Telephoto lenses give a narrow-angle of view, magnifying objects that are very far away, hence making them look much closer than they actually are. A lens with a focal length longer than 105mm is considered to be telephoto and it’s usually referred to as a short telephoto if its focal length ranges from 105mm to 135mm.
Telephoto lenses with different focal lengths and magnifications are used for various photography needs. For instance, short telephoto zooms are very popular among portrait lovers – they allow a natural rendition of human face proportions and effectively separate the target subject from the background.
Anything with a focal length beyond 200mm is treated as super-telephoto. If you are into wildlife or sports photography, they can be the best choice to go with.
Now, if you are a Nikon owner on a budget and are looking for a quality telephoto lens under $1000, you have come to the right place. In this roundup, we have put together some of the top-performing lenses. Nikon telephoto lenses under $1000 are available and offer the best value for your money.
1. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR (Overall Winner)
From stills to videos and portraits to landscapes, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR can do almost anything. Its incredible zoom range allows you to go from wide-angle all the way to super-telephoto, so you can capture wonderful close-ups.
Featuring a balanced and compact design with Vibration Reduction technology, this lens produces sharp images and steady videos. The lens’ silent and fast autofocus mechanism effectively minimizes camera noise when shooting video footage.
The best thing about this all-in-one lens is that you can cover the entire spectrum of focal lengths without changing lenses, making it a great option for travel and everyday use. Its latest version is even cheaper and lighter.
While the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR won’t give you pro-level optics, it’s the most versatile lens being offered for DX-format cameras at a very competitive price.
2. Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD
The Tamron 100-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is an ultra-telephoto zoom lens that helps you shoot in-the-moment action scenes easily with its great AF precision.
This lens is highly portable and features three Low Dispersion (LD) glass elements that are effectively positioned to minimize aberrations that often occur with a telephoto lens. Tamron has used its proprietary eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating to prevent reflections, as a result, you get crisp and clear images with more vivid colors.
With the lens barrel built with magnesium, this ultra-telephoto category lens is one of the lightest zooms, making it ideal for handheld shooters. A Fluorine coating is applied on the front element and the moisture-resistant construction gives you an extra advantage while shooting outdoors.
An ultra-telephoto lens should include precise AF tracking and Vibration Compensation (VC) for better performance. That’s where Tamron’s Dual micro-processing unit (MPU) high-quality control system comes in, which is dedicated to vibration compensation. This allows you to shoot fast-moving subjects with great ease and stability, even in challenging lighting conditions.
3. Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
The Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary is a little more compact and lightweight than the above competing Tamron 100-400mm lens, however, this telephoto zoom from Sigma still feels quite solid and sturdy. The inclusion of four Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements means the image quality is outstanding and you also get switchable auto/manual-priority AF modes.
The lens comes with a dual-mode zoom mechanism, which can be operated by twisting the conventional zoom ring or by simply pushing and pulling the barrel. The supplied lens hood is specially designed for the latter action.
Two custom settings are included that allow you to tailor the autofocus and stabilization systems to your desired requirements, using Sigma’s optional USB dock. Although the lack of an optional tripod mounting ring is a bit disappointing, it’s the best value lens for the money.
4. Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD
This Tamron lens is compatible with FX-format Nikon cameras but gives a slightly longer effective zoom reach on DX-format DSLRs. It delivers stunning optical performance throughout the entire zoom range.
Its optical design incorporates three Low Dispersion (LD) lens elements, enabling it to effectively correct chromatic aberrations and deliver clear, crisp photos with great edge-to-edge sharpness.
While shooting up close, the lens gives smooth and soft bokeh. Additionally, it features an internal zoom system that has a solid mechanical construction and stable, reliable functionality.
Tamron’s Dual MPU design ensures you get high-speed and high-accuracy AF performance and its image stabilization system allows you to use the lens in various situations. With the moisture-resistant construction and a Fluorine coating on the front element, you can comfortably use this telephoto zoom for your outdoor adventures, and its compact and lightweight build is ideal for travel.
5. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR (Budget Winner)
The older model of the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR was an incredible performer and a legend among the budget telephoto zooms, but it lacked an effective autofocusing system. Fortunately, this latest model includes a Pulse stepping motor autofocus system which is both silent and extremely fast, even when shooting indoors.
One key feature of this lens is its electromagnetically controlled aperture, which ensures great exposure consistency in burst shooting mode. The latest generation VR system offers up to 4.5 stops of vibration compensation and adds an extra ‘Sport’ mode. This will ensure you easily track the erratically moving subjects and, as for image quality, it’s excellent in almost all respects.
Final Thoughts on Nikon Telephoto Lenses Under $1000
Telephoto lenses offer a remarkable zoom reach and take you as close to your subject as you want to be. However, most of them aren’t pocket-friendly and not everyone can afford them.
Therefore, it makes us look for options that are affordable and offer good quality. So, in this discussion, we have presented some of the best Nikon telephoto lenses under $1000 that provide incredible zoom range and picture quality.