back to top

10 Best Nikon Lenses for Street Photography in 2024

Last updated: March 20, 2024 - 14 min read
ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little money. Need more info? See how it all works here.
Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe! We will never share your information.

Choosing the best Nikon lenses for street photography will enhance your shooting experience and photography results. The perfect lens allows you to capture life’s spontaneous moments with clarity and ease.

In this guide, we explore the 10 best Nikon lenses for street photographers, focusing on lenses that offer the ideal blend of versatility, performance, and portability.

Our top picks include the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S and the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G. These two nifty-fifties are perfect for street photography thanks to their natural field of view and wide aperture range. But if you’re looking for something different, we have eight more Z and F-mount lenses to choose from. 

Our Top 2 Nikon Lenses for Street Photography
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G

What Is the Best Nikon Z Lens for Street Photography?

To find the best Nikon Z lens for street photography, you need to consider factors like weight, focal length, and aperture. Our list includes lenses that are compact, offer quick autofocus, and have focal lengths that capture candid shots and environmental portraits. 

Our Top Pick
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
  • Exceptional sharpness, even at wide apertures
  • Fast, accurate autofocus with silent operation
  • Durable build with weather sealing features
  • Pleasing bokeh for portrait and macro photography
  • Versatile for street, portrait, and everyday use
Best Wide/Standard Prime
Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm F/1.8 S
  • Ideal for street and environmental portraits
  • Superior low-light performance with f/1.8 aperture
  • Lightweight design enhances portability and handling
  • Fast, quiet autofocus perfect for candid shots
  • Robust construction with weather sealing protection
Best Compact Travel Zoom
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F/4-6.3
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F/4-6.3
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F/4-6.3
  • Compact and lightweight for travel convenience
  • Versatile zoom range for diverse photography needs
  • Sharp images with minimal aberrations and flare
  • Quick, precise autofocus system for dynamic shooting
  • Effective in-body stabilization compatibility for sharper images
Best Standard Zoom Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S
  • Constant f/4 aperture across entire zoom range
  • Exceptional sharpness and optical performance
  • Compact, lightweight design for easy travel
  • Robust build with comprehensive weather sealing
  • Smooth, pleasing bokeh for portrait work
Best Compact DX Zoom Lens
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 16-50mm F/3.5-6.3 VR
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 16-50mm F/3.5-6.3 VR
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 16-50mm F/3.5-6.3 VR
  • Ultra-compact design perfect for travel and daily use
  • Versatile wide to normal zoom range for flexibility
  • Built-in Vibration Reduction for sharper handheld shots
  • Excellent close-up capabilities enhance creative possibilities
  • Optimized for DX-format Z-mount mirrorless cameras
 

Our Favorite Nikon Z Lenses for Street Photography

Let’s take a closer look at our favorite Nikon Z lenses. With prime lenses that excel in low light and versatile zooms for capturing every detail, there’s a Nikon Z lens for every street photographer. 

1. Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S

Our Top Pick
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
415 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 1.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
50 mm

The Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S is the perfect lens for street photography if you have a Nikon mirrorless camera. Its 50mm focal length offers a view close to human vision, which is perfect for capturing candid moments.

The f/1.8 aperture is great in low light, giving you excellent exposure control in variable conditions. It also helps you create a shallow depth of field, helping subjects stand out in a busy environment.

Its sharpness across the frame is impressive, capturing fine details. The minimal distortion and effective handling of chromatic aberration help maintain the realism of urban scenes.

This lens is quick to focus, which is key for snapping fleeting scenes on the street. And it has a custom control ring that gives you more hands-on control. You can use it to change aperture, ISO, or white balance, to name a few settings. 

It’s light enough to carry around all day and small enough for any street photography bag, like the Wandrd Duo Daypack. Compared to the Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S, it’s slightly heavier but offers a tighter field of view, which some may prefer for portrait-style street shots.

The nifty-fifty remains one of the most popular lenses with street photographers. And the Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S is the best street photography lens for Nikon mirrorless cameras.

