The best lens for a Nikon D850 after 100 tests of lenses for a Nikon FX SLR
VFor once we indulge ourselves! Without worrying about size, weight or price, we chose the best lens for the best camera of the moment from 100 reviewed full-frame lenses: Nikon D850.
Nikon D850: Best camera OF 2017
UNCOMPROMISINGLY THE BEST LENSES FOr NIKON D850:
In a series of articles, starting with: What is the best lens for me? A subjective roadmap for the best lens, we have described how we make our selection of the best lenses for a specific camera. We only recommend lenses that we have reviewed ourselves. There are a few hundred, so plenty of choice. First, our choice depends on the type of photographer you are. We assume that you are a professional photographer or an uncompromising amateur photographer/prosumer if you have a Nikon D850. Then the choice of the right lens depends on the kind of photos you want to make with a camera. Because the Nikon D850 camera not only has a sensor with lots of megapixels, but also has fast continuous AF and a big buffer, we have weighed image quality (resolution, color errors, ghosts) and action (AF speed) of a lens heavily. In other words: where you previously used a separate camera for studio and landscape photography (read: Nikon D810), supplemented with a camera for action photography (read: Nikon D5), you can now work as a professional photographer with 1 workhorse (read: Nikon D850).
We have given the price, the weight and the size of the lens a lower priority in our selections for the Nikon D850. And because as a professional photographer you want to distinguish yourself from all the sharp shots, which an amateur photographer also gets today, we have been so brazen as to choose a few lenses with a very specific character and bokeh (see also: Nikon DNA) above the sharpest lens. Where that is done, we will explicitly mention it.
MACROPHOTOGRAPHY WITH A Nikon D850
In this category, it’s simple: macro lenses are so terribly good that you really cannot go wrong. The old version of the Sigma 70mm is terribly good when it comes to image quality. But it had an outdated AF and is no longer available. We tested the Tokina AF 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro D macro on a Canon 5DsR. Also very good. Those few million extra megapixels of the 5DsR made the Tokina score even higher than the Nikon 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED AF-S VR Micro Nikkor, which we ultimately included in our recommendations.
THE BEST ZOOM LENSES FOR A NIKON D850: KIT LENS OR NOT?
You’re not quite across the finish line with the purchase of a good camera. Although you get the highest image quality and, thanks to the higher brightness, also the most beautiful bokeh with a fixed focal length, almost all photographers buy (in this order) a set including a standard zoom (24-70 mm f/2.8), a telephoto zoom (70-200m f/2.8) and a wide-angle zoom (14-24 mm f/2.8). With the standard zooms, the Sigma 24-35 mm f/2 Art stands out with extremely high brightness and a fabulous image quality. But for that, you have to give up some zoom range. The Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 DI VC USD SP (there is now a successor, but we have not yet tested it) has everything: high image quality, built-in image stabilization, extra sealing against dust and splash water and an attractive price tag. The more modern Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR AF-S Nikkor offers faster AF and maybe even better build quality, but it costs more than 2,000 euros.
TelePHOTO Zooms For Nikon D850
In the Netherlands, a 600mm focal point is not a luxury. A bearded reedling (or a parakeet) is not an elephant.
The best telephoto lens for a Nikon D850 is a telephoto lens with a fixed focal length. We have reviewed the Nikon AF-S 600 mm f/4E FL ED VR, Nikon AF-S 500 mm f/4 E FL ED VR and the Nikon AF-S 400 mm f/2.8 E FL ED VR, and as far as image quality, AF accuracy and AF speed are concerned, this is the cream of the crop of all telephoto lenses that we have tested. The high brightness in combination with good image stabilization also increases the chances of a sharp image in low light. Thanks to the high brightness, they can also be combined with a teleconverter, without losing AF or too much image quality. But there are also three high price tags on these telephoto giants. Firstly, the weights and sizes of these lens are not for everyone. Certainly not if you want to bring multiple focal lengths with you. Secondly, the purchase price of all 3 of these lenses is above 10,000 euros. Thirdly, you give us flexibility with a fixed focus, because even if you use teleconverters, you lose time placing it between lens and camera body.
