Reignite Your Love for Photography with the Best Lenses for Nikon D3100
I have seen several people being confused about which lens they should go for every time it comes to an affordable camera. Sure, it might make it easier for them if you are talking about a high-end or an affordable camera, things get confusing as they scramble to make the right decision and often make the wrong one.
However, it is not as difficult as one would think. Let’s say that you know what is the best lens for Nikon D850, I can guarantee that you can use the same lens on your Nikon D3100 and get nearly the same results.
That is why I am going to tell you that the best lens for the Nikon D3100 is the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. It is not only the brightest lens in the market but also the perfect lens for almost every APS-C camera that you can find in the market.
Best Lenses for Nikon D3100
Sigma 18-35mm – Best Overall Lens for Nikon D3100
Sigma 18-35mm offers a super-fast f/1.8 aperture and provides excellent optics for super sharp images.
Normally, the zoom lenses that are available in the market are notorious for having a dimmer aperture. Sure, some lenses are available with f/2.8 aperture and those are already great. But have you wished for a zoom lens that also brings the capabilities of a prime lens in terms of the image sharpness and aperture?
Well, the Sigma 18-35mm does just that. This is perhaps the only standard zoom lens available in the market that brings you f/1.8 aperture and this is a great offering for everyone, to be honest as the results are great across the board. Sure, you might take some time getting used to this, but it will not be a disappointment.
For starters, you are looking at a lens that has a super-fast and constant f/1.8 aperture which is fun to use, and easy, as well. So, you are sure that you are not going to get results that are not bad. The optics on this lens are excellent even when you are wide open in terms of the aperture.
Sigma has done an excellent job and making sure that the autofocus on this lens is quick and fast; allowing you to catch on focusing well. Whether you are shooting videos or pictures, the lens is going to be great.
Sigma has also done an excellent job making sure that the build quality of this lens is excellent and at the same time, the lens is not heavy at all; allowing you to carry it around with ease and be mobile with it. The lens also offers compatibility with Sigma’s USB dock so you can optimize it with ease.
I think the only real concern here is that the zoom range is not as open as some would hope, as the 18-35mm is a lot like 15-35mm, it is on the restricted side.
Overall, it is safe to say that I love the Sigma 18-35mm, I have used this lens in the past on my Canon as well, and the results were just as good. It is not only the best lens for your D3100, but it can act as the best lens for Nikon D3100 food photography and I know it might not sound like but just give it a try and you’ll know.
Nikon 35mm – Best Landscape Lens for Nikon D3100
Nikon 35mm has a bright and constant aperture. The lens itself is compact and can easily be carried around. .
We have talked about it before, we are going to talk about it again. Landscape photography is a lot of fun and while it might take some time getting used to, the best part here is that we have all indulged in it in some form. Whether you used your phone to take some excellent landscape shots or an actual camera, it is one subject of photography that everyone has some experience with.
Now that you have finally decided to level up your game with photography in general, choosing the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 seems like the smart thing to do. This is the perfect field of view for the Nikon DX (crop sensor) cameras as it does not hinder too much and you can use it to take some stunning pictures, as well.
The lens itself is one of the most affordable ones in the market, and that is always a good thing because I understand that a lot of us are not willing to spend a lot of money on a lens when we are just starting.
In addition to that, you are looking at a compact and lightweight lens that should give you enough mobi8lity to carry the lens around without any problems that could otherwise come in the way of you taking pictures the way you want to.
My favorite thing about this lens so far is the fact that it has a constant, bright aperture of f/1.8. This results in some of the best pictures that you can end up taking and that too, without any issues with the level of lighting you have access to.
Last but not the least, the Nikon 35mm produces some of the sharpest images and is one of the finest lenses when you are talking about optical superiority.
I do have a few concerns, though. There is some level of barrel distortion present on this lens, and you can see purple fringing in high-contrast areas or scenes.
Overall, the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 makes up for an excellent lens for Nikon crop-sensor cameras and it will deliver the performance that most people are looking for but the best part is that it will not be an expensive one, to begin with.
Nikon 85mm f/1.8 – Best Lens for Nikon D3100 for Portrait
Nikon 85mm f/1.8 offers excellent sharpness. There is a minimal distortion to experience, making it a great lens for portraits.
Portrait photography, when done right, can be a lot of fun. Sure, you have to understand the nuances that go behind this photography style but you are looking at one of the most fun photography types and it is going to help you learn a lot as a photographer in general.
Speaking of portraits, how can we miss the legendary Nikon 85mm lens. This has become the classic portrait focal lens, more so than the 50mm because it allows you to isolate your subjects, and make sure that they are the only ones in the focus.
