What Lenses Are Best For the Nikon D3400?

You’ve got your shiny new Nikon D3400 camera, but you don’t fancy the standard kit lens or don’t even have one yet. If so, then this article is especially for you. Not only will we cover the creme de la creme of Nikon D3400 lenses and explain the most important acronyms.

So, what lenses Are best for the Nikon D3400? We shall also provide answers to the most common questions from new Nikon lens buyers. Of course, the following lenses are equally great choices for similar Nikon crop sensor cameras without a built-in focusing motor.

Full Review: The 5 Best Nikon D3400 Lenses

Best Lens For Nikon D3400 – Staff Pick

Nikon AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR

Although Nikon’s AF-P 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6E ED VR lens is several years old, it prevails as our #1 pick for Nikon APS-C and full-frame bodies. This impressive telephoto zoom lens comprises 16 elements in 11 groups and is a fantastic performer. Although, it weighs over a kilo and is a bit on the expensive side.

The features that we love the most about the Nikon AF-P 70-300mm camera lens are its 4 stop VR (Vibration Reduction) and the stunning image quality. There is also a pulse motor that makes the autofocus incredibly fast while being extremely quiet.

The 70-300 also features 8 diaphragm pads for great background separation and rugged, weather-resistant construction. Finally, we must remember the drawbacks: the lack of a focus distance scale and the price tag, which is almost as impressive as the lens’s optical quality.

What We Like
  • Stellar image quality
  • Works on DX & FX
  • Weather sealing
What We Dislike
  • The weight
  • High price tag as new
  • Lack of a focus distance scale

Best Nikon Lenses: The Runner Up

Tokina AT-X Pro DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8

The next lens on our list is the Tokina AT-X Pro DX-II 11-16mm f/2.8, improving the already fantastic first version. The most notable upgrades in the new version are the improved coating and the addition of a silent motor. This means that the DX-II lens is well suited for Nikon crop sensor cameras that don’t have a focus motor.

While the Tokina AT-X Pro DX-II 11-16mm isn’t all that useful to portrait shooters, the architecture, interior and landscape photographers generally find it highly relevant. The silent motor coupled with the ultra-wide focal range makes up for a great piece of glass for vlogging, too.

One of our favorite features of the DX-II is its fixed maximum aperture of f/2.8, which is impressive, to say the least. With that said, the corners of the image come out soft—unless stopped up to 5.6 or even 8. This d3400 lens also rocks no less than 9 diaphragm blades.

However, the bokeh is not exceptionally creamy – that’s why you don’t get this lens for its background blur, but more so for its wide-angle zoom range.

What We Like
  • Center sharpness
  • Made in Japan
  • Dead-silent
What We Dislike
  • Vignetting, although it can be fixed in post
  • Corner to corner sharpness at f/2.8
  • Pretty bad flaring

Most Versatile Nikon D3400 Lens

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

If we were constrained to only one zoom lens for our Nikon D3400 digital camera, the Nikkor 18-300 f/3.5-6.4G ED VR might well be the one. That’s mainly thanks to its incredible zoom range in combination with excellent performance. Although there is some vignetting, the lens produces beautiful image quality and even great macro shots.

In comparison to its predecessor, the Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR is not only smaller and lighter. It is also cheaper. The tradeoff? One less stop of light when zoomed in all the way at 300mm. We would take that trade any day, especially given that the Vibration Reduction provides 4 stops of light.

If you’re planning on upgrading to full-frame any time soon, this Nikon 18-300 VR might not be the wisest investment. That’s because it’s explicitly designed for Nikon DX cameras. But if you’re sticking to your Nikon D3400 APS-C body, this piece of kit should be a staple in your bag.

What We Like
  • Small minimum focal distance
  • 4 stops of Vibration Reduction
  • Extremely versatile range
What We Dislike
  • No focal distance scale
  • Lack of aperture ring
  • Feels plasticky

Best Nikon Lens For Video

Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

Everybody needs to own a 50mm prime lens. If you’re looking to pick one up for your Nikon D3400 DSLR, the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G will not disappoint. The massive maximum aperture provides a delicious background blur that will please any bokeh lover.

Videographers and filmmakers tend to get a lot of value from this lens. This is thanks to the cinematic look and because the focus ring is conveniently placed at the front. Couple that with a silent wave motor, and you’ve got yourself a proper video lens.

Another praise-worthy trait of the Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is the blazing fast autofocus. In fact, it’s nearly twice as quick as that of the f/1.4G version. And that’s at a lower price point. All in all, this is one of the best Nikon D3400 lenses, no matter if you’re a portrait photographer, filmmaker, or travel photographer.

On the downside, the lens is considerably larger than the older version, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D. That said, the weight difference is merely 30 grams, yet the image quality is well worth it.

