Best lenses for the 24-Mpix Nikon D7100: Telephoto primes and zooms

By Kevin Carter - Thursday October 10 2013

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best Super Zooms for the D7100 | Best 70-200mm lenses for the D7100 | Best telephoto primes for the D7100 | Best telephoto zooms for the D7100

Perhaps not surprisingly it’s the shorter focal length lenses that perform best optically, but there are still a few surprises, given the large maximum apertures of the models occupying the top three slots. In first place is the AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2 ED VR II, which saw a revamp recently to include a Nano Crystal coat. It achieves a DxOMark score of 29 points putting it firmly ahead of the high-performing Carl Zeiss 100mm f/2.0 macro, and the $9000 AF-S Nikkor 400mm f/2.8. Although the Zeiss comes second overall, the two Nikkor models have similar levels of sharpness, both achieving a higher 17-P-Mpix score in our ratings.

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200mm f/2G ED VR II58992917
Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f/2 ZF2 Nikon18402713
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 400mm F2.8G ED VR89992617
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II59002415
Nikon AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED8902312
Nikon AF DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2D10992312
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG Macro Nikon6402213
Sigma 105mm F2.8 EX DG OS HSM Nikon9692115
Nikon AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D ED-IF14252011
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR99991710
Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR8030169

Telephoto lenses like these have a narrow field of view that reduces as the focal length increases, and are quite limited in their appeal (though that may also have something to do with their price). Lenses like this aren’t particularly flexible, and with the advance in modern lens designs likely accounts for the popularity of telephoto zooms. 

Be that as it may, the shorter telephoto macro models can serve double duty as portrait lenses and are also ideal for still life photography. While the Zeiss is the best performer optically on the D7100, the AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 deserves a mention. Not only is it around a $1000 less, it has similar sharpness and the optical stabilisation may go someway to offset the brighter maximum aperture of the Zeiss when used hand-held for stationary subjects.