12 Best Nikon Lenses: 2021 Ultimate Buyer’s Guide

This is a guide covering the best Nikon lenses.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

  • Best overall Nikon lens
  • Best Nikon portrait lens
  • Best Nikon zoom lens
  • Best Nikon macro lens
  • Best Nikon video lens
  • Pros and cons
  • Price
  • Important features
  • And more

Let’s dive in.

12 Best Nikon Lenses

Click/tap on each lens name to jump to that section. At the end of each section, there is also a link to jump back to this table to make it easy for you!

In a hurry? Check out our top pick!

1. NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
– Robust design
– Great image quality
– Perfect for portraits or landscapes
– Has the ability to produce beautiful bokeh

Nikon has many great lenses over the years. And one of the things that make it better than Canon is the fact that their mount never really changed a lot.

Old lenses can still be used on newer models. On top of that, you also get to enjoy cooler results in your image compared to Canon.

We compiled 12 of the best Nikon lenses to help you decide which one to choose on your gear. We’ve made a good mix of wide-angle, portrait, macro, and zoom lenses for you to choose from.

1. NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
BEST ALL-AROUND LENS
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
– Robust design
– Great image quality
– Perfect for portraits or landscapes
– Has the ability to produce beautiful bokeh
2. NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
BEST PORTRAIT LENS
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
– Sharp from f5.6 onwards
– Great bokeh
– Perfect for shooting portraits
– Quiet and accurate autofocus
3. NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
BEST ZOOM LENS
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G
– Versatile lens for different occasions
– Good for macro photography and landscape photography
– With image stabilization
4. NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E
BEST MACRO LENS
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8
– Sharp images
– With image stabilization
– Good range
5. NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED
BEST VIDEO LENS
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G
– Great range for most situations
– Quiet motor perfect for taking photos
– With vibration reduction capacity
6. NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D
NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D
– Good even for low light conditions
– Decent range
– Handy for sports, wildlife, and macro photography
7. NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D
Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D
– Versatile
– Great bokeh
– Ideal for portraits and low light conditions
– Sharp and crisp images
8. NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G
Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G
– Sharp images
– Vibrant colors
– Easy to use with or without a tripod
– Great autofocus
9. NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G
– Sharp images
– Easy to carry around
– Minimal flare and chromatic aberration
– Great for landscape photography even in low light conditions
10. NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED
NIKON 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G
– Versatile range
– Fast autofocus
– Sharp images
– Great for videos
11. NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E
NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E
– Great bokeh
– Does well in shooting landscapes
– Durable construction
12. NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G
NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G
– Wide aperture
– Sharp images for anything from f5.6 and above
– Great for portraits, landscapes, and other scenarios

What is the Best Nikon Lens (Overall)?

1. NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G

If you are going to consider image quality, construction, and versatility, we’ll choose Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens as the best overall lens for Nikon cameras.

It is a good option not only for shooting landscapes but also for portraits. It has a wide aperture that helps you shoot with beautiful bokeh and focus on the subject right in front.

It also comes with a silent wave motor for its AF system. Here, you will be able to focus on your subject and notice just a very subtle noise from the motor.

It’s a good overall lens whether you are into photography or doing video content.

What’s not to like? Not really much. Some find the results to be a bit soft for their taste. Other than this, it is a great lens.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G example image – Source
Pros
  • Robust design
  • Great image quality
  • Perfect for portraits or landscapes
  • Has the ability to produce beautiful bokeh
Cons
  • Some users find the results a bit soft

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What is the Best Nikon Portrait Lens?

2. NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

Just a glance at the best Nikon lenses and you’ll notice a lot of good prime lenses that can be used for portrait photography.

However, we still believe that a 50mm prime lens is king when it comes to portrait photography. That’s why we pick the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens.

It produces crisp and vibrant colors that can be considered a bit on the cold side. Testing it in countless portrait shots, it tends to produce sharp results from F5.6 onwards.

This lens can also produce great bokeh accentuating the subject’s face. However, this lens can also have its downside as it produces softer images once you decide to use wider apertures.

It has a silent wave motor that makes it easy to focus on your subject. This motor also performs quietly making it a good choice for those shooting videos.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G example image – Source
Pros
  • Sharp from F5.6 onwards
  • Great bokeh
  • Perfect for shooting portraits
  • Quiet and accurate AF
Cons
  • Soft with a wider aperture

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Nikon Zoom Lens?

3. NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G

There are instances when the best Nikon lenses are zoom lenses. It can help save you money by having a wide range of focal lengths to play around with.

You can also switch the focal length fast depending on what the situation requires. The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f3.-5.6 zoom lens is a good option for these scenarios.

It’s a favorite among event photographers or those who plan on carrying just one lens for their travel.

However, it is one of those lenses where you might want to have your own flash since the widest that you can have is only at F3.5-5.6. However, it produces sharp results.

Using it without a tripod is also not a problem. It has a VR image stabilization feature that minimizes blurred shots.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED
NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED example image – Source
Pros
  • Versatile lens for different occasions
  • Good for macro photography and landscape photography
  • With image stabilization
Cons
  • You will need an additional light source on some occasions

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What is the Best Nikon Macro Lens?

4. NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8

Having a dependable macro lens can come in handy for those who need to shoot small details on objects. Macro lenses are also handy in food photography.

Instead of picking a prime lens as the best macro lens for Nikon cameras, we decided to pick a zoom lens. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR Lens can be useful in these scenarios with its ability to perform both as a medium and long telephoto lens.

70-200mm is a decent focal length allowing you to zoom in on your subject.

The F2.8 aperture is also something practical even in environments with poor lighting. This lens can also provide a decent bokeh. Plus, it takes sharp photos.

It also has a fast and reliable autofocus. In fact, you don’t need to switch to manual focus to find your target.

However, if you are the type who liked to use manual focus, the focus ring is placed at the far end of the lens. This makes it hard to use when you don’t have a tripod.

NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8
NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E example image – Source
Pros
  • Sharp images
  • With image stabilization
  • Good range
Cons
  • Manual focus is hard to use without a tripod

→ Jump Back to Table

What is the Best Nikon Video Lens?

5. NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G

The best Nikon lenses for photography are not always going to be suited for taking videos. For instance, some lenses have a noisy motor that can disrupt the videos.

In this case, we considered the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G zoom lens as the ideal lens for those who plan on creating video content.

For starters, it has quiet autofocus motor letting users record videos with no disruption whatsoever. Next, it comes with a wide range allowing video creators to go up close or take wide shots.

It even has a vibration reduction capacity tolerating a few shakes. However, does it provide the best optics compared to the other best lenses for Nikon?

Though it can get the job done, many find the results to be a bit soft.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G
NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED example image – Source
Pros
  • Great range for most situations
  • Quiet motor perfect for taking videos
  • With vibration reduction capacity
Cons
  • Results are a bit soft because of the optics

→ Jump Back to Table

6. NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D

NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D

For those who are looking for an all-around lens that they can use for macro photography or shooting subjects from afar.

Perhaps, you are a sports photographer or a wildlife photographer? You will definitely appreciate the Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D zoom lens.

It comes with a great range. This also comes with ED glass elements known for providing sharp and crisp images.

And if you decide to shoot using this lens in low light, the F2.8 is enough to give you your desired results.

For portrait photography, this can blur the background well creating outstanding bokeh.

What’s not to like? Some users complained about the mediocre autofocus. Though it can be precise at times, it also tends to miss a lot.

NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D
NIKKOR 80-200mm f/2.8D example image – Source
Pros
  • Good even for low light conditions
  • Decent range
  • Handy for sports photography, wildlife photography, and macro photography
Cons
  • Autofocus tends to miss a lot

→ Jump Back to Table

7. NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D

We’ve decided to include another 50mm F1.8 lens on our list of best lenses for Nikon. This time around, we are featuring the Nikon AF FX Nikkor 50mm F1.8D lens.

This lens is a favorite by many professional and amateur photographers given the 50mm prime lens’ versatility in different situations.

Unfortunately, not all Nikon cameras can use its autofocus system. Only those that support D-type lenses have the capacity to do so. If you are using a D3000, D5000, or a D40 series, then you are not going to enjoy its autofocus.

Despite the lack of autofocus on some DSLRs, it offers sharp images, great bokeh, plus crisp and vibrant results. It is the ideal lens for shooting portraits even in low light conditions.

NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D
NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D example image – Source
Pros
  • Versatile
  • Great bokeh
  • Ideal for portraits and low light conditions
  • Sharp and crisp images
Cons
  • Not all DSLRs can use its autofocus system

→ Jump Back to Table

8. NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G

Are you passionate about shooting beautiful sceneries or cityscapes and you can’t get enough of wide angle lenses? We all know how expensive prime wide-angle lenses can be.

With the Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 10-20mm f4.5-5.6G VR lens, you get something that can provide sharp images of beautiful landscapes. You can confidently climb buildings and to get the best view of a city. Or perhaps, you can enjoy shooting nature.

It comes with a near-silent autofocus motor which is something that can come in handy if you decide to shoot videos using this lens.

It also has a vibration reduction image stabilization feature that can help lessen wasted shots when you don’t have access to a tripod.

Unfortunately, it is something that you can only use during the daytime. Once you use it at night, it simply becomes useless.

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G
NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G example image – Source
Pros
  • Sharp images
  • Vibrant colors
  • Easy to use with or without a tripod
  • Great autofocus
Cons
  • Not handy at night

→ Jump Back to Table

9. NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G

One of the best Nikon lenses when it comes to landscape photography is the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 20mm F1.8G ED lens.

It is perfect for those instances when you want to shoot street photography, nature, or even cityscapes.

You can also use it even when it’s about to get dark. It comes with its silent wave motor for its autofocus saving you precious time when finding your subject.

This lens is known for providing sharp images with minimal flare and chromatic aberration thanks to its superior quality optics.

It is also lightweight making it easy to carry around in your bag. Though it is one of the best lenses for Nikon cameras, some pros pointed the presence of purple fringing when you go for larger apertures.

NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G
NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED example image – Source
Pros
  • Sharp images
  • Easy to carry around
  • Minimal flare and chromatic aberration
  • Great for landscape photography even in low light conditions
Cons
  • Purple fringing in larger apertures (anything wider than f2.8)

→ Jump Back to Table

10. NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED

NIKON 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G

Looking for an all-in-one lens that you can use in different situations? That’s where the NIKON 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR AF-S Nikkor Lens shines the most.

You get a wide-angle, a portrait, and a medium telephoto lens in one package. It comes with a vibration reduction that helps users minimize blurry shots.

You also get fast and accurate autofocus. Plus it is quite perfect for shooting videos as well.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t give you the best performance in low light scenarios given its F3.5-4.5 aperture.

You might need some flash or other external light source to get the best results when shooting indoors.

NIKON 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G
NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED example image – Source
Pros
  • Versatile range
  • Fast autofocus
  • Sharp images
  • Great for videos
Cons
  • Doesn’t do well in low light scenarios

→ Jump Back to Table

11. NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E

NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E ED lens is another wide-angle lens that comes with a wide aperture. It is another great alternative to your typical 50mm portrait lens.

It even has a wide F1.4 aperture giving users a beautiful bokeh. As a wide-angle lens, it shoots sharp and vibrant photos especially when you use anything from F5.6 to F16.

It also has a durable design making this a favorite by many pros.

And because of its high-performance and robust construction, this lens is among the priciest on our list of best Nikon lenses. Better prepare a $2,000 budget if you decide to go for this lens.

NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4
NIKKOR 28mm f/1.4E example image – Source
Pros
  • Great bokeh
  • Does well in shooting landscapes
  • Durable construction
Cons
  • Pricey for a wide-angle lens

→ Jump Back to Table

12. NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G

NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G

Last on our list is the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens. This lens is a versatile lens that can come in handy in shooting portraits, landscapes, and even cityscapes.

Its wide aperture delivers great bokeh while anything above F5.6 gives you unparalleled clarity and sharpness. Unfortunately, its AF is a bit difficult to use.

Though it gets the job pointing to the subject, it also tends to miss a lot.

NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G
NIKKOR 24mm f/1.8G example image – Source
Pros
  • Wide aperture
  • Sharp images for anything from F5.6 and above
  • Great for portraits, landscapes, and other scenarios
Cons
  • AF tends to miss a lot

→ Jump Back to Table

Final Remarks

Nikon has some of the best lenses in the market. However, some of the best Nikon lenses may not fit your needs.

To get the best deal from your purchase, you will have to take a closer look at your requirements and the results that you want to achieve.

You also want to weigh the pros and the cons to know what to expect from each lens.

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