Nikkor lenses

Nikkors in a bunch.

Here is my completed ‘metal era’ user set. I have installed CPUs in each and all have been converted to Ai indexing for the modern DSLR.

The designs are much of a muchness here, sharing looks and ergonomics, with but two anomalies. The 24/2.8 uses a diamond patterned aperture ring rather than the scalloped standard, reflecting the presence of a Nikon Ai conversion kit. The 35/2 and 85/1.8 use the original factory aperture rings which came with fluted machining for some reason. Otherwise all lenses use scalloped focusing and aperture collars. The 24mm and 28mm are the only multi-coated optics here. Color rendering across the range is especially notable for its uniformity, and I have published lens correction profiles for each lens, available for free download here.

Average cost was $166 plus $30 for the CPU installed in each. The total spent would buy you one ‘pro’ grade plastic fantastic current lens and will leave you desperately searching for repair parts when the internal motors fail a few years hence.

Age in years in parentheses. Click any link for the related review.

Front row:

Rear row:

The only significant one missing from the era is the 35/1.4. I have the latest 35/1.4 Sigma which is superior to the Nikkor. Also, I have avoided the more pedestrian variants – 35/2.8, etc. – as the faster optics add optical quality and performance. I use no lens hood on the 20mm, where it is useless, or on the 55mm where it is redundant.


Data for the lenses shown.

Each is used extensively, each is a joy to hold and behold and each is wonderful in a special way. No hood on the 20mm (useless) or the 55mm (not required).

Does anyone need all of these? Of course not. Three at most will suit any particular snapping style. For me it would be the 20mm, the 35mm and the 85mm. Yet I adore what the 24 and 28mm can do, would miss the 50mm horribly, the 105mm is frequently just the ticket, as is the 135mm and who could live without that simply divine 200mm? I would, however, warn you never to get one of these, because once you do, you will sell the garbage that passes for your current set of lenses and start getting pre-Ai metal era Nikkors, from the good old days when men were men, closet doors remained firmly bolted and women were pregnant and in the kitchen.

All of these are abundantly available used – mine came from KEH and eBay over a two year period, CPU installation is easy on all but the 50mm optic, the 20mm requires that you fabricate an aperture follower, and handling, performance and build quality are the best anyone ever accomplished. None is collectible, so you will not be competing with white trash collectors for these, nor should you have any qualms about gluing on a CPU and removing the useless aperture claw from the bad old days of film. Manufacturers would have you believe that modern lens designs are specifically for the digital era and if you believe that you can drop me an email and bid on my bridge for sale in Brooklyn.

To see my snaps taken with all of these on the D700, D2x and D3x, simply enter “Nikkor”, the focal length and aperture in the Search box.