A zoom lens offers versatility and allows you to cover a wider range of photography types. Whilst prime lenses have a set focal distance, zoom lenses can shift between focal distances. With a 70-300mm, for example, you could cover anything from portraits through to wildlife photography.
Nikon has a good range of affordable zoom lenses. In this buying guide we look at five of the best Nikon zoom lenses under $250 for your benefit.
Having a budget zoom lens for your Nikon camera can allow you to react to different situations. Also, by using a zoom lens, you don’t have to continually swap lenses and potentially miss a photo opportunity.
1. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR (Overall Winner)
Our top Nikon zoom lens under $250 is the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR. To meet our budget range, you must consider buying this lens used or renewed. This telephoto zoom lens covers a wide range of focal distances and allows you to capture great detail from a distance.
The focal distance of 70mm could be used for portrait shots whilst at 300mm, you have a super-telephoto zoom that can capture excellent detail. When using the lens at 300m, you can benefit from the Vibration Reduction technology which provides much-needed image stabilization.
Also, the aperture range of f/4.5 at 70mm and f/5.6 at 300mm offers good creative options and still allows decent control over depth of field. At 300mm and f/5.6, you can capture the subject in detail, whilst the background has an artistic bokeh effect.
This affordable lens under $250 has a quiet autofocus pulse motor which provides a silent and accurate autofocus system. This is vital when tracking moving subjects at the larger focal distances. The 70-300mm is an excellent Nikon zoom lens under $250 and a good choice for wildlife photography.
Similar to the lens above, this lens is a tad out of our budget range and must be purchased used. The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II provides a wide focal range. With 18mm to 200mm, you can cover everything from wide-angle through to telephoto. This could be an ideal kit lens if you don’t want to continually change lenses.
It has various features to improve image quality such as low dispersion elements to reduce distortion. Also, it has Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor to provide quick autofocusing, and VR II image stabilization technology. This means you can create clear photos at any focal distance with ease.
This 18-200mm lens has a minimum focusing distance of just 20 inches, allowing you to get close to your subject for even greater detail.
If you want an affordable zoom lens under $250, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is a solid option. It has a decent focal distance of 16-85mm which is suitable for various photography types. You can take wide-angle shots at 16mm, whilst at 85mm, you have a decent portrait lens.
This DX lens is compatible with Nikon DX cameras like the D40, D60, and D300. It has some good features such as vibration reduction which improvise image stabilization. Also, it has a Super Integrated Coating that reduces distortions and lens flare.
At just 485g, this lens is portable and could be used as a versatile kit lens for your DX DSLR camera.
One great Nikon zoom lens is the versatile Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED II. This is a good kit lens and offers a smaller focal distance that can be used for travel and street photography.
At 18mm you can take wide-angle shots and decent landscape photos. Alternatively, at 55mm, you can capture greater detail for street photography and portraits. This is complemented by a SWM autofocusing motor that offers accurate and quiet focusing.
For Nikon DX-format cameras, this is a top budget lens under $250. The lens element has special coatings to reduce distortions, and the rounded seven-blade diaphragm allows you to create spectacular bokeh.
At just 204g and a maximum length of 3.15 inches, this lens is quite small and compact. It could be used as a travel lens or a lens for mobile photography shoots. It has a convenient switch that allows you to quickly change between manual and autofocusing.
5. Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED (Budget Winner)
Our best budget option is the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-NIKKOR 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED. This is a good zoom lens that covers a wide telephoto zoom distance and is incredibly affordable.
The focal distance of 55-200mm offers great creativity. At 55mm you can shoot portrait shots and events photography. Moving through to 200mm, and you have a telephoto zoom that can capture details of wildlife and sports photography.
This lens under $250 also has two extra low-dispersion lens elements that help reduce ghosting, flare, and chromatic aberration. Images look sharp with this lens and the end results are fantastic. It also has a Silent Wave Motor which enables a high-speed autofocusing operation.
The maximum aperture range of f/4 at 55mm and f/5.6 at 200mm still provides good versatility and control over depth of field. At 335g, this lens isn’t heavy and is quite portable considering the glass inside. It could be used as a budget travel lens if you intend to take mainly detailed photos.
The Best Nikon Zoom Lenses Under $250: Versatility for an Affordable Price
Good lenses don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Adding a Nikon zoom lens under $250 to your kit is a great way to improve your creativity. Instead of sticking with one focal distance, you can use a zoom lens to test out different types of photography. Zoom lenses are also great for travel, or when you are exploring a city, for example.