So you’re a budding photographer with a Nikon DSLR camera body, and you are looking to buy your first non-kit lens? Or maybe you want to add a lens to your already growing quiver of photography glass?
- 0.0.1 The Glass Itself
- 0.0.2 The Lens Speed
- 0.0.3 The Design
- 0.0.4 Prime vs. Zoom
- 0.0.5 Closest Focal Distance
- 0.0.6 So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in and take a look at what’s on offer for the best Nikon lenses on the market today!
- 1 Top 11 Best Nikon Lenses In 2020 Review
- 1.1 1 Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E EDIF VR Lens – USA Warranty – Bundle Pack
- 1.2 2 Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM for Nikon
- 1.2.1 Ok, lets quickly go over what the abbreviations in the name mean…
- 1.2.2 The magnesium alloy barrel is lightweight and sturdy…
- 1.2.3 To provide excellent correction of color aberration, ten exclusive low-dispersion glass elements are incorporated…
- 1.2.4 If you are looking for a third party lens with even stronger zoom capabilities, check out the next on the list!
- 1.3 3 Sigma 745-306 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM for Nikon
- 1.4 4 Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
- 1.4.1 Are you looking for a single lens that you can take with you wherever you go, and one that is versatile and sturdy enough for the job?
- 1.4.2 If you answered yes, then take a peek at the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR II…
- 1.4.3 Some notable improvements…
- 1.4.4 Often derided as the “‘jack of all trades, master of none,” we just simply cannot agree…
- 1.5 5 Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon APS-C for Nikon
- 1.6 6 Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art Series Lens for Nikon
- 1.7 7 Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED with Vibration Reduction
- 1.8 8 Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras
- 1.9 9 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
- 1.10 10 Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD
- 1.11 11 Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon cameras
- 2 Before We Announce Our Top Pick
- 3 Final Thoughts On The Best Nikon Lenses
Well, look no further as we present the best Nikon lenses and third-party offerings available to photographers right now…
That’s right, while Nikon’s own-brand optics are some of the best on the market, it doesn’t always mean they are the best buy for the job.
Depending on your photography wants and needs, the best lens for you may not be Nikon branded at all. With third party heavy hitters such as Tamron and Sigma picking up their game in the past few years and producing top-shelf glass that can fit any Nikon body, you are no longer restricted to using Nikon priority lenses.
If budget is a consideration…
Be assured that these third party offerings are certainly worth your consideration, and choosing one will usually reduce the strain on the old hip pocket!
We are going to look at lenses that work for both DX-format lenses (APS-C) and FX-format lenses (full-frame) cameras. Please keep in mind that while you can use DX-format lenses on FX-format bodies, a 1.5x crop will be applied.
But what exactly makes a great lens? Well, a few things actually…
The Glass Itself
This comes in varying degrees of quality and durability. The best glass will have high tolerances, top-grade materials, and the best coatings.
The Lens Speed
Also known as the maximum aperture. This is represented by the letter ‘f’ followed by a number. The lower the number, the wider the aperture. This has two advantages: a shallow depth of field, resulting in that blurred background effect (also known as bokeh), and the ability to shoot in low light.
Not all lenses are created equally, and as highly precise pieces of equipment, even the smallest of aberrations in design or manufacturing can result in massive problems. Best to stick with reputable manufacturers when purchasing bespoke equipment like this.
Prime vs. Zoom
While zoom lenses have their advantages, most will still agree that prime lenses (lenses with a fixed focal length) will outperform them in terms of image quality.
Closest Focal Distance
Higher priced lenses will usually come with the advantage of being able to come very close to the subject while shooting.
These points apply to all styles of lenses, from fisheye to telephoto…
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive right in and take a look at what’s on offer for the best Nikon lenses on the market today!
Top 11 Best Nikon Lenses In 2020 Review
1 Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E EDIF VR Lens – USA Warranty – Bundle Pack
The Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm has been designed for use on any of Nikon’s widely popular entry-level DLSR camera bodies and is the perfect lens to help you reach those hard to see subjects.
Ideal for a range of photography styles, this will take your sport, travel, and wildlife photos to a whole new level…
This version has a super effective VR (Vibration Reduction) stabilizing system, which makes a huge difference when it comes to the effects of camera shake, allowing for much more engaging and satisfying handheld use.
