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Top 9 Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses [2024 Update!]

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Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses

Nikon is one of the most iconic camera brands, known for catering to the professional with high-quality products. Many photography enthusiasts ask us, what is the best Nikon telephoto lens? Here, we’ll cover the top contenders for the best Nikon telephoto lens on a budget, and the best Nikon FX telephoto lens products overall.

Here Are the Top 9 Nikon Telephoto Lenses!

The 9 Best Telephoto Lenses for Nikon Z, DX, and More

After reviewing our top picks, when someone asks you, what the best telephoto lens for Nikon is, you’ll be able to tell them!

Let’s start.

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

NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f 2.8 S Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras
NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f 2.8 S Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras

Best Nikon Telephoto Lens Overall

Bottom Line

Some refer to this premium lens as the coach’s best friend since it specializes in both sports and portrait photography. It shines before, during, and after athletic events, enabling the user to create vivid and beautiful images of the team, their performance, and the victory celebration. It offers a very specific set of specialties that show exactly what a professional-grade lens can do when used for its intended purpose.

Pros

  • Versatile zoom designed for FX-format Z-mount mirrorless cameras
  • Persistent f/2.8 maximum aperture delivers consistent performance throughout its zoom range, also good for tough lighting conditions
  • Six extra-low dispersion element combo; fluorite element, and short-wave refractive elements
  • Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats prevent reflections, ghosting, and flare
  • Multi-focus capabilities with two synchronized AF drive units for amazingly fast and accurate focusing

Cons

Because this lens is so specialized for sporting and portrait image taking, it may fall short in other situations. Its premium price point makes it tough to choose, except for professional use. However, if your use case matches its specialty, this lens might be perfect.

Why We Picked It

Not only is this lens is one of the Nikon Z Trinity of Lenses, it especially refined and adapted to cover all phases and angles of sporting events, and it does so quickly and easily with its startlingly fast auto-focus capabilities. It is a premium design, purpose-driven to excel in documenting sporting events and related activities. This is why it is the best Nikon Z telephoto lens for portrait and sports events

Who It’s For

High school and college coaches, parents of athletes, sports journalists, and the like will all find this lens is perfect for their needs. It might even be a great choice for the portrait photographer who likes to take their equipment out during their off time for wildlife and outdoor shooting. It is versatile, perfect for certain use cases, and a real Swiss Army knife of a lens for others.

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

Nikon 200-500 mm F 5.6 AF-S NIKKOR E ED VR Lenses
Nikon 200-500 mm F 5.6 AF-S NIKKOR E ED VR Lenses

Best Nikon Telephoto Lens for Wildlife

Bottom Line

The AF-S Nikkor lens is one of the fastest and most versatile lenses on the market. It features a long zoom with consistent image quality and almost completely silent focusing across its full range. Good for both movie-making and still photography, this lens works well in fast-paced scenarios. The user can override the automatic focus by simply turning the focus ring with no need to flip an AF switch, which is excellent for hitting very precise ranges at a moment’s notice.

Pros

  • FX image sensor compatible
  • Constant f/5.6 maximum aperture
  • 3 extra-low dispersion elements
  • Silent Wave Motor
  • VR image stabilization up to 4.5 shutter stops
  • Rotating tripod collar
  • Advanced electromagnetic aperture
  • Compatible with a wide range of Nikon cameras

Cons

The AF-S does have the potential to exhibit maintenance issues over time due to the fact that its auto-focus features are heavily integrated with multiple control methods. Nikkor lenses have a good reputation for durability, so this potential problem might not manifest. However, with the best use-case for this lens involving quick movements out of doors, the potential for wear and tear is significant.

Why We Picked It

The AF-S Nikkor is a strong performer in wildlife, sports, outdoor stills, and distant subjects. With its wide range and high stability at a reasonable price point, this lens is one of the best values you will find this season.

Who It’s For

This lens is for outdoor and long-range videographers who want high-quality images and sound. It is an excellent choice for professional YouTube creators who want to take their production to the next level.

