The supplied 18-55 kit lens on the Nikon D3200 is fine, but it is extremely limited in capabilities. That said, if you’re unable to get the desired photographs or want more professional shots, then you should consider getting an external lens for your Nikon D3200. But which one?
Well, the choice of lens depends on the type of photography you’ll be doing. Besides, the kit lens is enough for basic photos, but if you need higher zoom, wider field of view, etc. I’ve mentioned different types of lenses and their use cases below.
- Telephoto or Zoom Lenses are suitable for capturing objects that are far from you. It means that if you’re into wildlife photography, sports photography, or even astrophotography, then you should consider this type of lens.
- Wide-angle lenses are used to capture a wider field-of-view. So, they can help you get some amazing landscapes and group photos, and even real-estate photos.
- Macro lenses are used to get super-close to objects and capture details that might not be properly visible to the naked eye.
- Prime lenses come with a fixed focal length and are excellent at taking human portraits & product shots. Even if you’re out for some Street Photography, you can bag one alongside a Telephoto lens and you’ll be good to go.
Figuring out what lens or lenses will be perfect for your specific needs, can be really difficult and confusing. Especially, when the lenses sometimes cost more than the camera itself, it is really important that you don’t end up with the wrong lens. To make sure you get the right one(s) for yourself, I’ve listed out the best lenses for the Nikon D3200.
- Best Nikon D3200 Lenses in 2021
- 1. Best Zoom Lens: Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM
- 2. Best Telephoto Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED
- 3. Best with Vibration Reduction: Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR
- 4. Best For Wildlife & Sports Photography: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED
- 5. Best Prime Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
- 6. Best For Portrait: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
- 7. Best Wide Angle: Tokina AT-X PRO 11-20mm f/2.8 DX
- 8. Best Macro Lens for D3200: Sigma 258306 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM
- 9. Best From Tamron: Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Nikon D3200 Lenses in 2021
Now, you can only use Nikon F-mount lenses with the Nikon D3200 and multiple companies produce those lenses including Nikon themselves. So, to keep the selection process fair & versatile, I have evaluated a bunch of lenses from various companies and finally came to the top 9 which I’m listing out below.
1. Best Zoom Lens: Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM
You must be thinking as to why would I need another lens that has the same focal length as the default 18-55mm lens that came with my Nikon D3200? Here are the 2 reasons:
- Nikkor 18-55mm does not fully utilize the power of this DSLR as it struggles with focusing on subjects and gives okayish image quality.
- Larger aperture
Now that you have a reason to consider this lens for Nikon D3200, let us dive into the aspects of the lens. Although made of plastic, the Sigma 17-50mm EX DC OS HSM is durable enough to withhold a knock or two. The optics that are used in the lens are of great quality.
There are switches of focus (Manual/Automatic), Optical Stabilization, and Focus Lock (to prevent gravity zooming, that is, the lens would not retract on its own even if you hold it facing the sky). The focus ring is easy to use. The overall design of this lens is admirable.
As you already know, the Nikon D3200 lacks a focusing motor so you have to rely on the lens to compensate for that. Focusing is handled by Hypersonic Motor that works on ultrasonic frequencies). It gives out accurate and moderately quick focusing on this standard zooming lens for Nikon D3200.
However, a little noise is emitted through the lens while focusing which is acceptable. A few users also found the focus to struggle in low light but you can handle that by lowering the aperture.
A focal length of 17-50mm is wide enough to click photos of landscapes and real estate. This would roughly account for 3 times zoom. Do note that this lens is suited for cameras like D3200 because it is a cropped sensor lens.
Sigma 17-50mm’s sharpness is incredible except at the corners where it is slightly compromised. Chromatic Aberration (purple or pink lines at the edges of things in the image) is well controlled. Distortion was well managed except at 50mm. But fret not, Nikon D3200 boasts of excellent distortion control so you are good to go.
