Best Nikon Lenses For Sports Photography

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best Nikon lenses for sport photography

While the most important element of a photography setup is the photographer, we still want the right tools for the job. And a few styles of photography are gear-centric as sports photography. That’s why I’m taking a look at the gear out there to help you find the best Nikon lenses for sports photography! 

Before going down you might be interested to read about what is the best Nikon Cameras For Sports Photography.

best Nikon lense for sport photography

Photobacks Sports Package

Best Nikon Zoom Lenses for Sports Photography

1)  Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens  

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

70-200mm f/2.8 lenses are some of the best choices for sports photography because they let you capture pictures with excellent background blur from across the field. Nikon’s version has everything we need, including distortion-eliminating and contrast-enhancing coatings and elements for the best image quality.

Impressively for a telephoto zoom, the Nikkor 70-200mm also has an intimate close focus distance of 1.1m (3.6 feet). This makes traditionally composed portraits of athletes easier versus the 1.4m (4.6 foot) distance of the previous versions.


  • Weight: 1430 g.
  • Focal Length: 70-200mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Price: Check On Amazon

2)  Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR Lens 

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

f/2.8 24-70mm lenses are called standard zooms for good reason. They have a focal range and bright enough aperture for nearly any kind of photography. Even in sports photography, we don’t always want to reach. 

For images of the team huddled together for a group portrait, action on the sidelines, and other storytelling images the Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 is your best choice. 24mm touches on the beginning of true wide-angle photography for shots of the entire field, court, or stadium while 70mm is often enough to reach for indoor sports or courtside shots.


  • Weight: 1070 g.
  • Focal Length: 24-70mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Price: Check On Amazon

3)  Sigma 150-600mm 5-6.3 Contemporary DG OS HSM 

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

Sigma is one of the most popular lens manufacturers for photographers looking for budget additions to their name-brand cameras. Their gear tends to fill gaps that Nikon and other manufacturers miss out on and for a very good value.

Like all telephoto lenses, the 150-600mm gives even more value when mounted on an APS-C crop camera, becoming a 240-960mm equivalent for extra reach! Sigma’s Hyper Sonic Motors (HSM) is used on all of their high-end lenses, quietly and swiftly controlling focus. Sigma also includes a proprietary dock for firmware updates that improve lens function.

In order to keep cost and weight down, Sigma gave this lens a relatively slow aperture range of f/5-6.3 at the long end. This makes the 150-600mm a strictly outdoor tool as indoors there simply won’t be enough light to get good sports images.


  • Weight: 1830 g.
  • Focal Length: 150-600mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/5
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Price: Check On Amazon

Read here for the best telephoto lenses for Nikon.

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

Photo by Lukáš Dlutko from Pexels

Photobacks Sports Package

Best Nikon Prime Lenses for Sports Photography

1)  Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200mm f/2G ED VR II Lens

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

Like all of the Nikon lenses on this list, the Nikkor 200mm f/2 is dust and moisture resistant. It also uses Nikon’s VR (Vibration Reduction) to control motion blur that’s common to telephoto lenses if using slower shutter speeds (3 stops of stabilization with this lens).

However, you should rarely need slower shutter speeds for exposure thanks to its bright f/2 aperture. Nine aperture blades help keep bokeh in out of focus areas pleasingly shaped.

The only weakness of this lens is that like most faster primes it can be a little hesitant on locking focus and tracking subjects. The weight of the glass and shallow depth of field makes erratic sports subjects difficult to track wide open.


  • Weight: 2900 g.
  • Focal Length: 200mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Price: Check On Amazon

2)  Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/2.8G ED VR II

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

Unlike longer telephoto prime lenses the Nikkor 300mm’s f/2.8 aperture allows in significantly more light than f/4 or greater lenses. Typically we want at least f/2.8 for indoor work, making the Nikkor 300mm an optimal combination of reach and low light performance.

While it doesn’t have quite the reach of the 400mm and 600mm options the Nikkor 300mm is significantly more reasonable in price, placing it within reach of prosumers.

The lens was designed for sports photographers but the Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 is also an ideal portrait lens for shooters needing a bit of distance from their subjects as well as a fantastic telephoto landscape and bird photography choice!


  • Weight: 2900 g.
  • Focal Length: 300mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Price: Check On Amazon

3)  Nikon AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4 E FL ED VR

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

For such a long telephoto and relatively fast aperture, the Nikkor 600mm f/4 is quite light! At 3810 g. (8.4 lbs) the lens is nearly 40% smaller than the previous version (15060g/11.5 lbs). 

And like all of Nikon’s telephoto lenses, the 600mm f/4 comes with Vibration Reduction clocked at around 4 stops of stabilization. This allows for slower shutter speeds and ensures maximum image sharpness despite hand motion and shutter shock.

