You might have heard the word ‘trinity’ used about some lenses. What does it mean? What are they? And why should you have them in your bag?
A trinity is a set of zoom lenses, usually with the same maximum aperture of f/2.8, enabling you to cover a huge range of wide, standard and telephoto focal lengths with just three lenses in your bag. Owning a trinity means you can go all the way from ultra-wide, for those epic landscapes, to telephoto, enabling you to focus in on objects far away, and all points between. For a full guide to zoom lenses and how useful they can be, click here.
Two trinities from NIKKOR
For Nikon Z mount mirrorless cameras, there are two trinities – the pro-level S-line trinity and the non-S-line version for those on a budget. Each trinity is slightly different in terms of focal lengths and technical specs, but both are trios of incredible lenses that will make your photography or filmmaking stand out from the crowd.
Differences and similarities
The S-line, pro-level trinity consists of the NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S, NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S and NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S (above). They have extensive weather sealing, assignable function buttons and the longest has built-in Vibration Reduction. The non-S trinity lenses are still f/2.8 for that magical background blur bokeh and low-light performance and consist of the NIKKOR Z 17-28 f/2.8, NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8 and NIKKOR Z 70-180mm f/2.8. Combined, these offer an f/2.8 zoom trinity at a very attractive price.
Lenses on DX cameras
The above are all full-frame (or FX) lenses but can also be used on Nikon crop-sensor DX cameras, such as the Nikon Z 30, Z 50 or Z fc. Bear in mind that if you have a DX camera, the numbers change somewhat. For these cameras, the lenses will have a different angle of view because of the smaller sensor and therefore have equivalent focal lengths of 1.5x.
Where to start
Of course, you don’t have to buy all three or buy them all at once, and you can mix and match as you see fit for whatever is going to suit your style. Many beginners start with a mid-range zoom as their first extra lens, as the range of focal lengths, from wide-angle through to ‘standard’ human’s-eye view, such as 35mm, 40mm and 50mm, is superbly adaptable. A lens like this can be used for landscapes, still life, travel, portraits and more. At the lower end of the trinity, the NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S or NIKKOR Z 17-28mm f/2.8 are superb for immersive landscapes, interiors or even astrophotography of the night sky, while, at the longer end, the lenses cover beautiful focal lengths for portraits, such as 85mm, 105mm and even 135mm, while at their longest are great for pictures of local wildlife and sports. Owning a trinity also gives you huge potential for video creation, with not only a vast range of focal lengths for different styles of shots but also the ability to zoom in or out within a scene. (For a full guide to using zoom lenses for video click here.)
All the lenses, whether the S-line or the non-S versions, are super sharp across the frame and, for complex zooms, are light and agile for handheld work. Whatever your choice and whatever your style, you’ll be rewarded with incredible results and enormous levels of creative control. They could be the only three lenses you’ll ever need.