The Best Nikon D500 Lenses: A Detailed Guide for Photographers

The Nikon D500 is an exceptional DX-format DSLR camera that combines the agility of an APS-C model with robust features of Nikon’s professional-grade cameras. The lens requirements for the D500 can be quite specific due to its high-resolution 20.9 MP APS-C sensor and high-speed shooting capabilities.

Nikon lenses have numerous abbreviations, denoting their key features or capabilities. Here are the most common abbreviations:

  • AF: Auto Focus. All Nikon AF lenses have a built-in motor for automatic focusing.
  • D: Distance Information. These lenses transmit distance information to the camera for exposure metering.
  • E: Electromagnetic Diaphragm. These lenses use an electromagnetic mechanism in the lens barrel to provide highly accurate aperture blade control.
  • ED: Extra-low Dispersion. This glass corrects chromatic aberrations for superior sharpness and color correction.
  • G: These lenses do not have an aperture ring.
  • IF: Internal Focusing. The lens doesn’t change size during focusing.
  • VR: Vibration Reduction. This feature reduces the effect of camera shake.
  • DX: These lenses are designed for Nikon’s APS-C sensor DSLR cameras, like the D500.

The focal length of a lens can greatly influence the type of photography it’s best suited for. Here’s a brief overview:

  • Wide Angle (14-35mm): Ideal for landscape, architecture, and interior photography.
  • Standard (35-70mm): Suitable for everyday and street photography.
  • Telephoto (70-200mm): Preferred for sports, wildlife, and portrait photography.
  • Super Telephoto (200mm and above): Perfect for astrophotography and extreme wildlife photography.

For example, the Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a versatile lens for the Nikon D500, covering wide-angle to telephoto focal lengths, suitable for multiple photography styles. On the other hand, the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art lens, with its constant wide aperture, is perfect for low light conditions and indoor photography.

Lastly, it’s essential to consider the memory and battery requirements. The Nikon D500 has a high-speed continuous shooting mode, which requires a fast memory card and a robust battery.

  • Memory Card: High-speed memory cards like UHS-II SD or XQD cards are recommended to handle the camera’s large file sizes, especially when shooting in RAW or 4K UHD video.
  • Battery: The Nikon EN-EL15a rechargeable Li-ion battery is the standard for the D500, offering approximately 1240 shots per charge. For extended shooting, the MB-D17 multi-power battery pack can be used.

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Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a versatile lens that provides a wide focal length range, making it a fantastic all-around lens for a variety of shooting scenarios. Its constant aperture and the inclusion of VR (Vibration Reduction) technology ensure high-quality photos even in low-light conditions.

This lens can be seen as the one-size-fits-all solution for Nikon DX camera owners, covering nearly every shooting scenario without the need to constantly swap lenses. The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is an excellent choice for photographers who seek flexibility and high image quality in one lens.

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Pros:

  • Versatile focal range: The 16-80mm focal length range makes it ideal for landscapes, portraits, street photography, and even some wildlife photography.
  • Constant maximum aperture: The f/2.8-4 aperture provides excellent low-light performance and depth-of-field control.
  • Vibration Reduction (VR): This technology minimizes the impact of camera shake, allowing handheld shooting in low-light conditions.
  • Nano Crystal & Super Integrated Coating: These enhance light transmission and suppress lens flare and ghosting for improved contrast and color accuracy.

Cons:

  • Size and weight: At 480 grams, it’s a bit heavier and larger than some DX-format lenses, which might be an issue for travel photographers.
  • Price: As a premium Nikon lens, it comes at a higher price point compared to some other DX-format lenses.
  • Plastic build: Despite being robust, the plastic construction may not be as durable as metal counterparts.
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM
Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM lens is an exceptional piece of kit that stands out for its consistent f/1.8 maximum aperture, the first of its kind for a zoom lens. This lens excels in low-light situations, and its artistic bokeh effect makes it perfect for portrait, event, and night photography.

The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 Art DC HSM lens stands as an excellent choice for photographers who prioritize low-light capabilities and image quality. Its constant wide aperture allows photographers to create stunning images with a shallow depth of field, perfect for creating bokeh effects and capturing the essence of the moment under varying lighting conditions.

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Pros:

  • Constant f/1.8 aperture: The wide maximum aperture across the entire zoom range is great for low light shooting and depth-of-field control.
  • High image quality: This lens is known for its superb sharpness, contrast, and minimal distortion.
  • Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM): The HSM ensures smooth, fast, and precise autofocus.
  • Durable construction: The lens features a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material, resulting in greater precision and use in wide temperature variations.

Cons:

  • Size and weight: At 810 grams, this lens is considerably heavy and bulky.
  • Zoom range: The 18-35mm range is less versatile than some other zoom lenses, limiting its utility to certain types of photography.
  • No optical stabilization: The absence of a stabilization system could make handheld shooting more challenging in certain conditions.
Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8G Prime Lens
Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8G

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G lens is a compact, lightweight, and affordable prime lens that offers excellent image quality. Its 35mm focal length on a DX format camera is equivalent to 52.5mm on a full-frame, giving it a natural field of view that closely matches human perception. This makes it a great lens for a variety of photographic applications, including portraits, street photography, and even landscapes.

