through the F-Mount -  photography by Jürgen Becker


Subjective lens evaluations

In the table below I have listed all the lenses I have used so far. If it was a more intensive use you can find a rating, too. My ratings go from 0 (unusable) to 5 (perfect) in steps of 0.5. If necessary I use the 'Braczko Code' (=BCO) to specify the particular version of the lens I mean.


Lens Rating for optics Rating for versatility Rating for handling and mechanical quality Notes
Samyang Fisheye 8mm f/3.5 DX D700 DX: 4.0
D70 IR: 4.0
D300 IR: 4.0
1.0 4.0 This amazing full-frame fisheye for APS-C sized sensors (DX) is produced by Samyang Optical, South Korea.
Mine is the AI-S version, an AI-P version is available, too. This fisheye is unique because it is the only one on the market that uses a sterographic mapping, which is the best for normal photography. Objects at the borders of the frame appear natural and not compressed.
The optical performance is really nice: stopped down to F11 or F16 it delivers very good sharpness and contrast, even in the corners. Feel free to shoot into the sun (in visible light)!
The build quality is on a very high level, too. It is a real bargain. Buy it!
At last two wishes: an update of this lens with a closest focus of about 20cm instead of 30cm would be nice. And please, introduce a similar 12mm stereographic fisheye lens for full frame sensors!
For a detailed review see here.
AF-S Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 DX D60,D200: 4.0
D700@20mm: 3.0
D700@24mm: 4.5
4.0 4.0 Performance is better at the long end, but it is still very good at the short end. It really shines on the FX D700 at 24mm, even wide open!
Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8 AF-D D700: 3.5 1.0 3.0 Very good optics with one serious drawback: the lens is very prone for flare and ghosting. And that's bad for a super wide lens! I sold it.
A practical problem is caused by the lens cap. Sometimes it fits well and sometimes not. I guess it depends on the temperature. Why don't they apply a bayonet mount technique as they do for the hoods of other lenses?
AF-S Nikkor 17-35mm f/2.8 film: 4.5
D70: 4.5
D200: 4.5
D700, D4: 4.5
D70 IR: 4.5
D300 IR: 4.0
5.0 5.0 Without a doubt this is one of the best Nikkors ever! My only reason for not rating the optics to 5 are the slightly soft corners at 17mm on both DX and FX sensors. Over the years I have used two samples of this lens. It is a very good lens for IR photography, too. The soft corners at the wider focal lengths are more pronounced in IR, especially in conjunction with the D300IR.
For a detailed review see here.
AF Nikkor 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 D film: 3.0
D200: 2.0
D700: 3.0
3.5 3.5 This is the cheap alternative to the 17-35mm Nikkor. The main problem of the lens is the wide end. There is a lot of CA, more than the D700 can correct by itself. On the D200 it is unusable at the wide end!
AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 DX II D60,D200: 3.0
D70 IR: 3.5
D300 IR: 3.5
4.0 2.0 Good, cheap and leightweight lens. Very useable macro setting. I also tried the mk-I and VR versions of this lens - they provide the same optical quality. This is one of only very few lenses that can handle strong backlight situations in IR acceptably.
AF-S Nikkor 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 DX D70: 4.0
D70 IR: 4.0
D300 IR: 4.0
4.0 3.5 This is a great kit lens for the D70! Even on the D300IR it delivers a very good image quality, especially at the long end.
AF-S Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 DX VR D60,D200: 4.0 4.5 3.5 For a super zoom a really stunning lens! Usable macro setting. It was my standard lens during my later DX era.
Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 AI
(52mm filter)
film: 4.0
D700: 4.0
D70 IR: 4.0
D300 IR: 4.0
3.5 5.0 When it comes to sharpness and contrast this is not an outstanding lens. But it's great for shooting into the sun (in visible light only) and for macro work on a short tube (like K1 or PK-11A), too.
For a detailed review see here.
AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 film: 4.0 2.5 4.0 A bit better than the f/3.5, especially wide open up to F5.6. But it is not as good for shooting into the sun or for macro purposes.
AF Nikkor 24-50mm f/3.3-4.5 film: 3.5 3.5 3.5 Very good wide angle zoom lens. I used it for a few years for landscape photography. But it shows a bit too much CA.
AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 4.5 I bought this lens in 2009. But I gave it back, because my 35-70mm f/2.8 was clearly better at 35mm. The 24-70 produced a lot of CA at this focal length, much more than the D700 was able to correct by itself. Maybe I got a bad sample.
AF Nikkor 24-85mm f/2.8-4 D D700: 3.5 3.5 3.5 Very good perfomance between 24 and 50mm. Significantly worse, but still useable at the long end. Heavy distortions at 85mm.
