The 5 Best Nikon FA Lenses

Best Lenses for the Nikon FA

The Nikon FA is a very good 35mm film camera. This web page will go over the 5 best lenses for the Nikon FA, as well as a few alternative lenses.

More info is further down, but if you are 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 cost and area of photography. There are many terrific camera lenses to choose from that are in price ranges ideal for the value of a FA.

Standard Prime Lens

A 50mm lens is a very good choice for a wide range of photography. The types of photography consist of travel, landscapes, street, architecture, portraits, and everyday use. This is the most frequent focal length that is used with the Nikon FA.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E “pancake lens”
  • One of the best selling 50mm lenses Nikon ever made.
  • Amazing value.
  • Compact, light, and small.
  • 52mm front filter threads.
Found at: Amazon, eBay, KEH & Adorama

If you don’t already own one, a good first lens for the FA is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E. The 50mm f1.8 is simple to find, has very good picture quality, is inexpensive, small, and lightweight.

Make sure to buy 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 is made from plastic.

The 50mm Series E lens is often referred to as a pancake lens because it is about as thick as a pancake. When mounted on the FA it barely sticks out. This is very useful for keeping the camera under a jacket so you’re able to keep a low profile.

Nikon also produced many other 50mm manual focus lenses for the F-mount.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 Lens
  • Exceptional optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings to improve output.
  • Easy to find.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
Available from: Amazon, eBay, KEH & Adorama

At the increased cost of size and weight, the Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 is 2/3 of a stop faster. It is slightly higher priced than any 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 SL II AI-S
  • Outstanding optics.
  • Has a Meter Coupling Prong.
  • CPU Contacts.
  • Available new.
Available from: Amazon, eBay, KEH & Adorama

Nikon manufactured a 50mm f/1.2 and 55mm f/1.2, but the value for money isn’t there. As a consequence of the age of the lenses, you should be wary of the grease in the focusing helicoid drying up, ruining the experience of using the lens.

The Voightlander 58mm f/1.4 is overall a better option for a top-of-the-line lens. The focusing ring is the smoothest| I have ever used on a manual focus lens. The lens is a complete joy to use.

Additionally, the lens maintains compatibility across all F-mount cameras. It has a CPU contacts, Meter Coupling Prong, Ai Meter Coupling Ridge, and has a switch for electronic aperture control. You are able to seamlessly swap the lens from a Nikon DSLR to a Nikon film SLR.

Alternative Standard Lenses

The following are several other good lenses that are worth buying.

  • Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.8
  • Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/2
  • Nikon 35mm f/2.5 Series E
  • Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E

Wide Angle Lens

Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8

Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8
  • Great combination with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to improve output.
  • Easy to find.
  • Comparatively inexpensive.
Available from: Amazon, eBay, KEH & Adorama

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

There are quite of few wider focal lengths to choose from, but they are either way more expensive or show significant amounts of barrel distortion. Third-party lenses have visibly reduced image quality than Nikkor lenses.

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E
  • Excellent when combined with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to improve performance.
  • Widely available.
  • Low-priced.
Available from: Amazon, eBay & KEH

The Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E lens is a cheaper alternative. It is attractive to use on the FA due to the cheap price and ease at which the lens can be found.

Alternative Wide Angle Lenses

In terms of cost, the correlation is easy to understand. The wider the field of view, the higher priced the lens will probably be. Lenses with larger apertures also go for considerably more.

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

Portrait & Telephoto Lens

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E
  • 85mm alternative.
  • Great value.
  • Relatively inexpensive.
  • Many copies are available.
Available from: Amazon, eBay, KEH

85mm lenses weren’t as commonly used as they are today compared to when the FA was originally produced in DDATE. 100mm or 135mm focal lengths were more widely used because of their more affordable price.

Like all the other Series E lenses mentioned, the 100mm f/2.8 hits an excellent balance of functionality, price, andcapabilities. That’s why it was favored when released and why many copies are for sale on the used market.

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8
  • 85mm alternative.
  • "Vintage" portraiture rendering.
  • Many copies are available.
Available from: Amazon, eBay, KEH & Adorama

The “vintage” look of the Nikkor 135mm f2.8 stems from the focal length in addition to the lens only containing 4 elements.

1965 was the year the first version of the lens was released. A total of 6 different versions of the lens, only the last two being compatible with the FA.

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

Alternative Telephoto Lenses

There’s an abundance of alternative telephoto lenses to select from. The 85mm lenses and focal lengths longer than 135mm will be pricey.

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 FA Zoom Lenses

Before cameras had autofocus, in the early 1980’s, there were several lenses produced by third-party manufacturers that were optically better than Nikkor lenses.

Some of these lenses would be released under the Vivitar brand name. Any lens that has the Vivitar Series 1 branding on it is going to have outstanding optics.

Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5

Vivitar 70-210mm f/3.5 Zoom Lens
  • Covers a popular zoom range.
  • Good for wildlife or portrait photography.
  • A rare example of when a third-party lens is the best choice.
Available from: Amazon, eBay & KEH

Alternative Zoom Lenses

Unfortunately, shorter focal range zooms have problems making them a undesirable choice to use with the Nikon FA. Age along with wear and tear has caused many Nikon zooms to become basically unusable.

The single lens I would advise searching for is the Vivitar Series 1 VMC 35-85mm f/2.8 (Also found on KEH). Be warned, the lens can be tough to find.

Vintage Zoom Lens Problems

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

The grease in almost all push-pull zooms has deteriorated to where the zoom mechanism will not support itself. For that reason, the lens will have tiny changes in focal length when trying to focus the lens. This is going to be made worse if the lens is pointed up or down.

Nikon Macro Lenses

Komine manufactured the two mentioned macro lenses in Japan. The lenses were released under various 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 life-size magnification, the 90mm lens will be the better pick because it has a greater working distance.

For close-up and table-top photography, the 55mm macro lens is the superior choice.

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
  • My favorite vintage macro lens.
  • Was produced in multiple camera lens mounts.
  • Great value.
Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
Available from: eBay, KEH & Adorama

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
  • The second best vintage macro lens I've used.
  • A very good lens for close-up photography.
  • Can reach 1:1 magnification without the need for an extension tube.
Available from: eBay, KEH & Adorama

Alternative Macro Lenses

Used Nikon Camera Lens Prices

The prices of camera lenses change all the time based on supply and the popularity of older lenses. During the last several years, film photography was seeing an increase in popularity, which has caused prices to increase.

Economic conditions are ever-changing, and unforeseen changes can quickly lead to price changes. Having said that, the relative difference in prices between lenses should stay similar.

Checking several websites is the savvy way to get current pricing. If you find a good deal, be quick, because the best deals are short lived.

What Lens Mount Does the Nikon FA Use?

The Nikon FA has an Nikon F-mount. The F-mount has been in use since 1959. Over time changes have been made to add CPU contacts, electronic aperture control, metering information, and autofocus.

Use manual focus lenses described as either Ai or Ai-S with the FA. Those lenses are built with a meter coupling ridge which will allow the camera to meter light accurately.

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 the majority of vintage Nikon lenses is 52mm. However, lenses with big front elements will use larger filters and lens caps.

The advantage of having a standard filter thread diameter is that you only have to have one set of filters.

Non Ai vs Ai & Ai-S Lenses

Earlier Nikon F-mount cameras had a Meter Coupling Prong. The Nikon FA uses a Meter Coupling Ridge.

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

Non-Ai lenses will cause damage to your FA if you attempt to put one on the camera.

More Nikon FA Resources

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