The 6 Best Nikon Short Telephoto Lenses in 2023!

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Best Nikon Short Telephoto Lenses

Telephoto photography lenses are an essential part of any photographer’s kit, but what are the best Nikon telephoto lenses?

The overall best Nikon short telephoto lens is the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens or its Nikon Z counterpart. These lenses offer outstanding utility and great image quality. However, they aren’t the only short telephoto lenses you should consider.

Here Are the Top 6 Nikon Short Telephoto Lenses!

These are the best Nikon short telephoto lenses that you can’t miss out on!

1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR Lens

Best Short Zoom Lens for Nikon

Bottom Line: The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens is the best overall lens for Nikon cameras. Best of all, you can find versions of this lens with just about any Nikon lens mount.

Pros

  • Detachable and Rotatable Tripod Collar
  • Weather-sealed
  • Magnesium Alloy Construction
  • Silent Wave Motor AF System
  • Vibration Reduction with Sport Mode
  • Similar Lenses Available in Other Nikon Mounts
  • Great optical performance

Cons

  • Not as Sharp as a Prime Lens
  • Not for Macro Photographers

Why We Picked It

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens is easily the best Nikon short telephoto zoom lens.

This is the go-to short telephoto lens because it covers every single short telephoto focal length and then some. This lens covers 85 mm to 135 mm which is considered to be the range for short telephoto.

It’s also got some additional coverage for normal focal lengths and some telephoto. This means it’s incredibly flexible and will let you explore everything that short telephoto has to offer and will give you some broader utility.

This lens is also packed with professional-grade features. It’s weather-sealed, but has plenty of optical elements, and is coated to help reduce the distortion in your images.

You can find a Nikon 70-200 millimeter lens for just about every mounting system they have. You can find this for Nikon Z as well as for other mounting systems.

Who It’s For

The best short-zoom lens for Nikon is for, well, just about everyone!

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens is one of the best all-around lenses Nikon has to offer. You should have this lens in your kit as your first or second lens.

The flexibility of this lens makes it a great choice for virtually any photographer. This is going to be a great pic whether you are a student just learning the basics or you are a working professional who needs a lens for every occasion.

Students and hobbyists are going to like this lens because of its flexibility. It covers every short telephoto focal length and gives you some flexibility on either end.

Professionals regularly use this zoom lens on the job. It’s great for weddings, other events, and other kinds of professional photography.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens is also part of the Holy Trinity of Nikon camera lenses. This means it’s going to be the first, second, or third lens that you buy. and if you have a full-frame camera, you definitely have to have it!

2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED Lens

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f1.4E ED Lens
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f1.4E ED Lens

Best Nikon Short Telephoto Prime Lens

Bottom Line: The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED lens is an all-star prime lens that is perfect for portraits, creative landscapes, and working events.

Pros

  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm for Great Bokeh
  • Protective Fluorine Coating
  • Aperture Range of f/1.4 to f/16
  • Electromagnetic Diaphragm Mechanism
  • Silent Wave Motor AF System
  • Nano Crystal Coating

Cons

  • Not Weather Sealed

Why We Picked It

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED lens is the best Nikon short telephoto prime lens.

We pick this lens because it offers everything you need in a short telephoto prime lens. It’s got an ideal build quality, and some of Nikons best features, and the focal length and aperture combination are what good prime lenses should aspire to be.

The aperture on the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED lens means that it’s incredibly bright. This lens is ideal for working in low-light conditions.

These are the conditions that we often find in events and portraits which is where the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED lens is going to shine the most.

This lens is not weather sealed. This means that you should be extra careful when taking it out in tough weather conditions. However, there are a few optical elements and lens coatings that will help protect the quality of the pictures you take.

This lens is responsive and will help you take some great pictures no matter where or when you’re shooting.

Who It’s For

Short telephoto prime lenses are going to be great choices for people who primarily shoot events and portraits. However, this lens has some broader utility that you should consider.

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm f/1.4E ED lens is going to be one of the best choices you can make if you’re a Nikon camera owner and you’re looking to get more into portraits. This lens has an ideal focal length for portraits and that f/1.4 aperture means that you’re going to get some incredibly smooth bokeh in your shots.

That aperture is also incredibly bright making this the perfect lens for events. It’s going to be great taking this lens around for weddings and other events getting portraits and close-up shots of everyone having a great time.

The compression offered by this lens is fantastic. This means that landscape photographers might want to throw this prime lens into their landscape photography kit.

Prime lenses are often lighter than their zoom counterparts and you can add some unique perspectives to your landscape or cityscape photography with this prime lens.

3. Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Lens

NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f2.8 S Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras
NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f2.8 S Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras

Best Nikon Z Short Telephoto Lens

Bottom Line: The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens is the best short telephoto zoom lens for Nikon Z cameras, and it is also part of the Holy Trinity of Nikon Z camera lenses.