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

NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f 4.5-5.6 VR S
NIKKOR Z 100-400mm f 4.5-5.6 VR S

Best Nikon Telephoto Lens for Sports

Bottom Line

With a more portable design than most high-end long-range lenses, this model is perfect for medium to long-range subjects, although it also performs well at close range. The latest internal balancing tech ensures that you can track fast-moving subjects reliably. Its relatively lightweight and compact size make it more portable and easy to handle.

Pros

  • Combination of Super ED and six ED glass elements, eliminating chromatic aberrations and color fringing.
  • Nano Crystal and ARNEO Coats prevent flare, ghosting, reflections
  • Multi-focus system integrates two AF drive units synchronized for fast, accurate focusing throughout its range.
  • Persistent manual focus override and internal focusing support the length of the lens and promote faster focusing.
  • 2.5′ minimum focusing distance is excellent for up-close work
  • Image stabilization reduces camera shake by roughly 5.5 stops.

Cons

The biggest drawbacks of this lens are its limited focus range. It works well at exceedingly short ranges and very well at medium ranges. But if you get caught in a situation where you need to exceed its range, it will fall short. The user needs to be aware of its range limits and work to stay within them. Fortunately, its advanced stabilization and focus speeds let you move to stay in range.

Why We Picked It

This is a long-range lens for photographers and videographers who are quick on their feet and willing to move. If you need to move, it will work for you. Its compact size and robust construction give it the ability to stand up to frequent, energetic movements. It absolutely shines in shooting sporting events in an arena or other environments that limit the movement of your subjects.

Who It’s For

This lens is ideal for the professional sports photographer who has access to the field, and who knows the terrain where they will be working very well. When you have to move, it moves with you, but it helps to be in a controlled environment since obstacles in the wild can be a hazard.

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

NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f 2.8 VR S
NIKKOR Z MC 105mm f 2.8 VR S

Best Nikon Telephoto Lens for Macro Photography

Bottom Line

With its true 1:1 reproduction ratio, this lens is very strong both in delivering long-distance and extreme close-up photography. Its S-line macro lens delivers a flexible 105mm focus length for very close work. If you need to switch from very close to long ranges regularly, this is the lens for you. It is a mix of range capabilities that many people find baffling, but it has some real applications, particularly for use in projects that require both long and macro photography.

Pros

  • Designed for FX-format Z-mount cameras, but, can be used with DX models as well
  • Perfect lens for macro and portrait shooting
  • Bright f/2.8 maximum aperture good for a range of lighting conditions
  • OLED lens integrated information panel to confirm aperture settings quickly
  • Dual-Motor Focus System with manual override for responsive auto-focus
  • In-Lens barrel Electromagnetic Diaphragm for highly accurate aperture control
  • Vibration Reduction minimizes camera shake by 4.5 stops

Cons

If you need highly clear and pristine long-range capabilities, this lens might not be ideal. While the manufacturer put a lot of effort into mitigating the drawbacks of such an extreme form of crossover, the macro capabilities of this lens can negatively affect long-range photography. If you want to capture fast-moving subjects near the limits of their range, this weakness may begin to manifest.

Why We Picked It

Not only is this a great budget lens, but it will really shine in certain specific use cases. For example, if you need to produce sets of images for a single subject, this lens could be ideal. This is easily one of the best Nikon dx telephoto lens products on the market.

Who It’s For

This would be an outstanding pick for a wedding photographer who wants to deliver portraits as well as close-ups. It is a very versatile lens, making it great for real estate professionals putting together property listings who want to highlight a range of features from various vantage points.

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

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

Best Nikon Telephoto Zoom Lens for Sport and Portrait Photography

Bottom Line

This product is actually a kit since it includes a very well-made 77mm UV removable filter with multi-coating protection. This makes it ideal for shooting events from a fixed position in situations where you cannot choose the time of day when you’ll be shooting and when you are forced to shoot from a fixed position, such as an assigned seating location.