Nikkor 24mm f/2.8
pre-AI, first series, not multi-coated
D700: 3.0
D70 IR: 3.5
2.0 5.0 This very good wide angle lens was a milestone in the Nikkor history - it was the first one with CRC. But it flares easily in backlight situations, probably a consequence of the old coating. For a wide angle lens that is a serious show stopper!
AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 D D700: 4.5 3.5 4.0 I used this lens off and on as a lightweight replacement for my 17-35mm. It has great optics and good resistence to flare and ghosting. It is very good in combination with the PK-11A.
Nikkor 24mm f/2 AI-S film: 4.0 3.5 5.0 This was one of the most important lenses for photographing my children. Useable wide open.
Nikkor 28-45mm f/4.5 pre-AI film: 3.5 3.0 4.5 Nikons first wide angle zoom. I used it for a short period for landscape photography.
AF Nikkor 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 film: 4.0
D70: 4.5
D200: 3.5
D700: 4.0
4.0 4.0 Compact normal zoom. High contrast in the middle of the frame at every focal length. At the wide end on a full frame camera the corners are fuzzy even stopped down. At the long end it is tack sharp all over. In conjunction with the D200 I detect a bit too much chromatic abberations. Very useable for macro purposes at 70mm. Works fine with the Nikon 3T or the 4T closeup lenses. It's great for shooting into the sun at the wide end too! Over the years I have used three samples of this lens with consistent results.
For a detailed review see here.
AF Nikkor 28-80mm f/3.5-5.6 film: 3.0 3.0 2.0 The forefather of today's plastic fantastic lenses.
Tokina AT-X 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 film: 2.5 2.5 4.5 This was my first normal zoom, I bought it in 1982. The performance was good at all, but the lens had a strong yellowish cast, which was a serious disadvantage for photography on slide film.
AF Nikkor 28-85mm f/3.5-4.5 film: 3.5
D700: 3.0
3.0 4.0 This lens performs well between 28 and 50mm. At 85mm the borders are soft. There is a macro setting at 28mm, which produces visible CA.
AF Nikkor 28-105mm f/3.5-4.5 D D700: 3.5 3.5 4.0 This lens performs well between 28 and 50mm. In this range, it delivers much sharper corners than the 28-70 f/3.5-4.5. But the contrast in large parts of the frame is not as good. At the long end the borders are soft. The macro setting is very usable. The lens hood is extremely huge and it is shaped like a sombrero. I used a HK-16 instead, but pay attention: you need a filter on the lens if you want to use that hood.
AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR D700: 3.0 4.5 4.0 The full frame counterpart to the DX 18-200mm. I bought it immediately upon its introduction, but I was disappointed about the performance. The problem is the 300mm end. If you are photographing on short distances you have a focal lenght of significantly less than 300mm due to focus breathing. At long distances you have indeed 300mm, but even stopped down a couple of stops the corners appear soft to a rather large extent.
PC Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 film: 4.0
D200: 3.0
2.0 3.0 A very good shift lens in the analogue days. On the D200 the lens produced a lot of CA, especially when shifted. Handling is poor by design (manual aperture handling, stop down metering).
Nikkor 2.8cm f/3.5 (BCO 04 121-2) D1H UV: 2.0 1.0 5.0 I tried this very old lens for UV photography. The results where not satisfying.
Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 AI-S film: 4.0 2.0 5.0 Slow lens with very good but not outstanding optics.
Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI film: 3.0 2.5 5.0 Definitely not one of the great Nikkors. The later AI-S version should be much better but I haven't tried it, yet.
Nikon Series E 28mm f/2.8 (later version with silver ring) film: 3.5
D70 UV: 3.5
2.5 3.0 Not of the same quality as the Nikkors but nevertheless well manufactured. A good lens in both visible and UV light.
Nikkor 28mm f/2 AI-S film: 4.0 3.5 5.0 A very good lens in film days. I sold it after a few months because the 24mm f/2 won the game.
Sigma 28mm f/1.8 AF film: 3.0 3.0 4.0 I bought this lens in 1990. It was very soft wide open.
AF Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 D film: 3.0 3.0 4.0 This lens has two main drawbacks: it is very slow and it produces heavy distortions. On the other hand the macro setting is usable.
AF Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 N 2.0 3.5 I tried it in film days. The shortest possible focus distance is 1.4m! The macro setting at 35mm is only a cold comfort.
AF Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5 D D700: 3.5 2.5 4.0 A well manufactured and very compact lens with a very good performance. The shortest possible focus distance is 0.85m! That's an important improvement over the predecessor, but nevertheless not satisfying! And there is no macro setting.
