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Cameras

Best Nikon Lenses

Nikon is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cameras and lenses. They have been in business for almost 100 years, thanks to superior craftsmanship in their products. Some Nikon lenses are also referred to as Nikkors. Nikkor is a special brand within Nikon that has been manufacturing their very best lenses since the 1930s. As the company has grown, so has their reputation for quality, and today the majority of lenses manufactured by Nikon bear the distinct Nikkor name. There are a lot of lenses available for Nikon SLR cameras but here are the very best ones.

Nikon 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye Nikkor Lens

Nikon's 10.5mm offers the look of a rectangular fisheye without getting too extreme. This lens, however, performs even at close ranges—as close as 5.5 inches (1.2 inches from the lens front). And when used for macro shots, the fast f2.8 aperture will leave images with a nice depth of field. A seven blade rounded diaphragm helps prevent further distortion of the out-of-focus elements. Along with the close focusing, this lens also has a 180 degree view. Nikon has also included their Close Range Correction system that helps ensure close subjects are crisp and in focus.

Nikon 16mm f/2.8D AF Fisheye Nikkor Lens

This 16mm from Nikon won't have as much distortion as shorter fisheye lenses, and still offers that 180 degree perspective. The fast f2.8 aperture means images are bright, yet still full of contrast, thanks to four filters at the back of the lens. The fast aperture and seven blade diaphragm should give photos a nice depth of field. Nikon has also included their Close Range Correction system into this design, so subjects are crisp and focused. With a minimum focus distance of just under ten inches, this lens works with macro shots as well.

Sigma 10mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM Fisheye Lens for Nikon Digital Cameras

Sigma's 10mm f2.8 is an excellent fisheye lens with a 180 degree perspective and a wide aperture. Subjects can be as close as .7 inches from the very front of the lens, thanks to the 5/3” minimum focusing distance and 1:3.3 magnification. And while most fisheye lens don't allow for filters, a gelatin holder at the back of the lens still allows for colored filters. A built-in hood combined with lens coatings helps to reduce flare and ghosting. Sigma also designed this lens with a seven blade aperture and a quiet autofocus motor. Sigma is also an excellent option for saving a few bucks on equipment.

Rokinon FE8M-N 8mm F3.5 Fisheye Lens for Nikon

The 8mm gets you an ultra wide perspective and that distorted look that fisheyes are known for. The trade-off is that the lens isn't quite as fast, but it is still an excellent option and sits at a nice price. Rokinon has included special programming so that this lens is compatible with autofocus (depending on the camera model) and features like focus confirmation. But, if you plan to use manual focus anyways, you can save about $20 by getting that option without the chip. This lens has a hood built in, as well as special coatings to cut back on glare and ghosting. The minimum focusing distance is a foot, which isn't bad, but there are better macro fisheye options out there.

Tokina 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 ATX Pro DX Fisheye Lens

The fact that this fisheye is a zoom allows the user to adjust just how exaggerated the fisheye effect is. At the maximum 17mm, this lens is an ultra wide angle, but at the lowest 10mm it's a nice fisheye. The zoom means that the lens isn't as fast as other lenses in the same price range, but it's still an excellent option, particularly when the versatility of a zoom is welcomed. The zoom gets you an angle of view from about 180 degrees to 100. This lens also has nice macro capabilities, with a 5.5 inch minimum focusing distance. Overall, this Tokina is an excellent choice.

Nikon 40mm f/2.8G AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor Lens

This inexpensive, jack-of-all trades lens focuses as close as 6.4 inches away from the subject, making it an excellent choice for macro photography. Details like texture will pop with the 1:1 magnification ratio. The f2.8 aperture and seven-blade diaphragm allows for a nice, soft blur in the background of those close-ups. The autofocus is quiet, and a side switch allows for easy transition to manual for when perfect fine tuning is needed. Nikon's superior integrated coatings are included as well. All of these features come in a very compact size; this lens weighs just under 10 ounces.

Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD Lens for Nikon

Tamron's 90mm macro lens allows you to put more distance between your camera and your subject while still achieving the 1:1 magnification to pick up all those tiny details. When zooming in close on a subject, camera shake is much more noticeable, so Tamron has added a vibration reduction system to this model. With internal focus, the lens won't change length as it focuses, so the distance between the lens and subject remains the same—an important feature, particularly when using manual focus, in macro photography. The nine blade f2.8 aperture creates a soft, bokeh effect in the background. This lens also features coatings to minimize ghosting, extra dispersion elements, a quiet autofocus motor and a moisture resistant design. The extra features, however, do come with a higher price tag and a bit more bulk at about 19 ounces.

Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8D Lens

This 60mm features Nikon's Close Range Correction system to help ensure sharply focused images even at close ranges. When even more fine tuning is necessary, a A/M focus switch allows for quick switches. With a minimum focusing distance of 8 3/4 inches, this lens is perfect for macro work, as well as other types of photography including portraits. The 1:1 reproduction ratio means images will de detailed and life-sized. The f2.8 aperture and seven blade diaphragm will help to produce a soft, defocused background. This lens is also compact and weighs less than a pound.

Nikon 85mm f/3.5G AF-S DX ED VR Micro Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

The Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f3.8G ED VR Lens includes a long list of features that make it excellent for macro work. With a minimum focus distance of 11.26 inches and a 85mm zoom, images are captured at that 1:1 ratio that means exceptionally detailed close-ups. Camera shake is more noticeable at the macro level, so Nikon has included their latest image stabilization system, VRII. The internal focus means that the distance between the lens and subject doesn't change as the camera focuses and filters and hoods also stay in place. The minimum aperture of f3.5 is a bit higher, but the nine blade diaphragm should still help create a decent depth of field. And like most of Nikon's top lenses, this one includes a quiet autofocus motor, extra-low dispersion elements and integrated lens coatings.

Sigma 70mm EX DG Lens for Nikon

By looking at a reputable off-brand company like Sigma, you can find a solid mid-range telephoto with macro capabilities and a fairly low aperture for a nice price. The 70mm focal length and a minimum focusing distance of about 10 inches allow for 1:1 macro shots. The f2.8 minimum aperture and nine blade diaphragm allows you to create a soft background behind your subject. The lens weighs 1.16 pounds, but is less than four inches long. Image stabilization isn't included, but the lens sits at an excellent price for the features.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens

The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens is a very fast lens. With a minimum f1.8 aperture, this lens is excellent for creating a bokeh effect in portraits or for taking low light images at faster shutter speeds. The design also helps reduce lens flare and aberration. Nikon has used their quiet autofocus motor in this lens. An outside switch allows for easily changing from auto to manual focus. And with a 1.48 inch minimum focusing distance, this lens can also be used for extreme close ups. Weighing only 6.6 ounces, the lens is a nice addition that won't weigh down your camera bag. This lens is a DX format lens for Nikon's smaller DSLRs.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AF-S Standard Lens

Using a DX lens on a full frame DSLR introduces a crop factor—which takes away the benefit of using full frame. While the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens is the best lens for DX format cameras, the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Fixed Lens is the best option for full frame Nikon cameras. The f1.4 aperture means superior speed, which translates into an excellent depth of field range and superior low light performance. And of course this lens has all of Nikon's top coatings, a quiet autofocus motor and a auto/manual focus switch. The lens weighs less than 10 ounces and is just over two inches long.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor f1.4 85mm Portrait Lens

Designed specifically for portraits, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor f1.4 85mm lens is an exceptional fixed lens for when people are your primary subjects. The f1.4 aperture means that the background will appear soft while the subject is clear and bright. The 85mm length is a comfortable shooting distance that won't leave your subject feeling overcrowded. This lens uses internal focus with a quiet motor and a nine blade diaphragm and Nikon's superior coatings. This lens is also an FX lens so there's no cropping on a full frame camera, but it's compatible with DX format models as well. The more advanced features, however, do come at a higher price point.

