As one of the best beginner’s cameras, the Nikon D3500 really is the best entry-level Nikon body going. It has everything the newcomer would want: multiple shooting modes; full HD movie recording; a useful rear LCD screen; tactile easy-to-reach buttons; and large 24.2MP stills capture.
Normally purchased alongside a kit lens to get newbies going, those who stick at it with this camera often need to upgrade kit quickly. Kit lenses such as the 18-55mm are useful for absolute beginners but just aren’t versatile enough to perform the wider variety of tasks photographers demand once they become more familiar with their kit. If you want a shallow depth of field, need to zoom in on a bird in flight, or fancy giving astrophotography a go, you’ll need to invest in better glass.
Luckily for you, we’ve rounded up the best lenses for the Nikon D3500, from ultra-wides to telephoto zooms, with a penchant for quality and value for money. There’s a reason why so many Nikon-manufactured lenses appear on this list, it’s because Nikon is absolutely fantastic at creating lenses for its camera bodies. A long heritage in lens making is Nikon’s speciality so are usually among the best.
There are some dire third party lenses you’ll want to avoid like the plague, but don’t rule out off-brand lenses completely as there are some real gems specializing in all sorts of styles. Fortunately, we’ve included the best ones here so you don’t miss out.
The best lenses for Nikon D3500
A new breed of the old AT-X line which was incredible for crop-sensor shooters that required an ultra-wide angle at a reasonable price, the Tokina ATX-I 11-16mm f/2.8 CF now has an additional “i” in its title (standing for interactive) to denote Tokina’s attempt at letting photographer and lens communicate with each other.
It does this well with a clutch mechanism ring for switching between autofocus and manual focus, ridding the clunky switch on the side of the lens barrel. Great edge-to-edge sharpness and minimal chromatic aberration make this a solid choice for landscape photographers and the wide, constant aperture lends itself to astrophotography or low-light interiors such as real estate photography, too.
A big step-up from other entry-level telephoto zoom lenses, this 70-300mm from Nikon combines great focusing, substantial vibration reduction, and extra low dispersion (ED) glass for clear images. Fast internal focusing means any attached filters won’t be spinning around at the end of the lens, so users using filters can set it and forget it when composing.
At 415g it may seem a little heavier than other crop-sensor lenses, especially if you’re not used to using telephotos, but it’s still reasonably lightweight when compared to full-frame options. A variable aperture range means zooming in to 300mm incurs a maximum aperture of f/6.3 which would ordinarily make it tricky to get decent exposures for sports and wildlife photography without extending shutter speed but four stops of vibration reduction makes short work of that issue.
A step up from the cheaper and ultimately less useful 40mm macro lens by Nikon, this 60mm gives extra reach for when photographers need to capture flighty subjects or want to compress perspectives for more intimate macros.
Clear, flare-free shots are attained through the use of ED glass combined with two aspherical lenses, and a Nano Crystal Coating on the front element which also makes it easier to clean. Compact but heavy, this lens sits well in the hand as its weight makes the lens feel legitimately premium. Sadly there’s no Vibration Reduction but the constant wide f/2.8 aperture drinks in enough light to compensate in most scenarios. Offering true macro with a 1:1 reproduction ratio, subjects appear large and detailed in photos.
Likely the most-purchased second lens when upgrading from the kit lens that comes with the D3500 is this 'nifty fifty'. Aptly named since its very wide aperture of f/1.8 means it can shoot bright images in even the darkest of settings. The 50mm fixed focal length is generic enough to capture many types of subjects, whether portraits, landscapes, or close-ups.
Although it’s soft in the edges when shot fully open, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, this optical characteristic is actually lauded among many because it helps to push focus into the center of the frame (and usually the subject) creating a more intimate mood. Though photographers may want to click the Remove Chromatic Aberration button in their favorite image editing software as highly contrasted edges in the frame can suffer from purple and cyan fringing. But at this price, what’s the harm of an extra click?
When hoping to shoot sports, wildlife, or automotive photography the standard kit lens just won’t cut it. In fact, even the handy zoom range of the 70-300mm mentioned above still comes up a little short when far-away subjects need to fill the frame. However, Sigma’s “Contemporary” version of its 150-600mm definitely extends capabilities substantially. Considering it’s a DX-lens the effective focal length is actually more like a whopping 225-900mm.
Compact and surprisingly lightweight for its focal length range, it’s the perfect accompaniment for bird photos, or distant athletes on the pitch. There’s no accidental bumps of the zoom either, thanks to the zoom lock switch that works at any focal length. Two stabilization modes make it easier to shoot and track moving subjects whether flying around trees or heading towards a goal.
For those that just want an upgrade to their existing kit lens, this 16-80mm f/2.8-4 from Nikon provides excellent zoom range and a boost in technology. Four stops of Vibration Reduction help to keep handheld shots sharp when shooting in low light. Photographs are kept sharp and clear with four ED glass elements and three aspherical lens elements. Sure, it’s a little more costly than other lenses on this list but the added features, superior optics, and flexible focal length range means that you probably won’t need another lens to accompany it for most shoots.
A Nano Crystal Coat keeps flaring to a minimum and the Silent Wave Motor drives a fast, quiet autofocus system. Effectively a 24-120mm in disguise thanks to the 1.5x crop sensor on DX bodies, this is like a kit lens on steroids. Still small and lightweight, the enhanced features and improved optical clarity make this the perfect walkaround lens for homebodies and travel photographers alike.