Best Nikon Manual Focus Lenses – List of Latest Vintage Lenses

Best Nikon Manual Focus Lenses

When we speak about cameras and lenses, it is hard to leave Nikon out. It has been a proud leader in this space for decades and rightly so! The manufacturer has produced nothing but the best for its users.

Nikon lenses are usually known as NIKKOR because it treats its lens business or manufacturing unit as a separate entity (subsidiary). All the lenses, hence, come under NIKKOR and not Nikon itself. 

In this article, we shall focus on helping you understand what manual focus lenses are and which ones are the best for you.

Difference Between Manual and Autofocus Lenses

Nikon sells both manual and autofocus lenses. They are of very high quality, giving competitors a run for their money. Their main difference lies in their name itself. The manual ones need you to change the focus as you see fit while the autofocus lenses will do the job themselves.

At the face of it, you may think that autofocus lenses are more convenient. While that’s true, there will be times, especially for pro photographers, when you will need to control the focus. Only manual lenses provide this flexibility.

It is important to note here that autofocus lenses usually have a manual mode that you can use whenever you wish to. Manual focus lenses do not have the option to autofocus. You can use manual focus lenses on all available DSLR models. If it is an autofocus one, you just need to choose the manual setting. The only thing to remember here is the compatibility. Not all lenses go with all cameras. They are designed in a specific way to complement specific cameras and their specifications.

Best Nikon Manual Focus Lenses

Now, let’s head to the most interesting part of our guide – our favorites! In this section, we will help you identify the best and most popular options so that you narrow your search down and pick any of these. Keep reading!

1. Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-S Manual Focus Lens

Nikon 35mmWith a focal length of 35mm, this wide-angle lens from Nikon is a fine choice. It is known for its accuracy and sharpness among other things. Let’s go through a few of its specifications:

  1. Its maximum aperture is quite large at f/1.4.
  2. It has a single focal length that provides a regular picture angle.
  3. With this lens, you will enjoy an excellent design. You will see that it is capable of MTF performance as well as a seamless blur.
  4. You won’t have to worry about coma aberration or coma flare with this lens.
  5. The lens works on the Close-Range-Correction technology that keeps the quality of the image intact at close range.
  6. The filter size is 52mm.
  7. It is compatible with the Canon EF mounting.
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Extremely sharp and brilliant images
  • Considered one of the best manual NIKKORs
  • Expensive
  • You may experience slight barrel distortion at close focus


2. Nikon NIKKOR 20mm f/2.8 Manual Focus Lens

Nikon NIKKOR 20mmIf you are looking for a smaller focal length, you will like this lens from Nikon. At 20mm, it is a wide-angle lens that will satisfy most photography needs. Below are a few details:

  1. It is compatible with the Nikon F mounting.
  2. The photo filter thread size is 62mm.
  3. This is an AIS lens designed for general, landscape, travel, and architectural photography.
  4. Its ultra-wide lens provides edge-to-edge sharpness and 96-degree picture coverage.
  5. The lens does particularly well in low-light environments.
  6. It has a shallow depth of field.
  7. It also has the CRC system for precise close and far shots.
  • Lightweight and compact
  • A good choice for general photography
  • Works well in low light
  • Not suitable for action shots or sports
  • Will not go well with a DX camera


3. Nikon 50mm f/1.4 Manual Focus Lens

Nikon 50mmThose who are looking for a large focal length will be impressed by this NIKKOR lens. It has a focal length of 50mm. But, is that the only reason why you should buy it? Absolutely not. Here are a few more reasons:

  1. It is a normal and wide-angle lens with a photo filter thread size of 52mm.
  2. The lens works great not just for photos but also for videos.
  3. It can be used for commercial photography.
  4. It is a very sharp lens that provides brilliant shots.
  5. The manual focus is very smooth and easy to operate.
  6. It comes with the front and rear caps.
  • Affordable
  • Suitable for low light photography
  • Good bokeh
  • Very good for videos
  • Not possible to close the lens with the ring


4. Nikon 24mm f/2.8 Manual Focus Lens

Nikon 24mmThis particular NIKKOR manual focus lens is very popular among photographers due to its superior quality. It has a focal length of 24mm and an aperture of f/2.8. More information is as follows:

  1. It is a wide-angle lens with a prime design.
  2. This AI lens is a superior vintage lens perfect for landscape photography. 
  3. It has a sturdy build as well as an aesthetic design.
  4. The filter size of this lens is 52mm.
  • Smooth manual focus
  • Solid build
  • Vignetting can be too much sometimes


5. Nikon 85mm f/2.8 Manual Focus Lens

Nikon 85mmWith a focal length of 85mm and an aperture of f/2.8, this manual focus lens is one great catch. Some of its features are:

  1. It is a telephoto micro lens that has the capacity to tilt and shift.
  2. If you want a lens for tabletop applications, you won’t go wrong with this one.
  3. It is perfect for Nikon F mounting.
  4. The minimum focus range for this lens is 15.4.
  5. The size of its filter is 77mm.
  • Ideal for small product photography
  • Very sharp images
  • Solid build
  • Comes with a good carrying case
  • Might take some time and learning to use the lens right
  • Heavy – you will need a tripod
  • Not good for architectural photography


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Let’s further your knowledge on this topic by answering a few FAQs.

Which is the sharpest Nikon manual focus lens?

Our vote goes to the 55mm micro-NIKKOR, which has an aperture of f/2.8.

Why are Nikon lenses so expensive?

One of the main reasons is that Nikon lenses have better resale value. Also, Nikon lenses work on most modern Nikon cameras with no problems.

Is Nikon better than Sony?

It is hard to compare in general because each of them has its pros and cons. Nikon aces it in grip and handling while Sony is well-known for superior autofocus.

Which Nikon lens should I buy?

This completely depends on your photography requirements. But, in general, any of the aforementioned lenses will do a good job.


You might think that Nikon lenses are expensive but there’s a pretty good reason behind this tag. NIKKORs last very long and do the job they promise to do, often exceeding expectations. They are usually a one-time purchase and most buyers vouch for their quality. So, we encourage you to assess your needs and purchase a good lens accordingly. If you have any questions, please write to us.


Jacob Crone has spent too much time on researching and finding the best stuff for my Canon DSLR, and this led him to make As he found that millions of cameras are sold every year, and photographers like me are looking for cool and useful stuff for them all the time. So he wanted to make a site dedicated mostly to camera owners to help them get better results.

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