Nikon Telephoto AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF Autofocus Lens

Telephoto zoom lenses that are as fast as f1.4 cost several thousand dollars. The Nikon Telephoto AF Nikkor 85mm f1.4D IF Autofocus Lens offers telephoto capabilities all for around $1,000. The internal focus paired with the f1.4 aperture means this lens is great for action shots. The diaphragm is designed with extra blades for crisper, more detailed images. Nikon has included their quiet autofocus motor and superior lens coatings as well. This lens is compatible with both full format and DX style bodies, and works with film as well as digital.

Nikon PC-E Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED Lens

Sometimes, distortion is introduced by the perspective used when photographing architecture and nature. The Nikon PC-E Nikkor 45mm f/2.8D ED Lens includes a unique perspective control tilt function that eliminates the distortion. The ED glass lens means images are sharp and the color is accurate. Nikon also included their superior lens coatings to reduce ghosting. The extra tilt and distortion control features, however, do come at a price. And beware, this lens only comes with manual focus.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

If you can only bring one zoom lens with your Nikon DSLR, this one is it. Covering a range from wide angle to telephoto and even close-ups from 18 inches away, the Nikkor 28-300mm lens is an excellent all-purpose lens for scenarios that don't allow the time to swap lenses between shots. A nine-blade aperture creates an excellent bokeh effect at wide apertures. Compatible with both FX and DX Nikon DSLRs, upgrading your camera won't mean you have to upgrade the lens. Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) II is included, a must for such a long zoom. Both a zoom lock and focus mode switch are also part of this lens. The trade-off for such a versatile lens, however, is the speed (a f3.5 aperture doesn't let in as much light for using faster shutter speeds) and weight. This lens also has a higher price tag, but takes the place of buying several different lenses.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II Telephoto Lens

The downside to using zoom lenses is that speed is sacrificed. This Nikkor 200mm fixed lens has a f2.0 aperture, which is excellent for capturing action in less-than-ideal lighting conditions. Of course, getting both a solid zoom and a low aperture comes at a rather hefty price, but this lens is an excellent option for professionals with a larger gear budget. Nikon has included all their top options in this lens, including vibration reduction and a quiet autofocus motor as well as their top quality glass and coatings. As an added bonus, this lens includes Memory Recall, for saving frequently used settings.

Nikon Telephoto AF DC Nikkor 105mm f/2.0D Autofocus Lens

Most enthusiasts can't afford to spend five grand on a telephoto lens that's also fast. Nikon's Telephoto AF DC Nikkor 105mm lens is a good alternative, for about a fifth of the cost. This lens only has about half the zoom of the 200mm option, but the shorter focal range means vibration reduction isn't as essential, which makes this model significantly more budget friendly. While the lens doesn't include vibration reduction, it does include a defocus control, which allows for a wider range of results when looking for a bokeh effect. The lens also weighs less than 1.5 pounds, which makes it a nice option for traveling light.

Tamron SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Nikon

Until recently, Nikon's vibration reduction system put their lenses over the off brand lenses from Tamron. But the newly released Tamron SP 70-200mm f2.8 DI VC Zoom Lens features a wide focal range, fast aperture and image stabilization. The lens still sits at about $1,500, but it's a much lower price than a Nikkor lens with the same specs. Lenses from an outside manufacturer like Tamron may not hold their resell value as well, but many of them still have excellent performance with little distortion. This Tamron also features a quiet autofocus motor and low dispersion elements, plus it's moisture resistant.

