Nikon’s Z mount mirrorless system is a very high-quality system and the lens lineup is growing fast. But there aren’t a lot of DX (crop sensor) lenses in the Z mount collection.
So I am going to skip right over the kit lens the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR kit lens that you can get with the Z50. It’s sharper than most kit lenses and it’s great to have for taking snapshots, but the unimpressive aperture and the fact that it comes with the Z50 means I am skipping right over it to get to my first pick, the Nikon Z 28-75mm f/2.8.
Keep in mind that the Z50 is a camera that has a lot of pro-level features that make full-frame Z lenses an excellent option as well, especially the smaller, lighter full-frame Z mount lenses.
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1. Nikon Z 28-75mm f/2.8
This lens is an affordable version of the pro-level 24-70mm f/2.8 and gives you nearly the same image quality in a much smaller and lighter body at less than half the cost which makes it the perfect Z50 companion.
The 28-75mm f/2.8 lens in the Z mount lineup is quite impressive. It packs a wide max aperture into a compact body and still delivers exceptional image quality.
While it does lag behind the much more expensive and larger 24-70mm f/2.8 Z lens in terms of pure sharpness and image quality, it’s the size and cost that vaults this lens to the top pick on this list.
There are a lot of similarities to the Tamron 28–75mm f/2.8 for Sony cameras. So much so that it seems likely that Nikon collaborated with Tamron to adapt the lens to its Z-mount lineup while maintaining the Nikon branding. However, it happened, it’s a great option for Z50 shooters.
If you add the 17-28mm f/2.8 lens below then you have the perfect combo of lenses for the Z50 that covers a huge focal range with an f/2.8 max aperture. This makes for a perfect small and lightweight kit for traveling or just keeping with you on a regular basis to make sure you don’t miss any great shots in your daily life.
2. Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8
This compact 28mm lens has a nice wide f/2.8 max aperture and its size pairs nicely with the compact Z50 for a great walk-around combo.
This might be my personal favorite lens to carry around with me on a regular basis.
It’s small and lightweight enough that pairing it with the Z50 makes for a very small kit that is perfect for everyday shooting.
On the crop-sensor (DX) camera the focal length equivalent is 42mm which puts it close to having a nifty-fifty on a full-frame camera. This is a great focal length to carry around while traveling, shooting street photography, or just going out with friends.
3. Nikon Z 35mm f/1.8 S
With an equivalent focal length of 52.5mm on the crop sensor camera, this is the lens that every Z50 owner should buy once they realize the kit lens isn’t getting it done.
The 35mm f/1.8 is the lens I recommend for almost anyone with a crop sensor camera as the next one to get after they get frustrated with their kit lens. It’s inexpensive, compact, and the f/1.8 aperture opens up an entire world of possibilities compared to most kit lenses.
The big factors for choosing this as a great next step are the aperture and cost. Of course, the Z-mount version is more expensive than most 35mm f/1.8 lenses but still on the lower cost end.
The f/1.8 aperture is often a massive difference for anyone that’s never used a lens with a wide maximum aperture like that before. It will allow you to experiment with shallow depth of field as well as shoot in low light.
If you plan to use your Z50 for everyday photography like photographing your kids or get-togethers with friends and family, you’ll be thankful to have the option to use f/1.8, especially in indoor situations. You’ll find that indoor lighting is often far darker than you perceive it with your eyes.
So if you want a little more low light capability than the two options above, then I highly recommend checking out this 35mm lens.
4. Nikon Z 24-70mm f/4
The second version of the Z6 has improved focusing, an exceptional sensor, and dual card slots while the Z mount means you’ll have some of the best lenses on the market available to you. It also has a price tag that won’t break the bank.
I put this lens on the list because it’s a versatile all-around lens, similar to the 28-75mm above. It has a smaller max aperture at f/4 but better sharpness across the frame and optical performance in general. It’s also around the same price as that lens but comes in slightly lighter in weight, but not by much.
