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.

The Sigma 35mm f1.4 has the best image quality at and around this focal length but the modest Nikkor lens has consistent sharpness, accounting for the slight lead in DxOMark score over the Sigma 30mm

Although peak sharpness is lower than the two Sigma models the Nikkor lens has a pretty good uniformity.