Nikon NIKKOR AF-S 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Telephoto Zoom Lens

Image stabilization is a must for any lens with a 200mm or greater zoom and this lens features Nikon's well-reviewed Vibration Reduction system. The f4.0 maximum aperture isn't as bright as other lenses, but this lens is more budget friendly. It also doesn't sacrifice on elements like anti-reflective coating low dispersion elements and a quiet motor. The 70-200mm range is also quite versatile. With an internal focus system, this lens can focus quickly to produce sharp action shots, or be switched to manual for more precise adjustments.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

If you can only bring one zoom lens with your Nikon DSLR, this one is it. Covering a range from wide angle to telephoto and even close-ups from 18 inches away, the Nikkor 28-300mm lens is an excellent all-purpose lens for scenarios that don't allow the time to swap lenses between shots. A nine-blade aperture creates an excellent bokeh effect at wide apertures. Compatible with both FX and DX Nikon DSLRs, upgrading your camera won't mean you have to upgrade the lens. Nikon's Vibration Reduction (VR) II is included, a must for such a long zoom. Both a zoom lock and focus mode switch are also part of this lens. The trade-off for such a versatile lens, however, is the speed (a f3.5 aperture doesn't let in as much light for using faster shutter speeds) and weight. This lens also has a higher price tag, but takes the place of buying several different lenses.

Nikon 24-70mm Nikkor Zoom Lens ED AF-S

The Nikkor 24-70mm zoom lens allows for apertures as low as f2.8--an excellent range for a zoom lens. Low apertures are great for letting in enough light to use faster shutter speeds in challenging scenarios, as well as enhancing the depth of field. The lens uses Nikon's latest extra-low dispersion elements and aspherical lenses for sharp photos with a lot of contrast. Plus, Nikon built the autofocus mode with candid photos in mind—the lens operation is very quiet. The solid construction also helps keep out moisture and dust. A focus switch on the side allows you to easily switch from auto to manual focus. And since this lens is compatible with the entry and mid-level DSLRs as well as the full frame professional models, it can stick with your gear even if you upgrade your camera body down the road. However, the faster lens with dispersion elements for sharper images does come at a price.

Nikon Nikkor 18-200mm Telephoto Zoom Lens

Often, there's no time to change lenses to capture that perfect shot. The Nikkor 18-200mm lens is versatile enough to be used in nearly any situation, so it's a great lens for shooting events and other high paced subjects like sports. This lens has both wide angle and telephoto operation, plus it can focus from as close as 20 inches, so close-ups aren't out of the question either. Vibration Reduction (VR) is a must for any lens with a significant zoom and this lens includes the latest in Nikon's VR technology, as well as extra features like a quiet motor, seven bald aperture, zoom lock, focus mode switch and included lens hood. This lens isn't as versatile as our top pick, but the trade-off is a much nicer price.

Nikon 16-85mm AF-S DX ED VR NIKKOR Lens

The Nikkor 16-85 DX lens is a compact lens that still offers a significant mid-range zoom. The lens uses Nikon's upgrade Vibration Reduction system and a seven blade, rounded aperture. Like most of Nikon's other lenses, the autofocus motor is not only smooth, but quiet as well. A focus mode switch allows you to quickly switch between auto and manual focus. The lens is a G-type, which means there are no aperture rings, so adjusting the focus is and zoom is easier. Nikon also used an anti-flare coating, extra-low dispersion and a super integrated coating. The lens doesn't have as large of a range as some other telephotos, but sits at the best price without sacrificing things like sharpness and clarity.

Nikon Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Telephoto Zoom Lens

Zoom lenses are designed to bring subjects up close—this Nikkor 70-200mm AF-S lens is an excellent option for focusing on distant sports action and wildlife, as well as staying far enough away to go unnoticed for candid shots. This Nikon lens has a fast f2.8 aperture, which also makes it an excellent low light option. Paired with the round nine-blade diaphragm, the lens allows the background, bokeh elements to retain more of their appearance. Full of features like nano crystal coating and an included lens hood, this lens is a great addition to any Nikon photographer's gear. The speed coupled with the wide zoom range, however, does come with a high price tag.

