Tech Tutorials

What Is the Best Nikon Prime Lens to Buy For Your DSLR?

A macro poto of a red rose shot with the best nikon prime lens

The perfect Nikon prime lens for you is one which’ll connect to the digital camera you employ, greatest fit your wants and is reasonably priced.

On this article, we’ll undergo the most effective Nikon prime lenses on the market. And aid you select the one that matches your wants greatest.

[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
A macro poto of a red rose shot with the best nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Nikon at present record 53 prime lenses for SLR cameras on their web site. Starting from the widest at 10.5 mm to the longest tremendous telephoto lens of 800mm. Seven totally different fashions of 50mm lenes are included. There are additionally specialty lenses comparable to macro and tilt-shift.

Not listed on the location are the various out of manufacturing prime lenses that Nikon have had through the years. These can nonetheless be bought second hand. Any Nikon F mount lens will connect to any Nikon SLR digital camera produced later than 1959.

Lately Nikon launched two mirrorless cameras with full body sensors. These cameras have a special lens mount, they name the Z mount. Nikon SLR lenses use their F mount and are available FX and DX courses.

A street vendor portrait shot with a nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Least costly on the record is the AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D which you’ll be able to decide up for underneath $150. In case your pockets are deeper and your wants extra particular you’ll be able to fork out a bit over $16,000 for the AF-S NIKKOR 800mm f/5.6E FL ED VR.

Let me take you thru the method I’ve used many occasions in serving to me, and others, determine which is the perfect prime lens to purchase. First I’d wish to share with you’re little of my background story and love of prime lenses.

Selecting Between a 50mm Prime Lens and a 35mm One

I bought my first digital camera, a Nikkormat FTN, and a 50mm f1.four second hand in 1983. I continued utilizing this similar lens for 27 years till it was not all the time sharp.

I attempted to get it repaired, however the technician informed me to purchase a brand new one. It was like dropping an previous pal. I nonetheless have the lens however not use it.

The photograph under is among the final I made utilizing that 50mm prime lens.

A portrait of a young man shot with Nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Through the years I’ve owned many Nikon prime lenses and used many extra. Working as a newspaper photographer I had the chance to work with lenses most people can’t afford. Utilizing 300mm f2.eight and 400mm f3.5 lenses to photograph sport.

I even acquired to make use of a 600mm f4 lens as soon as, (it was too huge to deal with simply). I had entry to tremendous broad lenses for specialty conditions, however my 50mm f1.four was most frequently on my digital camera.

Changing my 50mm concerned some critical choice making. I beloved the f1.four facet of the lens, however want to make use of a 35mm as a result of it’s simply that a lot wider.

A 35mm on a full body digital camera is nearer to the angle of view I see naturally than a 50mm lens.

A black and white street photo taken with a Nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

I knew a 35mm f1.four lens can be rather more costly. I additionally wanted to know what the bokeh was like on a 35mm f1.four lens. A fast on-line search confirmed me the bokeh was beautiful and the worth tag was excessive.

Calculating that I might get ten years of use with this lens I figured it will value me lower than zero.50c per day, so I purchased it.

A female model meditating on a red couch in a forest

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

One of many first pictures I took with my new 35mm f1.four lens was of my pal sitting on a pink sofa within the forest. The angle of view mixed with the shallow depth of subject was precisely what I had needed on this lens.

I’ve solely grow to be extra glad with this the extra I’ve used it for each pictures and video.

Calculating the Value

Value ought to be the very first thing to think about when making decisions about buying a primary lens. There’s no level in spending greater than it’s essential to. Not spending sufficient on a lens that doesn’t meet your wants can also be counter productive.

Spending an excessive amount of on images gear is straightforward. Even narrowing down your choices to a Nikon prime lens, you continue to have loads of selection.

When you determine on a 50mm lens, Nikon have seven totally different fashions you possibly can select from. There’s a $400 distinction between the costliest, a 50mm f1.2 guide focus lens and the most cost effective, a 50mm f1.8D.

