Ask Jason

Jason an­swers your spe­cial Christ­mas queries, such as which be­gin­ner D-SLR to buy

NPhoto - - Contents -

I’m plan­ning on buy­ing my first Nikon SLR but can’t de­cide be­tween the D3400 and D5500. Which would you rec­om­mend for a be­gin­ner? Tim Jef­fries, via email

Jason says... The re­cently launched D3400 (£409/$498 with 18-55mm kit lens) is very be­gin­ner-friendly, not least be­cause – like the D3300 – it boasts an in­ter­ac­tive Guide mode to help you learn. But apart from the ad­di­tion of Blue­tooth, not much has changed from the D3300, which has the same im­age sen­sor and pro­ces­sor, and is cur­rently £70 cheaper (in the UK) when bought with the same kit lens. The D5500 is more ad­vanced, but de­spite not hav­ing a Guide mode, it’s ar­guably more in­tu­itive to use, and its piv­ot­ing screen is a real boon when it comes to ad­just­ing set­tings and menu op­tions. For our money, it’s a bet­ter buy.

Is there some­thing I could buy to help get more ac­cu­rate white bal­ance when mix­ing in­door light­ing with day­light com­ing through win­dows? Ge­orge Bat­tle, via email Jason says...

This is a re­ally com­mon sit­u­a­tion at Christ­mas time. Try the Las­to­lite 30cm EzyBalance Grey/White Card (£20/$33). It works re­ally well for cre­at­ing a cus­tom white bal­ance set­ting and folds up re­ally small.

My part­ner has of­fered to buy me a por­trait lens for Christ­mas, for tak­ing pho­tos of our kids. What’s the best value op­tion to use with a D3200? Kate Larkin, via email Jason says...

A so-called ‘nifty fifty’ fast 50mm lens with a wide max­i­mum aper­ture would be great. This gives an ef­fec­tive fo­cal length of 75mm on your D3200 and other DX for­mat Nikon bod­ies, which is ideal for por­trai­ture, while also en­abling you to blur the back­ground with a tight depth of field. The Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G is a crack­ing lens but quite pricey, with cur­rent mar­ket prices from about £350/$450. We’d go for the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G, at around £170/$215. It’s two-thirds of an f/stop slower, but the min­i­mum depth of field is nearly as tight. Avoid the older and cheaper D-type Nikon AF 50mm f/1.8D lens – it won’t aut­o­fo­cus on your D3200.

Should I stick with an own-brand Nikon flash­gun or buy one from an in­de­pen­dent sup­plier for my D7200? Steve Harper, via email

Jason says... For high-end per­for­mance at a rea­son­able price, the Nikon SB-700 (£239/$327) is an ex­cel­lent buy. It has a full range of wire­less master/ slave func­tions built in, for shoot­ing with off-cam­era flash. It also comes with a use­ful set of ac­ces­sories, in­clud­ing a car­ry­ing pouch, free­stand­ing foot, dif­fu­sion dome and colour fil­ters for match­ing tung­sten and flu­o­res­cent light­ing.

How­ever, there’s no rea­son why you have to stick with a Nikon flash­gun. One of our cur­rent favourites, the Metz Me­ca­blitz 64 AF-1 (£310/ $480), is a fab­u­lous flash that adds a sec­ondary flash tube for fill-light in bounce mode, a pro­grammable multi-burst (re­peat) mode, and a colour touch­screen. Or if you’d rather keep your out­lay to a min­i­mum, the Metz 36 AF-5 (£75/$140) is ex­cep­tional value for money.

I want to ex­tend the tele­photo reach of my D5500. Should I re­place the kit lens with a Nikon 18-300mm, or buy an ad­di­tional tele­photo lens? Harry Kramer, via email

Jason says... Su­per­zoom lenses en­able you to stretch from wide-an­gle to tele­photo with­out an ad­di­tional lens, but they’re rel­a­tively big and heavy. Im­age qual­ity from su­per­zoom lenses gen­er­ally suf­fers from in­creased colour fring­ing, dis­tor­tion and edge soft­ness, too.

We’d sup­ple­ment the kit lens with a tele­photo zoom. The new DX-for­mat Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 VR (£349/$397) has the same style of step­ping mo­tor aut­o­fo­cus sys­tem as your kit lens, so aut­o­fo­cus is fast, quiet and smooth. The Nikon AF-S 70300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR (£429/$497) is a great con­ven­tional tele­photo zoom, and it’s full-frame com­pat­i­ble.

With nu­mer­ous ad­di­tional fea­tures and cus­tom func­tions, the D5500 is more able to keep pace with you as you learn new skills and tech­niques

The Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is con­ve­niently small and light­weight, yet de­liv­ers good im­age qual­ity for por­trai­ture

At around £310/$480, the Metz 64 AF-1 is pricier than the Nikon SB-700 but it’s sen­sa­tional, with all the fea­tures you could wish for

The rea­son­ably light­weight new DX-for­mat AF-P 70-300mm VR tele­photo zoom is an ex­cel­lent match for the D5500 body

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