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

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

Nikon lenses from Pinhole to Tilt/shift

Nikon lenses: pinhole photography

Pinhole photography
To take pictures, you don’t actually need a lens at all! The lens is simply there to focus the rays of light to a single point, and you can achieve the same effect with a tiny hole drilled through a body cap fitted to your DSLR, or through the end of a can attached where the lens would be.

You can even get ready-made pinhole lenses. The distance between the pinhole and the sensor determines its ‘focal length’. A body cap pinhole will be a wide-angle lens, while a tin can pinhole will be a telephoto.

The smaller the hole, the sharper the image, but the exposure time will go up too. There’s no focusing because the depth of field is infinite, though the definition is limited by diffraction effects, so although you can shoot detailed subjects, dreamy shots can be just as effective.


Nikon lenses: quality control

Image: Philippe Sainte-Laudy

Quality control
It’s not just what you’ve got, but how you use it. The more expensive the lens, the better the quality, but the differences between the results you get from a pro lens and a consumer ‘kit’ lens are often smaller than you might think.

It’s much more important to mount your camera on a tripod, focus carefully, and use your lens’s ‘sweet spot’ – the aperture range where it delivers its best sharpness, generally around f/8.

This breathtaking scene was shot using a Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 superzoom, but with perfect camera technique. It shows the quality you can achieve with an everyday lens.

Rounded diaphragm
The shape of the diaphragm in your lens will affect the shape of out-of-focus highlights in your picture, and the effect can be quite prominent.

An older lens with a six-bladed diaphragm, for example, might produce hexagonal highlights.

These days, though, photographers prefer a more natural, circular look, so lens makers are now making rounded diaphragm shapes, either by increasing the number of blades or by making the inner edge of the blade more rounded.

The effect is most obvious in portrait shots with blurred light sources or highlights in the background, but can be seen with any backlit shots taken with a wide lens aperture and shallow depth of field.

It’s all tied in with the concept of ‘bokeh’, and the visual quality of out-of-focus areas in your picture. Blur isn’t just blur any more – it has to be the right kind of blur!


Nikon lenses: super-telephoto

Image: Ming G

A super-telephoto is a lens with a focal length greater than 300mm. These lenses are heavy, expensive and deliver high levels of magnification for sports or wildlife photography. 
But that’s not all they do.

Super-telephoto lenses flatten perspective, so that distance objects appear much larger relative to those closer to the camera.

Look at the size of the moon in this picture, and the way the photographer has been able to turn a distant detail into a simple but striking composition.

SEE MORE: 9 things you need to know about using a super-telephoto lens

Nikon lenses: tilt/shift

Image: Marc Haegeman

Tilt/shift lens
This is the general term for lenses which offer in-built perspective adjustments – Nikon calls them PC-E, or perspective control lenses.

The name comes from the two key movements these lenses provide. The tilt movement swivels the lens sideways, up or down, which has the effect of changing the plane of focus.

You can use it to keep the whole of an object or a scene sharp, even when it’s at an oblique angle to the camera, and when stopping the lens down to its minimum aperture still doesn’t provide enough depth of field.

SEE MORE: Your tilt-shift lens – more than just a miniature effect maker

This striking architectural shot, though, was taken using a shift movement. When ‘shifted’, the angle of the lens to the camera stays the same, but it’s moved from side to side or, more likely up or down.

This gets round the problem of converging verticals because the movement lets you capture the full height of the building without having to tilt the camera.

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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