If you wish to skip to the most important part and find out which are the best lenses for the Nikon D5300, you can find the list below –
- Best wide prime lens – Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
- Best wide zoom lens – Tokina ATX-i 11-20mm f/2.8 CF
- Best standard prime lens – Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G
- Best standard zoom lens – Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
- Best macro lens – Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
- Best super-telephoto zoom lens – Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
- Best portrait lens – Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
We’ve still got you covered if you own a Nikon camera model other than the D5300. Check out our selection of lens guides for other Nikon models:
Main features of the Nikon D5300
Before we discuss the best lenses for the Nikon D5300, let’s take a closer look at the features of this entry-level camera.
The D5300, upon its launch, replaced the D5200 and became Nikon’s upper-entry-level option. Just above it was the DX format D7100, targeted at enthusiast users, and below it was the entry-level D3200, targeted at beginners. The D5300 offered advanced user control without leaving a huge dent in the wallet.
The D5300 is powered by a 24.2-MP DX-format CMOS sensor paired with an EXPEED 4 image processor. The sensor does not have an optical low pass Filter. The continuous shooting speed of the D5300 is five fps (in JPEG mode). The video recording resolution is a bit dated today, considering that 4K is the standard on all new cameras.
BEST WIDE-PRIME LENS
BEST WIDE-ZOOM LENS
BEST STANDARD PRIME LENS
BEST STANDARD ZOOM LENS
BEST MACRO LENS
BEST SUPER-TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS
BEST PORTRAIT LENS
1. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED
This lens was originally designed for full-frame F-mount cameras. However, with a 1.5x crop factor, the lens will also work on the D5300. The effective focal length of the lens becomes 30mm on the D5300, making it useful for shooting landscapes and architectural photos.
There are several wide prime options from Nikon that you can explore – the 28mm f/1.8G, the 24mm f/1.4G, and the 20mm f/1.8G. The 28mm feels too long when mounted on the D5300. The effective focal length also becomes 42mm which is longer than a 35mm standard prime, so it’s automatically out of the running. Between the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G ED, which is faster, heavier, and significantly pricier, and the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 20mm f/1.8G ED, I would go with the latter. The wider 20mm focal length makes a lot of difference when shooting in tight spaces or attempting to capture a wide panoramic vista.
If you’re looking for a landscape and nature photography prime lens, the 20mm f/1.8 is the way to go. I wouldn’t recommend this lens for shooting architecture or interiors with the D5300 because of the crop factor and the effective focal length, as it starts to feel too long, despite being an excellent choice for shooting these two genres on a full-frame camera.
With this lens, you don’t have to worry about autofocusing, as all G-series lenses are capable of autofocusing on the D5300 camera.
However, being a G lens has a few disadvantages as well. For instance, there is no aperture ring on the lens. In manual mode, you must adjust the aperture using a combination of the exposure compensation button on the top panel and the command dial. In Aperture Priority mode, simply turning the command dial at the back of the camera increases or decreases the aperture. Fortunately, there is a focusing distance indicator on the barrel.
Coming now to the construction of the lens, the lens feels solid in the hands even though it weighs only about 355 grams. There is a lot of plastic in the construction and no weather sealing. I’m not too fond of the filter thread of the lens. The threads are made of plastic and don’t appear to me like they’ll last too long.
Inside the barrel, there are two extra-low dispersion (ED) elements. These elements suppress the impact of color fringing, improving contrast and sharpness.
Additionally, the lens also has two aspherical lens elements. These elements are in place to address the impact of spherical aberrations. The large focusing ring dominates the barrel of the lens. The focusing ring turns smoothly and ensures it’s easy to lock manual focus without issues.
Overall, I am happy with the performance of the lens. Focusing is snappy, and the optical results of the lens, even wide open, are sharp. Stopping down improves sharpness and performance. The sharpest performance is when the lens is stopped at f/4. Once you adjust the aperture to beyond f/4, the lens starts to lose sharpness, and beyond f/16, lens diffraction is apparent.
2. Tokina ATX-i 11-20mm f/2.8 CF
It’s rare to find an ultra-wide-angle lens with a constant aperture as wide as f/2.8 across the focal length. The Tokina ATX-i 11-20mm f/2.8 CF is a joy to work with. The lens is optimized for the smaller image circle of Nikon’s DX-format cameras like the D5300.
