5 Best Lenses for the Nikon D3100

Matching a lens to your Nikon D3100 may seem like a tall task. However, the good news is that there are some solid options for you. As you consider what lenses to choose, you can select an option that is compatible with your camera and is also compatible with the shot selection you’ve decided upon.

Hello, fellow photography enthusiasts! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer and videographer. Since 2009 I have been providing professional services to clients across the United States. During this time I have used and reviewed many Nikon products.

Today, I will go over some of the important things to look for in a lens for Nikon. I will also share with you my list of the top lenses for the Nikon D3100. Additionally, I will answer some of the most frequently asked questions.

Key Takeaways

  • Lay out your intended use for the lens and then choose a lens accordingly.
  • Consider a lens that enhances your ability to convey a story through your images. The lens must become an extension of your story.
  • Look for a lens that has a good focal length, is durable, and is versatile.
What type of lens mount does a Nikon D3100 have?

The Nikon D3100 has an F mount on it. This mount functions as a 3-lug bayonet that has a 44mm connector and a flange to the focal plane distance of 46.5mm.

The Nikon D3100 is not a full-frame camera. It uses an APS-C crop sensor and has a 14.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor.

The Nikon D3100 does not have onboard wifi. You can, however, download the images using Snapshots.

What Makes the Best Lens for Nikon D3100

  • Use: Knowing your shot selection will help you determine the type of lens that you need. Whether it’s for portraits, events, or wildlife, whatever the need is dictates the choice. The Nikon D3100 works best with lenses designed for each shooting scenario.
  • Focal Length: Some focal lengths work better for wide-angle shots while others work better for close-ups. The best lens for your shot should be considered in terms of totality, meaning you should choose a lens that meets your scenario needs and is matched with the appropriate focal length. For the Nikon D3100, focal lengths vary depending on what type of scene you are shooting.
  • Durability: Look for a lens that is made of high quality and is durable. Your lenses will make or break your shoot. Choose a lens that has good features, is designed specifically to work well with the camera you have, and can withstand the conditions in which you will be shooting.

The Best Lenses for the Nikon D3100 Reviewed

Now let’s get to the good part! Here is my list of the best lenses for the Nikon D3100.

1. Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 (Best Overall)

  • Lens Type: Wide angle
  • Lens Design: Zoom
  • Focus Type: Auto/Manual
  • Maximum Aperture: 2.8f

My overall top choice for the Nikon D3100 is the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. This is a powerful lens that works well in many different scenes. It’s compact and lightweight and has a focal length that is good for several normal shots.

This lens has several excellent factors to consider. It has a multi-layer coating that helps to guard against ghosting and flaring. It also has excellent peripheral brightness and delivers impressively sharp images.

The versatility of this lens is impressive. It can be used for nice lifestyle photos, portraits, landscapes, and events, among many other uses. The focal length of this lens makes it useful and necessary.

One thing I am concerned about is the soft wide open. When the aperture is at its widest point and open, it can cause the images to be less sharp, which can be noticeable under the right conditions. 

My Verdict: This is a great everyday lens to carry in your bag. You can effectively use it to shoot several different types of shots. It is also an affordable option.

2. Nikon 85mm f/1.8 (Best Portrait)

  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Lens Design: Prime
  • Focus Type: Ultrasonic
  • Maximum Aperture: 1.8f

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8 gives remarkable portrait images. It has a nice minimum focal length, super integrated coating, a fast aperture, and is dust and drip resistant.

In addition to the aforementioned features, this lens also has a nanocrystal coating which helps to reduce or eliminate ghosting and flaring. The image quality is both defined and precise. The autofocus and 9 glass elements also help to deliver high-quality images.

The thing that I like most about this lens is the sharpness it delivers. There is minimal to no distortion or vignetting and the bokeh is very impressive. This lens delivers exceptionally well in low-light conditions also.