The Sports VR mode adds additional stability correction for the erratic motions photographers need to take to track subjects on the field.

The main downside to this marvelous piece of technology is the price. At over $12,000 this is a lens priced exclusively for pro sports photographers making a living with their work.


  • Weight: 3810 g.
  • Focal Length: 600mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Weather-Sealed: Yes
  • Price: Check On Amazon

4)  Sigma 85mm f/1.4 DG HSM Art Lens

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

85mm is an interesting choice for sports photography. While it is still a telephoto view the Sigma 85mm doesn’t have quite as much reach as the other lenses on this list. 

However, the f/1.4 maximum aperture ensures it will provide incredible low light performance and the shallowest possible depth of field. The focal length and aperture are traditionally more of a portrait lens combination. 

However, for indoor sports and other events where you sit closer to the action, 85mm is very usable. Paired with a Nikon APS-C body like the D7200 the Sigma creates the equivalent of a 127.5mm field of view for even more reach!


  • Weight: 1130 g.
  • Focal Length: 85mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.4
  • Weather-Sealed: No
  • Price: Check On Amazon 


Landscape shooter? read here the best Nikon lenses for landscape photography.

Portrait shooter? read here the best Nikon lenses for portrait photography.

best Nikon lenses for sport photography

Photo by Ehab Amin

Can’t afford brand new lens?

Sometimes, Lenses can be very expensive for a lot of people. However, Keh is a great option to get a used one with reasonable price. Read the full review here.

Up To 40% Off Regular Priced Used Photography Equipment

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed the article if you have any questions just post them below & I will be happy to answer you.

The featured photo by Ehab Amin

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  • It is said a picture is worth a million words. Thank you for this very detailed and informative article – Best Nikon Lenses For Sports Photography. You have made getting the best tolls to capture those special moments easier. I always knew Nikon was a great brand, your article just reassured me.

  • I used to have a very nice Nikon camera and I had the 70mm Nikon lens.  My son did competitive gymnastics and it took awesome pictures of him.  At the time a photography friend of mine is the one who got me a great deal on the camera.  I moved and couldn’t get the settings right…complicated for me.  And my son decided after 13 years to quit gymnastics, so I gave the camera away.  I wish I would have kept it.  I miss taking shots.

  • Hi Ehab

    Thank you for sharing this list of Nikon lenses for sports photography. I know nothing about photography, but I would love to learn about it. I am here because my sister is taking her first steps in the photography world, and soon she’ll be celebrating her birthday. So I thought I would buy her a nice lens. The course she is in requires all the students to buy a lens. I forgot to tell you that she specialized in food photography, not in sport. Will the Nikon lens listed in the article fit for this? Or should I buy a lens for food? If it doesn’t matter, which of those lenses would be best for food photography?

    Thank you!

  • Hello there,
    When growing up, I had this passion for taking photos. Little did I know it was a preparation for my photography career? Now that I want to buy a camera after finishing my studies in photography, I find your article so educative. As I love sports photography a lot. I have gathered knowledge on the perfect camera for my job. The lenses specifications have opened my eyes to what I should look for exactly. I am glad I found your article since I will access more tutorials to better my career and buy the best camera.

    Thank you for sharing,

  • Hi there Ehab,

    This is my kind of site! As a photographer myself, you can never have too many lenses. And having the perfect one for every occasion is every photographers dream.

    I’ve mostly shot scenic as a hobby but your information have made sports a subject to try out.

    Thanks for inspiring.

    L, Sammy

  • Found this article really interesting and informative regarding Nikon lenses for sports photography , images used in this post are very high resolution and awesome . Entire Blog post is very detailed out explaining about different type of lenses available with specs and features . I don’t know much about camera and lenses but, still could understand & gain valuable insights about lenses. Thanks for sharing!. 

  • WOW this is gonna be perfect for my new photography class that I will be starting next semester! I have been trying to find a great lense that will be of high quality so that I can outperform my peers in that class. I’m a freshmen in college so I am not sure if outperform for a photography class is the right term haha. but anyways this will be perfect! thank you so much for this review and all the details you provided

  • Sports photography is quite a great job. Catching the moments is something that requires lots of focus, attention and swiftness so as to get it at the right time. I must say, sports photographers are doing a great job and I appreciate them for the lovely high quality sports photographs they have provided. Talking about quality, the Lens of the camera does have a great role to play in the quality of the photo, and getting the best or one of the lens out there is somehow mandatory. Thanks for your efforts in sharing some of the best Nikon lenses for sports photography. This article is surely going to be helpful to photographers.

  • As a photographer, I know that the topic of  quality of lens used can never be overemphasized because that is a very important to consider when taking pictures. This article was really enlightening and was also an eye opener because the lens I use wasn’t listed here, so I’m definitely getting one from this list 

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