 

2. Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S

Best for Environmental Portraits
Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm F/1.8 S
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
370 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 1.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
35 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
No

The Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S is another fantastic prime lens for street photography. The 35mm focal length gives you a wider viewing angle than the 50mm lenses, which many street shooters prefer. It allows you to incorporate more environmental features like architecture. And you can capture more in tighter spaces. 

The f/1.8 aperture allows for shooting in low light, giving you you excellent exposure control when light is inconsistent. It’s also useful if you want a shallow depth of field to create a blurred bokeh background. 

Sharpness is top-notch, with edge-to-edge clarity that captures every detail. The lens handles chromatic aberration well, ensuring colors and lines are true to life. While it lacks image stabilization, this is less of a concern for street photography.

It’s light and easy to carry, which is perfect for photographers on the move. The compact size also makes you less noticeable, which is great for blending into the surroundings. Its build is sturdy, with weather sealing that protects against rain and dust.

The Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S is the perfect lens for street photographers who want a wider angle. It’s a beautiful lens with a robust build. And street shooters are sure to love it.

 

3. Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3

Best Compact Travel Zoom
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-50mm F/4-6.3
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
195 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 6.3
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
24-50 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
No

The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is a brilliant zoom lens for street photography beginners. Its focal range from wide-angle to standard-angle is perfect for capturing a variety of scenes, from expansive cityscapes to intimate street portraits.

Weighing just 195 g, it’s incredibly light and compact, making it an excellent companion for long days of shooting. Its design is simple and user-friendly, with a focus on ease of handling. This makes it less daunting for those new to street photography, allowing them to focus more on the scene than on adjusting their gear.

It delivers sharp images with minimal distortion at all points in the zoom range. And its quick autofocus ensures you won’t miss fleeting moments.

The variable aperture isn’t the fastest. At 50mm you are limited to a maximum aperture of f/6.3. And while the lens does not have image stabilization, you do have backup from the 5-axis stabilization in most Nikon Z-series cameras. 

The Nikon Z 24-50mm f/4-6.3 is a great zoom lens for video production. The silent autofocus and minimal focus breathing allow you to make high-quality video footage. That makes it a good option for street vloggers as well as street photographers.

 

4. Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S

Best Versatile Zoom Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm F/4 S
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
500 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 4.0
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
24-70 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
No

The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S is another brilliant zoom street photographers will love. Its wide standard-angle zoom range allows you to capture diverse scenes, from sprawling cityscapes to detailed portraits without changing lenses.

Sharp throughout the zoom range, you get accurate, crystal-clear images from 24mm to 70mm. There’s no chromatic aberration even around the edges at the widest angle. Glass coatings also reduce flare and ghosting. 

The constant f/4 aperture provides consistent exposure control, which is crucial for quickly adapting to varying light conditions on the streets. It isn’t the fastest max aperture on the list. But f/4 is wide enough for most street photographers. 

It’s relatively light for its size and capabilities, making it easy to carry around for hours. Its compact design doesn’t draw much attention, allowing photographers to keep a low profile.

Quick and accurate autofocus ensures no moment is missed, a key feature for the unpredictability of street scenes.

The Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S is a great option for street photographers looking for a flexible, high-quality lens.

 

5. Nikon DX Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

Best Compact DX Zoom Lens
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 16-50mm F/3.5-6.3 VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
135 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 6.3
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
16-50 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
Yes

The Nikon DX Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR is the best street photography lens if you have a Nikon APS-C mirrorless camera. Its wide-to-standard focal range is equivalent to 24-75mm on a full-frame camera. And it covers most scenes you’ll encounter on the streets.

Sharpness is impressive across the zoom range, making it a good choice for capturing detailed urban scenes.

The variable aperture, while not the widest, is offset by the lens’s Vibration Reduction (VR) feature. This gives you 4.5 stops of exposure compensation, helping you when you have less light to work with.

Weighing just 135 g, this lens is incredibly lightweight and compact. It’s so small you can almost fit it in your pocket. 

Its quick autofocus ensures you capture those fleeting moments that define street photography. The lens’s plastic build keeps it lightweight, but it isn’t the most durable lens on the list. It lacks weather sealing, so take care in bad weather.

