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|If Nikon has one advantage over many of the other vendors of digital
SLRs (other than making great, affordable cameras), it's the mind-bending
assortment of high-quality lenses available to enhance the capabilities
of cameras like the Nikon D300. You can use thousands of current and older
lenses introduced by Nikon and third-party vendors since 1959 (although
lenses made before 1977 may need an inexpensive modification.) These can
give you a wider view, bring distant subjects closer, let you focus closer,
shoot under lower light conditions, or provide a more detailed, sharper
image for critical work. Other than the sensor itself, the lens you choose
for your dSLR is the most important component in determining image quality
and perspective of your images.
You can click on a link below to see my lens recommendations
for specific Nikon digital SLRs. But, when choosing your first lens,
consider these factors:
Cost. You might have stretched your budget a bit to purchase your
Nikon D300, so you might want to keep the cost of your first lens fairly
low. Fortunately, there are excellent lenses available that will add from
$100 to $300 to the price of your camera if purchased at the same time.
Zoom range. If you have only one lens, youíll want a fairly long
zoom range to provide as much flexibility as possible. Fortunately, the
two most popular basic lenses for the D300 have 3X to 5X zoom ranges, extending
from moderate wide-angle/normal out to medium telephoto. Either are fine
for everyday shooting, portraits, and some types of sports.
Adequate maximum aperture. Youíll want an f/stop of at least f/3.5
to f/4 for shooting under fairly low light conditions. The thing to watch
for is the maximum aperture when the lens is zoomed to its telephoto end.
You may end up with no better than an f/5.6 maximum aperture. Thatís not
great, but you can often live with it, particularly with a lens having
vibration reduction (VR) capabilities, because you can often shoot at lower
shutter speeds to compensate for the limited maximum aperture.
Image quality. Your starter lens should have good image quality,
because thatís one of the primary factors that will be used to judge your
photos. Even at a low price, several of the different lenses that can be
packaged with the D300 kit include extra-low dispersion glass and aspherical
elements that minimize distortion and chromatic aberration; they are sharp
enough for most applications. If you read the user evaluations in the online
photography forums, you know that owners of the kit lenses have been very
pleased with its image quality.
Size matters. A good walking-around lens is compact in size and
light in weight.
Fast/close focusing. Your first lens should have a speedy autofocus
system (which is where the Silent Wave motor found in all but the bargain
basement lenses is an advantage). Close focusing (to 12 inches or closer)
will let you use your basic lens for some types of macro photography.