The problem with using wide and ultra-wide zoom lenses on crop cameras is that the crop factor eats away at the field of view. So, an 11-20m lens becomes an effective 16.5-30mm.
The Tokina ATX-i 11-20mm f/2.8 CF is still an excellent tool for anyone looking to shoot landscapes, architecture, and interior photography. The constant aperture of f/2.8 ensures bright exposure, no matter the focal length you’re shooting at. The aperture doesn’t drop, which allows the shutter speed to stay the same.
The lens works well in low-light conditions, where the lack of light pushes down the shutter speed and pushes up ISO. Though there are faster lenses in the business, this is an excellent aperture for a zoom lens.
The construction of the lens is good. It feels solid in the hands, which ensures that the lens can withstand a bit of rough use. Regarding internal elements, the Tokina ATX-i 11-20mm f/2.8 CF consists of 14 elements arranged in 12 groups. There are three aspherical elements, including two glass-molded elements and one P-MO hybrid element that takes care of spherical aberrations.
Additionally, the lens has three super-low dispersion elements designed to take care of color fringing and chromatic aberrations. On top of that, the lens features an anti-reflective multi-layer coating. This ensures the lens can handle complications such as ghosting and flares caused by sharp light.
Let’s talk about the performance of the lens. I did not find too much to complain about, as the lens is sharp across the zoom range. Wide-angle lenses are prone to lens distortion, especially barrel distortion that happens at the widest focal length. However, I am pleased that, even at 11mm, the lens does not show signs of heavy distortion. Some barrel distortion is visible, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
That said, the lens does suffer from some chromatic aberrations. Chromatic aberrations are especially visible at the edges of dark and bright features in a scene.
Autofocusing on the lens is powered by a silent drive focusing mechanism. This technology prevents the lens from being very noisy. As an added bonus, the autofocusing performance of the lens is very accurate.
3. Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G
I have often recommended the 35mm f/1.8G prime for DX-format cameras. This is my favorite lens to shoot with when using crop cameras, such as the D7200, the D500, and the D5300. Don’t confuse this with the 35mm f/1.8G ED AF-S, designed for the full-frame Nikon DSLRs. That lens is significantly higher priced than the 35mm f/1.8 DX lens I am reviewing here.
The lens is optimized for the image circle of smaller DX-format cameras. The crop factor makes the lens’s effective focal length 52.5mm (on a 35mm format camera). This makes it a standard prime lens with a field of view similar to a 50mm prime mounted on a full-frame camera.
What could you do with a standard prime lens? You can shoot street photos, your kids playing in the yard, your wife’s birthday celebrations, a friend’s wedding, a day at the beach, and much more. The fast wide aperture of f/1.8 captures a lot of light and ensures you can shoot in low-light situations without pushing the ISO. Alternatively, you can hand hold in most lighting conditions without risking image blur.
Speaking of hand-holding, there is no image stabilization on this lens. So, for hand-held shots, make sure that you always use the one-over focal length rule to capture sharp photos. In the case of the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem, thanks to the wide-open aperture.
The construction of the lens consists of eight elements arranged in six groups. This is a relatively simple design. It includes one aspherical element that’s in place to reduce the effects of spherical aberrations. The lens also has a super Integrated coating that ensures that the lens can withstand the effects of internal reflections, flares, and ghosting.
The lens weighs 200 grams and does not come with weather sealing. This means the lens should not be exposed to the elements. You can’t take it out in bad weather and exposing it to a dusty environment runs the risk of sucking in debris. Overall, I am not unhappy with the construction quality of the lens, but this camera also won’t be your best bet in a war zone.
The lens features Nikon’s silent wave motor powered autofocusing technology. This technology is known for its silent and accurate AF performance. I do not like the narrow manual focusing ring on the lens, so although the lens features a full-time manual focusing override, I don’t enjoy using it much.
Now it’s time for the most important part – the lens’s optical quality. I don’t like shooting charts in a controlled lighting environment. Instead, I love to take my camera and lens outdoors and shoot in natural light, and in these conditions, this lens hasn’t let me down yet. It’s consistently sharp and stopping down the aperture improves image sharpness even more.
4. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR is a hugely popular standard zoom lens designed for full-frame Nikon camera systems. The larger image circle means that, when mounted on a crop body like the D5300, only the central part of the image coming through the lens is utilized. This has the effect of “zooming’ the picture coming through the lens. In the case of the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR, 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, the effective focal length becomes 24-52.5mm.
