If you have a Nikon D5500, and you are only using the kit lens that came with it, then you are sure missing out on the advantage that comes with attaching a superior lens. The Nikon D5500, when combined with a quality lens, can transform your photography life.
Modern AF-S and AF-I lenses are the best lenses for Nikon D5500. They work flawlessly with the camera. That means, you don’t have to use old lenses on your camera body; not even Nikon expects you to do so. The best lenses for Nikon D5500 include Modern AF-S and DX lenses. Optically and ergonomically, older lenses from the 80s and 90s cannot compare.
Best Lenses For Nikon D5500
Because the type of lens you pick will ultimately determine the quality of photos you shoot, so you have to pick a lens that is compatible with your Nikon D5500. However, with so many compatible lenses for Nikon D5500 out there, making a decision can be tough. It is even harder if you don’t understand much of the technical mumbo-jumbo associated with lenses.
That should not stress you though; our review of the best lenses for Nikon D5500 will break it down for you which lenses will work well with your Nikon D5500.
Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
Available from Amazon
Let’s begin with our number one pick, the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8
The Nikon 70-200mm is one of the best Nikon D5500 lenses. The lens holds something magical, and it is no wonder the pros like it. It will give you the kind of photos you see in magazines. Also, it is one of the best for telephotos.
The lens has a super build quality; a barrel made of metal with strong, reliable controls. The VR II is super fine, and it will enable you to capture hand-held shots, even at 200mm. The 70-200mm has a wicked sharpness that will bring out even the subtle details you normally miss with your naked eyes.
With a 200mm zoom, f/2.8, and a 9-blade diaphragm, the lens produces an excellent bokeh. Expect your pictures to have nice, creamy backgrounds. The images shot through the lens have an excellent degree of contrast, and the color fidelity is deep. It performs well in low-light situations, and its image quality is better than the 70-300mm.
What we liked: The lens produces ultra-sharp pictures with deep color fidelity and beautiful bokeh. The results will stun you.
Bad part: It is heavy; carrying this thing around will give a heck of an exercise, especially if you are planning to hang it on your shoulder or neck. Don’t be surprised to have tired arms and a sore neck or back after a whole day of shooting. Also, it is one of the most expensive lenses by Nikon. If you have a small budget, is not an option for you.
Nikon 35mm f/1.8
Available from Amazon
The Nikon 35mm f/1.8 is a prime lens and one of the best Nikon D5500 lenses. The Nikon 35mm is more versatile and has a wider angle than the Nikon 50 mm.
DX DSLR cameras use smaller sensors and have a crop factor of X1.5. So using a 50mm lens is the same thing as using a 75mm lens. In some situations, this can be too much zoom that it forces you to keep moving back to take sharper shots. With a 35mm lens, you won’t have to deal with such a problem. If you don’t need much zoom, the 35mm will serve the purpose.
What We liked: The lens is capable of giving you the pictures you have always dreamt of; sharp photos that are rich in color and contrast. Also, it creates stunning bokeh. It will allow you to capture photos super fast, even in low-light conditions. Anyone who owns the Nikon D5500 will be pleased to have this lens.
The Bad Part: The lens lacks image stabilization (VR), which would be nice for hand-held shots. Also, being a prime lens, you have to move a lot when composing your picture.
Nikon 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR
Available from Amazon
The 55-300mm is a zoom lens that will give you telescopic photos, which means you don’t need to move closer to capture shots. This lens is better than the new model, a bit more expensive, and it beats both the Nikon 55-200mm and Sigma 18-250.
For a lens that extends up to 300mm, it is lightweight and compact. It produces clear and crisp photos with an attractive bokeh. Also, it allows you to take telephotos with a flattering effect.
The zoom feature enables you to take those difficult shots that you would otherwise not be able to capture without a zoom. The barrel is plastic but sturdy and has a metal mount. When shooting long range photos, the Nikon VR is indispensable.
The 55-300 is great value for your money if you are looking for a DX lens to go with your Nikon D5500.
What we liked: The decent, mid-range light speed, and useable Focal length.