Pros

  • Versatile zoom designed for a range of platforms
  • F/2.8 max aperture provides consistent performance across the zoom range and helps in tough lighting conditions
  • Combined six low dispersion elements mitigating color aberrations and fringing
  • Duel aspherical elements reduce aberrations and distortion
  • Nano Crystal and ARNEO coats prevent ghosting, flare, and reflections
  • VR stabilization helps reduce camera shake

Cons

Because this lens is optimized to deal with the limitations of situations where the user is stuck to a fixed position and cannot choose the time of the event to be shot, it might actually produce subtle color aberrations and distortion when conditions are ideal. This may only be the case when the included 77mm UV removable filter is attached, but more field testing will be needed. In the worst-case scenario, another detachable filter may help correct the issue.

Why We Picked It

This lens is said to have set the standard for speed in zoom telephoto lenses. It is a strong performer in low light, such as at concerts and weddings. Though it is still a capable lens for wildlife and sports.

Who It’s For

This lens is designed with the sports fan in mind. Whether it’s racing, footfall, baseball, or what have you, the problems associated with shooting from an assigned seat have never been dealt with so well in a single package. Notice, Nikkor includes a special protective filter to make this package complete. It just shows that they were aiming to remedy a specific and longstanding problem. If you pay full price for season tickets, you need this lens.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S Lens with UV Filter Kit

NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f 1.8 S Portrait Fast Prime Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras
NIKON NIKKOR Z 85mm f 1.8 S Portrait Fast Prime Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras

Best Cheap Nikon Telephoto Lens

Bottom Line

This super integrated nanocrystal, Z-mount & FX-format lens is an affordable option for mid-range portrait photography with duel extra-low dispersion elements that add just the right human touch to all kinds of portraits. This lens is excellent for street photography with human subjects with just enough range for naturalism.

Pros

  • Ideal lens length for portraits in FX format
  • Bright f/1.8 maximum aperture for difficult lighting conditions
  • Dual extra-low dispersion elements significantly mitigate chromatic aberrations and color fringing
  • Integrated Coating and nano crystal coating minimize reflections
  • Multi-focus system with double synchronized AF drive units for super smooth auto-focus
  • Programmable Control Ring set to manual focus, can be used to control either aperture or exposure

Cons

This lens and UV filter kit is perfect for shooting impromptu portraits in a city or urban setting, but at its low price point, it might not be able to handle the rigors of boots-on-the-ground photography. It also lacks the professional appearance that can be helpful in getting human subjects to cooperate. But these are common traits for what might be the best Nikon telephoto lens for beginners.

Why We Picked It

This lens is affordable and portable, making it an excellent choice for the novice street photographer, or the professional portrait photographer looking to get started in a new studio. It will perform admirably while you get some experience under your belt or to help pay off small business loans. This is easily the best affordable Nikon telephoto lens.

Who It’s For

This lens is ideal for student, novice, and amateur photographers who love photographing human subjects. This lens loves the human face and is a great way to get started either as a hobby or as a professional.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F 5.6E Pf ED VR Super-Telephoto Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm F 5.6E Pf ED VR Super-Telephoto Lens

Best Value Nikon Telephoto Lenses

Bottom Line

This professional-grade lens packs an enormous amount of reach and power into a relatively compact frame. Employing an innovative phase fresnel element, and low dispersion capabilities, it all but eliminates chromatic aberrations and color fringing. It also incorporates a protective fluorine guard to protect the unit from moisture and dust, making it one of the most durable and capable lenses on the market.

Pros

  • Superior telephoto design for the FX-format, F-mount cameras, and DX models
  • 1 Phase Fresnel element plus three low dispersion elements drastically reduce aberrations and color fringing
  • Nano Crystal and Integrated Coating minimize reflections for a massive reduction in flare and ghosting
  • Unique, Silent Wave Motor delivers quick, quiet, and accurate autofocus with persistent manual override
  • VR stabilization reduces camera shake by four stops, aiding use in low-light

Cons

This lens is a solid all-around performer with little in the way of negatives. It is pricey, however. But if you’re the type of photographer who wants to be ready for anything, this lens might be worth the investment.

Why We Picked It

This lens is a true champion across categories. It is compatible with a huge list of Nikon cameras and is an excellent choice for anyone willing and able to invest in quality and power. Where it really excels is in unexpected situations. That’s why the most adventurous photographers love this lens.

