The 5 Best Nikon EM Lenses

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 12, 2020
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Best Nikon EM Cameras Lenses

The Nikon EM is a terrific 35mm film SLR camera. This web page will talk about the 5 best lenses for the Nikon EM, plus a few alternative lenses.

More information further down, but if you're limited on time, here is the list:

  1. Kit Lens - Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E
  2. Wide Angle Lens - Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 Ai
  3. Portrait Lens - Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E
  4. Zoom Lens - Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
  5. Macro Lens - Vivitar 90mm f/2.8

The best Nikon F-mount lenses are grouped by area of photography and price. There are many great camera lenses to choose from that are in price ranges ideal for the value of a EM.

Standard Prime Lens

A 50mm lens is a superb choice for a wide variety of photography. The areas of photography include travel, landscapes, street, architecture, portraits, and everyday use. This is the most common focal length that is used with the Nikon EM.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

If you don't already own one, a wonderful first lens for the EM is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E. The 50mm f1.8 is easy to find, has good picture quality, is affordable, compact, and lightweight.

Make sure you purchase the second version of the lens, which has a chrome ring around the body of the lens. It is constructed from aluminum, whereas the first version has a plastic body.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E Lens

  • One of the most popular 50mm lenses Nikon ever made.
  • Amazing value.
  • Light, compact, and small.
  • 52mm filter threads.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 50mm Series E lens is called a pancake lens because of its small size. When mounted on the EM it will barely stick out. This is very useful for keeping the camera under a coat so that you can keep a low profile.

Several 50mm manual focus lenses were released by Nikon for the F-mount.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

  • Exceptional optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings to improve performance.
  • Easy to find.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 is 2/3 of a stop faster, at the added cost of weight and size. It is a bit more expensive than all of the f/1.8 or f/2 50mm lenses.

Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f/1.4 SL II AI-S

Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f/1.4 prime lens, 2nd version.

Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f/1.4 Lens

  • Exceptional optics.
  • Has a Meter Coupling Prong.
  • CPU Contacts.
  • Available new.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Nikon manufactured a 50mm f/1.2 and 55mm f/1.2, but the cost to performance is poor. Because of the age of the lenses, you ought to be wary of the grease in the focusing helicoid drying up, spoiling the experience of using the lens.

The Voightlander 58mm f/1.4 is overall a superior option for a premium quality lens. The focusing ring is the smoothest I've ever used on a manual focus lens. It is a total joy to use.

Additionally, the lens maintains compatibility with all F-mount cameras. The lens has a CPU contacts, Ai Meter Coupling Ridge, Meter Coupling Prong, and has a switch to allow for electronic control of the aperture. You’re able to swap the lens from a Nikon DSLR to a Nikon 35mm film SLR seamlessly.

Alternative Standard Lenses

Listed below are more good lenses that are comparable options.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Nikon 50mm f/2AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Nikon 35mm f/2.5 Series EAmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series EAmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Wide Angle Lens

Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8

Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 Ai Lens

  • Great paired with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to reduce chromatic aberrations.
  • Easy to find.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 is a good choice for a wide-angle lens. It is well suited for landscape or architectural photography.

There are loads of wider focal lengths to select from, but they are commonly are significantly more expensive or have noticeable amounts of barrel distortion. Third-party lenses have clearly reduced image quality than Nikkor lenses.

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

  • Great when paired with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to improve output.
  • Widely available.
  • Cheap.

Also found at: eBay and KEH

An inexpensive alternative, the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E, is a border-line wide-angle lens. It is attractive to use on the EM because of the low cost and ease that the lens can be found.

Alternative Wide Angle Lenses

In terms of price, the correlation is simple. The wider the field of view, the costlier the lens ıs going to be. Lenses with larger apertures also go for substantially more.

Nikon 8mm f/2.8 FisheyeNikkor 13mm f/5.6
Nikkor 15mm f/3.5Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8
Nikkor 18mm f/3.5Nikkor 20mm f/2.8
Nikkor 24mm f/2

Portrait & Telephoto Lens

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

  • 85mm substitute.
  • Excellent value.
  • Comparatively low-priced.
  • Many copies are available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 85mm focal length wasn't as prominently used as it is today in 1979 when the MMDOEL was first released. 135mm or 100mm focal lengths were more prevalent due to their inexpensive price.

Like all of the other Series E lenses mentioned, the 100mm f/2.8 hits an excellent balance of price, capabilities, and functionality. That's why the lens was sought after when released and why a great number of copies are available for purchase on the used market.

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

  • 85mm alternative.
  • "Classic" portraiture rendering.
  • Many copies are available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The "vintage" look of the Nikkor 135mm f2.8 is produced by the focal length in addition to the lens only having 4 elements.

The initial version of the lens was produced in 1965. There's a total of 6 versions of the lens, with only the last two versions being compatible with the EM.

