Best Lenses for Nikon D500 [2021 Review]

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When Nikon launched the Nikon D500 camera, it was met with praise from professional photographers and critics. It is a lightning-fast and robust camera and an ideal choice for sports photographers and nature photographers. 

The camera is created for taking high-quality photos, and to be able to use that feature to your advantage, pairing it with the best lenses for Nikon D500 is the best way to go. 

Our Top Nikon D500 Lenses Reviews

The Nikon D500 is Nikon’s fastest DX camera to date, shooting up to 10 fps. Nikon’s top crop sensor is perfect for sports, wildlife, and events and it has an advanced autofocus feature that is fitting for a full-frame DSLR. 

Before purchasing a Nikon D500 camera, you will need to think about the lens that will go with it. Whatever the genre of photography that you are aiming for, the best lenses for Nikon D500 can help you get the best results. 

Brand
Best Overall
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
Best for the Money
Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
Best Cheap Pick
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Product
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom...
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR...
Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto...
Lens Type
Wide Angle
Zoom
Telephoto
Maximum Focal Length
35 Millimeters
300 Millimeters
85 Millimeters
Rating
-
-
Best Overall
Brand
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED
Product
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom...
Lens Type
Wide Angle
Maximum Focal Length
35 Millimeters
Rating
-
Best for the Money
Brand
Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR
Product
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR...
Lens Type
Zoom
Maximum Focal Length
300 Millimeters
Rating
-
Best Cheap Pick
Brand
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G
Product
Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto...
Lens Type
Telephoto
Maximum Focal Length
85 Millimeters
Rating

Best Overall Lens for Nikon D500: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED

Nikon created the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED specifically as a kit lens for the Nikon D500 camera. With a maximum aperture of f/3.5, it creates beautiful bokeh and pictures that are clear and crisp, even on the edges. 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom...

The lens measures 3.74 x 3.27 x 3.27 inches and weighs 13.6 ounces which makes it lighter than the Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR and the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8. 

The barrel is made with polycarbonate, and it has rubberized focus and zoom rings. The lens comes with a reversible lens hood, and the front and rear caps have their own hood too that is rectangular in shape and round edges. 

You can get a protective filter if you want to. Both the front and rear parts are coated in fluorine, making it weather-resistant. If it gets dirty, wet, and filled with fingerprints, this lens is the easiest to clean among all the products in this buying guide. The lens has a few toggle switches on the barrel. 

However, it creates heavy distortion on images, and it has a lot of plastic in the build. Also, the aperture is too narrow to use in low-light conditions.

Pros: 

  • Images are sharp
  • It is water-resistant and is coated with fluorine, making it easy to clean 

Cons: 

  • Some edge softness is visible on the images
  • Distortion is highly visible
  • Even though the barrel is made of plastic, it is still prone to cracks.
Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED Zoom...
  • Versatile FX-format wide-angle (18mm) to standard (35mm) zoom lens
  • Focal Length : 18-35 mm, Focus as close as 0.92 ft. from your subject
  • Excellent choice for travel and architecture, landscape and everyday photography as well as HD-Video...

Best Nikon D500 Lens for the Money: Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

The Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR is a lens that offers the whole spectrum of focal lengths, and you won’t even have to switch the glass. 

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR...

This lens is perfect to pair up with the Nikon D500 if you are going to travel or take pictures at events. With its versatility and impressive solid build, it is a reliable and convenient lens to have. 

The Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR measures 3.9 x 3.11 x 3.11 inches and weighs 1.21 pounds, making it lighter than the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. The barrel is made with polycarbonate so it is impact resistant. Both the zoom and manual focus rings have a fine, textured finish. 

The lens has a Silent Wave Motor feature that makes autofocusing silent and fast. It also has aspherical glass elements and Extra-Low Dispersion elements for color contrast and flare prevention on images. 

The 7-blade diaphragm creates a beautiful blur in the background. The lens also has Internal Focusing for a more compact and streamlined lens design, and it has an image stabilization feature, something the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 and the Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro do not have. 

Unfortunately, it can’t be used in low light conditions due to its narrow aperture. Also, some edge softness is visible on the image when it is zoomed.

Pros: 

  • The lens produces sharp images no matter what zoom range you set it to
  • Its image stabilization feature prevents distortion caused by shaky camera
  • It has Silent Wave Motor for a quiet and fast autofocus 

Cons: 

  • It can’t be used in nighttime photoshoots due to its narrow aperture
  • Some edge softness is visible when using the maximum zoom length 
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR...
  • This Grace Photo Lens (International version) Bundle Comes Complete With Manufacturer Supplied...
  • Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR Lens - an all-in-one zoom lens capable of shooting...
  • F Mount Lens/DX Format, 27-450mm (35mm Equivalent), Aperture Range: f/3.5 to 22, Three Aspherical...