Of course, on a D3100, this lens would have an effective focal length of 127.5mm but even that is excellent for portraits. You just have to ensure that there is enough distance between you and the subject that you are trying to shoot.
With that said, the lens offers excellent sharpness across the board, making it one of the fan-favorite lenses of photographers. There is barely any distortion to be witnessed here, which is always a good thing. Especially in lenses that are more on the affordable side.
Speaking of affordable, if you are not too big on spending a lot of money, this is a way to go and it should not create too many issues for you, either.
Last but not the least, the bright aperture at f/1.8 is excellent for taking pictures in so many cases and you will not have any problems there, too.
Honestly, my only concerns are that the lens lacks optical image stabilization, something that becomes important for such focal lengths for a lot of photographers. The limited close focusing capabilities are also not as good, so that is another thing that you have to consider.
Overall, if you are looking for a good Nikon lens, the good news is that the 85mm f/1.8 is more than just a good lens. It is an excellent lens for portrait work and will deliver some of the best-looking images and that too, without any issues that you might experience.
Sigma 17-50mm – Best Zoom Lens for Nikon D3100
Sigma 17-50mm takes good care of chromatic aberration and provides quick autofocus with image stabilization.
I still remember the first time I got into photography, nearly every photographer I met or talked to was using a prime lens with no regard to a zoom lens and at that moment, it seemed like zoom lenses are not as popular or are generally not needed, in the first place.
Then I used the 24-70mm standard zoom lens and I realized how I have been missing out on so much when it comes to lenses, and ever since that time, I have mostly stuck with zoom lenses. Not that the prime lenses are not as good but zoom lenses provide a different level of flexibility, which is great.
With that said, the Sigma 17-50mm is a great lens to add to your arsenal if you are looking to make your photography even better. It offers one of the most solid build qualities that you are going to find in a lens and has an excellent center and corner sharpness, which helps with even better-looking images.
The lens handles chromatic aberration well and has one of the best focusing systems that are both silent, quick, and gets the focus right all the time.
However, the best feature of this lens is its image stabilization, which remains solid regardless of the shooting conditions, and whether you are shooting videos or indoor photography, this is a great lens for both thanks to the image stabilization.
There is not much to dislike about this lens, to be honest. It does have a few issues, to be honest. For starters, some vignetting issues might come in the way, and the manual focus ring is not something that is properly implemented.
Overall, I would say that despite being old, the Sigma 17-50mm knocks it out of the park by being one of the more surprising lenses. Wherein, the lens does have excellent image quality and offers a lot of great features that will let you want to keep using the lens for a longer time.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – Best Walk Around Lens for Nikon D3100
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is compact and lightweight. This lens is the sharpest lens in its price range and that is always a plus point.
The next lens that we are looking at is the one lens that nearly every photographer should have. Whether you are a professional or just a hobbyist, this lens is going to make your photography experience so much better and you will have fun taking pictures, as well.
Of course, I am talking about the legendary Nikon 50mm f/1.8. Now, I know that this is an entry-level lens but it never worked like one, to begin with. For starters, you are looking at one of the sharpest lenses in the market in its price range, and the results it produces are amazing.
The lens is also one of the more compact offerings available in the market, as it is not going to create any hassles for you as far as carrying it around is concerned. After all, a smaller lens is what most people want, to begin with.
However, the one thing that makes this lens what it happens to be the fast f/1.8 aperture as it allows a ton of light in and results in some of the best pictures that you can get with beautiful bokeh and shallow depth of field, as well.
Honestly, my only concern with this otherwise excellent lens is that there is no vibration reduction. This could have been a fun feature to had but it is missing from this lens and that is a concern for most people, to begin with.
Overall, I would say that the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is the lens that one should simply not miss. It delivers excellent performance for the price you are paying for this lens and the best part is that it is not going to create any hindrances for anyone, either.
Sigma 150-600mm – Best Lens for Nikon D3100 for Wildlife
Sigma 150-600mm comes with a tripod collar and a lens hood. Its zoom locking mechanism is great to have for wildlife pictures.
We have all been in a situation where we realized that wildlife photography is confusing for a lot of us and there is nothing wrong with it, either. For starters, wildlife photography is mostly done in a professional capacity. This means that for a lot of people, the idea of spending money on a lens that is specifically built for wildlife photography does not make as much sense.
That is not to say that the market does not see a demand for such lenses, in the first place. Take a look at the Sigma 150-60mm lens, to begin with. This is one of the finest lenses that are made for sports or wildlife photography and the best part about this lens is that it is not going to cost you a lot.
