Nikon lenses from A-Z: the ultimate photographer’s guide

Nikon lenses from A-Z: the ultimate photographer's guide

Your lenses are the eyes of your camera. In this tutorial, the experts at the Nikon magazine N-Photo explain everything you need to know about Nikon lenses and show you how to use them to change the way you see and capture the world around you…

Nikon lenses from A-Z: the ultimate photographer's guide

Nikon lenses from Angle of view to Effective focal length

Nikon lenses: Angle of view

Image: Marsel van Oosten

Angle of view
This is the single most important characteristic of a lens. On a simple level, the angle of view controls how much of a scene you can squeeze into a photograph.

This dramatic landscape was taken with a super-wide-angle lens, which enabled the photographer to capture both the dramatic rock formations and the hot air balloons floating overhead in a truly bizarre juxtaposition.

Wide-angle lenses are very good at capturing the bizarre and the surreal because they also exaggerate perspectives and the difference in size between objects close to the camera and those in the distance.

Angle of view is connected with focal length – the shorter the focal length of a lens, the wider the angle of view will be. Telephoto lenses have longer focal lengths and a correspondingly narrower angle of view.

They’re good for shots where you want to fill the frame with objects in the distance, or for picking out individual details.

SEE MORE: 100 Nikon DSLR tips you really need to know

Nikon lenses: bokeh

This is a Japanese word used to describe the precise quality or appearance of out-of-focus areas in a picture. It’s sometimes used to describe blur in general, but that’s an over-simplification – there’s much more to blur than that!

The appearance of blur can vary considerably, and photography aficionados will be quick to claim that some lenses (invariably expensive prestige lenses) produce better ‘bokeh’ than others.

Bokeh is influenced by bright highlights or light sources in the background, or by the shape of the diaphragm (iris) in the lens.

Digital SLRs have larger sensors than regular digital compacts, which leads to shallower depth of field and more pronounced and controllable ‘bokeh’ effects.


Nikon lenses: converging lines

Image: Jon Bauer

Converging lines
These are sometimes called ‘leading lines’ because of the way they lead your eyes into the picture. Converging lines are a powerful compositional tool, and a side-effect of using wide-angle lenses and shooting at an oblique angle to your subject.

They’re most effective when the convergence is horizontal, such as a road, train tracks leading into the distance, or the slats and railings of this bridge.

This shot works because the camera has been kept perfectly level and placed in the middle of the bridge to preserve its perfect symmetry.

You also get converging lines if you tilt the camera upwards to capture a tall building, but this effect is less effective and can 
look like a mistake.


Nikon lenses: depth of field

Image: Sian Lewis

Depth of field
Depth of field is the zone of sharp focus in front of the camera. Telephoto lenses and large lens apertures give the shallowest depth of field, so that there’s only one plane of sharp focus in the picture.

However, landscape photographers often want as much depth of field as possible, so that both nearby objects and the distant horizon are sharp. You can achieve this with small lens apertures and wide-angle lenses.

But the focus distance is also a factor – the closer you focus, the less depth of field there is, and you can see that in this picture, where the subject’s knees have gone out of focus.

SEE MORE: 11 common lens errors (and how to avoid them)

Nikon lenses: effective focal length

Effective focal length
The focal length of a lens is used to work out its angle of view and what kind of photography it’s suited for, but the size of the camera sensor makes a difference.

The smaller sensors in Nikon DX DSLRs means that they capture a smaller angle of view than a full-frame FX camera using the same lens, which is why lens makers often quote an ‘effective’ focal length too.

For example, when fitted to a DX-format camera, a 50mm lens has an ‘effective’ focal length of 75mm. On an FX-format (full-frame) camera it’s a ‘standard’ lens with an everyday angle of view, but on a DX Nikon DSLR, it becomes a short telephoto lens – the sort of length you might use for portraits, for example.

In an ideal world, we’d all work with angles of view instead of focal lengths, but you’d still have the same problem with different-sized sensors in different cameras. Besides, we’re all used to focal lengths now anyway.

PAGE 1 – Nikon lenses from Angle of view to Effective focal length
PAGE 2 – Nikon lenses from Fisheye to Joiner
PAGE 3 – Nikon lenses from Kit lens to Open wide
PAGE 4 – Nikon lenses from Pinhole to Tilt/shift
PAGE 5 – Nikon lenses from U/V filters to Zoom burst


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