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Best Nikon Lenses for Sports (Zoom & Prime) Reviewed

Sports photography is one of the more exciting forms of photography because, unlike others, you cannot just chuck on any lens on your camera and call it a day. You not only need a good camera with good shooting speed but also a lens that can zoom out or zoom in based on the situation you are in.

That is why you mostly see zoom lenses when talking about sports photography and we have decided to look at the best Nikon lenses that serve the purpose, too. Most of these lenses do offer some zoom capabilities, but there are a few prime lenses thrown into the mix, as well.

The best lens that I can think of is the Tamron SP 70-200mm, not only does it have excellent specifications, but the constant f/2.8 across the entire zoom range is an excellent option to have, considering how carrying an external flash is not the easiest thing to do.

Best Nikon Zoom Lenses for Sports Photography

Let’s start with getting the zoom lenses out of the way; these are more suited for users who want to be able to capture every

So, let’s not waste time and get started.

Tamron SP 70-200mm

Tamron SP 70-200mm – Best Overall Lens

Tamron SP 70-200mm comes with optical stabilization and f/2.8 constant aperture. The build quality is one of the highlights of this lens.

We are starting this roundup with a bang and one of my favorite lenses of all time. Granted, I never really liked Tamron in the start but it took some getting used to realize that they make some of the best lenses, and the Tamron SP 70-200mm is one of them.

The lens is excellent for sports or wildlife thanks to its optical image stabilization, which compensates for the size of the lens. The bright f/2.8 aperture ensures that regardless of the lighting condition you are in, you are not going to take photos that look dark and the sturdy build quality completes the package.

You are also getting fully compatible with a teleconverter, and the fact that this does come with a tripod collar is good to have. This is one of the best Nikon lenses for videos, too. This serves as one of the Nikon lenses for sports video.

There are a few things that I did not like about the lens, though. For starters, the flare resistance on this lens is not the best, and the sharpness takes a hit when you are shooting at 200mm but that is expected of most of the zoom lenses that are available in the market.

Tamron SP 70-200mm Sample Image
Tamron SP 70-200mm Sample Image

Overall, the Tamron SP 70-200mm serves as an excellent lens that one can use for sports photography. If you are in a situation where you can use the zoom capabilities, you can use these best Nikon lenses for sports photography for other purposes as well thanks to how bright and versatile it is, which is always a must-have in all the lenses in the market.


  • The lens offers excellent images.
  • The optical stabilization is great to have.
  • You are getting full teleconverter support.
  • f/2.8 constant aperture does not disappoint.
  • The build quality is one of the highlights of this lens.


  • Sharpness often gets compromised at 200mm.
  • The flare resistance is not the strongest.
Check Latest Price for Tamron SP 70-200mm
Tamron SP 150-600mm

Tamron SP 150-600mm – Best Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon

Tamron SP 150-600mm offers good sharpness across the zoom range. The autofocus is one of the quickest you can ask for.

I am not going to kid you when I say that there are some lenses that I have reviewed that I found physically intimidating. These lenses made me go “How am I even supposed to use this thing” and the Tamron SP 150-600mm is that lens. Well, it was, at first sight. Then I got started with using it and realized that this lens is a lot better than one might think.

For starters, the telephoto zoom lens is one of the sharpness throughout most of its range, and the stabilization system is excellent for your sports videos and pictures. The autofocusing system is also one of the best, to be honest.

Even the zoom mechanism is excellent as you can always look at it and the tripod collar can always rotate, giving you plenty of freedom as to how you are taking your shots and videos. Tamron has taken things further by adding an integrated Arca-Swiss foot for the best usability that one can imagine.

Not just that, the telephoto lens also comes with a weather-sealed design. Which I believe is a must-have for almost every sports photography lens, because you never know what sort of shooting situations you are going to get into.

There are a few issues with this lens, though. For starters, the edge performance at wide and telephoto extremes is not as good and if you are planning on using a teleconverter, then it might limit the autofocus functionality, as well.