Unfortunately, Nikon 85mm f/1.8 does not have image stabilization. Of course, when shooting by hand, this can be a problem. However, even without image stabilization, the images are still pleasantly clear the majority of the time.

My Verdict: If you want stunning images and want to impress with portraits, this is the lens for you. It is also a great value at its price point.

3. Tamron 90mm f/2.8 (Best Macro)

  • Lens Type: Macro
  • Lens Design: Prime
  • Focus Type: Auto
  • Maximum Aperture: 2.8f

Next up is the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 lens. The remarkable macro lens delivers the very best closeups of any lens on this list. It is brilliantly designed with a professional photographer in mind.

The Tamron 90mm is an incredibly powerful lens that delivers sharp images. It is designed to avoid flares and ghosting and is impressively fast. The colors that are embedded in the sharpness are noticeable and notable.

Its ability to rapidly switch easily between autofocus and manual focus is outstanding. There are times when the autofocus doesn’t get you where you want to be and being able to switch quickly to the manual focus is an attractive feature on this lens.

The main drawback is the dim corners that you will notice at the wide aperture opening. Other than this minor concern, this lens is a great choice for macro shots.

My Verdict: It is a very functional lens that delivers excellent quality images and remarkable macro shots. It is well-designed and has a great focusing system. Tamron 90mm is certainly a must-have in every photographer’s bag.

4. Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 (Best Telephoto)

  • Lens Type: Telephoto
  • Lens Design: Zoom
  • Focus Type: Auto
  • Maximum Aperture: 6.3f

The Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 is an incredible telephoto lens that has f-stops ranging between f/35 and f/22. When it comes to versatility, no Nikon telephoto comes close to this lens.

The 18-300mm has a great stabilization system and extra-low dispersion elements which help to create superb image quality and consistency. It works well as both a video and photo lens.

The standout feature of this lens is the stabilization system. It uses the Nikon vibration reduction technology to ensure a smooth, crisp image delivery on every shot. The VR technology also enhances night or low light shots by reducing the shutter speed without sacrificing sharpness.

However, it’s a bit disappointing that it has weak edges on some shots. Additionally, there is some slight distortion at certain aperture settings which can also become quite noticeable.

My Verdict: This 16.7x telephoto lens is a remarkable design from Nikon. It is a versatile lens with a great stabilization system, which is affordable and practical.

5. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 (Best Video)

  • Lens Type: Wide angle
  • Lens Design: Zoom
  • Focus Type: Ring-type ultrasonic
  • Maximum Aperture: 1.8f

As we round out the list of the best lenses for the Nikon D3100, we come to the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. One of the needed assets for any photographer is a good video lens. That’s exactly what this 18-35mm is. 

This wide-angle zoom lens has a ring-type ultrasonic AF motor and produces exceptionally crisp video footage. The 0.23 optical zoom is high quality as is the 9-bladed rounded diaphragm. The high aperture found in this lens is also great for low-light shooting.

The ring-type ultrasonic type AF motor is remarkable. This feature helps you to create the type of background blur that most professional videographers love to create.

One thing that can be improved on this lens centers around the lack of a stabilization system. There is also some barrel distortion noticeable under certain settings.

My Verdict: Sigma hits the jackpot with this lens when it comes to video production. It is a perfect choice for capturing that video moment that you’ve been dreaming of. It’s an affordable lens that is also great for shooting in lower lighting.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right lens for the D3100 can be challenging. Fortunately, there are several good lens choices on the market for this camera. 

You must look for a lens that fits the scene you are shooting and understand that different scenarios require specific lenses. The best course of action is to have a lens inventory that matches your intended shot selection.

A couple of other good choices for the D3100 are the Rokinon 8mm f/3.5 and the Nikon 105mm f/2.8. Both of these lenses offer versatility and image stabilization.

Have you had any experience with the lenses mentioned in this article? We’d love to hear about your experience. If you have questions, please leave them below as well.

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