After over 16 hours of new study, we’ve discovered the very best lenses to begin building a set on your Nikon DSLR. Whether you’re seeking to do landscape shots, portraiture, street photography, or extreme close-ups, we’ve got you covered with options that can deliver better-looking images than you get from the kit lens that came with your camera.
Nikon currently has more than 70 lenses for its DSLRs, and third-party lensmakers such as Sigma, Tamron, and Tokina offer heaps of further models. With so many choices, simply knowing where to begin can be hard. We’ve identified highly regarded lenses in six categories which, between them, will cover almost all your shooting needs. All our picks will capture superior images and allow for more creative options than the conventional 18–55mm kit lens that came bundled with your DSLR.
If your budget allows for just a single lens, then we all believe the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G is your best starting point for most people. A prime lens does not zoom, which will aid beginner photographers learn to write shots and get near the action without relying on zooming in. The wide aperture permits for shooting in dim light. It’s also among the cheapest Nikon lenses.
If funding is not an issue or you simply want the very best for your camera, the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM is your way to go. It has an even wider aperture compared to our primary fast prime selection–and compared with the f/3.5 that comes standard in most kit lenses, the Sigma permits for absolutely blurred backgrounds and transparent shots even in very low light.
To take your photography to the next level, you’ll want to start constructing your arsenal of lenses. We advocate the Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70–300mm f/4.5–5.6G IF-ED as the telephoto, the Sigma 10–20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM for a wide-angle choice, and the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G for portraits. If macro is the thing, start with the Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR.
If you do not shoot with a Nikon camera, but wish to invest in some great starter lenses for a different system, take a look at our guides for Canon, Micro Four Thirds, Sony E-Mount, and Fujifilm lenses.