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  Recommended Nikkor / Nikon lenses for general-purpose, everyday photography and kit lens upgrades

 
General-purpose zooms are designed to handle most day-to-day shots, offering wide-angle to telephoto coverage. Unless you’re a specialist photographer, you’ll probably keep a general-purpose zoom fitted to your DSLR more than any other lens. Indeed if you bought a DSLR kit, you’ll already have a general-purpose lens, so why buy another one?



 
The answer is to upgrade to a superior model. Better quality zooms may offer superior optics, an extended focal range, tougher construction, quicker and quieter focusing, Vibration Reduction (VR) to reduce camera-shake, or brighter apertures for better low-light work and blurred backgrounds.

Remember since this lens will probably be used for most of your shots, it makes sense to use a good quality model. Below you’ll find a selection of ideal models.

Note when I mention FX bodies I'm referring to full-frame models like the D600 and D800. When I mention DX bodies, I'm referring to cropped-frame models like the D3200, D5200 and D7000. If you’d like to learn more about lens specifications, from focal lengths to f-numbers, please see my lens guide. If you find the information here useful, please support me by shopping at the stores below and if you have any questions about lenses, feel free to ask in the forum!



   
Nikkor AF-S DX 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II review

Specifications

Focal length:
18-200mm
Aperture: f3.5-5.6
Lens mount: DX
Equiv on DX: 27-300mm
FX compatible: No
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 50cm
Filter thread: 72mm
Hood: HB-35
Optics: 16 el. / 12 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Weight: 565g
Size: 77x97mm

     
The Nikkor DX 18-200mm VR II is the latest version of its enormously-popular super-zoom lens, although as a DX model it’s not compatible with FX cameras. On a DX body it delivers an equivalent focal length of 27-300mm, going from wide-angle to powerful telephoto, and covering almost any situation without having to change lenses, and it’ll also autofocus on all DX bodies. There are better quality lenses available, but few to match the sheer convenience.


   
Nikkor AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Specifications

Focal length:
18-300mm
Aperture: f3.5-5.6
Lens mount: DX
Equiv on DX: 27-450mm
FX compatible: No
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 45cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Hood: HB-58
Optics: 19 el. / 14 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight: 830g
Size: 83x120mm

     
If 18-200mm isn't sufficiently long for you, then how about the 18-300mm? This DX-format lens boasts a 16.7x optical zoom, making it the longest range in the Nikon catalogue, not to mention many others. It's noticeably chunkier than the DX 18-200mm and much heavier too, so you may think twice about ordering it on the grounds of portability. It's pricier too, but there's no denying the convenience of having a massive zoom range at your disposal without having to swap lenses or potentially running the risk of a missed shot - or dust entering the body. Like all modern Nikon lenses, it's an AF-S model which means it'll autofocus on all Nikon bodies including the entry-level ones. But as a DX lens, it's only corrected for DX bodies. If you want a super-zoom lens for a full-frame FX body, look at the 28-300mm below.


   
Nikkor AF-S 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

Specifications

Focal length:
28-300mm
Aperture: f3.5-5.6
Lens mount: F-Mount
Equiv on DX: 42-450mm
FX compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 50cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Hood: HB-50
Optics: 19 el. / 14 groups
Diaphragm blades:9
Weight:800g
Size: 83x115mm

     
The Nikkor 28-300mm brings super-zoom convenience to full-frame FX-format bodies, taking them from wide-angle coverage to respectable telephoto in a single lens. This means you'll rarely miss a moment due to changing lenses and also minimise dust entering the body. The 28-300mm will also focus quickly and quietly on any Nikon body and features Vibration Reduction to reduce wobbles. It's also a good choice for DX-format bodies when coupled with an ultra-wide zoom like the 10-24mm.


   
Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR review

Specifications

Focal length:
24-85mm
Aperture: f3.5-4.5
Lens mount: F-Mount
Equiv on DX: 36-128mm
FX compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 38cm
Filter thread: 72mm
Hood: HB-63
Optics: 16 el. / 11 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Weight: 465g
Size: 78x82mm

     
The Nikkor AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G VR is an affordable general-purpose zoom that's compatible with full-frame Nikon FX bodies. Announced in June 2012, it's arguably the successor to the Nikon AF 24-85mm f/2.8-4D from 2000. It's optically a little slower but now sports Vibration Reduction to counteract camera shake and as an AF-S model it'll autofocus on any Nikon body. It may be designed as an affordable lens, but in our tests performed admirably, making it more than just a basic kit option for owners of full-frame bodies. Indeed it delivers one of the best price / performance ratios of any FX-compatible general-purpose zoom and comes highly recommended.


