Best lenses for Nikon full-frame DSLRs

Note that any 'DX' lenses will have a 1.5x crop automatically applied by a full-frame Nikon camera by default. Should this feature be turned off, vignetting will be an issue.

For each of the categories below the winner was the lens which we found to offer the best combination of quality and value. In most cases, we've also provided a more budget-friendly option, as well as a choice for those with more to spend.

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Best standard zoom lens

Standard zooms are just what they sound like - versatile, general-purpose lenses that start with a fairly wide angle of view and allow you to zoom in to a focal length traditionally used for portraits.

Our pick: Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art

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Sigma's 'Art' series designation is reserved for the company's best-performing and most robust lenses. Despite their high performance, the prices of Art lenses tend to be very reasonable compared to 'own brand' offerings The optically stabilized 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Art is a great value lens, capable of very good image quality on Nikon's full-frame DSLRs.

Also consider:

Best value:
Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Art

While not as bright as an F2.8 continuous aperture zoom, the Sigma 24-105mm F4 DG OS HSM Art covers a wider range of focal lengths while still offering optical image stabilization (OS), and very good image quality for its price.

Money no object:
Nikon AF-S 24-70mm F2.8E ED VR

Nikon's top-end standard zoom offers advanced optical technologies and excellent weather-sealing, plus optical image stabilization (VR). A favorite of professionals, the 24-70mm F2.8 VR is pricey, but very versatile.

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Best prime / single focal length lens

Prime lenses are just a single focal length; removing the complexity of a zoom often allows for these lenses to be smaller, lighter and sharper, while letting more light through and being more useful in dimly lit situations.

Our pick: Tamron SP 35mm F1.8 Di VC USD

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Tamron's 'SP' lenses have a great reputation for quality and value that goes back decades. The SP 35mm F1.8 Di VC USD is sharp, small, fast and weather-sealed. Optically, the SP 35mm F1.8 is very impressive at all apertures.

Although there are faster prime lenses on the market, F1.8 is good enough for low light photography and portraiture, where blurred backgrounds are desirable. The addition of optical image stabilization (VC) makes it even more useful for shooting in poor light, where camera shake might become an issue.

Also consider:

Best value:
Nikon AF-S 35mm F1.8G ED

Nikon's AF-S 35mm F1.8 offers impressive sharpness, but doesn't feature stabilization or weather-sealing. Compared to similar lenses from Tamron and Sigma, its lightweight construction makes this a great carry-everywhere lens alongside a standard zoom.

Money no object:
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art

Sigma's first 'Art' series prime is still among its best. The Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art is relatively costly, but offers excellent performance at every aperture which rivals much more expensive 'own brand' lenses. You don't get weather-sealing or stabilization, but optically this lens is hard to beat.

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Best wide-angle zoom lens

Wide-angle lenses are often useful for taking photos of interiors, landscapes and architecture.

Our pick: Tamron SP 15-30mm F2.8 Di VC USD G2

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Tamron's second-generation 'G2' version of its popular 15-30mm features improved lens coatings, faster autofocus and the addition of optical image stabilization (VC). All of these refinements improve an already excellent lens for landscape and interior photographers.

The only thing to be aware of is that like Nikon's 14-24mm F2.8 below, the large bulging front element means that you won't be able to add conventional screw-in filters.

Also consider:

Best value:
Tamron 17-35mm F2.8-4 Di OSD

The Tamron 17-35mm F2.8-4 isn't quite as wide - or fast - as its big brother the 15-30mm F2.8, but it's excellent value, offering good image quality and solid build for a very attractive price. The option to use conventional screw-in filters is a bonus, too.

Money no object:
Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

Nikon's 14-24mm F2.8 is an excellent option for wide-angle fans. Offering great build quality, superb sharpness and attractive 'sunstars', the 14-24mm F2.8 is (literally) worth its weight. Just be aware that like Tamron's 15-30mm F2.8, conventional screw-in filters are not an option.