What steals the limelight is aperture. A fixed F2.8 aperture is rare to find in this price range. Additionally, you can get a significant amount of background blur which would enhance your bokeh images. Thus, this lens simply shines when it comes to image quality.
Honestly, I would recommend this lens for everyone – amateur photographers and even professional ones. Sigma 17-50mm is ideal for capturing pictures of landscapes, travel pictures, portraits, and at times, macro.
It is a tad bit heavy at 1.25lbs but it offers much compensation in other areas. This is the best standard telephoto lens for Nikon D3200 that you can use instead of the Nikkor 18-55mm.
- Better built quality than peers
- Well-controlled image quality
- High aperture
- Nice bokeh
- Low light focusing
- Distortion at 50mm
2. Best Telephoto Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED
Are you a person who feels clogged and bothered by a plethora of things in your camera bag and you wish that you had one lens for all? The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR ED is perfect for you then. 18-300mm is the jack of all trades that would be handy for a beginner to click anything and everything.
Nikon has made this lens with a polycarbonate body with gold accents on the writings and the fonts. The build quality of the lens is okayish however you can not expect much at the price range it comes at. It is not exactly heavy but it’s not lightweight either.
The Nikkor 18-300mm has a long focal range from 18mm to 300mm so you would need to use both of your hands to handle the camera. Switches of Vibration Reduction, focus control, and focal length rock are easy to reach. I faced no difficulties in operating them. The design as a whole is satisfactory and does not disappoint.
During my limited time of using this versatile lens, I found the autofocus to be satisfactory. However, it struggles at the telephoto end of 300mm. When Nikkor 18-300mm is fully zoomed in, it becomes inconsistent.
Sometimes, the focusing is quick but then at times, it struggles for capturing the subject. Remember that Nikon D3200 also lacks a focus motor so test before you opt for this lens. Also, many users complained that the focus does not work at all on their camera but this has been different for every user.
Some had a defective piece while some had issues with the camera that they were using. In short, autofocus is not something that this telephoto lens would excel in. Image quality is sharp at the center but fades as it proceeds to the side.
Of course, increasing the F-number does help and I found that the sharpest of images can be clicked at f11. Otherwise, there is a good amount of blur on the edges of the image. Distortion is expected in a long lens like this.
The Focal lengths like 18mm show the most amount of distortion (straight lines appearing bent or curved) while 200mm and 300mm show the least amount. However, this can be easily handled by the built-in correction technology of D3200. Chromatic aberration is well controlled and nothing to worry about.
Overall, image quality is decent enough for such a wide range of focal length that the lens offers. Nikkor 18-300mm is not the perfect lens with a flawless nature but it offers some excellent versatility.
This all-around lens is targeted at beginners who want to explore the horizons of photography. The incredible focal length makes it suitable for all kinds of photography. If you want an all-rounder telephoto zoom lens for Nikon D3200, this is the end of your search.
- Huge focal length range
- Decently weighed
- Well-controlled chromatic aberration
- Autofocus issues
3. Best with Vibration Reduction: Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR
When you would have expressed your wish to buy a camera to your photographer friend, I am sure that they would have recommended you to buy at least a zoom lens like Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR. This is because a lens like this adds enough flexibility to make you take any photographs along with the kit lens.
Even D3200 used to come in a bundle that would have a zoom lens before Nikon discontinued D3200 and replaced it with the D3300. The 70-300mm focal length impresses with its robust built quality and body.
The body is made of polycarbonate plastic but it does not feel cheap or fragile at all. Interestingly, the focus ring is placed nearer to the mount and the zoom ring is there at the end of the lens. This is a fresh take on design and is very logical because mostly you use the zoom ring and not the focus ring.
There are switches for autofocus and VR (Vibration Reduction) near the mount. Reaching any of the switches is easy. Handling this Nikon D3200 zoom lens is a nice experience. A weight of 1.64 lbs proves to be a stabilizer to the images so the design is definitely smart and innovative.
