Beginner Total Beginner Nikon Lens advice

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andrew
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#1
Bought my first DSLR camera last week to give me and my 14yr old and 8 yr old a shared interest. I bought a Nikon D3500. Was pretty cheap at £350 but I know its just a beginner camera. Guy in Currys was a bit of a camera nut and advised I get a 70-300 Sigma lense next, which ive already done.

It worked a treat, Friday afternoon me and the kids spent all afternoon in the garden taking pics of flowers, butterflies etc and we were loving the macro feature of the lens. Even when I came in for a cuppa, they stayed out taking pics. Ive not seen my 14yr old off his playstation for so long. He was dead into it, as was my 8yr old daughter. I was quite relaxed with both of them using the camera and taking pics of what they wanted, how they wanted and they loved it. We then went to a zoo the following day and spent 3 or 4 hours taking pics of the various animals. I never appreciated how photography could be a shared interest and in the words of my 14yr old ‘dad, im now looking at stuff in the garden and about totally differently’….

Im now looking for a longer range lens, again one that wont break the bank but will let us take pics of things that bit further away than the 300 lens will get. Eg wild deer or birds while out on a walk.

Any ideas? It’s a Nikon F lens fitting.
 
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Pete
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#3
Im now looking for a longer range lens, again one that wont break the bank but will let us take pics of things that bit further away than the 300 lens will get. Eg wild deer or birds while out on a walk.
All longer lenses have issues. Cost & Weight are the main 2 (as in they all break the bank - lol) however it helps to give us a budget. Basically the 600mm options from Sigma & Tameron are likely to be your contenders..
 
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suter1972
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andrew
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#4
Thanks for the replies guys. Im a total newbie so ive no idea how much these things cost. My camera was £350 and my 300 lens was £125 which i thought was pretty reasonable. I did see some lenses for over £1500 which was quite scary!
 
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suter1972
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andrew
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#6
Thanks. Ive just searched and found them for £370 second hand which is more affordable.
 
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#7
if i was you, I would try and pick up a TC (teleconverter) you may lose some light and might make your shutter a little slow for moving animals, but at this stage and at a relatively cheap cost a 1.4 TC might be a cheap option. that would make your lens roughly 100-480mm still a little short but a good option to try.

but you may need to check which sigma TC fits your lens, they are readily available second hand.
 
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Chris
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#8
The other point to bear in mind is a Pete says is weight, the Sigma is just under 2Kg. roughly 4* the weight of your 70-300 and is half a stop slower at the long end, walkabout it ain,t.If its anything like my Fuji100-400 it won't get a lot of use for that reason
Your camera is 24mp so it is reasonably croppable so you should get decent shots of deer and larger birds.
Regarding Scotts post if a TC will fit it will add one stop taking you to f8, check the camera will AF at f8 a lot don't
 
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suter1972
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andrew
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#9
Thanks. Looking at the replies I cant understand half of the terminology so I think im maybe trying to run before walking and assuming I need a bigger lens for everything. I think i'll stick with my 300 for now and just work on understanding what the camera can do first. (we haven't done anything other than point and shoot with a quick dabble into manual focusing, which to be fair even my 8yr old picked up quicker than me!)
 
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Steve
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#10
You might want to consider going wider for your next lens. Take a look at the Nikon 50mm f1.8. Second hand
only about £50 - 60 but fast, very sharp and light for little hands.

As a generality 50mm is the cheapest lens to manufacture. Going longer or wider gets progressively more eyewatering.
 
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#11
Thanks. Looking at the replies I cant understand half of the terminology so I think im maybe trying to run before walking and assuming I need a bigger lens for everything. I think i'll stick with my 300 for now and just work on understanding what the camera can do first. (we haven't done anything other than point and shoot with a quick dabble into manual focusing, which to be fair even my 8yr old picked up quicker than me!)
Hi mate, you get used to the terminology quite fast and most of it is stuff you may/want to know, if your confused, feel free to ask, as they say, the only stupid question, is the one you don’t ask (y)
 
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#12
I would stay with what you have. Use it. Then see what direction you need to go in. Seems a waste of money to get any more kit till you have used what you have
 
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Kev
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#13
You might want to consider going wider for your next lens. Take a look at the Nikon 50mm f1.8. Second hand
only about £50 - 60 but fast, very sharp and light for little hands.

As a generality 50mm is the cheapest lens to manufacture. Going longer or wider gets progressively more eyewatering.
Sorry I believe the D3500 does not have an in built motor so the 50mm f1.8d which sell for under £60 will not be good. It has to be the 50mm 1.8G, or the 35mm 1.8G, which can be picked up under £130 used.

As the other posts, use what you have and see how you get on before spending too much money, photography can become very expensive quickly
 
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#14
You might be better off getting a second camera instead like a Nikon p900 bridge camera.

They have a fixed lens with a massive zoom range but quality is lower than a dslr.

The zoom on them is hilarious
 
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Mike
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#15
It's not so much trying to learn to run before you can walk, but carrying the cane before your crippled...

I have the older D3200 and a bunch of even older film cameras. For the old film cameras I have lenses up to 300mm, which with teleconverters will take me up to well over 1500mm, that via an adaptor will go on the Electric-Picture-Maker, which gives a further 1.5x teleconverter-effect, thank's to the 'crop-factor'...

errr... yeah... you REALLY don't need go that long very often, unless you are trying to get paperatsi pics of some-one top-less sunbathing on the moon!

