In this article, we are going to be taking a look at a wide range of different types of compatible lenses for Nikon d3100 cameras. We have seen a steady number of photographers who own the Nikon d3100 reaching out each month so we decided to publish this post to help any of our readers in this same situation.
We will be taking a look at a number of different types of lenses for the Nikon d3100. Additionally, we are fully aware that our readers have a varying budget when it comes to their photography kits so for each type of lens we have tried to choose three prices points.
- Entry Level – Lenses around the $200 mark.
- Mid Level – Lenses around the $400-$600 mark.
- Pro Level – The higher price point lenses.
Before you get into the article, we want to be clear that we know very few of our readers have over $2000 to send on a single lens so we will not be featuring any lenses above this price point in the article. We feel that the way we have broken down our lens level price points will best fit the budgets our readers have access too so will be sticking to it for our compatible lenses for the Nikon d3100 article.
Zoom Lenses For The Nikon d3100
First up, we will be taking a look at compatible zoom lenses for the Nikon d3100 as a decent zoom lens is often the first upgrade photographers will make to their camera rig. As we touched on above, we feel that we have managed to cover the best zoom lenses for Nikon d3100 cameras for each of our price points explained at the start of the article.
Nikon 70-300 mm f/4-5.6G Zoom Lens – Entry Level
The 70-300 mm makes for a great entry level zoom lens for your d3100 offering you the ability to capture some beautiful, sharp photographs without having to break the bank. The low price tag of the lens initially earned it an undeserved reputation of being a waste of time for most intermediate and above photographers.
Thankfully, over time, it is slowly managing to shake this undeserved reputation as more and more independent photographers are sharing their positive experiences with the lens online. It has steadily increased in both popularity and reputation over the years to earn thousands of positive reviews all over the internet.
The independent video below offers some nice sample photographs taken using the Nikon 70-300 to show the quality of the images you can expect.
The Nikon 70-300 takes 62mm filters and although it is a budget lens we would still recommend that you pick up a budget 62mm UV filter (Click here to check for product prices and availability) for it to add a little protection. Depending on the types of photographs that you are planning to take it may also be worth picking up a budget Cpl filter (Click here to check for product prices and availability). If you would like to know more about our recommended lens filter brand you can read our full Gobe lens filter review.
Although the Nikon 70-300 is 4.61 x 2.91 x 2.91 inches, it only weighs just under a pound making it fairly light for its size although it is a little bulky. Even though this lens is considered more of a budget option or an entry-level lens, there are a number of intermediate and professional photographers who use it as a backup lens due to its reliability and low price tag.
Tamron 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Zoom Lens – Mid Level
The Tamron 16-300mm offers a very impressive focal length for its price while being able to boast a world first zoom ratio of 18.8 that still competes with the lenses that have been released over the last three to four years without issue. When it comes to mid range long distance lenses for Nikon d3100 cameras, there really arnt many that are able to keep up with this.
This lens offers your Nikon d3100 a very sharp image, especially when compared to the older generations of the lens. That said, when the lens is fully zoomed in the image does seem a little rosy while also losing a little contrast. All in all though, we feel that the Tamron 16-300mm is still able to outperform the majority of the competing lenses found at this price point.
Although our main focus for the Tamron 16-300mm is its zoom capabilities, it can still make an excellent all in one choice for many photographers out there with there being various reports online (a second report) of people using it as such.
The video below offers a third party, independent review of the Tamron 16-300mm to offer you an additional opinion of the lens. Additionally, it also has a decent number of sample photographs towards the end of the video.
The lens takes a 67mm lens filter and due to the higher price point of the lens we would recommend that you also invest in either a high-quality mid-ranged (Click here to check for product prices and availability) or high-end UV filter (Click here to check for product prices and availability) to help protect your investment. In addition to this, many photographers choose to pick up a decent Cpl filter (Click here to check for product prices and availability) too.
