When transitioning from a smartphone or a point-and-shoot camera to a professional body, one of the main things newcomers need to be aware of is the importance of lenses.
When making a film, a good camera is only half the equation. The other half is the lens choice.
Much of the look and feel of a film will come from the lens.
However, As Canon’s rival, Nikon has a very wide first and third-party lens support, finding the right lenses may seem impossible. That’s why today we’re going to talk about the best lenses for Nikon cameras.
Now, selecting a lens isn’t just about finding the most expensive or highest specs lens out there.
More so, it’s about knowing what type of lens is the one most suitable for your needs.
So, today not only are we listing the best Nikon lenses, but we’re also discussing the things you need to consider before buying one yourself.
The Best Nikon Lenses
Let’s take a look at some of the best Nikon lenses that will push your filmmaking capabilities beyond the limitations of the camera.
We’re starting off with the cheapest lenses Nikon ever made.
This incredibly light-weight and compact lens has won over the hearts of novice and professional filmmakers.
The image quality you can get out of this lens is incredibly detailed and shape. More so when you consider the asking price.
The focus system is incredibly fast as well. It almost focuses instantly, in fact. Therefore it’s great for shooting fast-moving subjects.
Another great selling point of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is the fact that you can use it on full-frame and cropped sensor cameras.
You can get some great medium shots out of this lens. Thanks to the aperture the lens is adept at low-light shooting.
The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED is another incredibly affordable lens that’s also amazingly versatile. It works both for shooting wide-angle angle scenes and mediums.
Nikon made the lens aspherical with extra-low dispersion glass elements which makes ghosting and flare completely non-existent.
The contrast and definition even in low-light situations are incredible. The 1.4 aperture also makes this an incredibly fast lens.
The design of this lens is compact and light. This makes it a joy to carry the lens around especially for traveling purposes.
You can use the lens on your cropped sensor DSLR and when upgrading to a full-frame body, you’ll already have a lens to use.
An incredibly wise investment if there ever was one!
Even if this deal wasn’t on the table, this lens would still make the list for its great image quality and versatility.
Nikon has made a name for itself when it comes to manufacturing walkaround lenses. The Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is Nikon’s latest and best, not by accident, DX-format standard zoom lens on the market.
Not only does this impressive lens offer an amazingly large field of view, but it also gives quite a big zoom range.
You’ll also get a maximum f/2.8 aperture. Nikon also equipped the lens with what’s called an electromagnetic diaphragm control and a ring-type ultrasonic AF system.
Aside from all the technical jargon, what these two features achieve is precise aperture control.
Additionally, they make for an incredibly fast and almost quiet autofocusing.
There are many wide-angle zoom lenses on the market, we simply think this is the most suitable for new filmmakers using Nikon bodies.
For many professionals, the go-to telephoto lens is The Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR. It’s frankly easy to see why.
Thanks to the versatile reach of the lens and the fact that it can easily maintain an aperture of f/5.6. It can do so even if you push the lens to 400mm with a 2x teleconverter.
This is not all that the lens has to offer. Other features loved by filmmakers include both manual and autofocus priority control.
There’s also electronic aperture control. A surprising feature is the Sport VR mode which will definitely please action and sports videographers.
Unlike the past few lenses, this one feels like a true high-end Nikon lens. The lens is incredibly well-built and can withstand plenty of abuse.
Not that we’re recommending you throw this lens over a cliff and see if it makes it unscathed!
Overall, for a lens with an incredibly fast AF system, that can also capture great image quality with sharpness and vibrancy of colors, you really can’t do much better than the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.
Stepping away from all the Nikon first-party lenses, let’s talk about a third-party option.
For anyone interested in a great full-frame Macro lens that will work just as well if you own a DX body, we can’t help but recommend the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro.
This prime lens with a focal length of 90mm is perfect for macro videography.
A maximum aperture of f/2.8 makes the lens incredibly adept at shooting in low-light situations.
The lens is also equipped with image stabilization which greatly helps with camera shake.
That’s not all, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro has some other excellent specifications.
