What are the differences between lenses? The full guide on the example of Nikon

What is more important - a camera or a lens?

What should I replace it with or what lens should I buy in addition to it?

Many aspiring photographers believe that it is the camera that makes the quality of the photo. They spend time scrupulously choosing the camera and the issue of choosing the right lens also often appears. However, SLR cameras and mirrorless cameras have interchangeable lenses. This gives the photographer the opportunity to choose from a wide range of models and find the most suitable depending on the specific task. And so, it is the lens, and not the camera, that is responsible for many qualities of a photograph: for example, the overview, detail, the likelihood of sharpness, the beauty of the blur of the lantern (a feature called bokeh). In addition, the role of a lens is visible on color reproductions, as well as contrasting photographs, the camera may have a high resolution matrix, low digital noise, and high-quality autofocus, but the accuracy of these elements falls upon a lens. Speaking figuratively, this is the photographer's 'brush'. By choosing a brush, the artist will be able to draw a beautiful picture. Choosing the right lens will help you get beautiful and high-quality photos. Find out what features the lens has: this will help to not make a mistake with the choice of ideal optics when the initial problem arises. The lens mount (also called a bayonet) is a special part responsible for mounting the lens on the camera. Cameras from different manufacturers have different one-byte mounts. In addition to the mounting mechanism itself, modern mounts allow the lens and camera to communicate. To do this, the nearest electronic contacts on the bayonet.

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Practice photography with our courses adapted to Nikon cameras

Important–always keep the mirror and matrix clean!

Having removed the lens from the camera, you will find a mirror (in the case of SLR devices), a matrix, and a camera shutter. All these details are very delicate: you should not touch them, because this could jeopardize the warranty of your camera. Try not to leave the camera a long time without a lens: dust, dirt, and moisture can get into it. All this can settle on the matrix and, while nothing fatal will happen, black spots will appear on the pictures.

If you do get dust on the matrix, know that modern cameras have systems for ultrasonic cleaning of the matrix, and if such a system fails, the dust from the matrix can be removed at a service center. But all this is unnecessary trouble, which can be easily avoided. Change lenses quickly, without delay. It is not worth changing the lens on the street in bad weather (rain, snow, or dust). If necessary, hold the unit with the bayonet down to minimize the possibility of dust getting inside.

How to assemble a set of lenses necessary for full-fledged work?

The device of the lens and its main characteristics

The simplest lens, or monocle, consists of only one lens. But monocles have not been used for a long time. After all, they cannot provide the image quality necessary for modern cameras. In modern lenses, not one lens is used, but complex systems of several elements, the number of which can reach up to two dozen. The set of lenses installed in the lens in a certain order is called the optical scheme. Various lenses, depending on their characteristics and purpose, are built according to different optical schemes.

The main characteristic of a lens is its focal length. It defines the viewing angle. By choosing a certain viewing angle (and therefore a certain focal length of the lens), we can either show close-up objects distant from us, or vice versa, shoot with a wide field of view. The focal length of a lens is measured in millimeters. The longer the focal length of the lens, the narrower its field of view. And vice versa: the shorter the focal length, the wider its viewing angle.

Any modern lens is equipped with an aperture mechanism. The aperture is used to regulate the amount of light passing through the lens. In addition, the aperture affects the depth of field and the degree of background blur in the photo.

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Modern lenses use the so-called iris diaphragm. The mechanism of the iris diaphragm consists of several petals, which, by contracting and expanding, are able to increase or decrease the opening between them. It is through this hole that light passes. The aperture of the iris closes–the amount of light passing through the lens decreases. The aperture opens and the amount of light passing through the lens increases.

The open aperture of the lens will correspond to its maximum relative aperture (this concept is often confused with aperture, which will be discussed below). This is also an important characteristic of the lens. After all, the larger the relative aperture, the more light can pass through the lens, and therefore we will be able to take better shots in low light by reducing the exposure time and, as a result, by reducing blur. Simplifying greatly, we can say that aperture ratio is the ratio of the aperture diameter to the focal length of the lens. Thus, we will get relative aperture values like 1/1.4, 1/2.8, 1/5.6, 1/8, etc. Here we see that the smaller the fraction in front of us, the smaller the aperture. However, when designating aperture, for brevity, the leading unit is almost always discarded and only 1.4, 2.8, 5.6, etc. remain. Just as often, the letter 'f' is added instead of one before these numbers: f / 1.4, f / 2.8, f / 5.6, etc. On the camera, the aperture is indicated even more simply: F1.4, F2.8, F5.6, etc. With this designation, the larger the number, the smaller the aperture, and the weaker the background blur will be.

How is the angle of view of a lens measured?

The selected aperture value is indicated on the camera screen and in the viewfinder. Aperture control in modern cameras occurs directly from the camera itself, using its controls.

In addition to the optical system and aperture, the lens contains a focusing mechanism that allows you to focus it at a certain distance. Please note: the lens does not focus on any object, but at a certain distance. These are the laws of optics. When focusing, one or another block of lenses moves in the lens, depending on the design of the lens. Those lenses are famous for their reliability, in which the internal lens unit moves when focusing. Then external factors do not act on it, dust gets inside the lens less when its elements move. You can focus the lens with your own hands by turning a special ring on the lens. This method is called manual focus, and lenses that focus only manually are called 'manual'.