What can you shoot with a 24-52.5mm lens? A lot. For starters, this is an excellent focal length for shooting everyday photos. If you’re a traveling photographer and want to travel light, this is one lens you can look at. At the widest focal length of 24mm (effective), the lens is useful for shooting landscapes, architecture, and other wide vistas. Another use of this lens is in the genre of street photography. The variable focal length gives you a lot of flexibility to change the composition of your shot without moving your feet. If you’re starting in street photography and don’t feel too confident about getting close to your subject, this focal length is ideal.
The f/4 aperture isn’t the fastest in the business; many photographers will point that out. Especially when you’re shooting hand-held and when working in low light conditions, the f/4 aperture struggles with focusing and producing a sharp image. You must push the ISO or use a tripod to steady the camera in low-light situations. This isn’t an issue for landscape or architecture photographers who routinely shoot that way anyway. However, the photographers who shoot hand-held most of the time may find this to be bothersome.
One thing that makes up for this limitation is that the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 16-35mm f/4G ED VR comes with 2.5 stops of image shake correction. Therefore, in low light conditions, you can switch on image stabilization and use a shutter speed that’s two stops slower without blurring.
Additionally, the steady aperture across the focal length means the lens is excellent when capturing a steady exposure across the focal length. You don’t have to slow down the shutter speed or push the ISO to shoot in low-light conditions.
What about the construction of the lens? The lens consists of 17 elements arranged in 12 groups. Three aspherical elements are designed to take care of spherical aberrations. This results in sharper images and greater color accuracy. In addition, two extra-low dispersion elements are used to suppress the effects of chromatic aberrations and color fringing. The lens also features a nano crystal coating for suppressing the impact of flares, ghosting, and internal reflections. As a wide-zoom lens, this is very necessary.
Another reason this lens is ideal for your travel bag is that it is weather sealed. The lens can be used as a standard landscape and nature photography tool, taken to the beach for a day out, or shoot weddings, parties, and vacations no matter the weather. However, considering that the D5300 isn’t weather sealed, you’re still a bit limited in that regard.
5. Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED
The 105mm has been a favorite of mine for a good while. I started pursuing macro photography with a combination of the D7000 and 40mm f/2.8 prime but quickly migrated to the Nikon AF-S VR Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED, which I used with my D850 for several years. The lens is compatible with most of Nikon’s DSLR cameras launched in the last decade, including the D5300.
The lens’s effective focal length on a crop camera is 157.5mm. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 is decent and collects enough light in most conditions.
For macro photography, however, I often stop down the lens and shoot at f/4 and even f/5.6, as close focusing at the widest focal length can be tricky. It takes precise manual correction to be able to master and shooting at a smaller aperture gives you better control over the focusing.
Additionally, if you’re shooting at the widest aperture, your field depth will be narrow. For shooting macro photography, a larger depth of field is often preferred because that captures a lot of the subject in focus.
You also have to remember that when you’re focusing at a 1:1 magnification distance, the effective aperture will drop down to about f/4.8. This phenomenon is referred to as the bellows factor. The maximum aperture is, however, not affected when the lens is focused at infinity. So, keep this in mind when you’re shooting macro photography and focused at 1:1 magnification.
The construction of the lens includes 14 elements arranged in 12 groups. These include one extra-low dispersion element that covers color fringing and chromatic aberrations. This produces better clarity and color accuracy.
Additionally, the lens also features a dual coating. One is a nano crystal coating and the other is a super integrated coating. These two coatings have been applied to ensure that the lens does not suffer from the effects of flare, reflections, and ghosting. These are typical issues that plague a lens when working in sharp lighting conditions.
Autofocusing on the lens is powered by Nikon’s silent wave motor technology. I have often mentioned that this is a very smooth AF motor. The lens has a full-time manual focusing override that allows the lens to be tweaked at any time by turning the focusing ring. One thing I like about this lens is that it has internal focusing elements, so nothing protrudes when the lens focuses. This is an advantage when you’re very close to your subject.
Another thing that I like about the lens is the large focusing throw of the lens. A large focusing throw helps with precise focusing adjustment. However, when autofocusing is engaged, this same thing can create a problem with slow performance. In that circumstance, I recommend using the focusing delimiter button. But for a macro photographer, this isn’t a significant issue because they usually use the manual focusing ring.
6. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR
In many ways, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR is an excellent lens for shooting wildlife and sports photography. On a D5300, the lens becomes an effective 300-750mm. The D5300 is a lightweight and compact DSLR, so you may be concerned that the lens will appear heavy and pull the weight of the entire set-up forward. In my experience, having used several smaller DX-format bodies with the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, I can say that it won’t be an issue as long as you hold the system at its balancing point.
The construction of the lens contains 19 elements arranged in 12 groups. Three extra-low dispersion elements are instrumental in suppressing the effects of color fringing and chromatic aberrations. Additionally, the lens features a super integrated coating that ensures the lens can withstand the effects of ghosting, flares, and reflections. When working in sharp lighting conditions, this element comes into its own.
The major USP of the lens is undoubtedly the long focal length. This pushes the reach of the D5300 to super-telephoto ranges and allows the camera to capture images of wildlife and sports. Although the lens is compatible with the Nikon TC-14E III 1.4x teleconverter, which can further push the focal length by 40% while dropping the aperture by one stop, I wouldn’t recommend using this with your D5300. The Multi-CAM 4800DX Autofocus Sensor has nine cross-type autofocusing points, which doesn’t work beyond f/5.6. So, the camera will struggle if you pair it with the Nikon TC-14E III 1.4x.
However, note that the D5300 isn’t a lens known for shooting fast action. The continuous shooting speed of the D5300 is five fps (JPEG) and four fps (RAW). That means the camera will struggle to record many frames when you’re shooting moving birds or athletes. You will need to have excellent skills to shoot a few keepers. On the other hand, if your subject is relatively stationary, such as a wild tusker at 200 meters, a flamingo basking in the morning light, or a batter poised to meet the ball, you can still hope to get some crisp images.
Regarding performance, I like what the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR can do. It outperforms many contemporary budget super telephoto zoom lenses from third-party manufacturers. Given that it’s an OEM lens, it’s more reliable in terms of autofocusing performance.
In terms of performance, the 200-500mm is an excellent piece of equipment. Autofocusing is also very accurate and nails the shot more times than not. I have noticed, however, that at the long end of the focal length, the lens does suffer from a bit of softness – especially when shooting at f/5.6. I have not seen many other photographers have this issue. On the contrary, many others have not pointed this out, which suggests that the 200-500mm can have unreliable performance from copy to copy when it comes to shooting at the long end. My review is based on the copy that I have tested.
7. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
There are a bunch of full-frame lenses, both third-party and OEM, that I could have suggested as a good portrait lens for the D5300. However, I have chosen the 50mm f/1.8G because this lens is super fast, inexpensive, and produces excellent results.
The effective focal length when the lens is mounted on your D5300 is 75mm, which is suitable for portrait photography. The fast wide aperture of f/1.8 captures a lot of light, ensuring that your D5300 can produce good exposures even when working in low-light conditions.
Let’s look at the construction quality of the lens. The lens has seven elements, and they’re arranged in six groups — it’s a simple design. The lens includes one aspherical lens element and has been treated with a super-integrated coating that ensures that harsh lighting does not impact the lens’s performance.
The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G is significantly larger than the older 50mm f/1.8D, another favorite of mine. But even then, the weight of the 50mm f/1.8G isn’t too crazy compared to the 50mm f/1.8D (only 30 grams more).
The 50mm f/1.8G isn’t weather sealed. This isn’t a lens that will withstand inclement weather and dusty environments. There is a rubber gasket at the back of the lens by the mount, but this does not qualify it as fully weather sealed.
The fast aperture of f/1.8, apart from capturing a lot of light, also helps create a beautiful shallow depth of field that isolates the subject from the background.
Nikon’s silent wave motor technology powers autofocusing and comes with a full-time manual focusing override for easy and precise manual focus adjustments. The autofocusing performance is very smooth and quick.
Speaking of focusing, the lens features an internally focused, non-rotating design. So, nothing rotates, and nothing protrudes out of the barrel. You can use a variable ND filter and set it up before dialing your exposure without it accidentally turning afterward. The same goes for a circular polarizer. That said, note that the lens’s front element moves in and out.
I have always had nothing but good things to say about this lens. Considering that the nearest option, the 50mm f/1.4G is double the price and only moderately better than this lens, I will always recommend this lens to anyone using a crop camera. The images are very sharp, even wide open, and even though there is a tiny amount of distortion, I wouldn’t consider it a dealbreaker. Even the bokeh quality is excellent, and that’s a major requirement for a portrait lens.