Find out the best Nikon lens for genres such as Portraiture, Landscape, and Sports Photography. This list applies to Nikon DX SLRs such as the Nikon D3500, D5600, D7500, and D500.
See the best lenses for Nikon FX Full Frame DSLRs.
- Landscape Photography
- Everyday use
- Travel Photography
- Portrait Photography
- Sports Photography
- Wildlife Photography
Best Nikon lens for landscape
The ultra-wide-angle Nikon AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens is a fantastic lens for landscape photography.
With a full-frame equivalent focal length of 15 to 35mm, the AF-P delivers the most popular focal lengths for landscape photography in one affordable, lightweight package. Find out more about Focal Length?
Whilst the older, more expensive AF-S 12-24mm F4G and AF-S 10-24 F3.5-4.5 feature faster apertures, only the cheaper AF-P DX 10-20mm features image stabilization.
Unfortunately, the AF-P’s newer technology only works with cameras including and succeeding the D3400, D5200, and D7100. If you are still shooting with older models such as the Nikon D90, you will need one of the older AF-S lenses instead.
Buy a Nikon AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
Best Nikon lens for everyday use
The Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8 DX is a fixed focal length prime lens providing you with a focal length equivalent of 52mm on a full-frame camera.
With its maximum aperture of F1.8, the Nikon 35mm soaks up to 8 times more light than your Nikon kit lens and its shallow depth of field will enable you to blur your subject’s background into oblivion. Learn more about Aperture
Not only is it optically wonderful, but it is also even smaller than the kit lens whilst delivering far superior image quality. Once you mount this lens to your camera, you may never take it off. See full review here
Buy the Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G DX
Best Nikon lens for Travel
The Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a high performance, fast aperture zoom lens ideal for capturing subjects near and far.
At 16mm (24mm full-frame equivalent), the 16-80mm is a great lens for landscapes and wide group shots, and with a twist of the wrist, you can zoom out to 80mm (120mm full-frame equivalent), ideal for classic portraiture and distant subjects.
Then there is the Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED. Although an older lens, the 17-55mm features a constant F2.8 aperture making it marginally brighter than the 16-80mm and perhaps a better option for portraiture.
However, the 16-80mm features a greater zoom range, and its image stabilization system gives hands the advantage back to the 16-80mm.
As a result. the AF-S 16-80mm is the better do-it-all lens for travel.
Note: The Nikon AF-S 16-80mm features a new electronic diaphragm making it incompatible with older Nikon DSLRs whilst the cheaper Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II Lens works with all Nikon DX DSLRs.
Although the cheaper 18-200mm has plenty of reach, it is optically inferior to the 16-80mm.
Buy the Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR
Best Nikon lens for Portraiture
For weddings and other instances where you are switching between group photos and classic portraiture, the aforementioned Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR or the Nikon AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED are solid choices.
If you are shooting classic portraiture and can control the distance between you and your subject, you are best looking at full-Frame lenses such as the Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G or Nikon AF-S 85mm F1.8G.
Not only are both lenses cheaper than their zoom counterparts, but both primes are also smaller, lighter, and optically superior. With a maximum aperture of F1.8, both lenses can blur backgrounds into oblivion whilst capturing more light in poorly lit conditions.
On a full-frame camera, the 85mm is the better portrait lens. However, the 85mm serves a field of view equivalent to a 127mm lens on a DX camera which is a little long.
Therefore, I recommend the cheaper, smaller 50mm, and its more reasonable equivalent focal length of 75mm. See owners review of Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G
Buy a Nikon AF-S 50mm F1.8G
Best Nikon lens for Sports Photography
The Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is the best sports lens for Nikon F-Mount and one of the most expensive.
Shooting sports usually demands a lens that combines good reach, a bright maximum aperture, and blazing auto-focus speed, and sadly, no single DX lens covers all these bases.
Whilst the Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR delivers a fast aperture, it has limited reach and middling auto-focus, and the Nikon AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR has great reach but features a slow maximum aperture and average auto-focus. Learn more about Shutter Speed
For a while, the Sigma 50-100 F1.8 looked to be a great option with an amazing maximum aperture, okay reach but unreliable auto-focus.
That said, if your sport is slower than most or you shoot in great light, you may be able to get away with cheaper lenses.
However, if you are looking for zero compromises, the costly full-frame Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8 is one of the finest sports lenses ever made.
Buy a Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR
Best Nikon lens for Wildlife Photography
If you like to photograph birds, the super-telephoto Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR will give you a full-frame equivalent focal length of 350mm to an insane 750mm.
The relatively bright F5.6 aperture will help keep your shutter speed high and your ISO’s low. If you would like to know more about ISO, check our guide – what is ISO?
Alternatively, the lightweight Nikon AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G VR ED Lens is an absolute bargain. Offering a full-frame equivalent focal length of 105mm through to 450mm in a compact package weighing just over 400g.
Buy a Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED
Buy a Nikon AF-P DX 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G VR ED
Best lens for Astrophotography
The Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX Lens. Using the ‘500’ rule at its widest setting, the Tokina will enable you to expose for up to 30 seconds through a bright F2.8 aperture whilst its focus clutch makes it easy to move between manual and autofocus.
Furthermore, the Tokina will serve you well as a regular landscape lens though it does lack image stabilization.
Take your first photo of the Milky Way with this step-by-step guide
Buy a Tokina AT-X 11-20mm f/2.8 PRO DX Lens
Best Nikon Lens for Macro Photography
Either the Nikon AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED VR or the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G. Both can reproduce subjects at 1:1 real-world size.
However, choosing between the two lenses is difficult.
Thanks to its long reach, the more expensive 85mm lens allows you to work further away from your subject and less likely to cast a shadow over your subject. And thanks to its image stabilization, you are more likely to end up with a sharp photo.
In contrast, the 45mm is smaller, lighter, and costs less despite featuring a faster, F2.8 maximum aperture. However, its shorter focal length means you will need to get much closer to your subject. And the lack of image stabilization means you are more likely to need a tripod.
Overall, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED VR is the more versatile option so long as you don’t mind the extra weight. Yet, the 40mm remains great value for those on a budget.