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Nikon Historical Society -- hosted by the founding member Bob Rotoloni and members of the society. The NHS, based the US, has a worldwide membership. Our "Nikon Journal," published four times a year, concentrates on the history of Japanese photo equipment from the perspective of the Nikon Camera Company. The Nikon Journal often includes Nikon information not published anywhere else in the world. This forum provides an opportunity for conversation between collectors and users of classic film Nikons. See forum “stickies” for more information about the Society. If you are a serious Nikon Collector, you MUST be a NHS member. Join at http://www.nikonhistoricalsociety.com/!

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Old 06-10-2016   #41
flavio81
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The 24-120mm f/whatever is a rather mediocre optical performer, having loads of distortion, vignetting, and embarrasing corners. But that is a very useful zoom range, so it can't be called a "bad lens"

Its successor, the 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 G VR, is even worse optically and it should get the prize for worst nikkor.

In Nikon's defense, though, i've read somewhere in forums that its optical design is very good, but internally the low precision of the parts (due to the VR, auto focus system, and zooming cams) makes the optical performance be very far from its potential.

As for the 43-86 (original version) it was computed in 1960-62 if i recall correctly, and with the specific goal of compactness and cheap price, so one should not complain about poor performance. The only wrong thing that Nikon did was to wait until 1976, that is FOURTEEN YEARS, to update the design.

Canon, as always wanting to upstage Nikon, had in those times (early 60s) a 55-135/3.5 lens that had almost decent image quality, but it was huge compared to the Nikkor.
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Old 06-10-2016   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kymar View Post
I do actually know who he is. He's just another guy on the internet whose opinions people hold in very high regard for some reason. I used to laugh when people would come into my shop hunting down a particular camera or lens because "Ken Rockwell says its really good". Umm. OK.
I always find KR to be good for cold hard facts, his opinion I leave behind. Every lens and every camera he uses, is the BEST MOST SUPERB AMAZING WONDERFUL camera/lens/strap/vending machine ever. I understand things get better, but each and every one cannot be the best.
http://www.kenrockwell.com/business/weasel-words.htm he knows exactly what he is doing.
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Old 06-10-2016   #43
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"Thirty plus years after I dumped my first zoom, the 43-86 Nikon f/3.5, I purchased my second zoom, a used Nikon 35-70mm f/2.8, in October, 2005. I still use the 35-70."

The 35-70mm f2.8 is a classic Nikkor that is still competitive. I have seen full res comparisons of shots taken with this lens and with the current 24-70mm f2.8 and they are within a hairs breadth of being identical in quality. Because of this and the size / weight of the 24-70mm I habitually take the earlier lens with me when traveling overseas. Airlines are such a PITA these days when it comes to baggage limits. Even if a 34mm f2.8 prime is added to the mix it is still lighter to carry and smaller. Often I don't bother as I just ma not that into wide angle shots and find that 95% of my work is done with longer lenses.

Another great lens is the MF precursor to this lens, the 25-70mm f3.5 AI which is also super sharp and contrasty.
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Old 06-10-2016   #44
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I had two of the lenses on that list, the 180 and the slow 35-70 plastic zoom. Also owned the pro 35 70 2.8, and the 35 80 plastic consumer zooms. All were fine for what they were, and I suspect that the much maligned 43-86 is fine too, both versions. Some of my better photos came from that supposedly crappy 35 80. I had a 28 105 that had massive distortion at 28, but by 50 that was gone. You sure didn't want to photograph a horizontal line w/ it near the bottom or top though at 28. Otherwise, a useful zoom range and quite sharp! So I don't know, I guess I really never had a bad Nikon lens, just better ones, and some that weren't as good as the better ones. My 28 200 G ED was stellar. Not fast, but very sharp. Tiny and light zoom for that range.

Having said that, none of the Nikons were exactly in the same league as my Leica R lenses, other than the non AI 50 2, which I just loved. Generally, Nikon doesn't do smooth bokeh, but that 50 2 was smooth. Wonderful IQ.

