Playing The Long Game: Outdoor Photography With Telezooms

Key Facts About Nikon Prime Lenses

We've put together a quick guide to Nikon primes.

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Key Facts About Nikon Prime Lenses: AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Prime lenses are fixed focal length optics that often give you slightly better optical performance due to the fact that they don't have as many moving parts inside the lens. 

Benefits of prime lenses

Nikon prime lenses hold a lot of benefits compared to zoom lenses despite the fact that they can sometimes be more costly than their zooming counterparts. Here, we run down some of the key points as to why Nikon prime lenses are worth investing in.

Easier to carry

Nikon primes tend to be smaller, lighter and more compact than zoom lenses. Again this is down to the less complicated build structure. This is also a boon as it means the lenses can be less expensive to make, and there is less chance of visual aberrations occurring such as colour fringing and image distortion.

Let in the light

Primes tend to have a wider maximum aperture allowing you to shoot in low light with slower shutter speeds, reducing the need to hike up ISO and potentially add unwanted noise to your images. This can also mean that you can achieve some shots hand-held that would usually require a tripod. 

Brilliant bokeh

Primes are often renowned for their bokeh abilities. This is the term used when lenses produce pleasing out of focus backgrounds at shallow apertures. It's often characterised by orb-shaped spots where there's light from the sun or reflections in the background. This creates a pleasing background that doesn't take away from the subject of your image. It's a great technique to try in portraiture. 

Awaken your creativity

Prime lenses, as we mentioned earlier lack the ability to zoom, meaning you might have to think more carefully about how to set up a shoot. You'll need to zoom with your feet, rather than simply twisting the lens, making you think a bit more about the setup of your shots. It can be a great way to experiment with new ideas.

Key Facts About Nikon Prime Lenses: AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED

Types of prime

Primes come in many different guises - they're not just portrait or macro lenses, as you may have been led to believe. There are 53 primes in Nikon's collection of lenses currently and the cover a very wide spectrum of focal lengths. Here we run down the main types:


From frame-filling 180-degree view lenses like the 10.5mm f/2.8G ED fisheye to the 114-degree angle 14mm f/2.8D ED and 20mm f/1.8G ED, there are ultra-wides for everything from perspective bending cityscapes to interior images and large building shots. These can be great for use indoors or outdoors, allowing you to capture an encompassing view of a room to the stunning vastness of a natural landscape. 

Standard wide angle

The standard wide-angle range is classified by Nikon os 24mm to 35mm, offering you wide views without as much distortion and natural looking results whilst still allowing you to capture lots of the scene. You can still access those wide maximum apertures to help with night shots. From portraits to astrophotography, they are an inconspicuous choice. Lenses in this range include the 24mm f/1.4G ED and 28mm f/1.8G.

'Normal' focal length

Normal focal length lenses are so-called because their angle of view is closest to that of the human eye, thus images taken with them equate to what the eye sees giving a flattering view, especially for use in portrait lenses. They tend to have good edge-to-edge sharpness and still have the wide apertures great for both stills and video capture. Nikon offers two 50mm primes - the 50mm f/1.8G and 50mm f/1.4G


Telephoto lenses are popular, giving you extra reach whilst still offering you fast and crisp images. Nikon's telephoto offerings range from the 85mm f/1.4G to the remarkably compact 180mm f/2.8D IF-ED and 200mm f/2.8G ED VR II which is a favourite of sports and studio photography. Nikon also offer DC (Defocus Image Control) lenses giving you control over the degree of soft focus in the background or foreground of your image - these are the AF DC Nikkor 105mm f/2D and 135mm f/2D.


These lenses are the ultimate in long reach and often loved by sports photographers and travellers alike. The 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II and the f/4 version for enthusiasts is the first lens in this range, followed by the 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR and 600mm f/4E FL ED VR has a VR Sport Mode allowing them to capture faster action without blurring. They also deliver superior optical quality with reduced weight thanks to fluorite (FL) lens elements, a mineral that is lighter than glass and lowers chromatic aberrations. The newest member in the super-telephoto range is the 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR.

Micro (Close-Up) 

If you like to get up close and personal to your subjects and photograph the intricate details then a microlens will be for you. They are available in a variety of focal lengths ranging from 40mm with the AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G to the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 IF-ED VR.

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