In this article, we have reviewed the 10 best lenses for Nikon D3100 of different types according to your photography needs along with a comparison table to help you choose the best lens possible.
Nikon, a globally renowned brand, has been providing the best cameras and lenses to the camera market for many years now. The cameras from Nikon are not only easy to use and handle but are fun while shooting too.
The Nikon D3100, one of the best cameras from the brand stays true to the tradition and comes with the ability to record HD 1080p movies, provides an excellent live view mode, and includes a long-lasting battery too.
D3100 is indeed a major update from its predecessor D3000 and features a faster and new “EXPEED II image processor,” along with autofocus that can be used even when recording.
If you are looking for good image quality, you certainly need a good lens. It is always wise to spend on quality and new lenses rather than investing in an all-new DSLR camera.
There are more than 60+ lenses from Nikon alone, and these include prime, macro, telephoto, wide-angle, and more. While there is the freedom to choose from the wide variety available, one can feel overwhelmed without knowing what to look for.
In the guide below we will review some of the best lenses for Nikon D3100 and where to look for them.
Table of Contents
Best lenses for Nikon D3100
The Nikon D3100, as we mentioned above, is one of the top entry-level DSLRs available in the market which offers some fantastic beginner-level experiences to the users.
But if you want to take your images to a whole new level and improve the quality of your photography, then these 10 lenses are going to help you achieve the best.
1. Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S – A Prime lens known for its sharpness
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S is loved by photographers for three reasons. The lens is sharp, and lightweight, and helps take rich, colorful, and outstanding images.
A professional-grade lens, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S is perfect for pros as well as enthusiasts who are looking for a quality lens for everyday or portrait photography. The aperture of the lens is f/1.4 and works well, even in low light conditions.
The depth of the field of the lens is shallow, and it makes it easy to isolate the subjects in the background and render stunning background highlights or bokeh.
The lens has a good, solid build, has a plastic exterior, and includes a metal mount. The lens is a little bigger and just 95 grams heavier when compared to the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G. There has been a change in the filter size too as it has been increased to 58mm from 52mm.
The focus ring is located at the front of the lens barrel, which makes it easy to focus manually using just using your index fingers and thumb. The lens features the Silent Wave Motor, but it is said that the autofocus is a little slow when compared to Nikon 50mm f/1.4D or f/1.8G.
Overall, Nikon 50mm f/1.4G AF-S is a lightweight lens that is compact and renders rich colors with very creamy bokeh. The images are sharp, even with extreme corners.
2. Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 – A Perfect Telephoto Lens
Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 is a lens known for its amazing optical performance, and it works as an amazing lens for Nikon D3100 owners. If you are looking for a lens that is a perfect combination of value and zoom, this is the one to choose.
The Tamron AF 70-300mm comes with a built-in motor that helps with a very silent auto-focus. The lens works well if you have some fast-moving shots to capture, like sports or even racing.
The lens also supports manual focus, which comes in handy if you want to fine-tune or make some adjustments to the image when on a whim. Switching from autofocus to manual focus is easy, and it can be done without shuffling any buttons.
If you wish to get the best zoom, the lens provides it between the range of 180mm and 300mm. This range is also marked on the lens as a gold stripe and helps photographers with quick positioning.
The body of the lens includes a switch that helps users to switch from the Macro mode and use the lens for a close-range focus. This works well when the distance is about three to four feet.
The compact tele-zoom lens boasts premium quality and is easy to handle as well. The lens is lightweight, and its mechanical operations can be well handled even by a beginner.
The lens is well suited for outdoor photography, and photographers can make the best use of the 300mm range as well as capture some stunning images by using focal lengths in the range of 70mm to 135mm.
The Tamron lens has a digitally integrated design, and the lens has “Internal Surface Coatings” along with the use of multiple-layers technology of the other elements.
Users can thus stop worrying about ghosting or flare that normally occurs due to reflections, as they are reduced to a bare minimum when this lens is used.
