The Nikon Z camera line-up has expanded! The Nikon Z9 and Z8 are now the flagship models, and the Nikon Z7 II is no longer king of the hill. But it matches both these cameras for resolution and at a much lower price, so our list of the best lenses for the Nikon Z7 II keeps this firmly in mind. We're looking for performance, for sure, but also a realistic price point to match the price of this camera.
The Nikon Z7 II is certainly not a second-division camera, just because the Nikon Z9 and Z8 have come along. It's still one of the best Nikon cameras to buy, not to mention one of the best mirrorless cameras all round. If you still want to take a money-no-object approach to choosing lenses for the Z7 II, you should head straight over to our guide to the best lenses for the Nikon Z9 and Z8. We stand by all these choices for Z7 II owners who only want the best.
But the costs will ramp up very quickly, and given that the Z7 II is now the 'affordable' high-resolution Nikon Z, here we wanted to pick a set of great lenses that are also realistically priced. In other words, you get near-as-dammit the same professional performance, but without the high-end outlay. The Z7 II is still one of the best cameras for professionals, so we're going to keep that firmly in mind.
Nikon came out with some very good Nikon Z lenses right from the start, but newer and more spectacular optics have left them rather in the shadows. We want to bring them back into the light! Nikon has also made some great f/1.8 prime lenses for this system which are way cheaper and lighter than 'pro' f/1.4 primes, and we wanted to include them here.
There is only one telephoto zoom in this guide, but it's a good one. We reckoned that most people would not use the Z7 II as a sports camera, but as a more all round landscape/travel/social photography tool – but if it's wildlife and sports that you're interested in, our guide to the best lenses for the Nikon Z9 and Z8 has a couple of great longer-range options that won't break the bank.
So that's the explanations out of the way – let's get started with the list!
Best lenses for the Nikon Z7 II in 2023
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Professional photographers and keen amateurs might gravitate towards the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/2.8 S, but that's twice the price of this lens. There's also the NIKKOR Z 28-75mm f/2.8, which is actually a little cheaper than the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S, but it's also a lot longer and does not go as 'wide' – and there is quite a lot of difference between 24mm and 28mm. It's true that the 24-70mm f/4 S has a smaller maximum aperture than these two lenses, but it's small, light, easy to pack in a bag and quick to use, thanks to its simple twist-action retractaing design. It makes a great lens for travel or just general walkaround photography. All full frame Nikon Z cameras have in-body stabilization, so the f/4 maximum aperture is not often going to stop you shooting in low light. If your idea of a standard zoom is a lens you can leave on your camera ready to throw in a bag when you need it, the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S is a really good option.
See our full Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4 S review
This is another early Nikon Z lens that's been somewhat eclipsed by the later NIKKOR Z 14-24mm f/2.8 S and NIKKOR Z 17-28mm f/2.8, but it's the same pattern as we see with the 24-70mm f/4 S. The newer 14-24mm pro lens costs twice as much as the NIKKOR Z 14-30mm f/4 S and has a shorter zoom range, while the 17-28mm f/2.8 costs no more but is a physically longer lens that doesn't go as wide. So we're sticking with the 14-30mm f/4 as our top tip for an ultra-wide zoom that's portable, affordable and practicaly, given that it can even take filters on the front. Nikon Z cameras (and the best mirrorless cameras in general) were launched on the premise of compactness, and Nikon followed through on that with a couple of super-compact zooms to go with them.
See our full Nikon Z 14-30mm f/4 S review
A 70-200mm f/2.8 is a classic 'trinity' lens for professional photographers but, like other examples of its type, the NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S is huge, heavy and expensive. That's why we really rate this only slightly 'shorter' NIKKOR Z 70-180mm f/2.8. You lose in-built VR and 20mm at the long end of the zoom range, but you keep the f/2.8 maximum aperture and also more than $1000/£1000 of your own money into the bargain. If you're worried about the lack of optical VR, there's always the camera's own in-body stabilization to fall back on (optical lens VR does help with stabilization, though). If portrait, social and event photography is your daily job then we would probably still suggest the Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S, but if that lens is just too heavy, too expensive or you're just not sure you would get enough use from it to justify the cost, this NIKKOR Z 70-180mm f/2.8 is a terrific alternative.
See our full Nikon Z 70-180mm f/2.8 review
The classic 'portrait' lens has become such a standard that every camera maker has one or, in Nikon's case, two. The 85mm focal length means a longer shooting distance that gives faces and people more natural proportions, while a fast maximum aperture allows attractive background blur. The newer NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.2 S is the ultimate Nikon Z portrait lens, but it's huge, heavy and very expensive, so we would still recommend the NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 S for Z7 II users. Even at f/1.8, you will still get strong background blur, and it's a lighter lens that will be easier to hold and use over longer periods. It's also one of Nikon's S-line lenses, so don't let the affordable price fool you – this lens delivers excellent optical performance.
See our full Nikon Z 85mm f/1.8 S review
This is another Nikon Z lens that bucked the trend, skipping the more usual f/1.4 maximum aperture for a more modest f/1.8. It will make some difference to background blur and shutter speeds in low light, but it's only a 2/3-stop difference, but Nikon does not make a faster 35mm prime than this, so the comparison is somewhat academic. While most other makers have a range of f/1.4 primes, Nikon's decision to go with f/1.8 lenses ia good for anyone who wants to combine value with performance. Like Nikon's other Z-mount primes, NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S delivers excellent performance – it's extremely sharp wide open in the center of the frame, though the edges, while still good, don't quite catch up until around f/4.
See our full Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S review
For photographers who like to keep a 'nifty fifty' in their camera bag, this is the ideal choice. It's a lot more expensive than the old Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.8G DSLR lens, so it's not a cheap option, but it is very, very sharp in the center of the frame, and the edges catch up very well by about f/4 too. If you want something even faster, there is of course the newer NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.2 S and if 50mm is one of your preferred focal lengths, you might want to look at this instead – but the f/1.2 is twice the size and over twice the price, so it's definitely one for serious bokeh fans. Otherwise, we would recommend this NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S as the ideal all-rounder.
See our full Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S review
We'll round off our tour of Nikon's f/1.8 prime lenses with this one, which could prove the most useful of all. At first glance, the NIKKOR Z 20mm f/1.8 S might look like an 'in-between' lens that doesn't go as wide as Nikon's ultra-wide zooms. But hold on – you may find 20mm is the ideal focal length for a lot of travel, architecture and landscape photography, with a significantly wider angle of view than a regular standard zoom but without the extreme perspective distortion and convergence of a 14mm or 16mm lens – it can be a challenge getting architectural subjects straight with more extreme lenses. On top of that, the NIKKOR Z 20mm has a much faster f/1.8 maximum aperture than any zoom, making it especially good for night shots and interiors. Optically, it's another excellent f/1.8 prime from Nikon, with pretty exceptional edge-to-edge sharpness even wide open.
See our full Nikon Z 20mm f/1.8 S review
Nikon makes two macro lenses for its full-frame Nikon Z cameras. The cheapest is the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/2.8 MC, which would be fine for occasional close-up work, though macros specialists might find its short focal length and working distance a hindrance. Instead, we would recommend the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/2.8 MC as the best macro lens for the Nikon Z7 II. It's not especially cheap, but it's not especially expensive either, given its stunning optical performance – it also has in-built VR, a multi-function OLED display and weather sealing, which could be especially useful for outdoor nature photography. If you use your Nikon Z7 II for close-up and macro work, this is the lens for the job.
See our full Nikon Z MC 105mm f/2.8 VR S review
Best lenses for Nikon Z9 and Z8