The 6 Best Nikon D40 Lenses for All Types of Photography

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: September 21, 2020
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The Best Nikon D40 Lenses

If you already know what type of lens you need, check out the best lenses for Nikon D40 below.

Best Zoom Lenses for Nikon D40

The most useful and affordable zoom lens is the Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G, which was the kit Nikon D40 lens. The 18-55mm is going to be excluded as most people likely already own it.

Wide zooms are covered further down in the wide angle section.

What's left are telephoto zoom lenses. These are great for wildlife, portraits, sports, action, and any situation where your subject is far away.

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

Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 G Kit Lens for Nikon D40
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for Fast and Quiet Autofocus
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization for Handheld Shots
  • 2 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Elements
  • 1 High Refractive Index (HRI) Lens Element
  • 17 Elements in 11 Groups

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The main draw of the Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G is the reach the lens has. It is going to be an excellent choice whenever you can not get closer to your subject. Like the other zooms, the aperture of f/5.6 at the long end of the focal length range is a bit flow, but faster options cost significantly more.

You won't have to break the bank to get this piece of glass. There are plenty of used copies available as it was sold with the Nikon D5600, D5500, and D3400.

In order to span the large zoom range, 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.

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

Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6 G telephoto for Nikon D40
  • Excellent Value When Purchased Used
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for Accurate Autofocus
  • Great for Wildlife, Sports, & Portraits
  • 2 Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) Lens Elements
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization

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

A copy in excellent condition can be found for less than half the cost of a used Nikon 55-300mm.

The only drawback of the 55-200mm is the loss of 100mm of reach. It still has VR image stabilization and ED lens elements to help you get sharp images when hand-holding the camera.

One benefit of the lens is that carrying it around won't be an issue. It only 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 Auto Focus 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 Di LD

Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 Super Telephoto Zoom Lens for Nikon D40
  • Ultra Silent Drive (USD) Autofocus Motor
  • Extra Low Dispersion (XLD) Glass Element
  • Broad-Band Anti-Reflection (BBAR) Lens Coating
  • 13 Elements in 9 Groups
  • 9 aperture blades
  • Minimal focus distance 59.1"

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

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

Similar optical technology is included 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".

Best Wide Angle Lenses

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

One thing to watch out for is the wide angle causing strong distortion. Portraits can be an issue as noses or any body part close to the lens will appear abnormally large.

An advantage of a wide angle is that image stabilization is not as important. Small movements or vibrations are less likely to be noticeable in an image.

Having a large maximum aperture is important for astrophotography. You want at least a f/4, if not f/2.8.

One choice that would be good if it was compatible is the Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR lens. Unfortunately, it will not work on the D40. 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 Lens for Nikon D40
  • Perfect choice 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 choice for astrophotography.

One quirk 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.

There is a built-in autofocus motor, but it is loud. This can be a problem if you need a quiet operation when shooting at an event.

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 Zoom for Nikon D40
  • Hyper-Sonic Motor (HSM)
  • Ultra-wide angle lens
  • Internal Focus and Great Build Quality
  • Super Multi-Layer Coating
  • Built with Aspherical Elements to 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 lens is for Nikon lenses before you buy.

Best Telephoto Lenses

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. This is because they have larger apertures than zooms, requiring larger lens elements.

An advantage is that they are better for indoor or other low light situations.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

Nikon 85mm f/1.8 G Portrait Lens for Nikon D40
  • Best Lens for Portraits
  • Internal Focus (IF)
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
  • 9 Elements in 9 Groups

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The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is one of the best Nikon lenses for professional photographers. It's 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

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 G Prime Lens for Nikon D40
  • Great Lens with a Fast Aperture
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Small and Lightweight
  • Excellent Choice for Low Light Photography
  • 7 Elements in 6 Groups

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Taking the crop factor focal length multiplier into consideration, this lens could be considered a short telephoto. It's an inexpensive fast prime that can be used for portraits and indoors.

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

There aren't huge differences between the lenses. With the 50mm, you'll get a bit more reach and have an easier time blurring the background.

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

Best First Prime

Nikon AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G

Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8 G Best Prime for Nikon D40
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Small Size
  • Excellent Nikon D40 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 D40.

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 Best Nikon D40 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. 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

Nikkor Micro 40mm f/2.8 G Macro Photography Nikon D40
  • Close-Range Correction System (CRC)
  • Silent Wave Motor (SWM)
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio of 1X
  • Rubber Sealing Mount Protects Against Dust and Moisture
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC)
  • Excellent option for Close Ups

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The Nikon Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G is the best choice for getting started with macro and close-up photography with the Nikon D40.

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 used for general photography. That's not the case with older macros, 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

Nikkor Micro 85mm f/3.5 Macro Lens for Nikon D40
  • 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 major 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 difficult to get it setup without the lens blocking it.

The downside is that gaining a little more working distance, adds to 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
  • Focal Length Range

Having a high-quality lens is more important for image quality than an expensive camera. Lenses don't wear out, you will be able to keep your lenses if you ever decide to upgrade your Nikon D40.

That doesn't mean that price is not a factor. It does not make sense to recommend thousand-dollar lenses, even if they are the best.

All the most commonly used focal lengths have been covered.

Professional or niche lenses such as perspective control, specialist macro, fisheye, and mirror lenses have not been included. Those are better suited to people with money to burn.

When to Upgrade Your Camera

Make sure you have more than a one lens before you consider the best Nikon D40 upgrade options. Upgrading your camera, but keeping the kit Nikon D40 lens, is not going to lead to a big difference in your images.

Having access to different focal lengths, or a fast prime will do more for you than a new camera.

Being realistic, the Nikon D40 was released in 2006. It is still capable of taking great pictures.

However, the price of a used Nikon D40 replacement is a fraction of the cost when the camera was new. That same drop in price also applies to newer camera models.

An upgrade is likely less expensive than you think if you are willing to sell your camera after you replace it.

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 - Ultra wide-angle lenses that produce distorted circular images.

Zoom vs Prime

  • Zoom - The focal length can be changed.
  • Prime - Nikon lenses with a fixed focal length. Usually, they have larger apertures than zoom lenses. Larger apertures are better for low light condition and creating blurry backgrounds with a telephoto lens.

Compatible Lenses

Nikon F Mount

The D40 uses Nikon F-mount lenses. The F-mount was first used on Nikon lenses in 1959. There are several different variations of the lens mount.

Early autofocus lenses relied on a motor drive built into camera bodies. The Nikon D40 does not have a motor drive. As a result, autofocus will not work with those lenses.

The Nikon D40 also does not have a meter coupling ridge or EE servo coupling post. This means that metering will not work with manual focus f-mount lenses.

Nikon D40 Kit Lens

The Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX VR was originally bundled with the Nikon D40. This was most commonly bundled with used D40's for sale on eBay or Amazon.

If you don't have this lens, it is an excellent first choice for the camera. The focal length, inclusion on image stabilization, and performance is good, especially considering the low price of a used copy. The one undesirable aspect is the f/5.6 aperture at the long end.

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