Nikon Nikkor MF Lenses

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Nikon - Arguably the greatest camera lens manufacturer of all time!

This section is dedicated to manual focus Nikkor lenses marketed by Nikon over the decades. Lens design and coatings have changed over time and the F mount has which superseded the "S" mount, also changed over time to allow improved data transmission to the camera body. Nikon always tries to retain a backwardly compatible solution whenever possible and has achieved a greater success in this endeavour than any other manufacturer with over 400+ different lens types using the F bayonet mount. When Nikon launched the Nikon F camera and matching lenses in 1959 the aperture setting was transmitted to the light meter using Nikon's distinctive prong (bunny ears) which engaged with a pin on the camera/meter, this was effective but a little slow to align, in consequence Nikon developed an alternative system named AI (Automatic maximum aperture Indexing) which utilised a meter coupling ridge on the aperture ring, it was first used on the Nikon F2A and Nikon F2AS in 1977. "Bunny ears" remained for backward compatibility and a conversion service was offered for existing Nikkor lenses achieved by replacing the lens's aperture ring.

 
Nikon S Range-Finder 35mm Camera

Nikkor S lenses

The Nikon Range finder cameras used the Nikon S mount and a range of matching Nikkor lenses, all the lenses were single coated although only some are marked with a red "C" to denote this fact as a marketing strategy. The only multi-coated lenses produced for Nikon Rangefinder cameras were those produced for the 2000 and 2006 Anniversary cameras and are compatible with the original cameras.

 

Nikon S Range-Finder 35mm Camera

Nikkor S lenses (1945 to late 1960's 21mm to 50mm)

Lens

Elements

Colour

Date

Lens

Elements

Colour

Date

21mm f4.0 "Q"

8

Blk

1959

25mm f4.0 "W"

4

Blk/Chr

1953
28mm f3.5 "W" 6 Blk/Chr 1952

35mm f3.5"W"

4 Blk/Chr 1948
35mm f2.5 "W" 6 Blk/Chr 1952 35mm f1.8 "W" 7 Blk 1956
35mm Stereo 4 Chr 1956 50mm f3.5 Micro 5 Chr 1956
50mm f3.5 "Q" 4 Chr 1945 50mm f2.0 "H" coll 6 Chr 1946
50mm f2.0 "H" 6 Blk/Chr 1950 50mm f1.5 "S" 7 Chr 1950
50mm f1.4 "S" oly 7 Blk/Chr 1950 50mm f1.4 "S" 7 Blk 1954
50mm f1.1 "N" int 9 Blk 1956 50mm f1.1 "N" ext 9 Blk 1959
 

Nikon S Range-Finder 35mm Camera

Nikkor S lenses (1948 to late 1960's 85mm to 1000mm & 2000-2006 lenses)

Lens

Elements

Colour

Date

Lens

Elements

Colour

Date

85mm f2.0 "P"

5

Blk/Chr 1948 85mm f1.5 "S" 7 Blk 1951
105mm f4.0 "T" 3 Blk 1959 105mm f2.5 "P" 7 Blk 1953
135mm f4.0 "Q" 4 Chr 1947 135mm f4.0 "Q" 4 (Bel) Blk 1958
135mm f3.5 "Q" 4 Blk/Chr 1956 135mm f3.5 "Q" 4 Blk 1950
180mm f2.5 "H" 6 Blk 1953 250mm f4.0 "Q" 4 Blk 1951
250mm f4.0 "Q" 4 Blk 1956 350mm f4.5 "T" 3 Blk 1959
500mm f5.0 "T" 3 Blk 1952 1000mm f6.3 Rflx 3 Blk 1959
50mm f1.4 MC 7 Blk 2000 35mm f1.8 MC 7 Blk 2006
 

Nikon F FTn SLR 35mm Camera

Auto Nikkor F lenses (1959 to 1974)

These lenses usually had optics which had a single coating and the focusing ring was all metal and scalloped to help the photographers grip. Auto referred to the lens remaining at full aperture until the moment of exposure at which time the lens automatically stopped down.

The number of lens elements used was marked on the lens using a simple letter code:  T=3   Q=4   P=5   H=6   S=7   O=8   N=9   UD=11   QD=14   PD=15

From 1971 some lenses had multi coating and were marked with a "C" to indicate this fact, these are preferable for colour photography use.

 

VFM Flash Memory Cards

Nikkor K series (1974 to 1977)

K series lenses are all multicoated and so are not marked with a "C" or a letter to designate the number of lens elements. The focusing ring was fitted with a rubber grip ring. Although these lenses still relied on the Nikon "bunny ears" to communicate aperture information Nikon altered many lenses to AI for pre 1977 camera compatibility as an after service for it's customers.

Fitting unconverted K lenses to newer cameras can cause damage to the cameras AI aperture coupling system and is not recommended, there are a few exceptions such as the F2AS, F2A, FE and FM - their AI coupling can be hinged out of the way on these cameras.

 

Nikon F2a SLR 35mm Camera

Nikkor AI lenses (1977 to 1983)

AI lenses were not need until Nikon introduced cameras using this aperture coupling system in 1977 but were added earlier to lenses once they new they would be used on future cameras. A re-engineered aperture ring had a large part of the ring removed leaving a ridge to connect to the cameras AI coupling and a protrusion to indicate maximum lens aperture. Thin stainless steel "bunny ears" were retained on nearly all manual focus Nikon lenses to enable the latest lenses to be fully backwardly compatible with all Nikon's previous 35mm SLR range of cameras, light holes were introduced to the "Bunny ears" to illuminate a new second aperture scale in the latest ADR (Aperture Direct Readout) camera viewfinders.

 

Nikon F3 SLR 35mm Camera

Nikkor AI-S lenses (1983 to now)

The introduction of the Nikon FA in 1983 represented a milestone in light measurement and exposure calculation as it used the revolutionary matrix system, AI-S was necessary to inform the metering system of the focal length of the lens fitted, a radial cut-out on the rear of the lens's mount also communicated to the cameras metering system that the lens diaphragm is linear and can be used in shutter speed priority mode. AI-S was ok but could only represent a fixed focal length and so on a zoom lens the greater the zoom range the greater the potential error from the AI-S set focal length, this problem was only resolved later with the introduction of electronic contacts on AF cameras. AI-S data was only used by the Nikon FA, F3O1, F501 and F4 bodies.

 

Nikon F4 SLR 35mm Camera

Nikon AF lenses

All of Nikons Auto Focus lenses apart from two produced specifically for the F3AF camera are AI-S for backward compatibility, however "G" type lenses have no aperture ring and DX lenses are unable to expose the whole of a 35mm frame as they are designed for a relatively small sensor, although they may fit neither of these lens types will realize the full potential of a manual focus Nikon film camera.

 
 

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