If you own (or are about to own) a Nikon D5000, youll enjoy its award-winning performance and features. Its a great camera and it made an excellent first impression when I used it – impressive for a camera pitched at enthusiasts.
Is there a lens which best suits the D5000?
You won’t get to exploit your camera’s capabilities unless you use a proper lens. But determining how much to spend on which lens can be tricky. There is such a wide range of options on the market.
We’ll get to some lens options in a second, but first let’s talk about DX lenses.
As is the case with most DSLRs, the D5000 has a sensor smaller than the conventional 35 mm film frame – this type of sensor is called “DX”. Why does this matter?
So when you look at lenses and you see “DX” in the name, you know that the lens has been built to be used with your DX-sensor camera.
Traditional lenses (not the DX kind) are built for 35mm cameras. You can use them with a DX camera, but since they were built for a larger sensor, the outer edges of the photo will automatically be cropped away. So you won’t be able to exploit the widest angle of the lens, but in turn you’ll get to zoom in closer. It’s common to use 1.5 to calculate the crop factor, so an 18-55mm non-DX lens will act like a 27-80mm lens when attached to your D5000.
What make of lens to choose
My advice is always to use Nikon’s own brand – Nikkor – if you can afford them. There are cheaper Nikon-compatible alternatives out there and some of them are pretty decent, but they dont beat the quality youll get from a Nikkor lens.
To ensure compatibility with the Nikon D5000, look for AF-S and AF-I type lenses. Don’t get intimidated by the technicalities – simply make sure you see “AF-S” or “AF-I” in the name of the lens.
My D5000 lens list
When it comes to lenses, there isn’t a single answer to the “best lens” question. It depends on what you intend to photograph, so I’ll provide a few options here, based on different kinds of photography
A. Street and travel photography
Versitality is all-important in this field. Speed is of the essence, since you don’t want to waste time switching lenses, so a decent zoom range is important:
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR – conventional wisdom says that “kit” lenses sold with the camera body aren’t necessarily the best, but this D5000 kit lens is surprisingly decent. And it has automatic image stabilisation or vibration reduction (VR in Nikon speak) built in.
AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II – a bit more expensive, but this is an amazing traveller’s lens. I regularly use it myself, and because of the amazing zoom range, I hardly ever take it off when Im doing street photography. Yes, there is a slight drop in quality at the extremes (18mm or 200mm), but this is a small price to pay if you consider that you dont have to carry around loads of extra lenses. And you shouldnt underestimate the benefit of having a light, flexile setup when taking street photos: Not only will your back be thankful, but you will also be less noticeable and able to take better candid photos if youre not carrying around a giant bag with loads of lenses and gear.
AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G – the wide aperture makes it possible to take beautiful portraits with a shallow depth of field using natural light. And you’ll enjoy the crisp, beautiful quality delivered by this fixed focal (prime) lens.
C. Landscapes and cityscapes:
AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED – For expansive city scenes and landscapes you need a decent wide angle lens. This one delivers.
D. Sports & Wildlife:
AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR – are you after close-ups, but in situations where you can’t be physically close to the subject? the maximum 300mm telephoto zoom, coupled with the anti-blur VR function will help you get tack-sharp images.
Of course there are other options available too – but be careful that you don’t overspend on the lens given what you’ve paid for the camera. Some of the most expensive, heavy professional lenses may be quite hard to handle when attached to this relatively light and compact camera body. You can always upgrade later as your photography develops.