Guide to the 6 Best Nikon D3200 Lenses

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: January 16, 2022
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Best Nikon D3200 Lenses

If you don't want to read, you can check out the best Nikon D3200 lens options for each category below.

Best Zoom Lenses

The most useful and affordable zoom lens is the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G D3200 kit lens. That lens is going to be excluded as most people likely already own it.

Wide zooms are covered in the section that covers wide angle focal length range.

The longer focal lengths of telephoto zooms are great if you want to do wildlife, sport, action, portraits, and any photography that has distance involved with the Nikon D3200. As large apertures on telephoto lenses is expensive to get, the long end of the zoom range for the recommended lenses will not be good in low light conditions.

Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR

Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon D3200
  • Quiet and Fast Autofocus
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) for High Quality Images from Handheld Shots
  • Great choice for wildlife photography
  • 1 High Refractive Index (HRI) Lens Element
  • Reasonable price and a perfect choice for amateur photographers.

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The Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G lens is desirable because of its reach. Whenever you find yourself limited by how close you can get to the subject, this would be an excellent lens to have.

What's nice is that you won't have to spend very much money to get a copy of the lens. It was the second kit lens included with the Nikon D5600, D5500, and D3400. As such, there are many used copies available that are still in excellent condition.

The lens is made up 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.

The lens weighs 580g (18.7 oz). The dimensions are (Diameter x Length) 3.0 in. (76.5 mm) x 4.8 in. (123 mm). While not small enough to be carrier in a pocket, the lens will easily fit in a bag.

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR

DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6 G for Nikon D3200
  • An Affordable Lens When Purchased Used
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for Accurate Autofocus
  • One of the best lenses for Nikon D3200 Wildlife and Sports Photography
  • 2 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Lens Elements
  • Vibrations Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization

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The Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G is another kit lens. It was sold as the second kit lens with the D3200, D3100, and D3300. It is a amazing deal when purchased used.

To put it into perspective, a copy in almost new condition can be purchased for less than half of what a used 55-300mm lens costs.

You aren't missing out on any optical tech as the lens has VR and ED lens elements. You'll be able to get sharp images even when hand holding the lens.

The only drawback of the 55-200mm compared to the 55-300mm is the 100mm less reach. If you are going to be shooting wildlife or sports, that difference could be worth paying the extra money for.

The lens weighs 335g (11.8 oz). Dimensions are (Diameter x Length) 2.9 in. (73.6 mm) x 3.9 in. (99.5 mm). It will be easier to carry around than the 55-300mm.

Best Wide Angle Lenses

Wide angles are useful for landscapes, real estate, astrophotography, architecture, group photos, event photography, and more.

They have a shot focal length which provides a wide field of view. This is useful for capturing images where backing up isn't an option, such as the inside of a room.

One thing to watch out for is the ability of wide angle lenses to distort an image. Portraits can be an issue as noses or any body part close to the lens will appear abnormally large.

One choice that would be good if it was fully compatible is the Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens. Unfortunately, it will not work on the D3200. You need a Nikon D3300 or later model to use that lens.

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 AT-X116 Pro DX II

Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Zoom for Nikon D3200
  • 2 Aspheric and 2 Super-Low Dispersion Lens Elements
  • Wide Aperture Perfect for Low Light Photography
  • 77mm Front Filter Threads
  • Focus Ring Clutch Style M/A Selector

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A great lens for Nikon D3200 astrophotography is the Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. The lens is fast, sharp, has a large aperture, and is a great value.

One quirk of the lens is the focus ring clutch that controls changing between manual and auto focus. To switch between the two focus modes, the entire focus ring is either pushed forward or pulled back.

I personally like the focus clutch because you do not need to look at the lens to find the switch. Not everybody agrees with that and some people prefer having a switch.

The lens does have a built-in autofocus motor, but it is loud. This can be a problem if you need quiet operation for an event or for shooting video.

In terms of size, the lens is fairly large. It weighs 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 buy the lens. Tokina also makes versions for the Canon EF and Sony A mounts. Double-check to make sure the lens you buy is for Nikon.

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD Aspherical

Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 Wide Angle for Nikon D3200
  • Hyper-Sonic Motor (HSM)
  • Ultra-wide angle lens
  • Internal Focus
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • 13 Elements in 10 Groups

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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 perspective. You're likely going to see distortion, which you can reduce through post-processing.

4 aspherical and 3 low dispersion lens elements have been used to help reduce distortion and aberrations. In total there are 13 lens elements in 10 groups.

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

Be careful if you are looking to purchase this lens. Sigma also made copies of the lens for Canon EF, Sony A, and Pentax K mounts. Make sure the lens is for Nikon before you buy it.

Best Telephoto Lenses for Nikon D3200

Both of the 55-300mm as well as the 55-200mm lenses mentioned previously should be considered. The two are low-priced telephoto zoom lenses. You should definitely check them out.

This section is going to focus on telephoto prime lenses. Low light performance is better due to the bigger maximum aperture. Plus, you'll get nicer bokeh.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

FX Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 G Portrait Lens for Nikon D3200
  • Popular Portrait Lens Among Professional Photographers
  • Internal Focus (IF)
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)

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One of the best lenses for Nikon D3200 portraits is the Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G. When you see how well the lens renders and the beautiful bokeh, you are going to understand why.

Do not forget that the lens is a full-frame lens. You'll see two differences when you compare it against a DX lens.

