What Makes the Best Nikon Lens?
Choosing the right lens can be harder than choosing the right camera. There are simply too many options. However, if you already have a Nikon camera, why not just choose a Nikon lens? Choosing a Nikon lens will reduce your options, making it less overwhelming, and you know all of the best Nikon lenses will work properly with your camera because they are first party. If you drive a Ferrari, why not buy Ferrari tires?
Your camera is your baby, and you know its performance is unmatched. The same is true for Nikon lenses. These are the most sought-after lenses by professional photographers. You also must think that when Nikon develops their cameras, they develop them thinking you will buy their lenses to match. One simply goes with the other.
And while most Nikon lenses will work with most Nikon cameras, there are differences. For example, if you have a camera with a small APS-C sensor, and you use an FX-Formant lens with that camera, you will be getting the perfect resolution. Whereas if you use a small DX-format lens with an FX-type camera, the resolution will be smaller. Bigger lens + smaller camera = perfect clarity, while a smaller lens + bigger camera = poor clarity. Get it?
The 5 Best Nikon Lenses
Now I will introduce you to the five best Nikon lenses, each of which offers superior quality over the competition.
This is a perfect lens. The Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens is one of the best wide-angle lenses being offered by Nikon. This thing is lightweight, it is super versatile, and it does not cost you too much money. If you have been looking for the right wide-angle lens to add to your collection, this is the one.
It has a usable focal range of between 10 and 20 millimeters, which is ideal for capturing large panoramas, complex landscapes, interesting architecture, and wide-open interiors. This lens stands out because it is built with optical stabilization, which is the best feature to have when you are shooting with marginal light.
Additionally, this is an AF-P lens, which works to give you quieter and smoother autofocusing. Just keep in mind that this is a new lens, and it won’t work with Nikon DSLR cameras that are too old. They are just not compatible. However, it is great for your new camera. It has vibration reduction technology, a great pulse motor AF system, a minimum focus distance of approximately 22 centimeters, and seven diaphragm blades. Finally, it only weighs 8.2 ounces.
- Vibration Reduction Technology
- Large Focal Range
- Big Aperture Range
- Pulse Motor AF System
- Small Lens
- Maybe Too Lightweight
- Mount is Plastic
The Nikon AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens is definitely on the pricier end of the spectrum. That is only because it is very high quality. In fact, many people claim this is the best travel lens ever designed by Nikon. It offers a massive range of focal lengths in one convenient unit. This is the ideal lens for landscapes, everyday photography, and super zoom. If you are in the stands of sports games and need the best shots, this is an awesome lens for it. The background compression achieved for your portraits is phenomenal.
The best part about this lens is that it takes the place of all your other lenses. If you are traveling and just have a small camera bag, and you don’t want it full of bulky lenses, this is a great product to have. It saves you time because you don’t need to change lenses, and it still allows you to take perfect pictures. When you are zooming to maximum, you can still expect some vignetting and slight distortion, but this is normal.
This lens offers a focal range of between 28 and 30 millimeters, an aperture range of f/3.5 to 4/22, and a minimum focusing distance of 50 centimeters. Additionally, you get a silent wave motor AF system, 9 diaphragm blades, powerful vibration reduction technology, and the entire lens only weighs 28.2 ounces.
- Can Replace Several Other Lenses
- Nikon’s FX-Format
- Incredible Zoom
- Best for Travel
- Increased Protection from Vibration
- Slight Distortion w/ Zoom
- AF Can Be Fussy
This is basically the very top of the mountain when it comes to Nikon lenses. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens is probably the most popular telephoto lens used by professional photographers. This is because the lens is incredibly versatile and comes packed with features. It has automatic and manual priority AF control, sport VR mode, and electronic aperture control. And that is only the start.
This lens comes with the usual vibration reduction technology, but it has a minimum focusing distance of 110 centimeters, an average aperture range of between f/2.8 and 4/22, and a focal range between 70 and 200 millimeters. This is a huge jump up from a $300 lens. The filter thread is 77 millimeters, there are nine diaphragm blades, and you get the sharpest images ever. The only thing you may not enjoy is the 50oz weight that comes with the lens.
But a bit of extra weight is acceptable for what you get, likely the lightning-fast AF system that produces the most remarkable images you have ever taken with your camera. I am talking sharpness and contrast. In fact, this is a dream lens that many people wish they could afford. Because yes, it is that expensive.
- 100% Professional
- Impressive Sharp Images
- Best for Full-Frame Cameras
- Focusing is Unmatched
- Rugged Design
- Can Make Camera Feel Heavy
- Very Expensive
- Steep Learning Curve
No list would be complete without a budget option. This is definitely the most affordable lens on the list, but it is important to add it here anyway. The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Lens may be budget, but it is far from poor quality. In fact, this is a great lens for any portrait photographer to use with their full-frame Nikon camera. The lens is lightweight, and it produces amazing photos with a distortion-free view that looks exactly the same as how you would normally see the world through your own eyes. It’s perfect!
Just keep in mind that this is a large-aperture portrait lens, and it allows you to take advantage of low-light scenes to produce images with amazing blurred backgrounds, which is fantastic for those who appreciate creative effects. It has an aperture range of between f/1.8 and f/22, a minimum focusing distance of 30 centimeters, and a fixed focal length of approximately 35 millimeters.
While this may not come with all the fancy effects of the extremely expensive lenses, it is still great to use with your Nikon camera. Plus, it has a very nice price tag. Weighing only 7 ounces, this is also a very transportable lens. You can keep it on your camera and it barely adds to the overall weight.
- Incredibly Deep & Crisp Photos
- Lightweight, Simple to Carry
- Great for Low-Light Photography
- Well-Designed by Nikon
- Manual Focus + Autofocus
- Budget Lens
- No VR
- Plastic Focus Rings
It feels important to add a lens that costs not too much but not too little. The final lens in this list right in the sweet price range, under $1000 but above $500. The Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Fixed Zoom Lens is definitely a much better version of previous models. In fact, everything about this lens feels reinvented. It has significant improvements in areas like the pulse motor AF system, the electromagnetic diaphragm control, and the new generation of vibration reduction technology.
All of these improvements mean that you get faster and quieter autofocusing, more consistency with your apertures, and much better image stabilization. This lens also features sport VR mode, which allows you to effortlessly track moving targets. This is absolutely critical for wildlife photographers.
- Excellent Image Quality
- Brilliant Autofocus Speed
- Pinpoint Accuracy
- Middle Price Range
- Ideal for Travel & Landscape
- Limited Compatibility
- IQ Could Be Improved
- Low Starting Aperture of f/4.5
It is so hard to pick the best Nikon lens. Each lens fits a certain budget and a certain breed of photographer. If you have a standard full-frame Nikon camera and just want a lens for walking around with, I would definitely go with one of the budget models. Either the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G Lens or the Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens.
Both are lightweight, effective, and much more affordable. These are also the best options for newbies. If you are new to the whole concept of focal ranges, aperture ranges, and autofocus systems, definitely go for a budget lens to learn with.
However, if you are serious about your lenses, one of the other models will fit you better. When it comes to lenses, the more you spend the better features you get. Lenses that cost higher than $2000 are going to be perfect, and far superior compared to a $100 lens. These are the lenses you want if you have a photography business or are shooting for social media platforms.