Best Budget Nikon Lens: Top Picks for 2023

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Photography is a captivating hobby and profession, with a wide range of lenses playing a crucial role in capturing stunning images. Nikon, a renowned brand in the world of photography, offers an array of lenses designed to meet the needs of both amateur and professional photographers.

For those who are new to the world of Nikon lenses or on a tight budget, selecting the best lens can be a daunting task.

Budget Nikon lenses offer cost-effective solutions for photographers who want to achieve high-quality results without breaking the bank. Not all budget lenses are created equal, though, and factors like focal length, aperture, and optical features can significantly impact the image quality and versatility of a lens.

It’s essential to consider these factors when searching for the best budget Nikon lens to suit your needs.

Among countless options available in the market, we’ve focused on researching and testing a variety of budget Nikon lenses to discern which ones deliver the best performance at an affordable price. Our evaluation process considers numerous variables such as image sharpness, bokeh quality, and low-light performance to ensure that our readers make informed decisions when purchasing budget Nikon lenses.

With these critical factors in mind, we’ve compiled a list of top-performing budget Nikon lenses that offer exceptional quality and value. Read on to discover our top picks and take your photography game to the next level without breaking the bank.

5 Best Budget Nikon Lens

We have compiled a list of the best budget Nikon lenses to help you enhance your photography without breaking the bank.

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm is a budget-friendly choice for those seeking a lightweight and versatile telephoto lens with excellent image quality.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Sharp image quality
  • Fast and silent autofocus

Cons

  • Plastic lens mount
  • Limited wide-angle capability at 70mm
  • No dedicated AF/MF switch or VR ON/OFF switch
Best Budget Nikon Lens - is it the Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens?

We recently tested the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens and were impressed by its performance, especially considering its affordable price point. The vibration reduction feature worked exceptionally well, allowing us to take sharp, handheld shots even at the maximum 300mm focal length.

While the lens is made with a plastic mount, it still felt sturdy and well-constructed in our hands. The lightweight and compact design makes it easy to travel with and use for extended periods without fatigue. The fast and silent autofocus with pulse motor technology proved to be accurate and efficient, allowing us to capture a variety of scenes from wildlife to concerts.

Our only drawback was the limited wide-angle capability at 70mm, which some users may find restrictive when compared to options like the 55-300mm lens. Additionally, this lens lacks dedicated AF/MF and VR ON/OFF switches, which means you need to change these settings within your camera’s menu system; however, the instant manual-focus override makes this less of an issue.

Overall, we highly recommend the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens for those seeking a budget-friendly telephoto lens with excellent image quality and solid performance. Whether you’re capturing sports events, distant landmarks, or wildlife, this lens will surely help you to achieve stunning shots without breaking the bank.

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D Lens (Renewed)

Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D Lens

The Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D lens (renewed) is a budget-friendly choice for those seeking a high-quality, pre-owned lens for their Nikon DSLR cameras.

Pros

  • High-speed normal lens great for travel and full-length portraits
  • Distortion-free images with superb resolution and color rendition
  • Compatible with Nikon FX/35mm film and Nikon DX

Cons

  • Manual focus required on some Nikon SLR models
  • Not compatible with Nikon F3AF autofocus system
  • No autofocus on Nikon D40 or D40x

The renewed Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D lens is a high-speed normal lens that is perfect for travel photography and capturing full-length portraits in available light. We found that the images produced are distortion-free with superb resolution and color rendition. Additionally, the lens is compatible with both Nikon FX/35mm film and Nikon DX cameras.

One downside of this lens is that manual focus may be required with certain Nikon SLR models due to the older screw-linkage autofocus system. This means it won’t autofocus on cameras like the Nikon D40 or D40x. It is also not compatible with the Nikon F3AF autofocus camera system. However, if manual focus isn’t an issue for you, then these drawbacks might not be too significant.

In terms of sharpness, we discovered that this lens performs exceptionally well at f/4 across the frame. While there are faster lenses available, such as the 50mm f/1.4D and 50mm f/1.2 AI-s, they tend to cost two to four times more and produce more distortion. We believe the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D lens offers the perfect balance of price and performance.

The autofocus operation of this lens is generally fast on compatible cameras. However, as mentioned earlier, manual focus may be required with some Nikon SLR models. Despite this minor drawback, we still highly recommend the renewed Nikon AF FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8D lens as a fantastic budget option for travel and portrait photography with your Nikon DSLR camera.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens

This lens is a great choice for anyone in search of an affordable, versatile, and high-quality Nikon lens.

