Author Topic: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors  (Read 1665 times)

Vegebarian

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Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« on: May 18, 2023, 16:45:46 »
Hi everyone. I recently bought a Nikon FM and I'm looking for some recommendations for small MF primes that would work well on it and not cost too much. I'm in England.

I don't need super fast glass. Small, cheap and optically good are more important to me. I do like nice (smooth) rendering, but I know I'm not going to be throwing backgrounds completely out of focus with f2.5 and f4 etc. lenses. I'm also aware that these lenses probably aren't going to be 'Z Mount' sharp, especially wide open in the corners. That's fine.

Am I right in thinking that any pre-AI, AI, AI-S, AF or AF-D will be ok on the FM? I see that there are lots of AF-D primes around but I thought some old school metal body lenses would be nice if there are any that are widely available. It feels right for an old school mechanical SLR.

In the past I've really liked carrying a prime set of 20mm, 35mm or 50mm and 85mm. So something like that would be good eventually. I guess 35 or 50 would be a good place to start. Thanks in advance!

richardHaw

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2023, 16:51:33 »
see richardhaw.com for recommendations :o :o :o

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2023, 17:24:37 »
The earliest versions of the Nikkor-O 35mm f/2 are hard to beat. Find a sample with front element shimmering in gold. That's a perfect clue :)

Vegebarian

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2023, 17:51:50 »
Richard Haw? Never heard of him!  ;D I'm joking of course, I've already been looking at the 50mm f2K on your website. I can get one quite cheaply and it looks good. Thanks Richard.

I will seek out the Nikkor-O 35mm f/2 as well. I do love a good 35. Thanks Birna!

Akira

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2023, 18:22:13 »
I enjoyed Nikkor H C 50/2.0 on my F2 loaded with Kodachrome 25.  Its optic is the same as that of 50K.  Highly recommended.
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Dogman

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2023, 19:22:23 »
I'm a big fan of the older Nikkor manual focus lenses.  The only thing to think about is that you don't wanna go too cheap on an old lens.  Many of them might be beaten to death at this point in time.  The good thing is these old lenses were built to take a pretty good beating.

Affordable lenses like the previously mentioned 35/2 Nikkor-O and 50/2 Nikkor H and H.C. are really excellent.  The 50/1.8 AI and AI-S (long nose) are nice and perfectly useable on your FM.  For a wider lens, the 24/2.8 N and N.C. and 28/3.5 H and H.C. are old favorites (I love the 24mm).  For something longer, the 105/2.5 P and P.C. and the 200/4 Nikkor-Q are a couple of my favorites.

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Snoogly

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2023, 19:29:19 »
Steve knows his onions.

https://youtu.be/Ic_13l0ibnM
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Birna Rørslett

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2023, 19:52:40 »
So pleasing to hear a more correct pronounciation of 'Nikon' and 'Nikkor'. Still the English way, but gentler and softer than usual.

Airy

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2023, 20:59:31 »
I'd add the 20/3.5 AI(S) to the list.
Airy Magnien

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2023, 22:13:32 »
The 52mm filter thread 20/3.5 is nice, however struggles with corners for landscape shooting. It is phenomenal for shooting straight into the sun for example, then often combined with the narrow K-1 ring. That setup was a favourite with Nordic nature photographers for many years.

Another advantage is it apparently is easier to locate today than the f/4 model. Be aware of the 72mm filter thread 20/3.5 UD, which is super on its own, but hardly can be designated 'compact'.

Roland Vink

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2023, 23:34:00 »
Hi everyone. I recently bought a Nikon FM and I'm looking for some recommendations for small MF primes that would work well on it and not cost too much. I'm in England.

I don't need super fast glass. Small, cheap and optically good are more important to me. I do like nice (smooth) rendering, but I know I'm not going to be throwing backgrounds completely out of focus with f2.5 and f4 etc. lenses. I'm also aware that these lenses probably aren't going to be 'Z Mount' sharp, especially wide open in the corners. That's fine.

