4 Best Lenses for Nikon D5100

Choosing a good lens for your D5100 is situational. Some lenses are better for certain types of shots. You should build an inventory of lenses that allow you to shoot in any condition.

Hello, fellow photography enthusiasts! My name is Lavelle and I am a professional photographer and videographer. For the past 15 years, I have been helping clients across the country meet their photography needs. During this time, I have used many brands including the famous Nikon brand.

In this article, I will list my choices for the best lenses for your Nikon D5100. I will also answer some commonly asked questions, and I will go over some of the qualities that you should look for in a lens.

Key Takeaways

  • Remember that the D5100 uses an F (FX) mounting but it is also compatible with DX mountings.
  • Consider lenses that give you versatility. Typically you find versatility in lenses with a focal range instead of a fixed focal length.
  • Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G is the best choice for macro shots.
  • Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm is the best lens for portraits.
Is the D5100 still a good camera to use?

Yes, while the Nikon D5100 is an older model from Nikon, it is still a choice of camera for many photographers. Its specifications are still viable now and the camera produces excellent image quality.

No, the Nikon D5100 is not a full-frame camera. It has an APS-C sensor. It is still a great option for many photographers.

There is not one good price for a lens that is compatible with the D5100. Lens prices differ greatly depending on quality, usage, and versatility. Prices may range from under $200 to upwards of $600.

Things to Look for in a Lens for Nikon D5100

Here are some things to consider when looking for a good lens for your Nikon D5100.

  • Aperture: The amount of light that passes through the lens is indicated by its aperture. You should choose a lens with the appropriate aperture setting for the scenes that you intend to shoot.
  • Focal Length: Some lenses have fixed focal lengths, such as a 50mm lens, while others have a focal range, like the 18-35mm lens. Look for a length that has the right focal length or range to shoot the scenes that you intend to shoot. 
  • Image Stabilization (IS): Most notable DSLR cameras have built-in image stabilization, however, not all lenses have this system built-in. Having IS on your lens enhances your shot by providing additional stabilization that helps you to avoid camera shake/handshake issues when shooting.
  • Versatility: You should look for a lens that allows you to shoot various scenes. For example, a lens with an 18-35mm focal range will give you the option to shoot wide-angle and mid-range shots effectively. The same principle is applied to lenses with longer focal ranges such as the 200-500mm lenses. With these types of lenses, you can shoot macro shots nicely as well as landscape shots.

The Best Lenses for Nikon D5100 Reviewed

Here is my list of the best lenses for the Nikon D5100, along with a quick review of each item so you understand its pros and cons.

1. Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM (Best Overall)

  • Lens type: Wide Angle
  • Compatible mountings: Nikon F (DX)
  • Maximum focal length: 35mm
  • Image stabilization: None

The top choice on my list is the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. This remarkable lens is a great all-around choice to use with your Nikon D5100. It is well-designed, quiet, and efficient. The image quality is excellent and the lens gives you several options to shoot in.

This upgraded wide-angle lens allows you to shoot several types of scenery including landscapes, close-ups, portraits, and still life, just to name a few. The versatility and its ability to deliver quality images in varying light conditions make it an excellent choice.

The standout quality of this lens is the wide glass molded aspherical lens that also has low dispersion glass that allows the lens to compensate for aberrations and unwanted curvature. Also, the internal focusing mechanism allows it to be a very useful lens in many scenarios.

The only drawback that I’ve found, is that there can be some vignetting problems at the 35mm range. This can often be corrected in post-editing, however, it is still a concern to be aware of.

My Verdict: This is a versatile lens that works very well with the D5100. It delivers excellent image quality and gives you the ability to shoot several types of scenes. 

2. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G (Best Portrait)

  • Lens type: Normal
  • Compatible mountings: Nikon F (FX)
  • Maximum focal length: 50mm
  • Image stabilization: None

The Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm is well-designed and a practical lens that delivers excellent edge-to-edge image quality.

This lens is a great travel option since it allows you to shoot good-quality images in several light conditions. With its fast aperture, it can capture excellent images even in low-light circumstances.

Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm gives you beautiful bokeh at the wide aperture settings. The natural background blur that it delivers is a great depth of field aspect of the imagery it produces. Also, the color consistency produced by the lens is remarkable.

However, there is no kind of vibration reduction technology with the lens. Therefore, you have to use it with the aid of a tripod or some sort of stabilizer to reduce the effects of vibrations in your shots.

My Verdict: This is a good choice for shooting portrait shots. The lens is dependable, lightweight, and functional under varying conditions.

3. Nikon AF-P NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR Fixed Zoom (Best Zoom)

  • Lens type: Fixed Zoom
  • Compatible mountings: Nikon F (DX)
  • Maximum focal length: 300mm
  • Image stabilization: Vibration Reduction

When it comes to capturing sporting events, concerts, wildlife, landscapes, and scenes of this nature, Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm Fixed Zoom is an excellent choice.

This lens is exceptional for optical quality and zoom imagery. It works well with handheld shots since the vibration reduction technology makes it a very stable lens. The quiet focusing feature on the lens is also a nice quality.

The best thing about this lens is its precision optical performance. It is great for high-speed shooting and consistent delivery. The specialized electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism allows this lens to sync nicely with the D5100’s shutter speed.

The only drawback is that this lens is made of a plastic material that may not protect the lens from drops as well as I’d like.

My Verdict: As far as zoom lenses go, this is one of the best choices for your D5100. It is a consistent and fast lens that gives excellent image quality across the focal range. 

4. Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G (Best Macro)

  • Lens type: Normal
  • Compatible mountings: Nikon F (DX)
  • Maximum focal length: 40mm
  • Image stabilization: None

The final choice is the Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 40mm. This is an exceptional lens for close-up shots. It is compact and dependable and delivers high image quality. 

While this lens does not have any image stabilization, it does still deliver excellent shots when paired with the D5100. Its compact design and good field of view make this lens an attractive choice for photographers of all levels.

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm delivers very sharp images and it has a 1:1 magnification ratio which helps it to produce life-size images in stunning quality. It is also very affordable.

The only thing that worries me is the focus limiter switch on the lens that prevents it from looking for focus at close-up distances. This feature can be a nuisance when attempting to shoot a close-up and other lenses want to hunt for the focus, while this one stops looking for focus and causes you to have to set the focus manually.

My Verdict: This lens is good for macro shots and it works well with the D5100 even though it’s not a full-frame lens.

Final Thoughts

The Nikon D5100 is an excellent older model camera from the Nikon family. The lenses that are listed here are some great choices to pair with your D5100. When paired appropriately and under the right conditions, each of these lenses easily delivers exceptional quality results.

A few other notable choices for the D5100 include the Nikon AF-S DX 1-140mm and the Nikon AF-S 85mm lenses. Additionally, an honorable mention choice is the Sigma 150-600mm.

Have you used any of these lenses? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Until next time, enjoy capturing the best moments in your life!

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