Nikon SLR system summary

Philip Greenspun has posted an excellent summary of Nikon’s camera and lens range, that’s considerably more clear than anything I’ve seen in Nikon’s own marketing materials. I’m particularly fond of the jargon-busting ‘F-number: lower is better,’ with no additional explanation.

What’s frustrating is the absence of a wide-standard, fast, zoom. Well, there’s a 17-55 f2.8, but at the best part of a thousand pounds I won’t be dropping for that in a hurry. Mind you, Canon’s equivalent is about the same price, albeit with image stabilisation.

I thought one of the advantages of the smaller sensor areas of digital SLRs over 35mm film was that it was easier (/smaller/lighter/cheaper) to make wider-aperture lenses? How come we’re still stuck with f4.5–5.6 or, at best, f3.5–4.5 for kit zooms? That’s exactly the sort of lens I’m wanting to replace!

My current thinking is to aim for a D50 or second-hand D70/70s, and drop as much on the lenses as I can. I can always buy a D200 body later. I guess I should take a hard look at the Sigma lenses, though I suspect you basically get what you pay for.

Not that I’m going to do any of this soon, you understand, but I’ve been trying to buy a new SLR – or, specifically, to ditch my cruddy Minolta lenses – for about four years now. Allow me to dream a little.

Oh, and before the Canon fanboys weigh in – yes, I know the 350D is a terrific piece of kit, the 30D is utterly fabulous, and we’ll not even mention whatever it is that Hammersley just bought (in part because he has a lovely eye for a portrait and I’m jealous of that more than I am of the camera). I’ll try to like Canons again, really I will. I’ve just never got my head around the way they work, right back to the AE1. Cameras are a peculiarly tactile thing, and my taste hasn’t, thus far, run to Canons. Strange, but there we are.


  1. “�F-number: lower is better,� with no additional explanation.”
    Oh look, Nigel’s had a coronary.

  2. Stone dead. Anyway, I may be a “Canon fanboy”, but my selection of Canon was based on my experience with the internal software on Fuji, Nikon, Minolta and Canon gear that work has lent me over the years. For me, the Canon software is the easiest to get my head around sans manual (although I have forgotten how to do exposure bracketing).
    My camera is the old 10D that I got ‘new used’ from a pro in Germany who was ditching it as a back-upfor his 1D in favour or a 20D. My lenses are pretty basic though. Two of them are the ones designed for the old EOS IX7 that I sold and have very basic optics and plastic mounts (and might actually be quite rare now!). The other is the venerable EF 75-300mm that everyone who can’t afford a decent lens seems to have. Still, even with that kit, I have learnt a lot – not least that when it comes to f, smaller is better.

  3. See, that’s exactly where I don’t get on with Canons – the hands-on usability just doesn’t work for me. I put it down to being raised on a Minolta SR-1, which was not only built like a tank, it could actually be used as an emergency chock to stop one from rolling away if the handbrake failed.
    Currently, I’m using a Minolta 600si Classic, which was unique at the time for eschewing zillions of little buttons in favour of honking huge dials and levers for everything. I don’t use it very often, but it takes about five seconds to remember where everything is… including flash bracketing, which I don’t think I’ve ever used (no flash gun, pfah!).
    Of course, I wish I’d bought the Nikon 601. Lousy to handle, but at least I’d have bought into a decent lens system. Heigh-ho.

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