With the exception of some specialty lenses, all modern Nikon lenses have autofocus capability. Of course, auto focus is very convenient. The speed of auto focus will greatly depend both on the model of the camera and the quality of its autofocus sensor, and on the lens: how quickly it can focus.

Lens aperture

The maximum aperture value of a lens is often referred to as aperture ratio. For example, the open value of the lens aperture is F2.8. Therefore, F2.8 is the aperture ratio of this lens. However, this idea of luminosity is greatly simplified. The definition presented above refers to the concept of the maximum relative aperture of a lens. With it, only its geometric parameters are taken into account, but it is forgotten that part of the light can be lost in the thickness of the lens glass (as no glass has absolute transparency), and part of the light is reflected from the lens surface. Therefore, it may happen that two lenses with the same maximum relative aperture will transmit different amounts of light. If the maximum relative aperture is always indicated in the characteristics of the lens, then the photographer can only speculate about the actual aperture of the lens and study it from his own experience. Further, for simplicity, we will use a simplified concept of luminosity, putting an equal sign between luminosity and the concept of ‘maximum relative aperture’. 'There is never too much aperture’ is a popular expression among photographers. In this they are right: the larger the aperture of the lens, the easier it will be to shoot in low light. High-aperture lenses blur the background beautifully in portraits. Aperture often determines the class and price of optics. Simpler lenses have a weak aperture (F3.5–F5.6). More advanced and expensive models have a large aperture, lenses with an aperture of F2.8 and more are often called fast ones.

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Zooms and fixes

Lenses are divided into two categories: fixed focal length and variable, or zoom lenses. Zoom lenses are great for their versatility. By changing the focal length of the lens, we change its angle of view. With the same lens, we can shoot both general shots and more distant objects. In simple terms, such lenses can ‘zoom in and out’. Zooms, because of their versatility, are widespread.

But zoom lenses also have disadvantages. Image quality is often sacrificed for the sake of versatility. Zoom apertures are also usually small compared to lenses with a fixed focal length. Fixed lenses (also known as discrete lenses) have a constant, unchanging focal length. This means that they cannot change the viewing angle–they cannot 'zoom in and out'. But they have a lot of other advantages. Chief among them is excellent image quality. Also, prime lenses can have a very high aperture, inaccessible to zooms: F1.4 and even more.

Let's summarize:

  • The angle of view depends on the focal length of the lens.
  • Lenses come in fixed focal lengths (fixes) and variable focal lengths (zooms). Fixes do not know how to change the viewing angle, but they give excellent picture quality and have a high aperture ratio. Zooms can change the viewing angle, so it's more versatile. But for the sake of versatility, image quality and aperture ratio are sometimes sacrificed.
  • Aperture controls the amount of light passing through the lens and the depth of field in the photo. The diaphragm can be opened and closed. It is usually indicated by numbers preceded by the letter 'F'. For example F1.4, F5.6, F8. Moreover, the larger the number, the more closed the aperture it means!
  • The maximum aperture of a lens is often referred to as its aperture. The larger the aperture, the easier it will be for the photographer to shoot in low light and the better the lens will blur the background in the picture.

Other lens specifications

Minimum focusing distance Any lens has a minimum focusing distance, closer than which it will not be able to focus. The minimum focusing distance may vary depending on the lens model from a few meters to several centimeters. An important point: the minimum focusing distance is measured not from the front lens of the lens, but from the plane in which the camera's matrix is \u200b\u200b(focal plane). There is even a special mark on the camera to designate it.

Naturally, the smaller the minimum focusing distance, the closer you will be able to shoot objects. Lenses designed for macro photography (i.e. for shooting at a large scale) have a very short minimum focusing distance. For example, the minimum focusing distance of the Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm f / 2.8G lens is only 16.3 cm. If you count them from the plane of the matrix, given the length of the lens itself, it turns out that the lens can focus almost close to the subject.

How to find out the minimum focusing distance of your lens? It is always written in its characteristics, which are easy to find on the Internet. In addition, it is often written on the front side of the lens.

Sensor sizes and crop factor for Nikon photography

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Characteristics and properties of lenses

How sharp is the lens? How clear an image can it give? This question is answered by the resolution of the lens. We have already encountered the concept of resolution in the context of a digital image. We found that the higher the resolution of a digital image, the higher quality, more detailed it is. In the case of the lens, everything is the same. The higher its resolution, the more detailed the picture can be obtained from this lens. However, the resolution of a lens is measured in a very different way, not in the number of dots (as is the case with a digital image). After all, the lens projects an image onto the camera matrix that is not broken into small pixel elements, and its resolution is therefore more difficult to measure. Moreover, the sharpness of the lens will depend on the aperture at which you are shooting, and in the case of zoom lenses, also on the selected focal length. To give a general description of the sharpness of the lens, a whole laboratory study is carried out, and based on its results, the so-called MTF graphs are compiled.

