- Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G
- Best Nikon Lenses for Beginners: Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5 – 5.6G ED VR II
- Best Nikon Lenses for Beginner Photographers: Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED
- Nikon Lens Guide: How to Find a Great Deal
photo by 1MoreCreative via iStock
You have a shiny new (or used) Nikon camera, and now you need a shiny new (or used) lens to go with it.
The question is, what are the best nikon lenses for beginners?
In this Nikon lens guide, I offer up my choices for three of the best lenses you can buy as a beginner photographer.
Table of Contents
Best Nikon Lenses: Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8 G
Far and away, the best nikon lens for beginner photographers is the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G or “nifty fifty.”
Though it’s designed to work with Nikon FX cameras, which have a full frame sensor, this lens will also work just fine with a Nikon DX, or crop sensor, camera. This lens is best suited for cameras like Nikon D3500.
The only difference is that due to the crop factor, this lens has an effective focal length of 75mm, which puts it in the short telephoto range. This focal length also helps to capture images with shallow depth of field.
That’s not a bad thing at all, though, because having more length with the lens means you can photograph your subjects from a greater distance.
This is ideal for things like wildlife photography (though, you will need a much longer lens if you’re truly serious about photographing wildlife).
The 50mm lens is also great for portraits because you can still get closely framed upper body and headshots without having to mash your lens in the model’s face.
Having a little more distance between you and your portrait subject will typically mean they’re more relaxed, and the more relaxed they are, they better they’ll look in the portrait.
Better still, 50mm lenses make excellent lenses for video work, and you can reverse mount them to take macro shots. It’s that kind of versatility that makes this a top DSLR lens choice for beginner photographers.
Quick Tip: This lens also has a built-in autofocusing motor to aid in acquiring focus, even if you use a less expensive Nikon camera that doesn’t have a very sophisticated autofocus system.
Best Nikon Lenses for Beginners: Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5 – 5.6G ED VR II
If you’d rather have a zoom lens that can basically do it all, a great candidate for one of the best lenses for beginner photographers is the Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5 – 5.6G ED VR II.
This lens has maximum aperture of f/3.5 - f/5.6 and minimum aperture of f/22 - f/36.
Don’t get intimidated by the extremely long name with acronyms that don’t make sense…
Not only is this lens affordable, but it’s also packed with features that will help you get better shots.
As already noted, this is a great example of a “do it all” lens. With a focal range of 18-200mm on a full frame camera and 27-300mm on a crop sensor camera, you can photograph wide-angle landscapes, telephoto shots of wildlife, and have a ton of range in between for everything from portraits to travel photos to street photography.
Another benefit of this particular DSLR lens is that is offers 3.5 stops of image stabilization.
This means that you can handhold the camera and use a slower shutter speed than you normally could and still get sharp photos.
Now, there’s a limit to this, so you can’t shoot a minute-long exposure and handhold the camera. However, slowing the shutter by 3.5 stops is a big deal when you need a bit more light for a good exposure and don’t have a tripod handy.
Quick Tip: This is a budget lens and as such, its optics aren’t as good as you’d find in Nikon’s pro lenses. But with a bargain price and excellent focal range, this is still a great buy, even if it’s more susceptible to things like chromatic aberration and vignetting.
Best Lenses for Beginner Photographers: Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED
If landscape photography is your passion, then the Nikon AF-S DX 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED lens is a solid choice.
Even on a crop sensor camera, this lens has an effective focal lengths of 18-36mm, so it’s plenty wide for taking sweeping shots of landscape scenes.
This lens has got maximum aperture of f/4. With a constant f/4 aperture, you get the advantage of having plenty of light-gathering power for low-light landscapes as well. This is a bonus when shooting during blue hour after the sun has set.
But don’t think this lens is a one-trick pony…
On the narrower end at 36mm, this is a great walkaround lens for things like portraiture, street photography, and architecture photography.
The nearly 35mm angle of view is quite pleasing and closely matches what we see with our own eyes. The result of that is photos that have a normal, familiar look to them that people find eye-catching.
This is a more expensive lens than the others on this list, but with that higher price tag comes two extra-low dispersion elements and three aspherical lens elements.
The result of these improved optics is improved image quality with better sharpness and reduced aberrations.
Quick Tip: Just because you can rely on the zoom of this lens doesn’t mean you should stand pat when composing photos. To get the most out of your lenses, make a habit of zooming with your feet, moving around the subject, and getting closer and further away to create the best composition.
Nikon Lens Guide: How to Find a Great Deal
As noted above, some of these lenses are pretty pricey, and when you’re just starting out in photography, you might not have the money (or the desire) to plunk down $1,000 or more for a lens.
Fortunately, there are tons of deals on pre-owned lenses on sites like Lensfinder.
What makes places like Lensfinder so great is that it’s a website built by photographers, for photographers.
This means that your shopping experience is photography-focused - there’s no sifting through unrelated search results like you have to do on eBay and no scams like you find on Craigslist.
Want more details on some of the best Nikon lenses? Check out the video above by TheTechMag.
Instead, Lensfinder is an awesome little community where you can find the gear you need, ask the seller questions right within the platform, pay for the product via PayPal or BlueSnap, and arrange shipping without leaving the Lensfinder site.
Additionally, Lensfinder has a feedback system so you know how the seller has been rated in the past, and with built-in fraud protections, you can rest assured that the item you buy is the item you’ll get in the mail.
It’s simply the best way I’ve found to buy used gear.
And as your collection of gear grows, you can come back to Lensfinder and sell the stuff you no longer need. It’s a win-win situation for sure!