This will be the only post that didn't like the 105 2.5 though. I had both versions, and while sharp, I never got on w/ the look for portraits. My preferences were for FD 85 1.8, FD 135 2.5, and R 90 2 and 2.8 lenses, and not in that order. The Nikon 85 2 made some fine portraits too, very similar to the Leica R 90 Elmarit wide open, which was surprising. But in bright sun you got crazy bubble bokeh happening that was distracting. That FD 85 1.8 was a really, really good lens.
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Old 06-10-2016   #45
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I recently unloaded a 28-105 D AF lens. My copy was terrible, only sharp at about 50mm. A buddy of mine has one that he is very happy with, so I guess I got a stinker.
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Old 06-11-2016   #46
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The worse Nikon lens for me has to be the 300mm/f2.8.....it hurt my pocket
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Old 06-11-2016   #47
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I agree with the sentiment - the 43-86 was not very good - and another 'lemon" was the 58mm f1.4! Most Nikkors are good, some really good. The F and or S mount 105f4 is a bit soft at f4.0 - but improves stopped down. The first version of the 300mm f4.5 was too soft at f4.5 - the later Aied version was much better.
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Old 06-11-2016   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
A bit like Canon ... KR is effective but not very cool!
If you need to be using a certain brand or brands of camera(s) to be cool, you really don't have much going for you.
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Old 06-11-2016   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
T
The Zoom-Nikkor 43~86mm f/3.5 gathers a worldwide reputation of being terrible actually, but I've never used it, nor seen photos taken with it.
Trust me, it's terrible. Good for portraits of old ladies though.
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Old 06-11-2016   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noserider View Post
Oh and lots of 50mm 1.4 are stinkers lots of sample variation as they say. Often a slight retorquing of the the element groups could improve a lens.
....
The 55mm f/2.8 Micro is a turd for sure. The very worst in poor design; overly large helicoids needing lots of grease that always migrated to the aperture blades. Eventually the lubricant would dry up and seize. i laughed in peoples faces when they asked if their lens can be repaired. You can but why? Go buy a 55 f/3.5 Ais Micro (or even the old F version) for pennies and use the 2.8 as a print flattener (you kids know what the fiber prints do after they dry right).
Never had a bad one, love this lens. The AI is better than the non-AI wide open but I love them both. The 50/1.2 is just as good with another stop.
.....
Optically the 2.8 performs the same as the 3.5 but you're right about the poor construction. I think mine was less than 5 years hold when it started to become very difficult to focus. It's been a bellows lens since and now you couldn't focus it with a pipe wrench.
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Old 06-11-2016   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
I recently unloaded a 28-105 D AF lens. My copy was terrible, only sharp at about 50mm. A buddy of mine has one that he is very happy with, so I guess I got a stinker.
I have one. It's not bad at all as a walkaround lens as long as you don't use the 105mm part. 28mm is not too bad. It's not quite as sharp as a good prime lens but it's just me who can see the difference.
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Old 06-11-2016   #52
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My 300mm /4.5 IF has had a rough life. I keep it because it is wildly light and easy to handle for the focal length. But I have never been more frustrated with a lens for being soft and having poor contrast...
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Old 06-11-2016   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mablo View Post
I have one. It's not bad at all as a walkaround lens as long as you don't use the 105mm part. 28mm is not too bad. It's not quite as sharp as a good prime lens but it's just me who can see the difference.
Don't use the 28 end. Don't use the 105 end. Which leaves the 50 bit.

Exactly why I sold it. A 50mm prime by itself is much faster, much smaller and much sharper. Carry that with 24 and 105 primes.
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Old 06-11-2016   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
I have a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 since 1987 and the helical grease has never migrated to the aperture blades. I've been lucky.
I have seen one like this, and I could fix it for the unfortunate friend (there is a tutorial online and this isn't very difficult, it takes roughly two hours with basic tools and solvents).

Some people claim the Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/3.5 is a better lens : well, I cannot see how anything could be better than my f/2.8. It's just sharp as hell.

I agree that there is a large amount of sample variation factor within the Nikkors crowd.
All those 55s are very sharp but can have quite jagged bokeh. The 180/2.8 ED is like that too.

My favorite by far of all my Nikkors, excepting the 50s RF lenses, which are fantastic, is the 300/2.8 EDIF, which has it all. Better bokeh than the best Mandler lens and very strong performance. Super tough build makes the SLR nikkors seem plasticky


300/2.8 ais by unoh7, Somebody put the AF-S badge on this one
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Old 06-11-2016   #55
petronius
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35-70mm/3,3-4,5:
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Old 06-11-2016   #56
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I've used the 45mm Nikkor-P, and I liked it. I was surprised to see it on KR's "worst" list. One reason he gave for not liking it is that he found it difficult to handle. I have fairly large hands, yet didn't find it particularly difficult to put on or off, nor to shoot with. I did like the small size, and the images.

As to the 18mm AF, I never tried it, but Bjorn Rorslett seems to agree with KR. I recall he found it a rather lackluster lens. And it is pretty pricey for being no better than it apparently is. I'm currently using the 18mm MF f/3.5 Nikkor, which I like.

I have the 300mm ED/IF, and can find nothing wrong with it. For some reason, neither KR nor Bjorn seem to like it. But for as infrequently as I use it, it seems to deliver the images I wanted.

