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Best lenses for the Nikon D750: Best Prime

By Paul Carroll - Wednesday July 15 2015

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Best ultra-wide-angle: Nikon AF-S 20mm f1.8G ED | Best 35mm wide-angle: Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM A | Best 50mm: Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF2 | Best short telephoto lens: Carl Zeiss APO Planar T* Otus 85mm f1.4 | Best long telephoto lens: Nikon 300mm/400mm f2.8G ED VR | Best macro lens: Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f2 ZF2 Nikon
Best lenses for the Nikon D750: Best Prime

In Part 2 of “Best lenses for the Nikon D750” we’re looking at the performance of primes on Nikon’s latest full-frame DSLR. We’ve analyzed over 60 fixed-focal-length lenses on the D750, including Nikon’s own Nikkor brand and third-party alternatives. Covering focal lengths from 14mm through to 600mm, the scores include some of the best results our technicians have ever recorded.

Primes pack the most punch

Discerning photographers, both professional and enthusiast, have long valued the advantages of a fixed-focal-length prime lens over a zoom. While zooms are more convenient for lots of photographers, primes offer a number of advantages, the foremost of which is image quality. Yes, it’s true that the optical performance of zoom lenses is constantly improving, and we’ve seen some outstanding zoom results in Part 1, but the best prime lenses always outperform a zoom.

With fewer glass elements, the quality of the light hitting the sensor isn’t diminished as much with a prime as it is with a zoom. This improved light transmission not only ensures a brighter viewfinder, but produces sharper, crisper images, too. What’s more, with fewer elements, the glass in a prime is more precisely aligned and calibrated to much better control other factors such as Vignetting, Distortion, and Chromatic Aberration. 

Prime lenses offer a number of other advantages as well, such as affordability, portability, and creativity. With less glass, primes are generally lighter and smaller than a zoom, which is both handy for portability, but also more suited to certain photographic subjects. Take street photography, for example, where a small prime will help you work discreetly, or social portraiture, when sticking a large zoom lens in someone’s face can be off-putting.

For creative effects and working in low light, primes often offer “faster” maximum apertures at more affordable prices. Take the new Canon 50mm f1.8 STM, for example, which at just $125 won’t break the bank for many photographers. That “fast” f1.8 maximum aperture is really going to help in low light, allowing you to use lower ISO sensitivity and faster shutter speeds. For creative effects, a wider aperture also makes it easier to throw the background out of focus and produce attractive bokeh, too. A prime lens will make you think about your composition more as well. While zooms can make photographers a bit lazy, with a prime you’re going to have to work harder, and often those limitations will help expand your creativity.

Split into six categories, ultra wide-angle, wide-angle, 50mm, short telephoto, long telephoto and macro, here are the verified results for the best prime lenses on the Nikon D750.

Best ultra-wide-angle: Nikon AF-S 20mm f1.8G ED

Best 35mm wide-angle: Sigma 35mm f1.4 DG HSM A

Best 50mm: Carl Zeiss Distagon T* Otus 1.4/55 ZF2

Best short telephoto lens: Carl Zeiss APO Planar T* Otus 85mm f1.4

Best long telephoto lens: Nikon 300mm/400mm f2.8G ED VR

Best macro lens: Carl Zeiss Makro-Planar T 100mm f2 ZF2 Nikon