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Mark Sincevich

Professional Photography Expert

Nikon Lenses

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You’ve picked your Nikon DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera or your Fuji Finepix DSLR digital camera and you would like to know the best lens or lenses to accompany your purchase. Let me start by saying it’s not if you are going to purchase another digital camera, its when. Digital cameras will last about three to five years, but your lenses can last fifteen to twenty years or more as long as you take care of them. Furthermore, your lenses are your most important investment in your photography business or hobby. I like to think of camera lenses like speakers for a stereo system. It always pays to get great quality speakers, as they will allow your stereo to sound better. And when you have great quality lenses for your DSLR, your photographs will be sharper and more impressive.

Nikon manufactures each lens listed in the Best of the Best category. They call their lenses Nikkor lenses; so don’t be concerned if the lenses don’t say Nikon specifically. I arranged the lenses as the top five you would want to have if you were a professional or an aspiring amateur wanting the best equipment. There is a tie for the Best of the Best Lenses. The Nikkor AF-S Zoom 17-35mm f/2.8 IF-ED is going to be one of your most widely used wide-angle zoom lenses for events and for scenery. It is a super-fast lens (i.e. the low number aperture) has Nikon’s silent motor providing silent auto focus operation. In fact, you always want to get the fastest lens (i.e. the lower number aperture) you can afford. The best is when your aperture is the same low number throughout the range of operation. This makes a huge difference in low light situations, which is where you often make the best photographs.

The Nikkor AF-S Zoom 70-200mm f/2.8 VR IF-ED is the lens that ties with the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8. This is a great zoom lens for events taking place further away such as those on a stage or when you are in the audience and away from the action. The addition of the VR (vibration reduction) minimizes the effects of camera shake, allowing handheld shooting at up to three shutter speeds slower than what otherwise would be possible. This allows for a higher percentage of sharper images (without noticeable blurriness). However, you still need to hold the camera steady in low light situations with either a monopod or better yet, a tripod. A few lenses in the Best of the Best category have Internal Focusing (IF) design. When a lens has the IF designation, it allows for faster and smoother auto focusing. It also eliminates barrel length distortion so you will have consistent handling. The 70-200mm lens offers a natural viewfinder image even during VR operation and also detects automatically when the photographer pans. The ED designation on a lens means Extra-low Dispersion glass elements for superior sharpness and color correction.

You will notice I have not recommended any Nikkor DX (digital-only) lenses for the Best of the Best category. While these lenses are lighter than the ones listed, they do not work in Nikon film cameras and in my opinion, Nikon is moving away from digital only lenses with the introduction of its first full frame sensor digital camera the D3. Plus, in extreme conditions, you will want the flexibility of using a film camera and any one of these lenses will work very well. Remember when you use any Nikon DSLR or Fuji DSLR that accepts Nikkor lenses, you will be faced with a lens multiplication factor of 1.5x (except on the Nikon D3). Therefore, the Nikkor 60mm Micro lens for close up work will become a 90mm lens. Also, never ever purchase a kit lens as these are not made well and are never a good investment.

Best Nikon Digital Camera Lenses by Mark Sincevich

The Best You Can Get

  • Nikkor AF-S Zoom 17-35mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF-S Zoom 17-35mm f/2.8 IF-ED is going to be one of your most widely used wide-angle zoom lenses for events and for scenery. It is a super-fast lens (i.e. the low number aperture) for lower light operation and has Nikon’s silent motor providing silent auto focus operation.

    • Aperture: f/2.8
    • Lens type: IF-ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: 77mm
  • Nikkor AF-S Zoom 70-200mm VR

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF-S Zoom 70-200mm f/2.8 VR IF-ED is the lens that ties with the Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8. This is a great zoom lens for events taking place further away such as those on a stage or when you are in the audience and away from the action. The addition of the VR (vibration reduction) minimizes the effects of camera shake, allowing handheld shooting at up to three shutter speeds slower than what otherwise would be possible. This allows for a higher percentage of sharper images (without noticeable blurriness).

