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.
Our Recommended Lenses for Nikon D3100 in 2020
- Nikon 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Zoom Lens (Best All-Around lenses for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
- Nikon 50mm f/1.4G Lens (Best lenses for Portraits, Weddings & Events for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
- Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom Lens (Best Lenses for Travel & Landscape for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
- Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Wide Angle Zoom Lens (Alternative #1 for Best Lenses for Travel & Landscape for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
- Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 Wide Angle Lens (Alternative #2 for Best Lenses for Travel & Landscape for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6G ED Zoom Lens (Best Lenses for Nature & Wildlife, Birds, Sports & Action for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
- Nikon AF-S DX Micro 85mm f/3.5G ED Fixed Zoom Lens (Best Lenses for Macro & Close-Up for Nikon d3100 DSLR)
Best All-Around lenses for Nikon d3100 DSLR
- This versatile Nikon lens was made to cover the wide-angle to mid-telephoto range. This one features a great optical design to help achieve an impressive image quality.
- The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED comes with an aspherical element that reduces spherical aberrations and distortion to come up with sharp images.
- It also includes a Silent Wave Motor that allows the lens to achieve quick and quiet autofocus while allowing you to have full-time manual focus override.
- This lens is also perfect for those who are looking for a dependable stabilization technology as the Nikkor 18-140mm comes with Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization technology.
- Nikon designed the 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR AF-S to be a very capable lens while keeping it easy to carry around.
- This Nikon lens comes with a great focal range that allows photographers to depend solely on this lens rather than carry a separate wide-angle lens.
- It fits most of the digital SLR cameras produced by Nikon including the FX and DX series as well as the budget options like the D40x, D3100, and the D5100.
- This lens is also capable of suppressing internal reflections, flare, and ghosting with its Super Integrated Coating.
- The lens’s rounded seven-bladed diaphragm allows photographers to take advantage of the shallow depth of field and selective focus techniques.
- This Sigma lens for the Nikon D3100 balances convenience and performance. It comes with an all-in-one zoom especially designed for Nikon’s DX-format cameras that allow for a 27-450mm equivalent focal length range.
- It is also ideal for capturing subjects in a close range as it comes with a offers a 1:3 maximum magnification and a minimum focusing distance of 1.3 inches.
- Other benefits offered by this Sigma lens includes smoother focusing performance with its Integrated Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM), pleasing bokeh quality with the help of its rounded seven-blade diaphragm, and less color infringing and chromatic aberrations made possible by its One Special Low Dispersion (SLD) and Four F Low Dispersion (FLD) elements.
Best lenses for Portraits, Weddings & Events
- The 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX Lens is best for taking photographs at events with difficult lighting. On top of it, it is also capable of improving control over depth of field, especially when working with selective focusing techniques.
- It also features a rounded seven-blade diaphragm that helps in pleasing out of focus quality which eventually benefits the use of shallow of depth of field and selective focus techniques.
- This Nikon lens works best with the DX series of cameras from Nikon. Most recommended for use especially for photographers who want to shoot in low-light without the need to use flash.
- Nikon’s AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens was designed to be the best lens for everything. This lens is an upgrade over the brand’s 50mm f/1.4 AF-D but it now comes with an option for a simpler way to access manual focus by simply touching the lens’s ring.
- It also features Super Integrated Coasting for minimal surface and internal reflections, Silent Wave Motor for a quicker autofocus performance, and rounded seven-blade diaphragm to achieve a great bokeh effect.
- The AF-S FX also offers other several benefits including a faster shooting experience.
- However, photographers should note that due to its advantages it can cause more linear distortion and does not produce sharper images compared to other fixed 50mm lenses released by Nikon in recent years.
- The AF S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens is known as the sharpest 85mm lens to come from Nikon. It also comes with the best optics from the brand despite having the cheapest mechanics in a Nikon lens.
- The lens comes equipped with Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor so photographers can take advantage of its near-silent autofocus to not distract your subject.
- As a portrait lens, the AD S Nikkor 85mm’s minimum aperture of f/1.6 was not restrictive while its depth of field delivered what was expected from the lens.
- It is compatible not only with a Nikon D3100 camera but also most cameras from the DX and FX line of cameras including the D4, D800, D60 and D5000.
Best Lenses for Travel & Landscape
- The Nikon AF-S DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom Lens is among the best lens for travel and landscape photography. It is most recommended for use if you own a Nikon DX camera.
- This lens comes with reasonably resistant to ghosts but photographers should be aware that it also comes with a healthy dose of distortion, which is most prominent at the wide end.
- It also comes with great autofocus performance. The autofocus can easily be used by simply grabbing the ring for an instant manual focus override.
- One downside of this lens is its price tag. It is expensive despite the fact that it comes with cheap built compared to Nikon’s other offering, the Nikon 12-24mm lens.
- The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD wide-angle lens offers a significant optical performance compared to its predecessor, the Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II.
- This lens now comes with a new large aperture aspherical lens and a low dispersion element. It also features the brand’s Broad-Band Anti-Reflection Coating (BBAR) to improve the light transmission of the lens and reduce reflections and dispersions on images.
- This Tamron lens performs well in terms of its sharpness. It is capable of producing great photographers considering its focal length range and price.
- Vignette is one of the weakness of this lens. It becomes noticeable once you stooped down to 10mm. It is the reason why landscape photographers should stop at least f/8 to address this limitation.
- As a versatile lens, the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD lens is a favorite among photographers who are into landscape, architectural and interior photography.