Designed to be compact and lightweight compared to many of its direct competitors, Nikon has done a fantastic job of cutting away the fat without sacrificing quality. The quick and accurate AF-P autofocus motor is combined with 4+ stop image stabilization, which only strengthens handheld usage options.
The included ED glass aids in the overall high-quality output of this lens.
Hold on, what is ED glass?
Extra-low Dispersion (ED) and Super ED glass help in fixing or correcting optical color defects caused by different light wavelengths converging at different points after passing through optical glass.
In days past, calcium fluorite crystals were used to correct this problem…
But this temperature-sensitive substance had one big downside – the tendency to crack easily. So the scientists over at Nikon created ED glass, which offers all the benefits, but with a heap of added strength when compared to calcium fluorite-based glass.
Don’t forget that this is a bundle pack…
Included with the lens are a 67mm Filter Kit (UV/CPL/ND), a lens case, a cleaning kit, a cap leash, and Nikon’s incredible extended warranty; one year international, plus a four-year extension for customers in the USA.
The one downside we found during testing was the vignetting when shooting at or near infinity. This wasn’t super obvious or pronounced but worth noting.
- VR stabilizer.
- ED glass element.
- Able to focus on subjects within 3.3 ft (1 meter).
- Great AF motor setup.
- Huge range.
- Vignetting at infinite focal length.
2 Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX OS HSM for Nikon
Sigma has been making the 70-200mm lenses for over a decade now,
with three successive models since the original hit the market. The company that can trace its roots back to the world-leading university Caltech, obviously thought it was time to start from scratch as, although this lens shares its title with previous models, that’s where the comparisons end. And boy, have Sigma done an absolutely fantastic job or what!
Ok, lets quickly go over what the abbreviations in the name mean…
“EX” refers to Sigma’s professional-grade prime lenses and wide-aperture zoom lenses. “OS” is shorthand for Optical Stabiliser. This is the first lens from a third party maker to include image-stabilized fast telephoto zoom. “HSM” stands for HyperSonic Motor, referring to the totally redone AF motor, which is sure to please a wide range of users.
The magnesium alloy barrel is lightweight and sturdy…
This helps create a highly-effective dust and splash-proof structure. And, with special sealing at the mount connection, manual focus ring, zoom ring, and cover connection, the option to work in all types of weather is widened. The front and rear glass pieces are coated in water and oil-repellent coating. This allows water to be wiped away easily and totally stops oil and fat from sticking to the glass.
To provide excellent correction of color aberration, ten exclusive low-dispersion glass elements are incorporated…
Similar to Nikon’s ED Glass in structure and use, this helps you produce the best shots possible now and in the future. By optimizing spherical aberration, a soft and natural bokeh effect is produced, ensuring this lens is perfect for portrait photography close or far. But this is not just handy for portrait photography. Oh no, the 70-200mm lens is an essential lens for all types of shooting, from news to sports and even landscape photography.
- Pro-grade, all-weather build.
- Internal zoom.
- Built-in image stabilization.
- Integrated tripod collar with Arca foot.
- Amazing picture quality.
- Cheap compared to associated Nikon lens.
- Not quite as sharp at 200mm as at 70mm
If you are looking for a third party lens with even stronger zoom capabilities, check out the next on the list!
3 Sigma 745-306 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM for Nikon
Coming from the same line of lenses as our previous listing, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM is the first hyper-telephoto zoom in this line of lenses, and is just as (if not more so) impressive!
The simple idea of being able to reach 600mm with a budget lens is new…
Up until quite recently, these lenses would cost upward of $10,000. But those days are over, with the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM costing less than a tenth of that!
Sporting the same combo of the HyperSonic motor AF system and image stabilizing as the Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8, this one offers an even more impressive range.
In terms of glass coating, one FLD element and three SLD elements are used…
This helps to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations through the entire zoom range. A “Super Multi-Coating” has been added, which also helps in pushing back ghosting and flare. This aids contrast and color accuracy when working in harsh lighting conditions.