The Nikon DX Z 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR is a versatile and user-friendly option for street photographers looking for a lightweight, affordable, all-in-one lens. It’s a great option for beginners.

 

What is the Best Nikon F Lens for Street Photography?

We now look at the best Nikon F lenses for street photography. These lenses are compatible with the Nikon DSLR cameras. And they’ve been selected for their ability to capture street life with precision and clarity. They excel in low light, offer quick autofocus, and provide consistent image quality. Their lightweight design and minimal distortion make them ideal for the dynamic environment of street photography.

Our Top Pick
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
  • Exceptional low-light performance with f/1.8 aperture
  • Ideal for candid street and portrait photography
  • Compact, lightweight design for discreet shooting
  • Superb image sharpness and minimal distortion
  • Quick, accurate autofocus for dynamic scenes
Best Wide/Standard Prime
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F/1.8G ED
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F/1.8G ED
  • Wide f/1.8 aperture for stunning bokeh effects
  • Versatile 35mm focal length for diverse compositions
  • Lightweight, durable build for everyday use
  • Superior sharpness and color accuracy
  • Fast, silent autofocus for discreet shooting
Best Standard Zoom Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR
  • Versatile zoom range for diverse shooting scenarios
  • Vibration Reduction for sharp images in low light
  • High-quality optics with minimal aberration
  • Durable build with weather-resistant features
  • Efficient autofocus system for quick, precise focusing
Best Beginner DSLR Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR II
  • Compact, versatile zoom range for everyday use
  • Effective Vibration Reduction for stable handheld shots
  • Lightweight design ideal for travel photography
  • Quick, accurate autofocus system for sharp images
  • Great starter lens for beginner Nikon DSLR users
Best Professional Zoom Lens
Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM | A for Nikon F
Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM | A for Nikon F
Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM | A for Nikon F
  • Constant f/2.8 aperture across zoom range
  • Optical Stabilization for sharp, handheld shots
  • Art series quality ensures superior image clarity
  • Hyper Sonic Motor for fast, silent focusing
  • Durable build with weather-resistant features
 

Our Favorite Nikon F Lenses for Street Photography

Let’s take a closer look at our favorite Nikon F lenses for street photography. Whether you’re capturing the bustling city streets or more intimate candid moments, these lenses provide a range of focal lengths and apertures to suit any scene.

1. Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

Our Top Pick
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
185 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 1.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
50 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
No

The Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is the perfect Nikon prime lens for street photography. Its 50mm focal length closely mimics human vision, helping you capture what you see in front of you.  And the fast f/1.8 aperture gives you exposure and depth of field control.

This lens is lightweight and compact, making it easy to carry around for long periods without drawing attention. But it still delivers edge-to-edge sharpness and clarity. You also have a 45 cm minimum focus distance that allows for detailed close-ups. 

It lacks image stabilization, which is not a major issue given its wide aperture. But be aware very few Nikon DSLR cameras have built-in stabilization, so you won’t find backup there.

The autofocus is quick and accurate, crucial for snapping fleeting street scenes. This is thanks to Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that drives the AF system. 

The build quality is excellent, though there’s no weather sealing. But for street photographers looking for a versatile, high-quality lens, the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is a strong choice. It’s also an absolute bargain. 

 

2. Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED

Best for Street Photography
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 35mm F/1.8G ED
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
305 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 1.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
35 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
No

The Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED is the perfect prime lens for street photographers who want a wider viewing angle. The 35mm focal length is perfect for capturing life’s spontaneous moments without noticeable distortion.

Its f/1.8 aperture is a big advantage in low light, allowing photographers to isolate subjects with a shallow depth of field. Lightweight and easy to handle, this lens won’t weigh you down during long shooting sessions.

Autofocus is quick and reliable, crucial for snapping shots in the fast-paced environment of the streets. Though it lacks image stabilization, the wide aperture helps keep images sharp in various lighting conditions. The lens is built well, balancing durability with a comfortable weight.

Optically, it delivers sharp images with minimal chromatic aberration, thanks to its aspherical and ED glass elements. For street photographers looking for a compact, high-quality lens, the Nikon AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED is a good option.

