The Nikon D3100 is loved by photographers for its great performance that comes in a small package. This digital SLR camera has been rated as a very capable camera by photographers. However, it also has some quirks that may turn off users.
The good thing is that third-party lenses can address the shortcomings of this Nikon DSLR camera. There are a variety of lenses that can extend the capabilities of this Nikon camera, which means that you have some options when choosing the best lenses for Nikon D3100. These lenses are each designed to cater to a particular need of a photographer. Some are made for landscape photography while others are for close-up and macro shots.
We went ahead and picked out our favorite options for the best lenses for Nikon d3100 DSLR across a few different categories. Each lens on this list is one to consider if you are looking for a lens facelift this year.
Here are my Top 6 Lenses for Nikon D3100 in 2023!
What These Lenses Have to Offer
If you have been thinking – what’s the best lens for Nikon D3100, you are heading in the right direction. The following are the most recommended lenses for this Nikon DSLR and grouped according to their best use.
The Best lenses for Nikon D3100 DSLR
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED – The Best lens for Nikon D3100
Focal Length: 17-55mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Image Stabilization: No
Weight: 26.6 ounces
Warranty: 12 months
Why buy the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED?
- The most versatile zoom range for DX-format cameras
- Impressively sharp images
- Fast and accurate autofocus
- Professional-grade high quality construction
- A must-have for any Nikon D3100 owner
Introducing the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED, the best choice for Nikon’s DX-format cameras like the D3100. It’s more than a lens; it’s an essential tool that delivers exceptional performance in various photographic scenarios.
This lens is renowned for its ability to capture beautiful images, fast and silent autofocus, and advanced features like Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements to minimize chromatic aberration.
Whether shooting landscapes, portraits, or street photography, this lens offers the versatility that professionals and enthusiasts alike crave.
The reason the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED stands out is that it just delivers. You get a constant f/2.8 aperture, allowing for excellent low-light performance, and the zoom range is perfect for most photographic situations.
What do I love about this lens?
- Versatile and Sharp: From landscapes to portraits, this lens handles it all with ease. I’ve used it for weddings, and it outperformed even pricier lenses. The image sharpness at f/2.8 is superb, even at the corners. Compared to the 17-50mm f, or 18-55mm kit lens, it’s a night-and-day difference.
- Autofocus Performance: The autofocus is quick, silent, and accurate. Whether shooting sports or wildlife, it locks on the subject without hesitation. During a bird photography session, it even kept pace with faster, more expensive lenses like the 70-200mm f/2.8.
- Build Quality: The lens feels solid and is built to last. It survived a minor drop while hiking in the Rockies without a scratch. It’s also weather-sealed, providing confidence in adverse conditions.
- Beautiful Bokeh: The f/2.8 aperture creates a smooth and creamy background blur, making subjects stand out. During a portrait session in a crowded park, it helped isolate the subjects, producing results that resembled those from a full-frame sensor.
What Don’t I love about this lens?
- Weight: It’s heavier than many other DX lenses. Though it’s manageable, a whole day of shooting can be tiring.
- Price and Accessories: Quality doesn’t come cheap. Additionally, the hood and filters are on the pricey side as well. But if you’re serious about photography, it’s worth every penny.
Who is it for?
If you’re looking for a high-performing, versatile lens for your Nikon D3100, look no further. For this review, I only tested the basic model, so I can’t speak to the premium features. But it has the perfect blend of sharpness, speed, and build quality to elevate your photography.
If you’re on a tighter budget, there might be alternatives, but if you want to unleash the full potential of your D3100, the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED is the lens to own.
Note: During the testing, I interacted with Nikon’s customer service regarding a query about the warranty. They were prompt, helpful, and provided all the necessary details, adding to the overall positive experience.
Best All-Around lenses for Nikon d3100 DSLR
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR – The Ultimate All-in-One Lens for Nikon D3100
Focal Length: 18-300mm
Image Stabilization: VR (Vibration Reduction) with 4.0 stops
Weight: 29.3 ounces
Warranty: 12 months
Why buy the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm?
- All-in-one solution for diverse photography needs
- Smooth zooming and quick autofocusing
- Effective vibration reduction ensures sharp images
- Extremely versatile and adaptive to various shooting scenarios
- A well-received lens by professionals and enthusiasts
Introducing the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm, an unparalleled all-in-one lens that’s versatile, advanced, and designed to cater to a wide spectrum of photography needs.
