and the face tagging feature is really impressive.

Speaking of featured photographers (and yet another photo sharing website), check out Vinay’s photos on SmugMug. I just found out about his site and have been enjoying the pics.