Aimed at professionals and serious enthusiasts who want to take their photography game up a notch, the Nikon D850 (opens in new tab) DSLR still packs a punch with huge 45.7MP stills and 4K video capture. That’s why it’s important to choose top-notch lenses that will attain the clearest, sharpest shots while keeping up with the photographer.
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Almost every F-mount lens on offer is compatible with the Nikon D850 but there are only a few you should lean toward if you want to achieve ultimate image quality. Nikon’s holy trinity of lenses consists of three f/2.8 zooms that cover focal lengths from 14mm all the way up to 200mm in an attempt to negate the requirement for any other lenses in the kit bag. However, there are a few key lenses that are worthy of being in this top lens roundup, including some fast primes renowned for their optical quality.
Things to look for when choosing a lens for the Nikon D850 include specialized coatings that reduce flare, glare, and ghosting – especially when shooting toward light sources such as the sun.
Any optical issues will show easily with over 45MP of detail, especially when pixel peeping in the editing stage. Vibration Reduction is important for photographers hoping to shoot in low light conditions, or with longer focal lengths as it stabilizes the frame to attain a sharper image, especially when handholding longer exposures.
Speedy autofocus controls down the lens barrel, and sleek, lightweight lens designs are equally important in the decent function of a lens so that every moment can be captured, in focus. This usually comes at a price, but there are a few honorable mentions in this guide that perform just as well, if not better, than the most expensive glass you can buy for the D850 that actually doesn't empty the wallet.
Best lenses for the Nikon D850 in 2023
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Arguably the best ultra-wide angle lens for Nikon overall, this 14-24mm comes with a handy sweeping focal length range for the D850 that covers everything else the other two lenses in this trinity don’t. A fast maximum aperture and a huge field of view make it perfect for astrophotography and wide landscapes, with little to no aberration or optical distortion in any portion of the frame.
D850 owners should be aware that there’s no front filter attachment for this lens because the front element protrudes so much. Instead, filter systems come with a specialized adapter that attaches from the rear of the lens which can be fiddly but comprehensively fits filters without flaring issues.
Read our full Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED review for more details(opens in new tab)
A staple in any professional Nikon shooter’s kit bag, this lens is the do-all answer to almost any photography assignment. It’s flexible enough to shoot wide-angle and telephoto with just a twist of the zoom ring has a fast aperture of f/2.8 for isolating subjects from the background and is superbly sharp throughout the zoom range from edge to edge.
It’s a little heavy and certainly not cheap, but paired with all 45.7MP of the Nikon D850’s image sensor it produces stunningly clear photos that are almost impossible to surpass. Its autofocus is lightning fast and the Vibration Reduction of four stops supports the longer end of the focal length range to maintain steady and clear shots.
Read our full Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR review for more details(opens in new tab)
Portraits, landscapes, concerts, wildlife, sports, this lens can do it all. A fast, constant aperture, powerful four-stop Vibration Reduction, and superior lens coatings make this a lens for any event. Extensively weather-sealed all round, it can be taken into any environment without worry of ingress from dust, dirt, water, or anything else.
The 70-200mm zoom range is ideal for flattening facial features and isolating subjects from busy backgrounds simultaneously. Studded with lens controls all along the lens barrel it’s easy to recompose whether handheld or on a tripod and even features automatic tripod detection to avoid VR shake blur.
Read our full Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR review for more details
At nearly one-third of the price of Nikon’s own 35mm f/1.4, this Sigma Art lens is an absolute steal and doesn’t compromise on image quality, either. A fast f/1.4 aperture gives depth to images when shot wide open despite the wide-angle focal length of 35mm tending to increase the depth of field
A very useful lens for environmental portraiture, it’s almost small and portable enough for street or travel photography where a wide field of view and flare-less results are paramount with changing light conditions and compositions. Though those seeking to shoot in all weather should be aware there are no weather seals on this lens.
Read our full Sigma 35mm f/1.4 DG HSM | Art review for more details(opens in new tab)
Known as ‘the’ portrait lens, its image quality is valued by many Nikon shooters, not just owners of the D850. But it does pair well with this camera thanks to the fast autofocus, great image clarity, and complementary perspective compression.
Long focal length and wide aperture combined gives an extremely shallow depth of field which must be carefully focused when shooting portraits as even the eye can be out of focus if accidentally falling forward on the eyelash, hence there’s a steep learning curve when shooting with this lens. But if properly controlled this lens gives unparalleled quality that has to be seen to be believed.
Read our full Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G review for more details(opens in new tab)
This second-generation (G2) version of one of the best 150-600mm lenses (opens in new tab) has been rebuilt by Tamron improving autofocusing, stabilization, and flare control. Low Dispersion elements help keep distortion and aberration to a minimum when shooting at either end of the focal length range. Ideal for sports, action, and wildlife the slightly narrower aperture range means it’s best used during the day, or under bright stadium lighting.
Its enhanced Vibration Compensation offers a helpful 4.5 stops of optical stabilization to make it easy to shoot handheld, which, considering it’s just over 2kg in weight, is plenty achievable if needed.
Read our full Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 review for more details(opens in new tab)
This is Nikon’s top-flight FX-format macro lens, offering a maximum of 1:1 magnification. It includes a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system with fully internal focusing, 3-stop VR II stabilization, and Nano Crystal coating. Both lenses also feature 14 elements in their optical paths with a single ED element. The working distance from the front of the lens to the subject at the minimum focus setting is 15cm. The VR system is effective for general shooting, similar to that of its rival Sigma Macro 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM (opens in new tab). Image quality in our lab tests was good overall with impressive sharpness across the whole frame.
See our full Nikon AF-S 105mm f/2.8 G IF ED VR Micro review (opens in new tab) for more details
Nikon’s original AF 80-400mm was the company’s first lens to feature Vibration Reduction. This replacement AF-S lens has a typically fast and near-silent ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, that works with any Nikon DSLR or mirrorless Z-series camera. It is a great addition to the D850's lens arsenal - giving you a wide telephoto range that makes it suitable for action and wildlife photography – without giving you the weight or the price tag of a telephoto prime.
It obviously lacks the fast maximum aperture of an f/2.8 prime - but it more than makes up for this with its reduced bulk and lower price tag. Performance and image quality were impressive in our lab tests.
See our full Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR review (opens in new tab) for more details
How we test lenses
We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.
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