When me and my friends are having our tea, we always talk about what lens to use or which lens should we buy. I’m not a professional photographer, nor I have used all of the lenses which I will be talking about. They are solely my own point of view/opinion, standing from a hobby direction, and they are all for Nikon cameras, with a few of them being DX lenses (all my friends are currently using DX format Nikon body. FX is just too expensive for us, at least at the moment.).
Anyway, below are lenses which I think are more wallet-friendly for most of us, and yet able to produce excellent image quality, for our day to day usage, cover from ultra wide angle to tele-zoom range. Of course, if your financial allows, the Nikon Pro lenses 14-24mm f/2.8, 24-70mm f/2.8, and 70-200mm f/2.8 will be a perfect combination, if you don’t mind about the weight. Otherwise, I think the following lenses are worth to consider:
1. Tokina AT-X 116 PRO DX 11-16mm f/2.8 AF
This is one of the best wide angle lenses you can get. According to some reviews, it is able to beat the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 in image sharpness. However, if you seldom take landscape photo, then the Nikon 18-55 kit lens is good enough. No need to waste money.
2. Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX
This is the lens to get for indoor group photo, party or gathering. With its short focal length, it's easy to capture sharp image even at low shutter speed without the need of speedlight/flash. You won't go wrong with this in your camera bag.
3. Nikon 60mm f/2.8G AF-S Micro Nikkor ED
If you already have a 50mm, and you don't shoot macro, then there is no point to get this lens. Otherwise, I think it can be a very good portrait/macro lens too. So, if you haven't have a 50mm and you like to shoot small insects once in a while, then this is worth to be considered.
4. Samyang 85mm f/1.4 IF MC Multi Coated Lens (Nikon AF)
A very sharp portrait lens with very nice bokeh (according to some reviews). It's second to the Nikon's expensive 85mm portrait lens. Price-to-performance wise, it will be number one. Not everyone can afford the Nikon unit. Otherwise, definitely the Nikon 85mm f1.4G AF-S Classic Portrait Lens.
Alternatively, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro Lens is a very popular short-telephoto macro lens too, although the build quality is only average. People have used it as portrait lens, and the results are excellent.
5. Nikon 105mm f/2.8G Micro-Nikkor ED-IF AF-S VR
If you don't shoot macro, and only portrait, then there is no point to buy this lens. Get the 85mm portrait lens instead. Otherwise, it can be a very excellent macro/portrait lens. This lens stays with my camera most of the time since the day I bought it.
6. Nikon AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED
One of the affordable 5-Star Nikon lenses which you can't go wrong with. Excellent for outdoor portrait, candid photography, zoo, and of course, any objects that are from a distance. Image is sharp, and focusing is fast (under bright ambient lighting condition).
One of my friends was able to get the Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 (the one without image stabilizer) cheap. In that case, the Sigma is definitely a better choice.