This month, Jason helps readers find the right lens upgrade, looks at syncing flashguns, and explains a possible cause of blurry shots. Why not ask him to solve any camera problems you’re having?
Our resident expert answers your questions and solves your issues. If nobody else can help, ask Jason!
What superzoom lens would you recommend to use with a D7200 body? I already have a Nikon 18-200mm VR but it’s about seven years old Andrew Cook, via email
Jason says... We always used to rate the Nikon 18-200mm VR highly, but it’s been overtaken by newer competitors, especially for outright zoom range. These include two Nikon 18-300mm VR lenses, but we think the independents have stolen a lead in current designs. For image quality and overall performance, the Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | C is our first choice, at around £380/$580. The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD runs a very close second, and is similarly priced at £400/$630. In our tests, the Tamron wasn’t quite as sharp, but its extra wide-angle coverage can swing the balance.
If I buy a flashgun with a high-speed sync mode, will I be able to use it with fast shutter speeds in my D5200? Ian Johnston, via email
Jason says... Unfortunately, even though high-speed sync (or FP – Focal Plane – sync, as Nikon calls it) is available on most external flashguns, the feature isn’t supported in cameras like the D3000 and D5000, and later models down the line. If you were to upgrade to a D7XXX-series camera you’d find that Auto FP sync is available at all shutter speeds right up to 1/8000 sec. The catch is that to sync the flashgun with very high shutter speeds, the duration of the flash has to be extremely short, so only low power outputs are available for relatively short-range coverage.
Should I upgrade my Nikon AF 80400mm VR to the new AF-S version or buy a Sigma 150-600mm? I don’t want to spend over $3000 George Stubbs, via email
Jason says... We’re featuring the Nikon AF 80-400mm as our Secondhand Superstar (see right), so hopefully that’ll boost your selling price! The new AF-S 80-400mm VR is a complete redesign and a much more high-tech lens, and it’s much pricier at around £1800/$2700. It’s a firm favourite of wildlife pro Greg du Toit, interviewed in this issue (see page 106). However, we’d go for the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S (Sport) at £1450/$2000. Sigma has also launched a 150-600mm C (Contemporary) lens which is smaller, lighter and little more than half the price, but the S edition is the top choice for quality and performance.
What’s the difference between DX- and FX-format lenses, if a crop factor needs to be applied to both when they are used on a DX camera body? Alan Louie, via email
sensor. The image circle produced by a DX lens therefore only needs to big enough to cover the whole sensor. Both formats of lens are specified with their actual rather than effective focal length, which is why you have to apply the 1.5x crop factor when using them on a DX body. It’s also why you need to use DX crop mode when using a DX-format lens on an FX body, otherwise the small image circle will cause extreme vignetting (darkened image corners).
I recently bought a tripod and remote release to help me get sharper images but some are even more blurred than before, especially close-ups or photos taken using a telephoto lens Dan Francis, via email
Jason says... The most likely culprit is ‘mirror bounce’. All D-SLRs have a reflex mirror, which directs the image from the lens up into the viewfinder. Immediately prior to a shot being taken, the mirror flips up out of the way so that the image is projected towards the shutter and the image sensor behind it. The jarring action can unsettle the camera more noticeably when using a tripod, without fleshy hands to cushion the vibration. Most recent Nikon D-SLRs (apart from the D3000-D3300) have an exposure delay mode in the Custom Settings menu. This automatically delays the shutter from opening for a second or more after the mirror flips up, giving the camera a chance to settle.
The Sigma 150-600mm S matches the Nikon 80-400mm for all-round performance and gives much greater telephoto reach, with impressive long-range sharpness
Jason says... The physical size of a DX-format (or APS-C) image sensor is rather smaller than an FX (or full-frame)
Ideal for a walkabout or travel lens, an 18-300mm superzoom lens gives you incredible range in one convenient package