The best Nikon lenses — 2022

Nikon cameras are a favorite for DSLR shooters. Nikon has their own line of lenses, but there are also some third-party options available for both F mounts and Z mounts. Here are the best Nikon lenses currently available on the market. Check out Best lenses for video to learn about what to look for when shopping for lenses.

F Mount

Best budget prime

Yongnuo YN 50mm f/1.8 Lens

Yongnuo came on the scene just over a decade ago and quickly made a name for itself, offering very affordable lenses with specs that are somewhat close to the bigger brands. They have some great Nikon lenses available. Their 50mm f/1.8 is a fast, handy and affordable little lens.  

An f/1.8 max aperture gets wide open for tough lighting conditions and stops down to f/22. The minimum focal distance is 1.5 feet. You can be fairly close, but not right up on your subject.  The metal mount provides a strong connection and gold electronic contacts transmit EXIF data from the lens to your camera.  

On the barrel is an Auto and Manual focus toggle switch. The lens offers multi-coated glass elements and a 7 blade diaphragm. You’d be hard-pressed to find a lens that packs more bang for the buck than the Yongnuo YN 50mm f/1.8.

Best budget zoom

Tamron SP 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di Lens

The Tamron SP 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di Lens is an affordable choice for a general-purpose zoom lens. It’s wide enough, or tight enough, for just about any situation, plus the f/2.8 max aperture across the entire zoom range lets a good amount of light in. The lens offers autofocus or manual override. It has a minimum focus distance of 1.08’/33cm. The lens uses 16 glass elements, including XR (Extra Refractive) and LD (Low Dispersion) glass to help maintain color fidelity. All this is packed into a small package, just 3.62inches/9.19cm long, and weighing 1.12lb/508g.

Best budget cine

Rokinon Cine DS

The Rokinon Cine DS line is a top cine option for Nikon lenses. They deliver the main features you’d want for cinema-style shooting such as long throws to achieve more precise and smooth focus pulls, de-clicked apertures for smooth aperture pulls and long teeth on the focus ring so that accessories can be attached easier.  

The Rokinon Cine DS is a series of 12 prime lenses, from 10mm T3.1 to 135mm T2.2. The fastest lenses in the line are the middle focal lengths — 24mm, 35mm, 50mm and 85mm, all coming in at T1.5. The lenses can be bought individually, or in bundles of 4 or 5. It’s less common to find all the lenses in one kit. Prices range from $400 and up on single lenses in this family, with bundles of 4 being around $2000.

Best wide prime

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

When it comes to Nikon lenses, Nikon’s Nikkor lens line provides high-quality glass for the Nikon F-mount. The line has been around for nearly a hundred years and has developed fantastic glass in their time. In particular, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED provides stunning image quality, thanks in part to the use of 13 elements including aspherical and extra-low dispersion ones, as well as Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings.

This 20mm lens can be a little soft around the edges when its aperture is fully open, but we expect that in glass so wide. Stop down to f/2 and everything starts to look sharp. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED provides excellent low-light performance and utilizes Nikon’s Silent Wave Motors AF to power the lens’s rear focusing mechanism.  

Best normal prime

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G

Nikon scores big again with the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G, our Best Normal Prime for the F-Mount. This Nikon lens has become a favorite with Nikon shooters for its stunning images, bright max aperture and great build quality. 

With f/1.4 and 9 diaphragms, this lens creates great bokeh, giving your images a pleasing background blur when isolating your subjects with shallow depth of field. Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coating have been applied to enhance contrast and color accuracy. In addition, two of the eight glass elements are extra-low dispersion to reduce chromatic aberration and color fringing. It will focus as close as 7.9 inches/.2 meters

There is no image stabilization on the Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, but at least being a lightweight 9.88oz/280grams takes some of the burdens of shooting handheld. The rear focus system uses Silent Wave Motor for autofocus while allowing full-time manual override.  

Best telephoto prime

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G

Nikon takes the trifecta of F-Mount primes with their telephoto AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G. It’s a medium-telephoto, not too long, but it still gets you close to your scene while providing great images under difficult conditions.  

Like the other AF-S Nikkor G’s on this list, this lens is weather sealed with a rubber gasket around a metal mount and scratch resistant polycarbonate body, giving it a rugged construction suitable for serious use.

Again, Super Integrated Coating and Nano Crystals have been used to enhance the image quality. And with f/1.4, 9 blade aperture at 85mm, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.4G gives a soft, creamy, pleasing background blur. That said, this lens isn’t the sharpest out there, and it does have some vignetting. But not every image has to be tack sharp to be beautiful, and this lens has what it takes to prove that point.  

Best cine lenses

Zeiss CP3 Cine Lenses

If you’re looking for the best Cine lenses for F-mount cameras, let us point you to the Zeiss CP3 series. Often said to be Master Prime quality without the Master Prime price tag, these were born out of the CP2 series, which had been very popular, with only one drawback — the 18mm CP2 was only for APS-C sensors when all the other lenses in the series were for full-frame sensors. Recognizing the problem, Zeiss started to redevelop the 18mm CP2 from the ground up and that process led to the CP3 series. These are excellent options as Nikon lenses. 

