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Classic Nikkor lenses for my F, any advice?
Old 04-16-2014   #1
Melancholy
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Classic Nikkor lenses for my F, any advice?

I just got a chrome F along with my Nikkormat FT2, now I want some old and classic lenses to go with them, mainly non ai lenses like 24mm, 35mm and a 50mm. I got a non ai 50mm f2 that came with my Nikkormat that I really like, but I would love something from the S-series.

I“ve been looking in this topic and other threads at the forum, so many great lenses, but what should I get and why?
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Old 04-16-2014   #2
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As you say there are many lenses and most of them are excellent. I had a love affair with non AI glass (which to some extent I now regret as I need AI glass for my digital cameras, but I do like the results they give). And I like the look of those early scalloped lens bodies.

My choices would be the following to start with as they are abundant and mostly relatively cheap to buy - especially if not AI converted although you may wish to consider getting AI converted ones as they offer more choices (you can for example use them more readily on later bodies including digital ones).

Starting at the wide end there is the 35mm f2 which renders nicely and produces lovely images. The early 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f2 are both superb in their own way and each is worthy of buying and using. The 85mm f1.8 is lovely in all versions. And the 105mm f2.5 is a classic for portrait work. You may wish to consider getting a classic 135mm lens as well and if so I would say go for the f2.8 version which has an excellent reputation. The early Sonnar version (of 105mm lens) is still preferred by many over the later redesigned version. Some of the more rare, faster versions of lenses are also reputed to be wonderful lenses (e.g. the 35mm f1.4) but they tend to be pricey and harder to find, particularly if you want them in good condition as many seemed to be used by pros who knocked their equipment about.

There are many sites like the following one which offer reviews of these classic lenses. I suggest googling something like "Nikkor manual focus lens review" and see what turns up. http://www.momentcorp.com/review/index.html

Oh and this site offers nice discussion of the lenses and their design and construction. Scroll down for links to MF resources

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography...kkor/index.htm
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141781
Old 04-16-2014   #3
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141781

The one lens you should look for is the older 55mm f3,5 Micro-Nikkor lenses.
Stunningly sharp, fast enough for all day usage.

I added the 35mmf2.0 and the 55mm f3.5.
My rig that i can't carry anymore, consists of
28mm f3.5,35mm f2.8 (mine is crazy sharp) and f2.0,45mm,50mm f2.0,
105mmf2,5 (never really sharp) 135mm 3.5
and a special adapted Pentax Takumar 200mm f3.5(Ex Magnum Photographer)

I think only longer "S" lenses could fit the Nikon-F/Nikkormat with the correct adapter.
The mirror box would add extension to any other "S" lens, making it only useful for severe close ups!

Get Ai'd where possible.More useful..
My 55mm is not Ai.!
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Old 04-16-2014   #4
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I have only a few Nikkor SLR lenses, but I chose them carefully from the list of lenses that were affordable and also were superb.

1. 24/2.8 wide angle
2. 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 normal
3. 55/3.5 micro
4. 105/2.5 tele
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Old 04-17-2014   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
Starting at the wide end there is the 35mm f2 which renders nicely and produces lovely images. The early 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f2 are both superb in their own way and each is worthy of buying and using. The 85mm f1.8 is lovely in all versions. And the 105mm f2.5 is a classic for portrait work. You may wish to consider getting a classic 135mm lens as well and if so I would say go for the f2.8 version which has an excellent reputation. The early Sonnar version is still preferred by many over the later redesigned version. Some of the more rare, faster versions of lenses are also reputed to be wonderful lenses (e.g. the 35mm f1.4) but they tend to be pricey and harder to find, particularly if you want them in good condition as many seemed to be used by pros who knocked their equipment about.
Thanks Peter for your reply and sharing your knowledge, this is very helpful. As mention, I do have a nice 50 f2 that performs very nice, I tried it on my D700 yesterday, and it gives great results in manual mode. I“m also a happy owner of a 105 2.5 ai, an outstanding performer on both film and digital, but it would be great to have a 135 too.



I will check out the links you added, thank you very much.



Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
The one lens you should look for is the older 55mm f3,5 Micro-Nikkor lenses.
Stunningly sharp, fast enough for all day usage.

I added the 35mmf2.0 and the 55mm f3.5.
My rig that i can't carry anymore, consists of
28mm f3.5,35mm f2.8 (mine is crazy sharp) and f2.0,45mm,50mm f2.0,
105mmf2,5 (never really sharp) 135mm 3.5
and a special adapted Pentax Takumar 200mm f3.5(Ex Magnum Photographer)

I think only longer "S" lenses could fit the Nikon-F/Nikkormat with the correct adapter.
The mirror box would add extension to any other "S" lens, making it only useful for severe close ups!

