Nikon FX vs DX Lenses -Everything You Need To Know

Nikon cameras feature both FX and DX-format sensors. But what is the difference between them, and which one is better? 

We focus on the difference between FX and DX lenses and everything you need to know about them.

What is A Camera Format?

A camera format is the image sensor size in a digital SLR camera. Nikon features the FX-format sensor and DX-format sensor.

This article looks at Nikon FX vs. DX lenses and everything you need to know about them.

What Are FX Lenses?

The FX abbreviation in Nikon cameras indicates a full-frame camera with an image sensor size of around 36 mm by 24 mm. It’s also called full-frame format. The FX lens images circle features a design to fit the size of these full-frame format sensors. 

What Are DX Lenses?

The DX lenses are designed to accommodate the varying sizes of camera sensors in the Nikon camera system. 

A DX sensor is approximately 2/3 of the FX sensor size and measures around 24mm by 16 mm. The minimalistic design aims at making the camera affordable and has a smaller form factor than FX lenses and cameras.

Between The FX and DX, Which One is Better?

If you compare FX and DX-based on technicals, FX is the winner. The FX lenses and camera bodies are full-frame with a larger sensor. 

The larger sensor provides a bigger light-gathering surface, offering better sensitivity and lower noise. It means that FX lenses and cameras will perform better in low-light. 

Also, the FX sensor doesn’t have a crop factor when using a full-frame or FX lens. The FX cameras have expensive and sturdy bodies and are mainly used by professional photographers. 

That means if you are on a budget, FX might not be your best option. 

What Lens Type Can Match My Nikon DSLR Camera?

There is a lot of confusion on the compatibility of lenses to the FX and DX Nikon cameras. Let us look at the compatibility of these different lenses and cameras.

What Type of Nikon Camera Can Fit DX Lenses? 

The Nikon camera system allows you to use crop sensor lenses even on FX cameras. It, therefore, means you can use DX lenses on full-frame cameras. 

The advanced technology in Nikon allows it to compensate for the DX lenses. This compensation is known as auto DX crop. 

The camera prevents vignetting by automatically choosing the DX crop mode once you attach a DX lens.

What Type of Nikon Camera Fit in FX Lenses?

The Nikon FX lenses are universally compatible, and you can use them on DX-format and FX-format cameras.

Although some people claim that you cannot use crop sensor lenses on FX cameras, this is not true. 

Does The Type of Lens Used Affect The Crop Factor?

The answer to this question can be yes and no.

The camera’s sensor is the one responsible for controlling the crop factor. Let us look at different scenarios that make the answer to this question yes and no.

FX or DX Lens With a DX Sensor

A DX sensor camera features a 1.5 crop factor regardless of the lens attached. When you use a DX sensor with a 24mm lens, it will look like 36mm when using an FX camera. 

FX Lens With An FX Camera 

FX lenses don’t come with a crop factor, and the FX cameras feature full-frame sensors. That means if you use a 36 mm FX lens, it will achieve a field of view equal to 36 mm when using it with an FX camera. 

A Special Case of DX Lens With An FX Camera 

Unlike the Canon camera system, where using a full-frame camera with a crop sensor lens can cause strong vignetting or damage, Nikon supports it. 

Since a DX lens will have a smaller image circle, the Nikon camera automatically detects and applies the corresponding crop factor to match the lens. 

This matching allows the camera to use a part of the FX sensor.

Therefore, the image is portrayed from the sensor subsection, allowing the FX sensor to have a matching crop factor to that of a crop factor sensor. 

That means that a 20 mm lens with a crop factor of 1.5 will appear like a 30 mm FX equivalent.

Nikon FX Vs. DX Lenses

The main distinguishing factor of a DX lens is the price, allowing you to enjoy wide-angle coverage at a lower price. 

However, FX lenses’ aperture is wider and more suitable for low-light shooting than the aperture in DX lenses. 

Also, DX lenses feature a range of aperture, whereas the FX lenses come with a constant aperture throughout the zoom range. 

