These are the best Nikon lenses 2020 right now for Nikon DSLR owners ready to tackle new subjects or just raise their game! The best Nikon lenses to get right now are mentioned below. But they’re not all made by Nikon! Third-party lens makers like Sigma and Tamron also make some great lenses to fit Nikon DSLRs, so we’ve included those too.
Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR – One of the Best Nikon lenses 2020
This is the ideal focal range for a telephoto zoom, and there are lots of similar 70-300mm lenses on the market. But although this Nikon lens cost more, it’s well worth the extra outlay. It has an AF-P (Pulse motor) autofocus system that’s super-fast and basically inaudible in operation, along with an electromagnetically controlled diaphragm. New-generation VR (Vibration Reduction) gives enhanced 4.5-stop performance and adds a ‘Sport VR’ mode.
This enables easier tracking of erratically moving objects in the viewfinder, as well as avoiding any slowdown in rapid continuous shooting. The lens has a tough, weather-resistant build although, as with the vast majority of stepping-motor lenses, there’s no focus distance scale. All-round performance is excellent and image quality is absolutely top-drawer. It might seem expensive right now, but this lens will prove its worth in the future.
Nikon AF-S DX 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR – One of the Best Nikon lenses 2020
With class-leading wide-angle coverage and a generous zoom range, this lens is equivalent to using a 24-120mm lens in 35mm camera terms. The widest available aperture shrinks from f/2.8 to f/4 at longer zoom settings but the upside is that the lens is smaller and lighter than constant-aperture f/2.8 zooms and has a longer zoom range.
High-tech attractions include an electromagnetically controlled diaphragm, ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, a focus distance scale beneath a viewing panel, four ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements and Nano Crystal Coat. Keep-clean fluorine coatings are also applied to the front and rear elements. We think this is a better choice than Nikon’s old and unstabilized 17-55mm f/2.8 zoom and the best Nikon lens for anyone who wants to upgrade their standard zoom.
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Nikon AF-S DX 18-200mm 3.5-5.6G ED VR II – One of the Best Nikon lenses 2020
When it comes to the actual zoom range of a ‘superzoom’ lens, it’s only natural to feel that bigger is better, and there are 18-300mm and even 16-300mm superzoom lenses with a longer zoom range than this one. However, stretching the envelope in both wide-angle coverage and telephoto reach can degrade image quality, with a lack of sharpness at full zoom, and heavy barrel distortion at the wide-angle end. Although the Nikon 18-200mm is beaten for zoom range by the Sigma 18-300mm and Tamron’s 16-300mm and 18-400mm lenses, as well as Nikon’s own 18-300mm zooms, it’s still our favourite.
Three ED (Extra-low Dispersion) elements help to boost sharpness and contrast, while reducing colour fringing. The VR system has switchable Normal and Active modes and, unlike in competing Sigma and Tamron lenses, autofocus is based on a ring-type ultrasonic system. It’s quick and quiet, and enables the focus ring to remain stationery during autofocus, as well as offering full-time manual override. What this lens lacks in outright zoom range, it makes up for in handling and image quality.
Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | S – One of the Best Nikon lenses 2020
This 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom category is also very popular. This lens doesn’t have the zoom range of the 70-300mm lens above, but it does have a constant f/2.8 maximum aperture. This offers faster shutter speeds in low light and shallower depth of field to help isolate your subjects from their backgrounds. Nikon’s own AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is a great lens, but this Sigma Sports version matches it at pretty much every step of features and performance – and it’s much less expensive.
Its pro-grade features include autofocus-hold/on buttons around the mid-section of the lens, the ability to switch autofocus to either auto-priority or manual-priority mode, and two switchable custom modes. You can assign these with Sigma’s optional USB Dock, for example to increase or decrease the effect of stabilization in the viewfinder image. You can also tailor the autofocus speed and change the autofocus range limiter distance. The only minus points is that the Sigma is a little bigger and heavier than most 70-200mm lenses, and its tripod ring can’t be fully removed to save space.
