The best lens for Nikon D5300

Or are you looking for a lens for a Nikon D5200?

After we made a selection for the best lens for a Nikon D3300 for starters with an SLR, or amateurs with a small budget, we now focus on the enthusiastic Nikon amateur photographer.
As an owner of a camera from the Nikon D5000 series, we don't have to tell you that a larger, heavier and usually also somewhat more expensive lens often – but not always – delivers a higher image quality.
And you have probably already discovered the pleasure of photographing with a fixed focal point.

Best lenses for Nikon D5300:

Standard: Nikon 35mm DX f/1.8G

Standard: Nikon 35mm DX f/1.8G
A lot of quality for a low price; field of view is suitable for almost everything

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Telephoto: Nikon 70-300mm VR

Telephoto: Nikon 70-300mm VR
Less expensive alternative for the Nikon 70-200 mm f/4

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Portrait: Nikon 85 mm f/1.8G

Portrait: Nikon 85 mm f/1.8G
High image quality and a good investment for DX and FX

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Fisheye: Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye

Fisheye: Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye
With a 10 for the fun factor

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Standard: Nikon 35mm DX f/1.8G

Standard: Nikon 35mm DX f/1.8G
A lot of quality for a low price; field of view is suitable for almost everything

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Telephoto: Nikon 70-300mm VR

Telephoto: Nikon 70-300mm VR
Less expensive alternative for the Nikon 70-200 mm f/4

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Portrait: Nikon 85 mm f/1.8G

Portrait: Nikon 85 mm f/1.8G
High image quality and a good investment for DX and FX

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Fisheye: Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye

Fisheye: Tokina 10-17mm Fisheye
With a 10 for the fun factor

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Best Nikon lenses for Nikon D5300
In How do I choose a lens? (Subjective strategy for purchasing a lens), the criteria are included that we use for selecting the best lenses from among the 50 lenses that we have reviewed on a Nikon DX camera.
In comparison with our advice for starters with a Nikon SLR, we now advise better, but also more expensive and heavier lenses. In addition, there are more lenses included with a fixed focal length among the selections. The heaviest and most expensive (with a list price above 1000 euros) lenses we omit from consideration. If you uncompromisingly want the very highest image quality that you can get with a DX camera, then you need to wait a bit longer, for The best lens for a Nikon D7100.

I have a Nikon D5300, but I'm not a starter!?

Couple the high build and image quality with the ease of a tilting screen, and it will not surprise you that starting amateur photographers also choose a Nikon D5300 or D5200 as their first SLR camera. It may appear to be overkill for a starting photographer, because the Nikon D3300 offers practically the same image quality and is lighter and more compact in addition. But by choosing a Nikon D5300, instead of a D3300, you avoid having to switch when you outgrow the D3300 or if you miss a tiltable screen after a while when photographing.

Do you have a Nikon D5300 or D5200 and you want to spend as little as possible on a lens with a high price-to-quality ration, a low weight and compact measurements? Then the lenses in The best lens for a Nikon D3300 will be a good choice.
WTC

The best Nikon D5300 kit lens

With a kit, you're out the door more cheaply that with the purchase of a separate camera body and a lens. There are experienced photographers who are dismissive about the quality of a kit lens, but you can make qualitatively very high-quality photos with it. The Nikon 18-55 mm VR II is a universally applicable zoom lens. For many photographers, this kit lens is an ideal starting point, with which you can work almost everywhere quite well. In terms of weight and dimensions, the Nikon 18-105 mm (our final choice as kit lens for the D5300) and the Nikon 18-140 mm make a nicer combination with the Nikon D5300 in my eyes than the smallest 18-55 mm VR II kit lens. The larger zoom range also makes these kit lenses more broadly applicable.

There are various kits for a Nikon D5300 with lens available:

  • Nikon D5300 body: 700 euros
  • Nikon D5300 + 18-55 mm VR: 750 euros
  • Nikon D5300 + 18-55 mm VR II: 780 euros
  • Nikon D5300 +18-105 mm: 870 euros
  • Nikon D5300 + 18-140 mm: 999 euros

These prices are probably out of date just a few weeks after the appearance of this article. For us it's more about the relationships than the exact amounts. Prices continue to drop, and sometimes there are attractive promotions, so always check the current prices before you go to buy something.

Are you really ready for a supplement/replacement to the kit lens?