Who It’s For

This lens is for professionals of every stripe, and photography enthusiasts with disposable income. At the end of the day, it’s for anyone who loves what top-notch equipment can do, and can afford it.

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

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f 1.4E ED Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 105mm f 1.4E ED Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

Best Nikon Telephoto Prime Lens for Portraits

Bottom Line

It’s fast, clear, and even more compact than most other telephoto lenses in its subcategory. It works with a decent range of formats and mount types, making it as versatile as a lens of this kind really ought to be. It’s light, powerful, and easy to store and carry. But where it really shines is in portrait photography.

Pros

  • Wonderfully fast f/1.4 aperture delivers precise control of depth of field and works well in low-light conditions
  • The Nano Crystal Coat minimizes reflections for a significant reduction of ghosting and lens flare
  • Three low-dispersion elements reduce chromatic aberrations for high clarity and color neutrality
  • Silent Wave Motor provides fast, quiet, and accurate auto-focus with persistent manual override
  • Fluorine coating protects exposed elements of the optical system

Cons

Considered to be the apex of portrait primes, this lens really has no downside other than its being limited to relatively close-range portrait photography. But if that’s what you’re aiming for then there are no downsides to this lens.

Why We Picked It

This lens is the king of portrait lenses. It is a professional-grade product that is great both in the studio and on the street, setting those who love to photograph faces free. Nothing adds production quality to film and photos like the human face, and this lens is simply the best.

Who It’s For

This lens is made for the consummate portrait photographer. If you are looking to outfit a portrait studio, AF-S NIKKOR 105mm is a solid choice.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Lens (Nikon Z)

Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f 4 TC VR S Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f 4 TC VR S Lens

Best Nikon Super Telephoto Lens

Bottom Line

This is Nikkor’s latest and greatest telephoto lens, and a top wish list item on many, many Christmas lists. The auto-focus is incredibly smooth, fast, and quiet. If you aren’t looking through the aperture, you might not even feel it working.

Pros

  • Built-in 1.4x teleconverter lets you instantly extend to 840mm with the flip of a switch
  • Integrated design eliminates dust ingress to the optical or sensor and makes changing focal lengths easier
  • When the teleconverter is active, the unit effectively becomes an 840mm f/5.6 lens
  • Super fast f/4 aperture makes great use of the available lighting and makes the depth of field very easy to control
  • The new and advanced Meso-Amorphous Coat delivers the highest anti-reflective performance of any Nikkor lens, arguably outperforming everything else on the market today

Cons

It is a super bright long-range lens, and as such the exposure settings can take some getting used to. It’s not really a drawback as it is part of the learning curve for this ultra-premium unit. This is a good example of where Nikkor lenses tend to push toward specialization. So users should be aware of that with this lens.

Why We Picked It

It’s the best of the best. There really isn’t anything out there that can match it at the time of this writing. Frankly, just looking at this lens’s specs is a thrill.

Who It’s For

The Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Lens is for the obsessive professional, the artist who refuses to compromise, and those who cannot be without the finest gear there is. If you’re looking for the best Nikon telephoto lens for bird photography, this is probably it.

Conclusion – The Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses

Which of the best Nikon Telephoto lenses is the one that you’re adding to your photography bag?

NIKON NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f 2.8 S Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon Z Mirrorless Cameras
Editor’s Choice
Best Overall
Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Lens
This lens is an incredibly versatile choice for a telephoto zoom lens so you can use it for portraits and go to events and weddings.

The best Nikon zoom lens overall is the Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S Lens. This lens is an incredibly versatile choice for a telephoto zoom lens. it’s flexible enough to allow you to take portraits and go to events and weddings. On the other hand, if you want to save money, you should pick up the Nikon NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S Lens. If you want to go SUPER quality, the Nikon NIKKOR Z 600mm f/4 TC VR S Lens (Nikon Z), and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens are the best choice for super-telephoto prime photography.

If you’re looking to find the best Nikon lenses for low light or you want to check out the competition like Sony and Canon, check out our other articles!

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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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