AF Nikkor 35-135mm f/3.5-4.5 N film: 3.0
D70: 3.5
2.0 3.5 Optically it is better at the long end. However it was not a serious lens for me, because it has the same problem as the 35-105: the shortest focus distance is 1.5m.
AF Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.3-4.5 N film: 3.5 3.0 4.0 The main advantage of this lens is the compact size. The macro setting is usable.
AF Nikkor 35-70mm f/2.8 D film: 4.0
D200: 4.5
D700: 4.0
D300 IR: 3.5
3.0 5.0 Professional normal zoom. When it comes to sharpness this lens is the best I ever saw on my D700 at 35mm. But this lens has a serious problem with flaring if you have a bright light source just outside the frame. Use one hand for shading in such situations! Bokeh is on the nice side if you stop down slightly. Over the years I have owned three samples of this lens. Two of them were of the 'D' type and delivered consistent results. The third one was the older non-D version. I bought it in heavy used condition but with no visible damage at the coatings. It was unusable because the flaring problem was much worse! I didn't count this experience for my rating. I can not recommend the macro setting (at 35mm). If you want to go close with this lens, use a Nikon 6T closeup lens at 70mm!
For a detailed review see here.
Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 AI (BCO 04 163-1) film: 4.0 1.0 5.0 Slow lens with very good but not outstanding optics.
Nikon Series E 35mm f/2.5 (first version, complete black) D700: 3.5
D70 UV: 4.0
D70 IR: 4.5
D300 IR: 4.0
3.0 3.5 I'm very satisfied with this lens. It is my standard lens for UV photography. It is better than the E 28 and the E 50 for this purpose. I often use it in conjunction with the PK-11A. If you want to go UV, this is your lens. You can get a used one for about 50 €.
Even on the other - meaning infrared - side of the spectrum this lens delivers great quality. It is one of only very few lenses that allow you to shoot into bright lightsources in IR in some situations.
Nikkor 35mm f/2 AI-S film: 4.5
D700: 3.5
3.0 5.0 For many years this was the standard lens on my F4 and it delivered great results. In the digital world I have to downrate it a bit. The AF 35mm f/2 D is not much better, but a little bit better in every respect. Exception: the 35 f/2 delivers very good results if used reversed on the bellows, that's true in both worlds.
AF Nikkor 35mm f/2 4.0 3.5 I bought this lens a few years ago together with other equipment. I tried it for a few days on my D200. You can go really close with this lens! But with a UV filter on top it produces ghost images of light sources over the whole frame. I never saw such a phenomenon with any other lens. I guess the ghosts are the result of a mirroring between the front element and the filter.
AF Nikkor 35mm f/2 D D700: 4.0
D300 IR: 4.0
4.0 4.0 This tiny little lens provides a very good optical performance. The only drawback is the busy bokeh.
I could not detect any ghost image problems in conjunction with a mounted filter, as I observed on the predecessor.
It focusses down to 25cm and has a very good performance in this range.
The mechanical quality is fine and a bit better than the one of the earlier version.
For a detailed review see here.
Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 pre-AI first series non-multi-coated I was very confused when I received this lens in 1999. It had a pronounced yellowish or brownish cast I'd never seen before in a Nikon lens. I searched the web and found an article about thorium glass, which was used up to the beginning of the 70s. This kind of optical glass emits radioactive radiation (not joking!). Further I figured out that the early Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 lenses were made of such a kind of glass (as far as I know the only lens from Nikon). The colour cast is a result of that. A possibility to correct it is to expose the lens to strong UV light for a few weeks. But that would not have eliminated the atomic radiation, which might not be healthy, if the lens was often close to your body. Therefore I decided to dump it and to buy a newer one.
Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 AI-S film: 4.5
D70: 4.0
3.5 5.0 Wide open this lens produces 'mystic' pictures on film. On the D70 it is better wide open. At F2 it is sharp and contrasty in both worlds. But on the D70 it produces slightly visible CA.
Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 pre-AI film: 1.5 1.0 5.0 This is a great lens for a collector's shelf! But don't use it!
GN-Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 D70 UV: 2.5 2.5 3.0 This is a unique lens. The aperture ring and the focus ring can be coupled (due to that the direction of focussing is different from any other Nikkor). The relation between the two rings is set by a Guide Number (=GN) dial. So a perfect exposure is ensured, when you use a flash unit without any automatic mode. The GN-Nikkor became obsolete with the upcoming automatic flashes in the 70s.
I tried this lens for UV photography because it has only four elements. But the results were not great. The version I tried was the newer multi-coated one. Maybe the older single-coated one is a bit better for UV photography.