The lens comes with the Tamron vibration compensation system included to help improve the performance of the lens but some photographers prefer to take their photographs without it. Additionally, a lens hood is included with the lens to help stop potential flare from the sun while taking your photos but having the included lens hood on will mean you can’t use any of your filters.
The Tamron 16-300mm comes in at 3.94 x 2.95 x 2.95 inches and just under 1.1 pounds and should balance fine with your Nikon d3100. All in all, we think that this is a good zoom lens for Nikon d3100 cameras that you can also use as an all in one lens if you wish.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G Zoom Lens – Pro Level
Out of the 70-200mm lenses currently on the market, the Nikon option is by far the premier option with competing brands scrambling to come close to it. It offers you mind-blowing resolution, a 4.7-foot minimum focus, and an insanely fast focus that is unrivaled. All of this has led to this lens becoming the lens of choice for an ever increasing number of wedding photographers as well as a range of other photography professionals.
Although compared to the other zoom lenses on this list, this may be considered a little bulky coming in at 8.23 x 3.43 x 3.43 inches and being around 3.4 pounds in weight, it beats everything currently available on the market at both this price point and this performance point.
The autofocus on this lens is faster than the vast majority of lenses that we have seen, if not the fastest. Its manual focus ring is also so responsive that you can turn it using nothing but your little pinky finger if you choose due to it having such a light resistance level.
The lens also offers outstanding bokeh capability that is both creamy and dreamy offering the ideal photograph for a wide range of situations. This has led to many photographers feeling that thie 70-200 is the best bokeh lens for the Nikon d3100. The twenty-two elements in the lens offer crisp and sharp images for your Nikon d3100 although chances are if you are spending this much on a lens, you also have access to additional cameras too.
The Nikon 70-200mm lens takes 77mm filters and due to the price of the lens we strongly suggest also investing in a 77mm UV filter as a minimum. This will help to protect your lens from various potential hazards while also not having any effect on its ability to take some of the cleanest, crispest photographs possible. Just ask yourself, what would you rather put at risk, your premium range lens or a filter that costs a tiny percentage of the cost of the lens.
Wide Angle Lenses For The Nikon d3100
Next up in our article, we will be taking a look at a number wide angle lens for Nikon d3100 cameras that we feel will suit our readers best. Again, we have chosen an entry level, a mid-level, and a pro level lens to try and offer something for everyone’s budget.
We feel that each of the lenses we have chosen is the best wide angle lens for Nikon d3100 cameras in its price range, not only has each lens been tried and tested but it has also gained a good reputation within the photography community itself too.
Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 Wide Angle Lens – Entry Level
This Rokinon wide angle lens for Nikon d3100 cameras is very sharp offering you excellent wide angled image quality in a number of conditions. The Rokinon 14mm does not have any electric contacts on the lens for communication with the camera meaning that you have to do everything manually when using the lens. Some photographers see this as an advantage, others see it as a negative, only you can make that decision for your circumstances.
One thing that we would like to point out is that the lack of autofocus on the lens means that it does not make a very good run and gun lens if you are planning on taking a bunch of photos of different things in quick succession as you would have to manually focus on each one.
Speaking of manually focusing the lens, the focus ring has a fair bit of resistance but is still pretty smooth to turn. A strange thing about the Rokinon 14mm is the fact you have to turn the focus ring almost fully around the body of the lens to go from minimum focus to maximum focus. Again, depending on the type of photography you are doing, you may see this as an advantage or disadvantage for the lens.
All that said, we still think that this is a solid wide angle lens for Nikon d3100 users that can offer you some truly unique photo opportunities. The 14mm size is fairly unique offering and the lens is great in low light conditions. This has lead to it quickly becoming considered to be an essential lens within the astrophotography community with many people choosing it as part of their lens kit.
In addition to the astrophotography community, it has also proven a hit with the landscape photography and architecture communities too with other photographers using it as more of a general type lens option for their Nikon d3100.
