General-purpose zooms handle most day-to-day shots, offering wide-angle to telephoto coverage. Unless you’re a specialist, you’ll probably keep a general-purpose zoom fitted to your DSLR more than any other lens so it makes sense to have a good one.
Most DSLRs are sold with a standard lens, but upgrading to a better model can give you superior image quality, a broader range, quicker focusing or brighter apertures for low-light work and blurred backgrounds. See my Best Nikon General Purpose Lens guide for the best models.
If you’re into taking close-ups of flowers, insects or other tiny subjects, you’ll quickly become frustrated with the capabilities of a standard kit lens – they just can’t focus close enough to deliver a decent-sized image.
The answer is a Macro lens, which is designed specifically for high quality close-up photography. Many also double-up as respectable portrait lenses. So if you want big photos of small subjects, check out my Best Nikon Macro Lens guide for the best models.
For many people, a good-looking portrait shot combines a flattering view of the subject against a blurred background. This is very easy to achieve with the right lens. The key behind a blurred background is having a lens with a small f-number, and the flattering perspective is down to a slightly magnified view. Lenses with small f-numbers also capture more light, which makes them ideal for shooting in low-light without a flash.
In my Best Nikon Portrait Lens guide I’ll show you which models are best for the job.
If you want to get close to a distant subject, you need a telephoto lens. These are ideal for sports and wildlife photography, along with capturing candid shots of people at a distance. They’re also great for getting closer to details in both natural and urban environments which are lost in a larger view.
Their broad flexibility coupled with a desire to zoom-closer than a standard kit lens makes a telephoto model the natural choice when most people start shopping for a second lens. See my Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses for recommended models.
Wide-angle lenses capture bigger views than normal, allowing you to squeeze very large subjects into the frame. They can prove invaluable whether you’re trying to photograph a large building, cramped interior, sweeping landscape view, or even just a big group shot. They’re also ideal when you literally can’t step back any further.
So if you’re into landscape or architectural photography, or often find yourself stepping-back to squeeze-in the desired shot, then check out my Best Nikon wide-angle Lens guide for the best models.