Lens suggestion for night photography with a Nikon D7100 ?

lkbuchananlkbuchanan Posts: 17Member
edited August 2013 in D90/D7x00
I am new to photography and recently got a Nikon D7100 from my husband as a birthday gift. I have always loved photography but never had the gear to get really involved with it till now. I absolutely love taking photos at night! I currently have the Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR II lens. I think the lens is ok but not spectacular for night photography. I understand that the Nikon D7100 may not be the best camera for night photography due to the cropped frame, but I just can not see buying a full frame camera until I get a better grasp and understanding of some camera basics first. Anyhow, I was just curious if anyone had any recommendations for a lens for night photography? I have been researching A LOT and see so many different opinions on lenses. If anyone has hands on experience they could share, it would be greatly appreciated! Also just to mention I do not want to spend a whole lot of money as I want to keep my learning and experimenting costs down as much as possible but still achieve a degree of quality so perhaps one day I could do it more professionally.
Thanks!
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Comments

  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    And here you will read also different opinions. Welcome to NRF, anyway :)

    I suggest to rent some of the suggested lenses to get a better idea if you like the way those lenses need to be used. Could you specify a bit more your kind of shooting? Is it moving objects, people or static objects which would lead to the conclusion to get a decent tripod?

    If you want to use the lenses later on in case you upgrade to FX, you should take care if they are already usable for FX, but that usually means "more money". At the moment you would eventually go for 35/1.8 and 85/1.8 (genuine Nikkors). In my opinion, Sigma's 30/1.4 and 18-35/1.8 deserve a closer looks well but they are "only" DX.
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    First congratulations on your D7100. It is a great camera, and it is good for photography in most conditions, including night photography. It has outstanding ISO performance, and a very fast, and very accurate AF system.

    I have the predecessor, the D7000, and have used it for lots of night shooting.

    What lens to get for nighttime photography? That really depend on your subject... There are a bunch of good fast lenses available, the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is fast and a great alternative to Nikon. The Nikon 85mm f/1.4G is another great lens.

    For serious nighttime photography I wouldn't go for the f/1.8s, as there are plenty of f/1.4 lenses out there...
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,069Moderator
    @JJ_SO: The 35mm f1.8 is a DX, the 85mm f1.8 is an FX....
    Always learning.
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    @spraynpray I wasn't saying both are FX lenses but hank you for making that point clear ;)

    So, one can either choose 35/1,8 by Nikon, 30/1,4 by Sigma or the fabulous, but heavy 35/1,4 by Sigma. It's more or less a debate of which prime lens to use, because most fast zooms end at f/2.8 with (pricey) exception made by Sigma. One could also say, some Nikkors primes cost the same or more than the Sigma 18-35.
  • KillerbobKillerbob Posts: 732Member
    But it all depends on the subject:) The 30 or the 35mm are good primes for landscape, city or the like. For portraits the 85mm is a much better choice, and the 50mm is a nice general one. And of course make sure you pick FX lenses, as otherwise it will/could be an expensive change to FX in the future.
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    When you say "night photography," you're leaving out one critical element. Do you plan on shooting moving objects? Stationary objects? More importantly, do you intend to be moving or not?

    Depending on what you're shooting, a tripod may be in order. That could potentially make your 18-200 much more useful at night, provided you're not trying to "freeze" action. If you're looking to get the lowest-cost, widest aperture lens available for the D7100, the aforementioned DX 35mm f/1.8 would be a nice choice.
  • blandbland Posts: 811Member
    @lkbuchanan congrats on getting your D7100 and welcome to NRF.

    All the advice and suggestions above are all really good! Shooting low light you might want to also add a good denoise to your editing procedure. I like De Noise 5 by Topaz Labs, it's real affordable and very easy to use.
  • rschnaiblerschnaible Posts: 308Member
    Use a tripod and take lots of images and experiment. The wonderful thing about digital is you have that option. You might be surprised at the image quality you can get with your lens. If you wish, you can use your existing lens to learn a bit about night time or long exposures. I have the 18-200mm lens you have and found that it is quite fun to use for night photography. I might suggest that you go onto Flickr and search long exposure or night images and check out the exif data. When you find an effect that you like you can try it out with your set up.... Have fun, can't wait to see your results....
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited August 2013
    @lkbuchanan: Welcome to NRF and congrats on the D7100...it is going to serve you very well. Many of the member have given you some great choice to consider for the task you like so much and the gear to consider buying. Night photography can be very rewarding and I too enjoy shooting at night tremendously. Here are a few key items I think you should consider buying in order for your image to turn out as good as you would hope they will. 1) For lenses you should look at those with fast aperture; hence a lens with a constant 2.8, 1.8 or 1.4 throughout its focal length. Moreover, for best results you should look at wide-angle lens. Given your budget, the one you should getting without hesitation is the: Nikon DX 35 1.8 (as many member above have suggested). For $200 this is no brainier...get it and start shooting. Once you have taken a few hundred shots with it then come back to us and if your hunger is still alive and well....we will guide you to your next purchase. 2) A solid tripod. If you have one then by all mean take it out when shooting landscaped, building...etc..etc. I will not go into which to get because I do not know your budget on this item, moreover, the one I would recommend might be hard to accept at this stage of the game for you. 3) A remote shutter release cable or a wireless shutter release one. The Nikon ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control is a nice start but if you are willing to spend a little more look at the RFN-4 by SMDV. With these items in your bag you will be on the right path...but know this is just the beginning....more to come as you get settled in.