When I got the EPM, I actually got the adaptor to use the legacy-lenses from my film cameras, to save pennies whilst I saved up for other lenses to cover the same sort of focal length range I have for film. The first EPM lens I bought then was Nikon 55-300, which is not a particularly wonderful lens, but it is cheap-reach, and to be honest, it sits in the bag pretty much all the time, and even when it does go on the camera, it's most often used in the 55-150mm range. For me, getting more 'wide' has always been more helpful than getting more 'reach', and the next two lenses on the buy-list were a Sigma 4.5mm fish-eye,which is a bit of an anomaly, but I wanted a fish, and always felt 'cheated' by the 12mm for film cameras, delivering a 'cropped' image circle. Siggy 4.5 is/was the only 180-Deg Angle-of-View, "full-Round" fish for APS-C format cameras. Great lens, but still an anomaly, and pretty seldom used. Hence the next on the list was the Sigma 8-16 Ultra-Wide-Angle, known as the estate-agent's friend, for its ability to pack an awful lot of 'wide' in the frame. Probably much more than I need TBH, and I would have been better off with the 10-20mm for half the money, but WTH, you always regret what you DONT have, dont you?

Anyway; the thing is that long reach lenses, help serve up 'Instant-Impact'. Zooming in on a very small section of the scene and making it very large and prominent in your picture. Chopping an awful lot of the scene from the edges of the frame, they tend to also crop a lot of 'clutter' and distracting detail, concentrating the viewers attention on that large prominent subject, hence the instant-impact.

Thing is, that in cropping all that 'clutter' they also have the tendency to crop an awful lot of context. Eg, you take a photo of a kid on the beach; you can fill the frame with child. which makes them prominent, and shows a lot of the child, and gives a lot of 'wow' factor; but; what you chop off the edge is the rest of the beach; the sea, the cliffs, the other people, which may be what you wanted... but at the same time, photo you get could be that child playing in a sand-pit, because there's no 'context' around them to show where they were or what they were up to; its 'just' the child.

Oh-Kay... so you want a longer lens, to get pictures of birds or deer out in the wild.... Hmmm.

Here, the photo you get is not so much a function of the kit on your mitt, but the know-how-in-your-head; specifically 'stalking skills'... and knowing your subject.

I used to take my camera with me when I went up onto Cannock Chase, walking the dogs. NOT a good start... especially when one of them mutts was a more than peculiar to the breed, 'brainless' Staffie; you could almost see the thinks bubble... "Oooh, why's he stopped?" big pause, lots of sniffing "AH! DEER!.. I wonder if it wants to be my friend?" CHARGE!!!! And "NoH-Dear... it's run away!" Lol. Birds? Yeah, I think there must have been some... but they probably had more sense, and certainly better escape routes than the deer! Thing IS, though, its wild-life, and you need to know where to find it, and how to get there without spooking it... which means leaving the dang dawgs behind, for starters. Next, you need get up 'early'; and avoid the crowds.... and if you are serious about the job, spending long hours in a hide, waiting for it to come to you, and 'pose' rather than grabbing whatever happens along.

Birds? More the O/H's forte, and she was determined to go get some bird-shots when she first got interested in photography, buying a 'super-zoom' bridge after her compact broke. There's a reason that they call 'bird-spotters', "Twitchers".. and I think its to do with telephoto-lenses.... its a PAIN to try keep them still! Thing is, that whilst a long zoom offers a lot of magnification to make a tiny bird fill the frame at long range; that same magnification means you are looking at a TINY little bit of the scene, and the diddiest bit of camera movement, makes a huge difference to the bit of scene you get in the picture... and O/H's attempts with her SZ Bridge, were, shall we say 'disappointing'... I have to confess, she DID sort of get the 'Get up Early' idea...... but she didn't get the "Leave the bloomin Staffie Behind!" one... (A newer, improved model of 'stooopid' BTW!!)

"Ohh Why's she Stopped?" Sniffs, "Better check her legs!" Runs "Oooh! Big Bird!" CHARGE....... SPLASH!

She would probably have got a lot of opportunities for shots of 'Birds in Flight'... probably some nice ones of them taking flight off the water.... probably chased by a rather daft, and soggy, staffie! B-u-t... I can only imagine.... all I ever saw was pictures, usually out of focus ones, of the local fishing lake... maybe with a bit of feather in the corner! Oh... and a Soggy-Staffie spraying water from its tail!

She was ConVinced... (try thinking that without seeing Willy Woolard doing the Goodyear tyre add BTW!) But she was CONcinced, that her lack of success was due to her lack of gear... and in part, it was. Her super-zoom bridge camera offered an awful lot of lens 'reach', but it also compromised the settings, particularly the maximum shutter-speed when she used a lot of it, which because she had it, she tended to. Not that the compromised settings mattered much, with so much 'zoom' and such a narrow angle of view, getting and keeping the feathered things in the frame didn't happen very often! And that's really the core problem here! Using some of my gear, and eventually getting her own DSLR, proved it didn't help much, and the fundamental problems remained, B-U-T, even restricting her opportunities for eff-up, with 'just' the zoom reach of the 55-300, didn't help all that much.... she still struggled to get the birds in the frame, and stop 'twitching' long enough to get a photo of them!

The local nature reserve, actually has some permanent 'hides', sort of larch-lap sheds, sunk about two foot into the lake bank, with holes cut in the walls to poke a pair of binoculars or a camera lens through, bit like a WWII pill-box, but made of cedar rather than concrete! (If you are brave enough to risk the hyperdermics and used condoms!) Remember the rule to leave the-thing-like-a-dawg-but-dafter at home... NO, the car WONT do... it 'howls' when left alone! You want werewolves coming to find you and complain? LEAVE the dog-like-thing AT HOME!! And get up EARLY, and WAIT. Employ patience!

And THAT is probably the 'key', not to 'success' but, in this sort of genre, probably getting ANYTHING, more than a cold! Patience! You really DON'T need a long lens, and that probably brings as many or more problems than it solves along the way!