    • Aperture: f/2.8
    • Lens type: IF-ED
    • Vibration reduction: yes
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: 77mm
  • Nikkor AF-S Zoom 14-24mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF-S Zoom 14-24mm f/2.8 is a great super wide-angle zoom lens. It is the ideal lens for architectural work allowing small spaces to look much larger. It is optimized for edge-to-edge sharpness, has two ED (extra-low dispersion) glass elements for superior sharpness and color correction. It also has a silent motor operation. Due to the convex shape of the lens, it cannot take a UV filter.

    • Aperture: f/2.8
    • Lens type: ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: n/a
  • Nikkor PC-E 24mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor PC-E 24mm f/3.5 perspective control lens is a must-have necessity for an architectural photographer or any photographer interested in maintaining a building or an objects perspective such as found in nature. This lens has the ability to tilt, shift, and rotate. It is made with Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating (SIC) for superior color performance and substantially reduced ghosting and flare.

    • Aperture: f/3.5
    • Lens type: ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: 77mm
  • Nikkor AF-S Micro 60mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF-S Micro 60mm f/2.8 lens is absolutely necessary for product photography or for when you want to take photographs of objects at a close distance. The 60mm lens is also ideal for copy or general photography and can be used in conjunction with your DSLR for lower light situations. It provides continuous auto focus from infinity to life-size (1:1 reproduction ratio). It features extra-low dispersion (ED) glass and internal focusing (IF) for faster and smoother operation.

    • Aperture: f/2.8
    • Lens type: IF-ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: 62mm

You will be happy with any of these

  • Nikkor AF Zoom 24-85mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF Zoom 24-85mm f/2.8-4 even has a Macro feature. If you want to start with just one lens, this is a great all-around lens in the mid-range category. The 24-85mm is an extremely fast lens at its widest angle, 24mm and goes to f/4.0 when you zoom the lens to 85mm. It has a macro mode for close-up photography from 35mm-85mm focal length settings. However, you will need to have a super wide-angle lens to cover areas below 24mm and a telephoto zoom lens to cover areas above 85mm.

    • Aperture: f/2.8 – 4.0
    • Lens type: IF-ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: no (macro/normal button)
    • Filter size: 67mm
  • Nikkor AF-S Zoom 70-300mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF-S Zoom 70-300mm VR (Vibration Reduction) f/4.5-5.6 lens is ideal for covering events from a distance or for stage performances. The addition of the VR (vibration reduction) minimizes the effects of camera shake, allowing handheld shooting at up to three shutter speeds slower than what otherwise would be possible. This allows for a higher percentage of sharper images (without noticeable blurriness). It allows focus as close as 4.9 feet throughout the entire zoom range.

    • Aperture: f/4.5 – 5.6
    • Lens type: IF-ED
    • Vibration reduction: yes
    • Manual/auto focus mode: no
    • Filter size: 67mm
  • Nikkor 50mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4 is an essential lens for low light or some portrait photography with available light. The Nikon 50mm f/1.4 is the fastest lens Nikon makes in a near wide-angle configuration. It is also a good lens for travel and provides distortion-free images with superb resolution and color rendition.

    • Aperture: f/1.4
    • Lens type: D
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: no
    • Filter size: 52mm
  • Nikkor AF-S DX Zoom 12-24mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF-S DX Zoom 12-24mm f/4.0 lens is a must-have lens to cover the super wide-angle category. When using this lens with your DSLR, it becomes an 18-36mm lens due to the smaller sensor size in most of Nikon’s or Fuji’s cameras (the exception is the Nikon D3). It has two extra-low distortion (ED) glass elements for superior sharpness and color correction, Nikon’s silent wave motor auto focus operation and Internal Focusing (IF) design for smoother and faster operation.

    • Aperture: f/4.0
    • Lens type: IF-ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: 77mm
  • Nikkor AF Zoom 80-200mm

    Mark says: The Nikkor AF Zoom 80-200mm f/2.8 lens is a required lens for low light situations such as photographing in available light for stage performances or other events. It is a high-performance lens for sports and portraits and holds its fast f/2.8 aperture over the entire range of focal lengths. It has three extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements for superior sharpness and color correction and a rotating zoom ring for fast zoom operation.

    • Aperture: f/2.8
    • Lens type: ED
    • Vibration reduction: no
    • Manual/auto focus mode: yes
    • Filter size: 77mm

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