 

3. Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

Best Versatile Zoom Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm F/3.5-4.5G ED VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
485 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 4.5
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
24-85 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
Yes

The Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR offers a versatile zoom range that’s useful for street photography. Its ability to go from wide-angle to short-telephoto makes it ideal for capturing both expansive scenes and detailed portraits.

Optically, the lens manages chromatic aberration well and delivers good center sharpness. However, the lens shows some distortion and vignetting at wide apertures, common traits that can be corrected post-shoot.

The variable aperture of f/3.5-4.5 is not the fastest. But the effective Vibration Reduction (VR) provides some exposure compensation, helping in low-light conditions.

Weighing 465 g, this lens is relatively light and compact, fitting comfortably in a bag without adding much bulk. Its construction includes a rubber gasket for dust and moisture resistance, though it’s not fully weather-sealed.

For street photographers seeking a single-lens solution, the Nikon AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR is a practical choice. It offers a good balance between versatility, image quality, and portability. It’s also reasonably priced.

 

4. Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II

Best Beginner DSLR Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6G VR II
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
195 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 5.6
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
18-55 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
Yes

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II is the best street photography lens if you have a Nikon APS-C DSLR, like the classic Nikon D3500. 

It’s ideal for street photography due to its wide-angle to standard-angle focal range. This range allows photographers to capture expansive scenes at 18mm and zoom in for detailed shots at 55mm.

Its compact size and light weight make it easy to carry around, which is perfect for the on-the-go nature of street photography.

The variable aperture of f/3.5-5.6 means it’s not the fastest lens available, which could be a limitation in very dim settings. But the lens’s Vibration Reduction (VR) is particularly useful in low light, helping to keep images sharp without a tripod.

Despite the aperture limitations, the lens offers good image quality, with effective control over chromatic aberration and distortion, making it a good option for photographers who value flexibility and portability.

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II stands out as a practical choice for street photographers, especially those just starting out. Its combination of zoom versatility, image stabilization, and affordability makes it a popular choice for street photography beginners.

 

5. Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | A for Nikon F

Best Professional Zoom Lens
Sigma 24-70mm F/2.8 DG OS HSM | A for Nikon F
Brand
Brand
Sigma
Lens Weight
Lens Weight
1200 g
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 2.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
24-70 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
Yes

The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | A is a great choice for street photography, offering a versatile zoom range that covers wide to short-telephoto perspectives. This lens is part of Sigma’s Art series, known for its exceptional optical quality and robust build.

Its constant f/2.8 aperture is ideal for capturing sharp images in various lighting conditions, allowing for quick adjustments to composition without sacrificing exposure consistency. The inclusion of Optical Stabilization (OS) is a big improvement, helping to reduce camera shake in low-light situations.

It’s far from the lightest lens on the list, but its performance and image quality justify the heft. The autofocus is quick and reliable, crucial for snapping those fleeting street scenes. With minimal distortion and excellent edge-to-edge sharpness, this lens captures the urban environment with remarkable clarity and detail.

The Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM | A is a useful option for street photographers who need versatility and high performance in one package. Its wide aperture, effective stabilization, and fast autofocus make it well-suited for the dynamic and unpredictable nature of street photography. While its size and weight might be a concern for some, the quality of the fabulous image quality makes it a worthy addition to any street photographer’s bag.

 

Conclusion: The Best Nikon Lenses for Street Photography

The article is the comprehensive guide on the best Nikon Lenses for Street Photography. It divides the lenses into two categories: Z Lenses and F Lenses. And lenses in each category were evaluated based on their focal length, aperture, weight, and special features. 

The Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S and Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G both stand out for their optimal focal length and fast aperture, making them perfect for low light and candid shots. The Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S is praised for its sharpness and quick focus, while the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is noted for its lightweight design and image quality.

Whether you have a Nikon mirrorless or a Nikon DSLR, you have plenty of street photography lenses to choose from. 

Our Top 2 Nikon Lenses for Street Photography
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 50mm F/1.8 S
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm F/1.8G