If you go looking for a copy of the lens, the compatible lenses will be listed as Ai-S or Ai.

Alternative Telephoto Lenses

There are plenty of additional telephoto lenses to pick from. The 85mm lenses and focal lengths longer than 135mm will be high-priced.

Nikkor 85mm f/2Nikkor 105mm f/1.8
Nikkor 105mm f/2.5Nikkor 135mm f/2
Nikkor 135mm f/2.8Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Series E
Nikkor 180mm f/2.8Nikkor 200mm f/2 ED
Nikkor 300mm f/2 IF-EDNikkor 300mm f/2.8
Nikkor 300mm f/4.5Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 IF-ED
Nikkor 500mm f/4 IF-ED PMirror Nikkor 500mm f/8
Nikkor 600mm f/4 IF-EDNikkor 800mm f/5.6 IF-ED

Nikon EM Zoom Lenses

In the early 1980s, before cameras had autofocus, there were a handful of lenses produced by third-party manufacturers that were optically superior to Nikkor lenses.

Some of these lenses were released with the Vivitar brand name. Camera lenses that have the Vivitar Series 1 branding will have superb optics.

Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5

Vivitar 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens

  • Covers a useful focal range.
  • Good for wildlife or portrait photography.
  • A rare example of when a third-party lens is the best.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Alternative Zoom Lenses

There aren't many choices for zoom lenses for the Nikon EM that have a shorter focal length zoom range. Age along with wear and tear has resulted in many Nikon zooms to end up being practically unusable.

The single zoom lens I would suggest looking for is the Vivitar Series 1 VMC 35-85mm f/2.8 (Also found on KEH). Keep in mind, the lens can be difficult to find.

Vintage Zoom Lens Problems

The lens that could have been the best option, the Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5, is, unfortunately, a push-pull zoom. Instead of having a zoom ring, the entire focus ring is pushed or pulled to control the lens zoom range.

The grease in just about all push-pull zooms has deteriorated to where the zoom mechanism is unable to hold itself in position. As a result, the lens will have tiny changes in focal length when you attempt to focus. This will be made worse if the lens is not parallel to the ground.

Nikon Macro Lenses

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 & Vivitar 55mm f/2.8

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens made by Komine

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • The best vintage macro lens I've used.
  • Available in lots of different camera lens mounts.
  • Amazing value.

Also found at: KEH, Adorama

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens manufactured by Komine

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • My second favorite vintage macro lens.
  • A great choice for close-up photography.
  • Can achieve 1:1 magnification without the need for an extension tube.

Also found at: KEH, Adorama

Komine made both of the two recommended macro lenses in Japan. The lenses were sold under assorted brand names. Elicar, Quantaray, Panagor, Spiratone, and Rokunar are brands that also sold the lenses.

There is a Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review and a Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens Review.

For capturing images at macro magnification (1:1), the 90mm lens will be the better pick because it has a greater working distance.

The 55mm macro lens is great for close-up and table-top photography.

Alternative Macro Lenses

Micro Nikkor 55mm f/3.5AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Lester A Dine 105mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama
Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8AmazoneBayKEHAdorama

Used Nikon Camera Lens Prices

Lens prices change all the time as they are influenced by availability and interest in manual focus lenses. Over the past few years, film photography was going through an increase in interest, which has caused prices to increase.

Economic changes can result in large price changes. However, the difference in lens prices should stay similar.

Checking several websites is the best way to get accurate lens pricing. If you find a good deal, snap it up, because the best deals do not last long.

What Lens Mount Does the Nikon EM Use?

The Nikon EM has a Nikon F-mount. The Nikon F-mount has been in use since 1959. Over time changes have been made to add autofocus, CPU contacts, metering information, and electronically controlled apertures.

For the EM, you should use lenses that are manual focus and are either Ai-S or Ai. Those lenses are built with a meter coupling ridge which will allow the camera to accurately meter light.

For an explanation of the differences between lenses, here is a page that explains Nikon F-mount lens and camera compatibility.

Standard Lens Cap Size

The standard lens cap and filter ring thread diameter for just about all vintage F-mount lenses is 52mm. Of course, lenses with big front elements are going to require larger lens caps and filters.

Employing a standard filter thread size is useful because you only need to buy and carry only a single set of lens filters.

Non-Ai vs Ai & Ai-S Lenses

A Meter Coupling Prong was used on early F-mount Nikon cameras. The Nikon EM uses a Meter Coupling Ridge.

A bunch of lenses have both types of meter coupling as they were manufactured around the time Nikon transitioned to Ai lenses.

Lenses that only use a Meter Coupling Prong will most likely cause damage to your EM if you attempt to put one on the camera.

More Nikon EM Resources

There is no more information on the best Nikon EM lenses. When new information is added to the site, links can be found here.

Best Nikon EM Film

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