Best lenses for the Nikon Z50 in 2024

Best lenses for Nikon Z50
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

When choosing the best lenses for the Nikon Z50 you have to take a few things into account. One is that this mirrorless camera uses an APS-C sensor, so while you can fit full frame Nikon lenses to this camera, there is a 1.5x ‘crop factor’ that means they have a narrower angle of view.

The Nikon Z50 is one of the best Nikon cameras for beginners and enthusiasts, but its smaller sensor does need to be taken into account. For some lens types, like telephotos or macro lenses, this crop factor doesn’t matter and can even be an advantage. But for standard zoom lenses or wide-angle lenses, you need lenses designed specifically for the smaller sensor size to get the angle of view you need. In the Nikon range, these have ‘DX’ in the lens name. Other makers specify whether their lenses are full frame or APS-C format. We have a separate guide to the best Nikon Z lenses, but not all of them will be suitable for the Z50.

The Nikon Z50 was launched back in October 2019. Since then there have been two more DX-format cameras – the retro styled Nikon Z fc and the compact and affordable Nikon Z30 vlogging camera.

The range of DX-format lenses has been slow to develop, though. There’s a choice of standard zooms, a very good telephoto zoom and a selection of reasonably priced prime lenses which will also work on full frame cameras. Perhaps Nikon sees the Z50 as a stepping stone for new users to eventually move on up to a full frame model like the Nikon Z5, Nikon Z6 II or Nikon Z7 II.

These lenses cover a useful range, but with one big gap. There are no ultra-wide prime or zoom lenses for the Nikon Z50 in the Nikon line-up. There is a 12-28mm PZ (power zoom) lens on the Nikon Z lens roadmap, but we don’t yet know when that will arrive. 

In the meantime, the only option is the third-party Laowa 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 ultra-wide zoom, which will give an equivalent focal range of 15-27mm on the Nikon Z50, but this is a manual focus lens not really aimed at beginners.

One final point is that most people will have chosen the Nikon Z50 for its affordable price tag, so we need to stick to lenses that reflect that!

Best lenses for the Nikon Z50 in 2024

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / Louise Carey)
The perfect standard zoom for the Nikon Z50 – it's light, compact and affordable

Specifications

Mount: Z DX
Effective focal length: 24-75mm
Stabilizer: 4.5-stop
Min focus distance: 0.25-0.3m
Max magnification: 0.2x
Filter thread: 46mm
Dimensions (WxL): 70x32mm
Weight: 135g

Reasons to buy

+
4.5-stop optical VR
+
Multi-function control ring

Reasons to avoid

-
‘Slow’ f/6.3 aperture at 50mm
-
Feels a bit plasticky

If you've already got a Nikon Z50, the chances are this kit lens came with it. If not, it's well worth getting as a standard zoom, even tough you pay more if you buy the camera and lens separately. There is always the longer-range Nikkor Z 18-140mm standard zoom to consider too, but this is a much larger lens and more expensive too. Tipping the scales at just 135g, the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR pretty much qualifies as a ‘pancake lens’, measuring a mere 32mm in length when retracted. The flip side is that, compared with weightier FX (full-frame format) Z-mount lenses, it feels a bit less solid and has a plastic rather than a metal mounting plate. Even so, it’s certainly robust enough for daily shooting. Although small in size, the little Nikkor punches above its weight, delivering great sharpness and contrast even when shooting wide-open.. A silver version of this lens is available, to match the retro styling of the Nikon Z fc.

Read more: Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR review

(Image credit: Future)
A useful longer-range standard zoom for the Nikon Z50, but far from cheap

Specifications

Mount: Z DX
Effective focal length: 27-210mm
Stabilizer: 5-stop
Min focus distance: 0.2-0.4m
Max magnification: 0.33x
Filter thread: 62mm
Dimensions (WxL): 73x90mm
Weight: 315g

Reasons to buy

+
Very useful zoom range
+
5-stop optical stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic build, no weather seals
-
No AF/MF or VR switches

This is an alternative standard zoom for the Nikon Z50 which offers a much longer zoom range, up to 210mm equivalent in fact, though it doesn't go quite as 'wide'. Bridging the gap between standard zoom and ‘superzoom’, this is the Z DX mirrorless makeover of Nikon’s popular AF-S DX 18-140mm VR lens, originally created for APS-C format DSLRs. The mounting plate is made from plastic rather than metal, and there’s no weather-seal gasket, but this still makes a conveniently compact travel lens and is good for everyday shooting with a Nikon Z50 body, with good image quality and nice handling, enhanced by a 5-stop optical stabilizer and customizable control ring. It doesn't cover the same focal range as a pair of Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lenses, though, and if you have those already as part of a Z50 twin lens kit, you probably don't need this.

Read more: Nikkor Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR review

(Image credit: Future)
It's the best telephoto zoom for the Z50 and also the ONLY one – but it is pretty good

Specifications

Mount: Z DX
Effective focal length: 75-210mm
Stabilizer: 5-stops
Min focus distance: 0.5-1.0m
Max magnification: 0.23x
Filter thread: 62mm
Dimensions (WxL): 74x110mm
Weight: 405g

Reasons to buy

+
5-stop optical VR
+
Small and lightweight

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic build and mount
-
Lacks any weather seals

You can use Nikon's full frame telephoto lenses on the Nikon Z50 and its smaller sensor's 'crop factor' will give them 1.5x the magnification too. But the full frame Nikkor Z telephotos are big and expensive, and this lens is a cheaper and more practical option for the Nikon Z50 – and, if you bought the Z50 as a twin-lens kit that includes this, you got yourself a real bargain. Designed for Nikon’s DX-format Z50, this telephoto lens has an ‘effective’ zoom range of 75-375mm in full-frame terms, edging into the super-telephoto territory. Even so, it’s remarkably small and lightweight, partly thanks to a retractable design and plastic mounting plate. Handling is very good, with a really nice balance on the slinky Z50 body, and smooth action to its zoom ring and multi-function control ring. The latter also acts as a focus ring, being electronically coupled to a rapid stepping motor autofocus system. The optical performance is good and the 5-stop optical VR system lives up to its claims.