Nikon AF-S DX 40mm f/2.8G Micro – One of the Best Nikon lenses 2020
This little lens is only about half the length and a third of the weight of a ‘pro’ lens like Nikon’s 105mm macro lens for FX format cameras, so it’s easy to squeeze into a spare corner of your camera bag. With an ‘effective’ focal length of 60mm, it’s ideal as a standard prime lens for general shooting too, combining a fairly fast aperture rating with excellent optical performance. Sharpness is excellent across the entire image frame, from f/2.8 all the way to f/16. Colour fringing is absolutely negligible and there’s virtually zero distortion.
The only catch is that, for full 1.0x magnification, the minimum focus distance from the focal plane is a mere 16cm and, because the inner barrel extends, the working distance from the front of the lens to the subject shrinks to just 35mm, which is a bit close for comfort. Nevertheless, if you own a DX Nikon and shoot macros only occasionally, this is the best Nikon lens for the job.
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C
For some subjects you need more magnification than a regular 70-200mm or 70-300mm lens can provide. This is where you need a super-telephoto of up to 600mm focal length, and this is where the new breed of 150-600mm zooms is ideal. This is the best Nikon lens for wildlife and long-range sports fans and could be especially good for aviation nuts. For outright image quality, the more expensive Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens is our top choice, but this ‘C’ lens offers a better cost and weight compromise for most people, while covering the same focal range.
This ‘C’ (Contemporary) lens is almost a full kilogram lighter in weight than Sigma’s ’S’ (Sports) version. It’s not quite as extensively weather-sealed but still very well made, almost as sharp, and has the same range of up-market features and controls. Overall, it’s the more sensible buy if you need a lens like this occasionally rather than all the time. It’s designed for full frame FX Nikons, and on a DX format Nikon with the 1.5x ‘crop factor, it gives an amazing 225-900mm effective focal range.
Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G – One of the Best Nikon lenses 2020
The Sigma 50mm f/1.4 is a great lens, but heavy and expensive and perhaps a bit too much for many Nikon DX camera owners. For budget portraiture on a DX format body, look no further than this Nikon 50mm f/1.8. It’s two-thirds of a stop slower but performs very well and is cheap to buy. Considering the downmarket price, build quality feels pretty good, right down to the weather-sealed metal mounting plate.
The lens comes complete with a hood, despite the front element being deeply recessed within the barrel. You get ring-type ultrasonic autofocus complete with full-time manual override and a focus distance scale positioned beneath a viewing panel. One final advantage is that this is actually an FX full frame lens, so if you move up to a full frame Nikon in the future, you can use it as a compact standard lens.
Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
A major upgrade over Tamron’s original 10-24mm ultra-wide zoom for APS-C format cameras, this one has improved optics, 4-stop VC (Vibration Compensation) stabilization, and a new HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) autofocus system. Weather-seals are also added, plus a fluorine coating on the front element to repel moisture and aid cleaning. Image quality is very good and, overall, it’s simply the best Nikon-fit DX format ultra-wide zoom.
It beats Nikon’s long-standing AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED lens for performance and image quality, and is much less expensive to buy, although it’s twice the price of Nikon’s budget 10-20mm VR zoom (which you also might like to consider if you’re on a budget). That’s why it’s included in the best Nikon lenses 2020 list.
Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM | A
Nikon’s own-brand AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is legendary as a pro-grade ultra-wide zoom for FX format cameras, but the Sigma 14-24mm delivers equally stellar sharpness and contrast. Better still, it beats the Nikon for control over colour fringing and distortions, both being incredibly well controlled for a zoom lens as wide as this. In fact, this is probably the best Nikon lens for landscape and architecture fans.
The top-performance optics are wrapped up in a superbly well-engineered and fully weather-sealed barrel. The maximum viewing angle isn’t quite as extreme as in Sigma’s 12-24mm Art lens, but the image quality is better. More importantly, the new Sigma 14-24mm out-performs the equivalent to the the best Nikon lenses 2020 and is also less expensive to buy.