Why would you want to replace a Nikon 18-55 mm VR (II), Nikon 18-105 mm or Nikon 18-140 mm kit lens? Probably not due to the image quality, because that is very high. Just look in our list of lenses by focal distance. There, you can compare the image quality of lenses with each other at the same field of view. In order to be able to compare Nikon DX lenses with FX lenses or DX lenses, you have to take the crop factor into account. The performance of these kit lenses at 18 mm can be found in the table at 28 mm (@FF). Because the performance of a lens depends on the number of megapixels of the camera sensor, you see that various lenses reviewed on a Nikon D800E score highly, but when you filter the list of lens reviews for cameras with an APS-C sensor, it is quite noticeable how high, for example, the Nikon 18-105 mm scores for image quality at a focal distance of 18 mm (~28 mm @ FF).

All lenses are currently quite similar to each other. Even so, there are differences that are far from always quantifiable. If you place a kit lens next to a more expensive lens, then you see the differences: the more expensive models feel sturdier, are generally brighter, more heavily built, and aresometimes extra-well sealed against dust and moisture. The focusing ring is also broader and more nicely padded, which makes a big difference for manual focusing. There are many photographers who enjoy photographing with a not-too light lens – but also not the heaviest ones. In that segment, you have a great deal of choice as the consumer.

Possible reasons to replace the kit lens are:

  • You prefer to use 1 lens but find the zoom range of the kit lens to be too limited.
  • You love focusing manually and would very much like a broad, nicely padded focusing ring.
  • You would like a lens with a higher brightness, with which you can photograph better in the dark without a flash, and because the background blur ("bokeh") then improves.
  • You're very critical of image quality and will gladly pay a bit more for higher sharpness, less vignetting or less chromatic aberration.
  • You're going to be photographing under extremely damp, dusty, cold or hot circumstances.

BWteleStreet photography with a telephoto lens: Wake me up at night asking about the ideal focal length for street photography, and I'll say 35 mm (on FX). When I look in Lightroom at my vacation photos, then I see that many street shots are made with a telephoto lens. This shot would not have been possible with a 28 mm DX lens.

Possible reasons for a extra lens in addition to a kit lens are:

  • You want more wide-angle or more telephoto than the kit lens offers you.
  • You want to photograph with a fixed focal length.
  • You want a special lens for nature photography, concert photography, wedding photography, street photography, etc.

In all these cases, there are multiple lenses in the list below that would be interesting for you:

The best super zoom/vacation zoom for Nikon D5300

We consider all zoom lenses with a zoom range of 5 or more as super zooms. The shortest focal distance and the longest focal distance of a super zoom offer you totally different photos without having to change your viewpoint. You can shoot during an entire vacation without having to change lenses. A super zoom is longer – especially when you zoom out to the longest focal distance – and heavier than a kit lens.
The image quality of many super zooms is more or less comparable, but still less than the 18-55 mm or 18-105 mm kit lens, because the larger the zoom range, the more compromises must be made in the design of the lens. For the super zooms with extremely long focal distances, 200 mm or 300 mm, it is not a given that you will get a sharp image. As far as the lens quality is concerned, you can best choose aperture 8 and in order to prevent motion blur – without image stabilization – you will need a shutter time of 1/750 of a second (200 mm) or 1/1000 of a second (300 mm). Therefore, we have chosen a Nikon 18-300 mm VR II as the ultimate vacation zoom for experienced amateur photographers. We think that this lens comes into its own better with an amateur photographer than for a starter with an SLR camera.

Are you planning to switch to FX?

Are you ever going to buy a Nikon camera with an FX sensor? Take that into account now.


Buy an FX lens for your Nikon D5300.

You won't have to worry with Nikon that a lens will no longer be usable on your new camera if you ever switch to a Nikon with a larger sensor. Every DX lens also fits on a camera with an FX sensor, but the real advantage of that larger sensor you will only get with a lens that is also really designed for a full-frame sensor. Nikon cameras can automatically adjust the frame to a DX lens, but then you are only using part of the sensor and the resolution, for example, is lower than when using an FX lens. If you turn of the DX-crop selection, then you will see black edges when you use a DX lens on an FX camera.

Macrophotography with a Nikon D5300

Price tip: Sigma 105 mm f/2.8 Macro

If you really like making photos of very small subjects, then you're in macrophotography. Macrolenses are – even if you use them like a 'normal' lens – without exception very good in terms of image quality: they all offer a very high, even sharpness from corner to corner and most of them display very little distortion. That's why macro lenses are also very popular for reproduction photography. If you use a macro lens for photographing a living subject, then choose a macrolens with a focal distance of at least 100 mm. The Nikon 105 mm f/2.8 G Macro performed best in our review on a Nikon DX and was also chosen as the best macro lens for a Nikon D5300.

Low Light? What do you think about an f/1.8 zoom?

