Best Lenses for Nikon D5300

Best Lenses for Nikon D5300

Nikon D5300

The Nikon D5300 is one of the leading DSLRs of 2014, featuring a 24.2-megapixel sensor and a host of popular features like Full HD 1080p Video and built-in Wi-Fi.  The camera also lacks an anti-aliasing feature that is present on other Nikon DSLRs like the older D5200, allowing for better sharpness and detail. Below are our picks for the best lenses to pair with the Nikon D5300, including kit lenses, all-in-one lenses, wide-angle lenses, portrait lenses and telephoto zooms.


Nikon D5300 Kit Lenses

Nikon 18-55mm VR II lensNikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II ($847 for the kit)
The Nikon 18-55mm VR II is a perfectly respectable introductory lens that will get out the door and snapping good photos in no time. Compared to previous version of the 18-55mm kit lens, the VR II is sharper and lighter at just 6.9 ounces. You can expect distortion at the wide end (18mm), but this can be corrected in-camera with the automatic distortion correction function on the Nikon D5300. The lens also struggle a bit in low light, offset to some degree by Nikon’s vibration reduction technology. But at only $100 more for the camera with the Nikon 18-55mm VR II, it’s an enticing option.
Weight: 6.9 oz.
Max aperture: f/3.5
Pros: Lightweight and cheap.
Cons: Plastic build and mount.


Many photographers prefer the ease of carrying one walk-around zoom lens instead of multiple prime lenses, and this class of lenses has improved in quality. The new Nikon 18-140mm performs well and has a considerably longer zoom range than the 18-55mm or 18-105mm kit lenses offered with other Nikon DSLRs. It also comes with vibration reduction. The downsides of the 18-140mm lens are weight and distortion (the Nikon D5300 does have an automatic distortion correction mode built into the camera).
Weight: 17.3 oz.
Max Aperture: f/3.5
Pros: Versatility.
Cons: Distortion.


All-In-One Lenses

The Nikon 18-200mm VR II is a solid all-purpose lens for everything from wide-angle shots to close-ups—many people use it as the only lens in their bag. With an equivalent zoom range of 27-30mm on a 35mm camera and vibration reduction, this lens captures sharp images throughout its range and has a sturdy build that is built to last. The biggest shortcoming of the 18-200mm VR II is that it doesn’t quite have the reach for certain types of telephoto photography. Wildlife photographers, for example, often utilize the extra 100mm of length that a lens like the 18-300mm below has to offer. But for travel and use as all-in-one walk-around lens, the 18-200mm is a nice choice and reasonably priced.
Weight: 19.8 oz.
Max Aperture: f/3.5
Pros: Versatile and cheaper than the Nikon 18-300mm below.
Cons: Distortion, particularly at the wide end.
For those who want to cover virtually the entire spectrum of focal lengths without changing lenses, the new Nikon 18-300mm VR is an excellent choice. Released in 2014, the new version of this lens is considerably lighter and cheaper than the old one, with the only sacrifice being a maximum aperture at the long end of f/6.3 instead of f/5.6. The changes, however, are almost all positive and make it the leading all-in-one lens for the Nikon D5300 in our book. Amazingly, it even weighs less than the Nikon 18-200mm above. 
Weight: 19.4 oz.
Max Aperture: f/3.5 
Pros: Extremely versatile.
Cons: Some softness at the long end.


Wide-Angle Lenses

The 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 is Nikon’s best DX format wide-angle lens—it’s wider and sharper than any other comparable lens and excellent for landscape photography and architecture. As is the case with virtually all wide-angle zoom lenses, you can expect some distortion at the wide end and the low light performance isn’t as good as a prime lens. But we love the zoom range, which is equivalent to 15-36mm on a 35mm camera and covers virtually all of the useful focal lengths from ultra-wide to a normal field of view. 
Weight: 16.2 oz.
Max Aperture: f/3.5
Pros: Nikon’s best DX wide-angle lens.
Cons: Distortion at the wide end and no vibration reduction.
The Nikon D5300 is a high quality DSLR and you don’t want to compromise too much on lens quality, but not everyone is a wide-angle photographer with over $800 to spend specifically for that purpose. For those who want a good wide-angle lens to pair with the D5300 without breaking the bank, the Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 is the leading budget option. For a very reasonable $399, you get a useful focal length range equivalent of 15-30mm and good optical performance overall. Why is the Sigma 10-20mm so much cheaper than the Nikon option above? The maximum aperture range of f/4-5.6 is workable but not optimal, and the Sigma has more softness in the corners. And despite a plastic build, the lens weighs over 18 ounces.
Weight: 18.3 oz. 
Max aperture: f/4
Pros: Another good value from Sigma.
Cons: A bit soft in the corners.

Everyday and Portrait Lenses

If you plan on shooting portraits with the Nikon D5300, there are few reasons not to add the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 to your bag.  This is one of the best lenses in Nikon’s DX lineup—it’s sharp, performs extremely well in low light, and inexpensive to boot. You won’t find a better prime lens for travel, portraits, and everyday life. One weakness of the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is that aside from its metal mount, the lens has a plastic build that won’t last forever (this isn’t a huge risk considering the price). Keep in mind that the focal length of this lens on the D5300 is 52.5mm on a 35mm camera, which is a normal field of view and not wide-angle.
Weight: 7.1 oz.
Max Aperture: f/1.8
Pros: Low cost, lightweight, excels in low light.
Cons: None.
Similar to the Nikon 35mm above, the popular Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is a great prime lens at a low price. The lens is sharp, performs well in low light, has a fast and accurate autofocus, and weighs only 6.6 ounces. The 50mm f/1.8 is an FX lens but is fully compatible with DX cameras like the Nikon D5300 with an effective focal length of 75mm.
Weight: 6.6 oz.
Max Aperture: f/1.8
Pros: Low cost, lightweight, excels in low light.
Cons: None.
Professionals favor prime lenses, but it’s hard to knock a top-flight zoom like the Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6. This versatile lens covers a focal length range equivalent to 24-127.5mm on a 35mm camera, hitting everything from wide-angle to medium telephoto portraits. It’s also sharp, has fast and accurate autofocus, less distortion than most other comparable zoom lenses, and vibration reduction for hand held photos when natural light is low. All things considered, it’s a great walk-around lens for travel, portraits and even weddings.
Weight: 17.1 oz.
Max Aperture: f/3.5
Pros: Excellent optical performance.
Cons: A bit on the heavy side.

Telephoto Zoom Lenses

NIkon 55-200mm VR lensNikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 VR ($242)
If you picked up the 18-55mm VR II kit lens above, the Nikon 55-200mm can fill out your camera bag nicely. This lens is similar in optical quality to the Nikon 50-300mm below but has a plastic mount, is lighter at only 11.8 ounces, and cheaper. Of course, it can’t match the telephoto capability of the 50-300mm lens for uses like wildlife and birding, but it’s good enough for most portrait and urban telephoto photos.
Weight: 11.8 oz.
Max Aperture: f/4
Pros: Lightweight and relatively cheap.
Cons: Plastic mount.


The Nikon 55-300mm is the top telephoto zoom for DX-format cameras. The lens captures sharp images, good colors, and has vibration reduction (camera shake can be an issue with long zoom lenses). We like the extra 100mm of zoom range, which can make the difference for wildlife and other close-ups. The downside of this lens, of course, is the maximum aperture of f/4.5-5.6, which despite the vibration reduction can be a hindrance when natural light is low. But for those who primarily shoot daytime photography, this lens is great choice. 
Weight: 18.7 oz. 
Max Aperture: f/4.5
Pros: Long zoom reach.
Cons: Autofocus can be slow.