There's a trap with long lenses, which is that serving up so much 'instant-impact', they are relatively easy to get fairly remarkable photo's with; that leads to a re-enforcement of the idea, when you 'dont' get such great photo's, that the reason must be that you have you don't have the right 'gear', and so tends to send you hunting for more technology, rather than better technique.....

Technique, beats Technology 99.9% of the time. Without the Technique, it dont matter how much Technology you may pack, you are starting from behind, and will never get what you hope for. Technology is the icing on the cake. Get what you want from Technique, and Technology can help make it 'better', but it starts with that technique, the know-how-in-your-head, bot the kitt-in-your-mitt.

Over to you, take it from there.

As far as interesting 'childs' in the pursuit and using it as a means to 'engage' with them; well, you are probably not onto a great winner, there. Photography tends to be a fairly solo-pursuit, there's only so much you can do with others in it, and there's the old dilemma, of whether the camera is your reason to do, or your companion in doing. Personally, I always found it more of a companion, and trying to 'do feux-tog-raffy', tends to open a door to an awful lot of 'I wish I could do that' ideas, where if you did it, you probably wouldn't need, or even want the camera, and/or leave you holding a camera, probably after breakfast when its probably too late, thinking "Ah, right; What can I DO... with the camera?" and trying to find some-where to go! But.

My childs are a little older, now; but I started them young, planning a day out, not to take photo's but, entertain the childlings! I would then take cameras with me.... and probably find childlings had nicked them, when I came to grab one! But what the heck! Kept them occupied and gave me a chance to unpack the picnic! Got a LOT of photo's of out of focus sand-castles, insects and sheeps bottoms, ISTR! But... a few more interesting ones! and 'inspired' my daughter decided to take photography for GCSE, got very frustrated she didn't get much chance to 'do' this feaux-tog-raffy thing, at school, has taken the topic all the way to university, now! But still... Son? Well, he still prefers his train set.... I have a lot of photo's of model trains and scenery BTW! A-N-D.... Remember the adage, "The only difference between Men and Boys....." NO! You CANNOT have a preservation railway locomotive in the spare Bed-Room... I DONT CARE if its 'only' a narrow gauge industrial loco! NO!!!!!... remember, inspiration is a VERY dangerous 'thing'!!!!

Ack-choo-ally... O/H's son turned up a while back, with O/H's granddaughter; Nice day, decided to take them to the park.... Oh-Kay... well, it was that or have tear-away toddler destroy my kitchen! And took cameras along for the ride. Hmmm... daughter, decided to entertain the tot..... guess what? She 'lost' her camera top the pre-school kidling! Remember the warning about inspiration? LoL!

Any-how... that's where you are at, and tackling the question "What lens?"... I have to say, that at this stage it's probably the WRONG question..... technique beats technology 99.9% of the time, if anything that's likely what you could most do with; but beyond that, think outside the box.... the black box, the one with knobs on; 99.9% of your pictures are to be found 'outside' the camera; "Subject", having something to take a photo of, is ALL... for that, matters little what knobs is on the box, or what bit of glass is on the front..... just what's in-front of it!

B-U-T.... having mentioned all the toys in my toy-box... they can be good fun, but, for ALL the lenses, a-n-d cameras for that matter (I can spot half a dozen or more from where I'm sat!!!!) my 'most-used' lens, certainly of recent years, is that humble 18-55mm 'kit' lens that came with the Electric-Picture-Maker....

Incredible bit of kit; and they don't come much cheaper than 'free' with the camera! (Ak-chully; it was even cheaper than that! Camera 'body-only' was more expensive than the camera+lens 'Kit' in curry's!!!lol) So, after saving up to get a lens a year for the EPM to get the same range as I have for film cameras, it's actually rather embarrassing having so many quids worth of expensive lenses sat in the bag, and that 'cheap' bit of plastic almost permanently on the front; But they are DANG hard to beat! They really are. After prying open the wallet to buy the 55-300, then gulping rather a lot, to get the 4.5mm fish-eye, then thinking 'in for a penny' to get the 8-16 Ultra-Wide... sort of 'Oh-Kay... what do I get next?', and her-ump, B-U-T, More reach really isn't needed, what I got isn't used very often; more wide? Well, I have got about as much as you can in the UWA and the Fish.... So.... the 'standard-angle' then; the 'most-used' lens on the camera... lets find something 'better'.... a-n-d, its a tough call! It really is. Because what's 'better'?

Worth a mention, are 'Prime' or 'non-zoom' lenses. The popular one for the Nikon APS-C digital is the AFS 35mm. That has the 'normal' angle of view, the same as a 50mm does on full-frame or 35mm film camera. It's cracking little lens, and with an f1.8 maximum aperture, it lets in a lot more light than, well most lenses, but especially the f3.5/5.6 18-55 kit zoom. The most obvious advantage of this is that you get a brighter image in the viewfinder; but it also means that the camera can work in lower light, or give you more scope for using faster shutter-speeds, and you can explore the effects of 'shallow' Depth-of-Field, at wider apertures. It's sort of the 'next step' for most starting out and exploring what they can do with an SLR camera. It's actually the lens I bought for my daughter when we kitted her out for her GCSE photo, umpety long ago, and she loves it. It lets the adventure continue, and is analogous to the old 'nifty-fifty' of old, that was the usual 'kit' lens that came with a 35mm film SLR, and the basis for much academic exercise... (hence getting it for the daughter's GCSE Course!)