- This lens features a wide-angle zoom that’s perfect the Canon EF-mount cameras and others with the APS-C format, a constant f/3.5 maximum aperture that’s great in addressing issues commonly experienced with low lighting issues.
- In terms of optical design, the 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC comes with four aspherical elements that work well in limiting distortion and spherical aberrations. It also comes with Super Multi-Layer Coating, two Extra-Low Dispersion elements and one Special Low Dispersion (SLD) element.
- This lens from Sigma is known for its fast, bright constant f/1.8 maximum aperture thanks to its wide-angle to normal-length zoom lens. It is best used for APS-C-sized sensors and gives photographers a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 27-52.5mm.
- It comes with an impressively bright constant f/1.8 maximum aperture that makes it a great accessory for landscape and other outdoor photography.
- It also comes with five Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements that help in minimizing color fringing and chromatic aberrations. The lens also features a Super Multi-Layer Coating to reduce lens flare and ghosting.
- AS an additional for outdoor photographers, this lens was made of Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material to make it sturdy and reliable when used in the wild.
Best Lenses for Nature & Wildlife, Birds, Sports & Action
- This lens is a telephoto zoom for DX-format cameras. It is recommended for photographers who dabble on landscape, sports and portraiture photography. Its selling point is its ability to come up with clear, accurate rendering and reduced color fringing images.
- This lens comes with a single extra-low dispersion element for minimizing color fringing, a Super Integrated Coating for suppressing flaring and ghosting, and a Silent Wave Motor for quiet and precise autofocus.
- It is also great for photographers with shaky hands as it comes built-in with Vibration Reduction image stabilization technology.
- The lens comes in a compact form due to its retractable lens barrel design.
- The AF-P DX Nikkor 70-300mm is an improved version of the tested DX telephoto zoom. It is a 105-450mm-equivalent lens that comes with a new updated focusing mechanism and a compact form factor.
- On the optical side, this Nikon lens comes with an extra-low dispersion element that helps in significantly reducing the color fringing and chromatic aberrations. It also features a Super Integrated Coating to suppress internal reflections, flaring and ghosting.
- Aside from its precise and quiet autofocus performance, it also comes with the Vibration Reduction stabilization technology to avoid shaky images.
- Additionally, if you are looking for this lens’s autofocus and VR switches, it vis found on the camera screen rather than the traditional physical buttons.
- The 150-600mm 5-.6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM is a versatile lens that comes in a small package. This telephoto lens packs in some sophisticated optics and flexible handling.
- It features an F Low Dispersion (FLD) and three Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements that are helpful in lowering chromatic aberrations and color fringing. It is also capable of producing contrast-rich and color-neutral imagery despite poor lighting with its Super Multi-Layer Coating.
- Aside from its optics power, the lens also excels in supporting stabilization to prevent shaky images and producing smooth and pleasing bokeh with the use of its rounded nine-blade diaphragm.
- It is also a great outdoor photography lens as it is made of Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, which makes it ideal for use in any kind of temperature.
Best Lenses for Macro & Close-Up
- The AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm is a prime lens designed for close-up photography. This offering from Nikon is great for macro and close-up as it offers life-size 1:1 maximum magnification and an 11.3″ minimum focusing distance.
- It also comes with Silent Wave Motor, which is ideal for shooting a subject up-close as it significantly supports to achieve a silent and precise autofocus performance.
- This Nikon lens also comes with great image stabilization technology that helps in minimizing the appearance of camera shake by three stops, especially in low light environments.
- Photographers who like to incorporate some bokeh effect in their macro and close=up shops should find comfort with the lens’s rounded nine-blade diaphragm.
- The AFF017N700 SP 90mm is a short telephoto prime designed for FX-format Nikon F-mount DSLRs. It is a great close-up and macro lens due to its life-size maximum magnification ratio of 1:1.
- The lens also comes with a Floating System for consistent quality throughout the 11.8″ to infinity focusing range.
- This Tamron lens features an optical design composed of a Low Dispersion and two Extra-Low Dispersion glass elements that are responsible to achieve consistent sharpness and clarity throughout the magnification range.
- It also comes with a precise, macro-optimized ring-type USD autofocus motor. A dedicated USD actuator is also found in this lens to refine focusing precision at close distances.
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
When you see the terms DX or FX on a lens, this refers to the sensor size of your camera. FX cameras feature an image sensor that’s approximately 36mm x 24mm, which is known as full-frame format. DX cameras have an image sensor that’s 24mm x 16mm.
These lenses can be used interchangeably. But, they are each optimized for their own formats. An FX lens on a DX camera will magnify your image by about 1.5X. A DX lens on an FX camera will automatically crop your images to match the sensor size of your camera.
Because the D3100 is DX camera, it can accept both DX and FX lenses (FX stands for full-frame) so you don’t have to worry about a lens not fitting.
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 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
The Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens is clearly the best lens for a Nikon D3100 in this list. It delivers superb performance and of course, its easy-to-use manual focus function. It scores high in terms of comparing the autofocus accuracy and hit rate matter among other lenses. These benefits come on top that the AF-S 50mm is compatible with a wide range of cameras.
If you want more options outside the Nikon brand, the Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD Aspherical Super Wide Angle Lens is a great pick especially for those who likes to do landscape, architectural and interior photography. The Tamron 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 Di-II VC HLD Wide Angle Zoom Lens also makes some good points especially if you are looking for a lens with improved and very capable optical design. By using any of these lenses, you’ll have one of the best lenses for Nikon D3100 on hand whenever you need it.