Get Ai'd where possible.More useful..
My 55mm is not Ai.!
The 55 is really a lens I would like to own leicapixie, seen some very nice pictures taken with it. Seems like you got most of the lenses I would like to get! Ai lenses are more useful, I know, so I“m also looking for those. Still I would love a 35mm S-lens, both for its optical qualities and for it“s look, not much looks better and more classic for me that a black F with a S-lens on
Thanks for your reply, I really appreciated it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have only a few Nikkor SLR lenses, but I chose them carefully from the list of lenses that were affordable and also were superb.

1. 24/2.8 wide angle
2. 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 normal
3. 55/3.5 micro
4. 105/2.5 tele
Thank you Raid, some classic lenses you got, all of them are on my "wanted" list! Is the 24mm an ai lens, or non-ai, and how do you like it?
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Old 04-17-2014   #6
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The Nikkor 5.8cm f1.4 is a good classic lens,


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Old 04-17-2014   #7
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The 24/2.8 gives me great looking images. My example is AI.
This is a sharp lens.

The 55/3.5 micro is viewed by many users as being even sharper than the 55/2.8 micro. It is an inepenive lens these days.
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Old 04-17-2014   #8
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Don't forget the 180mm f2.8. My favorite zoom is the 50-300mm f4.5. The 300mm f4.5 was the best 300 in its day; but it is now mediocre. There is a lot of manual focus Nikon Big Glass for sale on e-bay. The 43 - 86 zoom was made in vast numbers, but is not a very good lens optically.
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Old 04-17-2014   #9
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And I forgot the other absolute classic - the 80 - 200mm f4.5. It is the zoom lens that made broke the optical performance barrier.
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Old 04-17-2014   #10
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A good site for lens info: http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html
I really like the 55/3.5 micro and 28mm 3.5.
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Old 04-17-2014   #11
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I have the coated (HC) version of that 50 f/2 and it's among my favorite lenses. I also can't recommend the Nikkor-H 85 f/1.8 enough. Stellar portrait lens.

If you are willing to go to newer stuff, the 135mm f/2.8 has a special place in my heart as well.
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Old 04-17-2014   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De_Corday View Post
I have the coated (HC) version of that 50 f/2...
With the exception of a very few special purpose lenses, ALL Nikkors made in F-mount are coated.

The "c" that appears on some F-mount Nikkors indicates that they are "multi-coated" with Nikon's "integrated coating", a process with a minimum of 8 layers, on all glass to air surfaces. Earlier F-mount lenses lacking the "c" are either single-layer coated or coated using simpler multi-coating techniques. The only uncoated F-mount Nikkors are those made for imaging outside of the visible spectrum (e.g. the UV-Nikkor, ...).

The "c" did have a different meaning with the S-mount lenses and other early Nikkors. There, the "c" did indicate that the lens was coated. Nikon (then Nippon Kogaku) changed the marking policy with the introduction of the F, specifying that coating is standard across the board so marking the lens as such was unnecessary. The "c" was re-introduced as a mark of the new and much improved coating and then later omitted as the IC coating became the standard across the board.
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Old 04-17-2014   #13
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24 2.8 N. Good for film, not digital.

35 2.0 single coat was my first.

50 2.0 Nikor C. Classic image while still giving nice performance at 2.0. 1.4 are not good at 1.4 until the modern versions

105 2,5 is probably the best loved Nikon lens all time. The Sonar version has a small rear element and is not as at at 2.5 in close range as the Gauss which has a rear element that fills the opening. Closed down , both are the same. Sonar are single coat.
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Old 04-17-2014   #14
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Frontman; that“s on heck of a camera and lens, love it!

Thanks alot gentlemen, I really appreciate your comments and tips here, it“s very helpful for me in this great journey of classic lenses!

I“ve checked the links given here by some of you, also very helpful, especially the knowlede regarding the serial numbers as a guide for the best lenses, I wasn“t aware of this.

Again, thank you each and everyone, please feel free to share some pictures too if you got any.
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Old 04-17-2014   #15
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Personally I wouldn't overlook the Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-s. Amazingly sharp, no distortion and non too expensive.
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Old 04-17-2014   #16
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I really enjoy using the 35mm f2.0 "O" Nikkor, as well as the 105mm f2.5 "P" Nikkor.
Both lenses have great build quality, I prefer the metal focusing ring over the later rubber, and performance.
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Old 04-17-2014   #17
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I too have a Nikon F and a 50 F/2. Love the pictures that come out of it, but I would like something a little sharper, and also a wider one. I bought the 50 f/2 for 35 dollars so no complaining there. I did own the 50 f/1.2 but my appartment got broken into, and I lost it, along with the F2 attached to it..
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Old 04-17-2014   #18
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Another vote for the 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor.