Pros

  • ARNEO and Nano Crystal Coatings
  • Weather-sealed With Fluorine Coating
  • Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization
  • Information OLED Panel
  • Programmable L.Fn Button
  • Programmable Control Ring
  • Great optical quality

Cons

  • Only Works on Nikon’s Mirrorless Cameras

Why We Picked It

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens is the best Nikon z short telephoto lens.

If you’re shooting on one of Nikon’s new mirrorless cameras, you’re going to absolutely need the Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens.

This lens has cutting-edge features that you can only get with Nikon’s newer mirrorless lenses. The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens has a programmable button as well as a programmable control ring that will give you all of the options you need to control your shots.

This lens also has an informational OLED panel that shows you all of the current settings for your lens at a quick glance.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens comes with all the professional features that you need in a working short telephoto zoom lens. It’s weather sealed and has a protective fluorine coating.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens also has a vibration reduction image stabilization and an incredibly smooth autofocus motor.

This lens represents the best of the best of what Nikon is currently making.

Who It’s For

Much like its f-mount counterpart, this lens is for just about every photographer. If you’re shooting on a Nikon mirrorless camera, you absolutely need to pick up this lens sooner rather than later.

Nikon mirrorless cameras represent some of the best digital camera technology the company has ever made. It’s a natural combination to add one of the best mirrorless zoom lenses to go with your new camera.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S lens is going to be perfect for the serious student as well as the working photographer. In short, if you have a Nikon mirrorless camera—you need to get this lens.

4. Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro Lens

NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f2.8 VR S
NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f2.8 VR S

Best Short Telephoto Macro Lens for Nikon

Bottom Line: Macro photography is one of the most fun, and most profitable, styles of short telephoto photography, and the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro lens is the best lens for the job!

Pros

  • 11.4″ Minimum Focus
  • VR Image Stabilization
  • OLED Lens Information Panel
  • Dual-Motor Multi-Focus STM AF System
  • 1:1 Magnification
  • Weather-Sealed Build

Cons

  • Minimum Focal Distance Could Be Closer

Why We Picked It

If you want the best Nikon short telephoto lens for macro, you need the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro lens.

Let’s start with the two most important features for any macro lens. The 11.4 inch minimum focus distance is great for being able to get close to your subject. This allows you to get the most out of the macro focus capability on this lens.

The lens also offers a 1:1 magnification. This means that the image captured by the lens is exactly the size recorded by the digital sensor. This is the gold standard for macro magnification and you should never settle for less.

This is also a high-tech lens. It’s got an informational OLED panel which is even more beneficial during macro shots for the slightest movement can ruin your composition.

Since this is a professional lens, it’s weather-sealed and built to handle outdoor conditions. Plenty of macro photography involves taking pictures of plants and wildlife so this is a great Plus.

Who It’s For

You might think that this lens is just for people exploring macro photography, but it’s actually got a lot more utility than that.

Portrait photographers and landscape artists are also going to love the Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S Macro lens. It has wonderful compression and a very smooth bokeh.

All kinds of macro photographers are going to be able to enjoy this lens. It’s great if you’re working with small animals and insects, but it’s also perfect for product photography or taking pictures of jewelry.

The lens also makes a great choice for artists. Macro photography has stunning artistic capabilities and this lens allows you to fully explore this style.

5. Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR Lens

NIKON NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f4.5-6.3 VR Zoom Lens
NIKON NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f4.5-6.3 VR Zoom Lens

Best Nikon Telephoto Lens on a Budget

Bottom Line: If you want to shoot short telephoto on a budget, you need the Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens.

Pros

  • 75-375mm (35mm Equivalent)
  • Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization
  • Programmable Control Ring
  • Stepping Motor AF System
  • Built for DX Mirrorless Cameras

Cons

  • Not as Robust as More Expensive Lenses

Why We Picked It

The best Nikon telephoto lens on a budget is the Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens.

This is the perfect budget pick for your short telephoto lens. If you’re really looking to save money, odds are you shooting on a crop sensor camera. Crop sensor lenses are built with this in mind.

When you factor in the 1.6x crop sensor magnification, the Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens covers all of the short telephoto lengths. This lets you play around with everything that short telephoto has to offer. The additional zoom range of this lens is just the icing on the cake.

Nikon was also very clever when they built this budget lens. All of the budget features of this lens can be compensated by the skill of the photographer. There’s nothing this lens isn’t missing that you can’t overcome with skill alone.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens also has some surprising professional-level features. The programmable control ring, for example, is something that you typically don’t see in budget models.

Who It’s For

This lens is really for anyone who’s looking to explore short telephoto photography, but who also doesn’t want to spend a huge amount of money on a new lens.

One of the biggest groups of people that are going to benefit from this lens are students and beginner hobbyists. If you’re just learning the ropes of photography, you don’t need to go overboard with flashy gear. A simple lens that won’t break the bank is exactly what you need to build up your skills.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens is also great for travel. Why risk losing or breaking a lens that costs thousands of dollars when you can pick up a budget alternative that takes just as good pictures?

6. Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens

Nikon PC-E FX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f2.8D Fixed Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon PC-E FX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f2.8D Fixed Zoom Lens for Nikon DSLR Cameras

The Most Unique Short Telephoto Lens for Nikon Cameras

Bottom Line: The Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens has a unique design

Pros

  • Maximum Shift: +/- 11.5mm
  • Maximum Tilt: +/- 8.5°
  • PC Rotation Capability: +/-90°
  • Close Range Correction System
  • Rounded 9-Blade Diaphragm

Cons

  • Expensive

Why We Picked It

If you want a Nikon short telephoto lens that is really going to stand out, then you should check out the Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens!

Tilt-shift lenses used to be the standard for how photographic lenses operated. All of those vintage, bellows cameras had tilt and shift functionality.

Tilt-shift lenses allow you to change the angle of the lens relative to the sensor. This gives you unique control over the focal plane in your images.

This lens is a potent tilt-shift lens. Its maximum shift and maximum tilt are very versatile and allow you to get some unique shots.

The Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens also has a close-range correction system. This has a 1:2 magnification and a very close focal distance. This is perfect for product photography.

This lens also has a rounded 9-blade diaphragm and a bright aperture. Not only is it good at its specialty as a tilt-shift lens, but it’s also got great features all around.

Who It’s For

Tilt-shift lenses have some unique applications. These might not be for everyone, but the lens is unbeatable for people who enjoy this style.

Tilt-shift photography is commonly used in architectural photography, interior photography, and in product photography. Tilt-shift lenses are also used to create that false miniature effect that’s gotten so popular on social media.

Professional photographers are really going to enjoy this lens. If you’ve been enjoying taking pictures of city skylines and architecture, this lens is going to open up a whole new world of photography that you might not have known about.

Working product photographers typically rely on tilt-shift lenses to get some unique shots of their products. This allows you to isolate your subject but maintain an interesting angle that other lenses just can’t achieve.

The Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens is also great for artists. If your main focus as a photographer is capturing unique shots that are unlike anything anyone else has seen, the Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens has what you’ve been looking for.

You can also just get the Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens to have something totally unique that other photographers simply don’t have.

How to Buy The Best Short Telephoto Lens for Nikon Cameras

We’ve got some insider advice for buying the best telephoto lenses for Nikon cameras!

What is a Short Telephoto Lens?

Short telephoto lenses have focal lengths that range from 85 mm to 135 mm. Short telephoto lenses can be prime lenses, but they can also be zoom lenses. A lens is considered to have a short telephoto capability if it can zoom it through any of the focal lengths mentioned above.

What is Telephoto Lens Good For?

A telephoto lens is great for making far-away subjects look like they are very close. This is ideal for styles of photography where you need to keep a distance from your subject like sports or wildlife photography. This is also ideal for compressing the scene and making objects look closer together which makes it useful for city skylines of landscapes.

Related:

What focal length is the human eye?

The focal length that most closely represents what we see naturally with her eyes is 50 mm. However, this is a bit of an oversimplification because the human eye doesn’t really work like a camera lens. The back of the eye is curved and the brain composites image information from both eyes to create what we see which is a little bit more complex than what a standard camera lens has to offer.

Is a Telephoto Lens Worth It?

A telephoto lens is absolutely worth it if you plan on pursuing any of the styles of photography that rely on short and long telephoto lenses. Telephoto lenses are considered part of the essential Holy Trinity of lenses which covers all of the basic styles of photography. A telephoto lens will go a long way to helping you earn more as a working photographer or hone your craft as an artist.

Why do photographers use telephoto lenses a lot for portrait shoots?

Photographers use 80 mm telephoto lenses to capture portraits because they offer the best and most flattering images of the human face. These lenses compress the background nicely creating a pleasant bokeh that separates the subject from the background. This focal length also creates the least distortion creating images that are easy to edit and look their best.

Conclusion – The Best Nikon Short Telephoto Lens

The best Nikon short telephoto lenses are going to be the lenses that give you the most options as a photographer.

We picked the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens as the overall best of the best Nikon telephoto lenses! That lens, or its Nikon Z equivalent, will give you the best overall short telephoto shots while letting you get some longer telephoto work done as well.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f2.8E FL ED VR Lens
Editor’s Choice
Best Overall
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR lens
This short-zoom lens or its Nikon Z equivalent is for just about everyone! it covers every single short telephoto focal length and then some.

The Nikon NIKKOR Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens is a great choice for budget-conscious photographers. The Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift lens is a top pick for anyone looking to explore the unique capabilities of a tilt-shift lens.

No matter which short telephoto lens you pick for your Nikon camera, one of the lenses from this list is going to be the right one for you! Let us know which lens is your favorite and 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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