Best Nikon Lenses for Indoor Sports [2021 Review]

If you buy something through a link in our posts, we may get a small share of the sale.

Nikon is known for its wide range of cameras and has been praised for years for its incredible photography capabilities and impressive accessories. 

Lenses play a major role in Nikon’s success, and if you are looking to purchase the best Nikon lenses for indoor sports, we’ve got a list of amazing ones for you.

Our Top Nikon Lenses for Indoor Sports Reviews

Lenses used for indoor sports require specific features. Using the camera indoors to take the perfect sports shots requires the right focal range, zoom range, wide aperture, handheld photography capability, stabilization, and more. 

With that in mind, we have reviewed a total of five best Nikon lenses for indoor sports that can do the best possible job while also covering all of the features you need. 

Best Overall Nikon Lens for Indoor Sports: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR

The AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G is light and portable, so it is easy to carry around with you. This Nikon sports lens is equipped with a lot of premium features. It is also easy to use during handheld shooting. 

Nikon 70-200mm f/4G ED VR Nikkor Zoom Lens

Measuring 3.07 x 7.03 inches and weighing 1.87 pounds, this premium lens is built very well. The autofocusing feature is fast and quiet, and it has vibration reduction to reduce distortion even when the camera shakes. 

The AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G comes with three ED elements that help correct chromatic aberrations for a smooth result. 

However, the lens does not have a Super-ED element, which means that it won’t entirely eliminate any secondary spectrums. 

The lens has a 2.9x zoom feature, expanded between a range of 70mm to 200mm. This is enough zoom range to take medium-distance close-ups during an indoor game. The aperture is fixed at f/4, so it is not ideal for low-light conditions. 

Pros: 

  • It has image stabilization, so distortion is minimized 
  • It has vibration reduction, reduces effects caused by a shaky camera
  • Autofocusing feature is quiet, so it does not disturb the subject

Cons:

  • It does not have a Super-ED element, so there will still be some chromatic aberrations
  • Aperture is fixed at f/4, so it can’t be used in low-light areas
  • It is heavy, not ideal for traveling and handheld photography. 

Best Nikon Lens for Indoor Sports for the Money: Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

If you own a Nikon full-frame camera and need a lens for it to capture indoor sports, then the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR is the perfect lens for you.

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with UV Protection Lens Filter

The lens measures 3.27 x 4.51 inches and weighs 1.76 pounds, making it lighter than the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR.

The lens has vibration reduction that helps with camera shakes so you won’t have any unwanted effects on the images. It has a silent wave motor for discreet and quiet autofocus.  

Unlike the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR that comes with three ED elements, this lens only comes with two ED elements. It doesn’t minimize chromatic aberrations that well. The lens has a better range than the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR due to its range of 20mm to 300mm. 

Pros: 

  • Perfect for handheld photography 
  • It is equipped with vibration reduction, so it fixes the effects of camera shakes
  • It has a silent wave motor, so it is quiet when autofocus is used

Cons:

  • It only has two ED elements, which means chromatic aberrations can happen
  • Aperture is only f/3.5; it is wide enough to let light in for a good picture, not ideal for low-light areas
  • A bit heavy to carry

Best Cheap Nikon Lenses for Indoor Sports: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR

In case you are using an APS-C camera instead of the full-frame camera, it is best to pair it up with a good Nikon sports lens that gives all of the important features you need while being very affordable, like the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR.

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED Vibration Reduction Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

The lens measures 3.9 x 3.11 inches and weighs 1.21 pounds, which makes it lighter than the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR and the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. 

Although the build quality is not as good as that of super-premium lenses, for its price, it has a pretty great build quality. 

The lens is equipped with the silent motor focus feature for quiet autofocus and a vibration reduction feature to minimize the effects of a shaky camera. It has shutter speed perfect for indoor sports, and it does not compromise the sharpness of the image. 

The optical zoom range of the lens is very impressive. At around 18mm, it has a wide-angle perspective to it. The closer range makes this lens one of the best Nikon lenses for indoor sports photography. 

Pros:

  • Equipped with silent wave motor
  • It has vibration reduction, enables handheld shooting
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • It is not weather-sealed
  • The aperture is too wide, with f/4, so it can’t be used for low-light areas
  • When the maximum aperture is used, it shows a clogged effect due to too much light

Best Standard Zoom Nikon Lens for Indoor Sports: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens 

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR lens measures 6 x 3.4 inches and weighs 2.4 pounds; so it is on the heavier side. In fact, it is heavier than the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR, Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR and Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR. 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras w/ B+W 82mm Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Coating

The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens has vibration reduction to reduce the effects of a shaky camera. The aperture is f/2.8, so it is not ideal to use in low-light areas. 

The lens construction enhances image quality and durability while retaining the overall balance, making it a favorite of sports photographers. It is sealed against dust, moisture, and other elements. 

Unfortunately, when the aperture is adjusted to its maximum range, there are some unwanted effects on the edges of the images. 

Pros: 

  • It is sealed against dust and moisture
  • Produces sharp images
  • It is equipped with vibration reduction so that it can be used for handheld photography.

Cons:

  • When the maximum aperture of f/2.8, it shows uneven illumination
  • The edges of the images also suffer when a wide aperture is used
  • Very expensive

Best Telephoto Nikon Lens for Indoor Sports: Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

One of the lenses that most professionals need and hobbyists go after to get the job done is the AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/2.8G. It has a long focal length and a very bright aperture, making it a great and solid choice for shooting sports, especially in poorly lit venues. 