    Happy shooting....
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    Always good to see an eager new 'face' on NRF.

    First....do you want a wide angel lens or 'normal' (35mm) on your D7100?

    What subjects?

    A used 20mm f/2.8 might be had, but make certain it is a good one. The 10-24mm or 12-24 Nikkors will give you more width than the kit lens you have.

    We do have a variety of opinions, none being any better than another. And, my suggestion is to shoot the first 10,000 clicks with you lens you have....learn all you can, discover what focal length/s you prefer, and then invest in what will meet your needs. For almost any image except some specialty shots, you have all you need and when posted on Photo-A-Day yours will be as good as any.

    But, we do like to spend other folks money... :))
    Msmoto, mod
  • JJ_SOJJ_SO Posts: 1,158Member
    Because other folks already spent ALL our money... We're happy to find new folks whose money we can burn <):)
  • lkbuchananlkbuchanan Posts: 17Member
    I want to thank each and everyone of you for your suggestions! Everyone on here is so kind and helpful!!

    In response to some of the questions asked:
    I do already have a tripod, I have the Mefoto Roadtrip Tripod. I also have a shutter release cable and the Nikon-ML-L3 Wireless Remote Control. I have been taking (attempting) pictures of star trails, light painting, steel wool, galaxy, fireworks, etc. Not too much in the way of moving objects well with the exception of occasional street & cars. Again I am still new to all this so please excuse me if I do not use the correct terminology for things. I have started a Flickr page but have only posted a few decent pictures I have taken. I would post the site here but not sure if that is allowed. I would love to find a site that I can post all my pictures for constructive criticism/advice :) to take better pictures. I do love photography so much and find myself in front of the computer/phone/iPad reading and learning as much as I can in all my spare time lately then trying to apply what I have read to taking photos. I will definitely continue to shoot with my 18-200mm lens to try to learn as much as I can.

    I have been looking at a couple of lenses for the night photography. I have seriously thought about the Nikon DX 35 1.8 as a prime lens and for the price I don't think it would hurt to have it in my bag. :)
    Here are a few others I have looked at:
    Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX DC HSM AF Lens
    Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 < I have seen too many mixed reviews on this one to feel comfortable buying it now.
    Sigma New 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Lens

  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    edited August 2013
    @lkbuchanan: I'm pleased to hear your enthusiasm...in addition to the gear. As for wide-angle lens, have a look at the Tokina 11-16mm DX 2.8. I have used this lens on my D7000 and its performance is fantastic. As with any items recommended by us, do your own research on it and go from there. With that said, keep in mind that this lens is for a DX/crop sensor body. Should you want to hedge going FX in the future, you may want to consider other alternative lenses. If the latter is true, then lets us know and we can give you some ideas.

    With respect to you photo's you are more than welcome to upload all your photo's to Flickr and then share with us your photo's on our section of the forums on Photo-A-Day. For instruction on how to post have a look here.

    In closing, you mentioned liking to shoot star trails and galaxy (our Milky Way). Here is an article I think you will find worthy of your time: Photograph The Nigh Sky.

    Happy shooting & shopping....
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    Because other folks already spent ALL our money... We're happy to find new folks whose money we can burn <):) </p>
    Truer words were never spoken.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    edited August 2013
    I would vote for not spending money yet. Your 18-200 is pretty good and can be used for all that you say you want to do. others have mentioned getting F2.8 lenses but your 18-200 is an F3.5 lens at 18 mm which is only about half a stop dimmer than the F2.8 lenses and brighter than some of the other lenses you mentioned. Plus it has VR which is good for another 3 stops.

