The 8 Best Nikon DSLR Lenses to Buy in 2018

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.

With best-in-class optical performance, the Tamron AF 70-300mm F/4.0-5.6 lens is an exceptional choice for Nikon DSLR owners who want a great combination of zoom and value. The built-in motor helps to quickly utilize the Tamron’s ultrasonic quiet auto-focus that's designed specifically to capture fast-moving action such as sports or racing. If a photographer chooses to fine-tune or make image adjustments on a whim, the full-time manual focus is integrated without the need for switches or buttons. Zoom on the Tamron lens performs best between 180mm and 300mm, which is marked on the lens by a gold stripe for quick positioning. A switch on the body of lens easily switches to Macro mode, allowing close-range focus on a subject with a sweet spot of about three feet of distance.

Designed to be both compact and lightweight, the budget-friendly price tag of the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens doesn’t mean budget photographic results. On the contrary, this beginner-friendly option is a perfect solution for low-light shots, as well as for capturing images, portraits or blurred backgrounds. The 35mm focal length is great for creating a more “natural” angle of view, so images will look exactly as you envisioned. The f/1.8G aperture adds complete depth-of-field control for isolating subjects, which allows for excellent portrait results, as well as outstanding low-light performance. Nikkor’s silent wave motor helps the auto-focus operate with barely any audible detection. Meanwhile, Macro mode enables the lens to get as close as one foot to a subject without any blurring.

As one of the first wide-angle lenses to offer a fixed maximum aperture, the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 is an ideal choice for photographers looking for a wide-angle solution for a Nikon DSLR. Constructed out of a mix of metal and plastic, the Sigma is great for low-light photography. For the photographer who enjoys controlling the depth of field, the Sigma’s fast fixed aperture allows precise control. The inclusion of super multi-layer coating helps reduce flares or ghosting, while the inner focusing system is great for the use of polarizing filters. Ultimately, the camera really shines when it’s shooting landscape photography, building interiors, weddings, group shots or even architecture. The focusing system itself is whisper quiet, performs superbly for the price and is a great addition to a real estate agent’s staple of goods

Designed to be both compact and lightweight, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens offers a combination of both value and results, making it a must-own for portrait photography. The inclusion of Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor means that the autofocus system is near silent, while manual focus is located at the front of the lens with enough space for a regular-sized hand to grip and quickly adjust. The inclusion of the f/1.8 aperture allows a significant amount of light to enter the lens, so it's highly efficient in low-light conditions. The fast maximum aperture combined with fast shutter speeds helps eliminate blurring from action photography.

The Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G lens allows handheld image capturing at four shutter speeds slower than other competitive lenses. Ultimately, this leads to sharper images and minimized chromatic aberration. The 1:1 magnification allows objects to be projected life-sized onto the lens's image sensor at a distance of just 11.2 inches. The inclusion of an optical stabilization system goes a long way at helping steady handheld macro shots. The lens can double as a short telephoto prime lens if you need to switch gears and work with non-macro subjects.

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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