The 8 Best Nikon DSLR Lenses to Buy in 2017

Find the top Nikon interchangeable lenses

No matter what kind of photographer you are, there's a DSLR lens that's perfect for your shooting needs. Whether you want landscape shots, images from the latest sporting match or street photography, there are dozens of choices that offer far more control than the standard kit lens. Grabbing the perfect photo is never easy, but, luckily, a smart choice of lens can make your images better quality. And some of the best Nikon lenses aren’t even from this decade. While it might surprise you to see some lens here that have been on the market for years, it's just proof that Nikon lenses stand the test of time and continue to offer outstanding photography. Need help nailing down the best lens? This list will help you find one that's sure to up your photography game.

Offering a great balance of performance, value and weight, the Nikon 70-300mm /f4.5-6.3G is a standout choice for any level of photographer looking for a great zoom lenses. At just 14.1 ounces, it’s lighter than most of its competition in the zoom lens category while still offering excellent image results. The higher contrast from images taken with the lens paired with vibration reduction helps minimize the effects of camera shaking and therefore produces sharper images. Beyond contrast, the 70-300mm picks up longer-range shots, and auto-focus is almost whisper quiet, thanks to a set of step motors that help lock on to distant subjects. It can also record HD video. All in all, competition for the best zoom lens is fierce, but the Nikon 70-300mm is a slick package that’s well worth the purchase price. 

Those looking for a great all-in-one lens with a budget-friendly price will love the Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR. Whether your goal is capturing wide landscapes, group photos, family sporting events or anything in between, you’ll discover fantastic photo clarity. At 7.2 ounces, the 18-55mm is a great carry-with-you lightweight lens that offers a 3.1x zoom range with whisper-quiet autofocus. 

Adding more value to the lens is the bokeh effect, or blurred background that allows for out-of-focus photography in the back of an image (so you can draw attention to your subject). And the addition of VR image stabilization reduces the shakiness of hand-held photography ensuring images are captured with optimal results. As far as budget lenses go, it's a great investment and offers quick focus courtesy of Nikon’s pulse motor technology, so you can bank on excellent results each time you snap a picture.

First released in 2012, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G is the lens you should reach for when you’re looking to grab a shot that offers excellent wide-angle results. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G's fast-maximum aperture offers good shooting in nearly any light, indoors or outdoors, with exceptional depth-of-field control. The included Nano Crystal Coat helps remove any ghosting or flare that has long plagued wide-angle lenses (so you'll see great improvement in the contrast). And an internal motor helps silence the lens as it moves to focus on your subject.

Although it weighs just 11.7 ounces, the plastic design and build feels sturdy. Beyond its exterior, the bokeh images you can capture with this lens are excellent, thanks to the seven diaphragm elements. Overall, the optics are outstanding and allow the 28mm to truly stand out from the wide-angle lens pack. Photographers, both professional and consumer, looking for a wide angle prime lens that offers fast maximum aperture will want to take a nice long look at the 28mm.

Nikon’s AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens is sharp, low-light capable and ready for action. Before you even look at its capability, the knowledge that it’s sealed against dust and moisture give it a durable nature that’s well worth the asking price. Build quality aside, the f/1.8 maximum aperture offers to turn a distracting background into a blur of color that will help your subject stand out. Standing eight to nine feet away from your subject will offer more than enough detail to fill the frame while still helping to focus on the subject’s facial expression.

When it comes to portrait photography, the 127mm-equivalent lens allows for adding the 85mm to a DX-format camera and snapping away. The fast aperture lets the 85mm lens show off at fast shutter speeds, capturing low-light backgrounds all without the need for a tripod. The internal focus system offers fast autofocus and produces sharp images at all apertures. Even though this lens is from 2012, it's still the one of the best on the market today and the glowing Amazon reviews (4.8 out of 5 stars) really drive this home.

Released in 2011, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2 pairs excellent image quality with a macro lens for outstanding results. It can zero in on images that are just 6.4 inches from the camera’s sensor,. And while the up-close focus is a strong point, the 40mm does have a limit switch that prevents autofocus at distances closer than 7.9 inches. Ultimately, regardless of distance, captured images are sharp throughout most of the frame with almost no distortion. Unfortunately, the 40mm does lack image stabilization, which is a disappointing omission (but it's worth overlooking given the detailed image quality at macro levels). Omissions aside, the fast 1.8 aperture makes it a wonderful lens for indoor and low-light shots when flash isn’t available or allowed.

If your heart is set on getting the best all-in-one, look no further than the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. Featuring a focal length range of 50mm, this day-to-day shooting all-star lens offers a minimum distance of 1.48 feet. As a daytime lens, the 50mm makes for a great all-around lens, and it's travel-friendly (it weighs just 6.6 ounces). And despite being more budget-friendly, the 50mm doesn’t skimp on build quality (the weather-sealed lens mount prevents any access for moisture or dust). 

For the money, the 50mm offers notably sharp photography throughout the entire frame of a picture. Colors are nicely balanced, with skin tones coming out true to form and the bokeh mode offering great depth of field control. The autofocus zoom is quick enough to hone in on a fast-moving subject, so you can count on edge-to-edge sharpness optimization. Released in June of 2011, the 50mm has stood the test of time (and more recent releases) and supporting that notion is a hard-to-ignore 4.8 out of 5 Amazon rating with 89 percent five-star reviews.

Small, affordable and a visually appealing, the Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G is a terrific addition to any photographer’s bag of tricks. Sure, this lens is from 2003, but it's still the go-to low-light lens on today's market. Here's why: The f/1.4 aperture lets in an enormous amount of light and renders out-of-focus areas with ease, thanks to excellent sharpness and incredibly clear portrait photography. Additionally, the f/1.8 aperture allows you to completely blur the background or add a bokeh effect, so your subject stands out.

The ultrasonic-type autofocus motor also offers full-time manual focusing for even the pickiest of photographers. And if you need a quick macro shot, the 50mm can get as close as 17 inches to the subject before image quality suffers. Whether it’s for weddings, portraits, low-light or indoor photography, the 50mm hits a home run; the focal length is excellent and it makes for a great all-around lens.

Impressive telephoto zoom range and a reasonable price help make the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction zoom lens a great choice for nature and sports photography. By all appearances, the 55-300mm looks and feels like any other Nikon DX lens with black plastic casing and zoom rings. But when it comes to performance, what the 55-300mm lacks in slow aperture and autofocus, it makes up for in overall photo quality. Where the 55-300mm shines is the price-to-performance ratio, so you can expect great photography taking pictures on a safari or in your own backyard.

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