The best superzoom lenses for Nikon are the best way to turn your Nikon camera into an all-in-one powerhouse. Covering the gamut from a wide perspective to a powerful telephoto, these impressive lenses are ideal for exploring city streets or visiting famous landmarks – as long as you're aware that they come with some compromises.
For one, squeezing a big zoom into a compact lens means compromising the maximum aperture rating. In the past, it this made superzoom lenses difficult to operate without camera-shake at the telephoto end, but fortunately the advent of optical image stabilisation has gone a long way towards correcting this problem.
Superzooms make sacrifices in terms of optical quality too, especially at the longer zoom settings, where it's not uncommon to see some soft detail and noticeable colour fringing at the edges of the frame.
We don't say this to put you off superzooms – far from it. We consider them some of the best lenses for travel thanks to their unbeatable reach. It's just important to know what you're getting into, and what kind of performance to expect from a superzoom lens.
They're for those who don't need the absolute top-end of image quality, but want to be covered in every situation. Those who'd rather pack one legs in a bag instead of two or three, and have a camera setup that will carry them through an entire day's shooting. If that describes you, then keep reading as we count off the best superzoom lenses for Nikon cameras.
Best superzoom lenses for Nikon in 2023
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Nikon DX superzooms
This is actually the Mk II edition of Nikon’s 18-200mm VR lens. However, both editions have the same optical design and second-generation VR system, which includes automatic panning detection in Normal mode, plus an additional ‘Active’ mode for overcoming increased physical vibrations. The most obvious update is that the Mk II features a zoom lock switch. Sharpness at 200mm is better than from the smaller of Nikon's two 18-300mm lenses, but barrel distortion at 18mm is equally poor. There’s less colour fringing, autofocus performance is faster, and the addition of Active VR mode is a bonus.
Measuring 79x102mm and weighing 585g, this is one of the bigger and heavier lenses on this list, but it’s still manageable and feels well-balanced, even on lighter DSLR bodies. It certainly goes large on zoom range, with a telephoto reach equivalent to 450mm in full-frame terms, although it can’t match the Tamron 16-300mm lens for ultra-wide viewing angles. Autofocus is a little pedestrian and it would be nice if the manual focus ring didn’t rotate during AF. However, thanks to the inclusion of top-grade FLD (Fluorite Low Dispersion) elements, this lens outguns many of its rivals for sharpness.
This Tamron is narrowly beaten for zoom range by the Tamron 18-400mm lens, but it has a wider 16mm angle of view, which is ultimately more useful. In fact, it’s the only superzoom that goes to a 16mm rather than 18mm focal length – equivalent to 24mm rather than 27mm on a full-frame camera. It can therefore shoehorn a lot more of a scene into the image frame. Compared with the Sigma 18-300mm, the Tamron is slightly less sharp at 100mm, but sharper at 200mm. Both lenses deliver similar sharpness at other focal lengths. The only downside is that the Tamron has worse colour fringing, but this is automatically corrected in recent Nikon DSLRs anyway and can be fixed in most photo editing programs too.
Compared to Nikon’s first 18-300mm superzoom, this newer edition is narrower, shorter and slashes nearly 300g off the weight, making it much more manageable. The downsizing is partly down to clever design, but there’s also a sacrifice in the widest available aperture at long zoom settings, which shrinks from f/5.6 to f/6.3, but that's no slower than the competing Sigma and Tamron lenses. Sharpness is good at wide angles but tails off dramatically at 200mm, and is disappointing towards the 300mm mark. Other attributes of image quality are uninspiring as well, making this poor value at the price.
This addition to Tamron’s superzoom lineup is very well priced, compact, and remarkably lightweight, at just 400g. Part of the weight-saving is due to it having a plastic rather than metal mounting plate, but it nevertheless includes a weather-seal ring and the overall construction feels solid and durable. Throughout the albeit shorter zoom range, sharpness is better than from Tamron's older 18-270mm lens. The only caveat is that corner-sharpness was a little lacklustre when shooting at 100mm using the widest available aperture.
This lens is the superzoom of choice if you want maximum telephoto reach – and it performs rather well, considering its massive 22x zoom range. However, Tamron’s 16-300mm has a slightly wider angle of view, is smaller and lighter in weight, and better value for money. Superzoom lenses are all about compromise, and this one pushes the envelope a bit too far in extreme focal length and pays the penalty in size and portability. It's the superzoom with the biggest reach, but that's not enough to get it to the top of our list.
Read more: Tamron 18-400mm f3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD review
Nikon FX superzooms
Nikon only makes one superzoom lenses for its FX cameras, and it's this one. The AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR has been around for a little while, and Nikon shows no signs of replacing it just yet, perhaps expecting that owners of full frame Nikon cameras are less likely to pick a do-it-all lens like this one. There's not a lot wrong with the 28-300mm's performance, as it achieves a similar level of quality to other superzooms – with superzoom's you're paying for focal range rather than optical quality. While the image quality is decent, though, you're paying plenty for it, both in terms of price and weight.
The Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD is a good deal cheaper than its Nikon equivalent while covering the same focal range. The optical quality is adequate for a superzoom but not great by regular lens standards, and the quality drops off noticeably at longer zoom settings. While it's certainly a convenient and affordable all-in-one lens for full frame Nikons, it's unlikely to satisfy experts and enthusiasts who rate image quality over convenience. You do, however, get a good focal range for your money, together with built in image stabilization.
Sometimes as photographers, we have a very long wish list when it comes to lenses. Even though we have ‘interchangeable lens’ cameras, we hanker after a single lens that can do pretty much everything, with a mighty zoom range that stretches from serious wide-angle viewing to long telephoto reach. And we want it in a compact and lightweight build, with speedy autofocus and strong stabilization that enables consistent sharpness in handheld shooting.
This Z-mount superzoom ticks every box. It has a tough, weather-sealed construction but weighs in at just 570g, and offers the kind of zoom range normally requiring two separate lenses. Designed for full-frame FX Z-series mirrorless cameras (the Z 5, Z 6 and Z 7), it also works well on the DX format Z 50, with an effective focal length range of 36-300mm. Naturally, what you lose in wide-angle ability you gain in telephoto reach. Autofocus is very fast, highly accurate and practically silent, while VR is worth about 4.5-stops in beating camera-shake. All in all, it’s a hugely versatile lens for any Z-series camera.
Read more: Nikon Z 24-200mm f/4-6.3 VR review
This lens is a good everyday shooter for users of DX-format Nikon Z mirrorless cameras, a category that currently comprises the Nikon Z50 and Nikon Z fc. The Nikon Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR is essentially a mirrorless remake of the firm's popular AF-S DX 18-140mm VR lens for APS-C DSLRs, though it lacks a few features of that lens, like VR on/off and auto/manual focus switches, not to mention a weather-sealed construction. Minor gripes aside, this is a capable all-purpose lens that delivers impressive performance, and is a credible alternative to switching between a Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR and a Nikon Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR lens.
Read more: Nikon Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR review
How we test lenses
We test lenses using a mix of 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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