Answering the question posed, then, "What Lens for Nikon?"... that probably has to be my top recommend. Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8G DX

It's a skew answer, as said, because I think that it's probably the wrong question; But.... avoiding the 'trap' of long lenses, and the likely disappointment that they don't do it all for you.... especially find 'creatures' in the wild without spooking them, and leading you down that alley of Gadget-Acquisition-Syndrome, suggesting gear for the job you mention..... the more conventional, normal angle, prime, 'aught' make you look for things you can do with that lens; things you probably wouldn't chasing the very narrow Angle-of-View of a telephoto in the genre of wild-life..... and hence discovering 'stuff' by serendipity that delights or wows you, rather than getting frustrated, that the deer runs away rather than smiles sweetly and says cheese..... or as likely stays still in the frame long enough for you to press the shutter! And as said, you 'probably' already have as much or more 'zoom' than you really need right now any-way; so backing up... shunning the tele-photo, working working with the kit 18-55 zoom, and a normal-angle prime, is a good way to developing the technique, rather than just buying ever more technology.

But... your call... you probably don't need to buy anything right now!
 
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4,807
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Dave
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#16
I bought a Nikon D3500. Was pretty cheap at £350 but I know its just a beginner camera.
Don't sell yourself or the camera short - the spec, resolution and dynamic range of this 'beginner' camera is better than my first Pro camera was that I paid exactly 10x more for !!! :D

Dave
 
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#17
If you don't want to pick up a longer zoom lens work on field craft instead - if you're in a wood and stay still for a while and keep quiet, you never know what might come into range. I've seen fox cubs/foxes and plenty of deer. A long lens is obviously useful but I think your 70-300 will effectively be a 105-450mm anyway being a 'crop sensor' camera, so is already more zoom than most people have.

It's not so much trying to learn to run before you can walk, but carrying the cane before your crippled...
Mike - you really need to shorten your replies - I'm sure it contains a lot of good advice but people are unlikely to read something that length.
 
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Dave
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#18
Mike - you really need to shorten your replies - I'm sure it contains a lot of good advice but people are unlikely to read something that length.
That's me !!! I've never read anything he's written, my attention span won't allow it, he could be an absolute genius or a pillock, I'll never know :D

Dave
 
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Phil Maddocks
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#19
A lens I've found that has helped me a lot creatively is the Nikon 35mm f1.8 DX. It is around 130-140 new and because it is a fixed focal length you have to zoom with your feet and experiment with compositions. Being a prime, it is also a super sharp lens for the money as well.
 
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droj
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#20
I would stay with what you have. Use it. Then see what direction you need to go in. Seems a waste of money to get any more kit till you have used what you have
Yes. I might've also've quoted Teflon Mike's last 2 paragraphs if they'd been shorter, because I'm going to say much the same.

There is an often apparent dichotomy, quite visible on these forums, between (let's say) photography as personal expression and photography as the acquisition of gear.

We all need gear. But you can easily have too much. In fact when thousands might be starving in refugee camps, the ownership of lots of stuff in general can start to seem indecent.

Andrew, if you have the kit zoom (couldn't see it stated) and the 70-300 for your aps-c body, then that's plenty to chew on.

Another angle is that kit has to be carried ...
 
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suter1972
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andrew
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#21
Again, thanks for the replies guys and thank you for being gentle to a total beginner, really impressed!. Im going to try and get on a course so I can learn what half the terminology means and at least teach me the basics.
 
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Alan
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#22
Im now looking for a longer range lens, again one that wont break the bank but will let us take pics of things that bit further away than the 300 lens will get. Eg wild deer or birds while out on a walk.

Any ideas? It’s a Nikon F lens fitting.
If all you want is a picture to view on screen or as a reasonably sized print (to fill an A4 sheet?) the first thing you could do is try cropping a picture taken with your existing lens and seeing if you're happy with the quality of the end result. For screen viewing and A4 prints viewed normally I'm often more than happy with a 100% crop. And just in case you're not sure what a 100% crop is... When using post capture processing software you can zoom in and a 100% zoom will enable you to see as much of the picture as will fit on the screen at its actual size. You can then cut this section out and it becomes your picture.

For example... I took this picture with an old film era 50mm lens that cost under £40. I was as close to the squirrel as I could get without spooking it...



If I do a 100% crop I end up with...



So, I can get my subject to pretty much fill the frame and the quality is easily good enough to look at on a pc, tablet or phone and although I haven't printed it I'm sure it would look good filling an A4 sheet.

This "digital zoom" cropping isn't ideal and isn't as good as filling the frame with your subject when you take the picture however it can be a cheap way of doing it if all you want is a picture to look at on screen or as a reasonably sized print and cropping a few pictures taken at 300mm with your existing lens is the first thing I'd try before spending hundreds on a big and heavy longer zoom lens.

If you want more quality than cropping will provide or want to be able to print very big pictures then cropping isn't for you. I just thought I'd mention cropping as an option until you find your feet more and get used to the idea that photography can be a rather expensive hobby :D
 
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droj
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#23
Im going to try and get on a course
You Tube can be your friend for nothing!

Exposure triangle is basic and often mentioned. Couple that with learning to see light like a camera sees it. There's a steep curve at the start but if you can stay enthused it starts to level out and it feels more like you're getting somewhere. The journey can last more than a lifetime!
 
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Damen
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#24
don't forget your camera has a crop sensor which means anything you put on ie 70-300mm is x1.5 on a crop sensor

so in theory your lens is a 105-450mm

on a full frame camera it would be a true 70-300mm.

if you was to put a 50mm prime on, in theory it would be a 75mm prime.
 