Nikkor 45mm f/2.8 AI-P D700: 4.0
D70 UV: 2.5
2.5 3.0 This is one of the very few AI-P lenses produced by Nikon. It was intended as a kit lens for the FM3A and it is beautifully manufactured. The main drawback is the handling: it is too small! The optical quality is very good but not great on the D700. For UV work it is as good as the old GN-Nikkor, meaning not great.
Nikkor 50-135mm f/3.5 AI-S film: 3.5 3.0 5.0 The mechanical quality of this lens is on the highest level. The shortest focus distance is 1.3 m, which is really bad. Anyway, at 50mm it offers a usable macro setting and at the long end it works well with a 6T.
Nikkor 50mm f/2 AI film: 4.0 3.0 5.0 A very good normal lens.
Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AI-S (with meter coupling prong, BCO 04 231-3) film: 4.0 3.0 5.0 Slightly better than its predecessor.
AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 (BCO 04 232-2) film: 4.0
D70: 4.5
D200: 4.0
D700: 4.0
D70 IR: 3.5
3.5 3.5 The same optical design as the MF f/1.8.
AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 G D700, D4: 4.5
D300 IR: 2.5
3 4 A great lens that has only one serious drawback in my eyes: the nervous bokeh (see my bokeh comparison).
For a detailed review see here.
On my D300IR the lens performs very well, but it has a hot spot issue beginning at F4.
Nikon Series E 50mm f/1.8 (second version with silver ring) D70 UV: 3.5 3.0 3.5 A very good performer in the UV world, but I found the E 35mm to be slightly better.
Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 pre-AI, first series film: 3.5
D200: 4.0
D700: 3.5
D1H UV: 2.5
3.0 5.0 A nearly 50-year-old lens with a very good performance at F2 and upwards. Wide open it is soft and has a very busy bokeh. Shortest focus distance is 0.6m.
Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI film: 4.0 3.5 5.0 Very similar behaviour compared to the older f/1.4: Not so good at F1.4, but it shines at F2 and upwards. Advantage: the shortest focus distance is now 45cm.
AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 D700: 4.0 4.0 3.5 This rating is for the first version with a small focussing ring. I expect a better handling with the newer version of this lens or with the "D"-version. Optically it behaves very similar to the MF version.
Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 AI-S film: 4.0
D200: 3.5
D700: 4
D70 IR: 3.5
D300 IR: 3.0
3.5 5.0 Usable wide open on film. In the digital world the contrast is very low at F1.2 and F1.4. Similar to the f/1.4 sharpness and contrast are very good from F2 upwards. When it comes to bokeh this lens is not a great performer wide open. But slightly stopped down, it delivers a relatively creamy bokeh, better than every other 50mm Nikkor I have tried, see my bokeh comparison. Nevertheless it is a great lens for a special application: used wide open in conjunction with a PK-13 on a DX camera (including infrared bodies) it produces 'creamy' pictures with an impressive sharpness in the middle of the frame.
On the D300IR and wide open the lens is 'dreamy' but sharp. At F2.8 sharpness and contrast are very good. But beginning at F4 the lens has a hotspot problem.
AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6 D70: 3.5 3.5 2.0 Plastic fantastic lens, even the lens mount is made of plastic. Optically it is a very good lens on the D70. And you can go close with it.
Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 AI film: 4.0
D200: 4.0
D700: 4.0
D70 IR: 4.5
D300 IR: 3.5
D1H UV: 2.5
3.0 5.0 I used this lens as a standard lens in the early 80s. The performance for general use is very good but not outstanding. As a macro lens - for what it was designed - it is one of the best lenses ever made by Nikon. Today I use it off and on for macro work. Even reversed on the bellows it delivers great results. A minor flaw: the bokeh is not as good as I could imagine. Special highlight: this is a stunning macro lens on the D70 IR! That's even true on D300IR, but beginning at F8 there is a hotspot problem.
For a detailed review see here.
Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 AI-S film: 4.0 3.0 5.0 I tried this lens in 2000. For general use it is better than the f/3.5. For macro use the f3.5 is slightly better.
AF-Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 D700: 4.5
D300 IR: 1.0
4.0 3.5 In contrast to its MF predecessors this lens can focus to life size on its own. It is compact and due to its deeply recessed front element a hood is not necessary. The mechanics are a bit strange: The AF-MF switch is not a real one, in MF setting the focus ring is more damped. Focussing - both AF and MF - is a bit noisy.
In terms of sharpness and contrast this lens is one of the best I ever had on my D700! Moreover, this lens allows you to shoot directly into the sun. The only problem is the bokeh, which is a bit busy (see my bokeh comparison). On the D300IR it is sharp at F2.8. But for every other aperture setting it shows a very strong IR hotspot.
