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LENS PORN: Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 (AI Version), "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 (AI Version), "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"
Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 (AI Version), "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"



First published: April 2016
Updated: 22 November 2016 (Minor Revision)
Updated: 19 May 2017 (Re-written from scratch)
Updated: 30 June 2017 (Re-written from scratch. New set of product shots and samples, new video re-take)



The Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 was Nikon's most popular zoom lens, according to them. It first appeared as a lens that was fixed to the Nikkorex camera, but later made it to the market in 1963 as a stand-alone lens for Nikon F SLRs. It had a long production run from 1963 until 1982, that saw several cosmetic and optical re-designs.

The first version was what gave this lens a bad reputation. It is identified by the chrome ring at the front lens. The later K and AI versions were more preferred due to the multicoated glass and improved optical formula. They are all black. To be safe, look for those that start with serial# 774071 or higher. (The 8xxxxx and 9xxxxx were the best.)

Now I have my second copy of this lens, both of them are AI version. With these two copies, I even noticed some cosmetic differences. The hyperfocal scale is very useful to give you an idea which areas are in focus. Say, I'm at 86mm and set it to f/11 (corresponds to yellow, the lens on the right), you can see where the curved line points to a distance in the focus ring. Those will be the areas in focus at f/11.

 Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5



This is a beautiful little lens for me, small and compact. It's very light so I won't hesitate to bring it around. It does not exhibit zoom creep. My two copies differ in the dampness of the focus ring, where the first one was loose, the later one was tighter. The build speaks quality, no fragile plastics.

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5



Used on FX, this lens ranges from a semi-wide 43mm up to the portrait length 86mm. On DX, this is more suited as a portrait lens. Given that the minimum focusing distance is 1.2 meters, it is indeed more suited for portraiture and if you don't need closeups. The nice thing is that it has a wide and constant maximum aperture of f/3.5 across the range.

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5
MFD = 1.2 meters



Now let's talk bokeh. Since we really plan to use this as a portrait lens, the first thing that everyone wants to know is how well it will render bokeh (blurry backgrounds). Sure, it is no f/1.4 lens, but it's capable of producing blurry backgrounds that give a 3D feel to the scene. (See my portrait shots at the end of this post.)

 Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 (AI Version)



Image quality. I'm very pleased with the color rendition, the details/resolution, the sharpness. It's a far cry from the bad reputation that the first version brought to this line. However, at 43mm, sometimes I notice a strong CA, and distortion at the edges. It goes away by 50mm. When using f/3.5 outdoor, color fringing becomes obvious even without pixel peeping. Stop it down to f/4 or f/5.6 to fix this issue. Therefore, it's best to use this lens from 50mm to 86mm, and from f/4 to f/22.




Conclusion. Obviously, I like this lens and even got my second copy! Because I usually don't want to get the same lens again, looking for new ones to try. The focal range works well on DX for an environmental portraiture at 43mm and a half body shot at 86mm (if you're at 2 meters). This lens usually sells cheap, so you should grab one if you want to do portraiture on a budget. Just avoid the first version so you get the best optics from Nikon.

 Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

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Video Time!






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SPECS

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5
(AI Version)

Years of Production:
1963 - 1982

Versions
1963 - First version, single coated.
9 elements, 7 groups.

1976 - K version, multicoated.
Starts with serial# 774071
11 elements, 8 groups.

1977 - AI Version
Starts with serial# 810001.


Focal Range:
Used on FX = 43mm - 86 mm
Used on DX = 64.5mm - 129 mm

Max-Min. Aperture:
f/3.5 - f/22 (7 blades)

Minimum Focusing Distance:
1.2 m / 4 ft

Filter thread size:
52 mm

Made in Japan



I have 2 copies of this lens:

Serial# 875885
(Made Around 1977)

Serial# 982651
(Made around March 1982)

www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html#35-xx


Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5
I had two copies, you can see the cosmetic difference.

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

 Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

========================================

Samples


Nikon D5200

Zoom-Nikkor
43-86mm f/3.5 AI




Bokeh Comparison















Small Things and Stuff

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"
86mm

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"



Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5


Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5




Landscape / Street Scenes

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"










86mm


with fisheye adapter

with fisheye adapter


Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"
Sorry, the ghost there was caused by my cheap clear filter!



Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"



Portraiture

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"


Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 "Nikon's Most Popular Zoom Lens"
Evening outdoor portrait with environmental light, no flash



Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5


Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5

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Links


Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 AI

https://flic.kr/s/aHskYdLxEU

Serial Number Lookeup
www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

Database
www.nicovandijk.net/standardzoom.htm

History
www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/companies/nikon/nikkoresources/zoomsMF/4386mm.htm

Reviews
www.photo.net/discuss/threads/nikon-43-86mm-f-3-5-zoom.381176/

Nikkor Story
www.nikkor.com/story/0004/



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The Nikon D5200 as my weapon of choice.

Vintage lenses are my poison.

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