Am I right in thinking that any pre-AI, AI, AI-S, AF or AF-D will be ok on the FM? I see that there are lots of AF-D primes around but I thought some old school metal body lenses would be nice if there are any that are widely available. It feels right for an old school mechanical SLR.

In the past I've really liked carrying a prime set of 20mm, 35mm or 50mm and 85mm. So something like that would be good eventually. I guess 35 or 50 would be a good place to start. Thanks in advance!

The Nikon FM will mount pre-AI lenses if you flip the AI tab up, but you will be limited to stop-down metering using DOF preview, unless I am mistaken. It will be easier to stick with AI and AI-S lenses.

Regarding compact and optically good lenses, here are some recommendations worth considering:
  • AI 20/3.5 or 20/4 - very compact super-wide lens
  • AI-S 28/2.8 - sharp lens which focuses very close and very low barrel distortion. The 28/3.5 versions also perform well if you want something cheaper and more compact, but not quite as good and don't focus as close
  • AI 35/2.8 with 8xxxxx serial number. 6 element optical design is sharp with very low barrel distortion.
  • AI-S 35/2.8 - this has a simpler 5 element design which is generally regarded as inferior to the 6 element version, but I have one and it performs very well.
  • AI-P 45/2.8 - super compact, if that's what you want, but expensive. I found it too small for my liking, and prefer a faster aperture at this focal length.
  • AI 50/1.8 - has nicer rendering (smoother backgrounds) than later compact AI-S versions. There is also a very similar "long nose" AIS version with the same optics but I prefer the AI due to the longer focus throw. The AI 50/2 is also sharp but I like the rendition of the AI 50/1.8 better
  • AI-S 50/1.8 - Japanese version with all-metal construction and focus to 0.45m, serial no 2050001 - 2268017. The best option if you want a very compact lens, but I find it is a bit too compact to handle easily. Very sharp but rendition is not as smooth as the AI 50/1.8. There are similar pancake Series-E and AIS versions but these have plastic in their construction, only focus to 0.6m and coatings are not as good.
  • AI-S 85/2 - a very nice little portrait lens.
  • Series-E 100/2.8 - the most compact telephoto from Nikon and a very good performer (not quite as good as the AI 105/2.5 but this lens is a lot bigger)
  • AI 135/3.5 - a good telephoto, nice built-in hood, performs well wide open.
  • AIS 135/2.8 - only a little bigger and heavier than the f/3.5 versions and gains more than half a stop in speed.
  • Series-E 75-150/3.5 - very versatile short telephoto zoom, covers a useful range and can replace all the other telephotos listed here if you don't need the faster aperture. It also focuses reasonably near making it useful for closeups.
All have the same standard 52mm filter thread, so the same front caps and filters will fit all these lenses. These may not be "Z sharp", but certainly good enough for film.

Ian Watson

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2023, 16:43:04 »
I concur with the support for the 35mm f/2. It’s a great little lens.

Nobody has yet mentioned the 24mm f/2.8. Stopping down to f/4 cures the vignetting. It works very well with the K1 ring too. Not having much experience with this sort of thing, I was surprised how much difference that ring makes.

The 105mm f/2.5 is a classic and with good reason. If you find a decent one, grab it.

Finally, how about the 200mm f/4? It is surprisingly affordable and takes the common 52mm filters. I should take mine out more often to become more familiar with the angle of view.

Matthew Currie

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2023, 05:27:35 »
I've always liked the lowly 50/2 AI, which is nice and compact, doesn't really need a hood, and is often very inexpensive.  It's pretty free of faults.

The old pre-AI 200/4 does not focus very close but it makes nice images, and is surprisingly forgiving of extension tubes.

Dogman

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2023, 15:01:44 »
Lets not forget the 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor.  Very lightweight and optically superb.
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Hugh_3170

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Re: Compact but Good Manual Focus Nikkors
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2023, 16:37:03 »
And it is much less prone to leak oil onto its diaphragm blades than its newer 55mm f/2.8 sibling!

Lets not forget the 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor.  Very lightweight and optically superb.
Hugh Gunn