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The 8 Best Mid-Range Zoom Lenses for Your DX (APS-C) DSLRs

The arrival of new DX DSLRs excites many photography enthusiasts. These new DSLR bodies now have 24 or more megapixel and remarkable sensors. To get the best out of your new DSLR DX body we asked us this question: Which DSLR zoom lens should you get for your new DSLR DX body?

The Nikon DX format is an alternative name used by Nikon corporation for APS-C image sensor format being approximately 24×16 mm.

Buying a DSLR lens requires a smart decision-making process because you are going to make an investment that sticks with you for a long time and a good lens will unlock your greatest picture taking potential.

To help you find the best mid-range zoom lens for your DX DSLR body we have picked these 8 best zoom lenses:

1. Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8 -4E ED

Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f:2.8-4E
Best Mid-Range Zoom Lens for DX DSLR: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8 4E ED

This lens covers a wide range of subjects from portrait to wide landscape and distant action sports. Its features are equivalent to the focal length of the 24-102mm lens. To reduce lens flare and ghosting, it utilizes nanocrystal and super integrated coatings.

Additionally, the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8 -4E ED has an extra-low dispersion glass & aspherical elements in its optical design to minimize aberrations and ensure maximum image quality.

Sample image taken with the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8 -4E ED
This image was taken with the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-80mm f/2.8 -4E ED | Photo Credit: Kent

It has a superb operation and handling capability with a silent wave motor AF System. And the Vibration Reduction Image Stabilization is a huge advantage when working handheld. It helps compensate for camera shake effect, low shutter speed, and longer focal lengths.

Related Post: The Best Portrait Lens for your Canon Rebel DSLR

Shooting at high-speed is never an issue. The lens has a very reliable exposure control for high-speed sequences thanks to its specialized electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism, which precisely syncs with the shutter.

The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-18mm

This lens is simply amazing as it provides users with extreme quality results and the flexibility to cover most shots. No more worries about changing lenses in between shots because it can stay on your camera for the entire shoot.

The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-18mm is equipped with a protective fluorine coating on its front and rear elements to quickly clean off dirt and water. If you are thinking of shooting just with one lens then you may want to consider this one.

Related Post: The Best Lenses for Your Nikon DX DSLR Camera

2. Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR II

The Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR II comes with a lot of high-end features. It is compact and lightweight making it a travel-friendly zoom lens. The Nikon lens is ideal when shooting from a vibrating, shaking and unstable platform.

It can even handle a poorly lit environment & handheld telephoto zoom shooting through its improved Vibration Reduction (VRII) system assuring noticeable sharper images.

This lens boasts about having a quiet, precise and fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus plus a full-time manual override which is quite an edge in HD video production.

The AF-S DX Nikkor 18-85mm is well-suited for tight indoor portrait and medium telephoto shots. It can provide superior sharpness quality due to its two extra-low dispersion glass elements and an effective minimization of chromatic aberration through color correction.

Sample Image, shot with the Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR II | Credit: Juza Photo

The Nikon 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX ED VR II can be your everyday lens. It is tremendously versatile in taking great landscape and outdoor shots. Even in the largest apertures, the Nikon 16-85mm gives a superb, impressively sharp quality images.

For the DX format DSLRs, it also offers the 24-127mm and its 35mm focal length equivalent.

3. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED

The Nikkor 18-105mm has superb autofocus performance capable of capturing wide-angle and telephoto shots. It is very compact and lightweight. It’s a great lens for video recording because it has an autofocus (AF) motor that helps track moving objects. You can expect great images with this lens, as it comes with the Nikon’s Vibration Reduction (VR) Image Stabilization.

Sample Image 4
Sample image, AF-S DX 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR | Photo Credit: Nikon

Related Post: Best Nikon Tele Macro Lenses

The VR system is one of its big advantages, especially when shooting in dim lights and telephoto focal length.

Its rounded 7-blade aperture diaphragm helps in maintaining awesome look on the out-of-focus subjects. To improve the image sharpness and color as well as to minimize aberrations, it uses an Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass element and an aspherical lens element.

4. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM is one of the sharpest lenses for your DX DSLR body. The drawback though is its big size, a bit heavy and it does not have a longer focal range. The maximum aperture of f/1.8 allows you to produce an aesthetic bokeh in a nine-blade circular diaphragm.

The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM has a smooth, quiet and fast focusing system through its Hyper Sonic Motor, making it more flexible for video applications.

The lens is equipped with the Sigma USB Dock and Sigma Optimization Software for performance fine-tuning. It is built with solid, durable and weather-resistant materials. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 HSM is way better than the kit lens in terms of sharp image quality.

One of the best zoom lenses for your DX DSLR: The Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM Lens (Black)

It comes with five SLD glass elements and four aspherical elements to minimize distortions and chromatic aberrations throughout all the zoom ranges. That also helps to enhance the sharpness and to produce clear imagery.

5. Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS HSM

This lens has an impressive wide f/2.8 aperture, Optical Stabilization (OS) and is priced reasonably. Most people who have just purchase their DSLR opted to use the kit lens that comes along with the camera because it’s primarily economical. However, many users are not satisfied with the kit lens’ performance, especially when shooting in low-light conditions. The aperture is not wide enough and in most action shots, the image tends to get blurred.

With Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 OS HSM, users will see the big difference to having the fixed /f2.8 maximum aperture. It provides more light to the sensor in its entire focal length range. If you are particularly taking landscapes and portraits, then this lens gives you much better results. You still get those sharp images even if you are not shooting with a tripod or flash in low light locations.

6. Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR

This kit zoom lens comes with high-end DSLR bodies. The lens is capable of shooting landscapes in wide-angle range. This is an all-in-one zoom lens. Its autofocus mechanism is fast, accurate and near-silent made possible through Nikon’s Silent Wave motor.

The combined Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization technology and the SWM AF system allows you to capture images in fast-action photography and even in handheld video recording.

The Nikkor 18-140mm is a good lens to have, creating an incredibly pleasing out-of-focus background, which is made possible with its 7-blade rounded aperture.

To reduce chromatic aberration, it uses a one aspherical and one ED elements.

The Nikkor 18-140mm also equipped with the Nikon Super Integrated Coated lens system to reduce lens flare and better enhance light transmission.

It is also equipped with the Nikon Super Integrated Coated lens system to reduce lens flare and better enhance light transmission.

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The combined Vibration Reduction (VR) image stabilization technology and the SWM AF system allows you to capture images in fast-action photography and even in handheld video recording.

This is a good lens to have an incredibly pleasing out-of-focus backgrounds thanks to its 7-blade rounded aperture. To reduce chromatic aberration, it uses a one aspherical and one ED elements.

It is also equipped with the Nikon Super Integrated Coated lens system to reduce lens flare and better enhance light transmission.

You should buy it because it covers everything from wide-angle landscape shots to astonishing telephoto range. The Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6 VR is a very convenient and an excellent travel companion without you having to change lenses. This lens is definitely worth the investment.

Sample Image 5
Example of what the Nikkor AF-S 85mm micro lens can do | Photo Credit: Nikonians.org

7. Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM

The Sigma 50-100mm f/1.8 DC HSM offers greater focus control, versatile telephoto range and exemplary shallow depth of field.

With a constant aperture at f/1.8, you will never have difficulty shooting in low lighting conditions. It has a Hyper Sonic Motor (HSM) for quiet and fast autofocusing.

8. Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

The Nikkor 18-300mm is an ultra-high Power and versatile zoom lens capable of shooting wide-angle landscapes, portraiture, and super telephoto focal length shots. Additionally, an internal focusing system helps to keep the design of the lens compact.

This lens yields great advantage when shooting photo and video due to its quick and quiet autofocus by utilizing the ultrasonic-type Silent Wave Motor system in its component.

No more blurred images when shooting handheld because the lens is packed with second-generation Vibration Reduction II image stabilization, which would automatically compensate when there is camera shake.

It is capable of maintaining the crisp image, reducing lens flare and eliminating ghosting on its frame, thanks to the lens’ Super Integrated Coating.

Bonus: Great Micro & Prime Lenses

Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5 VR

Sigma 17-50mm f:2.8 EX DC OS HSM

This lens is capable of shooting extreme close-up for macro and portrait images. With good DX DSLRs, the Micro-Nikkor 85MM f/3.5 VR lens can produce brilliant images. Its rounded 9-blade diaphragm yield to amazing and natural looking out-of-focus elements. The Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/3.5 VR is one of the six macro lenses produced by Nikon.

If you are into wedding photography, this lens is an excellent addition to your gears. Shooting wedding details is a no-brainer with this lens.

It’s quite an advantage to not need to get close to the subject. The 85mm is well-suited to general photography, portrait, and nature with close-up focusing to 0.9 feet.

Nikkor 35mm f/1.8

The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 prime lens is designed for DX format cameras. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8 which is very useful in a low light environment, portrait and general photography.

The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 has a quiet and fast focusing system. It produces great color, contrast, sharp images and superb bokeh quality comparable with other Nikon prime lenses like the 50 mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4 etc.

Related Post: The Best Prime Lens for Your Nikon DSLR

In order to keep dust ingress to the camera/lens interface, the maker features a proper metal mount and a gasket. The Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 is priced reasonably so there’s no reason you shouldn’t get one.

Clearly, there are many different types of lenses available for DX DSLR users. The only question is: Are you having the right lens for the images that you want to capture? 

Some photographers who travel a lot should choose the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR because of its wide angle and telephoto capability. While some amateur photographers who are just practicing their skills should invest more in lenses with a wide aperture and a focal length in the of 50mm-100mm like the Sigma f/1.8 DC HSM.


  • We are a team of enthusiast photographers crafting every piece of content to help you become a better photographer. The PhotoWorkout Team is always curious about the latest photography gear, post-processing software, up & coming photographers, and innovative ways to print your photos.

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