Nikon has a good selection of affordable lenses. In this guide, we specifically look at Nikon zoom lenses under $500. Yes – it is possible to purchase a high-quality zoom lens for under $500. There is a good choice available and a decent selection of lenses that cover various photography types.
Zoom lenses offer excellent versatility. Instead of purchasing a series of prime lenses, you can buy a single zoom lens that can cover multiple focal distances. This type of lens is also great for travel and day trips, as it helps reduce your packing requirements and you don’t have to worry about carrying a host of lenses.
With zoom lenses, there is often a minimal compromise in quality, however. For example, a prime 24mm lens will take sharper photos than a 24-85mm zoom lens. The difference is marginal, but you may notice softness or small distortions when viewing the photos at maximum magnification.
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR (Overall Winner)
Our top choice for Nikon zoom lenses under $500 is the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR. This versatile lens could be used as a kit lens and offers a good focal range.
Its features include vibration reduction, a silent wave motor for quick autofocusing, and Extra-Low Dispersion glass for the lens element to reduce distortions and ghosting. The element is made from seven diaphragm blades which helps create a rounded bokeh effect for backgrounds.
The lens also benefits from a Super Integrated coating which helps maintain color consistency and reduce lens flare.
2. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED
An excellent Nikon zoom lens under $500 is the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED. This affordable lens provides a cheap option for telephoto photography.
It has Vibration Reduction II technology which is an enhanced form of image stabilization, as well as two Extra-Low Dispersion glass elements which improves contrast and image performance. The autofocusing is quick and quiet via the SWM motor technology.
The minimum focusing distance is 4.9ft which means you can capture great detail on subjects from a relatively close position. At 1.64lbs, this budget lens can still be used handheld, but a tripod may offer better stability.
3. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is a multi-purpose lens that provides great versatility. It is an affordable lens that could be used as a travel lens, or your standard “walking around” lens.
It is equipped with Vibration Reduction which allows handheld shooting up to three shutters speeds slower than normal. Also, it has an aspherical lens element which greatly reduces distortions and chromatic aberration.
The lens has a Super Integrated coating which improves light transmission to the sensor and gives good color consistency. With a maximum aperture range of f/3.5-5.6, this budget lens performs OK in low-light situations and offers a superior depth of field control.
4. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR
If you want a cheap multi-purpose lens, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is a solid option. It has various features to provide consistent image quality and has a good aperture range and focal distance.
The lens elements have numerous enhancements. The Extra-Low Dispersion glass minimizes chromatic aberration, and the Nikon SIC coating helps keep colors sharp and reduces other distortions like lens flare and ghosting.
It has Nikon VR technology which improves stability when using the lens handheld. At both extremes of the focal distance, the image quality remains sharp. The zoom function is smooth and you can easily transition between the different focal distances.
5. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR
The ultimate multi-purpose zoom lens under $500 has to be the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR. To not break the $500 limit, you have to purchase this lens either renewed or used; however, that shouldn’t make any difference in image quality or performance.
This affordable lens has a high power zoom of 16.7x and allows you to take super-telephoto shots via the vibration reduction technology. It also has a Silent Wave Motor for improved autofocusing, and three Extra-Low Dispersion lens elements to greatly improve image quality and clarity.
6. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR (Budget Winner)
Our budget choice is the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR. This is a good wide-angle zoom lens that is just over $250 new.
Whilst this lens offers excellent wide-angle performance, it has an exposed lens element. This means you must use the lens with care as you could easily scratch the glass.
It has a minimum focusing distance of just 0.8ft and vibration reduction technology. The enhanced lens provides superior optical performance and ensures that your images are sharp and clear.
Widen Your Focal Distance with the Best Nikon Zoom Lenses Under $500
As you can see there is a great range choice when it comes to Nikon zoom lenses under $500 proving that you don’t have to spend a fortune to purchase a versatile zoom lens.
When choosing an affordable Nikon zoom lens, always consider your purpose and the features. For example, if you want a telephoto zoom lens, it should ideally have image stabilization. This would help keep your photos in focus at the longer focal distances.
The quality of the lens element is also important. If you intend to use the lens outdoors, it ideally needs extra lens coatings that protect from dust, moisture, and weather damage.
Finally, if you want to use the lens for travel or outdoor activities, check its weight and measurements. You can then gauge how easily it is to carry on long journeys, or in your luggage.