Construction materials and the design are similar to the last listing…
The body is constructed from what Sigma calls a “Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material” for greater precision and use in wide temperature ranges. Additionally, the fully brass fitting ensures improved mounting accuracy and rigidity. This dust and splash-proof design make for comfortably shooting in all weather conditions.
What else is on offer here?
We loved the addition of the zoom lock, which is put in place to prevent accidental and unwanted zoom adjustments at any desired focal length. This lens is primarily designed for FX-format Nikon F-mount cameras. However, it can just as easily be used with DX models, where it provides a 225-900mm equivalent focal length range.
- Rotating tripod collar.
- Aperture Range: f/5 to f/22.
- Amazing picture quality.
- Cheap compared to associated Nikon lens.
- Pro-grade, all-weather build.
4 Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
Are you looking for a single lens that you can take with you wherever you go, and one that is versatile and sturdy enough for the job?
If you answered yes, then take a peek at the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G ED VR II…
With the inbuilt capacity for up to 11.1x zoom, it can handle all types of photography, from wide-angle shots at the start of the focal length, like group photos or landscape photography, all the way to the end of the focal range for action-stopping close-ups.
Nikon’s propriety VR II (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization provides up to 4 stops of shake and blur-free handheld shooting, which in turn ensures much clearer photos and HD videos.
Some notable improvements…
The new redesign has made much-welcomed improvements, with zoom creep now at a minimum. Zoom creep is when the lens slides forward as the camera is tilted forward. Nikon has also added a zoom lock switch, which we always like to see.
Often derided as the “‘jack of all trades, master of none,” we just simply cannot agree…
The minimum focal range sits at just 50 centimeters (about 1.5 ft), the maximum aperture is f/3.5-5.6, and the autofocus motor is extremely efficient. The whole thinking behind the design and purchasing of such a lens is so the user never misses a shot and can travel light, and that is exactly what this lens brings to the table.
Yes, a prime 50mm lens will probably yield better image results at that length, but this sort of lens is so much more versatile. And we really doubt you will be complaining about image quality here!
- Fast, silent autofocus.
- Effective vibration reduction.
- Huge 11.1x focal length range.
- Unrivaled versatility.
- Sturdy construction.
- Not as sharp at 200m as it is at 18mm.
5 Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon APS-C for Nikon
The Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens is setting a new standard for excellence in ultra-wide-angle lenses. The class-leading 10-24mm focal length range (the 35mm equivalent of 16-37mm) is combined with groundbreaking Tamron technology like vibration compensation, a fluorine coating, a moisture-resistant coating, and the all-new high/low torque-modulated drive.
The massive, rock-solid aspherical lens and low dispersion lens elements deliver top quality resolution across the entire zoom length. Tamron has coated this lens in their very own BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating, which helps to suppress reflection and dispersion on the lens surface and increases overall light transmission.
Seriously impressive performance makes this a real contender for our winner of the best Nikon lenses reviews…
The VC technology makes handheld, wide-angle shooting a total breeze even in low-light environments where other, lesser lenses would simply not perform. This is coupled with a re-imagined high/low torque-modulated drive AF system. With its next-level drive power and stability, the HLD is more than capable of easily controlling the AF mechanism with speed and precision.
Outstanding water and grease repellant coatings…
The front and back lens surfaces are coated with an ultra-protective fluorine mix that is an outstanding water and grease repellant. This makes cleaning the lens surface much easier and helps protect the glass from the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture, and fingerprints. For greater protection when taking photos in bad weather conditions, Tamron has installed leak-proof seals throughout the lens barrel.
So, what are you waiting for?
If you are looking to add an ultra-wide zoom lens to your kit, then we strongly suggest taking a long, hard look at this lens. It’s much cheaper than the comparable Nikon lenses, while still bringing great results to the table. This is, doubtlessly, one of the best Nikon compatible lenses.
- Ultra-wide spectrum.
- Fluorine coating.
- Dust and moisture resistant design.
- Great image stabilization.
- Excellent in low light.
- Dim corners and some distortion at times.
6 Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art Series Lens for Nikon
Next up, we have our top pick for in Sigma’s range of ultra-wide lenses, the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM. Just like the Tamron 10-24mm from our previous review, this gorgeously designed piece of tech seriously undercuts Nikon in terms of price. And it does it without sacrificing any of the usability of the product or quality of the output.
