Last Updated: July 10, 2019

The Best Lenses For The Nikon D5300 – Improve Your Photos

So, you got yourself a new Nikon D5300. Now it's time to get yourself the perfect lens!

But with so many choices, it isn't easy to figure out which one to get, right?

That is why in this review I am going to show you which lenses are great, and for which situations. Because what you are going to use them for is one of the most important factors in the decision.

But first, let's quickly check out the range of lenses to choose from, and the differences between them...

Prime Lenses - Fixed Focal Length

Prime lenses offer stunning sharpness, low-light capabilities and very wide apertures. All great things for top-notch photography. 

They are a great way to sharpen your photography skills, shoot in low-light or portraits because of the wide aperture and blurred background effect.

The only downside of these lenses is their lack of zoom. Every photographer has at least one in their arsenal though, and these are some of your best options for the D5300.

Halied by many a photography review site as the best entry level lens for Nikon DXs around, this is one of the first lenses you should consider getting.

For the price (usually a couple of hundred bucks), you get high quality optics with a huge amount of light. This is due to the large aperture (F 1.8). That means a few things:

  • Shooting in low light like indoors, late in the day/early evening
  • Sharper images in general
  • More of that sexy background blur we all love in portraits (the lower the f-stop the easier it is to achieve)

This lens also has a fixed focal length of 35mm, which on this camera is equivalent to 50mm - considered to be the photograph version of seeing what the human eye sees (ie. no zoom).

It is perfect for either starting out and learning how to properly shoot compose great photos as well as not rely on zoom to take your photos (zooms have less light and less sharpness anyway, so are never ideal).

Specifications

  • Weight: 7 oz (200 g)
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    Dimensions: 2.76 x 2.09 x 2.76 in
  • Focal length: 35mm (50mm equiv)
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    F-stop range: f/1.8 - 22
  • Autofocus: Nikon AF-S

Another lens that rocks in low light. This one has a little bit more than the one above, with an f-stop as low as 1.4! It is also a slightly longer fixed focal length of 75mm equivalent.

It also has a built-in auto-focus which is necessary for the D5300, which does not have it's own motor. So, that is another great thing about this (and the one above) lens.

As for major benefits over the lens above, given it is nearly double the price, I am struggling to find many:

  • Also fits the FX series lenses (if you have one or plan on it)
  • Slightly longer focal length
  • Lower f-stop - more light, sharper, steadier images, with a touch more background blur

It is also heavier & bigger than the 35mm version.  So, unless you really need this one, or have another FX series camera from Nikon, I would just go with the 35mm above.

Specifications

  • Weight: 10 oz (280 g)
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    Dimensions: 2.91 x 2.91 x 2.13 in
  • Focal length: 50mm (75 equiv)
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    F-stop range: f/1.4 - 16
  • Autofocus: Nikon AF-S

Some awesome lenses cost an absolute bomb. But this lens from Sigma is the best compromise when it comes to awesome lenses without the huge price tag.

Everyone that uses the Sigma 35mm 1.4 is blown away by how sharp it is. In some tests, it even outperforms the Nikon equivalent, that is way more expensive.

Do you need this lens to take great photos? No.

But once you get it, you will see the difference.

  • Stunningly sharp images
  • Great background blur at low f-stop (aka Bokeh)
  • Impressive low-light capabilities

If you are just starting out, I would again stick with the Nikon 35mm at the top of this review. But, if you want to take things to the next level, this is your lens. Mid-range price, with top range performance!

Specifications

  • Weight: 23.5 oz (667 g)
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    Dimensions: 3.03 x 3.03 x 3.7 in
  • Focal length: 35mm (56 equiv)
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    F-stop range: f/1.4 - 16
  • Autofocus: Sigma HSM

Zoom Lenses

Zoom lenses give you the flexibility to compose your shot on the fly without having to get closer to your subject.

They can range from the relatively close zoom (50mm) to very far (300mm or more), which can really help capture those subjects you just can't get to.

Things to be on the look out for include f-stop range, image stablization (you get more shake with zoom) and built-in auto-focus (as the D5300 does not have it's own motor for that).

The Nikon 55-200 is a decent workhorse lens for those that want the ability to reframe their shot a bit without having to move. It is not the biggest zoom around, so if you want more bang in terms of zoom, check out the 300mm one below.

This one is a great lens to get you started, and quite nicely priced too (below 200 bucks). So, won't break the bank. It also comes with some impressive features for the price:

  • Fast and quiet focus (built-in)
  • Reasonably low f-stop (but not great at very low light)
  • 4 stops of vibration reduction, handy on a zoom lens as it accentuates movements

For the amount of zoom you get, with built-in auto-focus and stabilization, this is a great lens to add to your arsenal. Combined with the 35mm above, you have almost all situations (bar macro) covered.

Specifications

  • Weight: 10.5 oz (300 g)
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    Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.8 x 3.27 in
  • Focal length: 55 -200 mm
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    F-stop (widest): f/4.5-5.6
  • Autofocus: Micro-type ultrasonic
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    Stabilization: Vibration reduction up to 4 stops

Similar to the 55-200 zoom above, this one goes a quite a bit further - 300mm. That extra 100mm can make quite a difference, especially if you aim to shoot wildlife or sports. That is when zooms really come in handy.

Just be aware that you get a far bigger and heavier lens as a result.

For the rest, it comes with some nice built-in Nikon features:

  • Fast and quiet focus (built-in)
  • Reasonably low f-stop (but not great at very low light)
  • 4 stops of vibration reduction, handy on a zoom lens as it accentuates movements

For the amount of zoom you get, with built-in auto-focus and stabilization, this is a great lens to add to your arsenal. Combined with the 35mm above, you have almost all situations (bar macro) covered.

