The Nikon D3500 is a great camera for beginner photographers. It has an easy-to-use interface and a variety of automatic shooting modes that make it easy to take great photos with minimal effort. The camera also has a powerful sensor that captures stunning detail and color, making it perfect for capturing landscapes and portraits.
If you’re looking for the best lenses for Nikon D3500, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best lenses for this camera and discuss why they might be a good choice for your needs. Spread throughout the lens recommendations are some of the things you should keep in mind when choosing a lens for your Nikon D3500.
Nikon Lens Abbreviations
Before we get started, let’s cover some useful information. Throughout the article featuring some of the best Nikon DX lenses, you’ll see a lot of product names featuring abbreviations. This is standard across all camera brands, but each brand has its own naming conventions. To get you caught up to speed on the Nikon ecosystem, here are some abbreviations you’ll see throughout the list:
- Nikkor – Nikon’s lens brand
- DX – Designed specifically for APS-C DX camera bodies (see sensor size comparison below)
- AF-S – Auto Focus with Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor built in
- ED – Extra-low Dispersion glass elements help deliver better sharpness and reduce chromatic aberration
- G -Doesn’t have a manual aperture ring
- E – Has electronic diaphragm control instead of a physical lever on the lens
- Micro – Nikon’s odd denotation the lens is designed with macro photography in mind
- VR – Vibration Reduction compensates for motion blur while using handheld for a more stabilized final image
Best Standard Prime Lens for Nikon D3500
Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
- Normal single-focal-length lens with 35mm focal length
- Ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system
- Mechanically linked aperture control
- Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for smooth AF operation
- High-performance optical system with aspherical lens for superior reproduction capability
- Bright f/1.8 maximum aperture for exceptional low-light performance
- Small and lightweight design
- Wide maximum aperture for depth-of-field control
- Mechanically linked aperture control
- Compatible with older Nikon cameras
- Affordable price point
- Not suitable for full-frame or FX cameras
- Limited zoom capabilities
- Some users reported issues with the included lens hood
The first lens I recommend in this roundup of the best lenses for Nikon D3500 cameras is one of my favorites: the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.G. Since it was designed for crop sensor Nikon cameras, this is the DX equivalent of a nifty fifty lens. It is compact, lightweight, affordable, and delivers great image quality.
When I was a Nikon shooter, this was one of my go-to lenses in the field. It offers a full frame equivalent focal length of roughly 50mm, so you can capture landscapes, street, or portrait photography. As 50mm provides a field of view similar to what we see as humans, its a very popular lens for tons of photographers.
One of the most attractive things about this lens is its price—it’s a relatively inexpensive lens. I’ve placed it at the top of this list because I encourage you to consider buying this lens as soon as possible when you first get your Nikon D3500 camera. The quality of the photographs this lens takes outshines the kit lens, so bundling this with the D3500 is a great option.
If you’re after an alternative, more expensive option at the 35mm focal length, I recommend reviewing the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art DG HSM.
Best Wide Angle Zoom Lens for Nikon D3500
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD Lens (Nikon)
This lens offers an incredible value for the money. It is a great choice for landscape and architecture photography. The lens is sharp and produces beautiful images with great color rendition. The build quality is excellent and the autofocus system is fast and accurate. The only downside to this lens is that it is not weather-sealed, so you will need to take care when using it in inclement weather.
The Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 EX DC HSM ELD SLD comes with a lengthy name, but a trustworthy past. Many photographers have relied on this wide angle zoom lens for shooting on their Nikon DX cameras like the D3500.
It has a focal length that gives you a wide angle view, perfect for vast landscapes, cramped interiors, and more. The maximum aperture of f/3.5 is constant throughout the entire zoom range.
Yes, Nikon does have its own 10-20mm lens, the Nikon AF-P DX NIKKOR 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G VR, for a little more money, but the wider constant aperture and build-quality of the Sigma makes it my pick for the best wide angle zoom lens for the Nikon D3500. It is worth noting, Nikon’s version does have vibration reduction, which may be important for some photographers.
Best Standard Zoom Lens for Nikon D3500
Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED
This lens is a great choice for those who are looking for a versatile lens that will cover a wide range of focal lengths. It has a fast maximum aperture of f/2.8-4, which makes it ideal for shooting in low light conditions. The 16-80mm focal length range gives you the ability to capture both wide angle and portrait shots with ease. The built-in vibration reduction system helps to minimize camera shake, which can result in sharper photos.
My top pick for the best standard zoom lens for the Nikon D3500 is the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED. This lens isn’t necessarily affordable, but is a versatile lens with a lot of amazing features. For one, it covers a wide focal length range equivalent to 24-120mm on a 35mm sensor. This gives you the flexibility to compose your shot perfectly in many situations without having to move around—especially useful if you’re using your D3500 for travel or event photography. It also has Vibration Reduction with up to 4 stops of compensation against motion blur while shooting handheld and includes electronic aperture control for better accuracy when shooting at high frame rates.
If you’re after a single lens that renders beautiful image quality and the freedom to rapidly compose shots on the fly, this should be high on your list. While traveling, there’s nothing worse than having to open your bag to swap lenses in the middle of everything happening around you. A standard zoom lens is the perfect companion to switch things up and go from a wide landscape to an intimate close-up in a matter of seconds.
Best Portrait Lenses for Nikon D3500
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G Lens
The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens is a great addition to anyone's camera bag. It is perfect for portraits, landscapes and everyday shooting. The f/1.8 aperture allows for beautiful background blur and the autofocus ensures that your shots are always in focus. This lens is also lightweight and durable, making it this nifty fifty lens the perfect travel companion.
