Last Updated on 03/16/2018 by Mark Beckenbach
What are the basics? The essential lenses that every Nikon Photographer could use to create their art?
Photography is a wonderful thing; pick up any camera and any lens and with that you can capture the world, for just a moment, to be preserved as long as the medium which holds it survives. It is a timeless, though under appreciated, a gift to the future. But if you are new to photography, or maybe just new to having a dedicated camera (upgraded from your smartphone, for example), you may be wondering what lenses you need for your new Nikon camera.
Well, it’s just your luck this post is all about that; the essential lenses for your Nikon camera system. So, if you’re ready, let’s jump on into it…
The biggest rule of photography is that there are no rules. As long as you have captured the image you were attempting to capture, then you did it right – regardless of what some mouth breather screams at you through the clanking of his keyboard echoing off the walls of his mother’s basement. So take the following list of ‘essential’ lenses as some suggestions, because there are many many options out there that you could use to create your art and pursue your passion. These are essential only in that most photographers will find a good use for them in their work.
OK, so with that disclaimer out of the way, let’s get going on this look at the essential lenses that virtually every Nikon photographer should have.
Nikon 50mm F1.8 G
Yes, if you know anything about photography then this lens being at the number one spot will likely not be a surprise. 50mm lenses are among the most versatile focal lengths commonly available to your average photographer. Add to that the superb affordability of Nikon’s 50mm F1.8 G, and this is really a no-brainer for virtually every Nikon photographer. The only reason you shouldn’t have this lens in your Nikon kit is if you have another 50mm lens already.
[amazon_textlink asin=’B004Y1AYAC’ text=’Get a Nikon 50mm F1.8G’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’840134c2-26f3-11e8-adfd-81e57b797050′] (Read our Review)
Nikon 85mm F1.8
This one will also probably be a somewhat obvious choice to some. But 85mm has long been one of the preferred focal lengths for portrait photographers, but in addition to that, it is also a relatively affordable telephoto prime lens that has great versatility in many situations – excluding small rooms and tight spaces (but even then, tight detail shots can easily be achieved with a lens like this).
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Tamron SP 35mm F1.8
You may be surprised to see a third party lens on this list, but honestly, this Tamron is the better buy over the affordable Nikon 35mm in our experience. After 50mm, 35mm is one of the most versatile and used focal lengths out there, be that for portrait photography, landscapes, street, etc. The combination of fast aperture AND image stabilization means that this lens is a beast in low light situations for any purpose – but especially portraiture where the subject is not moving much.
[amazon_textlink asin=’B014ULAEQ4′ text=’Get a Tamron SP 35mm F1.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1cbccbc2-2246-11e8-b28b-b170d1558773′] (Read our Review)
Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG HSM
Again, another third-party option. The Sigma is the better buy here over Nikon’s incredibly expensive 24-70mm F2.8 offering. It is more than simply a better bang for the buck, it also performs incredibly close to the Nikon offering, meaning you should really only go with the Nikon if you have some sort of brand loyalty or need the absolute best AF performance possible (and the Sigma’s is still really good). The one downside to this lens is that it’s barrel does extend, while the Nikon (and Tamron variant for that matter) does not.
[amazon_textlink asin=’B072W9YR6T’ text=’Get the Sigma 24-70mm F2.8′ template=’ProductLink’ store=’thephobl-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1325f3af-26f4-11e8-a538-c5548d952a14′] (Read our Review)
So, there you have it, our picks for the essential lenses for every Nikon photographer. Depending on your specialty you could add or subtract options on this list, for example, a sports photographer likely has little use for the 35mm lens, but has a ton of use for a 70-200mm or a 300mm prime. Alternatively, a wedding or portrait photographer may find this list to be pretty dead on. Landscape or Architectural photographers may want some more width, but the point here is that this is a fairly solid starting point for most photographers.
The moral of the story is to know what you want to shoot and let that guide your decisions when it comes to lens purchases. It makes no sense to go out and buy a lens that you are never going to use, or never going to use to its full potential. So think about what you want, why you want it, why you need it, and how you will use it. If you can’t come up with an answer for each of those questions then chances are you don’t need that lens.
Now go forth and enjoy that new Nikon kit of yours.