Tamron SP 150-600mm Sample Image
Tamron SP 150-600mm Sample Image

Honestly, at first, I thought that the Tamron SP 150-600mm will fail to deliver but after carrying it around with me on a few events, I have realized that it is not only one of the best lenses, it is also one of the Nikon telephoto lenses for sport.


  • The tripod collar can rotate easily.
  • The image stabilization on this lens is excellent.
  • The autofocus is one of the quickest you can ask for.
  • The lens offers good sharpness across the zoom range.
  • The zoom mechanism can lock itself to give you proper control.


  • The edge performance can suffer on both telephoto and wide-angle extremes.
  • Using a teleconverter can limit the overall autofocusing features.
Check Latest Price for Tamron SP 150-600mm
Nikon 55-300mm

Nikon 55-300mm – Best Zoom Lenses for Nikon DX Cameras

Nikon 55-300mm has good lightweight build quality and is the best value for money.

There is no denying that now and then you find yourself coming across a lens that does not look as excellent on paper but it surprises the life out of you when you start using it. Especially the lenses that are on the cheaper end, because those are more prone to running into such issues.

Well, these were my thoughts about the Nikon 55-300mm, or at least until I got the chance to use it but once I got started with it. I realized that I had been missing out on a hidden gem because this lens is excellent in every single case, and you will not be let down when you are spending money on this lens.

From the looks of it, the lens does not look like it is going to give you the performance that you so desire but it has one of the better optical performances that you could ask from a sports lens. That is not all though, the lens itself is one of the lighter weight lenses available in the market which is always a big plus in such cases as you are not spending money on something that is not good enough.

With that said, if you are looking for a lens that is going to deliver consistent results, this is good but be sure that you have enough light for the lens to work.

As far as the things that I did not like, the lens ends up extending and the focus ring also rotates during autofocus which could distract the unsuspecting users. The lens also has some delay before the VR system works.

Nikon 55-300mm Sample Image
Nikon 55-300mm Sample Image

Overall, the Nikon 55-300mm is a respectable lens, I would say. I can even go as far as calling it one of the best zoom lenses for sports because that is exactly how this lens performed and that is saying something.


  • Good build quality.
  • An excellent value for money.
  • The optical performance on this lens is good.
  • The lens is lightweight and easy to carry around.


  • The VR does not kick in as quickly as it should.
  • The lens extends during the zoom and the autofocus ring rotates when you are focusing.

Check Latest Price for Nikon 55-300mm
Nikon 24-70mm

Nikon 24-70mm – Best Standard Zoom Lens for Nikon Cameras

Nikon 24-70mm comes with a constant f/2.8 aperture. The lens is sharp across the range, which is excellent.

The thing that people often ask me is what my favorite lens type is or what sort of focal length range I prefer and my answer is always pointing towards the 24-70mm lenses. Whether you are looking at these lenses as a Sony user, a Canon user, or in this case, a Nikon user, you cannot go wrong with them at all.

The point is simple, by offering you this focal range, you are getting access to multiple focal lengths at the same time. However, that is not even the best part. These lenses usually ship with a constant f/2.8 aperture across the entire focal range, which is excellent for all sorts of photography and will certainly not let you down in any case.

With that said, the offering from the Nikon camera lens is great for several reasons. For starters, this is a fully optically stabilized lens that is available for you. The constant f/2.8 aperture gives it one of the best shooting experiences regardless of how well-lit or not the event is.

The lens also offers incredible sharpness across the board. So, it is evident that you will not be let down by how well it performs. Not to forget, you are also getting one of the best build qualities in any lens that you can imagine, to be honest. Which is always a plus point in my books.

Nikon 24-70mm Sample Image
Nikon 24-70mm Sample Image

With so much to love about this lens, my only concern here is that the lens does suffer when you are talking about the edge performance. A common gripe I have seen in so many lenses that are of this focal range, so I cannot complain a lot about that here. This lens, without a doubt, is one of the best Nikon lenses for indoor sports photography.


