A quick glance at the enthusiast market for DSLRs reminds us how relevant the Nikon D3200 camera is after so many years, and how much it still means to so many photographers. While the consumer technology market has changed significantly since 2012, Nikon D3200 lenses still deliver on every front – whether you’re a beginner or an expert.
It has raised the standards when it comes to high-quality photography and usability by giving users a respectable 24.2 MP and cutting-edge Nikon lenses that stand out from other professional DSLRs – all without costing an arm and a leg.
In fact, the D3200 can do pretty much all of the things that higher-end cameras can do – right out of the gate. It has a fully fleshed-out integrated tutorial mode that teaches the basics of photography, even if you’re a complete beginner.
To maximize your D3200, we’ve rounded up our list of the best Nikon D3200 lenses in 2021.
Some of the products we will cover include wide-angle lenses and Macro lenses. Scroll below to see our complete list of the best lenses for Nikon D3200, followed by a quick low-down on what makes each product on our list unique. Or if you’re in a hurry, you can jump to our number #1 pick here.
Table of Contents
- What Should You Look for in Nikon D3200 Lenses?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Nikon D3200 Lenses
- #1: Nikon 18-200mm Lens for Nikon D3200 Camera (Best Value – All-Around)
- #2: Sigma 10-20mm Lens for Nikon D3200 (Best for Wide-Angle)
- #3: Nikon 18-300mm Lens for Nikon D3200 Camera (Best All-In-One Zoom)
- #4: Nikon DX 35mm Lens (Best for Budget)
- #5: Nikon AF-S Micro 40mm Lens (Best for Close Distances)
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Conclusion: Your Best Nikon D3200 Lenses
What Should You Look for in Nikon D3200 Lenses?
Lenses can be super expensive, even if you’re seeking solutions for entry-level gear, and the upfront requirements for investment can quickly add up. Given how much you’ll have to pay for lenses, it’s only fair that you know what to look for when buying lenses for your Nikon D3200 camera.
Looking at information about lenses can feel a little intimidating, especially if you’re a budding shooter. Lens names often come with drawn-out lists of numbers and letters that sound impressive at first glance but can also throw you off course. In this section, we’ll concentrate on a few aspects that deserve attention.
Long Focal Length
The focal length dictates the angle of view or how zoomed-in the picture will look. As a rule, the longer the focal length, the higher the magnification and the narrower the angle of view. You’ll typically find this information by looking at the barrel of the lens. For instance, a 20mm lens will have a focal length of 20mm.
The angle of view will vary significantly with focal length. The effect is as though you’ve zoomed into the scenery, but you’ve only magnified a smaller portion of the image. It is widely understood that 35mm and 50mm are the most important lenses for any photographer. At this focal length, you can capture high-quality images and tell amazing stories simply because the 50mm is the best approximate of the human visual perspective.
The aperture is an opening in lenses that allows light to pass into the camera. It is calibrated in f-numbers such as 1.4, 2, 8, and 11. A higher aperture allows less light to enter the camera, a useful feature if you want to capture all aspects of the scenery, such as landscape photography or group shots. A lower aperture allows more light to enter the camera, which is useful for low-light situations (a common problem at night and darker environments).
A higher aperture allows you to take pictures indoors without having to use a flash. They also result in a lower depth of field, an extremely important component of creative photography. Manufacturers will usually describe the lens by its maximum aperture value. This is a range written on the side of the lens (such as F2-8); these are the maximum aperture numbers at the wide and long ends of the zoom range.
These days, lenses are specially designed to produce images with maximum clarity, reduced flare, and lower the amount of stray light entering the camera. Lens flare, in particular, is the biggest problem that you will have to deal with in creative photography. It is caused by the reflection/refraction and scattering of light within the glass elements of the lens.
Any haze or visible artifacts on your images are thanks to the flare. To combat this, manufacturers use multi-coated glass to remove nearly every trace of lens flare. These lenses used to be expensive when the technology was new, but over time, the prices have become more accessible.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Nikon D3200 Lenses
Not all lenses are created equal – and a high price doesn’t always correlate with satisfactory performance. It can be difficult to comb through thousands of options and find products that work best. This is why we’ve come up with a list of the best lenses after running our own tests and comparing the products side by side. To make this list possible, we scoured through information on forums, feedback from customers, in-depth blog posts, and articles on “best Nikon D3200 lenses” to see if the items on our list perform as they are advertised.
This list includes a wide range of lenses that cover different specializations of photography and price tags. In this way, all hobbyists can find a lens that will work for their needs without having to go over their budget.
#1: Nikon 18-200mm Lens for Nikon D3200 Camera (Best Value – All-Around)
The first product that we will be covering is the Nikon 18-200mm, and we have identified it to be the best all-around lens. This was a no-brainer because the lens is packed to the brim with advanced features. It offers a decent 11.1x zoom and 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G focal range length in a neat Nikon ED glass. Other features that photographers will love are enhanced reduction (VR II) and Silent Wave Motor.