The lens comes in at just over 1.2 pounds and measures 3.8 x 3.4 x 3.4 inches. Its unique dimensions can make it a nightmare to find filters for without spending money on a customer lens adaptor specifically designed for the lens.
Sigma 10-20mm f/3.5 Wide Angle Lens – Mid Level
This Sigma ultra wide angle lens for Nikon d3100 cameras offers you a very effective 10mm zoom range that is amazing for capturing any amazing landscape vistas, especially the once in a lifetime ones that you may see while traveling. The lens also performs well with architectural photography too allowing you to capture the scope of buildings that is again useful if you are traveling and see once in a lifetime buildings.
The f/3.5 aperture lets in a fair amount of light even when at the 20mm zoom offering you clean and relatively sharp images in a number of conditions. One drawback of the lens is its lack of image stabilization but many purist photographers seem to see this as a positive anyway.
Coming from the Sigma EX class of lenses, the build quality of the lens is nothing short of excellent. It is good to handle and made from a mix of high-quality plastics and metal to offer you the very best while keeping the lens as light as possible. It comes in at 1.15 pounds with dimensions of 3.46 x 3.43 x 3.43 inches so you shouldn’t have any problems storing it in your photography bag.
The zoom ring on the lens is very smooth and responsive allowing for snap zooms if needed. Although the focus ring on the lens is also smooth and precise, it can be a little heavy. The lens does have an autofocus option and its motor allows for quick and accurate autofocusing although it does make a little noise.
The micro focus adjustments of the lens make a little clicking sound too. This can make the lens a pain if you are using it for video when using your on camera microphone to record audio. Two simple work arounds for this is to use an external microphone at least a foot away from the camera or simply use manual focus if recording video.
Photographs taken with the Sigma 10-20mm can have slightly soft edges, especially at f/3.5 with slight chromatic aberration on contrasting edges. These issues start to clear up at f/5.6 and are all but gone at f/8 though.
The lens takes 82mm filters (Click here to check for product prices and availability) that can be a little pricey depending on the brand you choose. Something we feel helps to offset this cost is the decent quality lens pouch and lens hood for the Sigma 10-20mm that are included with your purchase as standard though.
Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Wide-Angle Lens – Pro Level
Being an excellent ultra-wide lens for Nikon d3100 users, it is no surprise that the lens has quickly managed to earn a great reputation within the photography community. The lens offers excellent sharpness and contrast for your photographs with the 15-30 mm zoom capabilities actually offering a surprising amount of flexibility, especially when paired up with a full frame camera.
This makes it the perfect lens for any epic landscape vista photography as well as any indoor photography or for taking photographs in tight spaces. There is little to no chromatic aberration in the photos taken with the Tamron 15-30mm and the f/2.8 aperture lets in plenty of light for indoors or low light photography too.
The image stabilization technology in the lens is second to none being able to guarantee you nice, sharp photographs no matter the conditions. The zoom ring is pretty heavy and not very smooth making slow zooms in video a pain but the focus ring is excellent, being very smooth and responsive.
The autofocus on the Tamron 15-30mm is lightning fast too. The autofocus motors are also close to silent offering a very accurate functionality that can be easily tweaked to your liking with the manual focus ring.
The lens has excellent build quality and comes both weather and dust proof with additional weatherproofing available if you wish. The lens is very bulky coming in at 5.6 x 4 x 4 inches and 2.5 pounds meaning it can be a bit of a pain if you are trying to travel light. On the flip side, all of this outstanding functionality comes with additional size and weight in the lens.
The Tamron 15-30mm does not have a filter attachment either but the included lens cap offers excellent protection when not using the lens.
Prime Lenses For The Nikon d3100
Next up we will be taking a look at what we feel is the best prime lens for Nikon d3100 users in each of our price categories as explained at the start of the article. Depending on the type of photographs you take, a decent prime lens could be one of the essential types of lenses for your Nikon d3100.