Nikon 55-200mm AF-S DX VR IF-ED Zoom-Nikkor Lens

The price tag on this Nikon zoom lens is very enticing—but this isn't just a bare minimum lens. The 55-200mm range makes it a great addition to any of Nikon's DX format kits, zooming in quite a bit closer than most kit lenses. With vibration reduction included, camera shake is minimized even when fully zoomed. Like most Nikon lenses, it also has a smooth, quiet operation. Nikon's lens coatings help reduce ghosting and glare. The downside is that the minimum aperture is 4.5, which isn't horrible, but there are faster options out there. For the price tag, however, the features can't be beat.

Nikon 70-300mm ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor

Telephoto zoom can get expensive, but this Nikon AF-S VR Nikkor 70-300mm lens has an extensive zoom range without the extensive price tag. Vibration reduction is essential with such a powerful zoom, and this model uses Nikon's VR II, which allows the shutter speed to be slowed by four more stops before camera shake sets in. The nine-blade aperture helps soften and defocus the background, despite the slower f4.5 aperture. And speaking of focus, this lens uses internal focusing, which means the lens doesn't move while focus — internal focusing generally means faster autofocus plus the filter doesn't rotate. This lens is also made with two different glass elements to reduce aberration. A more expensive lens would get you more speed and better low light performance, but for the price, this lens has a nice set of features.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

Nikon's AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm f4.5 zoom lens offers a nice zoom range and a feature set. The difference between this model and the pricer VR IF Zoom Lens model is the lack of internal focusing — this lens won't focus quite as fast and the entire lens will move to focus. But, this lens is also significantly lighter and less expensive. Nikon has included their VR II image stabilization, nine blade diaphragm and integrated coatings. And as with most lenses, this Nikon has a quiet autofocus motor.

Nikon Nikkor 18-200mm Telephoto Zoom Lens

Often, there's no time to change lenses to capture that perfect shot. The Nikkor 18-200mm lens is versatile enough to be used in nearly any situation, so it's a great lens for shooting events and other high paced subjects like sports. This lens has both wide angle and telephoto operation, plus it can focus from as close as 20 inches, so close-ups aren't out of the question either. Vibration Reduction (VR) is a must for any lens with a significant zoom and this lens includes the latest in Nikon's VR technology, as well as extra features like a quiet motor, seven bald aperture, zoom lock, focus mode switch and included lens hood. This lens isn't as versatile as our top pick, but the trade-off is a much nicer price.

Nikon 16-85mm AF-S DX ED VR NIKKOR Lens

The Nikkor 16-85 DX lens is a compact lens that still offers a significant mid-range zoom. The lens uses Nikon's upgrade Vibration Reduction system and a seven blade, rounded aperture. Like most of Nikon's other lenses, the autofocus motor is not only smooth, but quiet as well. A focus mode switch allows you to quickly switch between auto and manual focus. The lens is a G-type, which means there are no aperture rings, so adjusting the focus is and zoom is easier. Nikon also used an anti-flare coating, extra-low dispersion and a super integrated coating. The lens doesn't have as large of a range as some other telephotos, but sits at the best price without sacrificing things like sharpness and clarity.

Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens

Fast zoom lenses are hard to come by—but the NikonAF-S Zoom Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8G ED AF Lens is a fast zoom and wide angle lens. The f2.8 aperture will allow for better low light photos than a comparable lens with a narrower aperture. The zoom range is small, but perfect for the adjusting the composition of wide angle shots. The lens is classified as a super wide angle, with a 114 to 84 degree coverage. The coatings, extra-low dispersion elements and aspherical design allows this lens to offer excellent sharp shots, even in the corners and edges of the photo. The internal focus system allows the lens to focus without changing the length of the lens.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.4G Wide-Angle Lens

While some DX lenses can be used on DSLRS, to get the most out of a full frame Nikon, FX lenses are the best option. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.4G Wide-Angle Lens is an FX lens that can also be used with smaller DX camera bodies as well (just as a 52.5mm equivalent). The fast f1.4 lens allows for excellent low light shots. The nine blade aperture helps prevent distortion in the background, which, thanks to the low aperture, can be very soft. And to justify the price tag even further, Nikon has included all of their top lens coatings and dispersion elements, as well as aspherical lens elements. Back focus is also enabled and a M/A switch helps easily transition between focus modes.

