Although the Nikon D810 has now been superseded by the D850, it’s still a highly regarded and cherished camera in Nikon circles. While the newer version may sport a higher pixel count and 4K video, the D810 still offers extremely high resolution for the largest of prints from its 37.09-megapixel sensor and 64–12,800 ISO range. To make use of all that resolving power, you need equal quality glass, thus bringing you the best lenses for the Nikon D810.
‘With great glass, comes great responsibility,’ I have just made up Peter Parker saying somewhere in the comic books (he was originally a journalist and photographer). But the statement is true, as the best performing lenses for Nikon D810 are generally costly affairs, due to their high-end optics and functionality.
You would think this would mean treating each lens like a piece of bone china, but luckily these lenses are generally built like the Hulk. The makers know they will be used in all conditions and weather types by professionals and amateurs alike.
This indicates that even though they get bruised and battered, they still deliver where it counts. So, enough of the terrible comic book references and back to the best line-up of lenses for the Nikon D810.
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR (Overall Winner)
No matter the camera platform, a 24-70mm zoom lens is one of versatile around. In this case, it’s the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR, which also boasts Vibration Reduction, something not always offered in a 24-70mm lens.
This particular version works equally well on both FX and DX formats, providing a 36-105mm equivalent focal length on the latter. Optically, the lens is made up of one aspherical extra-low dispersion, three aspherical, one high refractive index, and two extra-low dispersion glass elements, as well as Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings.
The Vibration Reduction system offers four stops of compensation, all wrapped around a fully weatherproof lens barrel. This lens is exceptionally sharp and detailed, with plenty of definition even with the aperture wide open at f/2.8. It also produces wonderful bokeh, making it a good solution for regular portrait work.
The only real downside to this lens is that it’s expensive and heavy, coming in at 1070g. However, lots of quality glass will ultimately mean more heavyweight lenses. It’s just a factor we have to live with. And while the price point may seem higher than third-party alternatives, for instance, the Sigma 24-70mm, the Nikon has full weatherproofing and image stabilization.
While there’s always going to be arguments over what is a standard prime lens, a 50mm or a 35mm, the Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G is still one of the most versatile around. The 50mm, in this case, is lighter and way cheaper than its 35mm f/1.4 sibling.
A Super Integrated Coating reduces the likes of lens flares, with an optical arrangement of eight elements in seven groups. A Silent Wave Motor handles the autofocusing and the nine-blade rounded diaphragm handles all those lovely bokeh effects.
The f/1.4 aperture produces a wonderful shallow depth of field, with fantastic sharpness levels and great low-light operation. The competition is stiff in the 50mm lens department, with the cheaper Nikon 50mm f/1.8G version snapping at its heels. However, for its extra light gathering ability and quality optics, the f/1.4G is well worth the money.
If you need a wider angle lens than a 50mm, a 35mm is usually the next port of call. The Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art is a good solution in this department, being more cost-effective than Nikon’s own variety.
The impressive array of glass inside this lens makes it clear where the heavyweight 665g comes from. For the internal lens elements, there is one F Low Dispersion, four Special Low Dispersion, two aspherical elements, and a Super Multi-Layer Coating. The lens body isn’t waterproofed, but it’s robust enough to take regular use.
The downsides to this lens are that the autofocus can skip at times and it’s quite heavy for this focal length. But the optics is where it counts and the Sigma excels in this department.
Wide-angle to a standard focal length is a common zoom range, which is why the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR stands out. Although there are faster lenses, the 16-35mm f/4G is cost-effective, with a versatile zoom range and it’s light weight.
Three aspherical elements and two extra-low dispersion elements make up the optical arrangement, along with Nano Crystal coatings applied to all elements.
A VR II Vibration Reduction system has also been incorporated with 2.5 stops of compensation. This is not always needed on a wide-angle zoom, but in this case helps to achieve exceptionally low shutter speeds for sharp, low-light photography.
There’s no faulting the sharpness and detail from this lens and while it has an f/4 aperture, it’s still very fast. Basically, this lens will cover everything you need for wide-angle shots.
Choosing the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 DG OS HSM Sports over the more expensive Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II was a tough choice, but the Sigma provides the most bang for the buck in a telephoto zoom while still providing exceptional quality.
The Sigma 70-200mm doesn’t lack in optics or features, with a constant f/2.8 aperture, 24 lens elements arranged in 22 groups, and a higher than normal 11-blade rounded diaphragm. There’s also a Hyper Sonic Motor for handling autofocusing, with full-time manual override and an optical image stabilizer.
Image quality and definition is superb from this lens, with the f/2.8 aperture producing stunning bokeh effects, which will be very useful for portrait work. The Sigma may not be weatherproofed like the Nikon version, but it’s definitely a close call when it comes to optical quality and versatility. However, for the working professional who ventures out in all weathers, the weatherproofing maybe a deciding factor.
6. Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED (Budget Winner)
High-end lenses will always have an exclusive price point, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t examples out there that provide great optics for more affordable prices. This includes the Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED which has plenty of zoom range, quality optics, and Nikon’s Vibration Reduction system.
The VR system offers 4.5 stops of compensation, with an extra-low dispersion element and a Super Integrated Coating to improve clarity and reduce lens anomalies. Although this is a variable aperture lens, its still quite capable of producing good quality bokeh and sharp results at the widest aperture settings. Even at the extremes of the focal length, images are sharp, which makes this lens very useful for wildlife and action shots.
It may not ultimately compete with the most expensive Nikon lenses, but considering the price point, it delivers exceptional quality for the money.
Finding Lenses for Nikon D810
The simple equation is that if you own a camera with the resolving power of the Nikon D810, then you need a lens that is equally capable. The lenses listed above are generally considered the best versions in their categories, with the only jump up in optical quality coming from much higher-priced, manual-only prime lenses.