Nikon lens help for the D3400

edited April 2017 Posted in » Nikon Lens Talk
Hi guys,

I am hoping to get some help regarding purchasing a new Nikon lens.
Currently I have the kit lens which is an 18-55mm.

I am a total newbie and have only been shooting with this one for a couple of months, but have been told upgrading lens could help me get better shots. Plus I would like to have a bit more variety.
Mostly doing children's photography outdoors, but do a fair bit indoors too, so need something to suit both.

Look forward to hearing some suggestions. :)


  • I would suggest first of all deciding what, if anything, your current lens is failing to deliver. Don't worry about what you're told, if you like what you're getting now.

    The kit lens is reasonably sharp, and covers a pretty good normal range of focal lengths. It is capable of very good pictures within its capabilities. Better lenses can be nice, but there's no magic.

    One of the most useful additions might be a complementary telephoto lens such as the 55-200 or 55-300 mm. zoom. That, together with the kit lens, gives you a good range from wide to telephoto. The shallower depth of field of a longer lens can make for nice portraits. But if you don't find yourself wishing often that you could get closer to things then it probably won't be what you want.

    You might consider going for one of the less expensive prime (fixed focal length, no zoom) lenses. There is a 35 mm. F1.8 DX lens, and a 50 mm. 1.8 lens, both at relatively low prices. Both have the reputation for being very sharp and well behaved. Shooting with a prime lens requires you to think carefully about composition. You can't adjust framing by zooming, so you need either to take care in framing, or move to get what you need. Many photographers find that a prime helps them to visualize better, and the lenses in question will be sharper, more contrasty, and generally better behaved than equivalent zooms. I think a prime lens prompts you to move around more, try different positions, and in the process, to see things with more variety. A zoom can be incredibly handy, but it can also form the bad habit of standing in one place and forgetting to move around and look at things from different angles.

    Which of those two lengths you like best depends on your style. Your best bet might be to review the shots you've taken (set the playback option to "overview" or find the information option in software you're using). Every image you take includes a file of information, the "EXIF" file, which includes, among other things, the settings the shot used, including the focal length of your zoom. If your favorite images tend to be toward the long end of the kit lens, the 50 may be more your style. If you're all over the map, the 35, with a slightly wider angle of view and a normal perspective, is probably more versatile.

    I have both (not the models one can find nowadays, but the focal lengths) and use both, but for myself I find I use the 35 more than the 50.
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