The Nikon FA is a great 35mm film camera. This web page will talk about the 5 best lenses for the Nikon FA, as well as a handful of alternative lenses.
Additional info is below, but if you're limited on time, below is the list:
- Kit Lens - Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E
- Wide Angle Lens - Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 Ai
- Portrait Lens - Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E
- Zoom Lens - Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
- Macro Lens - Vivitar 90mm f/2.8
The best Nikon F-mount lenses are grouped by kind of photography and value. There are a bunch of terrific lenses to choose from that cover price ranges appropriate for the value of a FA.
Standard Prime Lens
A 50mm lens is a superb choice for a vast array of photography. The types of photography include everyday use, travel, landscapes, portraits, street, and architecture. This is the most popular focal length that is used with the Nikon FA.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E
If you do not already have it, a wonderful first lens for the FA is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E. The 50mm f1.8 is readily available, has excellent photo quality, is affordable, compact, and lightweight.
Be sure to get the second version of the lens, that has a chrome ring around the body of the lens. It is built from aluminum, whereas the first version has plastic parts.
The 50mm Series E lens is known as a pancake lens because of its small size. When mounted on the FA it barely sticks out. This is very handy for keeping the camera under a jacket so you can keep a low profile.
Nikon also released many other 50mm manual focus lenses for the F-mount.
The Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 is 2/3 of a stop faster, at the added cost of size and weight. It is slightly more expensive than any of the f/1.8 or f/2 lenses.
Nikon produced a 55mm f/1.2 and 50mm f/1.2, but the cost to performance is poor. Due to the age of the lenses, you need to be concerned about the grease in the focusing helicoid drying up, ruining the experience of using the lens.
The Voightlander 58mm f/1.4 is all-around a superior choice for a top-of-the-line lens. The focusing ring is the smoothest I've ever used on a manual focus lens. It is a total delight to use.
Plus, the lens maintains compatibility across all Nikon F-mount cameras. The lens has a Meter Coupling Prong, Ai Meter Coupling Ridge, CPU contacts, and has a switch to allow for electronic aperture control. You’re able to seamlessly transition the lens from a Nikon DSLR to a Nikon film SLR.
Alternative Standard Lenses
The following are several other quality lenses that can be considered.
|Nikon 50mm f/1.8||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
|Nikon 50mm f/2||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
|Nikon 35mm f/2.5 Series E||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
|Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
Wide Angle Lens
A very good selection for a wide-angle lens is the Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8. The lens is ideal for architectural or landscape photography.
There are quite of few wider focal lengths to choose from, but they are often are a lot more expensive or show noticeable amounts of barrel distortion. Third-party lenses have clearly lower image quality than lenses made by Nikon.
Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E
- Excellent when used with a 50mm lens.
- Optical multi-coatings to improve performance.
- Many copies are available.
- Easily affordable.
The Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E lens is a less expensive option. It is appealing 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 relationship is simple. The larger the field of view, the costlier the lens ıs going to be. Larger apertures also go for appreciably more.
|Nikon 8mm f/2.8 Fisheye||Nikkor 13mm f/5.6|
|Nikkor 15mm f/3.5||Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8|
|Nikkor 18mm f/3.5||Nikkor 20mm f/2.8|
|Nikkor 24mm f/2|
Portrait & Telephoto Lens
85mm lenses weren't as widely used as they are today compared to when the FA was initially released in 1983. 135mm or 100mm focal lengths were more prevalent thanks to their cheaper cost.
Like all of the other Series E lenses listed, the 100mm f/2.8 hits the ideal balance of capabilities, usability, and value. That's why the lens was popular when released and why a lot of copies are readily available on the used market.
Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens
- 85mm substitute.
- "Vintage" portraiture rendering.
- Many copies are available.
The "classic" look of this lens stems from the focal length in addition to the lens only containing 4 elements.
1965 was when the original version of the lens was released. There are a total of 6 different versions of the lens, only the last two being compatible with the FA.
If you go looking for a copy of the lens, the compatible versions will be listed as Ai or Ai-S.