Bad part: it has slow auto focusing. You might miss some shots when you are busy finding the right balance of contrast and sharpness. There is a loss of sharpness when you zoom up to at 300mm, but the lens shines at around 200-250mm. Also, it is slightly long, but for a telephoto lens, that is expected.
Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
Available from Amazon
The 70-300mm produces sharper and vibrant images. The lens qualifies to be one of the best lenses for Nikon D5500 when you are not looking for prime sharpness, but you are okay with sharp images. Also, it is a good choice if you want a zoom lens. The lens maintains a nice and smooth zoom all the way to 300mm. In fact, it outshines the 18-200 at 200mm, and it performs better than the 55-200mm DX VR.
The 70-300mm is the lens for the armature photographer. You can chase wildlife, take pics at the Zoo, have portraits, and even capture sports photos. It can give you 4X6 prints or 8X10 prints.
The body is made of plastic, which makes the lens incredibly lightweight. It has a quicker autofocusing system compared to the 55-300mm. The lens can take shots in low-light situations. The VR image stabilization comes in handy when taking hand-held shots. The lens has an inbuilt autofocus motor, which means the lens is compatible with not only the Nikon D5500 but all Nikon DSLR’s, be it DX or FX.
It uses 4.3 telephoto zoom for enhanced photo shooting. Being an FX lens, it has zoom equivalent to 105-450mm when used with a DX camera body, such as the Nikon D5500.
What we liked: Its weight, the smooth zoom, and sharper images.
Bad part: Because the body is made of plastic, the lens could easily break if dropped.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8G
Available from Amazon
This is a compact FX-format prime lens and one of the best lenses for Nikon D5500. It is ideal for general still photography. This lens is the best for experimenting with prime lenses, especially beginners or those with the Nikon D5500 kit zoom lens only.
You get clear and sharper images when shooting from f/2.0 and up. Also, it has images with a smooth and creamy bokeh. With a field of view of 75mm, the lens has stellar performance that is matched with a reasonable price.
The lens has a wide aperture (f/2/8); hence it works well in low-light situations. The sharpness is not absolute across the entire range, but for an armature or even some professionals, it is more than enough. Compared to the 50mm f/1.8D, it has an improved optical performance. The lens uses seven elements with one aspherical lens, unlike its predecessor that used six spherical elements. The aspherical lens reduces spherical aberration.
What we liked: It produces sharp images with a smooth and creamy bokeh.
The bad part: It has some mild to moderate distortion. The distortion is at the extremes of the image, though it is scarce in most photos. Photoshop or DxO can help you correct this distortion. Also, if you want to shoot a large subject or a landscape, you will have to move several steps back.
Tip: when shooting, use the range between f/1/8 and f/2/2. Make sure you are as close to the subject as possible. Also, ensure the subject is some distance from the background.
Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II
Available from Amazon
The 18-55mm is a fantastic, all round lens for Nikon D5500 that you can use to capture all the exciting moments in life. It delivers the most color-rich and blur-free images and videos. The Nikon 18-55 is also one of the best lenses for Nikon D5500. You can use it for a group photo shoot, portraits, close-ups, or HD videos.
Your hands could still be shaking when shooting with this lens, and still manage to take a clear and color-rich image. Also, in places with low-light, the lens can shoot at slower shutter speeds. You can do all this with the lens thanks to the Vibration Reduction technology. The Nikon 18-55mm will enable you to capture shots with a background that looks natural and softly blurred.
Best part: It is compact yet the most advanced version of the 18-55mm models. Compared to previous models, the new Nikon 18-55mm VR II is 25% smaller and lighter.
Bad part: The lens can easily break when dropped since the barrel is made of plastic.
Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR II
Available from Amazon
This is a zoom lens for Nikon DSLR cameras, including the Nikon D5500. The lens is inexpensive, lightweight, and compact. Although it is a refurbished lens, it’s hard to differentiate it from a brand new lens; it looks and works the same way.
It has a thinner focus ring compared to bigger lenses, but for a compact lens, that is the trade-off. The VR II is magnificent even at 200mm.
What we liked: The zoom action, which is smooth.
Bad Part: The lens uses a plastic bayonet mount, and not metal. Pro lenses like the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G have “M/A” focusing that allows for quick response when changing from autofocus to manual operation. However, with this lens, it only has Manual and Autofocus modes.