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Mike
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#25
don't forget your camera has a crop sensor which means anything you put on ie 70-300mm is x1.5 on a crop sensor.
Being 'pedantic', that's not really true; a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens, and it always will be, no matter what you bolt it on the front of.
If it's bolted to the front of a 6x6cm medium format (film) camera, then you will get a wide-angle-of view
If its bolted to the front of a 35mm (film) camera, then you get approximately the 'normal' angle-of-view.
If it's attached to an APS-C sensor Digital-SLR, that has a sensor size aprox 16x24mm, then it gives a mild telephoto, narrow, angle-of-view.
The picture projected onto the focal-plane, ie the film or widgetal bit of silly-con, is the same; the same depth-of-field and focus and perspective.
ALL that changes when you shrink the focal plane behind the lens, is how much you 'Crop' off the top, bottom and edges; hence "the crop-factor". And the smaller the 'sensor' or film format, so the more you chop off the edge of the image circle the lens might plonk on it.
Hence, the Angle-of-View becomes narrower, 'like' you had used a longer focal length lens ...... BUT, a 50mm lens does not suddenly grow to become a 75mm lens or a 110mm lens, just because you put it in-front of a smaller sensor or bit of film; its still a 50mm focal length lens, and the image it projects is the same; you just lop more off the edges.

The 'Crop-Factor' is particularly erroneous 'sales-speak', that came with widgetal, to offer an easy analogy or equivalence to the 'familiar', 35mm 'System' cameras, mostly SLR's, that had (easy) interchangeable lenses. But that is as far as 'the crop factor' holds, in equating the Angle-of-View of a lens on a smaller format digital camera, to that you's get on a 35mm film or "Full-Frame" digital... in which there lies yet another bit of marketing anomaly;

"Full-Frame" is the size of a 'usual' 35mm film cameras film trap; 24x36mm.... BUT, the 'frame' can be virtually any size you like, and 35mm film was developed for use in movie cameras, where it ran vertically behind the lens, and conventionally had a frame size of 16x24mm.... OOOOH! that's the same as an APS-C digital sensor!!! (Or a 'half-frame' Olympus pen, et al). Trouble is, that when you use such a 'small' frame size, with film, to make a picture you can actually see any detail in, you have to magnify it. Usually quite a lot! Not so much of a problem for moving-images, where projecting one image over another very rapidly, perception doesn't see the detail so well; its not there long enough to notice, really; but on a 'still' it is. Hence to bet around some of the problem of 'grain' noticeably intrusive at that the sort of enlargement you need to make a 10x8 inch 'print' from a 35mm negative. rather than the zero enlargement to make a 'contact' print from a 10x8 inch 'plate' camera, it was a convenience to turn the film around, and shoot it horizontally to get a bigger image, begging less magnification in printing. Hence "Full-Frame" is another bit of sales-speak and yet another equivalence, to 35mm 'stills' cameras, which themselves tend to shoot a 'Double-Frame' compared to the movie cameras the film stock was actually developed for!

All semantics, and where you choose to put the goal-posts, really BUT... a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens, it will never BE a 75mm lens, nor a 35mm one a 50, or an 80mm one anything but an 80mm one. That's its focal length, and it is what it is, end of! How much you chop of the top bottom and edges after, is up to you, or your camera maker! And the 'Crop-Factor' remains merely a contrivance of convenience, an equivalence, that only holds as far as the effective Angle of View, is concerned.
 
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Joan
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#26
A good idea would be to put some bird feeders in the garden. Once they are visited regularly, both you and your children can spend hours taking pics either from outside or a handy window. That would be good practise and your 70-300mm lens will be fine for it if you site the feeders close-ish to the house. Another fun thing to do would be to sit the camera outside on a dry day on a tripod close to the feeders and get a remote release for it. You/they can then sit in the house and fire away.
 
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#27
If you really want a long lens on a budget then look for a Samyang/Rokinon mirror lens @ 500mm or 600mm. It will be manual focus and fixed aperture, but it will give you a lot more reach at a low price.
 
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#28
Being 'pedantic', that's not really true; a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens, and it always will be, no matter what you bolt it on the front of.
If it's bolted to the front of a 6x6cm medium format (film) camera, then you will get a wide-angle-of view
If its bolted to the front of a 35mm (film) camera, then you get approximately the 'normal' angle-of-view.
If it's attached to an APS-C sensor Digital-SLR, that has a sensor size aprox 16x24mm, then it gives a mild telephoto, narrow, angle-of-view.
The picture projected onto the focal-plane, ie the film or widgetal bit of silly-con, is the same; the same depth-of-field and focus and perspective.
ALL that changes when you shrink the focal plane behind the lens, is how much you 'Crop' off the top, bottom and edges; hence "the crop-factor". And the smaller the 'sensor' or film format, so the more you chop off the edge of the image circle the lens might plonk on it.
Hence, the Angle-of-View becomes narrower, 'like' you had used a longer focal length lens ...... BUT, a 50mm lens does not suddenly grow to become a 75mm lens or a 110mm lens, just because you put it in-front of a smaller sensor or bit of film; its still a 50mm focal length lens, and the image it projects is the same; you just lop more off the edges.

The 'Crop-Factor' is particularly erroneous 'sales-speak', that came with widgetal, to offer an easy analogy or equivalence to the 'familiar', 35mm 'System' cameras, mostly SLR's, that had (easy) interchangeable lenses. But that is as far as 'the crop factor' holds, in equating the Angle-of-View of a lens on a smaller format digital camera, to that you's get on a 35mm film or "Full-Frame" digital... in which there lies yet another bit of marketing anomaly;

"Full-Frame" is the size of a 'usual' 35mm film cameras film trap; 24x36mm.... BUT, the 'frame' can be virtually any size you like, and 35mm film was developed for use in movie cameras, where it ran vertically behind the lens, and conventionally had a frame size of 16x24mm.... OOOOH! that's the same as an APS-C digital sensor!!! (Or a 'half-frame' Olympus pen, et al). Trouble is, that when you use such a 'small' frame size, with film, to make a picture you can actually see any detail in, you have to magnify it. Usually quite a lot! Not so much of a problem for moving-images, where projecting one image over another very rapidly, perception doesn't see the detail so well; its not there long enough to notice, really; but on a 'still' it is. Hence to bet around some of the problem of 'grain' noticeably intrusive at that the sort of enlargement you need to make a 10x8 inch 'print' from a 35mm negative. rather than the zero enlargement to make a 'contact' print from a 10x8 inch 'plate' camera, it was a convenience to turn the film around, and shoot it horizontally to get a bigger image, begging less magnification in printing. Hence "Full-Frame" is another bit of sales-speak and yet another equivalence, to 35mm 'stills' cameras, which themselves tend to shoot a 'Double-Frame' compared to the movie cameras the film stock was actually developed for!

