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12 Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses in 2024 (F-mount and Z-mount)

Last updated: March 13, 2024 - 27 min read
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The best Nikon telephoto lens is exactly what you need to take your photography to the next level. Nikon makes outstanding telephoto lenses. But which lens is best?

You need a lens that fits with your camera system. You have to decide whether you want a prime or zoom lens. And you need to think about the type of photography you shoot. Of course, you also want a lens that delivers fantastic results.

The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4.5-5.6 ED VR II is our top choice. It’s a versatile lens for Nikon APS-C DSLR cameras. It has a wide zoom range. You get built-in image stabilization. And the optical quality is fantastic. It’s also one of Nikon’s best-value lenses.

Our Top 3 Choices for The Best Nikon Telephoto Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR

 

What Is the Best Nikon Telephoto Lens?

The best Nikon telephoto lens should help you achieve the best photography results. But there are some questions you need to answer before you can find the best lens.

First, you need to know if the lens is compatible with your camera. Nikon has two separate lens mount systems for their cameras. The DSLR camera range uses the Nikon F-mount. And you can get APS-C (DX) and full frame (FX) F-mount lenses.

Nikon uses the Z-mount for their mirrorless cameras. Again, they have different lens systems for the APS-C and full frame cameras. (You can also use an FTZ II adapter to use F-mount lenses on your Nikon mirrorless).

We separated our list into two sections to help you find the correct lens. You can use the links below to navigate through the article.

You also need to decide if you want a prime or a zoom lens. Prime lenses often have sharper image quality. But zoom lenses are more versatile.

The focal length of the lens is another important consideration. A larger focal length gives you more magnification.

That means you can get closer to your subject without actually getting closer. That’s why wildlife and sports photographers favor telephoto and super-telephoto lenses.

Other noteworthy features include their maximum aperture. This gives you an indication of the lens’s low-light performance. And there’s image stabilization or vibration reduction (VR), as it’s called in Nikon lenses.

Use the links below to navigate through the article. And check out the FAQ section for more information on Nikon telephoto lenses.

  1. Best F-Mount Nikon Telephoto Lenses
  2. Best Z-Mount Nikon Telephoto Lenses
  3. FAQs About the Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses
 

Best F-Mount Nikon Telephoto Lenses

This section looks at the best Nikon telephoto lenses with the F-mount. These lenses are compatible with Nikon’s best DSLR cameras.

We’ve included telephoto lenses for their APS-C (DX) and full frame (FX) cameras. There are prime and zoom lenses. And there are lenses for different kinds of photographers.

Our Top Choice
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
  • 20% shorter than previous models, perfect for travel and everyday use
  • Vibration Reduction (VR) keeps photos sharp and videos steady
  • Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass for reduced optical distortion
  • Super Integrated Coating (SIC) for superior color quality
Best Full Frame Telephoto Zoom
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
  • Fast f/2.8 zoom lens
  • VR II image stabilization
  • 7 ED elements for superior sharpness
  • Nano Crystal coating and SIC for enhanced clarity
Best APS-C Prime Lens
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
  • Compact and lightweight DX format macro lens
  • Nikon VR II image stabilization
  • ED element and Nikon SIC for superior sharpness and color
  • Close focusing of 0.9 ft / 30 cm for life-size close-ups
Best Zoom Range for APS-C 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
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3G ED VR
  • 16.7x zoom lens for stunning wide-angle to super-telephoto shots
  • VR technology for sharp photos and steady videos
  • Advanced lens technologies like Silent Wave Motor (SWM) and Aspherical and ED glass elements
  • Maximum magnification of 0.32x and angle of view from 76 to 52°20'
Best Full Frame Prime Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F/1.4E ED
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F/1.4E ED
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F/1.4E ED
  • World's first full frame 105mm with f/1.4 aperture
  • Optimal for available light portraiture or indoor sports
  • Three ED elements for chromatic aberration reduction
  • Nano Crystal coating for maximum contrast
Best Super Telephoto Lens
Nikon AF NIKKOR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6D ED VR
Nikon AF NIKKOR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6D ED VR
Nikon AF NIKKOR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6D ED VR
  • Versatile 80-400mm telephoto zoom range
  • Nikon's VR technology for handheld shooting
  • Super ED and four ED glass elements for sharpness and clarity
  • Compatible with FX- and DX-sized image sensors
Best Super Telephoto Prime Lens
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm F/4E PF ED VR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm F/4E PF ED VR
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm F/4E PF ED VR
  • World's lightest 300mm full frame AF lens
  • VR modes for sports and action and tripod shooting
  • PF (Phase Fresnel) element for sharpness and clarity
  • Fluorine coating repels dust, water, grease, dirt

1. Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6 ED VR II

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 5.6
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
55-200 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Lens System
Lens System
DX (APS-C)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, ED elements, Super-integrated coating
Best For
Best For
Travel, street, and sports photography

The Nikon AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6 is the best telephoto zoom lens for APS-C cameras. The wide zoom range makes it incredibly versatile. The build quality is fantastic. And it produces great results consistently. Plus, it’s also fantastic value!

The 55mm end of the focal length isn’t telephoto. This is a standard focal length. But it gives you a wide focal length range. And the 200mm end gives you excellent magnification.

That’s why it’s such a versatile lens. You can shoot everything from travel photography to sports photography.

Its versatility, matched with the size, weight, and price, makes it one of the best travel lenses for Nikon cameras. When you have this in your travel camera bag, you won’t need many other lenses.

It doesn’t have the fastest maximum aperture. It starts at f/4. And this goes down to f/5.6 when you zoom in. That’s not ideal.

But the vibration reduction (VR) system offers some compensation. By removing camera shake, you can shoot with slower shutter speeds.

The glass quality is excellent. The Extra-low Dispersion (ED) element reduces chromatic aberration to a bare minimum. And the Super Integrated Coating (SIC) prevents flare and ghosting. You get sharp images in all conditions.

The AF-S DX 55-200mm f/4-5.6 is a must-have lens. It will broaden your creative horizons. And you won’t need many other lenses when you’re out shooting. It’s a bargain you can’t overlook.

 

2. Nikon AF-S FX 70-200mm f/2.8 ED VR II

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 2.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
70-200 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Lens System
Lens System
FX (Full Frame)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction seven ED elements, 9-blade aperture, SWM autofocus (AF) system
Best For
Best For
Portrait, product, travel, and sports photography

A 70-200mm lens is one of the most versatile lenses in photography. And if you have a Nikon DSLR, the AF-S FX 70-200mm f/2.8 has to be on your shopping list. It gives you excellent shot variety. It has image stabilization. And it has first-class optical quality. 

Its versatility is one of the top selling points for a 70-200mm lens. The 70mm end is ideal if you’re trying to make money from portraits or product photography.

But you also get an excellent level of magnification. And that’s why it’s a fantastic lens for sports photography. The build quality is exceptional. It feels strong and durable in your hand. And it’s full of precision engineering.

It has seven ED elements that eliminate distortion. The Nano Crystal coating prevents lens flare. And the outer elements have a protective coating.

The f/2.8 aperture is fantastic. It’s constant throughout the zoom range. And that gives you excellent low-light performance at any focal length.

The fast aperture also allows you to use a shallow depth of field. And you get an even smoother bokeh effect thanks to the nine-blade aperture diaphragm.

The lens uses Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for the autofocus. As the name suggests, it’s silent in operation. And it’s quick, responsive, and smooth. You also get a manual-auto focus switch on the barrel.

The Nikon AF-S FX 70-200mm f/2.8 will only improve your photography. It’s best to see it as an investment that will take your photography to the next level. And that’s true for sports, fashion, product, and portrait photographers.

See our full list of the best 70-200mm lenses for all camera bands.

 

3. Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5 ED VR

Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 2.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
105 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Lens System
Lens System
DX (APS-C)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, ED element, SWM AF system
Best For
Best For
Portraits, product, and food photography

The Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5 ED VR is a specialist portrait lens for crop-sensor DSLRs. It’s a prime lens with stunning optics. And it’s one of the best value portrait lenses you can find.

The 85mm is ideal for portrait photography. It gives you a tight framing for intimate portraits. You don’t have the fastest max aperture. But f/3.5 is enough to give you a shallow depth of field. That’s also great for product and food photography.

The built-in vibration reduction system gives you more exposure control. You can use a slower shutter speed without the fear of camera shake. And that improves the lens’s low-light performance.

The lens gives you pristine optical quality. And the ED element and Super Integrated Coating (SIC) eliminate distortion, aberration, and flare. The SWM autofocus system also gives you quick and reliable focusing.

The AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5 ED VR gives professional results at an affordable price. It’s one of the best portrait lenses out there. And it’s the very best for Nikon APS-C DSLR cameras.

 

4. Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 ED VR

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3G ED VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 6.3
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
18-300 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Lens System
Lens System
DX (APS-C)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, ED element, SWM AF system
Best For
Best For
Travel, architecture, portrait, sports, and wildlife photography

The Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is one of the most versatile lenses you can get for an APS-C DSLR. It’s a top-quality lens with a reasonable price tag. With a wide-to-telephoto zoom range, the possibilities are endless.

The wide angle allows you to shoot property interiors and exteriors. You can capture portraits and food photography. And it has the magnification for high-quality sports and wildlife photography.

It doesn’t have the fastest aperture, especially when fully zoomed in. But it does have built-in vibration reduction to give you more exposure control. It also uses Nikon’s reliable SWM system for its autofocus.

Having such a wide focal length range can negatively affect image quality. But this lens uses an Extra-low Dispersion element to suppress chromatic aberration. And it means you get excellent image quality at all focal lengths.

The AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6 is a great travel option. It’s compact and lightweight for a lens with this level of magnification. And the versatility means you won’t need any other lenses. It also has a rather enticing price tag.

 

5. Nikon AF-S FX 105mm f/1.4

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 105mm F/1.4E ED
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 1.4
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
105 mm
Lens System
Lens System
FX (Full Frame)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
ED elements, 9-blade aperture, Nano Crystal coating
Best For
Best For
Food, product, and portrait photography

The Nikon AF-S FX 105mm f/1.4 is a professional standard prime lens. It’s the perfect choice if you shoot portraits with your full frame DSLR. And it delivers outstanding results for food and product photography.

The fast f/1.4 aperture is one of the top selling points of this lens. It gives you fantastic low-light performance. And you can get an ultra-shallow depth of field. This looks great in portraits and product shots.

The lens also has a 9-blade aperture diaphragm. That means the aperture is more rounded. And this gives you a smoother bokeh when working at faster apertures.

The optical quality is exceptional. It has three ED elements. And these work together to eliminate distortion almost completely.

The Nano Crystal Coating also reduces lens flare. And the fluorine coating on the outer lens protects against scratches and smudges.

The AF-S FX 105mm f/1.4 is one of the best Nikon portrait lenses. It’s a stunning telephoto lens. And the results will take your photography business to new heights. It’s a worthwhile investment for any serious photographer.

 

6. Nikon AF-S FX 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6

Nikon AF NIKKOR 80-400mm F/4.5-5.6D ED VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 5.6
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
80-400 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Lens System
Lens System
FX (Full Frame)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, ED elements, SWM AF system
Best For
Best For
Sports, bird, wildlife photography

The Nikon AF-S FX 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 is a phenomenal piece of equipment. It has a large focal length range, giving you incredible versatility. And it has the magnification for professional wildlife and sports photography.

It also delivers on optical quality. The lens construction is fantastic. It feels like a solid piece of equipment. And the build quality is also evident in the results.

Making a super-telephoto zoom with no distortion isn’t easy. But Nikon’s use of ED elements and special coatings means you get clear and sharp images.

The f/4.5-5.6 max apertures are good for a lens of this size. But you also have the vibration reduction system to help you out. It gives you another four stops of shutter compensation. And that gives you even better control over your exposure settings.

The zoom range makes the AF-S FX 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 excellent for sports and wildlife. It’s the best lens for bird photography.

And you can also use it for portrait and product photography. It is large and heavy. So you might want to use it with a heavy-duty tripod or monopod.

 

7. Nikon AF-S FX 300mm f/4 ED VR

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm F/4E PF ED VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon F
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 4.0
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
300 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Lens System
Lens System
FX (Full Frame)
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, ED elements, PF element, fluorine coating
Best For
Best For
Sports, wildlife, and bird photography

The Nikon AF-S FX 300mm f/4 is a beautiful prime lens. The build quality is excellent. And the optical quality and performance are even better. You don’t get the versatility of a zoom lens. But this telephoto prime gives you exquisite images.

The 300mm focal length gives you excellent magnification. And the f/4 aperture gives you good control over your exposure settings. You get solid low-light performance.

Nikon’s vibration reduction system gives you even more freedom with your exposure. It gives you four stops of compensation.

And it has specific modes for sports and action photography. These help you get sharper images with fast-moving subjects. It also has options for shooting from a tripod.

Optical quality doesn’t get much better than this. The lens hash Extra-low Dispersion (ED) and Phase Fresnel (PF) elements. They reduce lens distortion to zero.

And the outer elements have a fluorine coating. This repels dust, water, and grease, keeping your lens clean.

The AF-S FX 300mm f/4 is the best telephoto prime lens for Nikon DSLR cameras. It isn’t a budget lens. You are paying for first-class optics. But no photographer will regret this purchase.

 

Best Z-Mount Nikon Telephoto Lenses

This section looks at the best Z-mount telephoto lenses. Z-mount lenses are compatible with Nikon mirrorless cameras.

The Nikon Z series doesn’t have the same number of options as the F series. But the catalog is growing steadily. And Nikon has produced some incredible Z-mount lenses. Here’s our selection of the best telephoto lenses for Nikon mirrorless cameras.

Our Top Choice
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 50-250mm F/4.5-6.3 VR
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 50-250mm F/4.5-6.3 VR
Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 50-250mm F/4.5-6.3 VR
  • Far reach with a 75-375mm lens equivalent in 35mm format
  • Optical Image Stabilization (OIS0 up to 5 stops
  • ED glass element minimizes color defects and glare for sharp, clear images with excellent contrast
  • Capture beautiful portraits with natural rendering and no distortion
  • Assignable control ring for different funcctions
Best Telephoto Zoom
Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm F/2.8 VR S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm F/2.8 VR S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm F/2.8 VR S
  • Fast, powerful 70-200mm telephoto zoom with constant f/2.8 aperture
  • Optimized for next-gen Nikon mirrorless cameras
  • Focus as close as 1.6 ft / 50 cm from subject
  • Customizable function buttons and control ring for versatility
Best Telephoto Prime
Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm F/2.8 VR S
Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm F/2.8 VR S
Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm F/2.8 VR S
  • 105mm focal length, 1:1 reproduction ratio
  • Image stabilization with 4.5-stop VR
  • Reduce chromatic aberration with multi-focus system
  • Helps to clearly capture hidden worlds with S-Line macro lens
Best Standard-to-Telephoto Lens
Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Zoom Lens
Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Zoom Lens
Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Zoom Lens
  • Perfect travel lens for stills and movies
  • Fast, quiet, and smooth focusing
  • Well sealed to protect from dust and moisture
  • Compact size and superb balance and handling
Best Super Telephoto Lens
Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 VR S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 VR S
Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 VR S
  • Super telephoto zoom range ideal for action, sports, and wildlife
  • High-quality S-Line optics, stunning image quality, and fast autofocus (AF)
  • 5-axis VR for steady shots
  • Compatible with 1.4x and 2x Z series teleconverters for extended reach
  • Weather sealing for outdoor photography

1. Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-5.6

Nikon DX NIKKOR Z 50-250mm F/4.5-6.3 VR
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon Z
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 6.3
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
50-250 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, ED elements, custom control ring function
Best For
Best For
Photography and video with Nikon APS-C mirrorless cameras

The Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-5.6 is a high-quality telephoto lens. It’s compatible with Nikon’s APS-C mirrorless cameras. And it’s a great option for photographers and videographers. It also has a fantastic price tag.

The lens has a standard-to-telephoto zoom range. And that makes it a versatile telephoto option. You can shoot street photography and portraits at the standard end.

And the 250mm end gives you enough magnification for sports and wildlife photography. Plus, it’s a great option for travel photography.

The vibration reduction system gives you five stops of shake compensation. That gives you improved performance in low light.

And it works well for photography and videography. It’s ideal for reducing camera shake when you’re shooting handheld. There’s no need for a camera gimbal.

The lens uses a silent stepping motor for the autofocus. And the silent operation is ideal for recording video. It’s also fast and reliable. You also get very little focus breathing.

The Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-5.6 is a top lens for photographers and videographers. It’s perfectly suited to the demands of multimedia production. And you can buy it at a great price.

 

2. Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8

Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm F/2.8 VR S
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon Z
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 2.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
70-200 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Nano Crystal coating, multi-focusing system
Best For
Best For
Photographers in need of a high-quality and versatile telephoto lens

We’ve seen how versatile 70-200mm lenses are for photography. And there’s no reason mirrorless users should miss out. The Nikon Z 70-200mm f/2.8 is a beautiful lens you can use for a ton of different types of photography.

The f/2.8 max aperture gives you amazing freedom. It gives you excellent low-light performance. And you get a soft and smooth bokeh when using a shallow depth of field.

It also has a minimum focus distance of 1.6 ft (50 cm) at the 70mm end. That’s an ideal lens for food photography and product photography.

It’s a fantastic lens for shooting video, too. The autofocus motor is silent, so the microphone doesn’t pick it up. And there’s no focus breathing when changing focus during a take. The custom focus ring also lets you control focus or exposure while filming.

The Z 70-200mm f/2.8 is a robust, dust- and moisture-resistant lens. And it gives you excellent image stabilization when paired with one of Nikon’s Z series cameras. It’s a high-class piece of photography equipment from Nikon.

 

3. Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8 S VR

Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 105mm F/2.8 VR S
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon Z
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 2.8
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
105 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, multi-focus system, focus limiter
Best For
Best For
Macro, portrait, and product photography

The Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8 S is one of the best macro lenses. With a full 1:1 reproduction ratio, it’s the best macro lens for Nikon Z series cameras. And with a 105mm focal length, it’s a top choice for portrait and product photography.

It has a fast f/2.8 max aperture, giving you great exposure control. And the vibration reduction system gives you another 4.5 stops of shutter compensation. This greatly improves the photography possibilities.

A multi-focusing system powers the lens. This reduces chromatic aberration to a bare minimum.

And you get sharper macro images without color fringing. The Nano Crystal and ARNEO coatings improve the image quality even more by reducing flare and ghosting.

The autofocus is fast and reliable. And there’s a focus range limiter which improves performance even more. You can customize the control ring, setting it for focus or exposure. And there’s a shortcut button on the barrel for speedy changes.

The Z 105mm f/2.8 S is a must-have for macro photography. But it’s also one of the best telephoto lenses for portraits, product, and food photography. This one is seriously worth checking out.

 

4. Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4.5-5.6 VR

Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR Zoom Lens
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 4-6.3
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
24-200 mm
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction
Best For
Best For
Sports, fashion, portraits, and travel photography

With a wide focal length range, the Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4.5-5.6 gives you outstanding shot variety. It’s also compact and lightweight for a telephoto zoom.

And that’s why it’s a top choice for travel photographers. It’s also a great choice for sports and fashion photographers or those who shoot artistic portraits.

The f/4-6.3 maximum aperture is a bit slow. But the built-in vibration reduction system improves the low-light performance. With reduced camera shake, you have more control over your exposure settings.

The build quality is fantastic. And there’s very little chromatic aberration at any point in the zoom range. The Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4.5-5.6 is a versatile telephoto lens for photography and video production.

 

5. Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR

Nikon NIKKOR Z 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6 VR S
Brand
Brand
Nikon
Lens Mount
Lens Mount
Nikon Z
Maximum Aperture
Maximum Aperture
f/ 5.6
Focal Length Range
Focal Length Range
100-400 mm
Image Stabilization
Image Stabilization
1
Other Key Features
Other Key Features
Vibration reduction, dual STM AF system, weather-sealed
Best For
Best For
Sports and wildlife photography

The Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 is a powerful super-telephoto lens for Nikon mirrorless cameras. It gives you incredible magnification. And the optical quality is excellent. That’s why it’s the best Z-mount lens for wildlife and sports photographers.

The built-in vibration reduction system gives you superb exposure control. It gives you 5.5 stops of compensation when paired with a Nikon full frame Z series camera. And it ensures sharper images, which is helpful when shooting sports and wildlife.

The lens has two stepping motors. This means you still get fast autofocus even though it has to cover a large zoom range. It’s also silent. And there’s very little focus breathing. That’s a bonus if you’re using it for video.

The focus and zoom rings give you good manual controls. And it’s completely weather-sealed for outdoor photography. So it pairs well with a weather-sealed Nikon camera.

You can pair it with either the 1.4x or 2x Z Series teleconverters. This allows an increased reach of 560mm or 800mm, respectively. But it doesn’t compromise resolution or focus points or add much weight or length.

The Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 has a professional price tag. But it also delivers at a professional level.

 

FAQs About the Best Nikon Telephoto Lenses

Finding the best Nikon Telephoto lens isn’t easy. There’s a lot of technical language to sift through. (Read our article on Nikon lens abbreviations). And you can get swamped down in unnecessary detail.

That’s why we’ve answered some of the most-asked questions. Our information will help you find the telephoto lens you need for your Nikon camera.

What Is a Telephoto Lens?

A telephoto lens is a lens with a focal length above 80mm. You can get prime and zoom telephoto lenses. And zoom lenses can have a range that straddles standard and telephoto focal lengths. But these are still considered telephoto lenses.

There are many different types of telephoto lenses. They are often broken down into subcategories to help users find the lenses they need.

You have short-telephoto lenses (80-135mm). There are medium-telephoto lenses (135-300mm). And you have super-telephoto lenses (+300mm).

What Are Telephoto Lenses Used for?

There is a wide range of photographers who use telephoto lenses. But certain types of lenses are better used with specific types of photography.

Short-telephoto lenses are popular with portrait photographers. They give you a tightly framed image that’s perfect for intimate portraits.

And the level of magnification with a short telephoto helps you get a close shot without invading your subject’s personal space. That helps them relax. And that results in better portraits.

These lenses are also popular with product and food photographers. They are perfect for detailed close-ups. And the longer focal length helps you achieve beautiful background bokeh.

Product image of the Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR telephoto lens
Our top choice for Z-mount, the medium-telephoto Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR (extended)

Medium-telephoto lenses give you excellent magnification. They are perfect for sports photography. And they are often used by photographers covering events and concerts. Medium-telephotos are also perfect for shooting wildlife photography.

Super-telephoto lenses give you even better levels of magnification. These large lenses are used by wildlife and sports photographers. The magnification lets you get close-up shots from great distances.

You can snap animals in the wild without scaring them or putting yourself in danger. And you can get close-ups of the players without getting in the way of the game.

Can You Use F-mount Lenses with Nikon Mirrorless Cameras?

While Nikon mirrorless cameras use Z-mount lenses, it is possible to use your F-mount lenses too. To do this, you need the Nikon FTZ II adapter. This piece of equipment allows you to use Nikon DSLR lenses with their new line of mirrorless cameras.

It’s a fabulous accessory if you’ve recently switched to a mirrorless camera after years of using a DSLR. It means you can still use those brilliant F-mount lenses with your new camera. And you also have your pick of Nikon’s latest Z-mount lenses.

 

What Is the Best Nikon Telephoto Lens for Portraits?

Nikon offers several fantastic telephoto lenses for portraits. And they have portrait lenses for their DSLR and mirrorless cameras.

The Nikon AF-S DX 85mm f/3.5 ED VR is the best portrait lens for APS-C DSLR cameras. It delivers fantastic results. And it’s one of the best value portrait lenses from any camera brand.

The Nikon AF-S FX 105mm f/1.4 is a superb lens for portrait photography. It’s an FX lens, so it’s compatible with Nikon full frame cameras. The pristine optical quality and the fast f/1.4 aperture make it a top choice for portraiture.

The Nikon Z 105mm f/2.8 VR is your best option if you have a mirrorless camera. The max aperture isn’t as fast as the FX lens. But you do have vibration reduction to compensate.

It also has impeccable optical quality. It’s the best telephoto lens for portraits with a mirrorless Nikon.

What Is the Best Nikon Telephoto Lens for Wildlife Photography?

Wildlife photographers have some excellent options when it comes to Nikon lenses. Photographers using a crop sensor DSLR have the Nikon AF-S DX 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6.

It’s a versatile lens with excellent reach. You can shoot wide environmental shoots. And you have the magnification for animal close-ups.

If you have a full frame DSLR, Nikon AF-S FX 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6. The magnification is incredible. And you get clear and sharp images even at 400mm. The Nikon AF-S FX 300mm f/4 is another fabulous full frame option for a prime lens.

The Nikon Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 is ideal for wildlife photographers with a mirrorless camera. It’s a lens of the highest quality.

It has vibration reduction and crystal-clear optical quality. It has the reach wildlife photographers need. And the features will help you make the most of your opportunities.

 

Conclusion: The Best Nikon Telephoto Lens

Nikon makes some of the finest lenses in the photography world. And this selection of telephoto lenses proves that point. But which is the best Nikon telephoto lens?

Nikon has a wide range of top-quality telephoto lenses. So the best lens suits the type of photography you want to shoot. We’ve seen lenses for portrait, travel, and fashion photography. And we’ve seen super-telephoto lenses for wildlife and sports photography.

The Nikon AF-S DX 50-250mm f/4.5-5.6 is our top choice. It’s a versatile zoom lens. It’s compatible with Nikon’s APS-C DSLR cameras. The optical quality is great. And it has built-in vibration reduction for sharper images. It’s an absolute bargain and belongs in your camera bag.

Our Top 3 Choices for The Best Nikon Telephoto Lens
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 55-200mm F/4-5.6G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm F/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR
Nikon AF-S Micro-NIKKOR 105mm F/2.8G IF-ED VR

 
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