What We Like
  • Silent wave motor
  • Great in low light
  • Aspherical
What We Dislike
  • Bigger and heavier than the older version
  • Mostly plastic, except the mount
  • No weather sealing

Best Telephoto Prime Lens For Nikon D3400:

Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro D

Last, but certainly not least on our list, is the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro 1:1 Macro lens. Mind you, this one does not have a built-in motor, which means two things: Manual focus only and impressively light weight for this kind of performance. Suppose you’re willing to trade the reliability and convenience of AF for that. In that case, we highly recommend you consider the Tokina 100mm f/2.8 telephoto lens for your Nikon DSLR camera.

The lens easily beats any Canon or Nikon out of the water in terms of sheer optical performance. The lens is as sharp as they get and consists of 9 elements in 8 groups. There is also multicoating. The Tokina 100mm f/2.8 Pro Macro lens is made in Japan and comes with a plastic bayonet.

Although, the lens comes with a few drawbacks. Firstly, it’s actually designed for Nikon’s full-frame bodies that are known as FX. This means you are left to manual focus and manual aperture with this 100mm prime lens. These are essential things to consider when looking for the best lens for Nikon D3400. Additionally, the stepped aperture ring is made of plastic, although it works perfectly fine.

What We Like
  • Spectacular optics
  • Widely available
  • Incredible value
What We Dislike
  • The mechanics are less than perfect
  • Manual only on a Nikon D3400
  • Fixed focal length


Which Filter Should I Get For My Lens?

Again, this depends on what exactly you wish to achieve with your photography. ND filters, including variable ND, are convenient for videographers and for capturing long exposure stills.

Polarizing filters can enhance contrast and color in sunny conditions and help attenuate or enhance reflections.

UV-filters have little if any benefits, in our opinion. A lens hood is usually the better alternative. There is no visible difference in applying an extra layer of glass in front of the lens, aside from an ever so slight degradation of the image quality.

Why Does My Lens Zoom When I Walk?

We’ve all been there. After a brisk walk with the camera hanging off your shoulder, the lens is all of a sudden at its maximum zoom range. What you are dealing with is called lens creep. Some lenses have severe lens creep, while others keep in place quite well. Luckily, we can quickly solve this problem by using the zoom lock, given there is one, or by applying a wide rubber band that partly covers the zoom ring.

Which Lens to Get For My Nikon D3400?

Ultimately, it comes entirely down to your specific needs and your budget. Also, if you’re looking at upgrading to full-frame any time soon, you’d be best off picking a lens that works on both Nikon DX and FX bodies. Resell value is another parameter to keep in mind when buying a new lens for your Nikon D3400.

Some users prefer a complete set of prime lenses due to their small size, cost, and typically outstanding optical performance. Others might prefer a standard zoom or wide zoom Nikkor lens as their primary weapon of choice. For filmmaking, many don’t mind full-manual lenses, which opens up the option of using practically any vintage glass from any maker on the planet.

Which Nikon Lens Type is Right for Your DSLR?

To answer this question, it’s crucial to establish what kind of work you intend to do with your camera. You should also know if you have a full-frame or a crop sensor Nikon camera.

Moreover, you need to know if your camera body has a built-in motor or not. Lastly, it’s essential to be familiar with the most common Nikon lens abbreviations and acronyms – which we have listed in the next section of this FAQ.

Once you have clarity on those aspects, simply make a list of your priorities, set a budget, and you are ready to go Nikon glass shopping with complete confidence.

What Do The Nikkor Lens Abbreviations and Acronyms Mean?

There are many acronyms in the Nikon lens world, but in our opinion, the ones below are the most crucial ones to know by heart.

AF stands for Auto Focus and means that the lens can automatically focus through your Nikon camera.

AF-S means Auto Focus with Silent motor. This one is super important if your camera doesn’t have a built-in focus motor, such as the D3400.

AF-P is the newer, stepping motor type, which is even faster and quieter than AF-S. The tradeoff is that they only work correctly with more recent cameras like D3x00, D5x00, D40x, and D60.

DX essentially means that the lens is designed for crop sensor bodies.

FX, contrary to DX, means it’s designed for full-frame cameras.

VR stands for Vibration Reduction, which is Nikon’s term for Image Stabilization.

ED is short for Extra-low Dispersion. In short, this means sharper images and less chromatic aberration.

Final Thoughts

Nikon’s Nikkor lenses are widely recognized as some of the best glass around. That’s due to their superior build quality, optics, and adaptability. However, other manufacturers such as Tokina and Sigma also make some of the best Nikon D3400 lenses out there. With this review, you are now well-equipped to make an informed, confident decision.

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