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED Vibration Reduction II Fixed Zoom Lens with Auto Focus for Nikon DSLR Cameras

The AF-S 300mm f/2.8G indoor sports lens measures 10.5 x 4.9 inches, and it weighs 6.4 pounds. It is the heaviest lens on the list. Despite its bulk, it is comfortable to handhold. It is equipped with a shutter speed that is 4x slower than would otherwise be possible, thus assuring dramatically sharper images. 

The front element of the lens is massive, which is why it has a rear drop-in filter holder. The included lens hood is made from carbon fiber, so it does not add to the weight of the front of the lens, and it protects the front element. 

The lens is equipped with a vibration reduction feature. And since the lens has an f/2.8 aperture, it can be used with teleconverters without sacrificing focus speed. 

Pros: 

  • It is equipped with vibration reduction, so it reduces the effects of a shaky camera.
  • Produces sharp images
  • The aperture is wide, so it is great for sports venues. 

Cons:

  • Vignette is visible if the lens is used in its maximum aperture of f/2.8
  • The lens is heavy, so it is a challenge to carry around
  • Very expensive

Features to Consider in Nikon Lenses for Indoor Sports

Nikon cameras and their lenses have been used by both professional photographers and amateurs in different fields, with sports photography being one of them. 

If you are looking for the best Nikon lenses for indoor sports to complement your setup, it is best to keep these features in mind. 

Player practicing in a basketball gym

Silent Autofocus

Athletes are focused on the game, and the last thing that they want to break their concentration is zooming noises from a camera. Knowing that someone is taking your picture can be distracting, and this is when the silent autofocus feature on lenses comes in handy. 

If you do not want the subject to be aware that you are taking photos, it is best to check lenses with the silent autofocus feature. All of the lenses on the list have this feature, as it is essential for indoor sports photography. 

Image Stabilization

Taking pictures or filming while in an indoor sports event requires standing for long periods and walking around to capture shots of the subject. This is why the image stabilization feature is important. 

Image stabilization is a feature that helps minimize the effects of a shaky camera, like blurry photos, distortion, soft edges, and more. All of the lenses on the list are equipped with this feature, as it is a must-have for all indoor sports lenses. 

Internal Zoom

While playing, athletes move fast, and the movements are unpredictable. To be able to capture the subject at the right moment, your lens must be fast when it zooms and focuses. 

When a lens zooms, it usually takes seconds and the shape changes. This could be an issue because just when the lens is ready, the moment has passed by. 

However, if your lens has an internal zoom feature, it immediately locks on the subject, the lens does not have to adjust its shape to focus on your subject, and you can capture the subject in perfect timing. Out of all the lenses on the list, the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G has this feature. 

Focal Range

The focal range or focal length of a lens is used to measure the distance in millimeters. Basically, it is how far your subject is from you and how far you can zoom your lens to have a clear shot. 

Indoor sports have a lot of running around and moving, and you can’t be near the athletes or other subjects as much as you want to, especially in the middle of a game. You can still get a clear shot of the subject as long as you have the proper focal length for it. 

For indoor sports photography, the ideal focal length of a lens is 70mm to 200mm. With this range, you can get a full-body shot of the subject without compromising the background and missing details. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR is the lens on the list that has this range. 

Full-Frame vs. Crop-Sensor

Before purchasing a lens for indoor sports photography, it is best to check if you have a full-frame camera or a crop sensor. Crop sensor bodies are cheaper, and they’re perfect for beginners.

Depending on the size of the sensor, the crop factor makes lenses longer. So when it comes to indoor sports, you can capture the full length of your subject. 

Man checking his Nikon camera lens

As for full-frame ones, it is better to use them in low-light situations. Although indoor sports events are usually held in spaces with bright lights, shadows of the crowd may limit the light that gets into your lens. 

If you believe that this is going to be an issue, then you can go for lenses that are perfect for full-frame cameras like the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR and the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR.

Zoom vs. Prime vs. Telephoto

There are three types of lenses: zoom, prime, and telephoto. Telephoto lenses, like the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II, are great for capturing indoor sports events. They can help you capture the entire field or focus on the subject that is playing. They offer a long focal length, so you can capture the whole game from the crowd. 

If the sports photography niche is new to you and you are still assembling your photography kit, then you can opt for zoom lenses, like the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens. Zoom lenses are designed to focus on a subject on the field, or you can capture the whole game. They’re made for indoor sports. 

Meanwhile, prime lenses offer a single focal length. Although they’re not as versatile as the telephoto or the zoom lens, it can be used in low-light conditions, and it lets you focus on the subject entirely, which is sometimes preferred for indoor sports events. 

Shutter Speed

The lens’s shutter speed tells you how fast the shutter operates. It tells you how fast your lens can take a shot per second. When it comes to searching for the best lens for indoor sports, you will want to look for a lens with a shutter speed that is on the low side, like the Nikon AF-S FX 300mm f/2.8G  and the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED. 

With sports photography, the subjects move very fast. You will need to take a shot as soon as the subject stops for a few seconds before running or walking again. The shutter speed should also not be too fast, as this could affect the overall quality of the shot. 

Conclusion

Sports events are bright, crowded, and fast-paced, and in order to capture the perfect photos, you will need the right lenses to assist you. Sports photography is a type of niche that is so fast-paced, you need the perfect lens to capture those amazing moments. 

With the right lens and the right features, you can get your desired result, no matter what the indoor sports event may be.