Seriously impressive technology at a low price…
The unique, propriety 9-blade rounded diaphragm helps in creating an attractive blur in the out-of-focus areas of the image. This, coupled with the huge f2.8, helps not only in low light conditions but also in producing the highest quality photography work.
Just like SIGMA’s Sports line lenses, some of which we looked at earlier, the Sigma 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM Art Series lens features a hugely-effective dust and splash-proof structure and coating with special sealing at the manual focus ring, cover connection, zoom ring, and mount connection to give a further boost to the ruggedness of this lens.
Now you can work in all types of weather without worrying about the lifetime of the lens…
In addition, the front of the lens is protected by an oil and water repellent coating that makes wiping and cleaning a total breeze.
Image quality is truly second to none here. All chromatic aberrations are handled with ease, the bokeh is surprisingly good despite the inherent downsides of ultra-wide-angle lenses, and barrel distortion is almost non-existent.
- Top of the line image quality.
- Value for money.
- Ultra-wide field of view.
- Outstanding sharpness.
- Wide aperture.
- No support for front filters.
7 Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED with Vibration Reduction
Take your photography to the next level with the state-of-the-art Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR lens. Featuring a speedy f/2.8-4 aperture, VR image stabilization, and Nikon’s very own highly-advanced lens technology, it covers the portrait view to a wide-angle range without ever compromising the brilliant image quality.
Industrial-grade polycarbonate construction…
The new NIKKOR 16-80 f/2.8-4 is crafted from industrial grade, solid as a rock polycarbonate. The previous-gen of NIKKOR lenses were made from metal, and while that does afford a feeling of reliability rarely seen with plastic, they were unbelievably heavy.
This new design has a satin texture that makes the plastic body feel solid and sturdy, and although not made from the most inherently strong material, we had no worries when using this in all weather conditions.
The optical design is surprisingly complex…
This includes 13 groups holding 17 elements. Included are four extra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical Nikon proprietary elements. These elements have been coated with a Nano Crystal Coat to help reduce any ghosting and flare issues. Adding to this, the front and rear glass integrate a fluorine coating to make cleaning super easy.
The maximum aperture changes with focal length are f/2.8 at 16mm and f/4 at 80mm, making this an excellent choice for not just landscape but also portrait and still life photography.
- Compact and light.
- Sharp and clean image quality.
- Great inbuilt VR.
- Expanded reach.
- Some edge softness.
8 Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Close-up Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras
The Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8 is the first prime lens we are featuring today.
Wait, whats a prime lens again?
The term “Prime” or “Fixed” lens is short for a fixed focal length lens. This, simply put, means that it is a lens that only provides users with one focal length, meaning it doesn’t zoom at all.
But why would you want this?
Prime lenses usually offer the highest level of edge-to-edge sharpness for their budget, and top speed maximum apertures. This equates to better depth of field control, and performance in low lighting conditions.
Making it an affordable macro lens…
What we have here is, to put it in simple terms, the best consumer-grade lens for people looking for an affordable macro lens with outstanding output characteristics. For its low asking price, the quality it delivers is purely fantastic. This is a true macro lens, supporting a maximum reproduction ratio of 1 to 1, and providing a focal length the same as 60mm in 35mm format.
Not always the greatest for landscape shooting, but why would it be?
When used for its intended purpose, this lens outshines the competition. The sharpness and clarity from the center to corner is out of this world, and many of the images of insects and other medium-size objects came out razor sharp with vibrant, popping colors.
Anyone looking to shoot up close is going to love this lens, and wonder how they ever lived without it!
- Hip pocket friendly.
- Compact and rugged.
- 1:1 Magnification.
- No inbuilt stabilizer.
9 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
Ok, you know how we mentioned that prime lenses can be incredibly inexpensive? Well, this is the lens we were thinking directly about when making that statement! If you don’t have this lens in your kit bag, stop what you are doing right now, click here, and buy it!
We are serious…
This is truly a life-changing lens. Priced to be available to the masses, with one of the widest maximum apertures on the market, and truly superb performance, this was a revolutionary lens when it was first released.