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Best telephoto zoom lens

Telephoto lenses start out being fairly zoomed-in, and allow you to zoom in further so you can fill your frame with more distant subjects.

Our pick: Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F4G ED VR

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The AF-S 70-200mm F4G ED VR is one of Nikon's most useful lenses, offering excellent image quality and a reasonably fast constant aperture in a compact, relatively lightweight form factor. While F4 isn't as versatile as F2.8 in poor light, the addition of effective optical stabilization (VR) helps keep images sharp at long shutter speeds in those situations.

Despite the 70-200mm F4's comparative compactness, build quality is high and handling is excellent on Nikon's FX format full-frame DSLRs. Just remember to budget for the optional (but recommended) tripod collar.

Also consider:

Best value:
Tamron 70-210mm F4 Di VC USD

A close competitor to Nikon's 70-200mm F4 in terms of image quality, the Tamron 70-210mm F4 combines excellent sharpness and very good AF and VC performance at a bargain price.

Money no object:
Nikon AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR

The AF-S 70-200mm F2.8E FL ED VR is one of Nikon's best lenses, offering consistently high sharpness across all apertures and focal lengths, and very fast autofocus. A continuous maximum aperture of F2.8 with VR makes this a superbly versatile lens in low light, too.

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Best portrait lens

Whether you're taking informal headshots or making a living shooting weddings, a fast prime, medium focal length lens is a must-have.

Our pick: Nikon 85mm F1.4G

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The Nikon 85mm F1.4G is optically excellent in just about every respect. It’s our standard test lens for full-frame Nikon DSLRs and is priced comparably against the also good, but slightly larger Sigma 85mm F1.4 Art.

Also consider:

Best value:
Nikon 85mm F1.8G

The Nikon 85mm F1.8G is keenly priced, compact and sharp lens that all full-frame Nikon owners should consider. It’s also worth looking at Tamron’s image stabilized 85mm F1.8, but we prefer the Nikon.

An alternative:
Nikon 105mm F1.4E ED

The Nikon 105mm F1.4 is considered one of Nikon’s best prime lenses. It’s sharp and produces beautiful background rendering. It offers a wide maximum aperture for such a long lens which explains its high price tag. The performance justifies it, though.

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Best macro lens

Macro lenses allow you to focus very close to small subjects, which is very handy for photographing flowers or bugs.

Our pick: Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8G ED

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The Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm F2.8G ED is an updated version of one of Nikon's most popular lenses, which provides excellent image quality for close-up photography and general use. Compared to the older AF-D version, the AF-S 60mm F2.8 is sharper, more compact and quieter, thanks to an built-in focus motor.

Also consider:

Best value:
Tamron SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro

Another updated version of a classic lens, Tamron's SP 90mm F2.8 is an excellent short-telephoto macro prime, ideal for general use. The addition of image stabilization (VC) makes this good-value macro even more useful.

Money no object:
Nikon AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm F2.8G IF-ED VR

The longer the focal length, the further away you can get from macro subjects while still achieving high magnifications. The Nikon 105mm F2.8 is optically excellent and very well-built, with optical stabilization (VR) available to help stabilize hand-held shots.

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Best travel zoom lens

Travel zoom lenses are all about flexibility. Whether it's beautiful landscapes or maybe a bear frolicking in the distance, these lenses are versatile enough to cover both situations.

Our pick: Nikon AF-S 24-120mm F4G ED VR

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Travel zooms are like your kit zoom lens but taken to the extreme. You still start out with a fairly wide field of view, but you can zoom in almost as much as many telephoto lenses. This is convenient, but these lenses tend to let less light through them, so aren't as useful in dimly lit situations, and they may not always give you the sharpest results.

Also consider:

Best value:
Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD

If you need more telephoto reach, the Tamron 28-300mm F3.5-6.3 is a good option. While optically not a match for more limited focal length zooms, the 28-300mm trades off critical image quality and brightness for versatility.

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