What Lens Should I Get???

Of course this is in the context of the Nikon F3 giveaway. I got a couple of question regarding lenses I like to use on Nikon manual focus cameras. What the heck, I'll answer that with a post. Please understand that this is more for non-Nikon, non-film people more than it is for Nikon aficionados. It's not an objective list, it's more of a personal gut feel list with a couple of variations chucked in.

The Nikon can mount and use just about any Nikon lens - the only exception is the brand new G series lenses. It can mount and use Non-AI (made since 1959), AI, and AIS, as well as AF and AF-D, lenses including AF-S lenses as long as they have an Aperture ring. My general preference for "feel" and value are going to be AI or AIS lenses but… Non-AI lenses from way back, including the single coated variety are just a tiny bit harder to use (just use stop down metering in manual or shoot wide open) not really a big deal and can sometimes be had for a few dollars. As for modern lenses - yes they are fine but the really fantastic ones are not cheap.

So… If you like wide I would go for…. the 18mm F3.5 - fantastic lens that can be had for less than $400 in great condition. This lens is absolutely great. Very little distortion, sharp, good color, awesome angle of view, reasonable close focus, well built - like all manual focus Nikons. If you must than get the 20 3.5 or 20 2.8 - these are way less 'rare' but for some reason fetch about the same money. They are also not quite as good - not that you'll really know in real world shooting. Not so wide - 28 F2 - just because it's there. In beteween go for the 24mm F2 or F2.8 if you want "better" on a budget.

Normal - 50mm 1.4 AIS by far - budget? Okay 50 2.0/1.8 AI for convienece and great performance or for me - a wacko - even less money on a pristine Non-AI 50 1.4 single coated. A little less convienient a little less contrast but a work of art and astonishingly good, plus it looks the coolest out of the bunch.

Short tele - this one is easy the 105 2.5 is fantastic and cheap, the 85 1.4 is fantastic and expensive the 85 1.8 (all AI/AIS) is just as good but ho-hum so I would chuck all those and just get the AI/AIS 135 2.0 - unbelievable DOF effects and good - don't worry that it's beat up - as long as it works get the cheap ugly one.


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