Best Cheap Lens for Nikon D500: Nikon 85mm f/1.8G 

The Nikon 85mm f/1.8G is good for professional photographers who use the Nikon D500 camera. The lens has a high-quality build and performs really well no matter what the condition is, whether it be a brightly lit area or a low-lit one. 

Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto...

The lens measures 2.87 x 3.15 x 3.15 inches and it weighs 12.3 ounces, making it lighter than the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR, and the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8. 

A reversible lens hood is included in the package, as well as a carrying case that can be used when traveling. It has a control switch that changes the lens from manual mode to autofocus mode and vice versa. It is located behind the front element for easy reach. 

The aperture is impressive and can be used to capture images in the dark, all thanks to its wide aperture of f/1.8, unlike the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED, Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR, Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 and Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro that have narrow apertures.

Unfortunately, the lens does not come with an image stabilization system, so it is best to attach it to a tripod or a stabilizer when capturing images or filming to prevent the appearance of distortion. 

Also, the lens is not weather-sealed, you can use the lens hood and the carrying bag that it comes with to protect the lens from water, dust, and dirt. 

Pros: 

  • The control switch that changes the lens from manual to autofocus mode is easy to operate
  • It has a wide aperture of f/1.8 that is great for nighttime photoshoots
  • The lens is sturdy and has a great build quality 

Cons: 

  • No image stabilization, distortion will appear on images if the camera shakes
  • The lens is not weather-sealed, it is best to cover it with a lens hood for protection when using it outdoors.
Nikon AF S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Fixed Lens with Auto...
  • Fast aperture medium telephoto lens
  • Internal focus, focal length: 85 millimeter, minimum focus range: 0.80 meter
  • Silent wave motor (SWM). Number of diaphragm blades: 7 (rounded diaphragm opening)

Best Portrait Lens for Nikon D500: Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8

The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 is an excellent lens for Nikon D500. The focal range of 25.5mm to 82.5mm is very popular among professional photographers and enthusiasts. 

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED Zoom...

The optics boost sharpness and only have minimal distortion. It is a great lens if you are into landscape, portrait, and outdoor photography. It has the Silent Wave Motor system that enables fast and quiet autofocus, this feature is useful when capturing images of live subjects. 

The Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 measures 4.37 x 3.39 x 3.39 inches and weighs 1.66 pounds, which makes it lighter than the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. The lens has very good sharpness, although it decreases when the focal length is adjusted to 28mm. 

Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 produces sharp images thanks to its f/2.8 aperture that is brilliant in well lit areas. When the aperture is adjusted to f/11, the sharpness declines fast and when it is adjusted to f/22, soft edges are visible. 

The shortcoming of the lens is that it produces heavy vignetting, chromatic aberration, flaring, and distortion when the focal length of 17mm is used. Also, it is not weather-sealed so it is best to cover it up when using it outdoors.

The lens also does not have an image stabilization system, unlike the Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR. 

Pros: 

  • It produces very sharp images
  • It has a built-in Silent Wave Motor feature that enables quiet autofocus
  • At an aperture of f/8, the images are clear and crisp 

Cons:

  • Vignetting, chromatic aberration, and distortion are visible at a 17mm focal length.
  • It is not weather-sealed 
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 17-55mm f/2.8G IF-ED Zoom...
  • Constant f2.8 3.2x zoom lens developed exclusively for use with Nikon DX Format, optimized for Nikon...
  • Dust and waterproof rubber sealing mount. Focal length : 17-55mm. Maximum Reproduction Ratio : 0.20x
  • High optical performance by aspherical lenses and ED glass elements

Best Macro Lens for Nikon D500: Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX 

If you are thinking of doing macro photography with your Nikon D500 camera, then the Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro is for you. It is the right choice in a macro lens as it produces sharp images, and it is best for non-moving subjects that can easily be approached. It is perfect for food photography, product photography, and nature photography. 

Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Lens Base...

The Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro measures 2.56 x 2.72 x 2.72 inches, and it weighs 8.3 ounces, making it lighter than all the models reviewed on this list. It is dust and waterproof, and its mount is rubber sealed. 

The lens has a high optical performance by aspherical lenses and ED glass elements, which means it prevents chromatic aberration, flares, and ghosting. It also has a built-in Silent Motor Wave for fast and quiet operation. The switching between manual mode and autofocus is fast and smooth. 

The Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro’s front element accepts 52mm filters, and a reversible bayonet hood is included with it. Since it is a macro lens, it does lock onto objects that are just 6.4 inches from the camera’s sensor. 

The downside is that the lens does not have any image stabilization, unlike the Nikon 18-300mm. This means it is best to attach it to a stabilizer or tripod instead of using it handheld. Also, its maximum focal length of 40mm can’t be used for macro photography and distortion is visible at this focal length. 