Read more: Nikkor Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR review

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
The first wide-angle zoom for Z DX is great for video

Specifications

Mount: Z DX
Effective focal length: 18-42mm
Stabilizer: 4.5-stop
Min focus distance: 0.19m
Max magnification: 0.21x
Filter thread: 67mm
Dimensions (WxL): 72x63.5mm
Weight: 205g

Reasons to buy

+
4.5-stop optical VR
+
Multi-function control ring

Reasons to avoid

-
‘Slow’ f/6.3 aperture at 50mm
-
Feels a bit plasticky

With its wide field of view and motorized zoom facility, this is a zoom lens that’s ideal for shooting video on the Z50, and for vlogging and content creation in particular. Although made with video in mind, it also works perfectly well for stills, taking expansive landscapes, cityscapes and architectural interiors in its stride. It’s travel-friendly too, being particularly compact and lightweight. Good image quality, handling and all-round performance make it well worth the highly competitive asking price.

(Image credit: Nikon)
This neat little full frame wide-angle makes a great standard lens for the Nikon Z50

Specifications

Mount: Z
Effective focal length: 42mm
Stabilizer: No
Min focus distance: 0.19m
Max magnification: 0.2x
Filter thread: 52mm
Dimensions (WxL): 70x43mm
Weight: 155g

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and lightweight
+
Impressive overall performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Plastic mounting plate
-
No optical VR

This is a full frame lens, but one that's been designed with an eye on Nikon's APS-C cameras like the Nikon Z50, where it's small size and relatively low cost make it an ideal 'standard' prime lens for general photography. There is also an ‘SE’ version of this lens designed for the Nikon Z fc, with a retro makeover that adds a silver ring and old-school knurling to its charm. Cosmetics aside, it’s essentially identical to the more mainstream Z 28mm f/2.8. Image quality is excellent and build quality should prove adequate for most photographers, making the lens great value for money. However, the lack of optical VR (Vibration Reduction) can be an issue when shooting with one of Nikon’s DX bodies, which lack IBIS (In-Body Image Stabilization). The regular Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 is a little cheaper than the SE version but optically identical – you can click the link to see what we thought of the Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 SE.

Read more: Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 SE review

(Image credit: Nikon)
Your best bet for bokeh and background blur with the Nikon Z50, thanks to its f/2 aperture

Specifications

Mount: Z
Effective focal length: 60mm
Stabilizer: No
Min focus distance: 0.29m
Max magnification: 0.17x
Filter thread: 52mm
Dimensions (WxL): 70x46mm
Weight: 170g

Reasons to buy

+
Fast f/2 aperture
+
Sharp and silent

Reasons to avoid

-
No optical image stabilization
-
No auto/manual focus mode switch

Here's another prime (non-zoom) lens designed for full frame Nikon cameras that also works well on the smaller-format Nikon Z50 because of its size and price. On the Z50, this lens has an equivalent focal length of 60mm, which equates to a slightly 'long' but still perfectly practical standard lens. The f/2 maximum aperture makes this the fastest lens in our round-up and also the best choice for any Z50 users who like background blur, either in stills or video. This is a useful and affordable optic that delivers good sharpness and smooth bokeh, along with quick and virtually silent autofocus, making it eminently suitable for shooting both stills and movies. Better still, if you do move up to a full frame Nikon later, this lens will work on your new camera too.

Read more: Nikkor Z 40mm f/2 review

(Image credit: Future)
The smaller of Nikon's two new Z mount macro lenses is a handy focal length on the Z50

Specifications

Mount: Nikon Z
Elements/groups: 10/7
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Stepping motor
Stabilizer: No
Minimum focus distance: 0.16m
Maximum magnification: 1.0x
Filter thread: 46mm
Dimensions (WxL): 75x66mm
Weight: 260g

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive image quality
+
Very precise manual focusing

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 2-inch working distance at 1.0x magnification
-
No optical VR

This is the cheapest of Nikon's full frame macro lenses and almost certainly the best choice for Nikon Z50 owners thanks to its size and price. There’s a lot to love about this Nikkor Z macro lens. It’s refreshingly compact and lightweight, making it a good travel companion for a full-frame Z-series body, while also working really well as a short telephoto prime for DX-format (APS-C) Z-series cameras, where it has an effective focal length of 75mm. It’s entirely capable as a 50mm standard prime for general shooting but really comes into its own for extreme close-ups. The only catch is that at its full 1.0x macro magnification, the front of the lens will be just two inches away from your subject – but then you won't always need this kind of magnification.

Read more: Nikkor Z MC 50mm f/2.8 review

See also
Nikon Z lens roadmap
Best Nikon flashguns
Best Nikon camera bags

Rod Lawton
Contributor

Rod is an independent photography journalist and editor, and a long-standing Digital Camera World contributor, having previously worked as DCW's Group Reviews editor. Before that he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar, as well as contributing to many other publications. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more. Rod has his own camera gear blog at fotovolo.com but also writes about photo-editing applications and techniques at lifeafterphotoshop.com