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  • Writer's pictureJeff Palicki

Best Lens for Sports Photography Nikon

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

Being a Sports Photographer, I get asked a lot of questions about cameras and lenses. Particularly, I get people wondering about the best lenses for sports photography. Well, wonder no more! Here is my list of what I consider the best the Nikon lenses for sports photography, in no particular order:


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR | Nikon Lenses for Sports


The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is a high-performance telephoto zoom lens for Nikon F-mount cameras. It has a focal length range of 70-200mm, which is ideal for a variety of subjects including portraits, sports, and wildlife.


One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, which allows for a bright viewfinder image and enables shooting in low light conditions - Perfect for indoor sports or night games. The lens also has a Vibration Reduction (VR) system that helps to reduce the effects of camera shake, allowing for sharper images when shooting handheld or in low light.


The lens has a number of advanced optics, including Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements and Fluorite (FL) elements, which help to reduce chromatic aberration and produce high-resolution images with excellent contrast and sharpness. It also has a Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare.

Sports Photography Lens | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens

In terms of construction, the lens has a durable, weather-sealed body and a tripod collar for use with a tripod or monopod. It also has a focusing motor (AF-S) that provides fast and accurate autofocus, as well as a manual focus override for fine-tuning.


However, I wouldn't recommend this for longer-range applications like football photography, where oftentimes the action isn't directly in front of you, but on the other side of the field. For applications like this, I recommend a longer range lens.


Overall, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is a versatile and high-quality lens that is perfectly suitable for the demands of sports photography.



Long Distance Lens for Sports Photography | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR


This lens is a professional-grade super telephoto Nikon lens perfect for shooting sports from a long distance. It has a very fast aperture and excellent image stabilization. It's a bit heavy and fairly expensive, but it's a top-performing lens for sports photography. If you can afford it, I highly recommend this lens for outdoor sports photography like baseball photography and football photography.


One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, which allows for a bright viewfinder image and enables shooting in low light conditions. The lens also has a Vibration Reduction (VR) system that helps to reduce the effects of camera shake, allowing for sharper images when shooting handheld or in low light.


The lens has a number of advanced optics, including Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements and Fluorite (FL) elements, which help to reduce chromatic aberration and produce high-resolution images with excellent contrast and sharpness. It also has a Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare.


In terms of construction, the lens has a durable, weather-sealed body and a tripod collar for use with a tripod or monopod. It also has a focusing motor (AF-S) that provides fast and accurate autofocus, as well as a manual focus override for fine-tuning.


Overall, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8E FL ED VR is a high-performance lens that is suitable for a wide range of professional photography applications. In my experience, it is a particularly good choice for capturing fast-moving subjects and for shooting in the low light conditions we often find ourselves in shooting sports photography.



Best Budget Lens for Sports Photography | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II


I love this lens for photographing sports because it is a more affordable option than the 400mm f/2.8, and it still has a fast aperture and excellent image stabilization. It's a good choice for shooting from a moderate distance. It has a fixed focal length of 300mm, which is ideal for a variety of subjects including sports, of course.


Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II | Sports Photography LEns by Jeff Palicki Photography

One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, which allows for a bright viewfinder image and enables shooting in low light conditions. The lens also has a Vibration Reduction (VR) system that helps to reduce the effects of camera shake, allowing for sharper images when shooting handheld or in low light.


The lens has a number of advanced optics, including Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements, which help to reduce chromatic aberration and produce high-resolution images with excellent contrast and sharpness. It also has a Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare.


In terms of construction, the lens has a durable, weather-sealed body and a tripod collar for use with a tripod or monopod. It also has a focusing motor (AF-S) that provides fast and accurate autofocus, as well as a manual focus override for fine-tuning.


Overall, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II is a high-performance lens that is suitable for a wide range of professional photography applications. It is a particularly good choice for capturing fast-moving athletes and for shooting in low light conditions of gymnasiums and night-games.



Wide Angle Lens for Sports Photography | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

This lens has a shorter focal length, making it a good choice for shooting close-up action or for covering a wider field of view. It also has a fast aperture, which can be helpful in low light conditions.


I use this lens for cool wide-angle shots of stadiums or fields. But you can also utilize this Nikkor Lens for action photos as I do. For example, in my experience, this is a great lens for photographing basketball, particularly if you're posted up on the court, or under the hoop - perfect for capturing dunks!

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED

One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, which allows for a bright viewfinder image and enables shooting in low light conditions. The lens also has a Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare.


The lens has a number of advanced optics, including Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements, which help to reduce chromatic aberration and produce high-resolution images with excellent contrast and sharpness. It also has a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that provides fast and accurate autofocus, as well as a manual focus override for fine-tuning.


In terms of construction, the lens has a durable, weather-sealed body and a tripod collar for use with a tripod or monopod. It is also relatively compact and lightweight for a lens of its class, making it a good choice for travel and everyday use.


Overall, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED is a versatile and high-quality lens that is suitable for a wide range of photography applications. It is particularly popular among professionals and serious enthusiasts.



Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

This lens has an ultra-wide angle of view, making it a good choice for capturing a wide field of view or for shooting in tight spaces. It also has a fast aperture, which can be helpful in low light conditions.


Obviously you're not going to be shooting a football game with this Nikkor lens. But, I wouldn't leave it at home. Especially if you're able to get close to the action. Think huddles, team prayers, etc. Anytime a team is huddled up, if you can get in there with a lens like this, you can capture some up-close magic. Remember - there is magic in sports between the whistles too. But I digress...


One of the standout features of this lens is its fast f/2.8 maximum aperture, which allows for a bright viewfinder image and enables shooting in low light conditions. The lens also has a Nano Crystal Coat to reduce ghosting and flare.


The lens has a number of advanced optics, including Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass elements, which help to reduce chromatic aberration and produce high-resolution images with excellent contrast and sharpness. It also has a Silent Wave Motor (SWM) that provides fast and accurate autofocus, as well as a manual focus override for fine-tuning.

Sports Photography Lens | Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED

In terms of construction, the lens has a durable, weather-sealed body and a built-in lens hood to help protect the front element from stray light and physical damage. It is also relatively compact and lightweight for a lens of its class, making it a good choice for travel and everyday use.


Overall, the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED is a versatile and high-quality lens that is suitable for a wide range of photography applications. It is particularly popular among professionals and serious enthusiasts who need a wide-angle lens with a fast aperture.



Final note:

Ultimately, the best lens for sports photography will depend on your specific needs and the type of sports you're shooting. It's always a good idea to try out a few different lenses to see which one works best for you. I also recommend having multiple lenses on hand during a game. One short, one long is a good way to go. But, if you are only carrying one, go with versatility and you can't go wrong.


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