Users can also capture a picture with the macro effect by just switching on the macro button. Photographers can capture images using a focal length in the range of 180mm to 300mm and take complete advantage of the “telephoto effect.” The lens allows a magnification ratio of 1:2 and the composition can be adjusted by using the zoom.
If you are looking for the best lens for your Nikon D3100 camera, Tamron AF 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 will certainly not disappoint you.
3. Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G – An Excellent Macro Lens
An affordable tele-macro lens from Nikon, the Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G comes with excellent features like internal focusing, vibration reduction, and a good reproduction ratio.
The lens also has a Silent Wave Motor which provides a quick and quiet auto-focus during operation. Options like full-time manual override and its compatibility with Nikon DSLR cameras make it one of the best lenses available in the market today.
The lens is lightweight and weighs about 354 grams and is one of the lightweight macro lenses made by Nikon. The well-featured lens has the feature of VR II Image Stabilization. This comes in handy during situations when you cannot mount the camera on a tripod.
Silent Wave Motor is an excellent feature as it enhances the autofocus capability of the lens. This is one of the lenses that can be used on the camera that do not have an “in-body focus motor.”
The Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G has a small element on the front and comes with a 52mm filter thread and a ridged and wide focus ring. The focus ring is coupled to the lens elements enabling easy use of the same.
The lens uses an internal focusing mechanism due to which the length of this lens does not change when you change the focus. The lens also has a rubber gasket that is placed around the mount of the lens, making it perfect to use with “weather-sealed bodies.” The lens can also be used without a doubt in polluted or not-so-ideal weather conditions.
As mentioned above, the lens has a Silent wave motor which provides a very quick and silent auto-focus. The auto-focus of the lens is fast, which is not so common with other macro lenses. The manual focus too is very smooth and is quite precise.
Due to the focal length of the lens and its angle of view, the Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G can also be used as a portrait lens. The aperture of the lens is slightly slow at f/3.5, and the features can be utilized to their fullest when it is used as a telephoto lens.
But if you wish to use the lens as macro, you certainly need to have a tripod handy and make sure to use manual focus for best results. Nikon has also warned that when the reproduction ratio is high, it can lower the VR effectiveness, and many users have found it to be true.
4. Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G – Best Daytime Lens
If you are looking for an all-in-one lens, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G is the one for you. The consumer-grade lens is a perfect add-on to the camera gear of professionals as well as seasonal photographers whose only aim is to capture picture-perfect images.
The lens has a large aperture of f/1.8, which makes it perfect to choose in low light conditions. The depth of field is shallow, and this enables the users to isolate any unwanted subjects from the background. This also helps to capture images that have beautiful bokeh.
The lens replaces its older version, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D. The Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G is the very first lens from Nikon that has used aspherical elements that are not seen in lenses like 50mm f/1.4G.
The lens is very durable, and due to the use of a large lens barrel, the lens element does not rotate or extend during operation. The lens also features a silent wave motor, which provides near to silent autofocus operation. The lens can be paired with even entry-level camera bodies like the Nikon D5100.
The lens has the Nikon’s Super Integrated Coating which helps to reduce ghosting and flare. The lens works perfectly with both the FX and DX sensors of Nikon but is well-suited for FX sensors for daytime photography.
The lens is solid and has a plastic exterior. It weighs about 187 grams and is just 31 grams heavier when compared to its predecessor. Budget-wise, the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G is a great lens that provides sharp images throughout the frame, with balanced colors and skin tones.
Though the lens was released way back in June 2011, its current standing is still strong online, and this proves that many photographers still love to use this lens for daytime and everyday photography.
5. Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8 G – An Excellent Wide Angle Prime Lens
If you are looking to add a wide-angle perspective to your videos and images, the Nikon AF-S 28mm f/1.8G is a must-have. The fast wide-angle prime lens is a perfect lens for Nikon D3100 and is loved by photojournalists, travel photographers, and landscapists.
The maximum aperture of this lens, f/1.8 lets the user capture some stunning images in any light condition. Be it dusk or dawn, indoors or outdoors; the lens offers amazing control of depth of field.