I don't know much about the rest of them. Well, everybody knows about the 43-86. That's not news. Although I think they eventually improved it. The later version might be good; I don't know.
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Old 06-11-2016   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamin-b View Post
A few with the 45mm "pancake":
[img]https://c3Aug15_FP4_D_FM3A_16 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr

[url=https://flic.kr/p/y8515M]Sept15_Kodak400_FM3A_Nokt58_26 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr

Sept15_FP4_D_FM3A-8 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr

[url=https://flic.kr/p/y6E9f1]Aug15_Portra160_FM3A_45mm_36 by Ben Sandler, on Flickr
I love this one.
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Old 06-11-2016   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
A bit like Canon ... KR is effective but not very cool!

The worst lens I own is my plastic 35mm f2 AFD Nikkor ... the only good thing I can say about it is it was cheap.
I've read this a lot. I don't doubt you. But I really like mine. I bought the 20, 35, and 50 f1.4 all af-d lenses in summer 2008 for the nikon d700 I still use and they all work great for me.

Maybe I'm not as demanding as some. Maybe I have a decent version of it. I don't know.

I wondered and then did a metadata search in Lightroom to see all my 35mm shots. The af-d is the only 35mm I own. I still like what it gives me for color, bokeh, sharpness, and overall 'feel'...
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Old 06-11-2016   #59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tati View Post

I've read this a lot. I don't doubt you. But I really like mine.
The 35/2 AF is generally regarded as optically better than all its manual focus predecessors - it has much less flare and moustache distortion. But it has a small front lens and low weight while the earlier 35/2 Nikkors have the size and weight of a ultra-fast lens. It obviously loses the competition for the most manly 35mm Nikkor - to some users that might matter more than the image quality...
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Old 06-12-2016   #60
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Originally Posted by Chriscrawfordphoto View Post
The 45mm f2.8P is a Tessar lens. It should be very good.
I have always wondered why KR doesn't like this lens.
And the 24-120 also is not too bad. Pretty useful, really, and cheap.
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Old 06-12-2016   #61
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All I see is that beautiful Nikkor glow!

OK, OK...
I once had a 28-200 AFD that wasn't really good at the longer end, but what do you expect from a 28-200?

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Old 06-12-2016   #62
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All I see is that beautiful Nikkor glow!

Hey, I guess I have a Lomo lens that also has that beautiful Nikkor glow!
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Old 06-12-2016   #63
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Everyone here probably already knows the site, but I depend on Bjørn Rørslett for evals of Nikkor optics.
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Old 06-13-2016   #64
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Originally Posted by Hogarth Ferguson View Post
I always find KR to be good for cold hard facts, his opinion I leave behind. Every lens and every camera he uses, is the BEST MOST SUPERB AMAZING WONDERFUL
Agree!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
Some of my better photos came from that supposedly crappy 35 80..
I also had the Nikkor AF 35-80/4.0-5.6 and found it a very good performer(!) sharp, contrasty and low on distortion. Plus compact and light.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M. View Post
My preferences were for FD 85 1.8, FD 135 2.5, and R 90 2 and 2.8 lenses, and not in that order.
An established classic, and the predecessor Canon R 135/2.5 is even better! I paid lots of cash for mine and gave away the FD version!
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Old 06-13-2016   #65
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Originally Posted by Tom A View Post
I agree with the sentiment - the 43-86 was not very good - and another 'lemon" was the 58mm f1.4! .
Perhaps not good at wide open sharpness, but on image quality, particularly the quality of the out of focus highlights, it is the best Nikon normal lens i own. The best. I love it so much i will probably own it till I die.
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Old 06-13-2016   #66
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Originally Posted by Mablo View Post
I have one. It's not bad at all as a walkaround lens as long as you don't use the 105mm part. 28mm is not too bad. It's not quite as sharp as a good prime lens but it's just me who can see the difference.
I bought my first 28-105mm copy off fleabuy in rough condition, with a small front scratch and rough/dry zoom and focus action. Still, it's sharp and focuses quickly and accurately. I then bought another copy (in mint condition) to replace my first beat up one, but I found it softer and not as quick or accurate in focusing. I sold it and kept the really worn first copy, which I still use with my D700, etc. Seems like there is a bit of sample variation, expected for a kit lens.
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Old 06-13-2016   #67
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Originally Posted by Tati View Post
I've read this a lot. I don't doubt you. But I really like mine. ...
Maybe I'm not as demanding as some. Maybe I have a decent version of it. I don't know.
I like my 35mm AFD copy too. Good enough center sharpness wide open. Many mention soft corners wide open, but I shoot mostly people/street/reportage style so edge sharpness is not a priority. I guess it depends on one's style and needs.

Every time I consider jumping to the newest f/1.4 or f/1.8 version, I note the increased size, weight and costs, and the improved corner image quality (real but marginal for me) and step away from the ledge.
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Old 06-15-2016   #68
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I've had great results with my 300/4.5. Very useful both in photography and photomacrography as a tube lens with a microscope (infinity) objective in front of it.

The only time I've seen colour fringing was with a 2x converter and even then only with subjects against a distant/clear background (e.g. blue sky).
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