  • The lens offers an optically stabilized design.
  • The constant f/2.8 aperture is a solid offering.
  • Lastly, the build quality on this lens is amazing.
  • The lens is sharp across the range, which is excellent.


  • There are some edge performance issues at the wider apertures.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 24-70mm
Sigma 120-300mm

Sigma 120-300mm – Best High-End Lens for Sports Photography

Sigma 120-300mm gives you brilliant coverage. The fast f/2.8 aperture is one of the best things.

There is no denying that Sigma lenses are among the best in the market, and that has been the case for as long as we can remember. Sigma has made some excellent lenses and is continuing to do so. If you are looking for a good lens that carries a premium but does deliver on all the fronts, you are at the right place.

We are indeed talking about the Sigma 120-300mm and I can tell you already that this is one promising lens that you can invest money in. The lens offers a constant f/2.8 aperture, and it is one of the best in terms of how bright it is.

The focal length range might look odd to some but allows the lens enough versatility to be used in various situations. The range coverage is also great, and the fact that the lens can be calibrated to meet your requirements is only an added benefit here, to be honest.

However, there are a few quirks to this lens that you might not want to sit well. For starters, this is one heavy lens, and the fact that it lacks any sort of image stabilization means that it is not as ideal for videos.

Sigma 120-300mm Sample Image
Sigma 120-300mm Sample Image

Overall, the Sigma 120-30mm is a promising lens on a lot of fronts and delivers exceptionally well-balanced performance and excellent image quality. There is not much to dislike about this lens, in the first place and if you have the budget for it, buying this lens would be the wiser decision.


  • You get pretty good coverage.
  • Great price to performance ratio.
  • The lens can easily be calibrated.
  • The fast f/2.8 aperture is one of the best things.


  • The lens lacks any sort of image stabilization.
Check Latest Price for Sigma 120-300mm
Nikon Z 70-200mm

Nikon Z 70-200mm – Best Nikon Z Lens for Sports Photography

Nikon Z 70-200mm comes with excellent optics and is protected against dust, splash, and anti-smudge protection.

It is admissible that Nikon took its time to finally come to the mirrorless side of things but when they did, they did it the right way instead of rushing. The Z mount is now the standard for all mirrorless Nikon cameras, and while you can still go for adaptive lenses, if it is nativity you want, Nikon has refreshed their classic lenses, too.

The Nikon Z 70-200mm is perhaps the best sports lens for your Nikon Z camera, and honestly, it delivers on all fronts, too. For starters, you are getting excellent optical quality resulting in sharp images. The bright f/2.8 aperture is excellent to have and the focus hunting is minimal, to say the least.

You are also getting dust, splash, anti-smudge protection, and full compatibility with teleconverters that you might want to use.

Sadly, my biggest and only issue here is that the tripod foot on the lens is not Arca compatible and that might hinder the overall usability with some of the tripods available in the market.

Nikon Z 70-200mm Sample Image
Credits: Lens Tip

Overall, the Nikon Z 70-200mm is an excellent lens that is made for people who want the best regardless of the price that they are going to pay. It works well, is excellent all around, and can be used with enough versatility.


  • The lens offers excellent optics.
  • The autofocus is quick and quiet.
  • There is barely any focus hunting.
  • The lens is protected against dust, splash, and anti-smudge protection.


  • The tripod foot on this lens is not Arca compatible.
Check Latest Price for Nikon Z 70-200mm

Best Nikon Prime Lenses for Sports Photography

I know, I know. Why would I want to use a prime lens for sports photography, right? That too, with a wider angle or a fixed focal length. Well, sometimes, you do have to understand that sports photography is more than just capturing all the action. Sometimes, you want to get some intimate moments that show that sports are not all about the person playing them, but it is also about those who are attending them.

With that said, the best Nikon prime lenses, are for your consideration.

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G – Best Lens for Nikon DX Cameras

Nikon 35mm f/1.8G is really inexpensive and produces sharp and crisp images in all situations.

People rarely look at a prime lens and talk about how that would make up for a good lens for sports photography, especially if you are outdoors. However, the thing about sports videography and photography is that you often need multiple lenses.