This lens’s maximum aperture of f/1.8 allows photographers to create images with a shallow depth of field, beautifully blurring the background while keeping the subject in sharp focus. It also means the lens performs very well in low-light situations, reducing the need for flash and enabling you to retain the ambiance of the scene.

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Pros:

  • Versatility: The 35mm focal length is perfect for many styles of photography.
  • Low-light performance: The wide f/1.8 aperture is excellent for low light and indoor situations.
  • Compact and lightweight: Weighing only 200 grams, it’s an ideal lens for travel and handheld photography.
  • Price: As one of Nikon’s more affordable lenses, it offers excellent value for its price.

Cons:

  • No VR: The lens lacks Vibration Reduction, which could impact sharpness in low-light handheld shooting.
  • Distortion: Although easily correctable in post-processing, this lens can exhibit some barrel distortion.
  • Plastic mount: The mount is made of plastic, which may not be as durable as metal.
Nikon DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G Wide Angle Zoom
Nikon DX 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5G

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is a versatile lens that provides a wide focal length range, making it a fantastic all-around lens for a variety of shooting scenarios. Its constant aperture and the inclusion of VR (Vibration Reduction) technology ensure high-quality photos even in low-light conditions.

This lens can be seen as the one-size-fits-all solution for Nikon D500 owners, covering nearly every shooting scenario without the need to constantly swap lenses. The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR is an excellent choice for photographers who seek flexibility and high image quality in one lens.

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Pros:

  • Versatile focal range: The 16-80mm focal length range makes it ideal for landscapes, portraits, street photography, and even some wildlife photography.
  • Constant maximum aperture: The f/2.8-4 aperture provides excellent low-light performance and depth-of-field control.
  • Vibration Reduction (VR): This technology minimizes the impact of camera shake, allowing handheld shooting in low-light conditions.
  • Nano Crystal & Super Integrated Coating: These enhance light transmission and suppress lens flare and ghosting for improved contrast and color accuracy.

Cons:

  • Size and weight: At 480 grams, it’s a bit heavier and larger than some DX-format lenses, which might be an issue for travel photographers.
  • Price: As a premium Nikon lens, it comes at a higher price point compared to some other DX-format lenses.
  • Plastic build: Despite being robust, the plastic construction may not be as durable as metal counterparts.
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD
Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a high-quality wide-angle zoom lens, notable for its constant f/2.8 maximum aperture, which enables excellent low-light performance and depth-of-field control. This lens is particularly useful for landscape and architectural photography, where the wide field of view can capture expansive vistas or the grandeur of large structures.

Its Vibration Compensation (VC) feature, a rarity among wide-angle lenses, helps minimize the appearance of camera shake, providing greater flexibility for handheld shooting in lower light conditions. The Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) ensures a quick, precise, and nearly silent autofocus, beneficial when shooting events or wildlife where noise can be disruptive.

In summary, the Tamron SP 15-30mm F/2.8 Di VC USD is a fantastic choice for Nikon D500 owners who prioritize wide-angle photography. Its constant aperture, image stabilization, and exceptional optical performance make it a versatile and valuable addition to any photographer’s kit.

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Pros:

  • Excellent image quality: The lens delivers sharp, high-contrast images across the entire zoom range.
  • Constant f/2.8 aperture: This enables consistent performance throughout the zoom range, particularly beneficial for low-light photography.
  • Vibration Compensation (VC): The inclusion of image stabilization is a significant advantage for handheld shooting.
  • Wide-angle coverage: The 15-30mm focal length is ideal for landscape, architectural, and interior photography.

Cons:

  • Size and weight: This lens is larger and heavier than many similar options, which could be a factor for travel photographers.
  • Non-removable lens hood and bulbous front element: These design elements prevent the use of traditional screw-on filters.
  • Not a full-frame lens: This lens is designed for DX format cameras and may exhibit vignetting on full-frame cameras.
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR

The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR lens is a comprehensive zoom lens, offering an incredibly broad focal length range that covers nearly every imaginable shooting scenario. This lens is a perfect companion for travel photographers or those seeking to carry a single lens that can handle everything from wide-angle landscapes to far-reaching telephoto shots.

The aperture range from f/3.5 to f/6.3 allows a fair amount of light in, suitable for various lighting conditions. Additionally, the lens includes Vibration Reduction (VR) technology that compensates for camera shake, offering an advantage in low-light situations or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range.

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Pros:

  • All-in-one zoom range: Covering from wide-angle to super-telephoto, it’s a truly versatile lens.
  • Vibration Reduction: This helps to reduce the appearance of camera shake for sharper handheld shooting.
  • Compact for its range: Considering its broad zoom range, the lens is relatively compact and easier to carry around than multiple lenses.

