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Nikon D3200 lens compatibility?

Peter Mechels , May 11, 2013; 10:44 p.m.

Hello, I am a relatively new photographer. I took a photo class in high school, but we never talked much about SLR cameras. After a year away from it I recently got back into photography and I bought a Nikon D3200 and I am in love with it! There is just one thing I have on my mind now. Up until just recently I had this idea in my mind that any lens could be slapped on the end of a camera and it would work! Obviously I was mistaken. Now here I am wondering what lenses i could get for my camera that are compatible with it, because I really don't want to get a high quality lens and find out that it doesn't work with it.

I am in the market for a nice macro and telephoto lens. Could anyone help a novice in need?


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Devon McCarroll , May 11, 2013; 10:52 p.m.

It needs to be a Nikon mount, so Nikon lenses (obviously), and then other brands like Sigma or Tamron will say in the description which make they're for, i.e. Canon, Nikon, etc. What type of photography are you interested in doing? It will help people in making suggestions.

Peter Mechels , May 11, 2013; 10:59 p.m.

I'm interested in macro photography, but other than that it just really depends on the day. It's more of a hobby for me, so I don't think I could narrow it down to just one type of photography.

I know that is not the helpful answer but It would be a lie if i narrowed it down any further than that.

I just know so little about lenses that I really cannot choose it on my own, so any help at all would be appreciated.

Edit: Currently I only have the AF-S NIKKOR 18-55mm lens that came with the camera. It's nice for an all purpose but now I'm interested in something with a little more oomph if you know what I mean.

Elliot Bernstein , May 11, 2013; 11:40 p.m.

Virtually all Nikon lenses will be compatible with this camera. But not all Nikon lenses will autofocus or meter on this body.

What exactly do you mean by "it doesn't work with it". You don't mention your budget, but Nikon's 105mm f2.8 AF-S macro lens would be an excellent choice, and is fully compatible including autofocus with the D 3200, but it is a little pricey.

As a basic guide, all AF–S lenses will be 100% compatible with your body, including autofocus. AF-D lenses will not autofocus but are fully compatible otherwise. Older lenses may or may not meter on your camera depending on the lens, but again are still compatible.

"I am in the market for a nice macro and telephoto lens"

What is your budget?

Peter Mechels , May 11, 2013; 11:46 p.m.

I guess I want really clear with that comment, what I was saying is that not all lenses are going to work the best for this camera. Ideally I would like an auto focus lens, but when it comes to it, I could probably make due. As for my budget, I'd be in it for a $400 macro and telephoto lens. I'm in college right now, I'm not exactly made of money haha.

And thanks for the info!

Edit: I can save up a little more if there was one within the 400-600 range, I just would have to save up longer.

John Williamson , May 12, 2013; 12:40 a.m.

In the telephoto area, do you want a fixed focal length lens or a zoom that goes out in the longer range ?

When you say, "macro" do you need it to be a TRUE macro lens, which means it will go down to a 1:1 image or just one that can get rather close-up ? Ones that go down to 1:1 are going to be more specialized and come with a specialized price, if you know what I mean.

As was said above , for a Nikon lens to be FULLY compatible, you need one that has "AF-S" in it's name. That basically means the focus motor is in the lens. Many Nikon cameras below a given price need that because they don't have a focus motor in the camera anymore. So, I would suggest a long zoom that has AF-S in the name for your telephoto use. However, most of the time, when people get in to close-up photography and further, down in to true "macro" stuff, they focus manually, because the camera doesn't know what exactly they need in focus when you're in that close. That means you can get a lens that does not say "AF-S" but just AF and it will work in ALL other way with your camera, but not auto focus. Now, the question of just HOW much magnification you want to get will dictate how much you need to pay.

Frank Skomial , May 12, 2013; 12:40 a.m.

Least problems and most of compatibility is if you get a "G" type Nikkor lens.

evan north , May 12, 2013; 04:51 a.m.

on a tight budget i would go for the nikon 55-200vr and the 18-55vr.
the first a nice sharp, light tele-zoom, the second a nice wide, through normal focal length with fairly close focus.
both can be found rather cheaply on the used market, or if you can stretch to it, the 70-300vr and 16-85vr, then save for a proper macro later on. a used tamron 60mm or 90mm should be ok but check if it has a built in motor as earlier models do not.

Wouter Willemse , May 12, 2013; 06:07 a.m.

...what I was saying is that not all lenses are going to work the best for this camera.
Well, that's only partially true, really. A good lens is a good lens, no matter which camera you hang on to it. But, there are usability factors indeed....
To sum up what is spread out over the answers already given, for the D3200 the following matters:

  • Autofocus and metering works completely: lenses with AF-S or AF-I in their name. The equivalent for Sigma is HSM, for Tamron it is a bit trickier, but it is often mentioned as 'BIM' on sites of stores. For all intents and purposes, these are the lenses you most likely want.
  • No autofocus, but metering works completely: lenses with AF-D or AF-G in their name, but no "S" (sometimes, you will find the D is written at the end, i.e. AF 35mm f/2D, or AF 70-300 f/4-5.6G). Most AF-S lenses also have the "G" in their name, but the AF-S takes precedence, so they fit under the first bulletpoint.
  • No autofocus, metering works except for the 3D Matrix metering: lenses with AF or Ai-P in their name (but no "D" or "S"). The 3D matrix metering is not a big miss, by the way; you can regard this as the same level of compatibility as the previous point.
  • No autofocus, no metering, but can be mounted and used in manual mode: all other F-mount lenses (called pre-AI, AI and Ai-S). That includes all lenses made for the Nikon F since 1959. On a budget and for learning how to do everything manually, there are gems in this category for little money, but probably not your first choices.

Nikon nomenclature is lovely, isn't it?
The second usability factor is what a lens is designed to do. Focal length matters, and when looking at macro lenses, both the reproduction ratio (1:1 or 1:2) and the minimal focus distance matter a lot.
For example, within you budget you can find the AF-S 40mm f/2.8 Macro lens, which goes all the way to 1:1 (meaning 1mm in real life is projected as 1mm on the sensor). But to reach this, you will be very very close to the subject - which won't work if the subject is still alive. If you want to do macros of insects, the minimal you should be looking at are lenses as the Tamron 90 f/2.8 macro or the Nikon AF-S 85mm f/3.5 macro - both just within your budget, leaving you no money for a telelens.
If you just want to get more close-up pictures, but not real macro, forget about a macro-lens for now. Get a decent telelens, which with your budget for me would be the Nikon 55-300VR, which is a really nice lens at a good price. If you manage to stretch the budget, the 70-300VR comes in sight, which is a step up (in all ways: size, weight, price, quality).
Another few reasons to maybe forget about a macrolens for now could be that macro-work isn't all that easy, and frequently requires flash (to have sufficient light), a very good tripod and it's mostly manual focus work as said before - it's got a bit a learning curve to it. With the telelenses mentioned above, you may possibly already be able to do what you want to do, so given your budget only allows realistically for one lens: get a telelens first.

Rick Helmke , May 12, 2013; 08:20 a.m.

You can do a lot with the lens you have. Add the Tamron 90 macro and a 55-200 Nikkor and you'll be set for quite a while. There will be a lot to learn with that setup.

Rick H.

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