Nikon 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3
Available from Amazon
The 18-300mm is also a good lens for the Nikon D5500. It is a convenient lens that will make your photo shooting exciting as you do not have to walk around with two lenses. The lens is razor-sharp with a fast, accurate focusing that is sufficient for capturing images even in low-light situations.
Compared to its previous model, this lens is lighter and less expensive. For a professional, it may not be the best pick, but if you are a hobbyist, the 18-300mm will surely impress you. A professional is better off with a lens without a zoom or one with a smaller zoom.
The VR will enable you to get incredible hand-held shots, whether you shoot at longer focal lengths or higher f-stops. The 18-300mm captures the same image quality as the 55-300mm.
When you use the 18-300mm with a Nikon D5500 body, you end up with a high-quality camera. If you hate walking around with multiple lenses and having to stop and swap the lenses, this is the lens for you.
What we liked most: You do not have to keep changing lenses. Since it can work as a Macro lens, it allows macro photography. It has a fast Auto Focus (AF).
Bad part: It does not come with a lens hood, but you can always buy one. At smaller f-stops and longer focal lengths, you may get some minimal barrel distortion and poor vignetting.
Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5
Available from Amazon
Do you enjoy taking landscape shots? If so, then you need a lens with a wide-angle; this lens will give you an upper hand when capturing the mountains or the beaches.
The build quality of the 10-24mm is that of typical Nikon; a solid plastic feel with a metal mount. The nicest attribute about this lens is that it is versatile. Also, it has a quick and quiet autofocus. You can use it to shoot ultra-wide views, but that does not mean it is restricted to that purpose – you can also take portraits and snapshots.
The nature of the ultra-wide makes this lens outstanding. The 10mm range is wide, and it will enable you to capture unique perspectives that would otherwise be difficult to get with longer lenses. It gives you a spectacular range compared to what you would get with a Sigma 10-20mm or the Tokina 11-16mm. You can fix the lens on your camera the whole day and capture photos at any range without having to switch lenses.
What we liked: the wide angle that captures ultra-wide views. It is by far the best lens for the Nikon D5500 when you are looking for a wide-angle lens.
The bad part: You will notice some/moderate distortion at the widest angle; that is, around10mm range. However, software like Photoshop or DxO will help you correct the curvature. But this won’t be necessary unless you are using it for architectural references. Also, although one of the best lenses for the Nikon D5500, it is damn expensive.
Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 VR II
Available from Amazon
The Nikon 18-200mm may not be the perfect lens, but it qualifies to be one of the best lenses for the Nikon D5500 because it is good at everything. Any beginner or advanced armature seeking a lens with a wide range zoom will find this lens suitable for the purpose. The lens is not cheap and lacks the build quality of Nikon’s top-rated lenses.
The barrel is plastic, which is a good and a bad thing at the same time; if you were to drop it, it could break; on the other hand, it is lighter and easier to carry than if it was made of metal. Still, compared to Nikon’s top-of-the-line, it is way less expensive. It is a single, all-around lens. If your budget allows, go for it. There are many specialized lenses in the market, but all-around lens are few. The lens comes with a cam lock to prevent the lens from creeping. Also, it causes no flaring and ghosting.
What we liked: The lens is versatile, and it can be used for various scenes, including portraits and landscapes.
The bad part: When you zoom to certain levels, you may notice some fair distortion and image softness but if you are not a professional; that not be a problem. Also, it is heavy; you will need a fairly large bag, and carrying all day could leave your shoulder with pain.
Lens Buying Guide for Nikon D5500
You know you need a new lens for your Nikon D5500 if you only have the kits lens that came with your camera. It is time you started budgeting for a standard zoom prime lens or a zoom lens. Typically, your choice of a lens will depend on the type of pictures you take, but also some other factors come into play.
Buying a lens for your Nikon D5500 can be daunting, and pretty confusing, especially if you don’t understand the mumbo-jumbo in lenses and cameras. When shopping for a lens for your Nikon D5500 body, the following are the details to pay attention to:
The focal length is expressed in mm. It is one of the factors you should have in mind when buying a lens for the Nikon D5500. The bigger the number on the focal length range, the higher the zoom. Lower numbers mean a wider aperture, which means you can take wide shots. A zoom lens has a focal range with two numbers, such as 55-200 mm. That means you can zoom on any point on that range.
