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Best Budget Zoom Lens for Nikon [2021 Review]

In: 
Published: 08/06/2021

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

High-quality photographs and videos depend a lot on what lenses you use. Like any other camera accessory, price is a deciding factor. Here are our choices for the best budget zoom lenses for Nikon with high-performing features to make the most out of your money.

Our Top Nikon Budget Zoom Lens Reviews

If you're looking for a new zoom lens for your Nikon camera but aren't sure what you can obtain for a reasonable price, this is the list for you! Despite the fact that many lenses are expensive, these Nikon lenses are reasonably priced and provide excellent performance.

Brand
Best Overall
Nikon NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G
Best for the Money
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
Best Cheap Pick
Sigma 105mm F2.8
Product
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens...
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor...
Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens...
Lens Type
Wide Angle
Telephoto
Telephoto
Maximum Focal Length
20 Millimeters
300 Millimeters
105 Millimeters
Best Overall
Brand
Nikon NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G
Product
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens...
Lens Type
Wide Angle
Maximum Focal Length
20 Millimeters
Price
Best for the Money
Brand
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
Product
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor...
Lens Type
Telephoto
Maximum Focal Length
300 Millimeters
Price
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Sigma 105mm F2.8
Product
Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens...
Lens Type
Telephoto
Maximum Focal Length
105 Millimeters
Price

Best Overall Budget Zoom Lens for Nikon: Nikon NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G

The NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED is a wide lens originally designed for the AF-D system. Nevertheless, it's small and light, weighing only 0.60 pounds, and it's a good value for its high-performance features.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens...

The Nikon 20mm f/2.8 features a good construction quality, with polycarbonate on the exterior surface and aluminum for the mount. In addition, its narrow focus ring makes manual focusing easier, making it an excellent choice for hand-held photography. 

Its ability to move somewhat closer to the subject when close-up shooting allows you to manage the linear extension and minimize the potential of having strongly contrasting images.

The Close-Range Correction covers an amateur photographer, as it maintains high-quality imaging at a close focusing range. Its versatile wide-angle perspective and broad depth of field give you an edge-edge sharpness with minimal disfigurement.

It lacks an inbuilt AF motor but relies on a slotted drive screw that does not work as smoothly, producing moderate noise, unlike the Nikon 70-300mm, which has quieter autofocusing.

The Nikon 20mm f/2.8 excels in dark situations owing to its fast aperture. Therefore, it is highly recommended for late evening shots and dimly lit interiors. Furthermore, the manual aperture control ring allows you to modify the settings easily while shooting. And since it is less heavy, it is the ultimate travel companion. 

It offers broad picture angle settings to work with; 94 degrees for an FX-format and 70 degrees for a DX-format, unlike the Sigma 105mm f/2.8. It provides you with a highly coveted experience of broader perspectives within ordinary settings.

Pros

  • It is compact and lightweight, making it easily portable
  • It has the Close-Range Correction feature that ensures high-quality imaging at close distant ranges
  • It has a small focus ring that makes manual autofocusing easier

 Cons

  • It lacks the inbuilt AF system and is a little noisy
  • Its plastic construction makes it limited to a few cameras
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED Fixed Lens...
  • Compact, lightweight, FX-format lens that combines the ultra-wide perspective of a 20mm focal...
  • Maximum reproduction Ratio: 0.23x.Aspherical lens elements and extra-low Dispersion glass elements...
  • Innovative silent Wave Motor (SWM) uses ultrasonic waves for fast, accurate, near quiet autofocusing...

Best Budget Nikon Zoom Lens for the Money: Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G

The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G with its vibration reduction function and lightweight construction, provides exceptional adaptability at an inexpensive price. This lens is compatible with FX and DX formats having a wide area of focus at approximately 105-450mm on DX sensors, a good choice for real estate photography.

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor...

The Nikon 70-300mm glass elements have low-light dispersion, which helps produce high resolutions and fewer aberrations photos by removing air bubbles and other disfigurements on the glass.

The Vibration Reduction II technology offers four complete stops, proving to be superior to non-VR lenses. This feature makes it highly useful while hand shooting. In addition, the Silent Wave Motor allows quiet and smooth autofocusing compared to Sigma 105mm f/2.8, where the autofocus is noisy.

This lens is structured with plastic and a metal mount, making it easily portable due to its lightweight. It has an enlarged zoom ring allowing extra zooming in and out with the right hand as you hold the camera with the left. The lens offers a long distance for shooting, up to 300mm, and the lens does not extend significantly while zooming.

Nikon did not prioritize this lens, even if the manual focus works well when you override the focus. Compared to the Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, its zoom ring is larger than the focus ring, making it hard to focus using your hand. However, this works to its advantage as its main task is autofocusing, which does not need the focus ring.

