A Guide to The Best Lenses for the Nikon D3200

The Nikon D3200 is still an excellent choice for photography. This is in part because of the the 24.2 megapixel sensor.

What makes the D3200 shine are the great Nikon DX lenses that are available. There are lenses for all types of photography such as wildlife, landscapes, sports, portraits, street, travel, product, and macro.

There are lens compatibility factors that need to be taken into account. Most notably, AF-P lenses are not compatible with the D3200.

List of the best lenses for the Nikon D3200:

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  1. Best Zoom Lens - Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR
  2. Best Wide Angle Lens - Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II
  3. Best Telephoto Lens - Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G
  4. Best First Prime - Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G
  5. Best Macro Lens - Nikon Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G
  6. Best All in One Lens - Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR

Understanding which lens type is suitable for your photography needs is essential. Here are some common types of photography and the lens types they typically require:

  • Portrait Photography: Prime lenses with wide apertures, such as the AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G or the AF-S DX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G, are excellent choices.
  • Landscape Photography: Wide-angle lenses like the AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR are ideal.
  • Wildlife or Sports Photography: Telephoto lenses, such as the AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR, offer the required reach.
  • Macro Photography: Macro lenses, like the AF-S DX Micro NIKKOR 85mm f/3.5G ED VR, allow you to capture small details.

The most affordable and good zoom lens is the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 G, a kit lens originally sold with the Nikon D3200. The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G is going to be omitted as the majority of people likely already own it.

Wide zooms are discussed further down the page.

Telephoto zoom lenses are perfect with the Nikon D3200 for portraits, action,wildlife, sports, or any distant subject.

Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Telephoto Zoom Lens
Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G
  • Silent Wave Motor for Fast and Quiet Autofocus
  • Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization for Superb Handheld Shots
  • Gives You a Massive Focal Length Coverage
  • Excellent Focal Length for Wildlife Photography with the Nikon D3200

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The biggest draw of the Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G is the range the lens has combined with image stabilization. It’s going to be an excellent choice anytime you find it challenging to move closer to what you would like to photograph. Like the other zooms, the aperture of f/5.6 at the far end of the zoom range is a little small, wider aperture alternatives are much more.

You won’t have to break the bank to get this zoom lens. There are a bunch of pre-owned copies on the market as it was included with the Nikon D5500, D5600, and D3400.

The considerable zoom range of the lens is constructed of 17 elements in 11 groups. Two of the elements are extra-low dispersion and one is a high refractive index element to ensure sharp images.

It weighs in at 580g (18.7 oz), with dimensions of (Diameter x Length) 3.0 in. (76.5 mm) x 4.8 in. (123 mm). While not small, it can still easily be carried around on the camera or in your bag.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR Zoom Lens
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G
  • Excellent Value When Purchased Second hand
  • Silent Wave Motor for Accurate Autofocus
  • Fantastic for Wildlife, Sports, Action, & Portraits
  • 2 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Lens Elements
  • (VR) Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization

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The Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5. 6G was quite often sold with the D3200, D3300, and D3100 dslrs. It’s a outstanding deal when purchased second-hand.

A copy in decent cosmetic condition is found for not even half the going rate a pre-owned Nikon 55-300mm.

The only drawback of the 55-200mm is the 100mm reduction in reach. It still has VR image stabilization and to help you get sharp images when shooting hand-held.

One positive aspect of the lens is that carrying it around won’t be a problem. It weighs 335g (11.8 oz) with dimensions of (Diameter x Length) 2.9 in. (73.6 mm) x 3.9 in. (99.5 mm).

Tamron 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD Super Zoom Lens
Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6
  • Ultra Silent Drive (USD) Autofocus Motor
  • Extra Low Dispersion (XLD) Glass Element
  • Broad-Band Anti-Reflection (BBAR) Lens Coating
  • 9 Aperture Blades for Beautiful Bokeh
  • Minimal focus distance 59.1"

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The Tamron 70-300mm is a very good choice if you want 300mm of reach, but don’t want to pay for the 55-300mm from Nikon.

One big shortcoming is the lack of image stabilization. This will make it challenging to get sharp images hand holding the lens.

Similar optical image stabilization is integrated in the Tamron as found in the Nikons. All of them have extra-low dispersion elements and anti-reflective lens coatings.

The lens weighs 16.1oz (458g). It has a length of 5.6" and diameter of 3.2".

A wide angle lens is very useful for landscapes, astrophotography, architecture, group photos, real estate photography, and more.

