The Nikon D3500 is one of the top entry-level cameras. Plus, it comes at an affordable price. Find out what the best compatible lenses are.
If you’re new to photography and are looking to buy your first DSLR camera, you’ve likely come across the Nikon D3500. It was released in 2018 and is excellent because it’s a 24.2-megapixel camera.
Buy the Nikon D3500 from Amazon for $572.99.
Your lens plays a big role in the images that you capture. While the kit lens works, you can capture better photos by investing in other lenses.
For example, a lens with a maximum aperture of f/1.4 will allow you to create a beautiful blur in the background of your portraits. If you use the kit lens, you’re looking at a maximum aperture around f/3.5 or f/5.
Although you can still capture great photos, other lenses can help you capture even better ones. The following lenses are the best for the Nikon D3500.
1. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens
A 35mm lens with a large aperture is a must-have because it’s lightweight, versatile, and it makes a viewer feel that they’re at the scene. With a 35mm lens, you can get close to your subject to photograph headshots or capture the wide scenery.
The large aperture is important because it allows you to capture a shallow depth of field, which gives you a crisp focus and blurry backgrounds. Nikon’s AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm lens has a maximum aperture of f/1.8, which will produce great images and allow you to take photos in low-light situations.
It also has M/A focusing mode, which lets you quickly switch from automatic to manual focusing. It’s a switch located on the barrel of the lens. This means that you can seamlessly switch between the two when a situation calls for it.
Buy the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G Lens from Amazon for $158.
2. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens
Have you heard of the nifty-fifty? It’s a nickname given to the 50mm f/1.8 lens because it’s versatile, produces beautiful images, and comes at an affordable price.
The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens is equivalent to a 75mm lens because the D3500 camera is a crop sensor. Regardless, you can capture a shallow depth of field like the 35mm lens while having a zoomed-in point-of-view.
Since it’s more zoomed in, the 50mm lens works well for portraits. Chances are, it’ll become your new go-to lens for portraits because you can shoot many of the different types of portrait photography.
If you could only choose one lens, the 50mm is the one to go with because it’s fast, compact, and works well in different lighting situations.
Buy the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens from Amazon for $185.
3. Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens
Nikon’s 85mm f/1.8 lens costs almost as much as the D3500 camera. However, that shouldn’t stop you from getting it because your lens makes a big impact on the outcome of your images.
An 85mm lens is essential because it does an excellent job at compression and separating your subject from the background. The background will look like it’s closer than it is, and your subject will stand out. The separation is what creates beautiful bokeh and a smooth, blurry background.
Nikon recently updated the 85mm lens to be a bit lighter. It also has an Internal Focus (IF) system with quieter and faster autofocusing while resulting in sharper images.
Buy the Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Lens from B&H Photo Video for $476.95.
4. Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens
While prime lenses are great, you can get the most bang for your buck with a zoom lens. Instead of buying 3 to 5 prime lenses, you can get one zoom lens to cover the entire range.
Related: What’s better, a prime or zoom lens?
Nikon offers the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens, which covers a vast range of focal lengths. You can capture wide-angle shots with the 18mm capability or zoom all the way to 140mm.
While the range is impressive, it comes at a cost. The maximum aperture ranges from f/3.5 to f/5.6 depending on the focal length that you’re using. Compared to the prime lenses that offer a maximum aperture of f/1.8, that’s a big difference.
However, you can still take great photos with it. It’s an all-in-one lens that’ll save you space and time because you won’t have to worry about swapping out your lens.
One of the best parts about the 18-140mm lens by Nikon is that it has a vibration reduction (VR) feature. The in-lens technology stabilizes your images, which reduces blurriness caused by camera shake.
Buy the Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens from B&H Photo Video for $496.95.
5. Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Lens
If you’re looking for an alternative to Nikon lenses, Tamron is a great choice. It costs less than Nikon lenses, and it produces excellent image quality.
The 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 lens from Tamron offers an impressive range of focal lengths. Some lenses that have a similar range compromise quality. With Tamron, your images will turn out great throughout the full range of focal lengths.
The only drawback is the lens distortion that can occur when you use the widest focal length. However, that’s the case with most zoom lenses.
Overall, it’s hard to beat this lens. The compact size, weight, price, image quality, and range are excellent. Plus, the autofocus doesn’t make a lot of noise. It’s quiet and fast.
Buy the Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD Lens from B&H Photo Video for $599.
6. Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens
Sigma makes some of the best and sharpest lenses on the market. The 18-35mm f/1.8 Art lens offers a versatile range of focal lengths. As the D3500 is a crop sensor camera, it’ll be equivalent to 28.8mm to 56mm.
The best part is that the maximum aperture is f/1.8 throughout the entire range. Having a constant and large maximum aperture, you can capture sharp low-light images and a shallow depth of field.
It has five Special Low Dispersion (SLD) elements, which reduce color fringing and chromatic aberrations. There’s also a coating on the lens, which is designed to reduce lens flare and result in better color contrast.
Since the lens is so versatile, it can be used for portraits, landscapes, and product photography. If you’re shooting portraits, you can easily switch between full-body photos and a more zoomed-in look without moving around.
Buy the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Art Lens from B&H Photo Video for $679.
7. Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary Lens
If you’re looking for a little more range than to 18-35mm lens, Sigma also offers a 17-70mm lens. While it has more range and costs less, it has a drawback. The maximum aperture ranges from f/2.8 to f/4 depending on the focal length that you’re using.
While it’s not as large as f/1.8, it’s still a large maximum aperture. If you like the kit lens, Sigma’s 17-70mm lens is the natural next step to take because it opens up your maximum aperture and range.
A great feature is that it’s made with a Thermally Stable Composite (TSC) material. It’ll work precisely in different temperatures.
The versatile range allows you to swap between a wide-angle and short-telephoto lens in seconds. It also has a quick and quiet autofocus system, so you can quickly capture sharp images.
Buy the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4 DC Macro OS HSM Contemporary Lens from B&H Photo Video for $399.
The Nikon D3500 is one of the cheapest and best DSLR cameras that you can buy. While the kit lens works, take your photos to the next level by upgrading your lens.
Several incredible lenses are compatible with the D3500 and come at different price ranges. A larger maximum aperture, sharper images, and more focal length options are the main benefits.
Featured image courtesy of Nikon.
About David Em
David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.