Cons:

  • Variable aperture: At longer focal lengths, the maximum aperture decreases, which could limit low-light capabilities.
  • Optical performance: While versatile, the lens may not offer the same level of sharpness or image quality as prime lenses or more specialized zoom lenses.
  • Distortion: Given its wide zoom range, this lens may exhibit some distortion, particularly at the widest and longest focal lengths.
Tokina AT-X 11-20 PRO DX 11-20mm f/2.8
Tokina AT-X 11-20 PRO DX 11-20mm f/2.8

The Tokina AT-X 11-20 PRO DX 11-20mm f/2.8 is a superb wide-angle zoom lens that offers excellent image quality and a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. This lens is particularly useful for photographers who focus on landscapes, cityscapes, architecture, and astrophotography, where the wide field of view can capture stunningly broad scenes.

The constant f/2.8 aperture is a key selling point, providing greater flexibility for low-light shooting and helping to create a shallow depth-of-field, which is rare in wide-angle photography. The lens’s optical construction also minimizes distortion, a common issue with wide-angle lenses, delivering clean and natural-looking images.

In conclusion, the Tokina AT-X 11-20 PRO DX 11-20mm f/2.8 lens is an excellent addition to any Nikon D500 owner’s kit, particularly for those seeking a quality wide-angle lens with a fast aperture. Its versatility and strong optical performance provide significant value, making it a top contender in the wide-angle zoom lens market.

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Pros:

  • Quality optics: The lens delivers crisp and vibrant images, with good control over chromatic aberrations and distortion.
  • Constant f/2.8 aperture: This provides excellent low-light capabilities and depth-of-field control, which is uncommon for wide-angle zoom lenses.
  • Wide-angle range: The 11-20mm focal length is perfect for capturing broad vistas in landscape and architectural photography.
  • Solid construction: The lens has a robust and durable build, offering a premium feel.

Cons:

  • Lack of image stabilization: The absence of Vibration Reduction (VR) technology may limit its usability in handheld low-light conditions.
  • No weather sealing: Unlike some competitors, this lens lacks weather-sealed protection, which could be a concern for outdoor shooters.
  • Size and weight: While not the heaviest lens, its size and weight are considerations for those wanting a compact travel setup.
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2
Tamron 70-200mm f/2.8 G2

This lens is another staple in the camera bag of many professional photographers. It covers the 70-200mm focal length, a range that’s particularly useful for portraiture, event photography, and sports.

Like the 24-70mm, it also features a fast f/2.8 constant aperture and vibration reduction. Additionally, it has a fast, silent autofocus system and weather sealing to protect against dust and moisture.

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Pros:

  • Great for portraits, events, and sports photography
  • Fast f/2.8 constant aperture and VR for superior low light performance
  • Fast, silent autofocus
  • Weather-sealed for dust and moisture resistance

Cons:

  • Heavier and larger, which may be challenging for handheld shooting over long periods
  • High price tag
Nikon DX 40mm f/2.8G Macro Lens
Nikon DX 40mm f/2.8G

The Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G lens is a compact and versatile macro lens that delivers stunning detail and excellent image quality. It’s ideal for photographers who want to capture close-up subjects with precision, such as insects, flowers, or small objects, but it’s also quite effective for portraits and everyday photography due to its natural field of view on DX-format cameras.

The lens’s maximum aperture of f/2.8 is relatively fast, enabling smooth out-of-focus elements and good low-light performance. It also allows you to create images with shallow depth of field, emphasizing your subject against a blurred background.

In conclusion, the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G lens is a fantastic addition to any photographer’s kit. It’s an excellent choice for those looking to explore the world of macro photography without sacrificing the ability to capture great portraits and general images.

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Pros:

  • Excellent image quality: It’s renowned for its sharpness, contrast, and color accuracy.
  • Versatility: While designed for macro photography, the lens is also excellent for portraits and general photography.
  • Compact and lightweight: At just 235 grams, it’s easy to carry, making it perfect for travel.
  • Affordable: It’s considered a bargain given its high image quality and versatility.

Cons:

  • No Vibration Reduction (VR): This lens lacks VR, which might make handheld shooting more challenging, especially in low light or at close distances.
  • Short working distance: Due to the 40mm focal length, photographers need to get quite close to their subject for 1:1 macro photography, which might be a problem when photographing skittish subjects like insects.
  • Slower autofocus: The autofocus can be a bit slow and less reliable in low-contrast situations.
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

Another excellent option for wildlife and sports photographers, this lens offers a remarkable zoom range along with a constant f/5.6 aperture. Nikon’s vibration reduction is included to aid in capturing sharper images.

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Pros:

  • Great zoom range ideal for wildlife and sports
  • Constant f/5.6 aperture
  • Includes vibration reduction

Cons:

  • Bulky and heavy
  • Lower light performance compared to lenses with larger apertures