5 Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Lenses in 2023!

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Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Lenses

Nikon medium telephoto lenses let you unlock some of the most exciting photography styles like sports and wildlife photography. There are countless medium telephoto lenses for Nikon, so which one should you pick?

By far the best medium telephoto lens for Nikon is the Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens. This lens has everything you’d ever need whether you’re just getting started or you’re already a pro.

We’ve found the 5 best lenses for Nikon medium telephoto fans!

1

BEST MEDIUM TELEPHOTO LENS

Nikon Z 100-400mm Lens

Nikon

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2

BEST MEDIUM TELEPHOTO BUDGET LENS

Nikon DX 70-300mm Lens

Nikon

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3

BEST MEDIUM TELEPHOTO PRIME LENS

Nikon 300mm f/2.8G Lens

Nikon

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4

BEST MEDIUM TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS

Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6E Lens

Nikon

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5

BEST MEDIUM TELEPHOTO LENS FOR F-MOUNT

Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E Lens

Nikon

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1. Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens

NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S
NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S

The Best of the Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Lenses

Bottom Line:

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens is the best Nikon Z medium telephoto lens. This is going to be the right pick for anyone who has a mirrorless Nikon with a Z-mount.

Pros

  • Z-mount for mirrorless cameras
  • Inner Balance Technology
  • Weather-sealed
  • Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization
  • Information OLED Panel and L.Fn Button with Programmable Control Ring

Cons

  • Aperture could be a little faster

Why We Picked It

This is the best medium telephoto lens for Nikon mirrorless cameras. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens has everything you need to take great medium telephoto pictures for any style of photography.

The inner balance technology is a real standout. This acts as a gimbal inside the lens which makes tracking difficult subjects like birds or athletes that much easier.

The informational OLED panel and programmable buttons let you use high-tech features. That’s exactly what we’d expect for Nikon’s new mirrorless line.

This is a professional-level lens, so of course it’s weather sealed and has damage-resistant fluorine coatings. It’s perfect for working photographers and anyone heading out on a safari.

The optical elements and coatings help to reduce the types of distortion you get with this type of lens.

Who It’s For

There are a few specific types of photographers that the Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens is going to be best.

First up, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens is going to be the right lens if you’re a sports photographer using a Nikon mirrorless camera. This is a flexible camera lens that has an impressive focal length zoom coverage. This means that you can track athletes no matter how far or close they run.

Wildlife photographers are also going to love this lens. You’ll be able to make great use of the same zoom flexibility while taking full advantage of the Inner Balance technology.

This lens is also great for anyone who’s going to be traveling. You can pair the Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens with a normal or wide-angle focal length lens to give yourself an impressive range of coverage. Travel light with just two lenses thanks to this new Nikon Z mount lens.

This lens also pairs with Nikon’s line of teleconverters. This can increase the maximum focal length of this lens by double which is a great choice for anyone who doesn’t actually feel like carrying a 500 mm lens around with them.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens is going to give the best overall performance for anyone who’s got the money to spare for Nikon’s best medium telephoto lens.

2. Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED Lens

Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f4.5-6.3G ED VR Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f4.5-6.3G ED VR Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Budget Nikon Medium Telephoto Lenses

Bottom Line:

If you’re shooting on a budget and using budget cameras, the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is perfect for getting into medium telephoto photography without spending a lot of money on a lens.

Pros

  • Affordable For Most Budgets
  • 105-450mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Pulse Stepping Motor AF System
  • Bright f/4.5 Aperture
  • Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm

Cons

  • DX Format
  • Not Weather-Sealed

Why We Picked It

This is the best of the cheap Nikon medium telephoto lenses. You can get some great images out of this lens which means good image quality without a high-end price.

This is a budget lens, but you’re not going to feel like you’re working with budget equipment. The aperture is comparable to some of the best lenses on this list as are a few of the other important specifications for the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens.

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is going to be able to give you some pretty impressive images. The rounded 7-blade diaphragm is perfect for creating a smooth bokeh while the autofocus motor can quickly snap to your next subject.

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens was designed to fit Nikon DX cameras. These are the crop sensor cameras made by Nikon.

Crop sensor cameras are usually very affordable. This means that you don’t have to spend a lot of money on either the camera or the lens if you’re looking to try out medium-format photography.

In fact, all of the budget trade-offs with this lens can easily be compensated by enough skill behind the camera. The only thing stopping you from getting professional images out of this lens is practice.

The only meaningful trade-off is that this lens does not have a weather-sealed build. This means that you’re going to need it to get some external rain protection for this lens if you plan on taking it into the great outdoors.

Who It’s For

There are a few people whom the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is clear for and one of them is going to surprise you.

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is definitely the right lens for anyone shooting on a budget. If you’ve already got a crop sensor Nikon camera, why not pick up this affordable lens and start exploring medium telephoto photography?

