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In The Last Day

Article: Nikon Lenses Explained

Posted 10/9/08 by
Last Updated: 11/30/99
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 This article is part of the following Gear Guide(s): 

Nikon introduced its current lens mount, called the Nikon F mount, in 1959 when it introduced the Nikon F Camera. Every lens made by Nikon since then, over 400 in total, will physically mount to any Nikon SLR or DSLR, with the following notable exceptions:

  1. Some fisheye lenses have rear element that protrude into the camera body. Some bodies don't provide enough clearance for this – although the lens may physically fit, trying to take a picture may result in a broken mirror and damaged lens.
  2. The Pentaprism on some bodies doesn't provide clearance for certain mirror lenses with wide lens barrels. For example, I used to own a Nikon F Photomic that would not allow me to mount my 500mm F8 mirror lens. However removing the Photomic head and using a simple pentaprism head gave the required clearance.
  3. Some of the older Non-AI lenses made prior to 1977 need to be modified (known as "AI-Modified"), since their aperture rings can interfere with a tab on the mount on some Nikon bodies, and trying to mount the lens can cause damage to the body.
  4. In 1993 Nikon introduced the F3-AF, with two specialized lenses with in-lens motors and a teleconverter. These lenses are not compatible with Nikons DSLR's and should not be mounted.

That said, details of the lens mount have changed over the years. The first changes were to allow improvements to metering, then to support autofocus, and more recently to provide contacts to allow camera-to-lens communication and power to support detailed shooting information, metering, autofocus and vibration reduction.

Because of these changes over time, even though the lens may physically mount to a modern Nikon DSLR, that doesn't mean the body supports all the functions of the lens, hence this guide.

There is a lot of ground to cover, so we'll break this guide into the following sections:

History of the Nikon F Mount

Nikon DSLR/Lens Compatibility

Nikon Lens Names & Acronyms Explained

 This article is part of the following Gear Guide(s): 

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Nikon D3100: $599.95
Canon T3 1100D: $595.00
Sony Cyber-shot H55: $199.00
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Nikon 85mm: $489.95
Canon 70-200mm: $2,449.95
Sony 30mm: $199.00
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