There’s nothing like the usefulness and versatility of a zoom lens and having a good wad of cash to throw at one. We are not going with “money is no object” today, but rather lenses under the $1000 price range. This will not just give us the choice between good lenses for a variety of tasks, but also affordable options that fit within our budget range.
Nikon’s top-end glass is usually on the pricey side, so we have thrown in one or two third-party options. These will still give us high-end quality, while also being some of the best value zooms around. The Nikon zoom lenses under $1000 below should also cover the most useful of focal lengths, while also covering options for both crop sensor and full-frame cameras.
1. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art (Overall Winner)
Unfortunately, Nikon’s own version of this lens costs nearly twice the price of the Sigma which is just a few dollars over our proposed budget. But the Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM Art can still tick all the boxes for everything we need in this focal range. Plus, a 24-70mm is one of the most useful zooms you can ever own.
Useful on both full-frame and crop sensor cameras, the lens provides a 38.4-112mm equivalent focal length on the latter. The f/2.8 constant aperture is accompanied by three special low dispersion and four aspherical elements, with a super multi-layer coating applied to each.
The Hyper Sonic autofocus motor is especially quick to lock onto focus, only being tripped up in the lowest of light conditions. The lens also benefits from optical stabilization with four stops of compensation for handheld use.
In terms of overall sharpness, it may only be a touch behind Nikon’s own version. But considering it’s nearly half the price, the Sigma can still provide professional results and gives the same-as-camera-brand versions a good run for their money.
Covering the wide to short telephoto side of things, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a good all-round lens that also benefits from image stabilization.
The aperture on this lens is variable, but it has a wide and bright f/2.8-f/4 range that provides plenty of low-light capabilities. To maintain image quality, three aspherical and four extra-low dispersion elements are included, with a Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coating applied to each element. A fluorine coating has also been applied to the front and rear elements to protect against unwanted greasy paw prints.
Also, Nikon’s vibration reduction system provides four stops of compensation, with the option to use a tripod mode for the steadiest of shots.
Just like the 24-70mm above, the 16-80mm is a good all-rounder that provides slightly wider angle shots. The stabilization system works impressively, with the lens, in general, providing a good degree of sharpness throughout the range with plenty of color and saturation.
Although the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR is a touch over our budget brand-new, a certified refurbished version is well under, making it the best value medium telephoto zoom for travel. The lens is equally capable on crop sensor cameras, providing a 36-180mm equivalent focal length.
Three aspherical and two extra-low dispersion elements are included, with a Nano Crystal and super integrated coating applied to all lens elements. Nikon’s vibration reduction system is very helpful at the longest focal lengths.
Although the lens is made from plastic and is not as robust as top-end offerings, it’s still sturdy enough for everyday use, providing excellent sharpness levels throughout the focal range. It will need stopping down to f/5.6 for the best results, but with good light levels available, this lens covers a lot of bases for those who want everything in one zoom lens.
When you need a bit more reach at the telephoto end than what a 24-70mm can provide, the Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art is a good option. The lens provides a 36-157.5mm equivalent focal length on DX models which takes it more into the medium telephoto area.
To maintain image quality throughout the focal range, two F Low Dispersion, two Special Low Dispersion, and three aspherical elements have been included, with a super multi-layer coating applied to each. The optical stabilization system provides all the help you need for handheld shots.
There is no faulting this lens for its levels of sharpness, with plenty of detail being provided from f/4-f/11. Just like the rest of the Sigma Art range, this zoom lens is amazing value for money and will no way make you long for the same-as-camera-brand version.
5. Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD (Budget Winner)
Unfortunately, Nikon’s 70-200mm zooms are well out of our price range, but the Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD is a very close competitor to the Nikon f/4 version. The Tamron is very useful on DX models providing a 105-315mm viewpoint.
To keep the longer focal lengths steady, a four-stops-of-compensation stabilization system has been included with a reasonably fast Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocus motor that can also be used in manual mode.
As this type of lens is most likely to be used out in the wild, it has a moisture-resistant construction and a fluorine coating on the front element to keep away dust and moisture.
This lens is respectably sharp at f/4, with the sharpest images coming in from f/5.6 and above. Considering the overall price point of this zoom lens, it’s a very cost-effective way to buy into the 70-200mm focal range, while still maintaining great image quality.
Zooming into Nikon Zoom Lenses Under $1000
When it comes to narrowing down the best Nikon zooms lenses under $1000, you really can’t go wrong with any of the examples above. If you need a general all-rounder zoom which covers the most useful focal lengths, then you can’t go wrong with the 24-70mm. The 16-80mm is a good choice if you need to capture wider angle views, while the Tamron 70-210mm represents excellent value for money if you need a more telephoto option.