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  • Jeff Palicki

Best Lens for Sports Photography Nikon

Updated: Jan 5

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.


Check out the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens on Amazon.


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.


See the price of this Nikon sports photography lens on Amazon.


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.


Shop for this Nikon lens on Amazon.


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.


See the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens on Amazon.


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.


Purchase this lens on Amazon.com.


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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