January 19, 2010
The Nikon manual focus Zoom-Nikkor C 43-86mm f/3.5 AI is by all means a classic Nikkor lens. The Original Nikon Zoom-Nikkor Auto 43-86mm f/3.5 was released back in 1963 and was the first domestically produced standard zoom for the Nikon F mount. It was the third zoom lens that was made by Nippon Kogaku K.K(Nikon)
The lens was originally developed for the Nikkorex Zoom35 camera, but was soon after adapted to the Nikon F mount. The Nikkor 43-86mm was a huge success in Japan, so much that they made a nick name for the lens; "yon-san-hachi-roku", meaning "four-three-eight-six" (source Nikon).
The version reviewed here was made between 1974 and 76, with an estimated production of about 54118 copies(source photosynthesis) Note that this is originally not a AI spec lens, it seems that some of the conversion kits for the other 43-86mm's also fits the "C" version that was reviewed here as well.
|| 9 elements in 7 groups
|| 53° - 28°30 (35mm/FX)
|Minimum focus distance:
||Front lens cap
Rear lens cap
Dia: 65 × length 70 mm
|| 6 straight blades
- DOF / IR markings. As usual with old manual focus Nikkor lenses the lens is provided with both Depth Of Field markings and Infrared compensation mark.
- Build quality.
- Performance, way soft, at almost all apertures and all focal lengths. It's worst at 43 and 86mm, at 43mm the corners are soft at all apertures.
- CA, the lens struggles with Chromatic Aberrations even in normal shooting conditions.
- Vignetting / light fall-off, is pronounced on the FX format to say the least.
Without a doubt the worst lens I've tried so far, at least on the FX format. The performance of this classic Nikkor lens is so bad it's almost indescribable. It's like you have to try it to see how bad the lens is.
In the center images can be "sharp" using an aperture of f/5.6 to f/11 at focal lengths between 50 and 70mm where the lens performs its best. On the wide side of the lens it never gets sharp in the corners even when shooting a flat field, regardless of aperture. Same goes when using the lens on 86mm.
Later versions of this lens are supposedly better when it comes to performance, but the zoom range is not great, and quite honest it's quite awkward. I don't see any reason for getting this lens unless you want a paper weight, or if you just want to own a classic lens that is classically bad, or if you want a something to compare the word useless for?
Luckily lens design have improved since the days of this creation, the best of the best lenses out there that covers this range and more is the Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G IF-ED.
Purchasing items through these links helps me adding more content to this website. The links on the prices takes you to B&H's website, which is my recommended store to get equipment from. I've used B&H personally since 2005, and I get all my equipment from them these days (including the lenses used for these reviews). Thanks for your support, Fredrik.
Nikon AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G IF-ED From: $1,649.95 USD
Nikon AF 24-85mm f/2.8-4.0D IF From: $679.95 USD
Nikon AF-S 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF VR From: $509.95 USD
Sigma AF 24-70mm f/2.8 EX DG Price: $569.00 USD
Sigma AF 28-70mm f/2.8 EX DG. Price: $349.00 USD
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di LD Price: $459.00 USD
*Prices and rebates are subject to change. Listed price is from May 8, 2010
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