The lens also features the Nano Crystal Coating that helps reduce any reflections or flare, thus improving the clarity as well as the contrast. The lens puts up an impressive show on both FX DX cameras and is a must-have if you are into travel, landscape, and architecture photography.
The body of the lens is sealed to protect it from moisture and dust and can be used with similar camera bodies to shoot in any weather condition. The lens comes included with a lens hood that protects it from damage and flare.
The lens also uses a Silent Wave Motor like most of the other Nikon lenses and provides quiet and fast autofocusing. The focus of the lens is internal, and the length of the lens does not change with the change in focus.
The Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G is a capable lens that mostly appeals to landscape photographers or those who are always on the lookout for some excellent out-of-focus effects or bokeh.
So, if you have the budget and are looking for an excellent wide-angle lens for your Nikon D3100, AF-S 28mm f/1.8G will be the perfect add-on.
6. Sigma EX 10mm f/2.8 DC HSM Fisheye – A Wide Angle Lens with Fisheye
If you have always wanted to own a fisheye lens for your Nikon D3100 and have been looking for one, your search ends at Sigma EX 10mm f/2.8 DC HSM Fisheye. A fisheye lens is a must-have if you have a unique way of looking at the world. With a 180-degree view, shooting with a fisheye lens can be an all-new experience.
Fisheye lenses are no longer those novelty pieces of gear that are not pulled out of the bag very often. The lens has a solid build, and it is known to be one of the best lenses manufactured by Sigma. The lens is made of metal and premium-quality plastic.
The lens feels a little heavy but is small in size. Users can easily feel the lens and say that there is a use of a lot of glass and that it is of high quality. Many users felt that the lens is not particularly heavy, but if you intend to shoot with it all day using just a wrist strap, you might feel a little fatigue for sure.
The top of this lens has a distance scale that helps with focusing. This is one of the rare features hardly found on lenses these days. The distance scale is not useful as the focal length of the lens is just 10mm, and it can be set to infinity when you are shooting a subject that is at a distance of 10 feet.
It can be pretty hard to review the optics when it comes to fisheye; the distortion in this lens is extreme – in the best way possible.
The Sigma 10mm is one lens that stands true to its promise and performs well. If you are looking for an average-priced fisheye lens, this is the one to choose.
7. Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G – An Excellent All-Purpose Lens
One of the best all-purpose lenses available today, the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G is an excellent lens, thanks to its versatility. The lens can be used as a wide-angle lens at a focal length of 18mm, and it can go up to 140mm, making it a perfect lens when you need that zoom.
With absolutely no distortion, the lens helps you capture the best quality images and can be perfectly paired with your Nikon D3100. Like other lenses from Nikon, the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G too boasts some awesome features. Let’s see what they are.
A DX-format lens, the 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G has a 7.8x zoom ratio and can be used with a focal range of 27-210mm. Coming to the optical, the lens has a total of 17 elements from 12 groups, and these include one ED and an aspherical lens. The lens weighs about 490 grams and has excellent build quality.
The lens also features the Vibration Reduction Technology of Nikon that prevents the formation of a blur, which often occurs due to shaky hands. The use of a silent wave motor makes the autofocus quick and quiet.
The features of this lens are limited and include an internal focus mechanism, the focus switch to shift from auto to manual focus, and an image stabilization system to name a few. The lens does not include a distance scale or a depth of field scale.
Though the makers have not claimed that the lens is weatherproof, the rubber seal located around the lens protects it from moisture and dust. The lens is popular due to the accurate focal length it provides, and users can use only one at one time.
This is the best lens for beginners as it gives a perfect shot even when you are trying to shoot randomly.
If you are looking for a lens with great optics and quality images, the Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G is the one to choose from. The two best alternatives to this lens are the Sigma 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 and the Nikon 18-200mm F/3.5-5.6G.
8. NIKON 85mm F/1.8G – A Super Prime Lens for Portraits
Are you in search of a prime lens that would work well with your Nikon D3100? If yes, you certainly need to check out the features of Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. The lens is used to capture some stunning portraits, which showcase every detail, clearly.
The lens also allows photographers to capture the subject against a beautiful and stunning blue background. Due to the good depth of field, the objects captured look more natural as well.