Nikon 35mm F/1.8G Lens – Entry Level
This entry level prime lenses for Nikon d3100 cameras offers some very sharp photographs that have an astonishing image quality considering the price of the lens. The lens is regarded by some photographers as being a hidden gem that is worth every cent.
The lens will act like a 50mm lens on a crop sensor camera like the Nikon d3100 but still perform on any compatible full frame cameras that you have. Running the lens at f/1.8 gives very good performance in low light while its dimensions of 3 x 3 x 3 inches and weighing less than half a pound make it an ideal choice for uses as a tiny and compact travel lens.
The lens is made from high-quality plastics and metal to help keep the build quality as high as possible while also keeping the weight of the lens as low as possible. Unlike most competing lenses at this price point, the lens mount is actually made of metal rather than plastic to keep your lens mount threads in a good condition to extend their lifetime.
The autofocus on the lens is accurate and silent but due to being a prime lens there is no zoom at all. If you want to change the magnification of your photograph you will usually have to move closer or further away when using this. That said, some more modern cameras have the ability to allow you to increase the zoom of the image without losing any quality but unfortunately, this is not available on the d3100.
The lens seems to have a very good reputation within the wedding photography community due to its excellent performance for the “getting ready” and “dance floor” stages of the job. The Nikon 35mm takes 52mm filters (Click here to check for product prices and availability) that are also cheap and easy to get ahold of offering additional customization options.
Nikon 50mm f/1.4G Lens – Mid Level
With many photographers considering the 50mm prime lens to be the classic workhorse of many photography fields, it is no surprise that the Nikon 50mm is considered to be one of the best compatible lenses for Nikon d3100 although some of the features of the lens do require more up to date cameras.
There is very little on the lens itself other than the focus ring, the focusing gage, ad the autofocus switch. The focus ring is easy to turn and has minimal resistance offering a nice smooth manual focus. The aperture ring is also nice and clean made up of nine blades that offer excellent light control.
When comparing the Nikon 50mm to previous generations of the lens it does not feel as heavy coming in at just over half a point with dimensions of 2.1 x 2.9 x 2.9 inches. The low weight is due to the lens being made out of high-quality plastic rather than having metal mixed in with it and the small size makes it ideal for use as a travel lens too.
There is no vibration reduction capability on the Nikon 50mm but with a 50mm design, there should be no real need for it anyway in all honesty. A bayonet style lens hood comes with the lens included as standard but you are able to pick up various 58mm lens filters (Click here to check for product prices and availability) to further customize the performance of the lens to get the photograph you need.
Sigma 50mm F1.4 Lens – Pro Level
The lens offers you an excellent, sharp image quality that rivals that of lenses that retail at much higher price points than this. The Sigma 50mm is one of the fastest 50mm lenses that we have been able to find and this has led it to become a very popular lens in its own right.
The f/1.4 aperture allows in 16 x more light offering you outstanding low light photography performance. Its narrow depth of field enables you to easily make backgrounds go out of focus to have an excellent effect.
Coming in at almost two pounds the lens is pretty heavy for its size. This is due to the bulky front lens that was designed to prevent vignetting that can be a problem for some competing lenses. We are happy to report that Sigma has done an excellent job of reducing this problem in their lens though.
The HSM autofocus system used in the Sigma 50mm is very fast and accurate making little to no sound at all while functioning too. All in all, we feel that this is an outstanding lens that won’t do you wrong if you choose to invest in it.
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j van cise photos – Brown Pelican ~ Pelecanus occidentals ~ Southern Outer Banks, North Carolina – https://flic.kr/p/nPSwLg
John Fowler – Milky Way – https://flic.kr/p/nSedc9
Erik Söderström – silent // #photog – https://flic.kr/p/7fDAnb
Martin Dürr – Nachmittag am Teich – https://flic.kr/p/23iVRsS
Kuba Bożanowski – Grzech Piotrowski (Emotronica) @ Tygmont – https://flic.kr/p/7idPT3
Ken Lee – <no title> – Dia de los Muertos 2012 – https://flic.kr/p/duafUC