Pros

  • Sharp image quality and natural depth of field
  • Fast f/1.8 aperture for low light conditions
  • Silent Wave Motor for quiet autofocus

Cons

  • Not compatible with full frame cameras
  • Chromatic aberration may appear in some situations
  • Non-zoomable lens

We recently had the chance to test the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens and were impressed by its performance. The lens has an excellent sharpness and natural depth of field that provides a unique look and feel in comparison to images produced using zoom lenses. It is an ideal lens for discreet snapshots and landscape photography due to its dimensions and picture angle that resemble the human eye’s perspective.

The f/1.8 aperture offers great capabilities for low-light situations, allowing you to capture images without the need for flash. The Silent Wave Motor (SWM) ensures that autofocus operates quietly and quickly, making it particularly useful when shooting video or in quiet environments.

One downside we noticed was that this lens is not compatible with full-frame cameras, making it exclusively suitable for DX-format cameras. Some users may also experience chromatic aberration in certain situations, although this can be corrected when shooting in RAW format. Lastly, the lens is not zoomable, meaning you will need to rely on your feet to adjust your frame.

Overall, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens is a fantastic option for photographers in need of a high-quality, budget-friendly lens for Nikon DX-format DSLR cameras. With its impressive performance and attractive price point, this lens should be on the radar for any Nikon user.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8

Nikon NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8

We highly recommend the Nikon NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8 for those seeking a versatile and affordable full-frame standard zoom lens with great low-light capabilities.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact design
  • Fast constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the zoom range
  • Close focusing distance for capturing intricate details

Cons

  • Plastic construction may feel less durable
  • Lacks an AF/MF switch
  • No built-in image stabilization, relies on in-camera stabilization

After getting our hands on the Nikon NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8, we found it to be an impressive lens for its price point. Its lightweight and compact design make it an excellent choice for photographers and videographers on the go. The lens is nearly 30% lighter than the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S and measures just 4.8 inches long when retracted.

The fast constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the entire zoom range is a major selling point for this lens. It offers excellent depth of field control as well as beautiful bokeh, making it ideal for both stills and videos. Additionally, the close focusing feature enables users to get as close as 7.5 inches to their subject, filling the frame with the tiniest details.

We appreciate the excellent image quality and autofocus performance, but there are a few things to consider. While the plastic construction is an advantage in terms of weight reduction, it might not give a sturdy feel to some users. Moreover, the absence of an AF/MF switch and lack of built-in image stabilization might be a downside for some. However, the lens works seamlessly with in-camera stabilization if your camera supports it.

In conclusion, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8 lens is a fantastic option for budget-conscious photographers and videographers seeking an affordable, lightweight, and versatile full-frame standard zoom lens. With its fast constant aperture, close focusing capabilities, and compact design, this lens offers an excellent balance of both performance and portability.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

Nikon 55-200mm

This Nikon 55-200mm lens is an excellent budget choice for those looking to capture stunning images with their Nikon DSLR while keeping costs low.

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable design
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) for stable shots
  • Superior optical performance with ED glass elements

Cons

  • Plastic lens mount may be less durable
  • Not as fast-focusing as more expensive lenses
  • No instant manual focus override

We recently tested out the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens and were pleasantly surprised by its performance and image quality given its budget-friendly price. This lightweight lens is perfect for capturing sports, nature, and portrait photos on any DX digital Nikon camera. However, it is not recommended for FX or film cameras.

The lens features two extra-low-dispersion (ED) glass elements, which minimize chromatic aberrations and provide superior optics. The integrated Vibration Reduction (VR) technology allows us to capture sharp images even at slower shutter speeds, making it an extremely useful feature in low light conditions.

One drawback we noticed was the plastic lens mount, which might not be as durable as those on more expensive lenses. However, as long as you take care while handling the lens, this should not be a major concern. The autofocus is not as fast as some higher-priced alternatives, but it still performs relatively well for most shooting situations.

The Nikon 55-200mm lens does not offer instant manual focus override, which could be a downside for some users. However, given the overall performance and the affordable price of this lens, we believe this is a minor inconvenience for those looking to capture high-quality images on a budget.