Nikon D3200 is an entry-level camera but unfortunately, you cannot utilize the autofocus feature of this lens on it. The autofocus can be used for only mid-range to higher range cameras. Being said so, you can use the manual focus which works perfectly.
Manual focusing is great to start your journey so that you know how to focus and where to focus which would eventually improve your composition and framing. Nikkor 70-300mm delivered sharp and crisp images that looked nice and balanced even on a bigger screen than the LCD of Nikon D3200.
There is a tad bit of blur on the corners but that is not going to spoil your image in any way. The Vignetting (black edges on the corners) is absent and distortion is well controlled.Most telephoto zoom lenses often struggle with ghosting and flare in bright locations and under the sun. Nikkor 70-300mm is no different in this aspect.
Fortunately, attaching a lens hood is a simple solution that solves this problem. There is a noticeable amount of chromatic aberration that can be dealt with in post-production though. Lack of autofocus is definitely a problem for making it the best lens for Nikon D3200.
This telephoto zoom lens is ideal for portraits and clicking pictures of wildlife. Overall, you can give this a try unless you want autofocus in your lens.
- Good image quality
- Nice design
- Build quality
- Lack of autofocus
4. Best For Wildlife & Sports Photography: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED
If you have a kit lens (18-55mm) then a lens such as the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED works as an extension of that and gives you a wider range.
Basically, you can have a full range from 18-55mm in your kit lens for landscape and travel while the versatile focal range of 55-300mm would look after the portraits and the wildlife making your Nikon D3200 a fully versatile camera.
Nikkor 55-300mm is a considerably light option compared to its peers in this range. This telephoto zoom lens for Nikon D3200 is made of plastic and the mount is of metal. A rubber grip encapsulates the major portion making it easy to handle and zoom in.
The focusing of this lens is external which means that you can see the barrel going out and coming in while you focus. Switches of autofocus and vibration reduction lay near the mount of the lens. They are easy to access and can be changed easily.
However, you don’t get the manual focus override function that you get in many lenses (allows you to change the focus from auto to manual just by rotating the focus ring). Nikkor 55-300mm lens has a decent and nice design that serves its purpose.
Many experts and reviewers recommended this lens but also mentioned that the focus is not the fastest. My tests do prove that. The focus works perfectly if you click something stable but if you are clicking a moving subject at 300mm, you are not going to achieve much perfection. Naturally, low light focusing is more troublesome and the aperture numbers do not help either.
The sharpness of this lens is good throughout the image but would suffer a little bit as the aperture would go higher. I found out that the images seemed quite good until f22 where the corners were blurred and the images looked unclear. It is rare to shoot in that high aperture from my personal experience but you might want to consider this thoroughly.
Vignetting is something that might concern you. This phenomenon is when you see darkness at the four corners and the center is bright. Vignetting can be eliminated in post-production through Photoshop or lightroom though.
The chromatic aberration is well controlled and so is distortion. Nikon D3200 also has a distortion control technology. You are good to go for image quality with the 55-300mm. It has a good amount of versatility to cover up for a wide range of photos making it an ideal lens for portraits, close-up shots, and wildlife.
This telephoto zoom lens is targeted for beginners and becomes an ideal match for Nikon D3200 with its DX-format (cropped sensor). You should go for this telephoto lens because it ticks most of the features you would like to have.
- Overall nice image quality
- Versatile lens
- Long body
- No tripod mount
- Sharpness reduces at F22
5. Best Prime Lens: Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G
If there is any lens that users and experts recommended as the best prime lens for Nikon D3200, the Nikkor 50mm f1.8G is the one. They described it as an inexpensive tool that would take your photography to the next level and give you a whole new experience of taking pictures. Intrigued by these comments, I took it upon myself to see what is so special about this little lens.
Nikkor 50mm is a lightweight champion that has a rubber mount to protect it from dust and occasional moisture. This is not a weather-sealed lens though so keep in mind that you have to take good care of it.
