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Best lenses for the Nikon D5300: Part 1 - concise overview of primes and zooms

By Kevin Carter - Thursday January 16 2014

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Nikon D5300 and kit lens option – How good is it? | Comparing the Nikon D5300 with the earlier D5200 | Comparing the Nikon D5300 with D7100 | Best prime lenses for the Nikon D5300 | Best zoom lenses for the Nikon D5300

At just under $4,000 it will come as no real surprise to learn that the Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1,4/55 (55mm f1.4) ZF.2 is the best performing prime lens on the new D5300. With a DxOMark score of 35 points, it’s the best-corrected lens we’ve seen. While other lenses move up or down in the ratings between APS-C and full-frame cameras, the impressive uniformity of the Zeiss Otus 1,4/55 maintains its position at the top of the rankings.

It’s also the sharpest lens with a peak sharpness score of 21P-Mpix, up to 3P-Mpix (effectively just over 16%) more than the next best lens.

 
Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF.2 Nikon39993521
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G6903117
Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM A Nikon8993117
Carl Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 ZF.2 Nikon16003021
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G21993018
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II58992818
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon18402714
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G1952713
Sigma 85mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Nikon9692713
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F2.8G ED VR89992618
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 25mm f/2 ZF.2 Nikon17002616
Sigma 30mm F1.4 DC HSM A Nikon4992616
Carl Zeiss Planar T 85mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon12802615
Samyang 85mm f/1.4 Aspherique IF Nikon3282615
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/1.4 ZF2 Nikon18432615
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 35mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon10052614
Samyang 35mm F1.4 AS UMC Nikon5992611
Carl Zeiss Distagon T 28mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon12832516
Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D3292515
Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D IF12302515

In joint second place is the full-frame Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.8G and Sigma f1.4 DG HSM A both good value and relatively accessibly priced lenses.

However, if you’re specifically looking for a 35mm to use solely on the D5300 or other DX format Nikon bodies, we would recommend looking at the dedicated AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.8G. It’s a good deal smaller and lighter than the full-frame Sigma and while not as fast it’s just less than a fifth of the price at $195, and yet has very good image quality. Equivalent to a 46mm on the D5300, Sigma also offers the 30mm f1.4 DC HSM A model, which is the new upgraded version of the highly regarded 30mm f1.4 EX DC. It is faster and sharper than the more modest AF-S Nikkor 35mm f1.8 but it sells for about twice the price at $499.