All semantics, and where you choose to put the goal-posts, really BUT... a 50mm lens is a 50mm lens, it will never BE a 75mm lens, nor a 35mm one a 50, or an 80mm one anything but an 80mm one. That's its focal length, and it is what it is, end of! How much you chop of the top bottom and edges after, is up to you, or your camera maker! And the 'Crop-Factor' remains merely a contrivance of convenience, an equivalence, that only holds as far as the effective Angle of View, is concerned.
what does the x1.5 mean ?? I was advised when I got my camera that my sensor is x1.5 meaning if I got a 50mm lens, it would be more closer than what it would be on a FF.
 
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#29
what does the x1.5 mean ?? I was advised when I got my camera that my sensor is x1.5 meaning if I got a 50mm lens, it would be more closer than what it would be on a FF.
1.5 is the Crop-Factor; ie the number you have to multiply the lens' focal length by, to get an 'equivalence' to the focal-length lens that would give the same angle of view on a 35mm film camera (or 'full-frame' widgetal)

Maths time! - The focal length lens that gives the 'normal' angle-of-view, is 'approximately' the diagonal length of the 'frame'.
The standard frame size for a 35mm film camera is 24x36mm. Do some Pythagoras on that, and remembering my 1st Year Maths Teacher's joke about the Red-Indian Chief arguing his one fat wife was worth two of any others, "The Squaw on the Hippopotamus, is the sum of the Squaw's on the other two hides"... The Diagonal is the square root of 24^2+36^2 = 43.266mm.....

NOW; Thing is, that the film frame isn't square, its oblong... so that notional 'normal' is a bit nebulous....there is an argument, that the 'normal angle' lens length aught to 'really' be taken as the hypotenuse of the square of the longest side of the film frame... so on a 35mm film trap, that would be 36mm squared, doubled and rooted; which for 35mm film, comes out at.... 50.9mm... hence the 50mm 'standard' lens length of a 35mm SLR, not 44mm.. because you are merely chopping a strip off the square, top and bottom, to make it an oblong.

Which begs mention of the Helios 44.... a favoured lens amongst the adaptor brigade, it's badged as a 44, and shipped as the 'standard' lens with Zenit 35mm SLR's, like the 50mm on most of its peers, BUT... it's actually a 58mm focal length lens!!! BECAUSE!!! 44mm is the strict, diagonal of a 24x36mm film trap; 50mm the diagonal of the square of the longest side, BUT..... 58mm.... is actually a 'little' closer to what we 'perceive' 'cos our peripheral vision isn't as good as our central vision!

Like I said, its all a little nebulous; and as so much in photography, the strict 'science' is perverted by practicality....

BUT.... essentially, a Nikon APS-C digital camera, has a film-trap, or sensor, 16x24mm, half the size of the 35mm film-trap, of 24x36mm... and a bit more maths!

If you work the diagonals; for the 'full-frame' sensor, 24x36mm, it works out at 44mm or 50mm on the longest side.
If you work the diagonals; for the 'APS-C' sensor, 16x24mm, it works out at 22mm or 35mm on the longest side.

The ratio between 35mm and 50mm is 1.428... close enough 1.5.... and a dimensionless unit, a pure 'factor' because if you divide 50mm by 35mm the mm cancel each other out, and you are left with a pure number without units...

SO, if you take that 'Factor' its a convenience, you can now use to multiply any focal length by, to get an 'equivalence' for the angle-of-view to another lens of another focal length, when used on the alternative format camera.

What the salesman said, when you bought the camera, and what you understood by what he said, is probably something rather more nebulous, with more than a little repetition distortion adding to the confoundement! BUT... that's essentially it. You have an APS-C sized sensor, and the 'Crop-Factor' for quick equivalence to the angle of view of a lens on a 35mm or Full-Frame camera, is 1.5x the focal length. A lens of any focal length is still that focal length, and your APS-C sized sensor is still an APS-C sized sensor, half the area and capturing half the photons of a 'full-frame' sized sensor.

So, put a 50mm lens on your camera, its still a 50mm lens; the camera still has an APS-C sized sensor. but, the ANGLE OF VIEW, and it is limited ONLY to that angle of view, is now the 'equivalent' of a 75mm lens, used on a full-frame or 35mm film camera.

As to it being more closer... err... well, that's another topic! You get more 'zoom' effect, as if you were closer to the subject, but, opens up a much larger can of worms, that does!!! IF you were actually closer to the subject... being closer would make that subject larger in the frame.... but you have shortened the subject range, so everything would be closer to the camera and larger in the frame.... and you'd get less in it. Which is where it starts getting perverse...

If you 'actually' got closer to the subject, you would need a wider angle lens to get the same effective framing; now the wider angle lens, would have a shorter focal length, and its closest focus distance would be nearer the camera, its hyper-focal distance would also be closer to the camera, and the range of 'critical' focus between the two, would tend to be a lot shorter. So the Depth-of-Field, you got, would tend to be greater, and the focus fade before and after your subject, would be compressed into that shorter subject range, and the 'perspective' altered.