Do note that there is just a single switch for focus control and there is no VR (Vibration Reduction) to control the occasional jerks and shocks. A distancing meter is present but only for F16. Build quality is good enough to make this tiny lens last a good time provided you keep it from falling. The overall design impresses with its compactness and no-nonsense attitude.
With Nikkor 50mm F1.8G, you get nice and smooth autofocus on Nikon D3200. Though not instantaneous, it is quick and fast enough to give you a pleasing experience. Focusing on this fixed prime lens is internal meaning that the focus ring does not rotate while moving to make it easy to attach filters like the polarizers and the neutral density filter. The Silent Wave Motor reduces the focusing noise to a negligible amount.
The sharpness of the images is incredible at the center. I noticed some loss in sharpness in the edges but that is not a dealbreaker in any way. If you keep the aperture in the range of F5- F8, you shall get extremely sharp and crisp quality images.
There was no distortion while using this portrait lens. Do remember that the lens gives an effective focal length of 75mm on Nikon D3200 as the camera sports a cropped sensor. Chromatic aberration was not present at all.
The Vignetting was present but could easily be corrected in post-production. If you love having the blurred circles of light (Bokeh) in your images, Nikkor 50mm is the best option. Except for the absence of Vibration Reduction, Nikkor 50mm seems to be a perfect lens in every manner.
After the tests and the review, I would definitely agree with what the experts and users said about this pancake lens. It is simply the best lens for beginners who would love to click portraits and images full of bokeh.
Nikkor 50mm is not only the best fixed prime lens but definitely the best Nikon D3200 lens too. Also, this lens comes with various options that include filter options and pouches, so grab one now.
- Excellent Bokeh
- Decent focus
- Sharp images
- Nice build quality
- No VR
6. Best For Portrait: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G is a prime lens that is suitable for cropped sensor cameras. The lens is priced reasonably and targets beginners and intermediate photographers who are looking for a product that not only clicks good portraits but also takes some great videos.
The design of this lens is ideal with less weight and a comfortable grip. You can find a nice and well-mounted rubber ring that covers the body of the lens. Do remember that Nikon D3200 is a tad bit heavy and in order to save yourself from exhaustion, a lightweight lens like this one is ideal for shooting portraits.
Autofocus is like the self-start button on a motor vehicle- it reduces effort and saves time. However, the autofocus for 35mm is not satisfactory. Many users have complained that the images came out blurred and unclear.
Nikon D3200 has a fast Burst mode of 4 FPS that allows you to click photos for a moving object but if the lens lacks autofocus, then it would not be useful as you would click images that are out of focus. It is like shooting an arrow without an aim.
You would also be disappointed to know that the autofocus does not work well in low light photography. Look elsewhere if you are planning to shoot videos and short films at nights.
The most important aspect of any lens is image quality. This would include things like chromatic aberration (purple fringes in the edges of the things), and distortion (tilting and bending of the straight lens in the final result because of the build of the lens).
When it comes to NIKKOR 35mm, there is no significant distortion or vignetting but there is a good amount of chromatic aberration that is visible on the edges of the images. Overall, image quality is impressive and you can use this lens for your camera.
I mounted the lens on Nikon D3200 and found that it lives upto the expectations it sets. Clear and crisp images are what you get after mounting it. To sum it up all, the lens struggles with autofocus but it has brilliant image quality. This lens is ideal for portraits and video shooting.
Pairing Nikon D3200 with Nikkor 35mm would only serve to be a deterrent to the capabilities of the power camera as the autofocus of the lens is lacking. Nikkor 35mm is a good and interesting lens but unfortunately not the best lens for Nikon D3200.
Additionally, Nikkor 35mm comes with various buying options such as filters, pouches, and cleaning kits. You can add more to your kitty when you purchase this lens with these bundles.
- Image quality
- Design and weight
7. Best Wide Angle: Tokina AT-X PRO 11-20mm f/2.8 DX
If you want a good wide-angle lens for Nikon D3200 that has decent zooming capabilities with a fixed and reasonably wide aperture, the Tokina AT-X PRO 11-20mm f/2.8 DX should be one of the best devices for you. It isn’t super affordable by any means but, it’s definitely worth that price.