However, the photographer does not work in laboratory conditions, and the sharpness of the final image is affected by a lot of side factors, both of a technical nature (for example, high ISO, wrong shutter speed, focus inaccuracy, lack of depth of field), and other circumstances. For example, the front lens of the lens may be dirty, in bright sunlight the lens may catch a glare, the sharpness of the lens may spoil the protective filter or other attachments, when photographing on the street there may be smog or fog, and very often the sharpness of frames is spoiled by incorrect computer processing.

Therefore, it is best to judge the sharpness of the lens not by the graphs, but by correctly taken photographs from this lens. After all, we will evaluate our photographs not mathematically, but with our own eyes and feelings. On the Internet today there are a lot of examples of pictures from any optics. They can be found both on the official websites of lens manufacturers and in tests on popular photo hosting sites. For example, the Pixel-Peeper.com website contains millions of pictures taken by users of the Flickr photo hosting using one or another photographic equipment.

By the way, having looked on the Internet for examples of pictures taken with a particular lens, we will once again be convinced that even with the highest quality lens you can take a bad shot–it all depends on the skills of the photographer. To evaluate the sharpness of an image using photographic examples, you should pay attention to both the center of the frame and its edges. In the center of the frame, the lens always has the highest resolution, while towards its edges it can noticeably decrease. There is nothing wrong with the fact that there is a slight decrease in sharpness towards the edge of the frame: after all, significant objects are rarely located at the very edge of the photograph. When evaluating the sharpness of the lens, it should be kept in mind that at the maximum aperture, the image sharpness is often not as high as at F8-F11. At more closed apertures, sharpness again begins to gradually decrease. Therefore, you should not use apertures F16-F32 unnecessarily. If the resolution of the lens is not enough in practical use, when fully zoomed in, we will see that even with absolutely precise focusing, they will not give a completely sharp image. Often in this case, photographers say the lens ‘lathers’. ‘Soaping’ is often the result of the simplest, most inexpensive lenses, such as ‘whale’, supplied with the camera. Of course, you can get great pictures with ‘whale’ optics, but advanced photographers prefer to change them to more advanced lens models, depending on their tasks, as far as possible.

Let's compare the sharpness of three lenses of different classes in the photo example: an entry-level zoom, a professional zoom lens and a fixed lens. We have chosen typical representatives of each class, so that the results of the comparison will be more or less typical for all representatives of these categories of optics. All frames were taken on a Nikon D5300 camera with an aperture of F8, that is, at the peak of the sharpness of these lenses. Compare fragments from the center of the image at 100% magnification.

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Subjective characteristics: “Pattern” of the lens and the beauty of bokeh

These characteristics are called subjective because they cannot be measured and are judged by photographers based on their own tastes and creative experience. Many photographers, especially those who are not engaged in creative, but in technical photography, are not at all interested in such concepts as ‘drawing’ and bokeh. Since each lens model has a particular optical system, the image projected by them on the matrix can differ not only in sharpness, but also in its artistic character. This character of the image given by the lens is called a ‘pattern’ by photographers. The concept of ‘bokeh’ is adjacent to the concept of drawing. Bokeh is the area of blur in the photo. Different lenses give different bokeh. The nature of the bokeh depends on the optical system of the lens and on the design of its diaphragm mechanism. It is believed that the rounder the aperture opening, the more pleasant the bokeh will turn out and the more regular the round glare from point light sources on the background will have. Manufacturers often fit special rounded aperture blades to the lens to produce beautiful bokeh. The concepts of pattern and bokeh are most often used in relation to fast optics and lenses with a fixed focal length, since such lenses are considered to have a pronounced, characteristic pattern. Which lens has a more beautiful picture and better bokeh–each photographer decides for himself.

Crop factor and equivalent focal length

Camera lens device and controls

Let's figure out what parts and controls are located on the lens and why they are needed.

  1. Bayonet mount. With it, the lens is mounted on the camera.
  2. The name of the lens. A little lower, we will learn how to decipher all the designations used in the names of Nikon lenses.
  3. Switch between automatic (A) and manual (M) lens focus.
  4. Turns on and off the optical stabilizer (VR - Vibration Reduction) of the lens. Available only on lenses equipped with this same stabilizer.
  5. Focus ring. Required for manual focusing of the lens.
  6. The scale of the selected focal length. Available on most zoom lenses, except for the simplest ones. On lenses with a fixed focal length, it is also absent as unnecessary.
  7. Zoom ring. Only available with zoom lenses. It is necessary to change the focal lengths of the lens (and with it the angle of view of the lens).
  8. Hood mount. A lens hood is a kind of “visor” that protects its front lens from glare that can occur when shooting in bright sunlight. In addition, the lens hood can perform a protective function, making the front element of the lens more difficult to reach for fingers and protecting it from physical damage when the lens is dropped.
  9. Thread for mounting filters on the lens. Each lens has a specific thread diameter. This diameter is measured in millimeters: 52 mm, 67 mm, 72 mm, 77 mm. Special light filters are produced for each thread diameter. The most common light filter is a protective one. Its function is to protect the front lens of the lens from mechanical damage. A separate lesson will be devoted to light filters, because this is a very extensive topic. How to find out the diameter of the thread for the filter of your lens? It is usually written next to his front lens. If suddenly it is not written there, you can always find the characteristics of the lens on the Internet or instructions for it. In addition, you can look at the back of the lens cap. They are often labeled with a diameter.
  10. Focus distance scale. Not available on all lenses. Helps to understand at what distance the lens is currently focused. Especially useful for subject and landscape photography.