Zoom lenses for getting up and close with the action and wide-angle lenses for capturing the entirety of the scene. This is where the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G comes into place as it is one of the most inexpensive lenses available in the market, and gets the job done, unlike any other lens you could think of.

The lens barely costs anything, but that is not all. You are getting a constant f/1.8 aperture, and the lens itself is both compact and light. So, if you do want to carry it around, which you will be doing a lot of, this is the lens that you should be going for.

Another thing that I love about this lens is how crisp and sharp the images come out to be. I found myself to be surprised considering how this lens barely costs anything as compared to its similar-performing counterparts in the market.

Honestly, my only issue with this lens is that there was some barrel distortion to be found but nothing that is going to ruin the picture for you.

Nikon 35mm Sample Image
Nikon 35mm Sample Image

Simply put, if you are looking for a good lens for sports, then this lens has to be on your list because not only is it an excellent lens for sports or even photography, it acts as one of the best Nikon DX lenses in the market, and that is something that you should not be overlooking.


  • The lens is ridiculously inexpensive.
  • The bright f/1.8 aperture is great to have.
  • Produces sharp and crisp images in all situations.
  • The lens can be carried around easily thanks to its lightweight size.


  • There is some barrel distortion.
  • The lens does not have any optical image stabilization.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 – Best Nikon Lens for Sports Portrait

Sigma 85mm f/1.4 is the best lens with a wide-open aperture. It is great for sports, events, street, and architecture photography.

What if I tell you that sports photography is not all about taking pictures and videos of what’s happening on the race track or the ringside, or in the field it is also about capturing some of the more intimidating behind the scenes where photographers come face to face with athletes?

Because, yes, that is the case. You see, sports photography is a different beast altogether, and that is one of the main reasons why you see these event photographers kitted with all the lenses that one could imagine. Going to a sports event with a single lens to cover it is a bad mistake do try the Nikon lens for sports.

The Sigma 85mm f/1.4 proves just that, as it is not the lens that is made for covering what is happening on the field or the ringside but more so for capturing what is happening backstage, and it is one of the best lenses for that.

I have always loved Sigma lenses and this one gets the job done. It is excellent for portraits and low-light event shooting. Thanks to how well it is made, it can also go with you wherever you take it and you will never be disappointed in the results that it produces because they have always been excellent in our case.

You are looking at a very versatile lens with a bright aperture that makes taking images a lot of fun, and since it is a multi-purpose lens, you are never really out of options here.

Sigma 85m Sample Image
Sigma 85mm Sample Image

My only issue here is that when you are shooting at f/1.4, you have to mind the lighting condition a bit because, at a wide-open aperture, it lets a lot of light in. Generally, this is never a bad thing but under those situations, it becomes difficult to deal with.


  • Great build qualities.
  • One of the best lenses with a wide-open aperture.
  • The images come out looking as sharp as they can get.
  • Great for sports, event, street, and architecture photography.


  • Shooting at f/1.4 can introduce some harsh lighting.
Check Latest Price for Sigma 85mm f/1.4

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, prime lenses are excellent for sports photography. While they might not be that useful while you are trying to capture the caption, for, behind the scenes photography, they are excellent.

If you are looking at the best overall lens for sports photography, keeping up a lens with 70-200mm focal length would be great. This would allow you to zoom in and out on the fly, and make drastic changes to the field of view as well. Look at the Tamron SP 70-200mm that I reviewed earlier.

That depends on the lens you are shooting with. If you have to be stationary and you want steady shots, then using a tripod is a great way of getting things sorted. If not, then you can use the lens handheld with ease.


I have already mentioned that sports photography is a different kind of beast altogether. You cannot make do with just a single lens, and it is always a combination of lenses to get you through. That is why this round-up comprises some of the best zoom and prime lenses to make your sports photography endeavor a lot easier.

Most lenses that I have reviewed offer a fixed, bright aperture because lugging around an external flash or light is never an easy thing at a sports event.

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