Digital Photography Review

The Ultimate Nikon Telephoto Lens Guide – Schubert Photography

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Need help choosing the best Nikon telephoto lens? This guide will walk you through the best telephotos lenses on the market to help you take amazing wildlife, sports and landscape photography.

Nikon telephoto lens guide header

Best Lens For Wildlife Photography

1. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR Zoom Lens offers superb clarity and versatility in one heck of a telephoto lens. Designed for cropped sensor cameras, it has an angle of view from 76 degrees to 5 degrees and a minimum focal distance of 1.6 feet. A range of zoom from 18 – 300 mm offers wildlife photographers the flexibility of being able to shoot subjects from near to far. And Nikon’s superb Vibration Reduction technology allows handheld photography with 4 stops of blur-free shooting.

Best Lens For Sports Photography

3. Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 DG OS HSM

Best Budget Telephoto Lens For Nikon

5. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED VR offers a solid performance telephoto lens at a very reasonable price. This telephoto lens features Nikon’s signature Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization technology which provides crisp, blur free photos. The 70 – 300 mm focal range offers photographers versatility when shooting subjects near and far. This budget telephoto lens also uses a pulse motor to help you focus very fast and nearly silently. All around, the Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300 mm f/4.5-6.3 ED VR is a great telephoto lens for those on a budget.

6. Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC All-in-One Zoom

The Tamron AF 18-200mm F/3.5-6.3 Di-II VC All-in-One Zoom gives photographers a wide range of focal length for a variety of shooting situations at a very attractive price. This is what I call a “walkaround” lens, because you can carry it with you when traveling and not have to switch lenses because of the large focal range it provides. This zoom lens contains Tamron’s Vibrition Compression (VC) system for lighting fast and tack sharp focusing, even when shooting handheld. It is designed for cropped sensor dslr cameras.

Best Telephoto Fixed Aperture Lens

7. Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens

The Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens is a fantastic fixed aperture lens on the shorter telephoto focal length range that offers consistent and accurate performance for a wide variety of photographic situations. It has a minimum focus range of 0.8 meters and contains Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor technology to keep your focusing action quiet. This fixed aperture lens is perfect for detailed portrait shots.

8. Nikon 300mm f/4E PF VR AF-S ED-IF Telephoto Nikkor Lens

The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF VR AF-S ED-IF Lens is a very lightweight and versatile fixed telephoto lens in the longer focal length category. This lens is designed for full frame cameras but will work fine on cropped sensor cameras, too. It’s perfect for photographing wildlife or sports events and even portraits. The SWM is very fast and the Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element captures images with virtually no ghosting or chromatic aberration. You’ll love this lens especially for the razor sharp images you’ll capture with it.

Best Super Telephoto Lens For Nikon

9. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens

The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Zoom Lens allows photographers to capture stunning long distance photos with unparalleled sharpness and accuracy. This Nikon super telephoto lens is built on an FX format and provides you with a maximum 500 mm focal distance on full frame cameras and a whopping 750 mm equivalent on DX cameras. This makes it an easy favorite for wildlife photography and action sports photography, enabling you to get closer than ever before to your subject while standing far away. It has a minimum focus distance of 7.2 feet ( 2.2 meter). Sports mode will give you 4 stops of vibration reduction, allowing you to capture tack sharp photos even while your subject is moving at high speeds. Plus, the f/5.6 constant aperture produces gorgeous out of focus backgrounds and provides excellent low light performance.

10. Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens

The Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens is a very affordable super telephoto lens alternative to the Nikon 200-500mm that offers very similar quality and performance. This lens achieves 10.2 inches (280 cm) minimum focusing distance and is dust proof and splash proof for rugged photography adventures. It’s lightweight at only 68 oz and you’ll be amazed at how sharp the images are that you can capture from so far away.

What Are Telephoto Lenses?

Unlike a wide angle lens, a telephoto lens brings subjects that are far away and makes them appear closer. Generally speaking, telephoto lenses are those with focal lengths greater than 80 millimeters which create a more narrow depth of view.

Telephoto lenses are most often used in:

  • wildlife photography
  • nature and landscape photography (capturing waves and the moon)
  • sports and action photography
  • portrait photography (in order to create a more blurred background)

How To Choose The Best Nikon Telephoto Lens

Glass Quality

The better the quality glass, the sharper your image will typically be. And like many things in life, the more you pay, the better quality you’ll get. Telephoto lenses are no exception. The lenses listed above have excellent quality glass, so you can feel confident choosing a telephoto lens from this selection.

Prime (Fixed) Or Zoom

When selecting the best Nikon telephoto lens for your camera, you’ll have to decide whether you want to go for a prime lens or a zoom lens. A prime (fixed) lens has one focal length. Whereas a zoom lens provides a range of focal lengths simply by twisting the lens barrel.

Prime telephoto lenses typically offer a faster, and this wider aperture lets in more light. So these are great for shooting portraits of family, friends, models and weddings.

Zoom lenses, on the other hand, are perfect for capturing wildlife and fast moving sports where it’s important to quickly change your perspective by zooming instead of moving your feet. This makes getting the perfect composition a lot easier.

telephoto examples

Focal Length

Whether you choose a prime telephoto lens or a zoom lens, you’ll still need to decide which focal length suits your needs best. This completely depends on how you intend to use your lens.

Short Telephoto Lens – Generally from a focal length of 85 mm to 135 mm, this is what I call a “walkaround” lens. They’re great for travel photography, a wide range of portrait photography, weddings and closer range sports and nature photography. Short telephoto lenses are often lighter and easier to carry around all day.

Medium Telephoto Lens – These lenses are typically 135 mm to 300 mm in focal length. They’re great for wildlife photography and action sports where the subject is a little further away.

Super Telephoto Lens – The longest and heaviest of lenses, these are usually 300 mm or longer. They offer a much higher magnification, making far away subjects like wildlife or sports car racing seem like they are right in front of you. These lenses are heavy, more expensive and they usually capture the sharpest images when mounted on a tripod.

Which Is Your Favorite Nikon Telephoto Lens?

Now that we’ve shared our best telephoto lens for Nikon list, we’d love to know which telephoto lens is your favorite. Let the Schubert Photography community know in the comments below.

Happy shooting!

Last update on 2021-10-12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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