One thing to watch out for is the wide angle causing strong distortion. Portraits can be a problem as noses or any body part close to the camera lens will appear deformed.

A benefit of a wide angle is that image stabilization is less essential. Little vibrations of movements are not as likely to be noticed in a photo.

Having a fast maximum aperture is critical for astrophotography. {To get the most impressive photos, you want at least a f/4, if not f/2.8 aperture|For the best images, you want the maximum aperture to be at least f/4.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8
  • Perfect selection for night photography
  • Fast f/2.8 Maximum Aperture
  • 77mm Front Filter Threads
  • Focus Clutch Style M/A Selector

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The Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 is fast and sharp. With a large aperture, this lens is a good selection for astrophotography.

One key feature of the lens is the focus clutch that controls changing between manual focus and autofocus. To switch focus, the entire focus ring is either pushed forward or pulled back.

The built-in autofocus motor is loud. This often is a big problem if you need quiet operation when shooting at an event.

The lens is rather large, weighing 550g (1.21 lbs) with dimensions of 4.02 x 4.02 x 4.02 in (L x W x H)

Be careful when you look to shop for the lens. Tokina also makes versions that use a different lens mount like the Canon EF or Sony A mounts. Check to make sure the lens you get is compatible with Nikon cameras.

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD Aspherical Wideangle Zoom Lens
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5
  • Hyper-Sonic Motor (HSM)
  • Ultra-wide angle lens
  • Internal Focus and Excellent Build Quality
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Built with Aspherical Elements that Reduce Distortion

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The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 falls into the same price range as the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. It has a larger zoom range, but a slightly smaller maximum aperture.

At 10mm the lens is going to produce an exaggerated distorted perspective. You’re likely going to see distortion, which you can reduce through post-processing.

4 aspherical elements have been used to help reduce distortion and aberrations. In total there are 13 lens elements in 10 groups to ensure the best image quality possible.

All that glass doesn’t make the lens too heavy, coming in at a weight of 520g (18.3 oz). Dimensions are diameter of 3.4" (87.3mm) and length of 3.5" (88.2mm).

Be careful if you are looking to purchase this lens. Sigma also made copies of the lens for other DSLR camera mounts including, Canon EF, Sony A, and Pentax K mounts. Make sure the one you buy uses the Nikon F lens mount.

The 55-300mm & 55-200mm lenses covered in the zoom section are also the lenses to look for first if you need a telephoto lens.

This section is going to take a look at telephoto prime lenses for sports, action, wildlife, and portrait photography. There is no shortage of these lenses available for the Nikon F-mount.

However, telephoto prime lenses tend to be expensive because the amount of optics that need to be implimented. The weight of the lens and ergonomics when mounted on a camera body need to be taken into account. The right lens the one that is easy to handle and use so you can capture memorable pictures.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Prime Telephoto Portrait Lens
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
  • Best Lens for Portraits
  • Internal Focus (IF)
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Superb Color Reproduction

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The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is one of the best Nikon lenses for professional photographers. It is a fast lens that delivers excellent images and pleasing bokeh.

The 85mm 1.8G is a full frame lens. You’ll notice two differences when comparing it against a DX lens.

First, full frame lenses are usually more expensive than DX lenses. They have larger lens elements, which translates to additional cost.

Second, the lens is larger than many DX lenses. While not a huge issue, if you plan to carry it around with another lens, you’ll definitely need a bag.

Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Standard Prime Lens
Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
  • Outstanding Lens with a Fast Aperture
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Small and Lightweight
  • Excellent Pick for Low Light Photography

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Taking the crop factor focal length multiplier into account, this lens could be thought of as a short telephoto lens. It is a low cost fast prime that can be employed for portraits and indoor photography.

The FX 50mm f/1.8G provides more reach than the DX 35mm f/1.8G, while still having a similar price.

There won’t huge differences between the lenses. With the 50mm, you’ll get a bit more reach and have a less difficult time blurring the background.

It weighs 185g (6.6 oz) and has dimensions of (Diameter x Length) 2.83" x 2.01".

Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G Standard Prime Focal Length Lens
Nikon 35mm f/1.8G
  • Very Accurate Autofocus Performance
  • Takes Great Pictures in Challenging Lighting Situations
  • Excellent Nikon D3200 lens for street photography
  • High Build Quality
  • Best option for an all around lens

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The Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G is the best first prime lens to get for the Nikon D3200.

A maximum aperture of f/1.8, means you’ll be able to isolate your subjects and create beautiful bokeh. Indoors the lens is fast enough to where you will not need to use flash.

