best nikon lens for surf photography

The Best Nikon Lens for Surf Photography in 2023

If you want to take stunning surfing pictures, you really need a good lens that is capable of taking pictures from a far distance. There are many lenses to choose from, but which one is the best Nikon lens for surf photography?

There are some bad news and some good news.

The bad news is that many of those telephoto lenses are expensive; the good news is that there are still some cheaper models if you are on a budget.

So, what are the best Nikon lenses for surf photography? Here’s a quick list:

Best Budget Lenses for Surf Photography

For the budget lenses, we are going to make two lists: one for DX sensors, and one for full-frame sensors.

Best Budget Lenses for Crop Sensors

1. Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-6.3G ED VR AF-P

This lens is a small giant weighing about 400 grams. Because of the long focal distance of 300mm, you can take good close-up shots of subjects that are at a pretty far distance.

Needless to say that the 300mm, on the Nikon crop sensor, is actually 390mm, so more points for this one.

The two disadvantages for this lens are that you can’t use it as an all-rounder (though is a perfect lens for portrait photography as well) and that at the maximum focal length, the largest aperture is 6.3 and this can bite you in low light situations.

The price for a new one is around $400, and a used one can go even down to $200. You can check out the price here.

2. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR 

This one’s a better all-rounder than the previous one because of the wide-angle of 18mm. Consequently, the price for this one goes up as well. But, if you want to have a good all-around budget lens for your crop camera, this one will work best.

Usually, you can find it for around $700, but sometimes there are offers and you can get one for $600 or less. You can check the price here.

If your budget allows and you value the flexibility of this lens, this is the best budget Nikon lens for surf photography on crop sensor cameras.

Best Budget Lenses for Full Frame

Given the fact that full-frame lenses are bigger and built with higher quality materials, even the “budget” options can get a bit pricey

1. Nikon AF-P Nikkor 70-300mm F4.5-5.6E ED VR FX

This model is very similar to the first one in the Crop sensor category. Except, it is for full-frame cameras and it is more expensive (of course).

Still, even at maximum focal length, this lens has a wider aperture and will help you better in low-light situations.

As for the price, this lens goes around $600. But sometimes you may get it for less you can find a sale. You can check here the price here.

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

Again, kind of the same story. A similar model, but with a wider minimum focal length than the last one making it a great budget all-rounder for full-frame cameras.

Needless to say, the quality and sharpness are on point with this lens.

The price for this one goes around $950 (of course, you may find them on a sale). Here you can check the price here.

The fact that is a better all-rounder than the other lens makes this one the best budget Nikon lens for surf photography on full-frame cameras.

Best High-End Nikon Lenses for Surf Photography

Now we get to the expensive part. These lenses are usually huge and heavy. Needless to say that the price keeps up with their dimensions. They have long focal lengths (some going to 500mm or even 800mm) and wide apertures.

Also, these lenses are very specialized, and (obliviously) you won’t be able to take them to a party (unless you want to impress some people with your gear and your wallet).

The following lenses are listed in ascending price order.

1. Nikon AF-S 200-500mm F5.6E ED VR

Once we have gotten to the high-end spectrum, we start to have a constant aperture for all focal lengths. The Nikon AF-S 200-500 has a pretty wide aperture for this kind of focal distance.

Even though it is a full-frame lens, the price is somewhat acceptable. They run for about $1200 – $1300. You can check the price here.

2. Nikon 70-200mm F 2.8 AF-S E FL ED VR

I’ve put this lens here especially because it is a very versatile one. Even though the maximum focal length is only 200mm (the minimum on the other one), this lens has a wider aperture (F 2.8) across all focal distances. This is also a great lens for portrait photography if you want to go into that too.

This lens goes for about $2000. It is more expensive, but it is always worth it. You can check the price here.

3. Nikon 500mm F 5.6E PF ED VR

This is a behemoth of a lens. The super-telephoto lens weighs about 1.5kg. So, when you go out shooting be prepared to work out your arms.

It is an extremely sharp 500mm focal length lens that is ideal for getting the stunning surfing photo you’ve been waiting for.

But all this power comes at a price. $3700 to be more exact. You can check out the price here.

Bottom Line

This selection was my recommendation for the best Nikon lenses for surf photography. Because we need a long focal distance for this kind of photography, the price of the lenses will usually be higher than their shorter counterparts.

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