If your subject requires a wide-angle lens and you are on a tight budget, then the DX is the way to go. 

Think of shooting indoors in real estate photography applications while your DX lens has a lower maximum aperture.

In such a scenario, consider using a tripod with slower shutter speeds to lighten up your scene. 

How Can I Identify an FX or DX Nikon Lens?

If your Nikon lens is branded as NIKKOR with a DX marker on its barrel, it indicates a DX lens specifically designed for DX cameras. 

On the other hand, if your Nikon lens doesn’t have a DX marker on its barrel, it could be an FX lens designed for a full-frame camera. 

Keep in mind that if FX is a standard indication for full-frame, there is no point in having a label for FX on the barrel, which is why it’s not included.

How Can You Know That A Third-Party Lens is Designed For An FX Or DX-Format Camera?

Knowing which third-party lens supports your camera type depends on specific brands. Here is how you can differentiate between common brands.

Tamron 

Tamron lenses that support full-frame format cameras such as FX equivalent are educated with Di.

On the other hand, Tamron lenses specifically designed for APS-C crop sensor cameras equivalent to the DX-format camera are indicated with Di-II. 

Sigma

Sigma lenses designed for full-frame format cameras such as the FX equivalent are indicated with a DG.

On the other hand, Sigma lenses designed for APS-C crop sensor cameras such as the DX equivalent are indicated with a DC.

Third-Party Lenses Compatibility 

Both Sigma and Tamron are reputable third-party lens manufacturers for manufacturing high-quality and affordable lenses than the proprietary brands. 

You only need to be sure of what you want when purchasing third-party lenses to avoid compatibility issues. 

Both Sigma and Tamron manufacture lenses for different camera brands, and you don’t want to get a Sigma lens designed for a Canon camera on your Nikon camera. 

Which Lens Will Suit My Nikon DSLR Camera?

The best lens for your Nikon DSLR camera will depend on your budget, photography needs, and your camera type. 

For instance, if you have the budget, it is better to invest in an FX lens regardless if you are using an FX-format camera or a crop sensor DX camera. 

It will allow you to use a DX-format camera for now and still use it later on an FX-format camera after upgrading. 

Even with the DX-format camera, you can still shoot quality photos and videos using FX lenses.

If budget is an issue, DX lenses are pocket-friendly, and still, many professional photographers use them to shoot quality images.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Nikon DX Lenses F Mount?

DX Mount means that the lenses can fit cameras with an APS-C sensor; Nikon AF-P points out that lenses have internal monitorization in the pulse motor or lens.

What Happens When You Use A Crop Lens On A Full-Frame Camera?

Crop frame sensor lenses are made categorically to fit in the crop sensor’s smaller size. The lens image coverage is made for a sensor that is smaller than the whole frame. 

If you attempt to pair lenses designed for crop sensors on a full-frame camera, you will achieve images with black edges all around.

How Do I Tell Whether My Nikon Lens Is Original?

Many modern Nikon lenses come with a serial number. Ensure the Nikon serial number on any paperwork or box fits with the one the seller has photographed.
 
Look at the lens mount details correctly. Original Nikon lenses have screws that fit flush with the surface and well-finished edges.

Which Are The Three Common Professional Camera Formats?

Generally, there are four main digital cameras:  mirrorless cameras, compact, DSLR, and bridge. Mirrorless models and DSLR have swappable lenses.

Do You Require A Full-Frame Camera As A Professional?

If you are a professional gig capturing large-scale projects for companies, you most likely require a full-frame sensor camera.

For high-end projects and large-scale prints, they are an ideal choice.

Final Thoughts 

Are you looking for a professional-level Nikon lens? The Nikon FX lenses are professional level and shoot well even in low light. 

If you want to enjoy wide-angle capability at a lower price, go for the Nikon DX lenses. Above is a detailed comparison of Nikon FX vs. DX lenses and everything you need to know about them.