The Sigma 105mm feels pretty solid. However it's weight means that if it's dropped that it will gather a lot of energy before it hits the ground. It's a macro lens and it's within your budget.
Originally Posted by fschifano
Any Nikon prime would be a good choice, but you would be limited to a single focal length per lens. Based on the budget you mentioned, you will be stuck with one prime lens.
On the other hand, there are plenty of Nikon zooms out there that do a great job. One lens that seems to be overlooked all the time is the Nikon AF 28-105mm 3.5-4.5D. This is one of my favorite and most used lenses. I recently went on an overseas trip and had to pack light. I really wanted to pack a couple of my F3HP's with my 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 105mm, and 180mm primes, but the weight was too much. I ended up taking my F100 with the 28-105 and I have no regrets! The images were tack sharp, colors were great.
I also shoot weddings and (my apologies) my workhorse gear is a pair of D1X's, a Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm 2.8G IF ED lens, and a Nikon 80-200mm 2.8 lens. My backup lens for the 17-55 is the 28-105. My only two complaints about the 28-105 is the goofy looking lens hood Nikon made for it (it resembles a collar used for dogs after an ear-clipping surgery), and the front element rotates. Other than that it is a spectacular lens, sharp at all focal lengths, and can focus down to true macro as well.
I appreciate all the help thus far, but I want to apologize for not completely explaining my situation.
I ordered the camera from KEH. It didn't work like it was designed to, so I sent it back for repair. As I said before, the problem was actually the Nikon 50mm 1.8 I had ordered with it. At the time, they were sold out of that lens so I had the option of having my camera sent back without a lens, or picking out a new lens.
That was a few weeks ago. I believe they have the 50mm 1.8 back in stock (I could be wrong), but I wasn't (and I'm still not) sure if the lens was what I needed for what I wanted to do: portraiture, closeups, headshots, ect.
At the same time, I'm not sure if an 85 or 105mm would be versatile enough to handle the group portraits I foresee in my future.
Lot of good advice...
the AF 85/1.8 (D or non-D) is a great lens.
If you don't mind focusing manually, the 105/2.5 is a fantastic lens and it's great for portraiture. It's well under a hundred bucks in bargain condition, only a little over a hundred in excellent condition. It'd be hard to go wrong with one.
Since you seem to need a longer lens more than a shorter one, that's where I would start. Fill out the wide end once you have the longer glass you need.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
If you're looking for a "walk-around" lens that can handle a variety of situations, with good images and solid build quality, the Nikon 28-85 or 28-105 AF zooms are a pretty safe bet. You should be able to find used ones in great condition that are well within your price range, and I think KEH has some in stock now also. This way, you won't be limiting yourself to one or two focal lengths as you would with fixed lenses, and your initial cash outlay won't be too great either. For group shots (especially indoors) the 28mm angle of view provides a lot of coverage without too much distortion, and the 85-105mm range is perfect for portraits and head shots. Once you see your portrait shots with that nice out-of-focus background (bokeh), you'll never even consider using a 50mm for portraits! Although both these lenses have a 3.5-4.5 maximum aperture, with 400 iso film I have no problem hand-holding in most daylight situations. For interior shots of people it's always a good idea to have a flash anyways, so fast lenses are not that critical unless you have to use available light only. Once you develop your own habits and shooting style, you'll learn which focal lengths you prefer to shoot at and can invest in faster / more expensive lenses to suit your style. I love the speed and simplicity of Nikon fixed focal-length lenses, in fact the "lowly" 50mm 1.8 has always been one of Nikon's sharpest lenses, but if I'm just going out for a few hours of street shooting, I just take the F4 and FE2 bodies with the 28-85 and 70-210 AF zooms, which will cover almost anything (for my style of shooting). Ken Rockwell has a great site where he reviews almost every recent Nikon lens and body at http://kenrockwell.com/nikon/nikkor.htm . I refer to this frequently when I'm considering a new lens. I can't speak about the quality of 3rd party lenses, but generally Nikkor lenses will be superior in all respects, as well as being easier to re-sell.
Hope this helps! - Jim
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