The AT-X PRO 11-20mm is made for APS-C sensor cameras, so it’s perfectly compatible with the Nikon D3200. It weighs around 1.23 lbs so, it isn’t necessariliy heavy. While attached to the camera, you won’t have any issues carrying it around or shooting handheld.
The build quality is pretty good and the lens does feel sturdy in the hand. There are no switches on the lens and you can change the focus just by rotating the focus ring. You need to rotate the ring forward to activate autofocus or rotate backward to activate manual focus.
Focusing is great too in both auto & manual modes. Manual focusing is precise and if you do switch to autofocus, it can really help the sensor to grab on the subject quickly. Now, it ain’t gonna completely fix the average-ish autofocusing capabilities of the camera. but it will definitely speed-up the process slightly.
When it comes to sharpness, the lens does an excellent job by itself. However, I have found that the sensor on the D3200 isn’t always great at retaining details. So, in some artificial & low light situations, you’ll get a bit softer images and the lens can’t really compensate for that.
Most of the spherical bending is taken care of by three Super-low Dispersion elements but, you may see some bending around 11mm. This is something you’ll be seeing with the majority of wide-angle lenses but, thankfully, this one has dedicated optics to counter out most of the bending.
The zoom range isn’t a lot here, but that’s the case with the majority of the Wide-angle lenses so, I can’t really complain. However, in case you do zoom in, that f-2.8 aperture stays consistent across the board and lets-in a significant amount of light even when you’re shooting at night.
- Good low-light performance
- Auto- Manual focus shifting using the focus ring
- Super-low Dispersion to control bending
- No Vibration Reduction
- Average zooming range
8. Best Macro Lens for D3200: Sigma 258306 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM
Macro photography is a niche of photography that one can only discover after having some experience in the field of photography. The Sigma 258306 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM is a macro lens that is designed for intermediate users. This Sigma lens is affordable and also the best in range.
This macro lens is made of plastic and has a metal mount. When I mounted Sigma 105mm to the Nikon D3200, the combination felt heavy and definitely not usable for long hours. The total weight of both went to around 2 and a half pounds which is heavy enough to carry for a long time.
There are switches of focus and Optical stabilization. Optical stabilization has levels and markings that help you to decide the extent of change. Sigma 105mm feels elegant and clean with its matte-finished body. Overall, the design of this Sigma macro lens is comfortable and good but definitely heavy and bulky.
Interestingly, focus is very efficient and perfectly designed for a macro len. Autofocus works quickly and even low light focus is bearably good but what takes away the limelight is the ability of this lens to have focus distancing. Now, if you want to lock focus in a particular distance, let’s say 1.02 – 1.48′, you can do that with the switch present on the lens and it would only focus in that range.
I found this incredibly useful and interesting. There is a little noise that the movement makes but that noise would not disturb or make your subject fly away. Internal focusing makes sure that you have the liberty to attach a polarizing filter to this macro lens.
Sharpness is extremely nice in the center and only a tad bit compromised in the edges as is the case with any lens at a low aperture. Increasing the aperture number makes it much better and supreme. Vignetting is present but it is nothing major that would make the image look bad or worse.
Distortion is well managed and I found no traces of things curving. Chromatic aberration was a challenge to find but it was there in some cases when there was an extreme amount of light. This lens does struggle with the lens flare in broad daylight. Bokeh is nice and smooth. Overall, image quality is very nice for Nikon D3200.
Sigma 105mm is the best macro lens for Nikon D3200. This macro lens ticks all the criteria- nice bokeh, crisp focusing, well managed image quality and a good build quality. Aimed at intermediate users who know the different types of lens and their usage, this macro lens is ideal for insects and artwork photography.