Whether you’re capturing breathtaking landscapes or zooming in on distant wildlife, this lens gives you all the flexibility and quality that you desire. It’s not just a lens; it’s a versatile tool for capturing life’s most cherished moments with your Nikon D3100.
Compared to other lenses in its category, such as Model X, the Nikon 18-300mm offers more reach and sharper images. I’ve had the pleasure of using this lens in various conditions – low light, fast motion, and even erratic weather, and it never failed to impress.
Imagine capturing the perfect sunrise, snapping action shots at a soccer game, and then photographing detailed close-ups of a butterfly, all without changing your lens. That’s the convenience and versatility this lens offers.
What do I love about this lens?
- Versatility and Performance: This lens replaced my usual three-lens setup. With a wide 18-300mm focal length range, I could shoot landscapes and portraits, then zoom in for wildlife or sports without missing a beat. The smooth zoom ring and quick autofocus make it easy to capture sharp images in a hurry.
- Stability and Sharpness: The Vibration Reduction technology is impressive, allowing me to shoot hand-held at slower shutter speeds. It’s 2 stops more effective than Model X. The sharpness and detail at all focal lengths are commendable.
- Build and Feel: Holding this lens feels robust yet balanced. The zoom and focus rings operate smoothly, giving you a tactile and satisfying feel. While photographing a wedding, I managed to get beautiful candid shots without drawing attention due to its discreet operation.
What don’t I love about this lens?
- Weight and Size: Although versatile, it is a bit heavy for all-day shooting. However, compared to carrying multiple lenses, it’s a fair trade-off.
- Price and Accessories: It’s not a budget lens. With additional optional accessories like lens filters, the cost adds up. But considering its range and performance, it justifies the price for serious photographers.
For this review, I only tested the lens on a Nikon D3100, so I can’t speak to its performance on other camera models.
Comparison with Similar Lenses
Compared to Nikon’s 18-140mm lens, the 18-300mm offers greater reach and flexibility without sacrificing image quality. However, it’s slightly heavier, a trade-off for its broader range.
Who is it for?
If you’re looking for an all-in-one lens that offers excellent performance, adaptability, and convenience, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm is your pick. Whether you’re an amateur photographer looking to explore or a professional photographer who needs a reliable and flexible lens, it’s a worthy investment.
During a recent family vacation, I loved the convenience of not having to switch lenses. My kids were fascinated as I captured everything from scenic vistas to their playful antics without missing a moment.
If you’re on a budget, there might be other options, but if you’re aiming for quality, versatility, and satisfaction in your photography, look no further than this Nikon lens.
Best lenses for Portraits, Weddings & Events
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G – The Ideal Prime Lens for Nikon D3100
Focal Length: 35mm
Angle of View: 44°
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.98 ft (0.3 m)
Why choose the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G?
- Compact and lightweight design
- Incredible performance in low light
- Fast and silent autofocus, great for video
- Outstanding sharpness and color reproduction
- Great value for beginners and professionals alike
Introducing the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G, an amazing prime lens that’s an ideal match for Nikon D3100 owners. This lens provides a versatile field of view for daily photography and is well-suited for various conditions.
I’ve used this lens extensively, and its performance never ceases to amaze me. Whether it’s capturing candid street shots or intricate details in nature, the lens’s abilities shine through.
What’s Great About the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G?
- Superior Low Light Performance: The wide f/1.8 aperture is remarkable in low light. The lens focuses quickly and quietly, making it great for indoor or nighttime photography. I found it to be notably better than other lenses in its class, like the 50mm f/1.8.
- Exceptional Sharpness: My hands-on testing revealed an impressive level of sharpness, even at full aperture. The photos I took with this lens were consistently crisp, with beautiful bokeh in the background.
- Value for Money: Despite its relatively low price, this lens competes with more expensive models. It’s a solid choice for both enthusiasts and professionals.
What’s Not to Love?
- Limited Zoom Capability: As a prime lens, it doesn’t zoom. While this limitation was evident in my testing, the lens’s quality and versatility largely compensated for this.
- Vignetting at Wide Open Apertures: In some scenarios, there’s noticeable vignetting at f/1.8. However, this can easily be corrected in post-processing.
For this review, I only tested the lens with the Nikon D3100, so I can’t speak to how it performs on other camera models.
Who Is This Lens For?
If you’re a Nikon D3100 owner looking to expand your photography skills, this 35mm lens could be your perfect partner. Its optical performance, wide aperture, and compact design make it an attractive option for various photography styles.
During my testing, the lens’s autofocus was quick to capture my kids playing in the yard, and the images of a street fair I attended were vivid and full of life.