However, the lens is a prime lens if the focal length number is single, e.g. 50mm. With a prime lens, you have to move either closer or further from the subject, depending on the view you want. There are some superior optical lenses out there, but that does not mean you cannot find zoom lenses that outshine prime lenses.
Often, the maximum aperture is represented in several ways. It is common to see f/2.8, f2.8 or 1:2:8; they represent the same thing. This unique number shows the maximum amount of light can pass through the lens. Lenses with lower numbers have the largest maximum apertures –It is slightly confusing here. So a 10-55mm gathers more light than a 55-200mm.
If you have an F1.8 and an F4 lens, the f/1.8 is the best for low-light situations since it will use more light. When using a f/1.8 lens on your D5500, you don’t need to use a flash.
Zoom lenses have a double-digit maximum aperture. The maximum aperture is variable meaning it changes as the focal length changes. So, the maximum aperture for a 55-200mm f/4-5.6 lens would be f4.5 at 55mm, but if you zoom to 200mm, the maximum aperture would be f5.6.
The type of lens
Your type of photography will affect the type of lens you buy. Depending on your photography needs, decide if you want ultra wide, wide angle, telephoto, macro, standard, or a superzoom for your D5500 camera.
- Ultra-wide: The focal length for ultra wide angle lenses is around 24mm and below, in 35mm-format. They help you capture a wider scene. Ultra wide lens is best for architecture, landscape, and interior photography.
- Wide angle: Their focal length ranges from 24mm to 35mm. They come in both primes and zooms, and their maximum aperture is either variable or fixed. You can use them for an extended field of view to get a close minimum focusing. Also, you can use it when you want to fit the subject in the frame or even for portraits.
- Standard/Normal Lenses: A good example of a standard lens is the kit lens that came with your DSLR camera, which may have a focal length of around 35-70mm. Normal lenses can either zoom or primes, and their image characteristic is either telephotos and wide angles. Also, standard lenses are versatile, and you can use them for landscape, documentary, street, or portrait. The 50mm f/1.8 is a standard lens.
- Telephoto: A lens with a focal length beyond 70mm is a telephoto lens, although you will hear some people saying a real telephoto lens should be beyond 135mm. Either way, they are the best for capturing photos with distant subjects or specific details. Compared to wider lenses, telephoto lenses are larger and heavier. You can use telephoto lenses on your Nikon D5500 for wildlife shots, portraits, even landscapes.
- Superzooms: These are all-around lenses whose focal length ranges from wide to telephoto. Superzooms are best if you don’t want to keep switching lenses. However, their image quality cannot match that of dedicated lenses.
- Macro lenses: These lenses are the best for capturing extreme close-up photos. Their focal length typically ranges between 40-200mm.
Price is the other factor to think about when looking for Nikon D5500 lenses. Your budget will be a significant factor when choosing a lens for your D5500 body. You should plan based on how much you can spend.
Nikon lenses above $400
The best lenses for Nikon D5500 above $400 include 70-300mm, the 18-200mm, 70-200mm, and the 10-24mm.
Nikon lenses between $200 and $400
The best lenses for Nikon D5500 in this price category include Nikon 18-55mm, Nikon 18-140mm, and Nikon 55-300mm (certified refurbished).
Nikon lenses between$100 and $200
The Nikon 55-200mm, Nikon 50mm (certified refurbished) and Nikon 35mm are the best lenses for the Nikon D5500 in this price range.
Nikon lenses below $100
The Nikon 18-55mm (older model) is one of the best lenses for the Nikon D5500 under $100.
Size and weight
Size and weight of the lens are the factors to consider when buying a lens for the Nikon D5500. Keep in mind, lenses with extreme focal lengths and large apertures are bigger and heavier, and their price tags are high.
The Nikon D5500 is lightweight and easy to use a camera that combines with different lenses. If you use a superior lens on this body, there is doubt it will transform your photography life. Hopefully, by reading our review of the best lenses for Nikon D5500, you now have some good options in mind.