A busy walkway street scene shot with a Nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Determine in your finances. Give some thought to how you’ll use the lens and the way a lot use you’ll get from it. Calculate the day by day value. Undertaking the variety of years you’ll use it and divide the worth by the variety of days.

I spend extra on espresso every day over a ten yr interval than what my 35mm f1.four lens value me.

What Format Nikon Prime Lens Ought to You Purchase?

Totally different Nikon lenses are designed to accommodate totally different digital camera sensor codecs.. DX lenses are made for crop sensor cameras. FX lenses are made for full body SLR cameras.

You need to use a DX lens on a full body Nikon digital camera. Solely the central a part of the sensor, the identical measurement as a DX sensor, shall be used. On movie cameras with a DX lens fitted, a black circle will probably be seen across the edges of the body.

FX prime lenses can be utilized on DX digital camera our bodies.

A portrait of a female dancer shot with Nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Most Nikon lenses will match most Nikon cameras. The brand new full body mirrorless cameras Nikon have launched use a unique lens mounting system. F mount lenses designed for Nikon SLR cameras won’t match the Z mount mirrorless cameras and vice versa.

All 4 Nikon DX prime lenses are G collection lenses so can’t be used on older digital cameras or movie cameras.

Nikon produce prime lenses with inner motors to auto-focus the lens. These lenses are labelled AF-S. Lenses with the AF label, (with out the ‘S’,) haven’t any motor within the lens. AF Lenses depend on the autofocus motor within the digital camera physique.

When you personal a Nikon digital camera with out an autofocus motor you will have to purchase an AF-S lens to have the ability to have it focus routinely.

Google your digital camera mannequin and the lens you want to buy to ensure they’re suitable. Some older Nikon prime lenses might match newer cameras, however they is probably not absolutely useful.

Focal Size and Aperture Issues?

Now that you’ve thought-about the monetary and practical elements of selecting a Nikon prime lens, it’s time to deal with the large query.

What focal size lens will go well with the type of images you take pleasure in or need to develop?

A busy street scene shot with a Nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

I really like my 35mm f1.four lens. It fits my type.

Environmental portraiture, journey and road, documentary images are what I do most. My 35mm Nikon prime lens is a superb match for some of these images. I additionally make portraits in a studio-like setting, and my 105mm f2.eight lens is right for these.

A 35mm on a full body digital camera could be very near what we see with our eyes, (not together with our peripheral imaginative and prescient).

I feel this focal size creates extra pure wanting pictures than a lot wider or extra telephoto lenses do. With a 35mm lens, you’ll be able to embrace sufficient of the background in your composition to provide a way of the environment.

A portrait of a mad scientist shot with Nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

My 105mm can also be one other favourite Nikon prime lens. It’s best suited for portraiture. I virtually all the time use it when I’m taking portraits with individuals in my outside studio.

With a 105mm on a full body digital camera there’s a good quantity of compression. You may also be an inexpensive distance out of your topic. Not so shut they are going to be uncomfortable and never so distant you must shout for them to listen to you.

The best way to Discern Which Prime Lens Will Go well with You

In case you are a extra skilled photographer you’ll know extra of your images preferences and elegance. You’ll have a good suggestion of what you wish to photograph and the way you wish to work.

Beginning out in images chances are you’ll not have such a robust choice for the type you need to obtain.

A portrait of a woman in traditional dress shot with Nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Ask your self these questions to assist work out what focal size prime lens could also be greatest so that you can buy;

  • What topics do you favor to photograph?
  • What type of images do you take pleasure in?
  • Who evokes you?
  • Are you daring or are you extra snug standing again from the motion/topic?

Wanting although your pictures will assist you reply a few of these questions. Open up Lightroom, or no matter software program you employ to view albums of your pictures.

