Advice needed for beginner


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Jan 4, 2008
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Hello all,

I have just registered for this site as I have just bought a Nikon D40x and was looking for some advice.

I bought this camera mainly to shoot nature pictures. I am aware that the best lense for nature shots would be the wide angeled lense. Could any of you suggest a good lense for nature shots?

also I would like to take extreme zoomed in shots from a distance (eg. Wildlife in a field that I can't get too close to as it runs off) and detailed zooms of things like leaves and bugs etc. Could anyone give me some advice on a lense for this please? Also the best settings to have my camera on for both these instances. I only have the lense that comes with the d40x as standard.

Thanks in advance all!

For scenic wide angle shots, the Sigma 10-20 HSM (autofocuses on D40/x) is pretty popular, extremely wide, and pretty affordable. The Tokina 12-24mm f/4 is another good one, but no autofocus. But autofocusing a wide angle is no big deal though, and it has better image quality, but isn't as wide.

For long shots, it's just a question of how much money you've got, and how much you're willing to spend. :lol: You can get the 55-200VR for around $200, but I think you'll find as I did that 200mm isn't long enough and want something more (I sold my 55-200 non VR). I now have a 70-300 VR which is $500 but haven't had much of a chance to use it yet, but it'll be good enough for me. Both of those are AF-S by the way, so they'll autofocus on the D40/x. Once you start looking past 300mm you get into mucho bucks if you still want something that'll give good image quality. I don't shoot tele enough to justify spending more than about $500, so my 70-300 VR is where I'm stopping.

For wide-angle nature shots, I'd use aperture priority and f/8, and then a minimum shutter speed in Auto ISO of about 1/15s. For wildlife shots of animals that aren't moving, it all depends on what telephoto you end up with since you'll need to tailor your settings to where the lens works best. On my 70-300 VR, I can get away with 1/60s at the long end with VR on, but the lens isn't at optimal sharpness there wide open at f/5.6, so I'd probably want to stop it down to f/8, if there's enough light.
Welcome to the forum.

I suggest that you use the lens that you have, for a while...just to get used to shooting with that camera. Then you will have a better idea of what you will want to get next.

There are a few ultra wide lenses; Nikon makes a 12-24mm but there are also lenses from Sigma, Tamron & Tokina that you might consider.

For telephoto lenses, there are plenty of options. Everything from $200 to $8000+

What's your budget?
Excellent advice from Big Mike.

Keep in mind that you don't want to end up buying twice (or in my case sometimes 3-4 times) before you find what you really NEED and/or want.
Thanks all,

Big Mike, Ideally i would like to get a lense for landscape pictures and a lense for zooming in over long distances for wildlife etc (300mm+) but budget wise I will have to pick which i'd prefer to do for now as I can't afford both. I think that I will get used to the lense I have for now (Insidentally, I am so new to this I don't know if I am using it to its full potential, I have the basic lense that comes with the D40x, I am using it for mainly portrait pictures and some landscape as I can't zoom in too much for wildlife)

I think that given one option I would choose to buy a lense that would give me detailed pictures of wildlife from quite some distance away... my budget for this would be around £100-£200 ($200-$400) as the main reason I got into photography was the wildlife. I can then concentrate on that while I save up for a lense for landscape pictures.

Any suggestions? :mrgreen:

p.s I have been looking up different types of lenses and for the wildlife aspect would a zoom lense be better or a telephoto lense? I'm guessing telephoto?

thanks again (Know i'm being awkward lol)

I agree with Mike as far as just using what you have until you really feel that you are lacking something such as more zoom, less zoom, etcetera.

I shoot a lot of stuff outside and I never really feel the need to go wider than 18mm which is my kit lens at its widest. One of the things that I would really like is a macro. So that might be something else you would look into.
I have been looking up different types of lenses and for the wildlife aspect would a zoom lense be better or a telephoto lense? I'm guessing telephoto?
The terms zoom and telephoto are not mutually exclusive. Zoom means a lens that can change it's focal could be 10mm to 20mm, 18mm to 200mm or 200mm to 500mm. Telephoto means a lens that is longer (more magnification) that a 'normal' lens (longer than about 50mm). So an 85mm lens would be a telephoto...and a 300mm lens would be a telephoto. If a telephoto lens can change it's focal length, then it's a telephoto zoom.

You aren't going to find much in your budget. I would suggest starting with a Nikon 70-300. It shouldn't be too expensive. There is a version with VR, which would be better, but is more expensive.
You could also look at a similar lens from Tamron or Sigma.
These lenses are pretty good when used in good lighting conditions...but struggle when the light is low.
On a budget you can get the Nikon 70-300G for around US$150, but on a D40/x you have to manually focus. Nikon makes the 55-200 which you can get for $150 and is AF-S for autofocusing on the D40/x, but 200mm isn't very long for wildlife. The 70-300VR is also AF-S, but US$500.

A telephoto prime like the 300mm f/4 will give much better image quality out at 300mm than a telephoto zoom will, like the 70-300mm. The maximum aperture of the 70-300 zooms is usually f/5.6, but need to be stopped down to at least f/8 for best image quality. Compare that to a 300mm f/4 telephoto prime that's razor sharp wide open at f/4, and it not only gives you better image quality, but also two stops of speed improvement. For wildlife, especially in marginal light, that can make a huge difference.

Wildlife photography is something that you can sink near infinite amounts of money into. Price of entry to a 300mm f/4 is US$1000 or thereabouts. The "high rollers" all have 300, 400, or even longer telephoto primes at either f/4 or f/2.8 speeds (the f/2.8's are MUCHO bucks), and then teleconverters on top of them. The f/2.8's are quick enough to use a 2x teleconverter, whereas the f/4 versions might only be quick enough for a 1.4x converter. The 70-300 or 80-400mm zooms out there are generally too slow to use teleconverter, and even if you can get a shot off it won't have the image quality and sharpness anymore.
Thanks all,

As part of buing the camera I had a deal on the 55-200mm so I've bought that and am going to sit tight with these for now to get used to it all. I'll be taking some (no doubt terrible) pictures and posting them soon (When the weather is better) so look forward to hearing your critiques and advice on how to improve!

Thanks again!


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