Stunningly sharp both close up and at infinity, little distortion, cheap, small, no need for a lens hood/filter (deeply recessed front element) and perfect as an all-rounder despite being a macro lens.

The newer Ai/Ai-S f/2.8 is meant to be better than the f/3.5, but in practice I suspect variation between individual lenses negates this"improvement".
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Old 04-17-2014   #19
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My idea for an "essential" F kit would be the 55 Micro Nikkor f3.5, one of the best macro lenses made (only one that I have found to be better is the Zeiss Macro Planar 50mm f2.0 - but much bigger and much more expensive!)
The 105f2.5 - a lens that even in its early guise still stands out as a portrait lens and landscape lens. Get a screw in hood for it though - the original clamp on hood falls off - all the time!
The older 28f3.5 with the chrome barrel - a bit slow, but usually reasonably priced and very good.
The odd man out would be the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2.0 - more money, but superb quality - and a really smart Proxar lens set-up (screws in to the hood).
If you need a bit more speed from a 50, the 50mm f1.4 is generally very good - and as a non AI lens amazingly cheap.
The 58mm f1.4 is not a stellar performer - actually quite crappy at f1.4 - and I base this on having had several of them. Still have one which is mint - former owner always kept a filter on it - but even so at f1.4 and f2.0 it really doesn't cut it.
For a long lens - best deal is the 200mm f4.0 - not that popular so easy to find cheap - and it is a very good lens, tack sharp (if Larry Burrows liked it - it is good enough for me). It is also light which is another bonus.
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Old 04-17-2014   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have only a few Nikkor SLR lenses, but I chose them carefully from the list of lenses that were affordable and also were superb.

1. 24/2.8 wide angle
2. 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 normal
3. 55/3.5 micro
4. 105/2.5 tele
I agree entirely with Raid, except that I like the 2.0/50 Nikkor HC. VERY close call, though. I like my 1.4/50 a lot, too.
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Old 04-17-2014   #21
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Dwig, thanks for the info on the coating process. That certainly makes a lot more sense.
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Old 04-17-2014   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melancholy View Post
I“ve been looking in this topic and other threads at the forum, so many great lenses, but what should I get and why?
The problem that I see is that every RFFer will advise you to get the Nikkors he owns and likes, so at the end of the day you will be advised to get about all the Nikkors produced ever.

With your Nikkors 50/2 and 105/2.5 you've got among the best normal and short telephoto lenses ever made for an SLR system.

Depending on what you want to add to your kit you may want to get a 35/2, a 28/2.8, or a 180/2.8 ED.

Anyway - it may be shorter for the experts to tell you which lemons Nikon have made. Since they weren't that numerous, this will be an easier way to go.
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Old 04-17-2014   #23
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There have been some advises for the Nikkor 50/3.5 micro. Just remember that there are at least 2 types. The old Nikkor-P compensation type and the newer 50/3.5 with a optimized design for "non-macro" work. It you want the lens for macro work then get the old compensation type or if it is to be used as an general purpose lens then get the newer version. The old 50/3.5 compensating type is probably one the best macro lenses ever made.

Also look for one the newer Nikkor Q 200/4 (the one which stops down to 32). It is a very cheap lens......and very good.....much better than you would expect. Even at 4 it is sharp as has a very nice bokeh. It is a much under estimated lens. I have tried my on digital......and it is superb.
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Old 04-17-2014   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OurManInTangier View Post
Personally I wouldn't overlook the Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-s. Amazingly sharp, no distortion and non too expensive.
A legendary lens, to be sure. I have the 24 2.8 AI-s and enjoy it quite a bit - better for when you want the "wide shot".
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Old 04-17-2014   #25
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the pre AI Nikkor H 50mm f 2 was my all time favourite slr lens
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Old 04-17-2014   #26
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I've got heaps of Nikkors in every version ask if you want a well rounded opinion on a specific lens.
I would suggest the early version of the Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 N or N.C with the thorium yellowed elements. A stellar optic in its day and still a strong performer now with lots of character.
The suggestions of the 28mm f/3.5 is a good one, handy small light and sharp.
The 28mm f/2 N is another great on almost on par with the 35/1.4, and can be found for quite cheap in the F Non-Ai mount; these are very tough built lenses so worn copies can be a very good deal.
For 24's I prefer the earlier Non-Ai N.C or K f/2.8's, the optical formula was changed in the earliest Ai and I prefer the look of the early one on film, the N.C has the modern multi coating but the regular N has a lesser level of multi coating, still a fine lens but the 24 needs the more modern coatings to help with flare on backlighting.
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Old 04-17-2014   #27
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My picks:

24/2.8, even if it's a little late for this project
35/2 - even the early ones are great, I;ve had my 1966 production one since about 1976
105/2.5 - any version
180/2.8

For some fun, pick up the Nikkor that everyone loved to hate but secretly owned - a 43~86!
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Old 04-17-2014   #28
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The 24/2.0 I had was wonderful
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Old 04-17-2014   #29
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My pre-AI F and F2 kit is:

2.1cm f/4 mirror lock-up lens (gorgeous rendering and zero distortion)
3.5cm f/2.8
5cm f/2
10.5cm f/2.5

Yes, all of them are marked in centimeters - the oldest F lenses were marked this way. These all have the 9-bladed apertures (except the 2.1cm is 7) and are really nice. Makes a great travel kit. All take 52mm filters.

I prefer the F2 for its easy mirror lock-up, with no wasted frames like the F.
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Old 04-17-2014   #30
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I recently got a Nikkor 21/4. I love using it on my F2.
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Old 04-17-2014   #31
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Go for the non-AI ones with the early knurled metal focusing ring. Almost all of these are labeled "Nippon Kogaku" rather than Nikon. The 35mm f/2 is a classic, as is the 55mm f/3.5 macro. The 105mm f/2.5 would round out a basic kit. I agree with TA on the 200mm f/4. The early ones are chrome and have a narrow focusing ring. None of these is very expensive!
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Old 04-17-2014   #32
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I have the 21f4 Nikkor too - and it is very good. However I find changing it a bit of a hassle and I usually carry two bodies anyway - so I have dedicated a body (with a crappy mirror) for it. Alos, with the mirror up - it is almost as quiet as a rangefinder Nikon!
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Old 04-17-2014   #33
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It is fixed on my F2, Tom. The other camera often is an M6.
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Old 04-17-2014   #34
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Great Minds Think Alike

When I made a living as a photojournalist (Nikon F era), the lenses to own were 24f2.8, 55f3.5Micro Nikkor, 85f1.8, 105f2.5 and 180f2.8. They have all already been mentioned so all I can say is great minds think alike.
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Old 04-17-2014   #35
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Quote:
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When I made a living as a photojournalist (Nikon F era), the lenses to own were 24f2.8, 55f3.5Micro Nikkor, 85f1.8, 105f2.5 and 180f2.8. They have all already been mentioned so all I can say is great minds think alike.
Well, I was trying to only mention three, but I have all of these and use most frequently, except the 24. I like the 20mm if I'm going that wide, even though it is a bit slower. The 180mm non-AI is relatively inexpensive because of the non-AI, but is the same optically as the later 180's. Of all of them, the one I've found hardest to find in pristine condition is the early 85 f1.8. Maybe fewer of them were made. The one I have is one my mother bought for her Nikkormat around 1970. The early 105mm is out there in abundent quantity.
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Old 04-17-2014   #36
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My earlier post was sloppy in that I interposed a new sentence referring to the 1335mm f2.8 making a later reference to the 105mm lens in Sonnar design confusing - it looks as if I was referring to the design of the 135mm not the 105mm. Please bear that in mind if you have not already worked it out.
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Old 04-17-2014   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lxmike View Post
the pre AI Nikkor H 50mm f 2 was my all time favourite slr lens

Ditto!

The 105/1.8 and the 24/2.8 AI-S would round out my recommended trio. I also used to own the 105/2.5 AI, but the 1.8 beats it.
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Old 04-17-2014   #38
peterm1
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Some reviews of Nikkors from old magazines - contemporary to the lenses being reviewed. I have posted some others with reviews of Leitz glass in another thread.

Hope this helps your decision making. Your thread prompted me to remember these pages.






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Old 04-17-2014   #39
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I put together a fun Nikon system using the least expensive Nikkor lenses, 28mm f3.5, 50mm f2 and a 135mm f3.5. Total cost for all the lenses was $69. These lenses take great photos!
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Old 04-17-2014   #40
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All the greats have been mentioned here.
I'll add another vote for the very unique optic that is the 2.1cm f/4 mirror lockup lens. The only way you can get this kind of look in a true non-retrofocal wide like this 2.1cm is to get a Super Angulon for a Leica RF or a Biogon for a Contax/Nikon RF.

I loved the 24mm f/2.8 and still love the 50mm f/2 H. Most of my current lenses are AiS though so there have been a lot of changes in the last 40+ years in Nikkor offerings.

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