While this lens is a nifty fifty on Nikon FX sensors, it is also compatible with the Nikon D3500 camera, delivering an equivalent 75mm focal length. It is an affordable lens with a wide maximum aperture of f/1.8, making it a great choice for portraits with dreamy bokeh and background separation from your subjects.
It is very similar in build material and quality to the 35mm option at the top of the list, so if you prioritize size and weight, you’ll like its compact size and light weight.
If you already own the 35mm Nikon DX lens, you may find the field of view of this 50mm prime lens to be a bit too similar. In that case, I recommend considering one of the 85mm portrait lenses below as an alternative that gives your lens arsenal more versatility.
If you’re after another option at the 50mm focal length, I highly recommend checking out the Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art DG HSM. It is more expensive, but you get a wider aperture and better overall quality.
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G Lens
If you're looking for a great portrait lens that won't break the bank, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is a great option. This lens offers excellent image quality and a fast aperture for creating beautiful portraits with creamy bokeh. It's also lightweight and easy to use, making it a perfect choice for beginner photographers.
By now you’ve probably noticed a trend—Nikon has a suite of f/1.8G lenses that look very similar. The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is another affordable lens from the Nikkor line that offers incredible image quality for the Nikon D3500. It has a full frame equivalent focal length of about 130mm, so you can get tight portraits with the boosted compression effect.
The 50mm above might be better for small group portraits since you’d have to stand pretty far back to fit everyone in with this 85mm lens. Consider what types of photos you’ll be frequently taking and determine what focal length will work for you best. I personally love the look and feel of tight portraits, but you sacrifice some of the important human interaction with your subject since you’re distanced.
If you’re after an alternative, more expensive option at the 85mm focal length, I highly recommend checking out the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art.
Best Telephoto Lens for Nikon D3500
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II
Nikon has long been a trusted brand in the photography world, and with the release of their AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f 2.8G ED VR II lens, that reputation only continues to grow. This lens is perfect for anyone looking to capture beautiful photos of people, places, or things. With its fast aperture and Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f 2.8G ED VR II lens is sure to help you take stunning images, even in low light conditions.
Offering a full frame equivalent focal length of 105-300mm, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II is an outstanding choice for the best telephoto lens for Nikon D3500. This lens gets you close to the action, making it ideal for those of you interested in shooting sports, wildlife, or nature.
It has a constant aperture of f/2.8 throughout the entire zoom range, so you’ll be able to shoot in low light situations and capture photos full of bokeh. If that wasn’t reason enough to grab this lens, you’ll be happy to know that it includes Nikon’s vibration reduction technology to mitigate motion blur while shooting at higher shutter speeds. As any sports or wildlife photographer knows, any small vibration or movement of the lens can result in soft images that are unusable.
Best Macro Lens for Nikon D3500
Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G
Macro photography is a popular form of photography and the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G is an affordable option for Nikon DX camera users. It's a lightweight lens with a maximum aperture of f/2.8 and has a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:1 so you get life size images of your subjects.
If you’re into macro photography with your Nikon D3500 and want to pick up an affordable macro lens, you’ll definitely want to consider the Nikon AF-S DX Micro-Nikkor 40mm f/2.8G. Interestingly enough, Nikon labels its macro lenses with “Micro” and there are several focal lengths of Micro-Nikkor options: 40mm, 60mm, 85mm, and 105mm. The minimum focusing distance varies lens to lens, but they all have a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:1, or life size.
The 40mm version I’m recommending here has a minimum focus distance of just over 6 inches, so you’ll be able to get up close and personal with you subjects to capture incredible detail. While this is a little wider than you’d expect for a macro lens, it can produce great images while staying fairly compact.
It has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, so if you happen to want to shoot portraits or find yourself without a lot of light, this 40mm lens does a decent job. As with many of the lenses on this list, this macro lens is lightweight, affordable, and delivers the fantastic image quality you’d expect from a Nikkor lens.
Best Tilt Shift Lens for Nikon D3500
Rokinon TSL24M-N 24mm f/3.5
The Rokinon TSL24M-N 24mm f/3.5 is a manual focus tilt shift for Nikon FX and DX camera bodies. While it lacks autofocus and image stabilization, it is a much more affordable option when compared to many professional tilt shift lenses on the market today.
A tilt shift lens is a type of lens that allows you to control the focus plane. This is done by tilting the lens in relation to the camera sensor. While there are many situations where a tilt shift lens comes in handy, you’re probably most familiar with the photos taken to create a miniature effect, which makes objects look small and toy-like. The Nikon PC NIKKOR 19mm f/4E ED is insanely expensive, so I’ve opted to recommend a third-party lens from the reputable Rokinon brand. However, if you’re a professional photographer, Nikon’s lens deserves a look.
The Rokinon TSL24M-N 24mm f/3.5 is the best tilt shift lens for Nikon D3500 and those photographers looking to push creative boundaries. It is the only manual focus lens on this list, so keep that in mind as you weigh your options.
Nikon is a name that has been synonymous with photography for a long time. They are a trusted brand with incredible cameras like the Nikon D3500. I hope this roundup of the best lenses for Nikon D3500 and found it extremely useful. I recommended quite a few lenses in this article, but don’t forget that there are plenty of other options—some more affordable and some much more expensive. You can click here to learn more and check the best prices for Nikon DX lenses.
For more Nikon DX lens recommendations for other models, I recommend reviewing the best lenses for Nikon D3400.