Do you own a full-frame Nikon DSLR camera body, but don’t know which lens to buy? Join us as we run down the 10 best Nikon FX lenses that will give you superior image quality every time.
The best Nikon FX lenses come in all shapes and sizes, covering focal lengths short and long. But with so many different lenses available, how do you choose the best one for you?
We have rounded up the 10 best Nikon FX lenses to make the selection process easier for you. We have also included an in-depth buying guide on how to choose the best Nikon FX lens at the end of this article.
1. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f2.8E ED VR Lens
Weight: 1070g. | Aperture: f2.8. | Filter Size: 82mm. | VR: Yes. | DX Equivalent: 36-105mm.
A favorite among professional Nikon users, the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f2.8E ED VR lens offers maximum versatility and image quality. With two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements and PGM aspherical lenses to avoid chromatic aberration, the Nikon AF-S 24-70 produces crisp, bright images at all focal lengths. The wide aperture guarantees great low light performance and thanks to the Vibration Reduction system, images will not blur even at lower f-stops. This piece of glass is one of the best Nikon FX lenses and is definitely worth the investment.
2. Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Lens
Weight: 1152g. | Aperture: f4. | Filter Size: None. | VR: No. | DX Equivalent: 18-36mm.
Built for full-frame cameras but compatible with crop sensor bodies as well, this Sigma lens produces sharp images with realistic colors. It is designed especially for those who love shooting at the wider end, the super-wide Sigma 12-24mm f4 DG HSM Art lens will help you frame the unframeable. Making it one of the best choices from architecture to landscape photography.
While a degree of distortion is to be expected from a lens this wide, the new aspherical elements reduce imperfections to a minimum. However, at F/4 max aperture, its low light performance is limited. Another drawback is the fact that you cannot attach any filters to it. However, the Super Multi-Layer coating reduces the risk of flare and ghosting in your pictures. Part of Sigma’s new Art series, this is one of the best Nikon FX lenses to add to any kit bag.
3. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f1.4G Lens
Weight: 290g. | Aperture: f1.4. | Filter Size: 58mm. | VR: No. | DX Equivalent: 75mm.
A staple lens for the serious photographer, the 50mm is an essential piece of equipment for anyone wanting to shoot crisp portrait photography with a shallow depth of field. The super-wide aperture of the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f1.4G provides a soft background that makes the subject stand out. Plus it performs well in all light conditions, although it can be slow to focus in low light.
One of the more lightweight and compact of the Nikon FX lenses, and fits into any bag or camera backpack without adding too much weight. It is also super fast, and thanks to the Super Integrated Coating, renders colors realistically without chromatic aberrations or other unwanted imperfections. One downside though is that images can lose some sharpness at wider apertures.
4. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR Lens
Weight: 1428g. | Aperture: f2.8. | Filter Size: 77mm. | VR: Yes. | DX Equivalent: 105-300mm.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR is a fast, telephoto lens which is ideal for anyone needing a fast zoom (sports photography, wildlife photography, wedding photography and even portraits)
With four focus function buttons on the lens barrel, it is easy to control and enables you to freeze moving objects from a distance. The zoom and focus rings are also positioned to prioritize the photographer’s comfort.
Thanks to the wide f2.8 aperture, this lens performs excellently in low light. It creates sharp, bright images with an elegant background blur. Plus, it is weather-proof, so outdoor photographers will not have to worry about rain or dust when out in the field. However, it is one of the more expensive of the Nikon FX lenses, and is very heavy–so you may need to use it with a tripod.
5. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f1.4G
Weight: 349g. | Aperture: f1.4. | Filter Size: 77mm. | VR: No. | DX Equivalent: 127.5mm.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f1.4G lens could easily be considered the ultimate portrait lens for full-frame Nikon camera users. Thanks to the wide aperture, it delivers exceptionally crisp photographs, even in low light conditions. However, chromatic aberration can occur at the widest aperture. The nanocrystal coating on the glass eliminates the risk of ghosting or flare, creating high-contrast images with realistic colors. However, the build is plastic, so it’s not the most durable Nikon lens.
The bokeh produced by this lens is stunning and is fabulous for portraits. It will make your subject pop in front of a beautifully blurred background. In addition to this, the integrated silent wave motor lets you focus with precision, without disturbing your subject.
6. Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro Lens
Weight: 635g. | Aperture: f2.8. | Filter Size: 62mm. | VR: Yes. | DX Equivalent: 135mm.
If you love to capture close-up details, you’ll need a good macro lens. The Tamron SP 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD Macro lens is just that: it allows you to get extremely close to your subject to capture textures that even the naked eye would struggle to see.
With an autofocus system engineered for close-up photography and an image stabilization feature that limits the risk of blur, you can expect superb sharpness and beautiful bokeh. The Tamron SP 90mm is built with durable materials and high-grade glass, is coated to reduce chromatic aberration, and is weather-proof. However, you will need to use a tripod when shooting at minimum focal distance.
7. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens
Weight: 798g. | Aperture: f3.5–5.6 | Filter Size: 77mm. | VR: Yes. | DX Equivalent: 42-450mm.
If you have to choose one lens to take with you on your travels, make it the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens. This is the most versatile of the Nikon FX lenses on our list and will satisfy those who want to carry minimal kit but who don’t want to skimp on performance.
The focal lengths covered by this lens will frame pretty much any subject you encounter. Whether your focus is street photography, portraiture or food photography, the Nikon 28-300mm will focus precisely on what’s in your frame.
While it cannot compete with prime lenses in terms of sharpness, and distortion may appear at wider angles, the convenience offered by this piece of glass is simply unbeatable.
8. Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens
Weight: 1928g. | Aperture: f5-6.3. | Filter Size: 95mm. | VR: Yes. | DX Equivalent: 225-900mm.
It can be difficult to find compact and effective long-reach lenses. Luckily, Sigma has produced this hyper-telephoto zoom lens to satisfy any safari or sports photography needs.
With a minimum focus distance of just above 100 inches, the Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 can capture birds, people, and large animals up close and from afar. The dust/splash-proof construction and water-repellent coating on the front glass ensure that foul weather won’t curb your hunt for the perfect shot. However, it is heavy, slow to focus and does not perform well in low light.
9. Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art DG HSM Lens
Weight: 667g. | Aperture: f1.4. | Filter Size: 67mm. | VR: No. | DX Equivalent: 52.5mm.
Sigma has always produced reliable third-party lenses, but with the launch of their Art line, the Japanese manufacturer has stepped up its game. This series of super-sharp fixed lenses compete with Nikon original primes, offering exceptional results for a much lower price. The Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art DG HSM lens is a great lens for shooting interiors, portraits, and travel shots. Its extra-wide aperture ensures optimal results even when light conditions are bad. It’s great for photographers looking for a multipurpose prime that will improve their creative output. However, it is heavy, there is no weather-proofing and the focus may need calibration.
10. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f4G ED VR Lens
Weight: 680g. | Aperture: f4. | Filter Size: 77mm. | VR: Yes. | DX Equivalent: 24-52.5.
The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 16-35mm f4G ED VR is a zoom lens ideal for most genres, from landscapes and urban settings, to events or group portrait shots.
With a silent wave internal motor, this lens provides a silent and accurate focus. The images are super sharp thanks to the 12 group construction, and with the integrated vibration reduction system, you are guaranteed blur-free pictures. The lens has a solid build and the two extra-low dispersion elements ensure that the risk of chromatic aberration is kept to a minimum.
If you are a photographer who loves to shoot during the golden hour, this lens will always provide realistic colors and minimal vignetting. However, be wary, there could be visible distortion at lower focal lengths.
How to Choose the Best Nikon FX Lenses for You
There is an almost infinite range of Nikon and third-party lenses available, so how do you choose the right one?
Vast, detailed technical specifications can also be tricky to understand. Here are the most important things to consider before making your purchase.
What Type of Photography Do You Shoot?
The first thing to consider when choosing a lens is the kind of photography you will be shooting: a clear idea of the intended use is fundamental to making the right choice.
Landscape and architecture photographers will prefer wide-angle lenses to include more of the scene in the frame. Portrait photographers may opt for a sharper, mid-range lens, which can produce beautiful bokeh.
Birdwatchers and wildlife photographers would go for a telephoto lens which allows them to discreetly shoot animals from a distance. Those looking to capture insects, textures or tiny details, may choose a macro lens.
Prime Versus Zoom Lenses
‘Focal length’ refers to the distance between the lens and the image sensor, normally measured in millimeters. Wide-angle lenses have shorter focal lengths, while telephoto lenses have longer focal lengths.
The focal length can be fixed (prime lenses) or adjustable (zoom lenses). Both have their advantages and disadvantages: so which is best in the prime versus zoom debate?
Prime lenses usually perform better in low light conditions and tend to produce sharper images, with a more elegant bokeh effect. The downside is that it is not possible to zoom, meaning that in order to change the framing, you will need to move or switch lenses.
Zoom lenses are not as effective as prime lenses in low light conditions, but they are more versatile as they can cover multiple focal lengths.
Should You Choose Nikon or Third Party Lenses?
Nikon lenses are engineered to work with Nikon camera bodies, therefore they are always a safe bet. There are, however, other manufacturers that produce excellent lenses for Nikon cameras.
While not all brands can be considered reliable, Sigma and Tamron have a long history of producing quality lenses–selling products equal or even better, than their Nikon counterparts.
Do You Need Good Low Light Performance in a Lens?
If you know you will be shooting in low light conditions, lenses with wider apertures will be preferable over narrow apertures. The aperture of a lens can be fixed or variable.
A lens with a maximum aperture of f1.8 or lower will shoot sharp, clear photographs even without a strong light source, while a lens with a maximum aperture of f5 will not be very effective in poorly lit conditions.
Be Wary of Lens Distortion
Distortion refers to when a straight line appears bent in a photograph. Wide-angle lenses tend to suffer the most from distortion: usually, the price is a good indicator of performance.
Prime lenses produce less distortion than zoom lenses, however, with super-wide-angle lenses (like a fisheye), natural distortion is unavoidable.
Light distortion can be easily fixed with Lightroom or Photoshop, but if you often shoot architecture or geometrical patterns, a lens with minimal distortion is essential.
Related Article: Free Lightroom Tutorials
Consider the Size and Weight of a Lens
Lenses can vary greatly in both size and weight, and this can be a deal-breaker.
With some exceptions, zoom lenses tend to be heavier than prime lenses. But bear in mind that they are also more versatile: one zoom lens may cover the same focal length as three or more prime lenses.
Consider where you will be storing the lens: camera bags and backpacks will often be too small to fit a telephoto lens attached to a camera body. As a result of this, you may miss some shots due to the time needed to attach and remove the lens.
Have Fun Choosing Your Next Nikon FX Lens
So we’ve given you plenty of food for thought on what to look for when choosing your next Nikon FX lens.
As long as you are clear about the type of photography you want to shoot, the choice will not be too daunting.
Have we listed your favorite Nikon FX lens in this article? If not, tell us which one you could not cope without in the comments below.
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