For one, the glass is high-grade and the lens will deliver some incredible images with clarity and sharpness even at the edges of the frame.
The lens is also weather-sealed which makes the camera incredibly durable for outdoor videography.
The autofocus system is incredibly fast and very adept at close-up shooting.
Overall, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Macro is a top-of-the-line macro lens.
For our last pick for this list, we’re looking at a lens that’s sure to satisfy wildlife and sports videographers. What we’re featuring is the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, a lens that offers extreme telephoto reach without forcing you to break the bank.
The zoom lens offers a focal length between 200 and 500mm. It has a maximum aperture of f/5.6 which is appropriate.
More than that, the lens has built-in Image stabilizing which is helpful for shooting fast-moving subjects.
The weather sealing feature is most welcome. Had it not been here it would’ve been awkward.
The lens can maintain its aperture throughout its entire range which is incredibly impressive.
Another fantastic feature exclusive to this lens is the ‘Sport’ mode. This makes it very easy to track the speed and erratic movements of subjects.
Overall, if you’re a wildlife, sports, or action videographer the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR might be the best Nikon option for you.
Nikon makes two types of DSLRs. The first is the smaller APS-C sensor format also called DX models.
The second is the larger full-frame sensor known as FX body. Thankfully, most Nikon lenses will work on both types of cameras.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that the DX sensor creates what’s called a crop factor. This makes the angle of view smaller.
This is not to say this is a fault of the DX cameras, it’s just how they work due to the smaller sensor size. Some videographers love this quirk.
You can use Nikon’s telephotos, macro lenses, and portrait lenses on both their DX and FX cameras without much disruption.
However, for wide-angle standard zoom cameras, it’s better to get lenses made specifically for your camera’s sensor size. Otherwise, you won’t get the desired angle of view.
How much coverage do you want your lens to do? Ask yourself this before you buy a lens. The focal length is measured in Millimeters.
The bigger the number the smaller the physical space a lens can cover.
Don’t be afraid to get lost in all the numbers, you can usually categorize the focal lengths in certain ranges.
Lenses that are 25mm or are somewhere in this ballpark have the widest coverage.
You can capture scenery in full or a body within a physical space. And this is a good focal length for those shooting landscapes or architecture.
42.5mm or so is what we’d call medium range. For cinematographers, this is what they’d use for a medium shot or a medium close-up.
You can capture the head and shoulders of your subject. This is good for making a subject stand out in a frame.
Finally, we have 60/70mm focal length. This is perfect for shooting close-ups. You can focus on the intimate details of your subject.
Things like facial features or the finer details of an inanimate object really stand out in this focal length.
Aperture tells you how fast a lens is. It also lets you know the amount of light allowed into the lens. Aperture is measured in f-numbers like f/3.5 or f/4.
- The larger numbers indicate a slower aperture.
- The smaller the number, the more light a lens can take in and the better it performs in low-light situations.
So yes, the bigger the F-number the slower the camera will be. Usually, lens kits will have apertures around f5.6.
This is simply too slow and will make your shooting experience less than optimal.
You’ll notice that most of our lenses range at 1.8, this offers the fastest and best performance especially, in low-light conditions.
The faster the autofocus the more it’ll cost you. Therefore, most people prefer to have average autofocus at a reasonable price.
Just ensure that the autofocus isn’t slow or loud so it neither infuriates you nor distracts you.
With time you may even give up on autofocus and switch manual focus which allows you to control the focus system by rotating the ring on the lens.
Best Nikon Lenses – Wrapping Up
This concludes our comprehensive guide on the best Nikon lenses for novice filmmakers.
While you’ll hear that professionals only use expensive high-end lenses, the truth is most of them carry affordable lenses that are effective for their needs.
Remember that the best lens for you is the one that’s versatile enough (if you need that), compact in design for easy handling.
Hopefully, by now you’ll have a better idea of what Nikon lenses do and how to pick out the best one for you.
So what are you waiting for? Save up your money on buying a whole roster of lenses you may never need and pick the ones you want to work with and have fun experimenting.