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How to read the name of the lens? Nikon Lens Technologies

What is the focal length of the lens, what aperture? Will it fit your camera? All this can be learned from the name of the lens. Let's learn to read it. First of all, the name of the lens indicates the manufacturer. Nikon lenses are called Nikkor, which is the brand name for a family of optics. In the name of the lens, this word can be used interchangeably with the name of the manufacturer.

The rest of the name of the lens is built from abbreviations denoting certain technologies and standards, and numerical characteristics: focal length and aperture. We already know that the focal length of a lens is indicated in millimeters. In the case of zoom lenses, the shortest and longest focal lengths given are indicated by a dash. For example: '18 - 55mm'. If we have a fixed lens in front of us, then its focal length is indicated by one number. For example: '50 mm'. The lens aperture, like the focal length, can be constant and variable. Some zoom lenses have variable aperture. Then the lens aperture is also indicated through the dash at the shortest focal length and at the longest. For example: F / 3.5-5.6. If the lens has a constant aperture, aperture is indicated by a single number. For example: 'F/1.4'. Among the abbreviations in the name of a modern lens from Nikon, the following can be used: AF (Autofocus)–autofocus lenses without a built-in motor for autofocus. Use the motor built into the camera. Not all modern cameras have a built-in motor for focusing: Nikon's budget devices do not have it. Such lenses are called 'screwdriver' lenses, as are cameras with a built-in focus motor. This name is derived from the fact that the autofocus drive, peeking out of the camera mount, looks like a screwdriver. This drive turns a special 'cog' on the lens, thereby moving the lens groups and bringing the lens into focus.

If such a lens is attached to a camera without a built-in focus motor, autofocus will not work. Only manual focus will be possible. Today, cameras starting with Nikon D7100 and older have built-in focus drives: Nikon D600, Nikon D610, Nikon D750, Nikon D800, Nikon D800E, Nikon D810, Nikon D4, Nikon D4s. Cameras younger than Nikon D7100 do not have a built-in focus drive: Nikon D3200, Nikon D3300, Nikon D5200, Nikon D5300 and others. Today, 'screwdriver' lenses are considered almost obsolete, all new lenses are equipped with their own motors and have the abbreviation 'AF-S'. AF-S (AF-Silent Wave Motor) is an autofocus lens with a built-in autofocus motor.

With this lens, autofocus will work on any Nikon DSLR. SWM (Silent Wave Motor) is an ultrasonic focusing motor used in AF-S standard lenses. G (G-type) are without an aperture ring. The control ring is not needed when using modern cameras, so it was gotten rid of. However, G-series lenses cannot be used on older, fully mechanical cameras such as Nikon FM3a and Nikon FM10.

Micro (Macro)lenses are designed for macro photography. They have a short minimum focusing distance, which allows you to shoot subjects very close-up.

PC-E (Perspective Control) lenses are tilt-shift lenses or lenses with perspective correction.

ED–this lens uses special lenses to reduce chromatic aberrations. AS–this lens uses aspherical lenses.

IF (Internal focus) is a lens with internal focusing. When focusing, the front element of the lens remains stationary. This improves the reliability of the lens.

RF (Rear Focusing) is almost the same as IF, but focusing is carried out by rear optical elements with low weight, which means it takes less time.

DC (Defocus Control) is a function to control the blur zone. By turning it on, you can achieve a more beautiful bokeh.

VR (Vibration Reduction) is a very important feature that works as an image stabilizer.

N–(Nano Crystal Coat)due to the application of nanocrystals to lenses, the susceptibility of the lens to glare is reduced, and a higher contrast image is obtained.

AF-D, D (AF-Distance Information)–lenses that transmit information to the camera about the distance to the object. Today, all lenses have this feature. Lenses marked with the abbreviations AF-D and D are not the newest lenses.

DX–this lens is designed for cameras with APS-C format matrices. The lens projects an image of a small size, just right for a reduced APS-C sensor, so if you put it on a camera with a full frame sensor, there will be a very strong darkening at the edges of the frame. Modern full-frame Nikon cameras have a DX-optics compatibility mode. In this mode, the camera will receive an image not from the entire area of the matrix, but from an area equal in area to the APS-C format matrix. That is, there will be no vignetting (darkening of the edges), but the full-frame device will also turn into a crop camera.

FX is a lens designed for use with full frame cameras, but it can be fully used with APS-C cameras.

CX lenses are designed for use with Nikon 1 system cameras, and are not compatible with Nikon SLRs with Nikon F mount. Now we can easily decipher the names of Nikkor lenses, learn about their main characteristics, technologies and standards.

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Crop factor and equivalent focal length

How does the size of the camera's matrix affect the angle of view of the lens? We talked about the fact that the viewing angle and focal length of the lens are the main characteristics, and we know that these characteristics are interconnected:

The longer the focal length of the lens, the narrower its field of view. The shorter the focal length of the lens, the wider its field of view.