Alternative Telephoto Lenses
There are plenty of alternative telephoto lenses to pick from. The 85mm lenses and focal lengths longer than 135mm will be expensive.
|Nikkor 85mm f/2||Nikkor 105mm f/1.8|
|Nikkor 105mm f/2.5||Nikkor 135mm f/2|
|Nikkor 135mm f/2.8||Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Series E|
|Nikkor 180mm f/2.8||Nikkor 200mm f/2 ED|
|Nikkor 300mm f/2 IF-ED||Nikkor 300mm f/2.8|
|Nikkor 300mm f/4.5||Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 IF-ED|
|Nikkor 500mm f/4 IF-ED P||Mirror Nikkor 500mm f/8|
|Nikkor 600mm f/4 IF-ED||Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 IF-ED|
Nikon FA Zoom Lenses
In the early 1980s, before cameras had autofocus, there were a handful of lenses made by third-party manufacturers that were optically better than Nikkor lenses.
Many of these lenses would be released with the Vivitar brand name. Any lens that has the Vivitar Series 1 branding on it is going to have terrific optics.
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
- Covers a popular focal range.
- Excellent for wildlife or portrait photography.
- A rare example of when a third-party lens is the best.
Alternative Zoom Lenses
Unfortunately, shorter focal range zoom lenses have problems making them a bad option to use with the Nikon FA. Age along with wear and tear has resulted in many Nikon zoom lenses becoming practically useless.
Vintage Zoom Lens Problems
The lens that ought to be the front-runner, the Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5, is regrettably, a push-pull zoom. In place of having a zoom ring, the entire focus ring is pushed or pulled to control the zoom range.
The grease in just about all push-pull zooms has deteriorated to the stage where the zoom mechanism can no longer hold itself in position. For that reason, the lens will have tiny changes in focal length when you attempt to focus the lens. This is going to 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
- My favorite vintage macro lens.
- Available in a variety lens mounts.
- Excellent value.
- My second favorite vintage macro lens.
- A fantastic choice for close-up photography.
- It doesn't need an extension tube to reach 1x magnification.
Komine manufactured the two recommended macro lenses in Japan. The lenses were also released under many different brand names. Rokunar, Elicar, Spiratone, Quantaray, and Panagor are brands that also released the lenses.
For capturing images at macro magnification (1x), the 90mm lens will be the better choice since it has a greater working distance.
For close-up and table-top photography, the 55mm macro lens is the superior pick.
Alternative Macro Lenses
|Micro Nikkor 55mm f/3.5||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
|Lester A Dine 105mm f/2.8||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
|Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8||Amazon||eBay||KEH||Adorama|
Used Nikon Camera Lens Prices
Lens prices change all the time based on supply and interest in manual focus lenses. Over the past several years, film photography was seeing an increase in interest, which has caused prices to increase.
Economic changes can quickly lead to large price changes. Having said that, the difference in lens prices should be expected to stay the same.
Checking several websites is an intelligent way to get accurate pricing. If you are fortunate enough to come across a great deal, quickly buy it, because the best deals are short-lived.
What Lens Mount Does the Nikon FA Use?
The Nikon FA has a Nikon F-mount. The Nikon F-mount has been in use since 1959. Changes have been made over time to add autofocus, CPU contacts, metering information, and electronic aperture control.
For the FA, you need to use manual focus lenses that are either Ai or Ai-S. Those lenses are built with a meter coupling ridge which will allow the camera to meter light accurately.
For an explanation F-mount lenses, here is a page that explains Nikon F-mount lens and camera compatibility.
Standard Lens Cap Size
The standard filter ring thread and lens cap size for the majority of vintage F-mount lenses is 52mm. Bear in mind, lenses with large front elements will require larger filters and lens caps.
The benefit of having a standardized filter thread diameter is that you only need to buy one set of filters.
Non-Ai vs Ai & Ai-S Lenses
A Meter Coupling Prong was used on early Nikon F-mount cameras. The Nikon FA uses a Meter Coupling Ridge.
Lenses produced around the time when Nikon transitioned to Ai lenses can have both types of meter coupling.
Non-Ai lenses will most likely cause damage to your FA if you attempt to put one on the camera.
More Nikon FA Resources
There is no more info on the best Nikon FA lenses. When new information is added to the website, links can be found below.