Pros

  • It has the Vibration Reduction feature that ensures stability while shooting
  • It has a longer focal length of up to 300, best-suited for real estate photography
  • The Silent Wave Motor functionality makes autofocusing quieter and faster

 Cons

  •  It has a smaller focus ring that limits manual focusing
  •  It is incompatible with older cameras
Sale
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR Nikkor...
  • 70 300mm telephoto zoom lens with f/4.5 5.6 maximum aperture for Nikon digital SLR cameras
  • Internal Focus (IF) system provides fast and quiet autofocusing; 4.9 feet Minimum focus range, Focal...
  • Vibration Reduction (VRII) minimizes effects of camera shake to produce sharper images

Best Cheap Budget Zoom Lens for Nikon: Sigma 105mm F2.8 

The Sigma 105mm F2.8  lens offers a full-frame for SLR cameras but can also be mounted onto DSLRs with smaller sensors. It has a focal length of 105mm, a little inferior to Nikon 70-300 mm, which offers a longer shooting distance. This works in its favor, as it is best suited for close-up photography.

Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens...

The Dual Focus (DF) is incorporated into its system, making it easy to hold while hand-shooting. It is operated by a 2-step combination process of pushing/pulling its clutch to select a specific model. Its focus ring is larger than the Nikon 70-300mm lens, which allows for seamless manual autofocusing.

It is easily tagged forwards or backward to engage or disengage the manual focus mechanism. Inside the focus, rings are yellow and white markings, which indicate AF when it goes white and  MF when it touches the yellow mark.

The Sigma AF system is a weakness in its way in that it is slow, delivers an average out-of-focus shot, and is particularly noisy. The lens is constructed to be wide open from side to side, even when using an entire frame body. 

This lens most likely closes up significantly due to its shallow Depth of Field. In addition, the extreme-minimum aperture of f/45 quickly causes diffraction, which unfortunately does not work well with multiple shootings.

It has a limiter system that works excellently in preventing super-close zoom-ins when photographing distant subjects. As a result, there is no chance that you will get highly contrasted images from the lens trying to look too close or too far away.

Pros

  • It offers up to three focusing zones
  • It has a focal length extending to 105mm, excellent for close-up photography
  • It has the Dual Focus system that eases hand-held shooting

 Cons

  • Allows for extreme adjustment of the aperture, which might result in diffracted images
  • The autofocus is noisy and does not produce quality photos at a distance unlike the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
Sale
Sigma 258306 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro Lens...
  • Designed for use with full frame digital SLR cameras. May also be used with smaller APS-c size...
  • Focuses down to 1:1 magnification ratio at its closest working distance of 12.3 inches
  • A hood adapter, lens hood, front & rear lens caps are included with the lens

Features to Consider in a Budget Zoom Lens for Nikon

Focal Length

The focal length of these lenses will always be the most significant attribute. It's impossible to overestimate the value of being able to shoot and capture photos from a great distance. For example, the Nikon 70-300 mm has a focal length to shoot long-distance images.

ProductFocal LengthAperture Filter Size
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G VR Lens70-300mmf/4.5-5.658mm
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED  20mmf/1.8 77mm
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM105mmf/2.8 62mm

Aperture

The aperture of a lens refers to the opening that permits light to flow through the lens. The aperture sizes of camera lenses differ. The aperture size may be changed from the camera body, and the aperture size selected will have an impact on the photo's appearance. The Nikon AF-S FX 20mm f/1.8G, for example, has a shallow depth of field of 1.8.

Lens Focusing Speed

The minimum focusing distance, or the distance you must be away from your target before a lens focuses, varies amongst lenses. For example, you should stand at least 6 feet away from your subject for the lens to focus when using zoom lenses. On the other hand, it will be difficult for your lens to focus if you are too near to your topic.

Size and Weight

Some lenses may not appear to be heavy when you first pick them up, but you may have a different opinion after wearing them for about a day. The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G, for example, is made of plastic and has a metal mount, making it lightweight and portable.

Nikon camera, lenses and complete camera gears

Weather Resistance

If you want to use a lens in inclement weather, double-check that it is weather-sealed. This implies it's equipped with seals at any areas where water or dust may enter, preventing them from entering. In addition, a coating intended to repel dust, water, and grime will usually be applied to the front element.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is a technique for reducing the risk of blurry images by automatically rotating the camera lens to correct for camera movement caused by the user hand-holding the camera or by the camera being placed on a platform prone to vibration or motions such as a car. The Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G, for example, includes image stabilization mode.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are All Nikon Lenses Compatible With All Nikon Cameras?

With the recent upgrades, not all lenses will be compatible with all DSLRs and SLRs; to be on the safe side, it is best to check with the manufacturers before purchasing.

What is the Advantage of Having a Zoom Lens?

The most significant benefit of a zoom lens is that it allows you to easily alter the angle of view without having to change lenses.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, what you buy must compliment your type of photography. As indicated in this list, purchasing an excellent zoom lens at a budget-friendly price is the best deal you will ever get in hindsight. Choosing the right budget zoom lens for Nikon can save you potential future costs.

PFRE Team
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