The medium telephoto lens has a fast aperture and works perfectly with all the full-frame DSLR cameras from Nikon. When it comes to the features, the lens has it all that professionals look for in a prime lens. The lens does not have the Vibration Reduction built-in, but no one complains as the fast aperture makes up for it to a little extent.
The lens, like many other Nikon lenses, comes with an autofocus motor that is built-in and the body of the lens includes a distance scale as well. The lens is made of a lot of plastic, but thankfully, the lens mount is made of quality metal.
This is one of the best lenses for Nikon D3100 as it is weatherproof as well. The rubber lens mount also protects the lens from moisture, dirt, and dust.
The autofocus of the lens is pretty quick, and it takes about 0.25 seconds only to lock on the focused subject. The autofocus works fine when you are trying to shoot stationary objects but can pose a little difficulty when you need to shoot moving objects.
The users of this lens have stated that they never experienced “hunting” in any light condition and the lens focused all the time accurately.
The lens provides images that have a well-balanced contrast and are rich in color. Though the lens can sound a little expensive, taking into account the quality of the images you can capture using it, it certainly is worth every penny spent.
9. TOKINA 11-16mm F/2.8 – Perfect Wide Angle Lens for Nature Shots
The 11-16mm f/2.8 lens from Tokina is one of the best wide-angle lenses for the Nikon D3100. The lens is perfect for landscape and nature photography. A number of users use this lens for indoor photography as well.
One of the best ultra-wide zoom angle lenses available in the market today, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is known to work better than the lenses from Nikon and Canon. The lens is named as one of the fastest and the sharpest lenses that work perfectly with digital SLRs.
The lens offers a focal length of 11mm to 16mm but is quite sharp when used in every range. Though users have mentioned slight vignetting, it is said to be tolerable. The lens is known to have all the features one might look for in Nikon or Sigma.
The lens is well-built and comes with an awesome manual and auto slip ring. Though beginners can take some time getting used it, one cannot help but fall in love with this after a certain period of usage.
The lens is designed, keeping in mind the various types of photography like indoor, landscape, and more.
The focus of the lens can seem to be a little clumsy when used in low light but is excellently sharp and is known for its amazing angle of view. This is what makes it perfect for landscape photography.
10. NIKON 55-200mm F/4-5.6 – A Perfect Lens for Wildlife Photography
A compact telephoto zoom lens, the NIKON 55-200mm F/4-5.6 is one of the best lenses to use with your Nikon D3100 for wildlife photography. The lens offers a focal range of 82.5-300mm and comes with a built-in autofocus and Vibration Reduction system.
The lens also features rounded blades that help with the rendering of areas that are out of focus. The lens also has a Super Integrated Coating along with 13 lens elements, which are arranged into nine groups.
The lens is lightweight and weighs about 300 grams and compliments smaller DSLRs from Nikon as well. The build quality of the lens is very decent.
Though the outer rings of the lens are made of plastic, the optical elements used are of premium quality glass. The zooming on this lens is not internal, and one can observe that the front of the lens does extend when zoomed.
When it comes to the features, it can be said that the NIKON 55-200mm F/4-5.6 has some impressive ones. The lens has Vibration Reduction and autofocus built in.
The lens is as good as some premium lenses from Nikon. It also features an on-and-off switch, which is placed on the barrel of the lens, but there is no option to choose between the normal and the active modes.
The lens does have a number of plastic parts, and even the lens mount is made of quality plastic. This is what makes it lightweight. The lens is not weatherproof, but it does come with a rubber seal that protects it from dirt and dust.
The lens works well when you are using it to capture stunning pictures of stationary objects. The autofocus is a little slow, and hence, it cannot be used to capture pictures when in motion. If you are looking for the best lenses for Nikon D3100 on a budget, this is the lens to choose.
Those mentioned above are some of the best lenses you can choose for your Nikon D3100. Make sure to choose the lens that suits your style of photography and do not hesitate to try out a new lens.
So, grab your camera body and pick out the right lens, and get started!