Small DSLR Kit Gets Of The Ground

For a while now I have been slowly putting together what I would consider a small, light, high performance, go-anywhere, do-anything DSLR kit. Something that I have always had with my film cameras. Actually I have been thinking about it more than actively putting it together. As I mentioned in my last post, I actually did something more about it. I bought a lens that I was considering for a while. The Nikon 35mm 1.8G.

I have a gaggle of lenses for film and FX that I use on my D7000 but they are cumbersome, heavy, in some cases lacking auto focus, or just are not a good match up with DX. Here is what I have so far and where I plan to go…

For starters I invested a whopping $100 on a refurbished Nikon 18-55 AFS DX G VR alphabet soup kit lens. For $100 this has to be the value of the century. My thought process for this lens was that my kit needed a wide angle and there are not a lot of great options in the 28mm to 35mm equivalent category for DX. I would love a nice, cheap, fast 18mm or 24mm but they just don't exist in the Nikkor line. Maybe the 20mm AF-D would be great but it's kind of expensive and kind of slow at f2.8. More importantly it will not work on the smallest bodies like the D3200 or D5100. For that much money I want f2.0 or f1.4 in a prime. The only thing out there is that meets this is the fabulous Nikon 24mm f1.4G. For this kit it is unreasonably big and expensive.

That leaves me with the very small very light 18-55mm DX VR. I look at this lens as like a 28mm f3.5 that actually allows me to shoot as if it were a f2.0 or f1.4 because of the VR. That's how I use it. As a bonus it happens to have a 35mm, a 50mm, and an 85mm that I might use if I am shooting in the day time outdoors.

Moving on to the all important normal lens, I went with the 35mm 1.8G DX. I have not had a chance to test it or shoot any real world subjects that I like to shoot with it yet but I know I need this lens. At the price if you shoot DX you probably need it as well. I have to say that a good 75% of shots that I have ever made on any camera have been with a normal. Even when shooting with a zoom like the awesome Nikon 28-70 AFS f2.8 the vast majority of my shots on film and FX digital happened to be around 50mm. On my M cameras - it was the 50 Summicron, same goes for film SLRs - 50mm f1.4 most of the time. What's more is that the vast majority of those shots are wide open. Okay done with the normal.

So far I have a reasonable 28mm and a reasonable 50mm equivalent. Next up is to cover the short tele department. I have a bunch of 85mm lenses that work on DX. Fast ones to. The problem is that they are more like a 135mm on DX. Too long for what I like. The other issue is that they are not AFS lenses so for most DX shooters out there - no go. When I say too long, I am not really talking from a practical standpoint. I am referring more to an aesthetic. I like my images to feel close. As soon as you start to venture out to the 135ish territory they start to feel far away to me and that is not what I want to see. It maybe what you want to see and if so Nikon now makes the new 85mm f1.8G just for you. As an added bonus as soon as you cross 50mm there are a lot of selections that cover DX and FX.

For me the choice is either the 50mm 1.8G or it's brother the 50mm 1.4G. Either of them will work fine. Now I just have to make the decision. My heart is telling me the 1.4 is the one. As I will probably be shooting this lens wide open most of the time and will give me about the same rendering as an f2.0 lens on FX. My head is telling me the 1.8 is a much better value. I will probably get around to deciding in the next week and will let you know where the chips fall. So within the month I will have my completed small DX kit. This will be the very first DX kit where I pretty much have what I have always had with FX and 35mm film. The real question is how I will feel about shooting with it compared to my 35mm film bodies…

If you cannot tell I am trying my best to give myself an apples to apples experience to a film 35mm kit with something similar in size, weight, and image aesthetics that I have always had with film.


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