Overall, if you own a Nikon DX digital camera and are seeking a versatile, budget-friendly telephoto lens, the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Nikkor Zoom Lens is an excellent option. Its combination of lightweight design, Vibration Reduction technology, and superior optics make it a fantastic investment for photographers of all skill levels.

Buying Guide

When looking for the best budget Nikon lens, there are several factors to consider. First and foremost, it’s important to identify the type of photography you’ll predominantly be doing. This will help you determine which focal lengths and features you need the most.

We recommend focusing on the following features when choosing a lens:

Focal Length

Focal length, expressed in millimeters (mm), determines the field of view a lens can capture. It affects the level of magnification, depth, and perspective in a photo. Generally, lenses with lower focal lengths are suitable for wider shots, while those with higher focal lengths are ideal for close-up and distant subjects.

  • Wide-angle lenses (< 35mm): Great for landscapes, architecture, and street photography.
  • Standard lenses (35-70mm): Ideal for everyday photography, including portraits, street, and travel.
  • Telephoto lenses (> 70mm): Suitable for sports, wildlife, and other scenarios where you need to capture distant subjects.

Aperture

Aperture refers to the size of the opening in the lens that lets light through to the camera sensor. It’s expressed as an f-number, like f/2.8 or f/4. A lower f-number means a wider aperture, which allows more light into the camera and helps create a shallow depth of field for beautiful background blur (bokeh). Lenses with wider apertures are generally more expensive, but if you shoot in low-light conditions or want that professional bokeh look, it may be worth the investment.

Autofocus

Autofocus (AF) systems vary across lenses, with some offering faster and more accurate performance than others. For photographers who frequently shoot moving subjects, such as sports or wildlife, a fast and reliable AF system is crucial. While most modern Nikon lenses have good autofocus capabilities, it’s still worth checking the lens’s AF performance as part of your decision-making process.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization (IS) helps reduce the effect of camera shake when shooting handheld, particularly in low-light situations or with longer focal lengths. Many Nikon lenses include IS technology, which can help you achieve sharper images at slower shutter speeds. If you tend to shoot handheld or in low-light conditions, consider prioritizing lenses with IS.

To compare various lenses and their features, you can create a table like this one:

Lens ModelFocal LengthApertureAutofocusImage Stabilization
Example 124-70mmf/2.8YesNo
Example 218-55mmf/3.5-5.6YesYes
Example 355-200mmf/4-5.6YesYes

With these factors in mind, you’ll be better equipped to find the best budget Nikon lens that suits your photography needs. Remember to read reviews and seek recommendations from fellow photographers to further aid in your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most affordable Nikon lens for portrait photography?

For those seeking an affordable portrait lens for their Nikon camera, we recommend the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G. This lens offers impressive sharpness and pleasing background blur – all at a budget-friendly price. Its 50mm focal length is versatile enough for various portrait scenarios, from close-ups to environmental portraits.

Which Nikon lens is a good choice for beginner photographers?

We suggest the Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II as a great all-around option for beginners. This versatile kit lens offers a wide zoom range, which allows new photographers to experiment with various focal lengths and photography styles. Additionally, it features Vibration Reduction technology, helping to minimize camera shake and capture sharp images.

What are the top inexpensive Nikon lenses to consider?

Here are our top picks for budget-conscious Nikon users:

  1. Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G – Excellent for low light and versatile enough for multiple uses.
  2. Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED VR II – A lightweight and affordable option for telephoto zoom.
  3. Nikon AF-P DX 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR – A great choice for wide-angle photography, such as landscapes and architecture.

Can you find quality used Nikon lenses?

Yes, purchasing used Nikon lenses can be a cost-effective way to expand your lens collection. We recommend buying from reputable sources, such as authorized dealers, camera stores, or established online platforms. Always check the lens’ condition and ask for samples of photos taken with it, if possible.

Which budget Nikon prime lens is worth checking out?

The Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G is a solid budget prime lens option. With its fast f/1.8 aperture and 35mm focal length, it performs well in low light and provides a natural field of view. It’s particularly useful for street photography, environmental portraits, and even close-up shots.

Are there any low-cost vintage Nikon lenses that are still worth using?

Indeed, some vintage Nikon lenses continue to provide excellent image quality and can be found at bargain prices. The Nikkor AI-S 50mm f/1.8 and the Nikkor AI-S 105mm f/2.5 are two classic lenses that have stood the test of time. Keep in mind, however, that they may not have full compatibility with modern Nikon cameras, so research your camera’s compatibility before purchasing.

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