Amateur Photographer recently rounded up a list of the best Canon lenses to buy and now we’ve found the best Nikon lenses you can get your hands on.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/4 G ED VR
If you want the versatility of a zoom combined with the sharpest possible results, then generally you’ll find yourself looking at premium constant-maximum-aperture options. But if you don’t want to lug around a 1.5kg 70-200mm f/2.8 all day, then you might find that this f/4 version is just the ticket. It’s impressively sharp, with fast autofocus, and the inclusion of third-generation VR technology promises the ability to shoot handheld at shutter speeds four stops slower than would otherwise be possible without. For added reach, the lens is also compatible with Nikon’s 1.4x and 2x teleconverters. An optional RT-1 tripod collar ring is available, but it does cost £189.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR
Sometimes only the very best will do, and when it comes to standard zooms on a full-frame Nikon body, this is it. The latest version of Nikon’s pro workhorse lens adds optical image stabilisation and uses an electromagnetic diaphragm, which provides much-improved functionality when shooting in live view or for video work. With an array of exotic glasses and coatings, it’s designed for use on the latest high-resolution DSLRs such as the 45.7MP D850. It can also be used with DX-format cameras, giving a 36-105mm equivalent range. Super-fast autofocus and top-notch build quality round off a truly excellent package.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
If you’ve outgrown the 18-55mm kit zoom that came when you bought your camera, this might just be the perfect upgrade. It offers a usefully extended zoom range, from 24mm equivalent wideangle to 128mm telephoto, while providing a respectable optical performance that’s aided by a fast ultrasonic-type autofocus motor and built-in image stabilisation. It’s been on the market for almost a decade now, meaning good prices can often be had if you’re prepared to shop around. If you have another £300 to spare, then the AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR represents another step up again, with an even faster maximum aperture and stellar optics.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 G ED VR
Often the first lens DSLR users buy after the 18-55mm that came with their camera is a telephoto zoom. But there’s a huge number to choose from, with Nikon alone offering six for its DX-format SLRs, distinguished only by opaque combinations of letters in their names. The most up-to-date is the AF-P 70- 300mm f/4.5-6.3 VR: a compact, image-stabilised optic with a usefully long zoom range and the latest fast, silent AF-P motor for autofocus, that’s also suitable for video work. Being an AF-P lens, though, it’s not compatible with Nikon DSLRs that were released five years or more ago. So if you use an older model, you’ll need to buy the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G
If you want to take people pictures to another level, then a large-aperture, short-telephoto prime is the way to go. Nikon’s AF-S 85mm f/1.8 is a good quality yet reasonably affordable choice, with fast autofocus and sharp optics. With a nine-bladed circular aperture, it can also provide very attractively blurred backgrounds. The lens is equally suitable for use on full-frame and DX format DSLRs, giving a 135mm view on the latter. To get even better results, you’d need to invest in an 85mm f/1.4, with Sigma’s 85mm f/1.4 Art DG HSM (£999) being a fine example.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR
Nikon users have long been crying out for a lightweight, inexpensive wideangle zoom, and finally it’s arrived in the shape of this 10-20mm lens. Optically it’s OK, if not outstanding, but crucially, its built-in optical stabilisation is extremely useful. Again, though, its AF-P designation means that it only works on relatively recent DSLRS, so check compatibility before you buy. Otherwise this is a great complement to a standard zoom for subjects such as landscapes, interiors and architecture, where you’d like to squeeze as much as possible in the frame.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
Large-aperture prime lenses allow you to shoot indoors without flash, or blur backgrounds for creative effect. Not only is this small 35mm prime the most affordable such option for Nikon DX users, it’s also very sharp. With a view roughly equivalent to a 50mm prime on full-frame, it’s suitable for subjects from street photography to portraits. If you want a lens that will also work on full-frame, you’ll need the similarly-named Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G, but this costs almost three times as much. Other important things to know about this lens are its 30cm minimum focus distance, it accepts filters and adapters via a 52mm thread and accepts Nikon’s HB-46 lens hood.
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
For many years, 50mm primes (or ‘nifty fifties’) were sold as general-purpose lenses with 35mm film cameras, but they fell out of favour for a few decades. Recently, however, there has been a resurgence in their popularity for use with APS-C format DSLRs. They tend to be small, light and relatively cheap, yet very sharp, and perfect for shooting portraits. Nikon’s AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is a classic example of the type, and will also work on full-frame cameras. Don’t confuse it with the cheaper AF 50mm f/1.8D, though, which won’t autofocus on Nikon’s entry-level D3000-series or D5000-series DSLRs. The lens has a 58mm filter thread and a construction of seven elements in six groups.