WHICH, is one of the reasons, that there's no substitute for alternative lenses 'really', and why the idea of 'zooming with your feet' or get close by getting close, is another bit of nebulation.... as said, a lens is a lens is a lens, it don't know or care what size frame is behind it, and these 'equivalences' only work in pretty specific situations and for pretty specific properties.

As its a common, and fairly pertinent topic, I'll mention the 'shallow focus' effects you can get with longer focal length lenses.

If you are used to a micro-sensor camera, like a compact or bridge or camera-phone; these very small sensors beg very short focal length lenses, to give something in the 'normal' angle range. The lens on my Aldi action-cam is just 4.5mm. Coincidentally I actually have a 4.5mm fish-eye for my DSLR. That 4.5mm lens, on the action-cam, gives something around the 50Deg region, 'Angle-of-View'; on the Fish-Eye, its delivering a full 180 Degree 'Full-Circle' angle of view... it actually makes a circular image, with 180Deg AoV side to side and top to bottom, in the middle of the oblong frame of the photo. Now, the action-cam would get the same image projected on it's sensor, BUT that sensor is so small, it's actually only recording the very middle of the picture; ie it has an enormous 'crop-factor', because its cropping an enormous amount off the top, bottom and edges of the image its given.

Now; that 4.5mm focal length lens, has such a short focal length, that its closest focus distance is almost nothing! In fact, I can almost put the front element up against 'something' and it appears in focus in the picture! More; the range of 'critical-focus', from there to 'hyperfocal' where everything is effectively in focus, is also incredibly short and close to the camera; a phenomena exploited by camera makers, pushing ever smaller sensor cameras, because that very near closest focus distance and incredibly short zone of critical focus, means that they probably don't actually NEED to make a focus mechanism to cover it; the lens can be set at the factory at the Hyperfocal range, and to all practical purposes, the camera is then 'Focus Free'; you will never have a subject so close to the camera that it will fall into that fuzzy zone of critical focus where it's necessary, certainly if they use a more moderate aperture, that would tend to give a larger Depth-of-Field around the focus range.

SO, its only when you step up to larger sensor cameras, that beg longer focal length-lenses, that you might actually start to 'see' these shallow focus effects, where the subject range is inside that of the 'critical-focus' zone of the lens.

Now, this begs the 'wow' factor of seeing shallow focus effects, and leads many to look for more of it from very fast aperture lenses. Usual one for APS-C Nikon, is the AF-S 35 f1.8, which has the equivalent angle of view to a 50mm on an old 35mm film SLR, where single digit f-number lenses, similarly were derigeur.... again, oft chasing these shallow-focus effects, with the 'smaller' format cameras and much shorter focal length lenses than were 'normal' on larger 'Medium-Format' film cameras, they competed against in the enthusiast arena.

Thing IS, that those shallow focus effects are mainly function of the camera to subject distance, and with the larger format camera the longer focal length lens tends to have a much further closest focus distance, and a much longer range of critical focus beyond it, up until Hyperfocal.

Now... working in that much extended critical-focus range, much more often, you would get shallow-focus effects, at much more moderate apertures, and you would get a 'focus fade; infront and behind your subject, within the limits of that critical focus zone. Use a shorter lens on a smaller format camera, with that much closer close focus distance, shorter and closer range of critical focus, and you are likely to not get such a shallow focus effect without using a lower f-no, and more, the focus fade still only extends between the close focus, and hyper-focal distances, so the degree of fade tends to be a lot more pronounced or 'sharper'... and resultant images can, especially from an APS-C sensor camera, start to look quite 'fake', the degree of focus dissociation between the subject and back-ground so 'sharp' the subject appears as though they have been cut and pasted in photo-shop into the scene, rather than a part of it..... BUT, its only when you step up from a micro-sensor camera that you get any of it at all, and it sends many folk chasing ever faster aperture lenses and contemplating the amount of 'Bokah' they are getting... rather than necessarily the quality of it! But still.

Point is, that this sort of illustrates how the 'Crop-Factor' ONLY works on making comparison of the Angle-of-View between the focal length of lenses used on different formats. The different lens lengths have different closest focus distances, and Hyperfocal distances and zone of critical focus between the two, and how far into that zone of critical focus you may be, determines the perspective of the image, as well as the focus and focus fade effects you get, and the 'Crop-Factor' does NOT work here, and a longer lens does NOT 'get you closer' to the subject! It just generates an image 'sort' of like you had been, the subject, magnified a bit in relation to the frame.

Like I said, photography is riddled with anomaly where the strict science is perverted by practicality, and resultant nebulisms where the real question is "Does it really matter?" and that is very circumstance dependent!
 
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#30
what does the x1.5 mean ?? I was advised when I got my camera that my sensor is x1.5 meaning if I got a 50mm lens, it would be more closer than what it would be on a FF.
I think that maybe thinking about crop factors makes the most sense if you grew up with 35mm film and still think in 35mm "FF" terms or maybe if you have more than one camera and swap lenses between them. In these instances doing crop factor calculations in your head as you select what lens to put on what camera will probably help but if you've only got into all this relatively recently and have an APS-C camera maybe thinking about crop factors becomes pretty meaningless unless you're thinking about using FF lenses on it.

The main thing to remember is that FF lenses don't give you as wide a field of view on an APS-C camera as they do on a FF one and instead give you the effect of a longer lens so 50mm on FF looks like 75mm when you put it on an APS-C camera and if you want a 50mm FF sort look from your APS-C camera you need a 35mm lens.
 