For nature and sports photography, in many cases you have limited freedom in choosing your position. That’s why we prefer a zoom lens, with which you can adjust your image crop to your subject. In Africa, you can get surprisingly close to your subject with a car, meaning that in many cases you already have a beautiful shot with a 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom. But if you want to take pictures of little birds – and we have a lot of them in the Netherlands – you need every mm. And a built-in teleconverter ensures that you can quickly increase your zoom range even further. We still end up with a lens with a price tag above 10,000 euros: Nikon 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR AF-S Nikkor
LENSES WITH A FIXED FOCAL LENGTH!
Experienced photographers often opt for a fixed focal length. Because shooting with a fixed focus forces you to think carefully about the composition. And because of that extra bit of image quality compared to the best zoom lenses and because of the brightness. Almost everyone has a bright standard lens with a focal length of around 50mm. With a Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED, Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art or a Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G ED, you have an affordable, sharp standard lens. If you want to distinguish yourself with beautiful background blur, then go for the Nikon AF-S 58mm 1.4G.
Good examples of the superiority of fixed focal lengths are the Nikon AF-S 600 mm f/4E FL ED VR and the Nikon AF-S 500 mm f/4E FL ED VR, although we know that in terms of price, those are a stretch even for most Nikon D850 photographers.
A good portrait lens is bright (f/2.8 or lower) and has a focal length between 85mm and 135mm. In this class, you can choose from many good lenses that we have reviewed, such as the Sigma 135m f/1.8 Art or the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD (with built-in image stabilization!). Nevertheless, we chose the Nikon AF-S 105MM f/1.4E ED because of the specific character of this lens, as described in the Nikon DNA article.
Low Light: CONCERT PHOTOGRAPHY, NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY
Concert photography and night photography make much heavier demands on lenses, especially when it comes to brightness, sharpness at full aperture and the occurrence of internal reflections. For lenses with a focal point below 150mm, you should think of a lens with a brightness of f/1.4. At focal points above 200mm, f/2.8. This immediately reduces the number of possible candidates. Built-in image stabilization is an important advantage (at focal lengths above 30mm) if you want to shoot out of hand with extremely little light, because the Nikon D850 has no built-in image stabilization. That makes the selection even smaller. The Sigma 14 mm f/1.8 Art combines very good image quality with world-record brightness. The Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED is an attractively priced documentary lens with superior image quality.
A sharp subject against a blurred background is in fashion. Long live bokeh! Bokeh does not only depend on sensor size and aperture. The focal length and the lens design (types of lenses, glasses types and the way in which the aspheric lens elements in particular are made) also have an impact. In order not to cost you too much, we recommend the same lenses here that we recommended as a portrait lens (Nikon 105mm f/1.4E ED AF-S Nikkor) and as a standard lens (Nikon 58mm f/1.4G AF-S Nikkor).
This is a specialist lens, with its own distinctive distortion. That is why you will only use such a lens to a limited extent. At the same time, it is very difficult to make a good fisheye for a camera with a full-frame sensor. If you’re thinking about a good full-frame Fisheye lens for the Nikon D850, then consider the Nikon 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED AF-S Fisheye Nikkor. You will use it less often than your other lenses, but that does not detract from the pleasure of an extravagant, successful shot.
For THe specialist: Tilt Shift
Professional architectural photographers cannot do without a tilt-shift lens. For such a specialized lens, we are quickly ready with our advice: the Nikon 19mm f/4E ED PC Nikkor is the only tilt-shift lens that we have reviewed. Fortunately, this modern lens is terribly good, which unfortunately also translates into a hefty price tag. Because the price of this high-quality, specialist lens is in line with the quality: “You get what you pay for“