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is also the right pick for students who are just exploring photography and learning the basics. It’s probably better to save up those extra dollars and get something fancy once you’re a bit more established in your own style. Until then, the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is a great lens for you to build your skills with.

Pros are also going to be able to get a lot of use out of the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens. If your skills are ready to compensate for the budget trade-offs, then you can get a powerful lens without spending a powerful amount of money.

3. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II Lens

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 300mm f2.8G ED Vibration Reduction II Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 300mm f2.8G ED Vibration Reduction II Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Prime Lenses

Bottom Line:

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens is a prime lens which means you’re going to get the fastest aperture and the clearest images out of any telephoto lens on this list.

Pros

  • VR II Image Stabilization
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • Detachable and Rotatable Tripod Collar
  • Silent Wave Motor AF System

Cons

  • No zoom

Why We Picked It

This is the best choice when it comes to the best Nikon medium telephoto prime lenses.

The glass on this lens is phenomenal. The nanocrystal, super integrated coatings, and three extra-low dispersion elements are going to make sure your images are crystal clear.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens is packed with other features that make it a great choice for medium telephoto prime lens users. It’s on the higher end of medium telephoto which means you’re going to get the most range out of this prime lens before you would get to super telephoto lenses.

The silent wave autofocus system allows you to focus on your subject without startling delicate wildlife for disrupting a sporting event.

The rounded 9-blade diaphragm is going to offer some of the best focal lengths out of any of the lenses on this list.

Any good telephoto prime lens is going to offer image stabilization. This lens has one of Nikon’s best image stabilization systems which is going to help protect your lenses when you are focused and using a wide-open aperture.

Who It’s For

This is the best Nikon medium telephoto lens for wildlife photographers, some sports photographers, and anyone looking to experiment with longer telephoto lengths.

Nikon medium telephoto lenses for wildlife photography are perfect for birders, anyone in the deep wilderness, and photographers who need to keep a safe distance from their subjects.

You can stay mobile and focus on delicate or potentially dangerous wildlife. This is also a great lens to take with you if you’re heading out on a safari or any other wilderness track.

Some sports photographers are going to be able to get a lot out of this lens. Not being able to zoom might be a trade-off you can’t make, but if your athletes are staying on a steady focal plane then you need the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens.

4. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 200-500mm f5.6E ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Zoom Lens

Bottom Line:

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens is exactly what you need if you want to have one of the most powerful focal lengths Nikon has to offer.

Pros

  • Three Extra-Low Dispersion Elements
  • Vibration Reduction
  • Sport Mode
  • Electromagnetic Diaphragm Mechanism
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm

Cons

  • Goes Over Medium Telephoto into Super Telephoto

Why We Picked It

There are some impressive Nikon medium telephoto zoom lenses, but the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens is the best.

The focal lengths covered by this telephoto lens are incredibly impressive. Even subjects that are incredibly far away can get a close-up as it has a maximum telephoto focal length of 500 mm.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens knows who it was made for. The vibration reduction also comes with a sport mode designed to help you keep track of fast-moving subjects without getting blurred.

The electromagnetic diaphragm fires quickly and smoothly. All of this is vital for capturing clear images when zoomed in all the way at 500 mm.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens is a little on the larger side, but it does have a rotating and detachable tripod color so that you can give it the support it needs. The tripod collar also feels good in hand which makes it a great grip if you’re trying to stay mobile while shooting.

Who It’s For

This is the best Nikon medium zoom lens which means it’s going to be for nearly every photographer interested in medium telephoto photography. This is the best Nikon medium telephoto lens for landscape photography. You’ll be able to go as wide as 100mm, but also crop an interesting framing with the zoom of up to 500mm.

Wildlife photographers are also going to be able to make a lot of use of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens. The flexible zoom of his lines is going to let you keep up with fast-moving wildlife without losing your composition.

Sports photographers are going to love this lens for the same reason. You can stay on top of the action without having to be as fast as the athletes you are covering.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens also makes an interesting choice for anyone who’s looking to check out medium telephoto photography while keeping a toe in both normal telephoto and super telephoto focal lengths.

The added flexibility of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR lens makes it one of the best Nikon lenses we’ve seen.

5. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Lens

Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6E ED VR Fixed Zoom Digital Slr Camera Lens
Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f4.5-5.6E ED VR Fixed Zoom Digital Slr Camera Lens

Best Medium Telephoto Lens For Nikon F Mount

Bottom Line:

If you are shooting on a Nikon camera that uses an F-Mount, the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens is going to be the right medium telephoto lens for you.