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#31
Stick with your sigma 70-300 (105-450). You will soon realise it is a poor performer. It might be producing good results in your sunny garden, but take it into a shaded wood and it's gonna slow right down. Any movement by animals will be blurry and camera shake caused by user movement will just ruin the shot. Use the lens as you become more confident and save up for something faster. F2.8 to F4. Which will cost considerably more than £125. Or, consider a fixed 300mm Nikon F4 prime lens.
 

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#32
what does the x1.5 mean ??
<writes 2,000 word essay>
@Teflon-Mike - No offence, but you really need to write less. Most people just haven't got the attention span to read all that stuff. It's like asking somebody to watch a 10-minute video to learn one simple act.

@Damo88 - Here [link] is an explanation of the crop factor concept that I wrote for another thread last week. It's 80% shorter.
 
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#33
My first post so don't expect too much :). I wanted to say there's loads of really good advice on here so thanks to everyone.

I'm a complete beginner/novice and bought a trusty old D40 with an 18-55mm kit lens and a 70-300mm many moons ago but never took the damn thing off auto. While the pictures were better than my old compact they weren't amazing and I lost interest... until now that is so I'm starting again. I started thinking of all the equipment I needed including a new camera but then decided I've got more than enough to get me started. I know the D40's an ancient beginner camera but it has all I need for the momen (I think :-/).

I've read up on here and a few other places and now have a better understanding of what makes a good photo and how to take one. The dial has moved off auto and I'm going to have some fun with the gear I have before I think about whether I need or want anything else.

It's always tempting to buy all the stuff you think or are expected to need straight away but you'll never know until you get practising.
 
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#34
Welcome to the forum.

While it's advantageous to move the dial off full auto, it's often helpful to leave it on A for aperture priority or S for shutter priority, letting you control depth of field or shutter speed (depending on what you're photographing) while letting the camera look after the exposure.

And talking of that, the D40 is pretty long in the tooth now, and entry level cameras are very substantially better (I still use an IR-converted D70, but not much because it's not a good camera). Not that you can't take a good photo with it, but even a Nikon D3500 or whatever the latest entry level jobbie is will really offer a much better sensor and therefore potentially better images. But by all means practice with it until you discover a reason to change
 

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#36
I am very late to this discussion, and I am very much a newbie. I would like to ask a question relevant to the OP. Wouldn't a fairly cheap way to extend the range on the OP's first zoom lens rather than buy an entirely different lens would be to buy a teleconverter instead? This way the weight of a longer lens in little hands is overcome, and a longer reach is obtained.
 
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#37
I am very late to this discussion, and I am very much a newbie. I would like to ask a question relevant to the OP. Wouldn't a fairly cheap way to extend the range on the OP's first zoom lens rather than buy an entirely different lens would be to buy a teleconverter instead? This way the weight of a longer lens in little hands is overcome, and a longer reach is obtained.
I personally wouldn’t advise a teleconvertor on a sigma 70-300. They sound a great idea but loss of one stop (with a 1.4x TC) or two stops (with a 2x TC) would take the aperture to f8 and f11. Couple that with slower and less accurate AF and you soon run into problems and that’s before you have the whole trying to get a TC to fit on the lens.

Personally I feel a 300mm in a Nikon crop gives the equivalent field of view of 450mm on a full frame lens. I’ve been shooting wildlife for many years now and I’ve settled on a 100-400mm lens on a full frame camera. For the majority of wildlife it’s ok. There is of course wildlife that’s out of range but I just concentrate on stuff that’s in range :)
 

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#38
Wouldn't a fairly cheap way to extend the range on the OP's first zoom lens rather than buy an entirely different lens would be to buy a teleconverter instead? This way the weight of a longer lens in little hands is overcome, and a longer reach is obtained.
No. The OP's camera would lose the ability to autofocus, and the image would be significantly degraded.

Teleconverters should only really be used with prime lenses and professional-spec zooms. Anything else, and the image degradation is so great that you'd be better off just cropping and enlarging your photo. The lens manufacturers advise which lenses should be capable of being used with teleconverters, and they often engineer them so that the teleconverter simply will not fit on "unsuitable" lenses. The Sigma 70-300mm which the OP has is not deemed suitable for teleconverter use by Sigma.
 

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#39
No. The OP's camera would lose the ability to autofocus

Pretty sure that my old D70 would still AF with the old 18-70 kit lens on a 1.5x teleconverter. The image was significantly degraded though! AF was a little slower and hunted a bit in low light with low contrast scenes but it would focus.
 

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#40
No. The OP's camera would lose the ability to autofocus...
Pretty sure that my old D70 would still AF with the old 18-70 kit lens on a 1.5x teleconverter. The image was significantly degraded though! AF was a little slower and hunted a bit in low light with low contrast scenes but it would focus.
Perhaps I should have said "lose the ability to reliably autofocus".

Phase-detect AF mechanisms used in DSLRs work better with faster lenses, and worse or not at all with slower lenses. Entry-level DSLRs typically start to struggle as soon as the maximum aperture of the lens (or lens+teleconverter combo) goes below f/5.6. Most consumer zooms, including the one the OP has, are f/5.6 at the long end, for exactly this reason, so when you fit a teleconverter you go to f/8 and beyond and reliable autofocus cannot be guaranteed. But the way the camera manufacturers deal with this differs. Canon seem to favour predictability; they bake the f/5.6 limit into the firmware, and if your maximum aperture is less than f/5.6 the camera simply won't try to autofocus, but if your maximum aperture is OK then you'll get full performance from the autofocus system. Nikon seem to favour performance; the camera will try to autofocus whatever the aperture, and below f/5.6 it may or may not succeed. There will be times when the Nikon achieves focus that Canon wouldn't have bothered trying; there will be times when the Nikon user is frustrated because the camera can't achieve focus, where the Canon user would have known it wasn't possible and wouldn't have wasted time on it. I don't think either approach is necessarily preferable; they're just different.
 
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