This lens, in particular, deserves special mention because it allows for super sharp images at slower shutter speeds and accommodates a wide range of situations with different lighting conditions. Once you equip this lens, you will have the ability to take photos at shutters speeds that are up to four stops slower compared to non-VR lenses. And when you toss 11x zoom into the mix, you’ll get the complete package that works for professionals and amateurs alike.
Making VR technology particularly useful is the use of two different modes to account for varying shooting conditions. For example, VR Normal Mode is useful when you’re on the move or documenting something that isn’t still (perhaps an animal or a bird). It compensates for the camera shake and comes with automatic panning detection. And if you’re shooting from a moving vehicle, you can stabilize the picture by switching to VR Active Mode. In any case, below are two main reasons why the Nikon 18-200mm made it to the top of our list.
Reason #1: Flexible Zoom Range
As a creative photographer, you want the ability to reach out and capture subjects from afar without any restrictions while focusing on speed and clarity. This is where the flexible zoom range of the 18-200mm comes in. Nikon also addressed one of the biggest pet peeves customers had with the lenses: the barrel retracted and extended under its own weight. A simple switch on the barrel now locks the lens for easy transportation.
This lens is built to the highest standards to increase durability while keeping it lightweight. It is also designed for use in rough weather to ensure that it keeps functioning whether you’re trekking through a rainforest in search of a rare animal or traversing through a rainstorm. It is worth noting that chromatic aberration in the Nikon 18-200mm is moderate at both spectrums of the zoom range (including wide and telephoto) and slightly low over the range of medium focal lengths.
Reason #2: Silent Wave Motor
The lens features Silent Wave Motor (SMV), a motor designed to focus on subjects much quicker without making any noises. This is important in cameras that do not come with motors, such as the D3200. Thanks to SMV, your camera will be slightly less noisy (although it won’t completely eliminate the noise). It is worth noting that you may end up catching the built-in microphone during a video recording.
All these features make the 18-200mm a superior super-zoom lens, but it also happens to be one of the more expensive products on the market. You should weigh the pros and cons of investing in a lens by considering your requirements: quality vs. convenience. It especially is a great choice for travelers for whom convenience is a big priority (considering that it’s not practical to swap lenses on the go when taking photos).
So if you want only the very best Nikon D3200 compatible lenses, you’ll need to splurge on the DX 18-200mm. But this is money well spent, and the results will speak for themselves.
#2: Sigma 10-20mm Lens for Nikon D3200 (Best for Wide-Angle)
If you’re on the lookout for a really sharp wide-angle lens for your Nikon D3200 camera that won’t break the bank, then the Sigma 10-20mm is exactly what you need. At slightly over 500 grams, this lens is a bit on the bulky side because most of the internal power elements are made of metal. This may result in a weight imbalance if you’re not too careful, but it’s a small price to pay for great results.
More importantly, if you put in the work to master photography, this lens rewards you with vibrant and crisp pictures that no consumer-grade kit lenses can match. The Sigma 10-20mm has a special ultrasonic focusing motor that does an amazing job of letting you lock onto a subject quickly and capture high-quality photos before the situation changes, or the subject has any chance of moving. With that said, the motor is slightly noisy, and you’ll notice the sound using the camera’s built-in recorder. Use a dedicated microphone instead.
One feature that stands out is the internal focus of the lens. The front and rear lenses do not rotate when focusing. Moreover, you can use different kinds of filters to enhance image quality. Overall, it is a very hardy lens to use, especially in low light conditions, so you can take amazing hand-held pictures even in the dark.
Finally, with stellar reviews from dozens of websites and happy customers, this lens gives you incredible value for money and will work in almost any scenario.
#3: Nikon 18-300mm Lens for Nikon D3200 Camera (Best All-In-One Zoom)
Our third choice is another Nikon product, and it is one of the best macro lenses for your D3200 camera. This lens is especially popular with travelers who don’t like carrying bulky equipment and simply want to effortlessly capture high-quality pictures.
The Nikon 18-300mm is easily one of the best all-in-one zooms – but the price tag reflects that. It’s a bit on the bulky side – messing 4.7 inches by 3.3 inches, and 300mm (when fully extended).
By design, the Nikon 18-300 feels sturdy thanks to its durable construction – a mix of polycarbonate and metal. The image quality is very strong at 50mm, but the maximum aperture starts to get narrower quickly. This is because the lens loses its ability to gather light. Even so, it’s still useful when you are shooting in low-light conditions. It is great for group photos and portraits.
Given the total value of all its features, the 18-300mm lens provides value for money. Like most lenses on our list, the 18-300mm is a favorite among travelers because of its zoom range. It is rare for superzoom lenses to maintain their performance at extreme ranges, especially in the center of the frame. However, this lens is built exactly for this reason.