When a person uses his own camera, he eventually gets used to the fact that at certain focal lengths, his lens gives one or another viewing angle: capturesthe scene being shot strongly or weakly. Will these ratios between focal length and viewing angle remain the same or change if the camera is changed? Today we will find out. Often, when discussing pictures, photographers say: 'this picture was taken with such and such a focal length,' thereby characterizing the angle of view at which the image was taken. Even under photo examples in our articles, the focal length of the lens on which these images were taken is often indicated. How do you know what focal length on your camera corresponds to the same viewing angle? How to take a photo with your camera? How to set the angle of view of the lens will depend on the model of your camera, and getting acquainted with the concepts of 'crop factor' and 'equivalent focal length'.

Lens viewing angle and sensor size

Today the situation has changed. Matrices in digital cameras come in different sizes. Therefore, with the same focal lengths of the lens on different cameras, the viewing angle will also depend on the size of the camera's matrix.

The smaller the camera matrix, the narrower the angle of view of the lens at the same focal length. It turns out that on a full-frame matrix (or on a film frame), a lens with a focal length of 50 mm provides a viewing angle of 45°, while an APS-C format matrix with the same focal length is already at 35°. On a Nikon 1 system camera with an even more compact 1” sensor, the same lens will give a field of view of just 15°. The smaller the matrix in the camera, the stronger the lens with the same focal length will 'zoom in'. The same lens, when mounted on different cameras, will give a completely different picture. This must be taken into account when choosing optics.

Crop factor and equivalent focal length

Since sensors of completely different sizes are installed in various cameras today, it is easy to get confused with what angle of view a lens with a particular focal length will give on a particular camera. Photographers of the old school, accustomed to working with film photographic equipment and to the classic values of focal lengths, clearly associate them with specific viewing angles. To understand what focal length corresponds to a particular lens viewing angle on modern devices, two concepts were introduced: crop factor and equivalent focal length.

Equivalent focal length

This characteristic is not needed for beginners or those buying their first camerathe numbers of the equivalent focal length will not tell him anything. But for experienced photographers who are accustomed to film photography, this feature will be useful. It will also be useful to those who are thinking about buying a new camera with a matrix of a different size and want to choose the right optics for it, to find out how their old lenses will work on the new camera. The equivalent focal length lets you know what focal length a lens with the same angle of view would have on a full-frame (or film) camera. This characteristic allows you to compare lenses of all types of cameras, including compact ones.

In the characteristics of a lens that is not designed for a full-frame camera, you can often find the item 'equivalent focal length' or '35mm equivalent focal length'. This item is needed so that the photographer can figure out what angle of view this lens will give. For example, for a 50mm lens mounted on an APS-C sensor camera, the equivalent focal length would be 75mm. The tiny 4.3mm focal length used in a compact camera lens matches the angle of view of a 24mm lens at full frame. How to calculate the most equivalent focal length? To do this, you need to know the crop factor. This is a conditional factor that reflects the change in the angle of view of the lens when it is used with smaller sensors. This multiplier is derived when comparing the diagonals of digital camera matrices with a 24x36 mm film frame.

For example, the diagonal of an APS-C format matrix is approximately 1.5 times smaller than a full-frame one. So the crop factor for the APS-C matrix will be 1.5. But the diagonal of the Nikon CX format matrix is \u200b\u200b less than full-frame by 2.7 times. Therefore, its crop factor will be 2.7. Now, knowing the crop factor, we can calculate the equivalent focal length for the lens. To do this, you need to multiply the actual focal length of the lens by the crop factor. Let's say we need to know the equivalent focal length for a 35mm lens if it is mounted on an APS-C sensor camera, which is 35x1.5=50mm. So, the equivalent focal length of such a lens would be 50mm. That is, on an amateur DSLR, a 35mm lens will behave in the same way as a classic 50mm lens in full frame.

Lens viewing angle and sensor size

Sensor sizes and crop factor for Nikon photography

In modern Nikon system SLR and mirrorless cameras, only three standards of matrices of various sizes are used. They are easy to understand. Full frame matrices (Nikon FX). They have a physical size of 36 x 24 mm, that is, they are equal in size to a frame from a 35 mm film. Most modern lenses are designed for such cameras, a them they can reveal their full potential. Among modern Nikon devices, full-frame matrices are equipped with: Nikon D610, Nikon D750, Nikon D800 / D800E, Nikon D810, Nikon D4 / D4s, and Nikon Df. Since the matrix of such cameras is equal in size to a film frame, the concept of crop factor and EGF is not needed for such devices.

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APS-C format matrices (Nikon DX). They have a physical size of 25.1 x 16.7 mm and a crop factor of 1.5. Such a matrix is slightly smaller than a full-frame one, but it is much cheaper. Such matrices are sometimes called 'cropped'. Almost all manufacturers of digital SLR cameras use this sensor size. Among modern Nikon devices, APS-C matrices have cameras Nikon D3300, Nikon D5300, Nikon D5500, Nikon D7100. You can still use full-frame optics with them, however, all lenses will 'zoom in' much stronger, which is not always convenient, because some lenses are designed for a strictly specific type of shooting and the loss of the desired viewing angle does not allow them to be used for their intended purpose. First of all, this applies to wide-angle, portrait and reportage optics. Full-frame wide-angle optics lose their main advantage–a large viewing angle. Portrait full-frame lenses on the 'crop' start to get too close, and it becomes difficult to shoot on them, as you have to move very far away. For example, by installing a classic portrait lens with a focal length of 85 mm on a cropped camera, you will have to move away from the person being photographed by 5-7 meters in order to shoot at least a waist-length portrait. Full-frame reportage optics (primarily zoom lenses with a focal length of 24-70 mm) get uncomfortable viewing angles on the crop, which are not very suitable in practice for fast, dynamic reportage shooting.