    As MSMOTO says, learn with your current setup .. shoot a few thousand shots with your current setup and learn how to overcome any issues you see.. post the issues you are having trouble with and I am sure there will be several helpful ideas from members here. When you are really hitting the edges of the capability of your gear then YOU will know what next to get. which may be a P&S or a 80-400 lens or the 14mm Rokinon (Great for star trails) ie you never know where your interest will take you. ( and that's part of the fun! ) You have Just started, there is SO MUCH to explore! and your lens will not be the limiting factor for quite a while yet.
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • lkbuchananlkbuchanan Posts: 17Member
    edited January 2015


    This is a recent attempt to photograph the Milky Way. I follow instructions for several website tutorials but it turned out with way too much noise. Here are the settings I used:
    Image Quality: Jpeg Fine (8-bit)
    Camera Info
    Device: Nikon D7100
    Focal Length: 18mm
    Focus Mode: Manual
    VR: OFF
    Exposure
    Aperture: F/3.5
    Shutter Speed: 42.1s
    Exposure Mode: Manual
    Exposure Comp.: 0EV
    Metering: Spot
    ISO Sensitivity: ISO 3200
    Image Settings
    White Balance: Incandescent, 0, 0
    Long Exposure NR: ON
    Active D-Lighting: OFF
    Post edited by Golf007sd on
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    @lkbuchanan: Hence the need for a fast lens. It will let you shoot wide open and thus needing a lower ISO setting. A fast prim is the solution.
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • dissentdissent Posts: 1,268Member
    edited August 2013
    @ lkbuchanan - When I clicked on your image, I got a "This photo is private" message. :(

    What software do you process your images with? Noise, at least to some extent, can be dealt with in post-processing.
    Post edited by dissent on
    - Ian . . . [D7000, D7100; Nikon glass: 35 f1.8, 85 f1.8, 70-300 VR, 105 f2.8 VR, 12-24 f4; 16-85 VR, 300 f4D, 14E-II TC, SB-400, SB-700 . . . and still plenty of ignorance]
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,069Moderator
    @ lkbuchanan: I found that noise in low light work is a fact of life - strangely, you need plenty of light to get really good results with high ISO! In this instance the only way I can see of getting round it is to get a tripod head that tracks the subject as you need to shoot low ISO for least noise and so even with a hideously expensive (fast) lens, you will still get slits instead of dots as the shutter speed will be too long.

    I must add quickly that I do not do astrophotography although I intend to at some point, I don't currently. I am just looking at the figures you said were the result of your research.
    Always learning.
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    You can also take a series of shorter exposures and stack them on top of each other. If you stack to the stars, you can get brighter and brighter single points of light. If you stack to the landscape, you get longer and longer trails. I'm planning on looking at the perseid meteor shower tonight, so I may shoot some sequences to do star trails.
  • Golf007sdGolf007sd Posts: 2,840Moderator
    This chart may come in handy.

    500 Rule
    D4 & D7000 | Nikon Holy Trinity Set + 105 2.8 Mico + 200 F2 VR II | 300 2.8G VR II, 10.5 Fish-eye, 24 & 50 1.4G, 35 & 85 1.8G, 18-200 3.5-5.6 VR I SB-400 & 700 | TC 1.4E III, 1.7 & 2.0E III, 1.7 | Sigma 35 & 50 1.4 DG HSM | RRS Ballhead & Tripods Gear | Gitzo Monopod | Lowepro Gear | HDR via Promote Control System |
  • Parke1953Parke1953 Posts: 455Member
    Golf007sd I found that article interesting. Thanks
  • proudgeekproudgeek Posts: 1,422Member
    edited August 2013
    Beso and I have been having a discussion about this very topic over the past few weeks. Golf's chart is essentially right. The general rule is that you start at 600 (400 for a DX sensor) and divide it by the focal length to get your maximum shutter speed before the earth's rotation becomes visible. The shorter the focal length, the longer you can keep the shutter open. There are other variables here, including max aperture (the rule is to shoot wide open) and ISO (as fast as you can before noise becomes a factor).
    Here are the best results I got:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/gdanford/9453285325/ (FYI, Beso's best shot was far superior to mine, but I'll let him add his own link to the discussion)
    I used a D90 with a focal length of 17mm, aperture of f/2.8, and ISO of 2000. By definition I should have been able to use a shutter speed of :23, but I went very conservative, leaving it open only :15. I suppose I could have gone for an ISO of greater than 2000, but don't trust the D90 to do that. Even at ISO 2000 I had to apply noise reduction. Given the amount of work that has to be done on images like this, I would suggest you're best off shooting in RAW, to give whatever software you're using the greatest amount of information with which to work.
    I have a D800 on order, and will be trying this again just as soon as the skies clear. Alas, clouds are obscuring the meteors tonight.
    This would make a great forum topic.

    (note I edited to correct the error that Spraynpray found)
    Post edited by proudgeek on
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    edited August 2013
    @lkbuchanan Maybe its me, but the image looks ok. I cant see much wrong with it.. a bit of contrast should be able to fix it up? image
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,069Moderator
    edited August 2013
    @proudgeek:

    "The general rule is that you divide your focal length by 600 (400 for a DX sensor) to get your maximum shutter speed before the earth's rotation is visible"

    I think you meant divide FL into 600 or 400 didn't you? i.e.for 400mm lens on a D7000 400/400=1 sec and for a 200mm lens you get 400/200= 2 sec?
    Post edited by spraynpray on
    Always learning.
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