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Here you'll find a list of things that I use and love, plus some other widely recommended stuff, with descriptions and comments. I'm an amazon.com affiliate, so I've set it up as an online shop (and I get a small percentage every time somebody buys something following my links). I hope you find it useful.








Lenses for Nikon
zoom - Samyang manual primes

You'll see here that I don't know a lot about Nikon gear: these are the third-brand options that I know because they exist also with a Canon mount; they are great, but I don't know if there are better Nikon alternatives (may be the case for the zooms; I really doubt they have anything better than the Samyang primes for a similar price).

Zoom lenses


CamerasAccessoriesStuff for video
Lenses for CanonLenses for NikonLenses for others
Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 (non-VC)
A general-purpose zoom for APS-C, with a reasonable price and great quality: constant aperture, moderately fast, and very sharp (see tests here); the best I know for this kind of money.
Being off-brand, it can have bigger deviations in autofocus, but this issue can be easily corrected if the camera has microadjustment (which it should if you're going to use AF).
The version with image stabilization (Tamron calls it VC) looses all the sharpness of the non-VC version. I wouldn't use it (that's why it is not on this list).


Tokina 11-16 f/2.8
A wide angle zoom for APS-C, very fast, sharp and cheap.
Compared with other lenses from this list, it can look expensive and soft (see tests here), but that is because on a wide angle lens everything is more difficult. Compared with other wide angle lenses, it is awesome. As a proof of that, it has the very bad habit of being out-of-stock most of the time on most stores.
For this focal length on APS-C, it doesn't get any better than this. The only competition would be the Samyang 14mm f/2.8, which is cheaper but only manual focus, doesn't get as wide, and has more distortion.
It works as a 16mm f/2.8 prime on full frame, but there's a posibility that it could hit the mirror, so investigate this issue yourself and use it there at your own risk.


Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6
A long zoom for APS-C, slow and with very bad construction (all plastic, feels like a toy), but decent and very cheap.
It is only sharp in the 70-180mm range (see tests here). From 180mm onwards, it's not only soft: bokeh also gets pretty bad. I wouldn't use it beyond 180mm, but if you want a long zoom (e.g. 70-200) that's clearly sharper than this, you'd have to spend at least five times as much: below $1000, if you can live with f/4.5 (which is the maximum aperture at 180mm) and without image stabilization, this is the best option I know.
(on the fact that this seems useless beyond 180mm: as a general rule, nearly no zoom with a range of over 3x will be any good; that's why there's no 18-200 or similar in this list)


Samyang manual primes


Samyang 8mm f/3.5 fisheye
A super-high quality fisheye lens with a very reasonable price.
This lens is truly awesome, better than alternatives costing five times as much. Check out the raving reviews here and here.
It is designed for APS-C sensors, but it will also work on full-frame sensors if you shave it (cutting the built-in shade; a risky operation for sure; some firms will do this for you).
For such a wide lens, it is not even that important that it doesn't have autofocus: the hyperfocal distance is really low, it is easy to always have everything in focus.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 14mm f/2.8
A moderately high quality rectilinear (not fisheye) ultra wide angle lens with a very reasonable price.
Not as good as other Samyang lenses (the great ones are 8mm, 35mm, 85mm), but better than anything else in its price range. Relatively sharp (except corners on full frame), with controlled chromatic aberration, but some barrel distorion on APS-C and mustache distortion on full frame.
The only better ultra wide angle lens for a reasonable price is the Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, an absolutely stellar lens that is just as sharp and has less distortion (1, 2); but that one won't work on full frame (well, it can work as a 16mm f/2.8 prime, but you have to be careful or it may hit the mirror; not a common occurrence, but beginners better keep out) and is not manual, so it is less future proof (read below).
But mind you: "less distortion" is not an absolute thing: the Tokina is better for shooting architecture, but the Samyang will actually show less distortion when shooting people, precisely because of its barrel distortion: check this thread.
For such a wide lens, it is not even that important that it doesn't have autofocus: the hyperfocal distance is low, and it is very easy to get your subject in focus.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 24mm f/1.4
A high quality fast manual wide angle prime lens with a very reasonable price.
But not as great as other samyang lenses: the 24 seems to be kind of a lottery, some units are great, others are not so sharp. Moderately wide field of view on APS-C, nearly ultra-wide on full frame.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 35mm f/1.4
A high quality fast manual prime lens with a very reasonable price.
Better image quality than any other similar lenses, comparable to options three times more expensive: sharper than the $1500 Canon 35mm f/1.4L and similar to the $1850 Zeiss 35mm f/1.4. Normal field of view on APS-C sensors, mildly wide-angle on full frame.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...


Samyang 85mm f/1.4
A very high quality fast manual prime lens with a very reasonable price. Great portrait lens, both on APS-C and full frame.
Its image quality is much, much closer to the way more expensive Canon 85mm f/1.2 or Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 than to the similarly priced Canon 85mm f/1.8; check these bokeh tests: Samyang - Zeiss - Canon 1.2 - Canon 1.8 - Nikon 1.4 - Nikon 1.4 - Nikon 1.8.
Like all Samyang lenses: no AF, and sold under many brands: Bower, Rokinon, Opteka, Polar, Falcon...






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