Specifications

  • Weight: 1.16 lb (530 g)
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    Dimensions: 3.03 x 3.03 x 4.84 in
  • Focal length: 55 -300 mm
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    F-stop (widest): f/4.5-5.6
  • Autofocus: Micro-type ultrasonic
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    Stabilization: Vibration reduction up to 4 stops

If you are on a bit of a budget, lenses from the likes of Tamron are a good bet for a zoom lens. They offer enough features to enable you to take decent photos with a zoom, but without breaking the bank. 

Of course, there are compromises in terms of materials and some features they don't have (like stablization and fast-autofocus), however this lens still comes with:

  • Fast auto focus (built-in)
  • Low weight (under 1 lb)
  • Built-in macro mode with 1:2 zoom

A great starting point for a 300mm zoom that should last you a while, or until you want to upgrade to something more substantial.

Specifications

  • Weight: 0.98lb (445 g)
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    Dimensions: 3.03 x 4.61 x 3.03 in
  • Focal length: 55 -300 mm
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    F-stop (widest): f/4.5-5.6
  • Autofocus: Micromotor
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    Stabilization: None

Wide-Angle Lenses

If you love shooting landscapes, or just want to capture absolutely everything in a scene, then a wide angle lens is now on your list!

Some zoom lenses include a wider angle, but rarely do they go wide enough to satisfy the true landscape photographer.

So, in this section I will take a look at a few very nice wide-angle lenses you might want to add to your camera bag

For those of you who really appreciate that ultra-wide angle when shooting, this lens is worth it's weight in gold. It goes beyond the usual 24mm equivalent, which is already wide enough, and gives you a full 109 degrees of view.

Of course, there will always be a little bit of softness in the corners with such a wide angle (10mm), but that is almost impossible to avoid. 

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    Wide range of angles from super wide to standard field of view
  • Reasonably fast auto-focus
  • Solid construction

Although this is a pricey lens, you get a wider angle than most other lenses and a wide aperture too (f/3.5) which not all manufacturers can give. 

If you want to try a more budget version, keep scrolling down to the Sigma 10-20mm below.

Specifications

  • Weight: 1.01 lb (460 g)
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    Dimensions: 3.27 x 3.27 x 3.43 in
  • Focal length: 10-24 mm (15-36mm equivalent in FX full format)
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    F-stop (widest): ƒ/3.5
  • Autofocus: Ultrasonic
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    View Angle: 61-109 degrees

A decent alternative to the Nikon above, for the price - which is less than half.

Of course, you will have to compromise on a couple of things. First is the slightly higher f-stop (4.5), second is the narrow range of view. According to many reviewers there is also a little more noticeable distortion on the super-wide end, but only the truly experienced photographer tends to worry about it.

For the rest of us there is

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    A decent wide angle range 
  • Same weight as the more expensive Nikon
  • Low-price for a wide-angle at this range

If you don't expect a pro-quality lens for under 500 bucks, then this one will definitely take many a great photo for you.

Specifications

  • Weight: 1.02 lb (465 g)
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    Dimensions: 3.31 x 3.31 x 3.19 in
  • Focal length: 10-24 mm (15-30mm equivalent in FX full format)
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    F-stop (widest): f/4.5-5.6
  • Autofocus: Ring-type ultrasonic
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    View Angle: 56.8 - 94.5 degrees

Macro Lenses

If you like the idea of shooting things really close up, then you are going to need to invest in a macro lens. They allow you to get amazing close-up shots of anything from flowers to insects (and anything else you can creatively imagine). You just need a lens that can focus at that close a range and still give you a nice sharp and in focus shot.

Hailed as one of the most affordable entry-level macros for those with a Nikon 5000 range camera, the Nikkor 85mm is a great macro lens.

It has built-in image stabilization to help get the sharpest shot, even at that close "macro" range. And, it also has it's own auto-focus motor, which the 5300 camera needs (because it doesn't have one). This is also one of the reasons other affordable macro lenses are not really an option.

The focus is also quite fast, and quiet, which is important when you are photographing things that tend to move at the slightest noise!

Many reviewers also love this lens because it can also double as a portrait lens with enough bokeh given the f/3.5. So, you can use it for different purposes on a shoot without having to always swap out your lens.

Specifications

  • Weight: 0.78 lb (354 g)
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    Dimensions: 2.87 x 3.9 x 2.87 in
  • Focal length: 85mm
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    F-stop (widest): f/3.5
  • Autofocus: Ring-type ultrasonic
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    Stabilization: Nikon VR II

Which Lenses Do You Need?

It all depends on the kind of photography you are planning on doing and the budget you have. 

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

Landscape Photographer

The Nikon 10-24mm is the best lens if you can afford it, otherwise go for the Sigma 10-20mm. Then, I would just add on a zoom, to round out your focal length options. The Nikon 55-200MM is a decent option, or if you really need to distance, you can go for the Nikon 55-300MM.

Portrait Photographer

A prime lens like the Nikon 35mm is going to give you super-sharp images with lots of background blur (given the super-wide aperture). It is also great in low-light, so you won't always need a flash. If you also want to combine macro, then another option is the Nikon 85mm

For anyone else, I would just go with an affordable prime lens like the Nikon 35mm which gives you awesome photos and teaches you to live without the zoom options. Then you can add a zoom or wide-angle once you know the kinds of photos you prefer to take.

About the Author Roger Timbrook

Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!

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