Best Nikon lenses for DX-format cameras

Nikon has a fantastic range of APS-C or DX format SLRs and there are lots of compatible lenses, but which should you add to your collection? Here are some of the best Nikon lenses and Nikon-fit glass for DX cameras available.

Best lenses for Nikon DX format cameras

Superzoom: Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro £450/$630
Superzoom lenses are enormously popular because they offer a wide focal length range that normally requires two or three lenses.

The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro is a great choice as it goes a bit wider than other superzoom lenses yet has a maximum focal length of 300mm, which gives plenty of scope for framing distant subjects.

In full-frame or 35mm equivalent terms it has a focal length of 24-450mm, but it's designed specifically for APS-C format cameras.

Tamron's PZD (Piezo Drive) autofocusing motor also gets subjects sharp pretty quickly and there's full-time manual focus override available. Despite the name, it's not really a macro lens, but it does focus more closely than most comparable optics, having a nearest focusing distance of just 39cm. There's also Tamron's excellent Vibration Compensation (VC) system to reduce the impact of camerashake.

Having a very wide focal length range naturally means there has to be some compromise in image quality, but Tamron has walked the line well making the 16-300mm an excellent choice for those wishing to avoid changing lenses frequently.

SEE MORE: What is a macro lens - magnification, minimum focus distance explained

50mm: Sigma 50mm f/1.4 DG HSM A £699/$949
On a Nikon DX format camera a 50mm lens produces an effective focal length of 75mm, which is ideal for portraits. As well as allowing fast shutter speeds, choosing an optic with a large maximum aperture enables you to control depth of field and blur backgrounds effectively to draw attention to your subject.

If you think that Sigma lenses are for people who can't afford Nikon optics, think again. This full-frame 50mm is a beauty that delivers superb quality images. At 85x100mm and 815g it's the biggest and heaviest 50mm f/1.4 lens around by some measure, but if you want the best in terms of sharpness and contrast, as well as beautiful bokeh (out of focus areas), this is the one to go for.

However, if you want something that's small, light and more affordable, take a look at Nikon's AF-S 50mm f/1.4G (£280/$480). Like all the lenses in this list it has a built-in focus motor so autofocus is possible with Nikon SLRs such as the D3200 and D3300 that don't have a motor built-in.

SEE MORE: Best 50mm lens for your camera - 8 nifty fifties tested and rated

Wide-angle zoom: Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM £399/$449
Because of the focal length magnification factor resulting from the smaller than full-frame sensor, wide-angle lenses used to be quite rare for DX format cameras. Thankfully those days are gone and there's quite a large selection available now.

This 10-20mm optic from Sigma has an effective focal length of 15-30mm on a Nikon DX camera, which makes it ideal for shooting landscapes and cramped interiors when longer lenses would force you against the wall in an attempt to get everything in.

As well as producing sharp images, this lens controls chromatic aberration well and even distortion isn't excessive given how wide the lens is at its shortest point.

SEE MORE: Best wideangle prime lens: 8 top options tested and rated

Fast telephoto zoom: Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II £1,579/$2,397
A fast telephoto lens is a must if you want to get serious about shooting sport. The large maximum aperture enables movement-freezing shutter speeds while blurring messy backgrounds to isolate your subject and the long focal length allows tight framing of distant objects.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Head of Testing, Cameras

Angela (Twitter, Google+, website) is head of testing for Future's photography portfolio, writing and overseeing reviews of photographic equipment for Digital Camera, Photography Week, PhotoPlus, NPhoto and Practical Photoshop as well as TechRadar's cameras channel. Angela has a degree in photography and multimedia and prior to joining Future in October 2010 was Amateur Photographer magazine's technical editor.