First, full-frame lenses tend to be higher priced when compared to DX lenses. Larger lens elements cause the lenses to be more costly to manufacture.

Second, the lens is larger than many DX lenses. The lens is large enough to where you will want a bag to hold the lens.

Nikon AF-S FX Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G Prime Lens for Nikon D3200
  • Fast Aperture, Great for Low Light
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Small and Lightweight
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
  • 7 Elements in 6 Groups

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The 50mm f/1.8G is not a telephoto lens. The lens is still a fast prime, which is the reason it ought to be viewed as an option. You can use it to take portraits.

For use in low light situations, the 50mm will perform well due to the large aperture.

Nikon has not produced many prime lenses specifically for crop sensor cameras. Up against the DX 35mm, the Nikon 50mm has more reach.

The lens isn't large, weighing 185g (6.6oz) with a diameter of 2.8" and length of 2".

Best First Prime

Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G

Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8 G Best Prime Lens for Nikon D3200
  • Fast Automatic Focusing
  • Small Size Good for Street Photography
  • Best Prime Lens for Nikon D3200 Everyday Photography
  • Normal Lens Focal Length

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

Best Macro Lenses

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. I find a dedicated macro lens provides excellent image quality and easy to use on the Nikon D3200.

A macro lens for Nikon will be branded as Micro-Nikkor. This is a constant source of confusion as micro and macro have opposite meanings.

Nikon Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G

Nikkor DX Micro 40mm f/2.8 G Macro Lens for Nikon D3200
  • Close-Range Correction System (CRC)
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Excellent choice for close up shots with the Nikon D3200
  • Rubber Sealing Mount Protects Against Dust and Moisture
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)

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

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

This means the lens can also be used for general photography. That's not the case with older macro lenses, as their image quality only becomes good after the lens is 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

DX Nikkor Micro 85mm f/3.5 G Macro Photography Lens for Nikon D3200
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
  • Best macro lens for Nikon D3200
  • Internal Focusing (IF)
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization

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The major benefit of the 85mm macro lens over the 40mm is a larger minimum focus distance. That distance will determine how much room you have to work between the front of the lens and 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 difficult to get is setup without the lens blocking it.

The downside is that gaining a little more working distance, adds onto the price of the lens.

While not the primary purpose of the lens, it can be used for portraits. At 85mm, it can also be used for other subjects you would want to use a telephoto lens for, but it is a slower lens.

Lens Selection Criteria

  • Image Quality
  • Price to Performance
  • Range of Focal Lengths

Working with a lens that has good image quality is far more important than a brand new camera. Lenses don't require replacing, you will have the ability to hold on to them through camera upgrades.

That should not mean that cost is was a factor in determining the best Nikon D3200 lenses. Lenses that cost thousands of dollars, even with their outstanding image quality, are not a good match for the value of a Nikon D3200.

Each of the frequently used focal lengths are included.

Professional or specialized lenses such as perspective control, specialist macro, fisheye lens, and mirror lenses have not been listed.

When to Upgrade Your Camera

You should have more than one lens before you mull over changing cameras. Upgrading your camera, but not replacing the kit lens, is not going to lead to a big difference in your images.

Using different focal lengths will have a bigger impact on your photography than a new camera.

The Nikon D3200 was introduced in 2012. The camera is still able to take great pictures.

However, the cost of a used D3200 is a small part of the cost when the camera was released. A similar decline in price also applies to more recent DSLRs.

An upgrade is likely less expensive than you assume if you are ready to sell your current camera after you replace it. This page covers the best Nikon D3200 upgrade options.

Types of Lenses

Focal Lengths

  • Wide Angle - Captures a large angle of view of a scene.
  • Standard - Has a field of view that looks "natural" when viewed by people.
  • Telephoto - Lenses with a narrow field of view, useful for subjects that are far away or small.
  • Macro - Has the ability to take images close up to a subject at a 1:1 magnification ratio of subject to sensor size.
  • Fisheye Lenses - Ultra wide angle with some fisheye lenses being such a wide focal length that they produce distorted circular images.

Zoom Lens vs Prime Lens for Nikon D3200

  • Zoom Lens - The focal length of the lens can be changed.
  • Prime Lens - Lenses with a fixed focal length. Usually have larger apertures than zoom lenses. Larger apertures are better for low light and creating blurry backgrounds.

Compatible Lenses

Nikon F Lens Mount

The Nikon D3200 uses Nikon F-mount lenses. The F-mount has been around since 1959. There are several different lens variations.

Early autofocus lenses relied on a motor drive built into camera bodies. The D3200 does not have a motor drive. As a result, autofocus will not work with those lenses.

For more information, you can see the Nikon F-mount lens and camera compatibility page.

Nikon DX Format Cameras

DX Nikon lenses have been designed for use on a cropped sensor APS-C camera like the Nikon D3200.

Kit Lens for Nikon D3200

The Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR is a great all in one lens that was one or possibly two of the originally included kit lenses for Nikon D3200. This is the lens most commonly bundled with used D3200's for sale on eBay or Amazon as it is a great all around lens.

If you don't have this lens, it is an excellent first choice for the camera. It has a very useful focal length range and optical performance is good, especially considering the low price of a used copy of the lens.

Nikon D3200 Crop Factor

The Nikon D3200 has a 1.5x crop factor when compared to a camera with a full frame sensor that are designed for FX lenses. A camera lens designed for a full frame camera will have an imaging circle larger than what cropped sensor cameras need.

Related Nikon D3200 Posts

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