Nikon has a reputation for making NO bad lenses. However, they are also known for lenses that only work with certain cameras or certain applications. Make sure you decode their complicated naming system so you know what you’re buying.
Nikkor lenses are for Nikon cameras. I don’t know why the company makes this distinction. For all practical purposes, Nikkor and Nikon are the same thing.
FX vs DX format
First off, know your camera’s image sensor format and crop factor. See explanation
DX format cameras crop the image. DX format lenses are optimized for this crop factor. FX or DX format lenses will work fine with DX cameras.
FX format are Nikon’s professional, top-of-the line cameras. They have a full-frame sensor that doesn’t crop the image. In that way, they are similar to traditional film cameras. DX lenses only work in crop-mode on FX cameras.
Entry-level cameras like the Nikon D3300 need AF-S lenses, with a “silent wave electronic focusing motor,” to use autofocus. Higher-end cameras have a focusing drive motor in the camera, so they don’t have this restriction.
Use Ken Rockwell’s compatibility chart to see which lenses match up with your camera. His explanations of Nikon’s letter codes are as easy to read as any I’ve found.
Notes about quality
It’s no surprise that better lenses cost more. If two lenses have similar specs but very different prices, there is a reason. Be sure you understand why before you spend your money. All photographers have to weigh quality vs. price. Here are a few guidelines to help make sense of the options.
+ Lenses with gold ring around them are the top-of-the-line series, built with professional-grade durable materials.
+ Lenses that open to f/2.8 and f/4.0 are more desirable than those with variable zoom apertures.
+ Lenses that collapse and extend into the body of the lens have more problems with dust and are more cheaply made.