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

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

Nikon lenses from U/V filters to Zoom burst

Nikon lenses: UV filters

UV filters
UV, or ultra-violet, filters were developed to counter the blue haze effect you sometimes used to get in distant landscape shots.

Digital sensors are less sensitive to this UV haze than film, but UV filters remain a very useful accessory because they act as inexpensive protection for your lenses.

It’s much cheaper to replace a scratched UV filter than it is to buy a new lens. Apart from cutting UV light, UV filters don’t have any other effect, so as long as you stick to good-quality coated glass filters like those made by Hoya, for example, they won’t have any impact on the image quality.

Lenses don’t always produce perfectly even illumination, and your pictures may be darker in the corners than in the centre.

This called vignetting, or ‘corner shading’. It’s not always a bad thing, though, since it can help concentrate the viewer’s attention on the main subject, acting as a kind of subtle framing device.

You can get software tools which remove vignetting, but you can also get tools which add a creative vignetting effect.

SEE MORE: Vignetting – quick fixes and how to avoid it entirely

Nikon lenses: wideangle lenses

Image: Gael Trijasson

Wide-angle lens
A wide-angle lens doesn’t just get more of the scene in the frame, it changes the way objects look and relate to each other.

With a wide-angle lens you get closer to objects in the foreground, which makes them look larger; at the same time the wider angle of view means that distant objects look smaller.

This produces stronger perspective effects, as you can see from this shot, where the building appears to lean inwards to the centre of the frame.

Wide-angle lenses are often used to tell a story, bringing subjects forward or creating surreal distortions or juxtapositions.

Any lens with an effective focal length of 28mm or less is classed as a ‘wide-angle’. The equivalent on a DX-format Nikon is about 18mm.


Nikon lenses: X-factor

Image: Philip Klinger

Teleconverters have long been seen as a kind of magic bullet for telephoto lenses. They fit between the lens and the camera body, and the ‘x-factor’ refers to their magnification.

Nikon currently makes three teleconverters: the TC-14E II (x1.4 magnification), the TC-17E II (x1.7 magnification) and the TC-20E III (x2 magnification).

A Nikon x1.4 teleconverter was used to crop in tightly on this mist-shrouded landscape. The magnification comes at a price, though, because the maximum aperture of the lens is reduced in proportion to the magnification.

The x1.4 converter means a loss of 1 f-stop, so an f/2.8 lens becomes an f/4 lens. The x1.7 converter reduces the aperture by 1.5 stops, and the x2 converter brings a two-stop penalty. There are other limitations.

Nikon’s teleconverters can only be fitted to its fast aperture, professional telephoto lenses, and if you use Sigma lenses, say, you’ll need a Sigma teleconverter instead.


Nikon lenses: yellow filter

Image: Andrei Lanchu

Yellow filter
A yellow filter used to be standard issue for black and white photographers in the past, especially for landscape work, where the yellow colour blocks some of the light from blue skies, which gives them a darker tone, but doesn’t affect the appearance of leaves and grass.

They’re not used so much these days because digital sensors work in a different way – there’s no advantage in filtering the colours before the image is recorded, and it’s easier to shoot in colour and apply the ‘filter’ effect on the computer later on.

But why limit the good old yellow filter to black and white work? Here, it’s been used to add a warm, retro tone to this Instagram-style colour picture. It’s given the colours a faded, old-style look without the need for software filters.

The right kind of subject helps, too: look for quirky, offbeat compositions, and try deliberately skewing the camera as you shoot.

If you’re going to use coloured filters, it’s best to use one of the camera’s White Balance presets – if you leave it set to auto White Balance, it may attempt to correct what it sees as an unwanted colour cast.


Nikon lenses: zoom burst

Zoom burst
Here’s another special effect that doesn’t need a computer! What it does need, however, is a steady hand and a willingness to experiment.

The idea is that you quickly zoom the lens from its shortest to its longest focal length while the exposure is being made.

This means you’ll need shutter speeds of half a second or longer to give yourself time to zoom in, so you can’t expect all your shots to come out sharp.

But what you will get is a striking ‘zoom’ effect from the centre of the frame, with lines of colour radiating out from the centre. You can try this out on a range of subjects, from portraits to flower shots.

It can work especially well with sports and action, though it can be difficult to get the timing right. If you’re having trouble keeping the camera steady you could try putting it on a tripod.

For an added twist (literally!), try turning the camera as you zoom. This is a tricky technique to master, but if you get it right you produce a ‘spiral’ zoom burst which is even more intriguing.

Of course, the great thing about digital SLRs is that you can keep practising until you get it right, and it won’t cost you a penny!

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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