 
Nikkor AF-S DX 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR review

Specifications

Focal length:
16-85mm
Aperture: f3.3-5.6
Lens mount: DX
Equiv on DX: 24-128mm
FX compatible: No
Anti-shake: Yes
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 38cm
Filter thread: 67mm
Hood: HB-39
Optics: 17 el. / 11 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Weight: 485g
Size: 72x85mm

     
The Nikkor DX 16-85mm VR is a high quality general-purpose lens for DX-format bodies, where it delivers an equivalent range of 24-128mm. It may not zoom as long as the 18-200mm, but it goes wider and delivers superior quality in a smaller and lighter package, not to mention one that’s cheaper too. If you’re happy to partner it with something longer for telephoto coverage, it’s the perfect walk-around lens for discerning owners of DX bodies.



 
Nikkor AF-S DX 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED

Specifications

Focal length:
17-55mm
Aperture: f2.8
Lens mount: DX
Equiv on DX: 26-83mm
FX compatible: No
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 36cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Hood: HB-31
Optics: 14 el. / 10 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight: 755g
Size: 86x111mm

     
The Nikkor DX 17-55mm f2.8 is the general-purpose zoom for anyone who loves to shoot portraits or work in low light; note as a DX model, it’s not compatible with FX cameras. The constant f2.8 aperture doesn’t come cheap, but it allows the lens to gather plenty of light and deliver nice blurred backgrounds. It’ll also autofocus on any DX body, although sadly there’s no VR for anti-shake. That said, an ideal wedding and portrait lens for DX bodies.



 
Nikkor AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

Specifications

Focal length:
24-70mm
Aperture: f2.8
Lens mount: F-mount
Equiv on DX: 36-105mm
FX compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 38cm
Filter thread: 77mm
Hood: HB-40
Optics: 15 el. / 11 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight: 900g
Size: 83x133mm

     
The Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8G is a top-end lens designed to deliver a general-purpose range for FX bodies, although it’s also a good option for DX models if you don’t need wide-angle coverage (or partner it with the DX 10-24mm). The constant f2.8 aperture hikes-up the price and weight, but is ideal for portrait or low-light work, while also delivering attractive blurred backgrounds. It’ll also autofocus on any Nikon body, although sadly there’s no VR for anti-shake.



 
Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G review

Specifications

Focal length:
35mm
Aperture: f1.8
Lens mount: DX-mount
Equiv on DX: 53mm
FX compatible: No
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 30cm
Filter thread:52mm
Hood: HB-46
Optics: 8 el. / 6 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Weight: 210g
Size: 70x53mm

     
The Nikkor DX 35mm f1.8 is a prime lens designed for use on DX-format bodies, where it delivers fixed coverage equivalent to 53mm. In photographic terms, this is standard coverage close to the magnification of the human eye delivering natural-looking results. The f1.8 aperture is ideal for low light conditions and it’ll also autofocus on all DX bodies. This coupled with the compact and light body make it an ideal and affordable standard lens for DX owners.



 

Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G review

Specifications

Focal length:
50mm
Aperture: f1.8
Lens mount: F-mount
Equiv on DX: 75mm
FX compatible: Yes
Anti-shake: No
AF motor: SWM
Closest focus: 45cm
Filter thread: 58mm
Hood: HB-47
Optics: 7 el. / 6 groups
Diaphragm blades: 9
Weight:185g
Size: 72x53mm
     
The Nikkor 50mm f1.8G is a prime lens designed for use on both DX and FX bodies. On the latter it delivers standard coverage close to the magnification of the human eye, making it an ideal standard general-purpose lens. Mounted on a DX body, the 75mm equivalent coverage is too long for walk-around use, but transforms it into a perfect portrait lens. Meanwhile, any Nikon body will benefit from the bright f1.8 aperture under low-light conditions. If you have more to spend, you may be tempted by the brighter aperture of the f1.4G version, but unless you want the shallowest depth-of-field, I'd save your money and go for the f1.8G which actually delivers better quality and focuses faster.




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