Skip to main content

The best superzoom lenses for Nikon cameras in 2022

best superzoom lenses for Nikon cameras
(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

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 (opens in new tab) 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 2022

Nikon DX superzooms

The best superzooms for Nikon DX DSLRs, such as the Nikon D3500 (opens in new tab), Nikon D5600 (opens in new tab) or D7500 (opens in new tab).

(opens in new tab)
The original and best Nikon DX superzoom

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 27-300mm
Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.5m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 77x97mm
Weight: 565g

Reasons to buy

+
High-spec autofocus and VR
+
Good overall performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited zoom range
-
Poor barrel distortion

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.

(opens in new tab)
It's the biggest Sigma superzoom and the most attractive

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 27-450mm
Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.39m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 79x102mm
Weight: 585g

Reasons to buy

+
Big zoom range
+
Good image quality
+
Impressive build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Focus ring rotates during autofocus

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 Sigma's 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | C (below) for sharpness.

(opens in new tab)

3. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro

It really puts the ‘super’ into superzoom

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 24-450mm
Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.39m
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 75x100mm
Weight: 540g

Reasons to buy

+
Class-leading zoom range
+
Extra wide-angle perspective

Reasons to avoid

-
Noticeable distortions and fringing
-
Not very sharp at some focal lengths

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.

(opens in new tab)
Nikon’s newer 18-300mm is cut down to size

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 27-450mm
Lens construction: 16 elements in 12 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.48m
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 79x99mm
Weight: 550g

Reasons to buy

+
Solid construction
+
Weather-seal ring on mounting plate

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of focus distance scale
-
Hood not included

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.

(opens in new tab)
Small build, and a small price to pay

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 27-300mm
Lens construction: 16 elements in 14 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.49-0.77m
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 75x97mm
Weight: 400g

Reasons to buy

+
Compact and lightweight
+
Solid and durable construction
+
Low price

Reasons to avoid

-
Soft edges wide open at 100mm
-
No full-time manual focus override

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.

(Image credit: Tamron)
(opens in new tab)
The longest superzoom you can get (but it's big)

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 27-600mm
Lens construction: 16 elements in 11 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.45m
Filter size: 72mm
Dimensions: 79x121.4mm
Weight: 705g

Reasons to buy

+
Decent sharpness for a superzoom
+
Customisation via optional console
+
Built-in vibration control

Reasons to avoid

-
Fringing at 300-400mm
-
No distance scale on lens barrel

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 (opens in new tab)

Nikon FX superzooms

The best Nikon superzoom lenses for Nikon full-frame FX DSLRs, such as the Nikon D850 (opens in new tab) or the Nikon D780 (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Nikon)
(opens in new tab)

7. Nikon 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 G AF-S ED VR

The only FX format F-mount superzoom lens made by Nikon

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 28-300mm
Lens construction: 19 elements in 14 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 9
Minimum focus distance: 0.5m
Filter size: 77mm
Dimensions: 83x114.5mm
Weight: 800g

Reasons to buy

+
Decent optical quality for a superzoom
+
VR image stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Pretty big, being an FX superzoom
-
Expensive too

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.

(Image credit: Tamron)
(opens in new tab)

8. Tamron 28-300mm f3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD

Tamron's full-frame DSLR superzoom is certainly well priced

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 28-300mm
Lens construction: 19 elements in 15 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.49m
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 74.4x96mm
Weight: 540g

Reasons to buy

+
Light and quite portable
+
Built in stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Noticeable color fringing
-
Long extension at full zoom

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.

Nikon Z

The best Nikon superzoom lens for Nikon Z mount mirrorless cameras, such as the Nikon Z 50 (opens in new tab), Z 5 (opens in new tab), Z 6 (opens in new tab) and Z 7 (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Future)
(opens in new tab)
A smart superzoom for Z-series cameras

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 24-200mm
Lens construction: 19 elements in 15 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.5-0.7m
Filter size: 67mm
Dimensions: 77x114mm
Weight: 570g

Reasons to buy

+
Easily manageable size and weight
+
Good wide-angle potential

Reasons to avoid

-
Relatively limited telephoto reach
-
Narrow aperture rating at long zoom settings

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 (opens in new tab), Z 6 (opens in new tab) and Z 7 (opens in new tab)), it also works well on the DX format Z 50 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab)

Nikon Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

(Image credit: Future)
The DX-format Z cameras get their own superzoom

Specifications

Effective zoom range: 27-210mm
Lens construction: 17 elements in 13 groups
No. of diaphragm blades: 7
Minimum focus distance: 0.2-0.4m
Filter size: 62mm
Dimensions: 73x90mm
Weight: 315g

Reasons to buy

+
5-stop optical stabilisation
+
Generally good performance

Reasons to avoid

-
No weather seals
-
Lacking some physical controls

This lens is a good everyday shooter for users of DX-format Nikon Z mirrorless cameras, a category that currently comprises the Nikon Z50 (opens in new tab) and Nikon Z fc (opens in new tab). 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 (opens in new tab)

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. 

Read more:

• These are the best Nikon lenses (opens in new tab) to get started with
• We pick the best Nikon telephoto (opens in new tab) lenses
• The best Nikon wide-angle lenses (opens in new tab) right now
The best Nikon cameras (opens in new tab)
The best superzoom lenses for Canon cameras (opens in new tab)
The best lenses for travel photography (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. 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.