The CP (for Compact Prime) lenses are as the name suggests, light, compact and easy to use handheld. They feel and look like the legendary Master Prime series, just in a smaller package. Zeiss designed these to be crystal clear across the entire sensor, and the glass on the CP3s lives up to expectations. They have all the features that make cine lenses stand out from photo lenses — standardized quality and built, long throws, de-clicked aperture, etc. They are well built, sturdy, and with smooth functioning.  

One of the best features of the CP3s is the interchangeable mount system, allowing you to use them on a wide variety of different cameras. They come in a range of 15mm to 135mm. 15mm, 18mm, and 21mm all have a maximum aperture of T2.9, while 25mm, 28mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm, 100mm and 135mm all have a faster T2.1. The only downside here is that the CP2 line had a super speed version that went as fast as T1.5,  so we’ll hope to see that in the future. 

While these are a prosumer lens, the emphasis is on pro.  

Z Mount

Nikon’s new Z Mount system was released in 2018 to serve Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera systems. There are some third party lenses made for Z-mount, but not a ton of them, as this is a relatively new mount system.

Best budget prime

Meike MK-50mm f/1.7 Lens for Nikon Z

Meike’s MK50mm f/1.7 for Nikon Z is a great place to start out when you’re looking to shoot primes with Nikon’s mirrorless systems. The 50mm focal length is that pleasant “normal” view and f/1.7 gives a nice wide-open aperture for your low-light and selective-focus needs. This lens is fully manual.  

Videographers will appreciate the MK-50mm’s de-clicked aperture ring, allowing smooth aperture pulls without hitting hard clicks with each stop. The focus ring is right behind the aperture ring which might be an issue if you have accessories you’d want to attach to either, or if you’re shooting handheld and have big hands. The throw on each ring is a little longer than standard photo lenses, but not quite as long as a cine lens might have.  

This lens is sharp at the center, even at max aperture. Although, it is a little soft around the corners when the aperture is open beyond about f/8. There is a touch of barrel distortion and vignetting below f/2.8. It has a 1.64ft minimum focusing distance and weighs 15.2 ounces. 

Best budget zoom

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 Lens

This wide-to-normal zoom is a useful, affordable, full-frame zoom for Nikon Z. 

This is a good all-around kind of lens that gets the job done and can be handy for all-around usage. This is probably why it comes with certain camera packages as a kit lens, but is also available separately. It’s small, only 3 inches long when the zoom is retracted, and lightweight, coming in at only 195 grams. 

There are a few things to keep in mind with this lens. It doesn’t use internal zoom. As the barrel extends when you zoom in, the weight of the lens shifts, which can result in issues on gimbals and other stabilization. Also, it’s not the brightest lens, and the max aperture will change depending on how zoomed in you are. At 24mm your max aperture is f/4, while at 50mm the most wide-open you can get is f/6.3. When it comes to Nikon lenses, you can’t beat it. 

Best normal prime

Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S Lens

When it comes to Nikon lenses, this lens is a beast. It’s impressive image quality is matched by its intimidating size.  

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S uses seventeen glass elements. which is why it weighs in at 2.4lbs or 1090grams. Of those elements, two use extra-low dispersion to reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations, while three are aspherical elements to reduce distortion and create sharp images with accurate rendering. On top of that, this lens makes use of Nano Crystals to control incidental diagonal light sources, and ARNEO Coat to control vertical incidental light. Then there’s the Super Integrated Coating which helps keep color rendering accurate. That’s a lot of impressive glass wrapped up in the moisture and dust-resistant body.    

Autofocus is handled by two synchronized AF drives for smooth and quiet autofocus, while still allowing full manual focus override.  Focus is handled entirely internally, with very little breathing.  

This lens also uses a programable ring. The user can set it to control focus, aperture, or exposure compensation. It also has an on-lens assignable function button to add a little more versatility to your rig.  

Best normal zoom

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S Lens

This could be the ultimate “walking-around” lens for Nikon series Z cameras. It hits the sweet spot for range, spanning between the edge of wide, all the way to the edge of telephoto. Then it gives a respectable max aperture of f/2.8, which is great for most lighting conditions and gives the ability to isolate your subject through selective focus and a fairly then depth of field.  

Inside the lens are seventeen glass elements that include a variety of coatings and special elements to ensure superb image quality. These include Nano Crystal Coat, Super Integrated Coating and Flouride coatings, and Nikon’s new ARNEO Coat. All of this adds up to an extremely high-performing lens across the entire zoom range. 

Two setting AF drives provide extremely fast and accurate autofocus. And a programmable ring can be set to handle manual focus, aperture, or exposure compensation. This lens can focus as close as 1.25 feet/38cm and weighs 28.4oz/805g.   

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