Nikon 24mm f/1.4G ED AF-S RF SWM Prime Wide-Angle Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras

The extra wide aperture on the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED Wide Angle Lens allows for sharp images, even in low light. Nikon used ten different elements to help eliminate softness at the edges, including lens coatings, extra-low dispersion elements and two aspherical lenses. Sharp focus is achieved through a quiet motor, and rear focus is available when used with compatible camera bodies. Focus is adjusted through a switch on the lens for fast changes between auto and manual. All the features do come at a price, however; this wide angle costs just under $2,000.

Nikon NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX ED Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens

The 10-24mm range on this Nikkor lens allows for a much wider angle of view than the standard kit lens that accompanies most smaller Nikon DSLRs. The f3.5 minimum aperture isn't an improvement over most kit lenses, but the price tag is much nicer than the f1.4 $2,000 options. This wide angle can also focus as close as 9.6 inches, making it a versatile lens that can cover macro-style shots as well. With internal focusing and a quiet motor, the focus on this lens is fast and sharp—plus it won't change the length of the lens, a big plus when using the manual focus option. Nikon has also included lens coatings to reduce glare, three aspherical lens elements to cut down distortion and extra-low dispersion elements.

Nikon 17-55mm ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Lens

The f2.8 aperture on theAF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED puts this lens between the 10-24mm f3.5 and the 35mm f1.4 lens in terms of price and speed, but doesn't sacrifice all of the design elements that reduce distortion. Lens coatings, extra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical lenses are all part of the design on this lens. The seven blade diaphragm helps the out of focus objects to appear more natural. The internal focus system means the focus is fast—plus the lens doesn't change length as the focus changes. A quiet motor and A/M focus switch is also included.

Nikon 28mm AF Nikkor Lens

For under $300, this Nikon AF Nikkor 28mm f2.8D Autofocus Lens is both a wide angle and macro lens in one. The two-in-one type of lens is not only nice on the budget, but nice for traveling light as well. The lens can focus as close as nine inches for macro shots. The 28mm length is excellent for a getting wide shots without a lot of distortion. For the price, a f2.8 aperture is hard to find and makes night landscapes possible. With extra lens coatings to minimize distortion, this lens is a great value.

Sigma 28mm f/1.8 EX DG Aspherical Macro Large Aperture Wide Angle Lens for Nikon SLR Cameras

Fixed lenses are excellent budget options because they don't sacrifice speed for price. This Sigma brand lens has an excellent f1.8 minimum aperture at a nice wide 28mm. With a 7.9 inch minimum focus distance, it's also the best budget wide-angle on our list that also performs well at macro levels. And while this lens is under $500, it doesn't skimp on features. This Sigma has a nine blade diaphragm for a realistic look to even the out-of-focus elements, plus internal focus so any filters or hoods will stay in place. Sigma used two aspherical elements in their design, as well as ecological glass that's free of lead and arsenic.

Sigma 10-20mm EX DC HSM Lens For Nikon

Sigma is an excellent budget alternative manufacturer that still produces a quality product. The zoom on this Sigma brand lens allows you to adjust the cropping of your wide angle shots a bit faster. The 10-20mm range is a super wide angle lens. The f4.5 aperture isn't the best, but its about average for a budget zoom lens. Despite the price, this lens still includes low dispersion elements and aspherical lenses to help minimize the distortion that's common in wide angle lenses.

Rokinon 14mm F/2.8 Ultra Wide Angle Lens for Nikon

Multiple use lenses help make that camera gear budget stretch a bit further. This Rokinon lens is compatible with both full frame and ASP-C sensor Nikons. The 90 degree angle of view and .9' minimum focus distance means this lens can be used for both wide angle and basic close-up shots. The f2.8 minimum aperture is excellent for the price and super wide angle capabilties. Constructed with aspherical and extra-low dispersion elements, images taken with the lens shouldn't have a very noticeable amount of distortion. The built-in lens hood helps to eliminate glare from the sun, making this lens an excellent option for landscape photography. A built-in chip makes the lens compatible with features on Nikon's DSLR bodies.

