Best Budget Nikon Lenses (Under $200)

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There are so many Nikon DSLR lenses available in 2021, that knowing where to start can be overwhelming.

We made a list of the best budget Nikon lenses. Although many lenses are expensive, these affordable Nikon lenses offer outstanding performance at a reasonable price.

Best Budget Nikon Lenses in 2021

1. Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6

Best Budget Nikon Lens

Best Budget Nikon Lenses (Under $200)

Tamron Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Macro Zoom Lens with Built-in Motor for Nikon Digital SLR (Model A17NII)

The AF 70-300mm is certainly meant to be used for wildlife and sports photography. The focal length of 300 mm, which translates to 480 mm (effective) on an APS-C body, is ideal for getting close-ups of shy animals (though for pictures of birds you will likely need even more focal length).

The maximum aperture of f/5.6 (at this focal length) is mediocre, but to get lower f-stops you will have to spend seriously more money. The lens is best used on a tripod at this focal length because it doesn’t have an image stabilizer. But alternate supports such as a bean bag are equally as good.

Tamron 70-300mm is designed for use with full-frame and APS-C camera systems, from 70-300 mm to 4-5.6. The effective zoom range is 105-450 mm, with Canon cameras, a slightly longer at 112-480 mm. It is available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, and Sony. It has a built-in motor for quick and accurate focus.

The AF 70-300 mmF/4-5.6 Di LD MACRO1:2 has a decent look and a quite rugged look. Since the mounting is of plastic, obviously, it is more prone to wear than metal lens mounts. The zoom ring is wide and well-crafted, but it doesn’t zoom very smoothly. There is no zoom lock on the lens, but you won’t miss it because the focus is sticky. The focal ring is placed smoothly while the focus is smaller. During autofocus operation, the lens can not manually override, so that you have to use the switch between autofocus and manual operation.

Low dispersion (LD) glass elements in a lens help reduce chromatic aberration, the tendency of light of different colors to come to different points of focus at the image plane. Chromatic aberration reduces the sharpness of an image. Still, glass with an extremely low dispersion index has less of a tendency to separate a ray of light into a rainbow of colors. This characteristic allows the lens designer to effectively compensate for chromatic aberration at the center of the field, a particular problem at long focal lengths, and for lateral chromatic aberration that often occurs at short focal lengths (the wide-angle end of the zoom range).

Focal Length70-300mm
Maximum Aperturef/4-5.6
Minimum Aperturef/32
Minimum Focus95cm
Maximum Magnification Ratio1:2
Angle of View8° – 34°

2. Tamron AF 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3

Best Budget Nikon Lenses (Under $200)

Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC All-in-One Zoom for Nikon APS-C Digital SLR

Di II VC’s Tamron 18-200 F3.5-6.3 is a compact superzoom lens for the Nikon / C Canon / Sony (A-mounted) APS-C cameras. The zoom range of the lens on the APS-C systems equals 28-310 mm and the integrated image stabilizer helps reduce the effects of the camera shake (models Canon and Nikon only).

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A DC engine gear train is used for the newly designed autofocus system, which is more efficient and quiet than conventional motorized DC systems. It is only about 3.7 to 3.8 inches long and weights 14 pounds.

Sharpness varies across the lens spectrum, but it is clear from the very start that the center of the picture and shorter focal lengths show higher levels of performance. At 18 mm, central sharpness is exceptional, from full aperture to f / 11 exceeding amazing. At f/16 it remains quite strong and only f/22 fall to average.

Focal Length18mm – 200mm
Angle of View7.59° – 75.33°
Maximum Aperturef/3.5 – f/6.3
Minimum Aperturef/22 – f/40
Minimum Focus49cm

3. Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8

Best Budget Nikon Lenses (Under $200)

The 35 mm DX Nikkor is very light and thin. It measures 2.1 inches by 2.8 inches (HD) and weights 7.1 pounds. A removable lens cap and a soft drawstring pouch are included as well as the back and front caps. The barrel is polycarbonate and the mounting for the lens is metal.

The manual middle ring is a bit down, but most people using this lens rely heavily on the autofocus. The focusing control is mechanical, and even if your camera is powered down you can change the focus, but when it turns it feels rough. While changing the ring, you can almost hear the gears turning within the lens, and it produces a certain noise as they move, making it less than optimal for manual focus images.

When using the optical viewfinder, autofocus is smooth, fast and quiet. Once switching to Live View it remains quiet, but the contrast focus for rear LCD pictures and video used by Nikon SLRs demands that the light search back and forth before the focus is locked. It is not a slow process, but it is less than optimal for tracking moving subjects.

The focus measured from the image sensor is available after 11.8 inches. The lens doesn’t fit into macro terrain, yet you can catch small details – not as small as you would with a 1:2 or 1:1 macro lens with the ability to length up objects at 1:6 life-size at their closest focus point.

4. Nikon AF-S 40mm f/2.8

Best Budget Nikon Lenses (Under $200)

This Nikon 40 mm macro-optic provides a compact and lightweight alternative to Nikon DX digital SLR photography. It has a quiet focusing engine and an improvement in life-size at its closest focusing point.

Weighing only 235g, this lens is amongst the lightest and most compact true macro optics currently available for the Nikon system, which will make it perfect for stowing in the bottom of a camera bag, ready for when it is needed. As a result, it balances very well on the Nikon D300 body used for testing.

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High-quality plastics have been used for much of the construction and the lens mount is made from metal, creating a quality feel. Although this optic makes no claims to be weather resistant, a rubber gasket has been included around the lens mount to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera.

Manual focusing is achieved by the narrow rubber ring with the right resistance and travel to make fine changes simple. The cap is a rather deep circular case that clips onto the bayonet around the 52 mm filter tube.

Focal Length40mm
Angle of View38.5°
Maximum Aperturef/2.8
Minimum Aperturef/22
Minimum Focus16.3cm

Camera Lens Buyer’s Guide

Zoom vs. Prime

Over the past few years, zoom lenses have become almost ubiquitous, so purchasing a lens that is limited to a single angle of view may seem unnecessary at first look. But prime lenses still have some very real benefits; they tend to be smaller and lighter relative to zooms, have quicker maximum apertures and offer sharper images. Such factors make them extremely useful for specific purposes, such as low light shooting where it is desirable to have a wide maximum aperture.

Standard Zoom

A regular zoom is a general-purpose lens with a number of focal lengths from wide-angle to medium telephoto. The most obvious example is the kit lens that comes with the camera (usually an 18-55 mm F3.5-5.6 for APS-C), but this can be upgraded to something with a slightly greater range and better optical quality, or a fast maximum F2.8 aperture.


Superzooms are lenses that extend from a moderate to long lens to include a whole range of focal lengths. They combine the range of the kit zoom with the camera, plus that of a telephoto zoom in a single package, making travel lenses perfect. Often the technical image quality isn’t as good as two separate lenses, but for many users, this is more than convenience makes up.

Macro Lens

Macro is used to define an extremely close-focusing lens that allows you to take photos of small objects like insects or flowers. Some zoom lenses in their name use’ macro’ to indicate a closer than usual focusing capability, but true macro lenses tend to have fixed focal lengths. Generally the longer the focal length, the further away from your subject you can be. (Nikon instead calls those lenses ‘ Micro’)


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