To create lenses suitable for these tasks, specially designed lenses are produced for crop. In the Nikon system, such lenses are marked with the letters 'DX' in the name. Since these lenses are designed to be used on a smaller sensor, they themselves become smaller and cheaper than their full-frame counterparts.

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For the same reason, they will not be able to work correctly on full-frame mothers. What happens if you put a cropped lens on a full frame camera? Unlike Canon cameras, Nikon has such an opportunity. In this case, you will get a very strong darkening at the edges of the frame. By the way, modern full-frame Nikon cameras can recognize 'cropped' optics if installed, they automatically crop the frame to the size of the APS-C matrix. This setting can be turned on or off in the camera menu.

Nikon CX is a matrix format for mirrorless cameras of the Nikon 1 family. The physical size is 13.2x8.8 mm. They have a crop factor of 2.7. Such a small matrix ensures compactness of the entire system. Its own optics are being developed for it: it is compact and practical. Through a special adapter (Nikon FT-1) on Nikon 1 cameras, lenses for full-frame and APS-C devices can also be used.

Other manufacturers have matrices of other sizes, and therefore with a different crop factor. For example, the micro 4/3 matrix standard is widely known, used by several manufacturers at once. This standard has a crop factor of 2. These are not very large matrices, with all the ensuing pluses and minuses. Cameras equipped with such matrices are compact, as are the optics designed for them. However, it is very difficult for devices with such a sensor to compete in image quality with full-frame devices - the area of \u200b\u200b differs the matrix by four times.

Let’s summarize:

If you are going to buy a new camera or choose a new lens for an old one and want to make an approximate calculation of the angle of view of the lens, find out the crop factor of the sensor installed in it. Based on this, choose a technique. If your camera has a crop factor of 1.5, be aware that you will need shorter throw lenses than full frame cameras.

What are the lenses? What to use to shoot a portrait, and what for a landscape? What lenses are used in certain types of shooting? Which lens should I use for landscape photography and which one for portraits? Lenses are distinguished primarily by the angle of view. Often, the scope of its application will depend on the viewing angle of the lens.

How is the angle of view of a lens measured?

Since the photo is in a rectangular format, the viewing angles will be different diagonally, horizontally and vertically. What is the viewing angle indicated in the characteristics of the lens? Each manufacturer decides for himself this issue independently. But most often, the specification indicates the diagonal viewing angle, that is, the widest possible. In the future, we will rely on the viewing angle along the diagonal of the frame.

Crop factor and equivalent focal length

Lens types and their viewing angles

We already know that the main characteristic of a lens is its angle of view. The angle of view depends on the focal length of the lens. Most often lenses are classified according to these two related parameters. Surely everyone has heard the expressions 'wide-angle lens', 'telephoto lens', 'standard lens' ... What does this mean? Let's figure it out. It is important to note that this classification is approximate. There are no clear and absolute boundaries between different categories. After all, it is based primarily on the experience of photographers. Please note that zoom lenses can operate over a wide range of focal lengths, which means that they fall into several categories of this classification at once. For example, there are often zooms (for example, whale lenses with focal lengths of 18-55 mm) that work simultaneously in both the wide-angle and 'normal' range of focal lengths. And hyperzooms like Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm F3.5-6.3G can even combine all categories from wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths. But when choosing a lens, do not forget that aperture, the beauty of background blur (bokeh), and sometimes sharpness are sacrificed for such versatility.

It is also important to understand that lenses with different viewing angles do not just 'zoom in and out' of the image. In view of the different shooting distances dictated by the viewing angles, they have a different effect on the transmission of perspective, and they convey the proportions of objects in the photo in different ways. Looking ahead, we note that a simple conclusion suggests itself from here: in order not to distort the proportions of an object or person while shooting it with a wide-angle lens, it is worth photographing from a long distance, in full size.

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Ultra wide angle lenses. Lenses that have an angle of view between 80 and 180 degrees are called ultra-wide angle lenses. It is clear where the name comes from: this optics gives the widest viewing angle. Ultra wide-angle lenses correspond to focal lengths shorter than 24 mm in full frame, shorter than 16 mm for cameras with an APS-C sensor-, and 9 mm for Nikon 1 cameras.

Ultra wide-angle lenses are most often used in landscape, interior, or architectural photography, where their widest viewing angle will be in demand. Since the angle of view of ultra-wide-angle lenses is very large, they convey perspective in a special way: everything that is closer to the lens becomes very large, and everything that is farther away becomes very small. If you shoot a person in this way, the proportions of the face and body in the photo may be distorted. That is why ultra wide-angle lenses are rarely used for portraits. This can bring either harm or benefit to the picture, depending on the idea. Think about the plot of the picture, its style and emotions, and choose the focal length for this, and not vice versa.