With a 35mm equivalent field of view of 52.5mm, you’ll have a “standard” field of view. Your photos will have a perspective that is similar to what is seen by human eyes.

Weighing just 200g (7oz), there’s never a reason not to have the lens with you. With dimensions of (Diameter x Length) 2.8 in. (70 mm) x 2.1 in. (52.5 mm), you can easily keep it in a coat pocket or bag.

Macro photography starts with a reproduction ratio of 1:1. That 1:1 ratio can also be referred to as life size or 1X magnification.

Those terms all mean that the subject being photographed is the same size as the camera’s sensor. Popular subjects are insects, coins, flowers, copy work and academic subjects.

There are other ways to achieve macro magnification, such as extensions tubes. Personally, I find that a macro lens easier to use and gives better results. That’s because a macro lens has a large minimum focus distance.

As a quick note, Nikon branded their macros as Micro-Nikkor lenses. This is a constant source of confusion as micro and macro have opposite meanings.

Nikon Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G Macro Lens
Nikon Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G
  • Close-Range Correction System (CRC)
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio of 1X
  • Well Built with a Rubber Sealing Mount Protects Against Dust and Moisture
  • Excellent option for Close Ups

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The Nikon Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G is the best selection for getting started with macro and close-up photography with the Nikon D3200.

As far as modern macro lenses go, the lens is relatively inexpensive. It also has a high-quality autofocus motor and uses current optics.

This means the lens can also be utilized for general photography. That’s not the case with older macros, as their image quality only becomes razor sharp after the aperture has been stopped down.

The lens weighs 235g (8.3 oz) with dimensions (diameter x length) of 2.7 in. (68.5 mm) x 2.5 in. (64.5 mm).

Nikon AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR Telephoto Macro Lens
Nikon Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC) to reduce Chromatic Aberration
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio of 1X
  • Built with Internal Focus (IF)
  • VR - Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization

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The primary benefit of the 85mm macro lens over the 40mm is a longer working distance. That’s the distance from the front of the lens to the subject.

At 1X magnification, the front of the lens is going to be close to the subject. If you are trying to photograph an insect, this may cause them to try to get away.

Another issue could be properly lighting a subject. Depending on your light source it could be laborious to get it setup without the lens blocking it.

The downside is that a little more working distance adds to the cost of the lens.

While not the primary purpose of the lens, it can be used for portraits, but the f/3.5 maximum aperture might not create the best background bokeh.

For a beginner, understanding lens basics is crucial:

  • Focal Length: This is the distance between the lens and the image sensor when the subject is in focus, typically expressed in millimeters (mm). It determines the lens’s field of view.
  • Aperture: This refers to the opening in the lens through which light enters the camera. It controls the depth of field and amount of light entering the camera.
  • Image Stabilization: This helps to reduce blur caused by camera shake, especially crucial when shooting handheld or in low light.
  • Auto-Focus vs. Manual Focus: Auto-focus (AF) lenses automatically focus on the subject, while manual focus (MF) lenses require you to adjust the focus manually.

The Nikon D3200 uses F-mount lenses, a feature shared across the majority of Nikon DSLR cameras. As such, any DX or FX lens with an F-mount will work with the D3200. There are different types of lenses available:

  • Prime Lenses: These have a fixed focal length, offering superior image quality and large apertures for low-light conditions.
  • Zoom Lenses: These have a range of focal lengths, providing flexibility in framing and composition.
  • Wide-Angle Lenses: These lenses have a wider field of view, ideal for capturing landscapes or large group shots.
  • Telephoto Lenses: These have longer focal lengths, perfect for capturing subjects from a distance.
  • Macro Lenses: These lenses are designed for extreme close-ups, capturing minute details with precision.

The Nikon D3200 was released in 2005. It should be come as no surprise that there are many Nikon D3200 upgrade options available. One of the nice things is that you can still use the same lenses with a newer camera, the majority with seamless compatibility.

Having access to different focal lengths, a fast prime, or a recently released lens will do more for you than a just released camera. However, it is very difficult to overlook the high resolution available from a recent APS-C camera body as well as fast continuous shooting speed and more white balance options.

The price of a used Nikon D3200 replacement is a fraction of the price when the camera was just released. That same drop in price also applies to more recent camera models.

An upgrade that is perfect for the needs you have is most likely cheaper than you imagine if you are prepared to sell your D3200 camera shortly after you have an upgrade.