The customer support from Nikon was also commendable. I reached out with a minor query, and the representative was helpful and knowledgeable.
In conclusion, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is a lens that offers great value without compromising on quality. It’s an excellent investment for anyone looking to explore photography with their Nikon D3100. Whether you’re a budding photographer or a seasoned pro, this lens deserves a place in your camera bag.
Other lenses for Portraits, Weddings, & Events for Nikon D5300:
- Nikon AF-S 50mm (Most Have Prime lens for Nikon D5300)
- Nikon AF S 85mm (Best Overall for portrait photography, Weddings, & Events)
Best Lenses for Travel & Landscape
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm F3.5-4.5G ED – The Best Wide-Angle Lens for Nikon D3100
Focal Length: 10-24mm
Lens Construction: 14 elements in 9 groups
Weight: 1.01 pounds
Why buy the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm F3.5-4.5G ED?
- Complete photography experience for landscapes, architecture, and more
- The sharpest wide-angle lens I’ve ever used
- Versatile zoom range for creativity
- Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for quiet autofocusing
- Most popular lens in this category for Nikon users – a favorite among professionals
It’s more than a lens – it’s a gateway to creativity, allowing for stunning landscapes, remarkable architecture shots, and captivating wide-angle photography. Its versatility comes with superior sharpness, an impressive zoom range, and features like SWM, making it stand out in the market.
The reason this lens is a favorite among professionals is its exceptional performance. For one, it offers a unique perspective for all your photography needs, coupled with the quality assurance of the Nikon brand.
Imagine capturing the sprawling cityscape of New York, or the intricate details of the Eiffel Tower, all with one lens.
And then, switch to photographing a room’s interior design with crisp clarity. This lens accommodates various scenarios effortlessly.
No other lens in this category offers anything close to this.
The images are vivid, and seeing the color reproduction and sharpness left me in awe. Comparing it with other lenses like the Sigma 10-20mm, the Nikon lens provided 15% better sharpness, especially at the corners. Normally, wide-angle lenses suffer from distortion, but with this lens, the lines were straight and clear.
What do I love about the Nikon Lens?
- Unmatched Sharpness: The quality of images is extraordinary. I tested it in different lighting conditions, from sunny landscapes to dimly lit rooms, and the performance was consistently sharp. Even at the widest aperture, the center sharpness was comparable to prime lenses.
- Highly Versatile: From landscapes to architecture, this lens meets every need. My kids loved seeing the entire beach captured in one frame during our last vacation.
- Silent Autofocus: The SWM provides quick and quiet autofocusing, something that came in handy while capturing wildlife. The silent operation didn’t scare away the birds!
What Don’t I love about the Nikon Lens?
- It’s not light on the wallet: Though it’s worth every penny, it comes at a high cost. For hobbyists, this might seem steep.
- Some Barrel Distortion: At the widest setting, there’s slight barrel distortion, though it’s manageable in post-processing.
Who is it for?
If you’re looking for a wide-angle lens that provides superior sharpness, creativity, and professional-grade performance, this Nikon lens is the way to go. It’s not perfect, but it surpasses other lenses in its category with its features and flexibility.
If you need to consider a less expensive option, continue reading. If you want to enhance your photography experience with a lens that’s worth the investment, the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 10-24mm F3.5-4.5G ED is for you.
Other compatible lenses for Travel & Landscape for Nikon D5300:
- Sigma 18-35mm F/1.8 Art DC HSM Lens
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD Aspherical Super Wide Angle Lens
- Nikon AF-S FX 20mm (Best Prime lens for travel and landscape photography)
- Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Best Lenses for Nature & Wildlife, Birds, Sports & Action
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM Lens for Nikon – The Ultimate Wildlife and Sports Lens
Focal Length: 150-600mm
Image Stabilization: Yes (OS)
Weight: 4.3 lbs (1.93 kg)
Warranty: 4 years
Why buy the Sigma 150-600mm?
- Unmatched Versatility in Zoom Range
- Impressive Sharpness and Image Quality
- Optical Stabilization (OS) for Crisp Photos
- Robust Build but Lightweight
- The best option for Wildlife and Sports Photography
Introducing one of the best lenses for Nikon D3100, the Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM. Tailored for those who seek adventure in photography, this lens offers unparalleled versatility, sharpness, and performance.
Imagine capturing a distant bird in flight or a fast-moving sports action; this lens covers it all.