AF Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 D D70: 4.5
D200: 4.0
4.0 4.0 A very good universal lens. It focusses down to life size magnification. But for macro purposes the 55mm f/3.5 is the better lens.
AF-S Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 G D700, D4: 4.5 3.0 4.0 This lens can focus to life size on its own, but it breathes for that (the focal length gets shorter as you go closer). The front element is not recessed, thus you need the lens hood (included in delivery). Due to the lack of an aperture ring this lens is not usable in conjunction with bellows units or tubes.
The optical performance is very good. Especially in terms of bokeh this lens performs significantly better than its predecessors (see my bokeh comparison).
AF Nikkor 70-210mm f/4-5.6 D film: 3.0
D70: 3.5
D700: 3.0
2.5 4.0 On the D70 this lens is a good addition to the 18-70mm kit lens. Shortest focus distance is not great (1.5m, in macro mode 1.2m).
Nikon Series E 75-150mm f/3.5 (second version with silver ring) film: 4.0
D700: 4.0
3.5 4.5 The legend among the Series E lenses - small, light, versatile. The shortest focussing distance is 1m, which is fine for such a lens. It works very well in conjunction with the 3T or 4T closeup lenses.
For a detailed review see here.
AF Nikkor 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 D70: 2.0 3.5 4.0 In the range from 75-150mm this lens delivers very good results, comparable to the 70-210 f/4-5.6. But at 300mm I was not able to produce sharp images with it on my D70! That's a real pity because the lens is manufactured very well and is versatile due to its macro setting.
Zoom-Nikkor 80-200mm f/4.5 AI film: 3.5 3.0 5.0 Another Nikon legend, introduced in 1969. I used the latest version from the end of the 70s. The optical performance is fine. A drawback is the shortest focus distance of 1.8m. On the other hand it works well with a 3T or a 4T.
Rodenstock Rodagon 80mm f/4 (enlarging lens, newer version with iluminated aperture) film: 4.5
D70 UV: 3.5
0.5 4.0 For me this is a special lens I sometimes use on the bellows. It has a 39mm screw mount. I use a Novoflex NIKLEI adapter in order to put it into service on my PB-4. Optically it is a great lens. The only drawback is the bokeh. Well, enlarging lenses were not built for bokeh. I've already used this lens on my D700, but in a very special way: reversed mounted on my Nikkor 200mm f/4 it has a very good macro performance. The magnification of this combination goes up to 3:1 and then you even have a distance of a few centimetres between the Rodenstock and your subject. For further details on using this lenses see below under 'Rodagon 135mm'.
AF Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 (for F3AF) film: 4.5 2.5 4.0 This lens is is a real curiosity in my cupboard. It's one of the two lenses produced for the F3AF, Nikon's first autofocus SLR from 1983. It is usable as an autofocus lens on the F-501 and the F4, too. On the newer bodies, including all DSLRs, it is not usable at all, because the electronics are incompatible. Nevertheless, this lens has a very good reputation in the digital world. Maybe I will reactivate it in the future. But that means I have to deactivate the electronic interface of the lens first...
The optical performance on film was top notch!
AF Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 D D70: 4.5
D200: 4.0
D700: 4.0
D70 IR: 3.5
D300 IR: 4.5
4.0 4.0 Professional telephoto zoom. I use the latest version with two rings. The mechanical quality is what you expect from a professional lens with two exceptions: first, the bayonet mount lens hood doesn't click into position as known from other lenses, there is a permanent danger to lose it. Second, the AF-MF-switch is of poor quality - I guess one day I will have to give mine to a Nikon service point because of that.
It has the usual problem of a telephoto zoom lens: closest focus is 1.8m (1.5m in 'macro' mode). But you can use a 6T on a 77-62mm step down ring if you want to go close. Important: in contrast to its newest 70-210mm successor this lens has no focus breathing! On my D700 body it shows a significant focus shift, which can be corrected (AF fine tune value of -20)
Optically the lens performs on a very high level. The performance is nearly as good as that of my best primes in this focal length range. At the short end it is slightly better than at the long end.
In infrared light this lens has a huge focus shift. Using it on the D70IR was therefore very dificult. On the D300IR you should use live view tripod mode for focussing. To my surprise it delivers sharp and contrasty images at every focal length in conjunction with the D300IR.
For a detailed review see here.