So, what makes me recommend this lens? Well, a lot of things, to be honest. For starters, it offers excellent telephoto reach, something that a lot of other lenses can barely rival, and you must be looking at such characteristics whenever you are in the market looking for a lens.
Another great thing is that the lens is one of the sharpest lenses that you are going to get. This surprised me the most as zoom ranges that extend this far normally do not have good sharpness, and they suffer but not this lens as it performs incredibly.
The lens also brings a tripod collar and a lens hood, two things that I have always admired in a lens, and you will not be disappointed or let down by this, either. The lens also has one of the quickest autofocusing systems, making it a great lens for everyone.
You are also getting one of the best image stabilization systems. Which I believe is a must-have for lenses that zoom this much. Speaking of zoom, you also have one of the best zoom locking mechanisms, and last but not the least, the lens is not going to cost you a lot of money, so that is always a good way to get started.
Not everything is perfect on the lens, though. For starters, there is some degree of chromatic aberration on this lens. There is some pincushion distortion as well, and the narrow aperture might make some photographers look the other way. Not to forget, the lens is on the heavier side and still not fully dust and splash protected.
Overall, Sigma has done an excellent job with the 150-600mm. I understand that this focal range is not at all easy to work with for a lot of people but if you are a wildlife or sports photographer and you want a lens that gets everything done, this is the one you should be investing in.
Nikon 24mm f/1.8 – Best Lens for Wide-Angle Photography
Nikon 24mm f/1.8 provides a fast and bright aperture for some amazing shots. This lens is great for landscape, architecture, and even astrophotography.
Wide-angle photography is my favorite. Yes, I know the term I used is very wide and can contain so many other aspects to itself, as well but hear me out, you can easily take some amazing pictures when you do have a good wide-angle lens, and speaking of wide-angle lenses, there is no shortage of these amazing lenses in the market, either.
So, what seems to be the issue? Well, nothing. The Nikon 24mm f/1.8 takes care of most of the issues that you might have whenever you are trying to get some really good shots or get a good-performing lens. I understand that this might not be the case for a lot of people, especially under the state of confusion but buying a good lens is not going to be complicated, at all.
With that said, it is important to figure out that this is an excellent lens for a lot of reasons. For starters, you are going to get excellent architectural shots, as well as landscape and astrophotography. I know, this is the case of the one lens ruling them all and it works really, well.
Despite its oddly large size, the lens is lightweight and can be carried around with ease, too. This very well becomes an excellent walk-around lens that can easily take some stunning pictures without having to work too hard for them.
Unlike some of the other 24mm lenses in the market, the one thing that sets this lens apart the most is that this comes with an f/1.8 maximum aperture, which makes everything a lot better since you can take some stunning pictures with ease.
There are not a lot of problems with this lens, to be honest. Sure, it is not good for macro shots or shots in harsher weather, but aside from that, the only thing that I noticed is that it is oddly large for a 24mm lens.
Overall, the Nikon 24mm f/1.8 delivers what I would call one of the most consistent performances in any lens that I can talk about. It is an excellent lens for taking pictures of various subjects, and perspectives, and delivers the same great result every single time. You simply cannot go wrong with this lens.
Nikon 70-200mm – Best Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon D3100
Nikon 70-200mm offers good optical stabilization. This lens maintains an f/2.8 aperture across the zoom range and is a great telephoto zoom lens one can buy.
Telephoto zoom lenses are not my favorite, to be honest. The simplest reason is that my style of photography has very little room for any telephoto zoom lens but that does not mean that I am not aware of these lenses, or I do not appreciate these lenses.
A good lens is to be appreciated and as long as you are not wasting your money on it, then there is no point in not going for a good lens, to begin with. With that said, the Nikon 70-200mm is a great lens to have and for multiple reasons, to be honest. The 70-200mm is generally considered a favorable zoom range, as well.
So, what is so good about this lens? Well, a lot of things, to be honest. For starters, this is one of the sharpest lenses available in the market; this goes for both the center and edge sharpness. Another thing that I would like to make clear here is that this lens manages to maintain an f/2.8 throughout the entire zoom range and it is a great experience.
You are also getting access to optical image stabilization, which is good to have on a zoom lens. Allows you to zoom in and out of the frame without having to worry about any shakiness causing issues.
Nikon has also done a great job with the build quality of this lens as it delivers excellent build quality that makes you feel like you have spent money on something that deserves the price.
