Started Lens for Nikon D3400 People and Product Photography

Hi there, my name is Maranda and I shoot a Nikon D3400 with the zoom kit len’s it came with. I would love to upgrade to a new lens with a larger f-stop. I do marketing/social media for the brewery I work for and also have 2 kids. I am looking for recommendations on a good all around lens for product photography aka pints of beer, merch, growlers as well as portrait/everyday life with kiddos photography lens. Do you have any good recommendations for me? I am no pro, just like to play with my camera and want better shots. I did take the Intro to photography course with Quinn and learned a ton! Thanks for your time.

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Hi Maranda,

That’s awesome you are looking to get a new lens!

If you are looking for something with a larger f-stop that doesn’t break the bank, you’ll most likely need to stick to fixed lenses that don’t zoom. These commonly come in focal lengths of 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, and 105mm.

So, I’m going to turn the question back to you. When you are shooting with your kit-lens what are you commonly zooming it to? The wider focal lengths (24mm), or something longer (50mm)?

Let me know and I’ll be able to recommend some specific lenses to think about upgrading to.

Hi Maranda! Welcome to the community!

The D3400 has a 1.5x crop factor - so, whatever lens you’d get, multiply the focal length by 1.5 to see what its full-frame equivalent would be. For example, for the type of work you are doing, and your lifestyle, I’d recommend a good 24-105 equivalent zoom lens. The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Lens would be a good bet - as when you multiply 1.5 to 16 and 80 - you get 24-120, respectively. That would be a great zoom for both pics of your kids, as well as portraits (at the 80-120 range) and product shots (at the 50-120 range, depending). And it’s f/2.8-4, so it’s nice and fast. (f/2.8 at the widest, f/4 at 120mm)
Even a 17-55mm range would be great because you can do portraits and product at the 55mm range (80mm equivalent) - the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens would be great for that, if you can swing the price. This is a fixed f/2.8 lens.
You can see the price jumps up when the aperture is fixed - and the price goes down the slower the lens. (I’d avoid the f/3.5-5.6 series) The f/2.8-4.0 range would be comparable to Canon’s 24-105 f4 lens and I see they have a refurbished version on B&H’s site. The Vibration Reduction (VR) will also help you out - and you can get within 1.15’ away and focus for some good beer shots.

Any time the long focal length jumps you up to a maximum aperture of f/5.6, it will force you into higher ISOs (more noise) and breweries aren’t known for being super bright spaces! And the wider open apertures will also allow for a faster shutter speed, to catch your kids’ action. The new price is around $1000 and the refurb is just under $700. (And B&H offers 12-month 0% financing, too.)

Hope that helps! – Jeff

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Thanks for the quick response! So my kit lens is a 18-55mm 3.5-5.6 When shooting, I like to keep it at the larger f-stop (3.5 being the largest I can go) for pints in the brewery and create depth of field without having to zoom too much making my f-stop smaller. I typically stay anywhere between 18 and 35mm for those closer shots.

Wow thanks for all the helpful info! I have been meaning to look into B & H after taking a class at RMSP. I will take a look at the lens’ you recommended. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond with all the info! Cheers!

Hi Maranda,

Awesome! In that case if you are looking for something with a similar focal length and a whole lot larger aperture, check out the Nikon 24mm f/1.8, or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8. Both would give you a maximum aperture of f/1.8 allowing you 3-4 stops more light than what you have right now!

@mclainphoto’s suggestions are awesome too if you are looking to still have the convenience of a zoom lens and still get something with a larger maximum aperture!