Nikon 35mm f/2.0D AF Lens

With a wide angle perspective and wide minimum aperture, the Nikon Wide Angle AF Nikkor 35mm f2.0 Autofocus Lens is a popular lens for landscape photographers. The size of this fixed lens, with a weight of less than eight ounces, also makes it an excellent option for travel photographers. The minimum focus distance of less than 10 inches means this lens can handle basic close-ups as well. The seven blade diaphragm and low aperture capabilities will allow for a nice depth of field. Compatible with both full frame and ASP-C sensor cameras, you won't necessarily need to upgrade the lens if you upgrade your camera.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Zoom Lens

Nikon's AF-S Nikkor 55-300mm f4.5 zoom lens offers a nice zoom range and a feature set. The difference between this model and the pricer VR IF Zoom Lens model is the lack of internal focusing — this lens won't focus quite as fast and the entire lens will move to focus. But, this lens is also significantly lighter and less expensive. Nikon has included their VR II image stabilization, nine blade diaphragm and integrated coatings. And as with most lenses, this Nikon has a quiet autofocus motor.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens

Zoom lenses for under $500 are very versatile but they are also slow. A fixed telephoto lens doesn't have the same versatility, but the extra speed is often worth the trade-off. This Nikkor lens has a f1.8 aperture, which is excellent for shooting in low light at faster shutter speeds or creating a softer background. This FX format lens means there's no cropping with full frame cameras, but it's also compatible with Nikon's smaller cameras as a 127mm. With internal focus, the distance between the lens and subject doesn't change as the focus is adjusted, plus any hoods or filters do not rotate with the lens. This lens is more compact and more budget friendly than Nikon's similar f1.4 fixed lens.

Sigma Zoom Telephoto 70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro Autofocus Lens for Nikon AF-D

The Sigma brand offers similar features for about $100 less than the comparable Nikon brand lens. The Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 DG OS Lens still offers optical image stabilization as well as a nine blade aperture. Multi-layer coatings help to reduce ghosting and flare. The differences (besides the price) is that this lens is a bit heavier and the minimum focusing distance is a few inches larger, but both specification differences are minor and many photographers won't notice them. When the budget is the ultimate consideration, this Sigma is an excellent option.

Nikon Normal-Telephoto 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor Autofocus Lens

Nikon's 55-200mm zoom lens is priced at about $250, making it an excellent telephoto budget option. This lens uses Nikon's older vibration reduction system, not the VR II, but the difference in performance is only one stop but the difference in price is huge. The G-type design means the aperture is adjusted on the camera, not on the lens, which makes this a nice option for beginners, since it's easy to mistake the zoom and aperture controls. A seven blade aperture helps keep the background elements realistic. Nikon also included their quiet motor, A/M focus switch and ED elements in this lens as well.

Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon

Sometimes, the best way to maximize a gear budget is to pick up lenses with multiple functions. This Sigma lens is a telephoto lens that reaches up to 250mm—but it's also a wide angle that goes down to 18mm and can even take some macro shots with a minimum focus distance of 13.8 inches. Switching lenses can mean missing the moment, so this is an excellent option for photojournalists and event photographers. Despite the multiple functions, it still has a nice seven blade diaphragm, optical image stabilization, low dispersion elements and coatings. Along with it's wide range of capabilities the lens is compact at 3.4 inches long and weighs in at just over a pound.

Hillary K. Grigonis
As a former photojournalist, I love taking pictures and staying up-to-date on camera trends. I'm now both a freelance writer and photographer, and when I'm not taking pictures for clients or writing about photography, I'm probably taking snapshots of my family. My first camera was a Canon but my DSLR is a Nikon. I'm a fan of the Sony point-and-shoots, but I also like the quirkiness of smaller brands like Pentax.
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