GWARGWAR, years ago photographed in The Trojan Horse (Den Haag), with a Nikon 85 mm f/1.8 AF.

Nikon has, especially for amateur photographers, a great series of Nikon AF-S fixed-focal length lenses with an f/1.8 brightness (28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm), which in our reviews without exception score highly in terms of price-to-quality ratio. An absolute must-have for low-light photography is the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 Art. Not only does this lens perform remarkably well with backlighting, which is also very important for concert or night photography, this exceptionally bright Sigma zoom lens also scores for optical properties better than most lenses with an equivalent focal length. Add to that, that the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 is built like a tank and you'll probably understand our choice.

Wide-angle lenses

The Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX II SD is a wide-angle zoom lens with a surprisingly good build and image quality. With a store price of 600 euros, this is an affordable professional wide-angle zoom lens for an amateur photographer. The Tokina 11-16 mm f/2.8 AT-X 116 PRO DX SD) has a built-in AF motor and its higher price is thereby more than worth its value for every owner of a camera from the Nikon D3000 or the Nikon D5000.

Another great wide-angle zoom that we can recommend to every Nikon D5300 owner is the Nikon AF-S 10-24 mm f/3.5-4.5 G ED DX. This zoom lens delivers good optical performance with a larger zoom range. In particular, the difference between 11 mm and 10 mm can be an important argument for choosing the Nikon zoom.

 

Fisheye lens for Nikon D5300

FlowersTokina 10-17 mm, Photo: Menno Herstel
With a fisheye lens, you can make some real noise. The Tokina 10-17 mm Fisheye delivers wide-angle shots with an outspoken character. There is no autofocus motor in the lens for motorless D3300 or D5300 bodies, but given the short focal distance, that's not really a problem. Review the pictures made with the Tokina 10-17 by CameraStuffReview reader Menno Herstel. The characteristic fisheye distortion really strikes you. You fall for it, or you stumble over it. There's no other option. Most photographers will use a fisheye lens only rarely. In that case, it's good to know that a store price of 600 euros is remarkably low for a fisheye zoom, and that at the longest focal distance for this Tokina zoom lens, you will have no more trouble from the fisheye distortion.

Telephoto zoom lenses for Nikon D5300

TelelensIvo's personal advice: Never head out with an SLR camera without a 70-200 mm f/2.8 zoom with image stabilization. Such a lens is not cheap, but it pays for itself in matchless images.

Price tip: Tamron 70-300 mm

Of the lenses with a focal length above 200 mm, we have only reviewed zoom lenses. For Nikon D5300 owners, we start with an upper limit of 1000 euros (list price) for a good telephoto zoom. The Nikon 70-300 mm scores the highest in our review, and is therefore our choice as the best telephoto lens for a Nikon D5300, with the Tamron 70-300 mm on its heels. With these telephoto zooms, you make visibly sharper images than with a super zoom lens at the same focal distance.
If the budget allows it, the Nikon 70-200 mm f/4 VR is the best choice, but for that, the store price is currently at 1150 euros.

Lenses with a fixed focal distance

Portret3Good low-light lenses. Lenses with a fixed focal length are almost always brighter than zoom lenses. In order to prevent motion blur, this shot was taken with flash. Therefore, you see little more than the background. If you photograph with a fixed focal length, then you can keep photographing longer without a flash.

Experienced photographers work due to creative considerations with a fixed focal length. Because you cannot zoom in or out, you're forced with a fixed focal length to think more carefully about the composition of your photo.
If you're looking for a good lens with a fixed focal length for a Nikon D5300, choose the lens with the focal length that is most attractive to you from the list below. With the exception of the Nikon 35 mm DX f/1.8 G, this lens can be used on both DX and FX.

For wide-angle and documentary (24 mm), we have another vacancy. Qualitatively, there's nothing much to criticize about the Nikon 24 mm f/14 G on a DX camera, but with a list price above 2,000 euros, we assume that it's outside the reach of most Nikon D5300 photographers. The portrait and standard lens we've included in our list with the best lenses for the Nikon D5300.

Nikon D5300 with the same beautiful bokeh as an FX camera?

Do you want just as nice a background blur as in the shots of photographers with an expensive full-frame camera and an expensive bright f/2.8 lens? Then you don't immediately have to exchange your Nikon D5300 for a Nikon D600 or D810. There are multiple good, affordable lenses with a high brightness and a beautiful bokeh to boot, such as the Nikon 50 mm f/1.4 G or the Nikon 85 mm f/1.8 G. Given the broad applicability of the focal distance range, we have chosen the Sigma 18-35 mm f/1.8 Art as the bokeh lens for the Nikon D5300.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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