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

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

Nikon lenses from Kit lens to Open wide

Nikon lenses: kit lens

Kit lens
This the standard zoom lens that came with your camera (though some pro models are sold ‘body-only’).

It’s much cheaper to buy your camera and lens as a ‘kit’ rather than separately, which is where the term ‘kit lens’ comes from.

Kit lenses are designed to be versatile, inexpensive accompaniments to your camera to help you get started.

The build quality may not be quite up to the standard of Nikon’s other lenses, but Nikon’s kit lenses do actually perform very well, and while you can replace them with better-specified ‘standard zooms’, many people are perfectly satisfied with the quality and don’t bother.

Current Nikon DX DSLRs come with one of two kit lenses: the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6V found on the entry-level D3000 and D5000-series cameras, and the slightly longer range 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6 VR that comes with enthusiast models like the D90, D7000 and D7100.

The 18-55mm kit lens has a 3x zoom range, going from a wide-angle view (18mm) to a short telephoto setting (55mm). The 18-105mm kit lens offers a longer telephoto setting, which makes it just a little more versatile.

One limitation of these kit lenses is that they have a variable maximum aperture which drops to f/5.6 at their longest zoom settings.

Live View
Nikon DSLRs now offer you two ways to view and compose your pictures. You can use the viewfinder in the conventional way, or you can switch to Live View and compose the shot using the LCD screen on the back of the camera.

This means you can take pictures without having to put your eye to the camera – you can still see the picture and the main camera settings from a couple of feet away – so it’s easier to use the camera on a tripod with a remote release, and there’s much more scope for exploring different shooting angles.

The Nikon D5100 and D5200 are especially interesting because they have a fold-out ‘articulating’ LCD display.

SEE MORE: Nikon D5300 vs D5200 vs D5100 – 13 key differences you need to know

You can angle the LCD in almost any direction, and this is ideal if you want to place the camera on the ground for dramatic low-level shots like this one, or if you’re shooting in a cramped environment where there’s no room to get behind the camera.

With Nikon’s latest DSLRs and Wi-Fi accessories, you can even compose and shoot using a smart device.


Nikon lenses: macro lens

Image: Tim Mulcahy

Macro lens
Most lenses have a minimum focus distance of 0.2-0.5m, which means it’s difficult to get right up close and fill the frame with smaller subjects. The solution is a dedicated ‘macro’ lens, which has a fixed focal length and can focus much closer than ordinary lenses.

With a macro lens you can discover a whole new world of patterns, shapes and textures in nature that you don’t normally see.

Even with a macro lens, though, you need careful technique to get super-sharp close-ups. You should always use a tripod where possible, not just to prevent camera shake but to keep the camera locked precisely in position.

The depth of field available at close focusing distances is tiny, and any slight camera movement can send your subject out of focus.

You can solve depth of field issues by shooting your subjects ‘head on’ so that they’re on a single plane of focus rather than being angled away from the camera. This is the technique used for this shot of an autumn leaf encased in ice.

SEE MORE: 9 things you need to know about using macro lenses

Nikon lenses: Nano crystal coat

Nano Crystal Coat
Lens makers add special coatings to their lenses. A coating minimises internal reflections within a lens, and maximises light transmission through it so that the image is as bright as possible.

This is why modern lenses have such clarity and contrast. Each lens maker has its own formula for lens coating, and Nikon’s latest invention is its Nano Crystal Coat.

This is a unique ‘granular’ coating using microscopic particles too small to interfere with the image, but with the ability to reduce the amount by which the light is refracted as it enters the lens.

Lenses with the Nano Crystal Coat have an ‘N’ badge on the barrel, and Nikon’s groundbreaking 14-24mm f/2.8 super-wide-angle lens for FX-format cameras was one of the first to use it.

Open wide!
At one time photographers were preoccupied with depth of field, using small apertures to make as much of the image sharp as possible.

In part, this was in response to the difficulty of focusing accurately and the poor performance of most lenses of the time when used wide open.

But times have changed! Today’s digital zoom and prime lenses are often razor sharp at or near their maximum apertures, and modern AF systems can focus with an accuracy that the human eye would find hard to match.

This makes it possible to explore the magical world of bokeh and wonderfully evocative shallow depth of field effects.

So, next time you go out shooting, don’t let your camera default to a boring lens aperture. Switch to P mode, open that lens up as wide as it will go and see the difference it makes to your shots!

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


10 reasons your pictures aren’t sharp (and how to fix them)
Master your camera’s autofocus: which AF points to use and when to use them
Famous Photographers: 225 tips to inspire you
44 essential digital camera tips and tricks
10 common camera mistakes every photographer makes