Pros

  • Pulse Stepping Motor AF System
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm
  • Super Integrated Coating
  • Electromagnetic Diaphragm Mechanism

Cons

  • No Weather-Sealing

Why We Picked It

This is the best medium telephoto lens for Nikon F-mount cameras!

Nikon cameras with an F Mount used to be the best of the best that Nikon had to offer before their mirrorless cameras rolled out. They still offer professional quality and some of the most reliable performance on market.

This means you need an equally reliable lens that stays flexible while you are in the field. This lens covers all of the telephoto focal links from normal telephoto through medium telephoto.

This makes it an extremely viable option for a wide range of photographers. You could complete a photography kit with just this lens and a 24 to 70-millimeter lens.

The Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens is ideal for anyone who has headed out on an adventure. Whether you’re going on vacation with the family or you’re about to head out on an expedition, the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens is going to be the right lens to have by your side.

The multiple coatings and optical elements will help keep your images clear. The electromagnetic diaphragm and unique autofocus system are two huge pluses on this lens’s side.

Who It’s For

First and foremost the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens is for anyone shooting on a camera with an F-mount. If you have a Nikon DSLR that uses the F-mount system, then the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens is a lens that you should absolutely have in your collection.

The flexibility of this lens means it’s going to be for a wide range of photographers. If you’re used to shooting weddings then this lens is going to let you get up close and personal with the guests without disrupting the event.

Sports and wildlife photographers, of course, are going to love this lens. It’s extreme flexibility, but you keep shooting even when the action gets in your face.

Beginners are also going to be able to make a lot of use of this lens. The regular telephoto shots will let you do portraits, while the super-telephoto focal lengths will let you do wildlife and sports. It’s a great way to explore photography and see what’s right for you.

At the end of the day, the fifth Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Lenses is a powerful lens that’s versatile and ready to work with a wide range of photographic styles. It does lack a weather-sealed build, but all that means is that you’re going to need a rain cover if you plan on taking this lens into rainy or dusty environments.

How To Buy The Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Lens

What is a medium telephoto lens?

A medium telephoto lens is any lens with a focal length between 135 and 300 mm in the 35 mm format. This covers a wide range of lenses that are great for events, sports, and wildlife photography. Lenses longer than 300 mm are considered to be super telephoto lenses.
There is some debate about which focal lengths count as “medium telephoto,” but 135 to 300 mm is generally agreed upon.

What is a medium telephoto lens used for?

There are many uses for a medium telephoto lens. Some of the most common uses are sports and wildlife photography, but there are a few that might surprise you. Medium telephoto lenses are also very useful for events, journalism, and landscape photography.
Medium telephoto lenses allow you to get close to the action while still keeping your images sharp. They also give you the opportunity to frame very unique shots that you can’t get with wider lenses.

Which medium telephoto lens should I buy?

There are two things you should consider when buying your first medium telephoto lens. You want to consider the lenses you already have and the focal lengths you’re looking to cover. A great first focal length medium telephoto lens of the Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens, but the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens might be better if you already have a kit lens or something similar.
It’s also helpful to think about the styles of photography you are looking to explore. Each style of photography has lenses that are better suited to the types of pictures you’ll be after.

Is the medium telephoto lens worth it?

A medium telephoto lens is definitely worth buying and adding to your photography kit. This will allow you to do some outstanding sports or wildlife photography. You can also use a medium telephoto lens to complement normal and wide-angle lenses no matter what style of photography you shoot the most.

Can a medium telephoto lens be used for macro photography?

You can use a medium telephoto lens for macro photography, but it’s all going to depend on the specific type of lens you’re using. Any medium telephoto lens can be used for near macro photography which allows you to test out macro and see if you’re interested in it. However, they do make dedicated medium telephoto macro lenses that you can buy.

Are medium telephoto lenses good for video?

You can definitely use a medium telephoto lens for video. These lenses are often used in videography if you’re looking to get some close-up shots of a subject that you need to keep a distance from. A great example is taking a video of a happy couple on a wedding day or taking a video of athletes playing sports.

Conclusion—The Best Nikon Medium Telephoto Lens

When it comes to Nikon medium telephoto lenses, these five lenses are the best of the best.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S lens is easily the best since it offers a flexible zoom focal length range and great specs for Nikon’s newest cameras.

NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR S
Editor’s Choice
Best Overall
Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S Lens
This medium telephoto lens offers a flexible zoom focal length range, with great specs like inner balance technology that will make your birds or sports photography a breeze.

The Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED lens is the perfect choice for anyone on a budget. While the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens was practically purpose-built for pro wildlife and sports photographers.

Which of these five lenses is the one you’re adding to your kit next? Let us know in the comments and make sure to check out our other articles on the best Nikon lenses.

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Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been photographing for the past 20 years and my mission is to simplify this misunderstood art of taking and processing photographs I love. I invite you to say “hey” on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

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