In order not to distort the proportions of people when shooting with ultra-wide-angle optics, the heroes of the frame can be shot from a certain distance, not close-up–this technique is often used by wedding photographers and those who want to combine elements of both portrait and landscape in one frame. A separate type of ultra-wide-angle lenses are fisheye lenses. These lenses distort the image in a special way, the same distortion that happens in a door peephole. When creating such lenses, the manufacturer does not intentionally correct distortion. Distortion is a special kind of geometric distortion of the image, which is characteristic of all short-focus optics, but in all lenses, except for fisheyes, it is corrected due to a special optical design. As a rule, fisheye lenses give a field of view close to 180 degrees. Due to the fact that they convey the geometry of space inaccurately, with distortions, these lenses are usually used in creative photography.

Is it possible to get a fisheye effect when processing an image? It is precisely because of the widest viewing angle that it will not be possible to achieve the effect of a fisheye lens when processing an image: it will simply break the geometry in a picture with a normal, narrower viewing angle. Fisheye lenses are diagonal and circular. Diagonal fisheye provides a viewing angle of about 180 degrees along the diagonal of the frame. Such a fisheye lens 'fills' the entire frame with the image. A circular fisheye lens gives a circle in the middle of the frame, and the corners of the picture remain black. For Nikon full-frame cameras, the Nikon 16mm f / 2.8D AF Fisheye-Nikkor fisheye lens is available. It must be remembered that a full-frame lens mounted on a 'cropped' camera will have a narrower angle of view. Since the widest possible angle of view is required from a fisheye lens, fisheyes designed for them are produced for cameras with an APS-C matrix. For example Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED DX Fisheye-Nikkor. Both mentioned lenses are diagonal.Wide-angle lenses have an angle of view of 50 to 80 degrees. Of course, from the point of view of geometry, such angles are no longer wide, but in the context of photography, they allow you to cover a fairly large space. Full-frame wide-angle lenses have a focal length of around 24-35mm. On the 'crop'it is 16-24 mm. In the Nikon 1 system, it is 9-13 mm. If ultra-wide-angle optics are quite specific in their work, then moderate wide-angle lenses are very versatile: with proper skill, they can equally effectively shoot landscapes and portraits, and do reportage and travel photography. A wide-angle lens should be in every photographer's arsenal. A wide-angle lens will allow you to shoot portraits from a fairly close distance in tight spaces and more effectively convey the perspective and volume in the picture. But due to the short shooting distance, strong perspective distortions can appear in the frame. Therefore, in most cases, longer focal length optics are used for portraiture.

Wide-angle lenses have an angle of view of 50 to 80 degrees. Of course, from the point of view of geometry, such angles are no longer wide, but in the context of photography, they allow you to cover a fairly large space. Full-frame wide-angle lenses have a focal length of around 24-35mm. On the "crop" - 16-24 mm. In the Nikon 1 system - 9-13 mm.

If ultra-wide-angle optics are quite specific in their work, then moderate wide-angle lenses are very versatile: with proper skill, they can equally effectively shoot landscapes and portraits, do reportage and travel photography. A wide-angle lens should be in every photographer's arsenal. A wide-angle lens will allow you to shoot portraits from a fairly close distance in tight spaces and more effectively convey the perspective and volume in the picture. But due to the short shooting distance, strong perspective distortions can appear in the frame. Therefore, in most cases, longer focal length optics are used for portraiture.

Kit lenses (starter lenses) These lenses provide an angle of view of about 40-50 degrees, which corresponds to focal lengths of 40-60mm for full-frame cameras, 28-40mm for cameras with an APS-C sensor, 15-22mm for the Nikon 1 system. Both of these names are arbitrary, and mean only that this optics provides a 'normal' viewing angle and 'normal' perspective transmission: they transmit the picture approximately the same as a person sees it. Lenses with such a focal length are quite versatile, and they can be used in any genre of photography. However, due to their 'normalcy', these lenses may seem rather boring: they will not be able to clearly convey the perspective, cover a wide viewing angle, and on the other hand, they will not be able to 'zoom in' the image much, as telephoto lenses do. All universal zoom lenses can work with these focal lengths. The classic representatives of 'normal' lenses are prime lenses with a focal length of 50 mm.

It is worth noting that a normal lens for a crop camera will be a lens with a focal length of 35 mm, and for Nikon 1–18 mm. This must be taken into account when choosing optics. Previously, in the film era, it was inexpensive fixed lenses with a focal length of 50 mm that acted as 'whale' lenses, which is probably why they got a different name–'regular lenses', 'staff'. However, this name is a little incorrect: each photographer chooses his own favorite, 'regular' focal lengths. Nevertheless, due to the affordable price and high aperture for many photographers, a normal lens (very often just a 'fifty kopeck piece') becomes the standard, most commonly used one.

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Telephoto lenses (long-focus optics). In the name of this class of optics there is a prefix 'tele', which is translated from Greek as 'far'. Since such lenses have a rather narrow field of view, they are able to show close-up objects that are at a great distance from us. The viewing angle of telephoto lenses is from 35 to several degrees.