Pros: 

  • The lens produces sharp images
  • It is dust and waterproof
  • Its Silent Wave Motor allows for high-speed autofocus
  • Switching from manual mode to autofocus is smooth 

Cons: 

  • The focal length of 40mm is short for a macro lens
  • It has no image stabilization feature
  • Distortion is visible
Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Lens Base...
  • Nikon AF-S DX Micro-NIKKOR 40mm f/2.8G Lens
  • F-Mount Lens/DX Format
  • 60mm (35mm Equivalent)

Features to Consider in Lenses for Nikon D500

Choosing the right lens for your Nikon D500 is not easy because there are so many lenses available for the Nikon D500. To narrow it down, focusing on the right features will help you select the best lenses for Nikon D500. 

Product Image Stabilization Weather-Sealed Aperture Range
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED No Yes f/3.5 
Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR  Yes No f/3.5
Nikon 85mm f/1.8G No No f/1.8
Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8  No No f/2.8
Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro No Yes f/2.8

Lens Purpose

The Nikon D500 is known among professional photographers as a versatile camera, and the best way to use that versatility fully is by pairing it up with a lens that is specifically designed for the type of genre that you want to do. 

Close up of a Nikon camera lens

For example, if you want to capture images of different subjects, then an all-purpose lens like the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5G ED is the lens for you. 

Meanwhile, if you are planning to get into macro photography, then buying a macro lens like the Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro would make much more sense. 

Aside from purpose, versatility should be considered as well. If you capture photos of different subjects, you will need a lens that can assist you, like the Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 VR. Zoom lenses let you be versatile, especially lenses that have a wide-angle range and short telephoto range. 

Zoom lenses also let you shoot landscape images, portraits and it lets you take pictures of wildlife and nature even in a short distance, like the Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR. 

Aperture

The Nikon D500 in itself can capture amazing images in low light conditions, so it is best to get a lens that can also do the same. 

Aperture range is a vital factor when searching for a lens because it determines if you can use it in low light conditions or not.

For example, an aperture of f/2.8 like the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8, and the Nikon 40mm f/2.8 DX Micro produce better images in low light conditions than a lens with an aperture of f/3.5 like the Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR. 

Still, an aperture of f/2.8 is still narrow, so distortion and soft edges will show on the photos. The ideal aperture for those who wish to capture images in low light areas is between f/1.2 to f/1.8, like the Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. 

Focal Length

The Nikon D500 camera has a very useful general-purpose focal length range that is equivalent to 24mm to 120mm.

However, to be able to capture the subject up-close, you can attach a lens that will help increase the camera’s focal length. The lens that you select for this purpose will entirely depend on how much more length you would want to add to Nikon D500’s already built-in focal length. 

If you are aiming to take pictures of wildlife without disturbing them, then it is best to get a focal length of up to 300mm like the Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR. 

Remember that the focal length lets you know how close you need to be to the subject that you want to capture. A longer focal length is needed for subjects that are further away, and a smaller focal length is enough for subjects that are just in front of you. 

Silent Wave Motor

The Nikon D500 has an autofocus feature, and a way to make it as fast and smooth as possible when taking pictures is by pairing it up with a lens that has a Silent Wave Motor feature. 

Hand holding a zoom camera lens

The Silent Wave Motor feature has the added advantage of accommodating a filter on the end of the camera, so you can continuously rotate as you focus on the subject. 

Lenses like the Nikon 18-300mm f.3.5-6.3 VR and the Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8 are equipped with Silent Wave Motor features. This means that these lenses have faster and more silent focus motors, and the end of the lens does not change when it is focused on a subject.

Image Stabilization

Image stabilization is an important feature because it can help minimize the appearance of distortion in your images. 

The Nikon D500 does not have an image stabilization feature built-in. However, that can be corrected with a lens that has the feature like the Nikon 18-300mm. 

This feature is needed by those who are taking pictures or videos while holding the camera. Without this feature, a slight camera shake can affect the image. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Does DX Stand for on Nikon Lenses?

The DX on Nikon lenses is an alternative name that is used by Nikon for Advanced Photo System or APS-C image sensor format being 24 x 16mm, which is about 2/8 of the size of the standard 35mm lens and it only has 2.66 megapixels. 

The DX line of Nikon lenses gained popularity, especially among professional photographers, because of its convenient size, speed, and high-quality resolution. 

What is the Difference Between Nikon DX Lenses and Nikon FX Lenses?

The difference between Nikon DX lenses and the Nikon FX lenses is that the DX-format is the smaller sensor at 24mm x 16mm, while the FX-format is larger and fit for full frame cameras as it measures 36mm x 24mm which is the same size as the standard 35mm film. 

Basically, the two lenses have no difference when it comes to specs, quality, and resolution. However, there is a difference in size as FX lenses are significantly bigger than DX lenses. 

Conclusion

The Nikon D500 delivers amazing results and has incredible features that every photographer needs, regardless of what their subjects are. 

Although it is important to choose a lens that is compatible with your Nikon D500 camera, it is also vital to know the style and type of photography that you aim to shoot. Once you have picked the lens, you can begin your photography journey.