And it still is today…
This is a must-have for anyone interested in increasing their portrait and everyday shooting skills. The 50mm focal length is perfectly combined with a fast f/1.8 aperture, allowing you to shoot amazingly clear images with that shallow depth-of-field everyone is looking for.
Nikon’s new Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology converts’ traveling waves’ into rotational energy to focus the optics. This helps generate high-speed autofocusing that’s not only accurate but also super quiet.
All the bells and whistles you would expect from a Nikon lens are on full display here…
Like switching from automatic to manual focusing with virtually no lag time, Nikon’s super integrated coating and an aspherical lens, which minimizes coma and other types of lens aberrations, even when used at the widest aperture.
There’s really not much else to say. We are being totally upfront when we say you need this lens in your camera bag yesterday!
- Cheapest prime lens on the market.
- Amazing quality.
- f/1.8 aperture.
- Nikon’s super integrated coating.
- Super lightweight and sturdy.
- None. Go buy this today!
10 Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD
The stunning Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD is the newest addition to a long line of Tamron SP 90mm macro lenses. With all the best features from previous designs and a bunch of cool new concepts, it redefines what we thought was possible when it comes to macro optical performance.
Less than one second from the closest possible focus to infinity…
The Tamron 90mm has an updated electric motor that Tamron term the “Ultrasonic Drive.” And the name is not false, with focusing taking less than one second to slide from the closest possible focus to infinity. This makes it much faster than the last (non-VC) version of this lens. The minimum focus distance is super low here at about 1 ft (30cm), which helps this lens truly excel when used in macro mode.
Tamron’s freshly released eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating has improved the antireflection performance significantly. During our test period, flare and ghosting were never an issue with the final product staying clear and crisp in most lighting conditions.
The incorporation of an IF (Internal Focus) system is also a key improvement. This system works by focusing the internal lens glass only, rather than the front lens elements. This helps ensure a wide working distance from whatever you are shooting by not changing the overall dimensions when using IF.
- Internal Focus system.
- No distortion.
- 1:1 Macro magnification.
- 1 ft (30 cm) Minimum focus distance.
- Dim corners in low light when using wide apertures.
11 Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon cameras
Have you been dreaming of taking the best quality portrait shots, but your current lenses aren’t cutting it? Need a new arrow in your quiver, capable of producing truly pro-level shots?
Ok, we hear you loud and clear…
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon cameras is the single most impressive third party prime lens we have ever tested.
And the reason it is taking top marks from every reviewer under the sun is simple…
In all the important categories, this lens beats anything similar that Nikon (and Canon for that matter) are producing right now. And it’s not just handy for portrait photography either. It also truly excels at low light event shooting, street photography, and architecture photography.
The ridiculously fast f/1.4 aperture and nine aperture blades combine to produce a bokeh of the highest magnitude, and the redesigned HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) delivers 1.3 times the speed of its older siblings, which in practice meant that we could refocus in an instant.
With the new Art Series comes new toys…
The USB dock on all the new SIGMA Art lenses can be fine-tuned to compliment any and all photographers. The propriety SIGMA Optimization Pro software enables easy updates for the lens firmware, and you can optimize many aspects of the lens performance.
This lens does not come cheap, but when compared to other similar lenses, it is still a steal!
- Versatile as can be.
- Best-in-class image quality and price.
- f/1.4 Aperture.
- Beautiful bokeh.
- Outstanding sharpness.
- Voted best prime lens on the market.
- Harsh lighting conditions do not work well at f/1.4.
Before We Announce Our Top Pick
If you enjoyed this review, you might also be interested in our Best Tripods Reviews, our Best Camera Backpack Reviews, our Best Memory Card for Camera Reviews, our Best Mirrorless Cameras Reviews, and our Best Waterproof Camera Reviews.
Back to Nikon lenses…
Final Thoughts On The Best Nikon Lenses
Ok, now for the hardest part of the job, choosing a winner. We debated this for hours in the office, with many different opinions making this an even harder task. One thing we could all agree on was that if you still haven’t got the…Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
… then that should be top of the list!
But, without further ado, our pick for the best Nikon lens of all goes to the…Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens for Nikon cameras
No other lens performs as well as this one, and for our personal photography needs, it ticks all the boxes.
So, what are you hanging around for? Go grab a deal today!