Last but not the least, the rotating tripod collar is good to have as it allows you to take some nice looking pictures and that too, without any problems that could come in the way, otherwise. I would always suggest that you are looking into such a lens.
There are a few things that you should know about this lens before you drop the money. For starters, there is some distortion to be found in the pictures, and the corners can be dimmer at f/2.8 for some reason.
Overall, the Nikon 70-200mm is one of the best lenses available and you cannot argue against it. If you are in a field where the use of a telephoto zoom lens is a must, then getting this lens is the most sensible thing that one can do because of how good it is when it comes to delivering consistent performance.
Nikon 24-70mm – Best Standard Zoom Lens for D3100
Nikon 24-70mm performs well against flare and ghosting. This lens has excellent center sharpness at every focal length.
Standard zoom lenses have come a long way. Gone are the days when these lenses were ostracized because they did not deliver a performance good enough. Modern lenses are much better, to a point that people are not paying attention to some of the other offerings.
That is not to say that the other lenses like prime lenses or telephoto lenses are not as important or as good. However, if you are genuinely looking for a lens that can do it all, a standard zoom lens is a great way to go.
Now, the Nikon 24-70mm is a great lens from a lot of perspectives, to be honest. Over the past couple of years, the 24-70mm zoom range has become a lot more common and more importantly, a lot better in terms of the overall experience as well. If you are looking for a good lens, then this is the one that you should be going for.
Now, the good news is that the lens offers excellent central resolution and sharpness, and manages to maintain it throughout its focal length range, which is always excellent, to say the least. You are also looking at excellent contrast on the lens.
The fact that you are getting an f/2.8 wide aperture is great for such a lens as you can use this lens in varying lighting conditions and more importantly, varying photography styles, too. The point is that you are getting a great lens for the price you are paying here.
Last but not the least, I love how this lens manages flare and ghosting issues. These are common issues in lenses but this lens barely has any issues handling either of them, making your pictures look amazing.
With that said, there are a few downsides that I would like to address. For starters, the corner sharpness on this lens suffers a bit and the zoom mechanism sample is not as smooth as people would prefer
The great thing here is that the Nikon 24-70mm can easily be one of the best lenses that are available in the market and for a lot of reasons. It is an excellent lens and if you are just starting, or you have been taking pictures for as long as you can.
Difference Between Nikon D3100 and D3200?
Now that we are done looking at the best lenses that you can get for the Nikon D3100, it brings us to the next question which is about the differences between the Nikon D3100 and D3200. Although they both might seem identical, belonging to the same difference but the Nikon D3200 is a big step up from the D3100.
Now, that is not to say that the D3100 is not a camera that you should be using or going for. If you are low on budget and want to get started with photography, this is where you are going to get a good experience.
With that said, the Nikon D3200 offers a higher resolution sensor at 24-megapixel whereas the D3100 tops at 14-megapixel. We all know that megapixels do not make sense but in this case, you are looking at an entirely upgraded sensor.
Additionally, the Nikon D3200 offers better ISO support at 6,400 max ISO, whereas the D3100 ends at 3,200. Again, I would not suggest going that high on the ISO, but it still is a nice change in such situations where you are forced to use a higher ISO.
Additionally, the LCD resolution on the Nikon D3200 is better at 921k dots as opposed to 230k dots on the D3100, which is another huge improvement you are getting to see.
The Nikon D3200 gets faster shooting at 4.0 fps as opposed to 3.0 fps on the Nikon D3100. Not a massive improvement but these cameras were never really meant for fast-paced shooting.
The Nikon D3200 also brings a microphone port and offers a better color depth of 24.1 vs 22.5. It also has higher stops of dynamic range at 13.2 as opposed to the 11.3 stops for the Nikon D3100.
Last but not the least, the Nikon D3200 does offer UHS card support, whereas the Nikon D3100 lacks that entirely.
These are some of the most common differences between the Nikon D3200 and D3100. Rest assured, both cameras are still very capable of delivering great performance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Reviewing the best lenses for Nikon D3100 was not as easy for me because I was under the impression that the camera might bottleneck the lenses. Thankfully, Nikon’s excellent control and dedication to excellent cameras ensured that the D3100 is still one of the most demanded cameras.
If you are looking to get started with photography all over again, the Nikon D3100 is a great camera, and the lenses that I have reviewed will allow you to rejuvenate your love for photography and take some amazing shots while you are at it.
Hey, I’m Gary Sindell from beautiful Vancouver. A passionate photographer turned ‘Lens Guru’, I’ll help you discover the power of the right lens and elevate your photography game.