Have a look by means of all of the photographs you’ve made through the previous yr or two. Take note of what topics you’ve photographed probably the most. Are you able to see a definite fashion? Are you typically near your topic of additional again?

A stunning mountainous landscape shot with best nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Make Use of Focal Size Metadata

In Lightroom you’ll be able to view metadata to point out you what number of pictures in a listing or over a date vary have been made with a specific lens.

On the prime of your window if you end up in Grid view click on on Metadata. You will notice a drop down listing of the lenses you’ve used and the variety of photographs taken with every lens.

Click on on the lens you employ probably the most. Grid view will now solely show the pictures you’ve made with this lens. When you’ve got been utilizing a zoom lens you can even view an inventory of focal lengths you’ve used inside the zoom vary.

If the Focal Size panel shouldn’t be displaying up, you possibly can open it by clicking Library>Filter by Metadata>Add Column from the highest menu. On the prime of the brand new column click on None after which Focal Size.

A screenshot of editing photos in Lightroom

Flick through your photographs based mostly on the Focal Size filter. At what focal size have you ever made your favorite pictures? The place are you able to see gaps? Do you assume your images is missing a wider lens or an extended lens?

4 Teams of Prime Lenses

  • Broad
  • Medium
  • Tele/supertele
  • Specialty

Large Angle Nikon Prime Lenses

Lenses with a focal size of 35mm or much less are thought-about to be ‘vast angle’ on a full body digital camera, (24mm or much less on a crop sensor digital camera).

Some widespread makes use of for these lenses is photographing landscapes, road, and environmental portraiture.

A stone church on an overcast day - nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Medium Size Nikon Prime Lenses

From 40mm on a full body (28mm on a crop sensor,) to 80mm, (50mm on a crop sensor,) is taken into account a medium size lens.

Medium prime lenses are sometimes used for basic functions. Some widespread makes use of for these lenses are weddings, portraits, and road images.

A female model posing outdoors - nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Tele/Supertele Nikon Prime Lenses

This group of lenses ranges from 85mm full body, (about 55mm on a crop sensor,) proper as much as 800mm.

Brief to medium telephoto prime lenses are sometimes used for portraiture, product, and meals images. These lenses are within the vary from 85mm to 135mm on a full body digital camera or 55mm to 90mm on a crop sensor digital camera.

These lenses usually have a wider most apertures and are lighter than the lengthy telephoto prime lenses.

Lenses longer than 135mm (90mm) to 200mm, (135mm) are thought-about medium telephoto lenses. This vary of lenses is usually used for portraiture, weddings, product, and meals images.

They’re good for taking pictures the place the background just isn’t vital.

A red and ywellow flower - nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Lenses 300mm and longer are thought-about as tremendous telephoto. These are good for sport, wild life, fowl images and any topic you can’t get near.

They’re massive and heavy and most frequently are greatest used with the help of a tripod or monopod.

Specialty Nikon Prime Lenses

Nikon nonetheless make some very specialised lenses, however not in a lot selection as they used to. The tremendous vast 14mm prime, 19mm perspective correcting or 60mm micro lens aren’t going to suit many individuals’s wants, or budgets.

These lenses are designed for particular functions and to satisfy specific wants. Perspective correcting lenses are used primarily for structure images. They permit the photographer to regulate parallax error.

These lenses have been extra essential earlier than digital images. Now we now have the power to make changes to perspective throughout publish manufacturing.

A close up photo of silkworms shot with a nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

I took this photograph of a silk worm with a lovely previous 55mm micro Nikon prime lens. I bought the lens as a part of a bag of drugs at a second hand public sale over twenty years in the past. I nonetheless get numerous use from this extremely sharp lens.

Going Retro

Only recently I took some pictures of a person trimming a palm tree on our neighbour’s property utilizing a Nikon 300mm f4.5 lens I purchased in 1988.

He was at the very least 25 meters up the tree and I photographed him from our first flooring porch. I additionally recurrently use different previous, guide focus prime lenses. Previous glass is sweet glass.

