There’s no denying that Nikon produces quality lenses, with options available for every conceivable focal length. For those with deep pockets, this would be the end of the story. But for the rest of us who want to squeeze out the most optical quality for our chosen budget, a third-party Tamron lens is the next best bet. Thus, our reason for checking out the best Tamron lenses for Nikon crop sensor cameras today.
While there are lenses out in the wilderness made specifically for the DX format, we tend to lean into the FX versions, which can also fit DX models.
The reasoning behind this is that full-frame glass tends to provide the best in overall optics and features, and the lenses can still be used when you eventually upgrade to a full-frame format. They also may generally cost a little more than a lens made specifically for crop sensor cameras, but the end results will be more than worth the initial outlay.
1. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
If you’re going to go all in with a Nikon cropped camera lens, a safe bet will always be a 50mm or 35mm prime. In this case, we’ve gone with the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, as a 35mm provides slightly wider-angle views than a 50mm and can be cropped down in post-processing to achieve a more zoomed-in look. On a crop sensor camera this lens provides a 52.5mm viewpoint, which is very near the standard of 50mm.
The lens itself features a fast and bright f/1.8 aperture, which is great for low-light conditions and lovely blurred backgrounds. To maintain overall optical quality, an LD and two aspherical elements are included, along with eBAND and BBAR coatings applied to each element. The lens benefits from an image stabilization system for the sharpest of handheld shots. The whole package is wrapped around a moisture-resistant lens barrel at a reasonable weight of 450g.
Being a prime lens, the SP 35mm provides plenty of detail in the center of the frame at f/1.8, with edge to edge sharpness coming in at f/2.8. The lens also provides a decent amount of contrast and color rendition. This makes the lens a very viable alternative to Nikon’s own offerings, along with the rest of the third-party makers. Our complete Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD review goes a little more in-depth on this.
2. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD
If you need a prime lens with a longer reach verging on the short telephoto zone, the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD provides a wholesome 135mm view on DX models. The lens benefits from an f/2.8 aperture, with other tasty goodies including an image stabilization system, focus limiter, and true-life macro mode.
The VC image stabilization system offers 3.5 stops of compensation. The macro mode provides a life-size 1:1 reproduction ratio which will fill the full frame with a subject. The optics are also arranged with 14 elements in 11 groups, featuring low dispersion elements, all contained within a moisture-resistant design.
The Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD will most likely be picked up for its macro abilities. With a close focusing distance of just 30cm, the lens produces all the detail you could wish for at this price point. The lens also works very well as a respectable portrait shooter, with the f/2.8 aperture providing good, quality bokeh without the harsh edges.
We could go on and on about the design on this one, but we need to move on to some more lenses. Find out more about why we love it in our Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1 VC USD review.
3. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
A wide-angle zoom lens is a great piece of kit to cover broad scenes like landscape and architectural shots. The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD fits this criteria, providing a 15-36mm focal length on crop sensor cameras.
Optically, the lens contains an XLD, LD, aspherical, and hybrid aspherical element. And to protect against lens flare and ghosting, a BBAR coating has been applied to all lens elements. Not always needed in a wide-angle lens but featured here is a highly-capable image stabilization system that is remarkably good for shooting at low shutter speeds.
The lens has a variable aperture, which means it’s not as low light-capable as the above options. But the image stabilization system more than makes up for things when the light levels drop. This lens provides plenty of definition and detail throughout the focal range, with a good degree of sharpness across the frame at f/8, which works wonderfully for landscape images.
4. Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD (Budget Winner)
If you’re looking for Tamron lenses for Nikon crop sensor cameras and need a solution that covers more of the telephoto range, the Tamron SP 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Di VC USD packs in a lot of features for the price. This lens covers the short to long telephoto zone and also features a vibration compensation system with four stops of coverage for the longest focal lengths.
The USD autofocus system is reasonably fast at freezing fast-moving objects. It may not have the ultimate speed or precision as far more expensive lens types, but it’s still very respectable at this price point. The variable aperture also works well in good light conditions and considering the overall focal range, the SP 70-300mm provides good quality imagery for an all-around, affordable telephoto zoom lens package.
Tamron Lenses for Nikon Crop Sensor Cameras: The Breakdown
There are a lot of worthy Tamron lenses for Nikon crop sensor cameras, covering very usable focal lengths in exchange for a justifiable price. However, the solution you choose will be largely dependent on your chosen subject matter.
If you want to balance versatility with great end results, you can’t go wrong with the Tamron SP 35mm. This lens will provide great low-light capabilities with its f/1.8 maximum aperture, while also making for a good walkabout lens.
On the flip side of that coin, the Tamron SP 70-300mm provides a great deal of stretch and image quality for a reasonable price, while also housing a very capable image stabilization system. Then again, if you want versatility at the widest focal lengths, the Tamron 10-24mm is one of the good lenses for this, with the only downside being its variable apertures.