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I recently bought a Nikon D5100. And along with this camera, I got the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens as kit. It's "G" type lens, right?

One of my friend suggested to buy a 50mm f/1.8D prime lens for a good aperture. I bought it too, and it's "D" type lens.

Main thing is I'm confused about what these "G" and "D" type lens means. I know it's a common question but I didn't find any solid answer.

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Here is the description from Nikon's own web site:

D-Type NIKKOR Lenses A D-type lens relays subject-to-camera-distance information to Nikon D-SLRs that feature 3D Color Matrix Metering (all versions), 3D Matrix Metering, 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash and i-TTL Balanced Fill-Flash. Many D-Type lenses have an aperture control ring and can be used on older Nikon SLR cameras that allow for manual control of the aperture, as well as on D-SLRs—especially useful for adjusting aperture while recording D-Movies on higher end models. When used on a D-SLR, the aperture control ring needs to be locked at the smallest possible aperture (generally designated in orange), and the aperture control is maintained through the camera's command dial

G-Type NIKKOR Lenses A G-type lens does not have an aperture control ring and are intended for use on Nikon D-SLRs that allow the lens aperture to be adjusted via the camera's command dial. Because G-type lenses relay subject-to-camera-distance information to the camera, where it is used to help determine ambient and flash exposure, they are also considered to be D-type lenses. The lack of an aperture control ring is perhaps the easiest way that you can tell if a lens is a G-Type NIKKOR or not. [The AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR lens, shown above is an example of a G-Type lens. Note there is no aperture ring on that version of the lens, while there is an aperture ring on the AF version, above right.]

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Learn-And-Explore/Article/go35b5yp/which-nikkor-lens-type-is-right-for-your-d-slr.html

To me the main different is that a G lenses are newer lenses where Nikon have removed the aperture ring.

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    not having aperture ring also means can't use it with older (non-digital) bodies that expect control to be on the lens – jediz Jan 14 '16 at 19:55
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Any G lens is a D lens. Not all D lenses are G lenses.
The difference is that a G lens lacks an aperture ring for manually setting the aperture on the lens (rather than the camera). This isn't very important on modern cameras (everything producedin the last 20 years or so) except sometimes in full manual mode it can be more convenient than using the camera controls.
The reason he advised that lens is not that it's a D rather than a G lens, but because its far wider maximum aperture makes it much more capable in low light situations than the lens you already have (it can capture a lot more light, meaning shorter exposure times). It's also optically far superior to your kit lens, giving better photos with less distortion and lens artifacts. Neither is related to D vs. G, it's just differences in the design and materials used in the lens construction.
The main reason to omit an aperture ring on many current lenses is cost (it's extra construction, materials, etc.), and there being no space for one on a lens that has VR (the number of contacts on the electronic linking between the lens and body means Nikon could not design a lens that has both VR and an aperture ring without changing their lens mount, which would break compatibility between new and existing lenses and bodies, which they've always avoided).

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The Nikon D5100 camera body does not have an in-built focus motor.

The G lenses are AF-S lenses which include a focus motor inside the lens - these lenses can be used with entry level camera bodies such as the D3100, D3200, D5xxx series. AF-S lenses also do not include an aperture ring and will not be compatible with older Film cameras.

The D lenses are older lenses. These lenses would include an aperture ring and would be compatible with older Film cameras.

Few D lenses are AF lenses which do not include an auto-focus motor inside the lens. If auto-focus is a requirement, these lenses require a camera, generally in the mid-to-high-pro-level body range which include a screw-drive focusing motor (auto-focus motor) inside the camera. These lenses will work on the entry level Nikon cameras but focusing will need to be done manually.

Few of the D lenses range also have AF-S. These lenses will be able to auto-focus on the entry level Nikon cameras including the D5100. The 300mm f/4D AF-S is an example of this which is currently available.

The D lenses are also somewhat cheaper compared to the G lenses. However, to use auto-focus on the D lenses with AF, you need to invest more on the higher level camera body - D7000 and above.

If you are currently using the 50mm 1.8D on your D5100 camera, you are probably using manual focus for taking your photographs.

List of Nikon F-mount lenses with integrated autofocus motor - Wiki Link - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Nikon_compatible_lenses_with_integrated_autofocus-motor

  • Thanks for your answer yadunandan. It means my kit lens AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR has a focus motor right? But, I'm unable to focus automatically with my kit lens! – rony36 Dec 11 '13 at 12:28
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    There is actually some D lenses that also have AF-S, which have the aperture ring on the lens. And it's true that the 50mm 1.8D is only an AF lens and not an AF-S lens – Yao Bo Lu Dec 11 '13 at 12:29
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    The D and G letters are really about aperture ring, not about presence of auto-focus motor; AF-S and AF-I lenses have the motor and AF lenses don't. – Imre Dec 11 '13 at 14:00
  • Hello Yao and Imre, thank you for correcting me. I have edited my post accordingly – yadunandan Dec 13 '13 at 2:29
  • @Imre That's true, but most D lenses have no AF motor, and that is what usually matters most to a beginner looking for a lens. D should be a very big red flag if you don't have an AF motor in your body. – Orbit Jan 24 '18 at 11:32
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You commented that you cannot focus automatically on your kit lens. There should be a switch on the lens which you can use either for Auto or Manual focus - marked A and M. Set this to A for auto-focus. On the auto dial, set your camera to Auto mode and check auto-focus.

If you are using the camera in other modes (as per the command dial) such as Aperture or Manual, there is an option inside the camera also to switch between Auto-focusing and Manual-focusing. You will also be able to select the focus mode and focus-points by pressing the "i" button on the camera and changing the options available on the LCD screen.

The best way to know/learn this is to go through the camera manual which provides these instructions along with illustrations. If you are still not able to auto-focus after setting all these options, then you need to take the camera back to the shop or service-center for getting it checked.

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50mm 1.8 d has no auto focus motor. If you want to auto focus with this lens use d7000 or higher because this camera has built in auto focus, use 50mm 1.8 G if you want auto focus to the camera d5000 below. Because 50 mm 1.8 G is designed for cameras d5000 and below for auto focus. Ok

  • 1
    What you are trying to say is probably already part of the accepted answer. – Olivier Feb 6 '17 at 20:06

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