- No distortion present
- Well managed bokeh and sharpness
- Focus range lock
- Bulky and heavy
- Bit expensive
9. Best From Tamron: Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD
If you are looking for something with a super-long range that doesn’t cut any corners, the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD is definitely one of the best lenses money can buy. The range maxes out at 600 mm, but because of the 1.5x crop factor, the actual range you’re getting is about 900 mm which is insane.
The lens weighs a whopping 4.4 lbs, so it’s recommended that you use the included support leg/handle when mounted. The build quality is excellent as you’d expect and the optics have been handled really well. This is an ideal lens for Astrophotography, Sports Photography, and even Wildlife Photography.
Coming to the ergonomics, Tamron 150-600mm has that telescopic form factor, and for good reasons. That gigantic range let’s you zoom in super-close and as the lens movements take place inside the housing, the body iteslf doesn’t expand. Still it is the biggest lens for Nikon D3200 on our list.
The zoom lock switch and zoom ring lock are very useful when it comes to locking the zooming range. Overall, the design is praiseworthy. One of the major aspects that you should note in an ultra-telephoto lens is the ability of it to focus perfectly and Tamron excels in that aspect with its 150-600mm.
Subjects were immediately locked in when light conditions were optimal but it struggled a tiny bit when the subject was not well lit. This lens also does not make a lot of noise while focusing which is definitely a boon.
Sharpness of the images is of great quality in the center and fades away at the edges. As we go higher in the aperture, the quality increases. Vignetting is also something that is well controlled and nothing to complain about. Distortion is also absent.
Chromatic aberration is a major issue that concerns the overall image quality of the Tamron 150-600mm. Purple fringes and blue tinge is quite visible in the images and noticeable too. You can correct this in post production though.
The Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD provides some solid zooming power. It is a bit overkill for the D3200 but, if Astrophotography is your jam, this is the lens you need to get. In case you’re a professional though, you can get some insane photography done using this lens.
- Good sharpness
- Compact design
- Zoom locks
- Bulky and heavy
- Chromatic aberration is visible
Frequently Asked Questions
The D3200 comes with a Nikon F-type lens mount so, lenses with this mount should be compatible. You can also attach lenses with a different type of mount, even the made for non-Nikon cameras, using an adapter.
Nikon themselves make lenses for their cameras under the Nikkor branding. Other than that, there are multiple third-party options available. This includes brands like Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Yongnuo, etc.
If you already own the device and do not plan on buying a new camera anytime soon, then buying new lenses for it is going to be a good investment. Even if you plan on buying a new F-mount camera from Nikon in the near future, these lenses will be compatible with that camera as well.
If you are planning to switch to a newer camera from a different brand anytime soon, then I won’t recommend spending more money on those lenses.
The Nikon D3200 is an APS-C type camera which means, there will be a 1.5x crop factor regardless of what lens you attach. So, getting a new lens won’t really change that. But, if you do want to capture a wider field-of-view, get a Wide-angle lens.
The D3500 from Nikon is an entry-level DSLR camera and although you can’t improve its technical limitations by adding an external lens, you can certainly give a new perspective to your photos & videos. That contributes towards expanding the overall capabilities of the camera.
Considering the fact that you’ve made it till the end, you probably have a personal favorite by now. However, in case you just want to double-check or you’re still confused, let me make this a bit simpler for you.
- If you are looking for a lens for doing Astrophotography, get the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2.
- In case you want to take great Portraits or you’re into Product Photography, get the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G or the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G.
- If you’re into Sports or Wildlife photography choose between the Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED IF AF-S VR and the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED.
- In case you want to shoot Landscapes or Large-group Photos, get the Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM or the Tokina AT-X PRO 11-20mm f/2.8 DX.
- If you’re looking to do some Macro Photography, get the Sigma 258306 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM.
I hope you found this article helpful are got the lens that suits you the best. In case you’ve decided to buy a new camera instead, we have a huge variety of articles exploring all types of cameras and their capabilities. So, maybe consider checking those out.