This is a good option if you don’t see yourself needing the f/2.8 aperture very much and want improved image quality. For instance, if you plan on using this zoom lens for landscape photography, then the image quality is far more important than the wide max aperture.
The extra 4mm at the wide end is also beneficial for landscape shooting.
I would also recommend this lens over the 28-75mm if you plan on using it on a full-frame camera in addition to the Z50. This lens has better sharpness and less chromatic aberration around the edges which will show up more on full-frame than the crop-sensor Z50.
5. Nikon Z 17-28mm f/2.8
This lens is a great companion to the 28-75mm above and shares the same great quality in a small and compact package.
This lens is the wide-angle companion to the top pick above. It’s lighter, more compact, and less expensive than the other wide-angle Z mount options. These things all make it a solid option for your Z50.
The reasons it works well with the Z50 are the same as the top pick, just with a wider angle of view that is perfect for the landscape shooter.
You’ll save on the cost of the lens, but there are compromises with cost as you would expect. However, these compromises are minimized when used on a crop-sensor camera like the Z50.
While this lens is quite sharp overall, the place where it falls short of the other wide-angle Z-mount options is around the edges.
But here’s the good news…
Because this is a full-frame lens, your Z50 is only going to be using the center part of the lens…where it’s at its sharpest. So you’ll get the benefit of a very sharp lens, lower cost, and compact design…and you can still use it on full-frame Z bodies if you upgrade in the future.
If you’re looking to build out the perfect Z50 kit…I highly recommend combining this lens with the 28-75mm f/2.8 lens above to cover a large focal range without adding much weight to your bag. This combo may be one of the best travel kits you can put together.
6. Nikon Z 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 VR
This lens gives you a lot of reach in a very compact package that pairs well with the Z50, especially if you don’t find yourself shooting in low light too often.
This is the only dedicated crop-sensor (DX) lens on this list for a couple of reasons. First, Nikon doesn’t have many DX options in their Z lineup. Second, many of their full-frame lenses (like the ones above) are light, compact, less expensive, and pair perfectly with the Z50.
I think you get a lot more value for your money when you go with one of these options rather than a dedicated crop-sensor lens that is often of lesser quality (if the F-mount options are any indication).
So why this lens?
The 250mm long end of the focal length in this lens can be very useful for a variety of different situations that suit the Z50.
If you are taking advantage of the excellent autofocus system on the Z50 to shoot your kid’s sports, then having a 250mm reach is going to get you up close and personal with the action. The shots you get will blow away the cell phone photos of the other parents and even shots from those all-in-one superzooms.
This lens will also work great for casual nature photography. The f/6.3 aperture at 250mm won’t be great in low light but for daytime hikes, the focal range can be great for capturing wildlife that you might run into.
7. Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 S
The Z version of the popular 50mm f/1.8 is a lens that should be in the bag of every photographer that likes to photograph people.
The Nikon Z 50mm f/1.8 has all of the same benefits as the 35mm version, but if you are shooting a lot of portrait photography, then the 50mm will be a 75mm equivalent on the Z50 which is a perfect focal length for portraits.
By using a longer focal length, you’ll be able to stand farther away from your subject while still filling the frame. This adds something called compression in photography, which helps to give a more flattering look to people.
Of course, the longer focal length also can be somewhat limiting for everyday use. So keep that in mind. This lens is great as a second or third option for the Z50 while the ones at the top of this list are more versatile and good for everyday use.
Also, don’t forget that you can use many of the F-mount lenses on this camera with the adapter, so check out my breakdown of the best Nikon lenses for more options.
Lenses To Avoid
The truth is that there really aren’t any bad Z-mount lenses. Nikon hasn’t opened up the specs to third-party manufacturers to create their own lenses and they’ve done a great job at making high-quality lenses even at the lower price ranges.
But there is one I really can’t recommend…
Nikon Z DX 16-50 f/3.5-6.3 VR
As kit lenses go, this one is one of the better ones, but if you didn’t get one with your Z50, then I think you can spend your money on better options. This lens comes in at $309.95 MSRP if you purchase it separately.