A man climbing palm trees against a white background - nikon prime lenses

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Guide focus Nikon lenses are very robust. Often there’s no plastic in them they usually final for a few years if they’re nicely taken care of. In prime lenses there are fewer shifting elements, so much less can go mistaken with them.

Shopping for second hand all the time entails some danger and a specific amount of belief within the vendor. Used Nikon guide prime lenses can typically be picked up very cheaply as a result of most individuals favor to make use of auto focus.

Issues to search for when you’re shopping for second hand lenses are;

  • Indicators the lens has been dropped (dents and cracks);
  • Mould on the glass (open the aperture and look via the lens);
  • An excessive amount of put on and tear;
  • Stiff or gritty feeling focus ring;

Nonetheless Not Positive Which Nikon Prime Lens to Purchase?

When you’re having hassle deciding which lens can be your first prime, I recommend you decide up a 50mm f1.eight in case you are utilizing a full body digital camera.

In case you’re utilizing a crop sensor digital camera, a 35mm f1.eight lens is the best choice to make a begin with.

A busy walkway street scene shot with a Nikon prime lens

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Each these lenses are low cost. New they value lower than most Nikon zoom lenses. Lower than $200 shouldn’t be a lot to take a position.

Utilizing one in every of these lenses, you’ll discover a distinction in your images. Not solely in your completed pictures, however in the best way you’ll go about making them.

Get used to zooming together with your ft. Be very cautious when it’s essential to get a wider angle. Don’t step backwards off the curb into visitors! Significantly, you’ll have to assume in another way about the way you need to compose your photographs.

That is one facet of utilizing a primary lens that I think about will help new photographers study.

Composing with an ordinary prime lens takes some getting used to in case you are accustomed to utilizing a package zoom lens. As you apply repeatedly together with your prime lens you’ll get a really feel for it.

You’ll instinctively understand how near your topic you could be to seize the picture you bear in mind.

Zooming together with your ft not solely means you’ll transfer nearer to or additional out of your topic. More than likely you’ll begin shifting round your topic too, viewing it from totally different views. In case you are utilizing a zoom lens most frequently your ft are firmly planted in a single place.

Lease Earlier than You Purchase

When you’ve narrowed down your choices of Nikon prime lenses you could need to purchase, attempt renting one or two.


A line of old books shot with the best Nikon prime lens for still life

© Kevin Landwer-Johan

Plan your self a day of images. Organise to go some place you like to photograph with just one or two rented, or borrowed prime lenses. Even for those who can solely handle one morning or afternoon, this might be a helpful expertise. Spend it getting a really feel for the kinds of pictures you can also make with these lenses.

In case you have the time and assets, do that train greater than as soon as. Lease a few totally different lenses every time so you’ll be able to examine them.

Use the tactic I discussed earlier to review the metadata in Lightroom. See not simply what number of photographs you took with every focal size lens, however, extra importantly, which of the pictures you’re most glad with.

This provides you with a superb indication of which lens would be the greatest Nikon prime lens for you.

A word from Josh, ExpertPhotography’s Photographer-In-Chief:

Thanks for studying…

CLICK HERE if you wish to seize breathtaking pictures, with out the frustration of a sophisticated digital camera.

It is my coaching video that may stroll you the right way to use your digital camera’s features in simply 10 minutes – without spending a dime!

I additionally supply video programs and ebooks masking the next topics:

You might be just some days away from lastly understanding the way to use your digital camera to take nice pictures!

Thanks once more for studying our articles!

Kevin Landwer-Johan

Kevin’s skilled background is in editorial and business images. Please enroll in his FREE course for newbie photographers which can construct your confidence in images. You’ll discover ways to make sense of digital camera settings and achieve a greater understanding of the significance of sunshine in images.
Take a look at Kevin’s Weblog for articles with a extra private strategy to images.