Nikkor Telephoto Zoom 8.5-25cm f/4-4.5 (BCO 04 367-2) film: 2.5 2.0 5.0 Impressive and heavy zoom lens from from the end of the 50s. Closest focus is only 4m, but a special closeup lens was included in delivery. I tried it in 2000 on my F4. Overall sharpness was ok, but contrast was a bit low. This is a lens for collectors and I got a lot of money for it when I sold it on ebay :-)
PC Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8 D D700: 4.5
D70 IR: 4.5
4.5 2.0 Nikon's first tilt and shift lens. Optically this lens is one of the best I have ever mounted on my cameras. The only reason for not rating it to 5.0 is the bokeh, which is a bit too busy in my opinion. On the other hand the handling of this lens is a pain by design. An additional problem is the focussing unit, which tends to move by itself. I guess this lens was intended for table top work on a tripod. But I never do so! It's possible to use it hand held in the field including tilting.
Here you can find some tips about using the 85mm PC Micro-Nikkors.
PC-E Micro-Nikkor 85mm f/2.8 D700, D4: 4.5
D70 IR: 4.5
D300 IR: 4.5
4.5 5.0 The optical design is the same than the one of its predecessor, but it has the new Nano Crystal Coating. It seems to be a little bit better than the older PC lens wide open, but there is no bettering of the bokeh. I made corresponding observations in infrared light. Overall, the PC-E is slightly better than the PC, but not enough for giving a better rating.
The reason why I replaced the the old lens was the much easier handling of the new one (on the newest DSLR). On the D700 (and on the D300IR) it behaves like an AI-P lens.
Here you can find some tips about using the 85mm PC Micro-Nikkors.
Nikkor 85mm f/2 film: 4.0 3.0 5.0 I tried this lens for a short period at the end of the 90s. It is a very good lens. But wide open it is clearly worse than the AF f/1.8, I had before. That was a serious drawback for me because I needed a 85mm lens for photograhing my children indoors (on 100 ISO film).
Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 pre-AI (version from 1973, BCO 04 404-3a) film: 4.5
D700: 4.0
D300 IR: 4.0
3.0 5.0 85mm is a very important focal length for me. And this lens met my expectations for a 85mm lens for many years, optically and mechanically. Today I use it sometimes for portraits on my D700 and in conjunction with a PN-11 tube wide open to get a similar effect as with the 50mm f/1.2 in conjunction with the PK-13 on a DX camera.
On the D300IR this lens delivers 'dreamy' but sharp images wide open. At F5.6 sharpness and contrast are on a very high level. No hotspot issues.
AF-Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 film: 4.5 3.5 3.5 I bought this lens just after its announcement in 1988. I used it intensively on both my FM2 and F-801 bodies. 10 years later it was at the end of its mechanical life. That was a new experience for me. The Nikkor lenses I used before were built for lifetime use. After trying the AI-S 85mm f/2 I bought an older MF 85mm f/1.8 as my personal successor of the AF lens.
Optically the AF 85mm is a great lens!
AF-Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 D D200: 4.0
D700: 3.5
2.0 4.5 The 'cream machine' was my second attempt to use an AF 85mm lens. The bokeh of this lens is indeed very nice, but not extraordinary. I found it not to be significantly better than the one of my MF 85mm f/1.8. This is a special lens for portrait work. The corners are soft even stopped down, especially on the D700. For example the AF 80-200mm stopped down is clearly better than this lens stopped down. Thus it is not a lens for a universal use. The new AF-S 85mm f/1.4 seems to be suitable for both portraits and general work. Maybe I'll try it one day...
Nikon Series E 100mm f/2.8 (first version, completely black) D70 UV: 4.0 3.0 3.5 The optical rating is based on my first impression. The lens behaves very well on tubes, too.
Bellows-Nikkor 105mm f/4 D1H UV: 4.0
D70 UV: 3.5
0.5 5.0 I bought this lens for UV photography. It is a very good lens for this purpose!
Nikon sold it in the early 70s as a companion of the PB-4 bellows. Focussing to infinity is possible with that combo. The PB-4 is the only bellows from Nikon that allows shifting and tilting. And exactly that you should not do with this lens, because its image circle is calculated for 35mm only! If you plan to do such things it's better to use an enlarger lens with a larger image circle instead of this Nikkor!
Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4 AI D200: 4.5
D700: 4.5
3.0 5.0 It is a great macro lens and you can get a used one on the cheap today. It has a built-in lens hood.
Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 AI-S film: 4.0 3.5 5.0 Although this macro lens performs very well I never really loved it. Maybe because of the huge lens hood, which is not built in.
AF-S Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 G VR D700, D4: 5.0
D700 + TC-14EII: 4.5
D300 IR: 4.5
4.5 4.0 The best 105mm (macro) lens I've ever used. Sharpness and contrast are on a very high level in the range from F4 to F11. The bokeh is on the nice side. Overall, the AF works well in conjunction with a TC-14EII on my D700, even in the macro range. The downside is the huge size of both the lens and the seperate hood.
