The Best Nikon Lenses

The Best Nikon Lenses

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Prices for Nikon lenses recently jumped in the United States by between 8% and 25%. That followed similar increases in Europe, Asia, Austrialia, Canada and, well, pretty much everywhere. Price increases hit especially hard at discounters such as Amazon and Adorama (which will ship worldwide).

Fortunately, the prices for the D60, D90, D300, D3 and D3x camera bodies did not increase. At least not yet. (See our review of the Nikon D80, D90 and D300 for a comparison of those cameras)

With the higher lens prices is more important than ever to shop smart. To that end here’s our review of the best—and best value—Nikon lenses:

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses


nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Best Lenses in the 30mm to 200mm range

Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G

Wow! Sharp, vibrant, and high contrast photos—that’s what makes the 70-200mm f/2.8G one of our favorite lenses for any brand of camera. This lens is rock solid, built entirely of metal and glass except for rubber gaskets. Sadly, it also weighs like it is made of metal, scaling in at 5 pounds. If you are looking for a cheaper, lighter lens in this same focal length consider the reasonably good Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8. But if you seek a professional-quality lens that’s especially adept at sport, theater and high-speed photography, then you won’t mind lugging around the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G. This lens is as good as it gets!

Price Category: Moderate-Expensive   Quality Grade: A+   Value Grade: A-

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G

A superb walking around lens that focuses fast, features image stabilization and takes shots way better than it’s puny price would suggest. This f/4-5.6G might not be as sharp as the f/2.8G (above) but then it weighs 72 ounces less. And costs much less.

Price Category: Very Inexpensive   Quality Grade: B+   Value Grade: A+

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon 105mm f/2.8G

This 105mm is our recommended Nikon lens for macro photography. It is also the only Nikon macro lens with vibration control—we were able to get sharp macro shots with this lens without a tripod, even in low light conditions. The lens with built well, almost entirely of metal, and comes with an excellent storage pouch. Cost wise, it isn’t the cheapest macro lens available. It’s also far from the most expensive. And since you are likely to buy only one macro lens, it may as well be one that can provide the optimal photo quality this one does.

Price Category: Moderate   Quality Grade: A   Value Grade: B

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon 50mm f/1.8D

This is perhaps the best value Nikon lens out there. It is super fast, ideal for low light. The way it draws out details makes it excellent for portrait work too. Every Nikon photography should have this inexpensive gem in their camera bag. Note: There’s a faster f/1.4 version of this lens too but at almost twice the cost we don’t think it’s worth it.

Price Category: Very Inexpensive   Quality Grade: A-   Value Grade: A+

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses


nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Best Lenses below 30mm

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G

The gold standard in Nikon wide angle lenses, this 12-14mm produces photos that are edge-to-edge sharp. The photos are too contrasty (if that’s a word) for some tastes, but we love the details revealed by this lens’s two extra-low dispersion elements. The Nikon 14-24mm also features an especially nimble auto focus and Nano Crystal Coat that greatly minimizes ghosting.

Price Category: Moderate-Expensive   Quality Grade: A-   Value Grade: B

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 EX

For a wide angle lens this gem from Sigma has such an interesting focal length range. We occasionally wish it extended higher than 20mm but love the fish angle effects. And it takes photos as sharp and vibrant as the Nikon 12-24mm f/4G ED for half the price.

Price Category: Inexpensive   Quality Grade: B+   Value Grade: A

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon 28mm f/3.5 PC

Do you grudgingly admit the advantages of shooting in digital but long for the days of big, manual film cameras? This is your lens: no auto focus or schmancy features. Simply the best shaped glass humans are capable of cutting, old school.

Price Category: Expensive   Quality Grade: A-   Value Grade: C+

Buy From: USA & CANADA | GERMANY

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Best Lenses above 200mm

Sigma 200-500 f/2.8 APO

The good news is: The best telephoto lens for the Nikon line of digital SLRs is made by Sigma and so may not see a price increase on February 1st. The bad news: How much higher than the price get? Listing at $35,000 (but selling on Amazon at a $9,500 discount) this is the only telephoto we know of capable of an f2.8 aperture at 500mm. And with a dedicated attachment, this Sigma can auto-focus up to 1000mm. Add in three ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glass elements and meticulous craftsmanship and you have the best lens available for taking on a safari along with your Nikon.

Price Category: Really, Really Expensive   Quality Grade: A+   Value Grade: D-

Buy From: USA & CANADA | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon 200-400mm f/4G

Everything about this lens seems built for wildlife and sports photography, including its two VR modes (one normal and the other active for fast motion shots), four extra-low dispersion elements and fast auto focus ability. Spot Cool Stuff is going on safari in April and this is the lens we are bringing.

Price Category: Expensive   Quality Grade: A   Value Grade: B

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G

If the Sigma 200-500 f/2.8 (above) is the best telephoto lens when money is no object, then this Nikon 70-300mm is your choice when money is the central object. For a remarkably low cost you get a lens that maintains very good optics across a remarkably wide focal range. We did find the auto-focus on this lens to be a bit slow, but then you’d rather skimp on that than on picture quality. And the picture quality on this 70-300mm is excellent. Not surprisingly, Nikon has targeted this lens for one of its larger percentage Feb 1st price increases.

Price Category: Moderate-Inexpensive   Quality Grade: B+   Value Grade: A

Buy From: USA & CANADA | UK | GERMANY | JAPAN | FRANCE

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses


nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses
nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses

Related posts:
Nikon D80 vs D90 vs D300
Megapixels To Photo Print Size Ratio
Best Camera Backpacks

Do you have a favorite Nikon lens? Or a question about which lens to buy? Focus your attention on your comments section:

nikon 2 lens reviews  The Best Nikon Lenses


Responses

  1. Ellen says:

    January 25th, 2013at 11:13 am(#)

    The Sigma lens may be outrageously expensive, but the review comments about it on Amazon are priceless. Seriously, check them out…there are some very very funny people out there.

    [Reply to this comment]

  2. Brian Bannerman says:

    May 23rd, 2011at 3:40 pm(#)

    $35,000 for that lens? It is a nice lens but holy Jesus man, who can afford that? I think I’ll go out an buy the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII. For a mere $2200 it now seems like a bargain. And I was thinking it was too expensive. I guess I should have stuck to collecting Hotwheels cars for a hobby!

    [Reply to this comment]

  3. Jerry West says:

    September 7th, 2009at 3:22 am(#)

    You left out my favorite lens – the 16-85mm………I have purchased the 50 1.8, the 105 and the 70-300 and love them all.

    Thanks for all of your work!

    [Reply to this comment]

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