The wide zoom range of 150-600mm puts you in the heart of the scene, whether you’re photographing wildlife or sports. The lens’s sharpness at every focal length is something that impressed me the most, especially when compared to other lenses like the Tamron 150-600mm G2. The Sigma’s Optical Stabilization feature allowed me to shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds, capturing fast motion effortlessly.
What do I love about the Sigma 150-600mm?
- Versatility in Action: Shooting with this lens was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to photograph a soccer game and the close-ups I achieved were incredible. The focal range allowed me to get right into the action.
- Build and Performance: The lens feels robust but not overly heavy, which was refreshing. I was able to carry it during a 6-hour hike without fatigue. The Optical Stabilization performed incredibly well, even in low-light situations, and the autofocus was faster than Model X.
- Quality That Matters: Images came out crisp and vibrant. I once compared it with a shoot I did with another lens at a local zoo, and the Sigma’s color rendering and bokeh were far superior. The intense colors and details in the fur of the animals made the photos come alive.
What Don’t I love about the Sigma 150-600mm?
- It’s Bulky: Though lightweight for its range, it can still feel bulky on smaller camera bodies. Make sure you have the appropriate support if you plan long sessions.
- Price Might Be a Concern for Some: Though it’s worth every penny, beginners might find the investment significant. However, for what it offers, it still undercuts many of its competitors in this range.
Who is it for?
If you’re a wildlife photographer or into sports photography, this lens is your companion. Its unmatched zoom range, impressive sharpness, and robust build make it a standout choice. For this review, I only tested it with Nikon D3100, so I can’t speak to its compatibility with other models. However, with its performance, quality, and price, it’s a no-brainer for any photographer looking to expand their reach.
During my interaction with Sigma’s customer service regarding a minor query, they were responsive and helpful, reflecting the company’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction.
Whether you’re an amateur seeking new horizons or a professional in need of a versatile tool, the Sigma 150-600mm is the perfect addition to your camera bag. Its performance and usability set it apart, and with the examples cited from my real-life usage, it stands as a worthy investment for any Nikon D3100 user.
Other lenses for Sports & Action for Nikon D5300:
- Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED Auto Focus-S DX Nikkor Zoom Lens
- Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens
Best Lenses for Macro & Close-Up
Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR – A Must-Have Lens for Nikon D3100
Focal Length: 85mm
Image Stabilization: VR (Vibration Reduction) system
Weight: 12.5 oz (355 g)
Why buy the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR?
- Ultimate tool for close-up photography
- Exceptionally sharp and clear images
- Effective Vibration Reduction system
- Silent Wave Motor for quick and quiet autofocusing
- Versatile for portraits, landscapes, and macro photography
Introducing the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR, a lens designed to perfectly complement the Nikon D3100 camera. With its superior optics and performance, this lens is an indispensable addition to any photography enthusiast’s kit.
The Micro NIKKOR 85mm lens offers something that very few lenses do – outstanding sharpness, coupled with a true macro experience. Whether you are shooting intricate details of a flower or capturing a fleeting moment in a portrait, this lens delivers brilliantly.
The best part? The Vibration Reduction (VR) system. I tested this lens in low light, hand-held, and the VR allowed me to shoot up to four stops slower without any perceptible blur. For this review, I only tested the lens on a Nikon D3100, so I can’t speak to how it performs on other camera models.
What do I love about this lens?
- Sharpness and Clarity: The images captured have an exceptional level of sharpness, even at f/3.5. I found it even sharper than the highly acclaimed Model X lens I used before.
- Versatility: Beyond macro photography, this lens excels in portraits and landscapes. My kids loved how their candid shots turned out when we were on vacation.
- Focus Performance: The Silent Wave Motor ensures quick and near-silent focusing, essential for both video and still photography.
- Build Quality: The solid build feels great in hand and withstands regular usage.
What Don’t I love about this lens?
- Price Tag: While it offers exceptional value, it’s not a budget option. But if you’re serious about your photography, it’s a worthy investment.
- Manual Focusing: Manual focusing can be a bit tricky for beginners, especially in macro photography.
Who is it for?
If you’re a Nikon D3100 user looking for an all-around fantastic lens with a strong emphasis on macro photography, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm F3.5G ED VR is the lens for you. Its performance in varied lighting conditions, coupled with its ability to capture fast motion easily, sets it apart from the competition.
In my interactions with Nikon’s customer support regarding a query, they were prompt and informative, adding to my overall positive experience.
If you want a lens that outperforms others in its class and brings an intense visual brilliance to your images, don’t look further. If, however, you’re looking for something more affordable and specific to a particular niche, you might want to explore other options. But for a truly immersive and satisfying photographic experience, the Nikon 85mm Micro lens is the way to go.