#4: Nikon DX 35mm Lens (Best for Budget)
Nikon wanted to capture the market of shooters who didn’t want to splurge $2000 and above on their camera kits – while maintaining quality. With the Nikon 35mm lens, they seem to have captured that market. This is an excellent camera lens for Nikon D3200 if you’re on a budget. Its biggest selling point is the price, which is hundreds of dollars less than some of the products on this list.
Smack dab in the ‘sweet zone’ for general purpose photography, the 35mm is neither too long nor too wide, making it ideal for everything from group photos to landscapes. This is why this lens seems to be so popular with street photographers because it is not practical to carry bulky lenses all the time. This is why the Nikon 35mm is a great choice when paired with a lightweight camera like the D3200.
The large maximum aperture of 1.8 makes it perfect for isolating backgrounds at close distances and low light situations. Even its construction quality is fairly advanced for a product geared as a ‘budget lens.’ The metal mount and rubber gasket provide excellent protection from dust and dirt. It contains a single Extra Dispersion (ED) lens that is mostly used on high-end Nikkor lens to improve contrast and sharpness.
Of course, this isn’t to say that it comes without any flaws. The Nikon DX 35mm has the tendency to show chromatic aberration, both longitudinal (that you cannot correct) and lateral (that can be minimized). But at this point, we’re just nitpicking to find flaws – and at this price, it’s hard to complain about minor issues.
The Nikon 35mm is a winning combination of large maximum aperture, high image quality, and an affordable price tag – all are features that make it a fantastic camera lens for Nikon D3200.
#5: Nikon AF-S Micro 40mm Lens (Best for Close Distances)
Similar to the Nikon 35mm above, the popular 40mm lens is a great example of high quality and affordability rolled up into one neat package. It is one of the most affordable macro lenses for the Nikon D3200 and delivers superior results compared to most consumer-grade options out there. Despite its relative affordability, the 40mm comes with a Silent Wave Motor, Super Integrated Coating, and DX Sensor – these are all qualities of only the very best Nikon lenses.
Despite all these qualities, it is lightweight, measuring only 280 grams. Other features include 7 semi-rounded blades for creating a bokeh effect, 3 focus modes, and a 1.0x reproduction ratio. In other words, you’re getting great value for money. Just like other macro lenses, the Nikon 40mm is popular because of its high image clarity, colors, and sharpness. This is why most photographers prefer to use it for portrait pictures.
Another application of the 40mm is in important events such as weddings and anniversaries. The 1x reproduction ratio ensures that your camera will cover the entire surface of any picture you take.
The bottom line is that you will be pleasantly surprised by the capabilities of this lens for your needs, especially when you are shooting macro images. One negative that should be mentioned is the short focal length that some photographers may find annoying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Lenses are one of the most important components of any DSLR camera. But with so many options and lingo specific to lenses, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the abundance of information. With that said, it definitely helps to work on your understanding of some key concepts to make an informed decision before spending upwards of $700 or more on camera lenses.
What is a Zoom Lens?
These are the most common types of lens that you will find in your photography armory, providing you with a wide range of options to capture high-quality photos of anything from wildlife in the great outdoors to people on the streets. Zoom lenses are very robust, with the most popular options being the 18-200mm that are often used by professional photographers.
These lenses are ideal for use if you’re a traveler, allowing you to take close-up shots and pictures at a distance. In short, it’s the ideal lens that all budding photographers.
What is a Wide Angle Lens?
For landscape photography, wide-angle lenses are an absolute must-have. Wide-angle lenses come with a wider focal field, letting the photographer capture more of the scenery than a zoom lens. It is also ideal for anyone who wants to capture architectural marvels without having to stitch together multiple photos. Wide angled lenses let you capture the entire structure in front of you.
The average focal length of wide angled lenses is anywhere from 16 and 35mm.
Conclusion: Your Best Nikon D3200 Lenses
Now that you’ve reached the end of our review, you’ve learned about five great Nikon D3200 compatible lenses. But if you’re unsure which option to choose, this section has got you covered.
To help you make up your mind, we’ll do a quick recap of all the Nikon D3200 lenses we have covered. This way, you can see their best features and make the best choice.
If you want the best all-around lens, then go with the Nikon 18-200mm.
With powerful 11x zoom and VR II, the Nikon 18-200mm boasts high-end performance that is not possible with consumer-grade lenses and cameras. So, if you want the clearest and sharpest pictures, then this lens is the best there is.
If you need a wide-angle lens for Nikon D3200, pick the Sigma 10-20mm Lens.
It has an ultra-wide lens and maximum aperture of 3.5, and its zoom ends at 20mm – which gives you complete freedom over D3200. This lens is ideal for landscape, architectural, and low-light photography.
And if you’re on a budget but want high-performing macro lenses for D3200, go with the Nikon AF-S Micro 40mm Lens.
This budget lens is a great starting point for any budding photographer. It is ideal for hobbyists and produces excellent results in just about any situation. There are a few caveats, of course, such as lack of optical stabilization and a bit of barrel distortion – but you won’t find a stronger alternative in the market.