On the D300IR it delivers great quality, too. Absolutely usable wide open it reaches maximum performance in the range from F5.6 to F11.
For a detailed review see here.
Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 (early version with 5 elements in three groups, BCO 02 403-42) film: 4.0 3.0 5.0 A legend! Nikon introduced the optical design of this lens in 1954 in the rangefinder Nikkor 10.5cm f/2.5! Great lens! Shortest focus distance is 1.2m.
Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 AI-S film: 4.5 3.0 5.0 I tried both the AI and the AI-S version. Optically there is no difference. But the handling of the AI-S is much better, because the lens hood is built in. Thus it's a very small lens which fits into every pocket. Closest focus is 1m. I haven't tried this lens on a DSLR yet, but I guess I'll buy one to do it.
AF DC Nikkor 105mm f/2 D film: 4.5
D70: 5.0
4.0 4.5 I sold this lens after buying my 80-200mm f/2.8. From my today point of view that was an error because I'd like to try this lens on my D700! On the D70 it was top-notch. The bokeh it produces is really nice! Shortest focus distance is 90cm, which is fine, too. I played with the 'Defocus Image Control' but never used it in real life.
Nikkor 105mm f/1.8 D700, D4: 4.5 3.0 5.0 If you can live without AF this is your 105mm lens! Wide open it produces sharp but, due to spherical abberation, a bit hazy images. From F2.5 upwards everything is fine. It works fine in conjunction with a Nikon 6T close-up lens. Because of the built-in hood the lens is very compact in the bag.
Rodenstock Rodagon 135mm f/5.6 (enlarging lens, newer version with iluminated aperture) film: 4.5
D200: 4.5
D700: 4.5
D70 UV: 3.5
1.0 4.0 For the use on the Nikon PB-4 bellows this is the best lens I own. The image circle was calculated for 12x9cm negatives, thus you can shift and tilt just as you like! The performance is first class with one drawback: the bokeh is poor (it's an enlarging lens and bokeh doesn't matter for that purpose).
The lens has the usual 39mm screw mount. I use a NIKLEI adapter for using it on my PB-4. The filter thread is 39mm, too. I use a 39-52mm step up ring in order to use standard lens caps and lens hoods.
The iluminated aperture setting of modern enlarging lenses is a practical problem - if you use such a lens for photography in daylight, a lot of stray light comes into the optical system the wrong way. You must close the connection to the aperture window. I did it for my Rodenstock lenses by gluing black knitting wool around the lens group a few times. That works well, even after many years. But I assume that this solution is not good enough for UV photography. I use a D70 UVIR for that, meaning there is no filter on the image sensor. The filtering of the UV light is done by screw-in filters on the lens. Because the exposure times for UV are very long, even small amounts of stray light are bad for image quality. Maybe that is the reason why I'm not so impressed with the performance of this lens in UV light.
Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 (pre-AI, BCO 04 425-3, Nippon Kogaku) D700: 2.5
D70 UV: 3.5
D300 IR: 3.0
2.0 5.0 This is not a great lens for normal photography by today's standards. But in UV light it is a very good lens. On the D300IR and stopped down a bit it delivers sharp but a bit flat images.
Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 (pre-AI, first version) film: 4.0
D200: 4.0
D700: 4.0
2.5 5.0 Despite its age this lens is a solid performer. The hood is built in. Closest focus is 1.5m.
Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 AI/AI-S film: 4.0 3.0 5.0 Very compact lens with a built-in hood. Closest focus is 1.3m. Optically it is as good as its predecessor.
Nikon Series E 135mm f/2.8 film: 4.0 2.5 3.5 Very compact lens with a built-in hood. Closest focus is 1.5m. Optically this lens is slightly worse to the Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 lenses.
AF Nikkor 180mm f/2.8 non-D/D film: 4.5
D70: 4.5
D700, D4: 4.5
D300 IR: 4.5
2.5 4.5 I bought the 'D' version in 1995 and I sold it 10 years later after buying the 80-200mm f/2.8. In 2010 I needed a 180mm lens again and I bought the first non-D version (in heavy used condition). The first generation of the autofocus lenses was not really loved because of the thin plasticky focussing rings. But to my surprise I must say that the old version is much better for manual focus than the newest! For autofocus work the newer was a bit better, because you can not hinder autofocussing with your fingers. Both versions are compact and lightweight and they have a built-in hood. These are great lenses for travelling!