It is customary to separate moderate telephoto lenses (focal length approximately 70-200mm for full-frame cameras, 50-150mm for APS-C and 25-75 for Nikon 1 system) and super telephoto lenses, as their focal length is more than 200mm (more than 150 for APS -C, over 75mm for Nikon 1). As a rule, the longer the focal length of the lens, the larger and more expensive it is. Therefore, telephoto lenses are usually used by professionals for specific shooting of very distant objects, for example, wild birds, animals, or football players during a match.

Due to the narrow angle of view, these lenses convey perspective differently than shorter focal length lenses. When shooting with a telephoto lens, perspective distortions are minimized in the frame, objects at different distances from each other 'approach' in the frame. Because of this feature, moderate telephoto optics are often used in portrait photography in order not to distort the proportions of the face and body of the model. Another feature of telephoto lenses is that they can blur the background a lot, which is beneficial for portrait photography. In addition to portrait photography, telephoto lenses are in great demand in reportage, sports, and landscape photography. Among telephoto lenses, there are several types of lenses designed for specific types of shooting.

Portrait lenses are designed specifically for photographing people. A portrait lens, and this is most often a fixed lens, has a high aperture and a focal length in the region of 50-135 mm for DSLRs, 18-50 mm for Nikon 1. Where did these focal lengths come from? More wide-angle lenses can distort the proportions of the face and body of a person at certain angles and poses. Longer focal length optics will force you to move too far away from the person being portrayed, you will simply lose all contact with him. Thanks to its fast aperture, suitable focal length and optical design, a portrait lens blurs the background beautifully in a photo. Of course, other lenses can also blur the background, but it is portrait optics that is famous among photographers for the special beauty of bokeh (blur pattern in the blur zone).

Macro lenses are very similar in their characteristics to portrait lenses: they are also fast lenses of a moderate telephoto range. But they have an important technical feature: they are able to focus at a very close distance without any additional devices such as macro lenses and extension rings, shooting small objects very close-up. Macro lenses are used when shooting small nature: insects, small animals, small plants. In addition, these lenses are the ideal choice for product, jewelry, and reproduction photography. Despite the similarity of characteristics, the image given by a macro lens is very different from the image from portrait optics. Macro lenses give a fairly contrasting, 'hard' image. But when shooting people, this character of the image emphasizes all the defects in the skin. Therefore, it is not recommended to shoot portraits with a macro object.

Why do serious photographers have multiple lenses? Sometimes people who are unfamiliar with photography are perplexed why an enthusiastic amateur photographer or a professional needs not one, but several lenses at once? Now, after studying the lesson, it becomes clear: different lenses are suitable for each shooting situation. As a rule, in the arsenal of a photographer there are several lenses for different situations: a person shoots portraits with one lens, and landscapes with another. A photographer can have several lenses with different focal lengths covering the range he needs (to shoot both close up and from afar).

How to assemble a set of lenses necessary for full-fledged work?

Everyone who lacks the capabilities of a universal 'whale' lens, or who assembles a set of photographic equipment from scratch, asks this question. Ultimately, it all depends on your goals and interests. Think about what you most often shoot, and what you are interested in shooting. Having answered this question, it will be easy to choose optics. However, most novice photographers find it difficult to answer it. After all, everything is interesting at once: landscapes, portraits, reportage, and macro photography.

Therefore, it is most reasonable for beginner photographers to start with a universal zoom lens, whose focal lengths cover several ranges indicated in the article at once. Among the universal zoom lenses for Nikon cameras, you can choose the already mentioned Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120MM F / 4G ED VR for full-frame cameras, for crop cameras–Nikon AF-S DX 18-140mm F3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikkor, for the Nikon 1 system–Nikon 1 10-100mm f / 4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM VR nikkor.

Such a lens can become your faithful assistant in any genre of photography. Professionals, in pursuit of the highest image quality and high aperture, prefer to use several zoom lenses with a smaller focal length range (for example, Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f / 2.8G ED + Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f / 2.8G ED VR II Nikkor). Or they 'close' the ranges of focal lengths they demand with fixed lenses.

Now I only have a kit lens. What should I replace it with or what lens should I buy in addition to it?

This question is asked by any novice photographer. But you can answer it yourself: follow yourself–at what focal lengths do you most often shoot; what do you miss–a wider viewing angle or a greater 'approximation' of distant objects? Having drawn conclusions, you can decide on the type of lens you need. For example, many people want versatility: so that one lens can shoot any scene. Then, first of all, you should pay attention to the universal lenses, which were described above. But if you want to reveal the maximum capabilities of your camera and get the highest quality pictures with a beautifully blurred background, you should try the 'regular' prime lens. It will not be able to 'zoom in and out', as it does not have a zoom, but it will give excellent image quality. For full-frame cameras, this is a lens with a focal length of 50 mm (for example, Nikon AF-S 50mm f / 1.4G Nikkor), for APS-C–35 mm (for example, Nikon AF-S 35mm f / 1.8G DX Nikkor), for Nikon 1–18mm (e.g. Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 Nikkor).

How to read the name of the lens? Nikon Lens Technologies

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