Nikkor 18-55mm AF-S VR

My Recommended Best Value Nikon Lenses

Our goal for the best cheap Nikon lenses presented here is to get the most of out of our Nikon DSLR camera for the least amount of money. With one camera body and three lenses, we cover 18 to 300mm, plus macro, with genuine Nikon equipment. These best-buy lenses and camera have the highest value-to-cost ratio for the non-professional photographer on a budget. Most of the photographs in this blog are taken with this equipment.

Current recommended Nikon Best Value kit

Read our discussion that follows for reviews, recommendations and alternatives. These recommendations are based on our personal experience with the equipment. New and used prices are from Amazon, including Amazon’s third party vendors. Prices and availability will vary daily, so prices are for illustration only. Your mileage may vary.

New Used
Nikon D90 12.3MP DX Body $850 $600 Our Review
Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR $185 $100 Our Review
Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Nikkor $450 $200 Our Review
Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor $469 $335 Our Review
Nikon SB-600 Speedlight Flash $350 $225 Our Review

Our selection criteria

We are not looking for strictly the “cheapest” equipment. Ten minutes at Amazon will do that for us. Rather, we are looking for the “best cheap” equipment, the pieces that are the best value, that is of respectable quality for the least expense. Specifically:

  1. Cover the 18 to 300mm range; small gaps acceptable
  2. Three lenses maximum: Wide, Telephoto, and Macro/Portait
  3. Favor Nikon-branded equipment, unless a third party lens is widely considered to be closely competitive in quality
  4. New, Refurbished, or excellent-condition Used.
  5. Start with least expensive option, but upgrade if the advantages are a good value.
  6. Only lenses $500 and under considered
  7. Must auto-focus and meter through the lens
  8. Avoid overlaps in focal length, but not at the expense of rejecting a superior lens

Best Cheap Nikon Lens Kit Reviews

Summaries are given below. Click through to read the full reviews.


Although recently discontinued, the Nikon D90 remains a versatile body. It has excellent high ISO quality. It can operate all Nikon auto-focus lenses. And it does so for several hundred dollars less than its replacement. Read our full review with suggestions for alternative Nikon DSLR bodies.

BEST CHEAP WIDE ANGLE: Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G AF-S DX VR is often overlooked as an inferior lens bundled to sell camera bodies. However, it is a very good performer at a great price. Read our full review with suggestions for alternative Nikon wide angle lenses.

BEST CHEAP TELEPHOTO LENS: Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Nikkor

Nikon 70-300mm f/4-5.6D ED AF Nikkor is the best of the pre-VR (vibration reduction) Nikon 300mm telephoto zooms and is very affordable. Read our full review with suggestions for alternative Nikon telephoto zoom lenses.

BEST CHEAP MACRO LENS: Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor

Nikon 60mm f/2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor has a shorter working distance than longer macros for Nikon, but that keeps the price down. It still provides professional performance. Read our review for our full opinion and more affordable macro lens alternatives.

BEST CHEAP FLASH: SB-600 Speedlight Flash

The built-in flash on DSLR cameras is adequate in many cases, but it has some limitations. The Nikon SB-600 Speedlight, though large, has high utility and good power at an affordable price. Read our full review and other flash recommendations.

For more best cheap photography accessories, check our Best Cheap Photography Accessories section.

The prices of the lenses I have selected may give you pause about my definition of “cheap.” However, I’m not bargain-hunting for bargain’s sake. I’m looking for the minimum kit that will cover what I like to take pictures of the most. For example, I enjoy macro photography, and the only way to get that is to spend a little more. So, I have one “prize” lens. Your passion may be telephoto, so you’ll spend more on that lens. Or low light, so you spring for the 50 F/1.4. Pick that favorite lens to spend more on, but then build the rest of your kit around it.