Both versions share the same optical design and the results of the two samples are consistent. The optical performance is slightly better than that of the 80-200mm @180mm. On the other hand I miss the last bit of sharpness when I compare it to my AF-S 105mm or to my AF-S 300mm. But for real photography that doesn't matter. The bokeh is fine.
In conjunction with the D70IR this lens was nearly unusable because of its infrared focus shift. Used on the D300IR with contrast-detect autofocus it delivers high quality images, even wide open.
For a detailed review see here.
Nikkor 20cm f/4 pre-AI (BCO 04 436-1 and BCO 04 436-2) film: 3.5
D1H UV: 3.5
2.0 5.0 I tried the first version of this lens in 1998 on film. It showed a very good performance. On the downside we have a closest focus of 3m. The second version is identical except for a few cosmetic details. I bought it for UV photography because it has a very good reputation for that. And indeed it is a very good lens for UV.
You can mount a reversed Bellows-Nikkor 105mm on the top of this lens. That is a very good setup for photograhing shy insects and delivers stunning results. But you have strong vignetting on full format, so I recommend this combination only for DX cameras.
Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI-S film: 4.5
D200: 4.0
D700: 3.5
D300 IR: 3.0
3.0 5.0 This is a compact lens, which delivers excellent results on film. In the digital world the lens has a little problem with CA. Especially on the D700 it is more than the camera can correct by itself or Capture NX can correct automatically.
The shortest focus distance is 2m, which is huge improvement over the older 200mm. And it works fine in conjunction with the 3T and 4T attachements.
Like its predecessor this lens works very well with a reversed Bellows-Nikkor 105mm on the top. Due to the closer focus you can get a higher magnification. And with this lens you don't have vignetting, even on full format! But the above-mentioned CA are visible in this application too.
Even in infrared light CA are painfully visible.
Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI-S film: 3.5
D200: 3.5
4.0 5.0 This is a very nice to handle macro lens with IF. In terms of optical performance it is a very good lens with one main problem: CA are visible in both the analog and the digital world, especially in macro work. I recommend the standard 200mm f/4 Nikkor instead of this lens, maybe in conjunction with a 3T or 4T!
Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 pre-AI (BCO 04 447-2) film: 2.5 2.0 5.0 I tried this lens for a short period in 1999. It must be stopped down if you want to produce an acceptable image quality. Another serious drawback is the closest focus of 4m.
Nikkor 300mm f/4.5 IF-ED AI-S film: 4.0
D200: 1.0
D700: 3.0
3.0 5.0 This relatively compact and lightweight lens is a joy to use. The optical performance is very good on film and the closest focus of 2.5m is fine, too.
During my D70 era a couple of MF lenses where stored in my cupboard. This was one of them. When I bought the D200 I took them out and tried them intensively in the digital world. But my beloved 300mm was unusable! It produced CA in an amount I've never seen before. Far more than Nikon Capture was able to correct automatically!
On the D700 the things looked a bit better again. The performance here was acceptable.
AF-S Nikkor 300mm f/4 D700, D4: 5.0
D700 + TC-14EII: 4.5
D4 + TC-14EII: 4.5
D700 + TC-301: 3.0
D700 + TC-201: 3.5
D70 IR: 4.5
D300 IR: 4.5
4.5 4.5 This is an outstanding lens by all means! It's my preferred lens for shooting closeups of shy insects. The closest focus is 1.5m and there is no focus breathing! The AF of my D700 works fine, even in conjunction with the TC-14EII. The only criticism I have to make about this lens is the slightly busy bokeh in the transition zone.
For a detailed review see here.
Update:
I have tried the combination of this lens with Nikon's 2x converters. The results are ok (best aperture value is F11, meaning F5.6 at the lens), but I miss the biting sharpness the lens shows in conjunction with the TC-14EII. Although this combination is not recommended by Nikon, the TC-201 performes a bit better than the TC-301. Moreover the handling of the TC-301 combo is more problematical due to the length of this converter. Focussing is difficult with the 2x converters. The focus indicator does not work in conjunction with the TC-301, but it works on contrasty subjects with TC-201! Overall I can recommend the TC-200 or TC-201 as a lightweight and cheap addition to this lens.
Sigma AF 400mm f/5.6 APO (produced 1989) film: 3.5 3.5 4.0 This telephoto lens performs very well with one exception: it flares easily in backlight situations. The mechanical quality is fine.
Tokina 500mm f/8 mirror lens (produced 1984) film: 2.5 1.0 3.5 I used this lens for my first steps in bird photography. I had a body loaded with a Fujichrome RH 400 ISO dedicated for this lens exclusively. That was necessary because the real speed of this lens was only about f/13 or so. The image quality is limited.


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