Lenses (Auto-Focus)

Nikkor Gold Ring 'E' Optics

Nikkor AF lenses are the finest in the world for wildlife, and other challenging photography, where you do not have the time to compose and execute with manual focus glass. While I actually prefer to use manual focus lenses for many aspects of nature (landscapes, flowers, etc.), when it come to capturing wildlife, and other fleeting moments, only Nikon’s classy “Gold Series” ‘E’ AF lenses will do. Nikon is the only name I trust to get the job done, flawlessly and beautifully, every time. When choosing focal lengths, I operate by The Rule of Doubles, selecting prime focal lengths roughly-double to the focal length of the lens before it. (E.g., 28mm, 58mm, 105mm, etc.) I don’t need my wide-angle lenses to be AF, which is why they’re not, but there are many moments in the mid- to long-ranges where having AF capability is critical. That said, here is my AF lens line-up:

Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR

The Lightest Super-Telephoto Ever

One of the great treasures Nikon offers are its new “PF” (Phase Fresnel) series of super-telephoto lenses, first with the 300mm f/4E PF (below), and now the 500mm f/5.6E PF (featured here). Even better, with the 1.5x crop factor of my D500, the effective focal length of this lens becomes the equivalent of ~750mm f/5.6 framing. Unlike large, cumbersome super-telephotos, the advantages this lightweight gem offer to me, as a hiking photographer, cannot be over-stated. Its ease of deployment allows me to nail shots larger glass would miss. I have found the ultimate mobile-wildlife combo for my purposes: the 500 PF at the end of my D500, and the 300 PF at the end of my D850. With this “dynamic duo,” I am quite literally ready for anything.

See @ Nikon: Nikkor AF-S 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR

Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

The Most Important, Versatile Tool I Own

Since I purchased this lens, I no longer take large, fast glass into the field anymore. It’s simply not enjoyable. More than that, trying to deploy big glass (while hiking) is not as productive, either. Since acquiring the 300 f/4E PF (and its big brother the 500 f/5.6E PF), no longer do I have to set a tripod down, and deploy a “rocket launcher” for a lens. Instead, now I can comfortably aim, and shoot, in seconds … with the same image quality! Even better, the 300mm has a close minimum focusing distance (4′) with an excellent reproduction ratio (1:4), so it makes a great ‘macro’ substitute also, for larger butterflies, hummers, and such. I honestly consider the 300mm f/4E PF ED VR to be the most-used, versatile, and most important lens I bring to the field for all forms of wildlife. Quite possibly Nikon’s greatest invention.

See @ Nikon: Nikkor AF-S 300mm f/4E PF ED VR

Nikkor AF-S 58mm f/1.4G

The Ultimate Portrait Lens

This lens is a gift to photographers, from Nikon. Many people do not understand it, however, as it is not a very ‘sharp’ lens, which was the intention of Nikon. ‘Sharp’ images may be good for macro, telephoto, or even architectural photography … but dreamy-soft images are what’s ideal for portraiture. That, plus exquisite color, color gradations, and bokeh. And it is in this world, the rendering of creamy color-transitions, sublime color clarity, and smooth, exquisite bokeh where the Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G truly shines. It is a niche lens, that has to be used, seen, and understood to be believed. Peerless for its intended purpose.

See @ Nikon: Nikkor AF-S 58mm f/1.4G

NIKKOR AF-S 28mm f/1.4E ED

The Auto Focus 'Otus'

This lens is on my wish list.

See @ Nikon: Nikkor AF-S 28mm f/1.4E ED