Nikon has an excellent range of versatile telephoto lenses. In this guide, we look specifically at four of the best Nikon telephoto lenses under $300. It is possible to purchase a quality telephoto lens without spending a fortune.
When looking at Nikon lenses, there are several features to consider. Firstly, if it is a DX lens, this means it is compatible with APS-C cropped sensor cameras. Secondly, an ED after the aperture means that the lens features Extra-Low Dispersion lens elements.
Vibration Reduction and Silent Wave Motor technologies are also something to look for. VR provides image stabilization for handheld usage, while SWM is an advanced autofocusing technology. These are two important features of telephoto lenses and will help improve the lens’ performance greatly.
1. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR (Overall Winner)
Our top choice of Nikon telephoto lenses under $300 is the AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR. This is a great lens and one of the cheapest telephoto models available for Nikon DX cameras.
It has a good set of features and a multi-zoom focal distance of 70-300mm. The maximum aperture range is OK and even at 300mm you still get an aperture of f/6.3. This means you can still control the depth of field and get nice bokeh backgrounds even at maximum zoom.
This lens also features Nikon’s Vibration Reduction technology which helps when using it handheld. It also has a pulse motor and stepping motor technology to provide fast and accurate autofocusing. This is another bonus, especially for wildlife photographers shooting moving objects.
The lens element is also advanced and features a range of enhanced elements. This includes an ED (extra-low dispersion) element that helps keep image quality consistent and provides good depth and contrast. If you want a versatile zoom lens for telephoto photography, the NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR is a solid choice.
2. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
Next, we have the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR which is a solid multi-purpose zoom lens with telephoto capabilities. It does not offer super telephoto distances, but at 140mm you can still shoot high-quality medium telephoto shots.
This lens has a solid build quality and a good array of features. This includes Vibration Reduction which reduces camera shake and helps when using the lens handheld. It corrects for up to four stops of camera shake.
Interestingly, the NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR also has decent macro capabilities. It has a closest focusing distance of 1.48 feet, and when used at 140mm, you can gain excellent detail in subjects from a safe distance.
For autofocusing, the Nikon 18-140mm has a Silent Wave Motor which is one of the best options available. This gives ultra-fast and ultra-quiet autofocusing. The lens element also includes Extra-Low Dispersion glass which provides optimum contrast and reduces distortions.
Due to its versatile zoom range, and quality features, this is an excellent Nikon telephoto lens under $300 and offers reliable performance.
3. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II
Similar to the 18-140mm, we have the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II. This telephoto lens offers a greater maximum focal distance and has some minor feature improvements too. This is a DX lens and is therefore compatible with Nikon APS-C cameras.
For autofocusing, this lens has Nikon’s SWM motor technology. You can therefore focus quickly on moving objects, and it works well in low-contrast situations too. Also, it has VR II technology which offers improved image stabilization over the basic VR system.
The maximum aperture range of f/3.5-5.6 also means this lens performs well in low-light compositions, and it offers good control over depth of field. Combine this with the VR II technology, and you have an effective 18-200mm lens that you can use handheld in a range of situations.
The lens element is made up of multiple element groupings and includes both aspherical and ED elements. These work together to reduce distortions but also maintain image quality across the entire focal range. The NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II is also relatively portable and weighs just 1.25lbs and has a maximum length of 3.82 inches.
4. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR (Budget Winner)
Our budget choice is the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. This is one of the top Nikon telephoto lenses under $300 and is a bargain at just over $150. It represents one of the cheapest telephoto lenses available for Nikon DX cameras.
To maintain image quality, this lens features both HRI (High Refractive Index) and ED (Extra-low Dispersion) lens elements. The HRI element helps improve light transmission, while the two ED elements improve contrast and clarity.
This lens also has Vibration Reduction technology which reduces camera shake up to three stops when using the device handheld. Also, it has Nikon’s SWM autofocusing motor for quiet and accurate focusing. These features mean the lens is easy to use and a tripod is not always necessary.
For portability, the NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR performs OK. It weighs 1.28lbs (580g) and has an overall length of 4.84 inches. It is larger than the other lenses on this list, but it is still relatively easy to carry. Due to its focal distance of 55-300mm, this is a versatile lens and a brilliant budget option for telephoto photography.
Get Affordable Detail with Nikon Telephoto Lenses Under $300
We hope you have found this guide on the best Nikon telephoto lenses under $300 useful. Anyone of these Nikon lenses offers a great telephoto option. Which you choose depends on your photography style, and what you intend to use the lens for.
For example, if you only want telephoto capabilities, the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR is the best option. Alternatively, if you want a versatile lens, either the 18-200mm or 18-140mm could be a better option as they cover wide-angle through to telephoto.