When you buy a Nikon DSLR camera, it usually comes with a ‘kit lens’ – either an 18-55mm model or an 18-140mm model. This is generally the first lens that a photographer starts with.
Kit lenses offer a fairly wide range and allow amateur photographers to get comfortable with their cameras. While these lenses are great all-rounders for a beginner kit, after some time you may grow tired of the same view. It may be time to look for a new lens to boost your creativity.
Different lenses excel in different things. For example, prime lenses are superior in picture quality. Macro lenses are the best for close-ups. Portrait lenses are more flattering for faces and provide a lovely bokeh. Zoom lenses are the go-to choice for wildlife photography or other cases where you can’t use your feet to zoom.
A good lens can cause a hefty dent in your wallet. It’s a difficult job, finding a good and affordable lens. That’s why we’ve made it a little easier for you by compiling a list of the best cheap lenses for Nikon.
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G (Overall Winner)
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G is one of the best cheap lenses for Nikon DX cameras. The picture quality of this lens is impeccable, and it comes with a weather-sealed metal mounting plate so you can use it in a range of weather conditions.
The ultrasonic autofocus makes using the lens pretty simple, but there’s also a manual override for the professionals to use as well. The focus on this lens is very fast, making it a great choice to capture moving objects.
At f/1.8, the large aperture gives your pictures a nice bokeh, and Nikon’s 50mm is excellent at shooting razor-sharp images, making this lens perfect for portraits. The lens is lightweight, compact, fairly fast, and a good performer in low light. Albeit, this model is slower than the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G, but it’s also half the price! For its price, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G is a stellar budget lens.
If a prime lens isn’t for you, try this budget zoom lens. The Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED has an internal focusing system, consisting of an AF-P (pulse motor) which gives it a fast and quiet autofocus.
The lens also comes with VR (vibration reduction) that reduces any shakiness caused by your hands. A Sports VR mode is also available with this lens. This mode makes it easier to track down moving objects in the viewfinder and avoid any slowdown when shooting bursts, making it an ideal lens for sports photography.
The Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED produces images with great contrast and resolution thanks to the Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass elements in it. This lens is lighter and more compact compared to other inexpensive lenses for Nikon, so it’s a great option to carry around on hikes or other wildlife expeditions.
Another reason it’s great to take with you when you travel is its weather-resistant build. While this lens may be a bit on the pricey side of this list, for a telephoto zoom, it’s a bargain!
Nikon cameras don’t always need a Nikon lens. This budget option is an excellent choice among cheap lenses for Nikon cameras. This wide-angle lens is a must-have for any photographer that is keen on shooting landscapes and architecture.
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD contains a four-stop VC (vibration compensation), similar to Nikon’s VR. This lens is actually the first wide-angle lens with image stabilization.
The lens has a fluorine coating that repels water and oil from the surface, so you don’t have to worry about it getting dirty. It also has moisture-resistant construction.
The Tamron 10-24mm has an HLD (High/Low toque-modulated Drive) autofocus system that ensures a fast and quiet focus. Overall, the image quality produced by this lens is impressive and perhaps unmatched for a DX ultra-wide zoom lens. This Tamron lens outperforms its Nikon competitor, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED and is much less expensive as well.
This is a great budget macro lens for your Nikon. It comes with a focusing ring clutch that allows you to engage or disengage the focusing gear, depending on your preference. To switch between autofocus and manual focus mode, all you have to do is slide the ring forwards or backward. This lens has ultrasound autofocus allowing for fast and silent focus.
The Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD is weather-sealed and has a fluorine coating. Due to these features, this is a handy lens to keep with you since you’ll be able to use it in most weather conditions. The image stabilizer in this lens is actually a ‘hybrid’ upgrade from the previous Tamron lens, now tackling horizontal and vertical shifts, making the stabilization of an image easier and more effective.
Overall, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 macro lens is a much better buy compared to its Nikon competitor, the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF ED.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR is a great budget zoom lens to buy. This zoom lens has a maximum aperture of f/4 and is a versatile lens. Perfect for your introduction to zoom lenses! The lens comes with VR image stabilization, allowing you to take more handheld shots. If you’re keen on shooting landscapes or weddings, this is the lens for you.
Nikon’s 24-120mm f/4G ED VR has two Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements that make your images sharper and provide better color contrast. The M/A switch makes it easy for photographers to switch between manual focus and autofocus. The Nikon 24-120mm has three aspherical lens elements that eliminate aberration, even at wide apertures.
The Tokina AT-X 16-28 f/2.8 PRO FX is a lens designed specifically for Nikon FX cameras. It’s a great budget lens for all professional photographers out there! This wide-angle zoom produces images of the greatest quality thanks to the lens’ super-low dispersion glass elements.
This Tokina lens comes with a silent DC motor, which means the autofocus feature is faster and quieter than ever. The focus ring makes it easier for photographers to switch back and forth between auto and manual modes. If landscape photography is for you, then this is the best budget lens you can get for Nikon!
If portrait photography is your passion, the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is quite possibly the best focal length for you. This lens is possibly the best budget 85mm on the market today. Sigma’s lens offers an excellent resolution, 50 megapixels or higher, and an outstanding bokeh effect for all your portraits. This is easily one of the best cheap lenses for Nikon cameras that you can buy for portraits.
The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art has nine aperture blades – the secret behind the amazing bokeh it produces. It also contains Super Multi-Layer Compensation (SML) that prevents reflections in your pictures and provides razor-sharp images with brilliant contrast.
Sigma’s newly developed Hyper Sonic engine also allows the lens to focus 1.3 times faster than its older version. This Sigma lens also comes with a USB dock that can be used by the photographer!
8. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G (Budget Winner)
This Nikon lens is probably one of the best cheap lenses for Nikon you can buy, especially if you’re on a very tight budget. It has an aperture range f/1.8 to f/22, so you’re sure to find something that suits your needs. This also means that the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is great for shooting in low light situations.
The autofocus on this lens is quick, fast, and silent, thanks to the Silent Wave Motor AF system. Pair this lens with even a cheap body, and you’re bound to produce images of professional quality.
Low price and fast autofocus aren’t the only advantages that come with this lens, though. This lens is small in size and lightweight, making it easy to carry around. The external body is quite strong and is sure to last you a good number of years. This is a superb lens to use right after your kit lens. It’s the perfect stepping stone to using a professional lens.
Choosing Cheap Lenses for Nikon Cameras
At the end of the day, there are a range of inexpensive lenses for Nikon cameras. What lens you buy is essentially up to what kind of photography you want to explore. Stick to a prime lens if you prefer picture quality over all else, but if you want versatility, a zoom is the way to go. Use this list to help you decide on your next budget lens!
If you’re looking for Canon or Sony lenses, check out our buying guides on those: