Best lenses for the 24-MPix Nikon D3200: Concise overview

By Kevin Carter - Wednesday December 11 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best prime lenses for the Nikon D3200 | Best zoom lenses for the Nikon D3200 | How does sharpness compare between the D3200 and the D5200 and D7100? | Best ‘all-in-one’ zoom lens for the Nikon D3200 | Best fast standard/portrait prime for the D3200

If you’re a beginner, there’s no shortage of zooms for APS-C format cameras, and those made specifically for that size of sensor are often relatively compact in size and offer a good balance between convenience, price and image quality. Modestly priced models with the widest zoom range are usually the most compromised in IQ, however there are those that can buck the trend.

Both the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-135mm f3.5-5.6G IF-ED and the newer version, the stabilized 18-140mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR are very good performers. Both sit in joint first place of those sampled with a DxOMark score 13 points and a 9P-Mpix peak sharpness score.

 
Nikon AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED480139
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR600139
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR2700138
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR999129
Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM Nikon1659129
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR365127
Nikon  AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED 849118
Nikon AF Zoom-Nikkor 28-200mm f/3.5-5.6G IF-ED300117
Tamron AF 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Nikon1334117
Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS Nikon370117
Nikon AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED1665116
Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Nikon529107
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR1050107
Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 II DC OS HSM Nikon399107
Sigma 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 DC Nikon250106
Sigma 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC MACRO OS HSM Nikon0105
Tamron AF 18-250mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Nikon27097
Tamron 18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Nikon64996
Tamron AF 28-300mm F/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC LD Aspherical [IF] Macro Nikon 60095

In second place is the upgraded 80-400mm f4.5-5.6G ED VR, a full frame specialist lens but nevertheless a promising addition for anyone interested in wildlife though in truth better matched with the D7100 or D300s. In third place, at $999, the flexibility of the stabilized Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR can’t be denied and it performs very well overall.

All three are better performers at the shorter end, but the 18-300mm is a good performer, given the convenience on offer.