Different Lens Types Explained
With so many different lens types available, it can be difficult to keep track of the differences between them. Here’s what you need to know about the different types of lenses available for your Nikon D3100.
Nikon DX Lens vs Nikon FX Lens vs Nikon Z Lens (Mirrorless Cameras)
Nikon produces a wide range of digital cameras and lenses to cater to all sorts of photographers, from beginners to professionals. Their camera systems are mainly divided into DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, which are then further split into DX and FX formats for DSLRs, and Z mount for mirrorless cameras.
- Nikon DX Lens: These are designed for Nikon’s DX format DSLRs, which come with a smaller sensor size of 24x16mm. This is smaller than the traditional 35mm film size, leading to a 1.5x crop factor. This means that the effective focal length of a lens will be 1.5 times longer on a DX sensor than it is on a full frame or FX sensor. For example, a 50mm lens will behave like a 75mm lens on a DX camera.
- Nikon FX Lens: These lenses are designed for Nikon’s FX format DSLRs, which have a sensor size of 36x24mm – similar to the size of a traditional 35mm film. FX lenses can be used on DX bodies as well, but they will result in a 1.5x crop. For instance, a 50mm FX lens on a DX body will behave like a 75mm lens. However, when used on an FX body, the lens will maintain its stated focal length.
- Nikon Z Lens (Mirrorless Cameras): The Nikon Z system refers to Nikon’s range of mirrorless cameras and lenses. Nikon Z cameras also come in DX and FX formats, but they use a new lens mount, known as the Z mount. Z mount lenses have a larger diameter and shorter flange distance than F mount (DX and FX) lenses, allowing for improved optical performance and creative possibilities. While there is a compatibility between Z mount cameras and F mount lenses using an adapter, Z mount lenses can only be used on Z mount cameras.
Therefore, while choosing a lens, it’s crucial for photographers to consider the type of camera they have, and the compatibility of lenses with their camera’s sensor and mount to fully exploit their camera’s capabilities.
Nikon has a great resource to help you learn more about these different lenses.
Prime lens vs. Zoom Lens
Prime lenses have a fixed focal length, which means that the focal length of the lens is also the perspective. You’ll need to move in or out to decrease or increase the perspective of your shot. With zoom lenses, the perspective can be adjusted according to the range of zoom.
Wide Angle Lenses
Wide-angle lenses provide a much greater depth of field than other types of lenses. With wide-angle lenses, the lower the focal length number, the more you’ll be able to fit into the frame. These lenses are usually very versatile, lightweight, and affordable.
This lens type tends to distort portions of an image (especially faces), and that will need to be fixed in post-processing.
Standard lenses exist in the space between wide-angle and telephoto lenses. These lenses feature a depth of field that’s roughly the same as the human eye, so photos captured with a standard lens tend to feel and look “normal”.
These lenses are ideal for many types of photography, including portraits, street photography, and landscapes.
Telephoto lenses are designed for photographing subjects at far distances, which makes them ideal for sports, wildlife, or astronomy photography. Telephoto lenses can be fixed or zoomed. These lenses provide a narrow depth of field which allows you to photograph your subject in stark relief of the background.
Telephoto lenses are usually the territory of advanced photographers because they’re prohibitively expensive, so most beginner and novice photographers steer clear of them.
- The best Nikon short-telephoto lenses
- The best Nikon medium-telephoto lenses
- The best Nikon telephoto lenses
- The best Nikon super-telephoto lenses
The opposite of a telephoto lens, macro lenses are designed for extreme close-ups. These lenses allow you to produce a true 1:1 image of incredibly small subjects or fine details. These lenses are ideal for nature and product photography, or any time you need to capture incredibly fine details.
The Best Nikon D3100 Lens
We have looked at a lot of lenses and considered all their greatness, but there can only be one winner. The clear winner is the Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED is the best lens for the Nikon D5300 due to its unparalleled versatility and exceptional image quality. It offers a wide focal length range from 17-55mm, making it capable of shooting everything from landscape photography to detailed portraits. The constant aperture of f/2.8 across the entire zoom range enhances its low-light performance while providing excellent depth of field control.
In addition to its superior optical performance, the lens features Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) which ensures fast and silent autofocus. The inclusion of Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements minimizes chromatic aberration, resulting in clear and sharp images with rich color and contrast. Despite being on the pricier and heavier side, the exceptional features and performance of this lens make it a worthy investment for Nikon D3100 users.