The 5 Best Nikon FG-20 Camera Lenses

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 12, 2020
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Best Nikon FG-20 Cameras Lenses

The Nikon FG-20 is a very good film SLR camera. This web page will go over the 5 best lenses for the Nikon FG-20, as well as a handful of alternative lenses.

More information below, but if you're short 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 top Nikon F-mount lenses are categorized by type of photography and cost. There are lots of outstanding camera lenses to choose from that cover price ranges appropriate for the value of a FG-20.

Standard Prime Lens

A 50mm lens is a superb choice for a wide range of photography. The areas of photography include travel, landscapes, street, architecture, portraits, and everyday use. This is the most frequent focal length used with the Nikon FG-20.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

If you don't already have one, a wonderful first lens for the FG-20 is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E. The 50mm f1.8 is readily available, has excellent photo quality, is affordable, small, and lightweight.

Make sure to purchase the second version of the lens, that has a chrome ring around the body of the lens. It is made of aluminum, whereas the first version has plastic parts.

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E Lens

  • One of the best selling 50mm lenses Nikon ever made.
  • Excellent value.
  • Small, light and compact.
  • 52mm front filter threads.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 50mm Series E lens is often referred to as a pancake lens because of its small size. When mounted on the FG-20 the lens barely sticks out. This is useful for keeping the camera under a coat so you're able to keep a low profile.

Lots of 50mm manual focus lenses were manufactured by Nikon for the F-mount.

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

  • Superb optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings to reduce flare.
  • Many copies are available.
  • Relatively inexpensive.

Also found at: 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 more expensive than all of the f/1.8 or f/2 lenses.

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

Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f/1.4 Lens

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

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Nikon manufactured 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 wary of the lubricant in the focusing helicoid drying up, ruining the experience of using the lens.

The Voightlander 58mm f/1.4 is all around a better option for a premium quality lens. The lens has the smoothest focusing ring I have ever used on a manual focus lens. The Voigtländer is an absolute delight to use.

Furthermore, the lens provides compatibility that spans all Nikon F-mount cameras. The lens has a CPU contacts, Ai Meter Coupling Ridge, Meter Coupling Prong, and has a switch to enable electronic control of the aperture. You are able to switch the lens from a Nikon film SLR to a Nikon DSLR seamlessly.

Alternative Standard Lenses

These are a few other quality lenses that are comparable choices.

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 flare.
  • Many copies are available.
  • Comparatively inexpensive.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

A very good option for a wide-angle lens is the Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8. The lens is well suited for landscape or architectural photography.

There is an abundance of wider focal lengths to choose from, but they are commonly are a great deal more expensive or show significant amounts of barrel distortion. Third-party lenses have visibly decreased image quality than lenses made by Nikon.

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

  • Excellent when matched with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to reduce chromatic aberrations.
  • Easy to find.
  • Cheap.

Also found at: eBay and KEH

An inexpensive option, the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E, is a border-line wide-angle lens. It is appealing to use on the FG-20 because of the low cost and ease that the lens can be found.

Alternative Wide Angle Lenses

In terms of cost, the relationship is simple. The larger the field of view, the less affordable the lens will probably be. Larger apertures also sell for a whole lot 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

  • 85mm substitute.
  • Excellent value.
  • Comparatively inexpensive.
  • Many copies are available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

85mm lenses weren't as widely used as they are today compared to when the FG-20 was originally released in 1984. 135mm or 100mm focal lengths were more common due to their more affordable cost.

Like all of the other Series E lenses listed, the 100mm f/2.8 hits an appropriate balance of value, capabilities, and functionality. That's why it was very popular when introduced and why numerous copies are offered on the used market.

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

  • 85mm substitute.
  • "Vintage" portraiture rendering.
  • Widely available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The "classic" look of this lens is produced by the focal length in addition to the lens only having 4 elements.

The initial version of the lens was released in 1965. There are a total of 6 versions of the lens, with only the last two versions being suitable for the FG-20.

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

Alternative Telephoto Lenses

There is an abundance of other telephoto lenses to select from. Focal lengths longer than 135mm and 85mm lenses will be expensive.

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 FG-20 Zoom Lenses

Before cameras had autofocus, in the early 1980s, there were a few lenses manufactured by third-party manufacturers that were optically superior to Nikkor lenses.

A large number 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 terrific optics.

Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5

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

  • Covers a popular zoom range.
  • Excellent for wildlife or portrait photography.
  • A rare time when a third-party lens is the better choice.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Alternative Zoom Lenses

Unfortunately, shorter focal length zooms have problems making them a bad choice to use with the Nikon FG-20. Age along with wear and tear has caused many Nikon zoom lenses to become essentially useless.

The only lens I would suggest looking for is the Vivitar Series 1 VMC 35-85mm f/2.8 (Also found on KEH). Bear in mind, it can be hard to come across.

Vintage Zoom Lens Problems

The lens that could've been the ideal choice, the Nikon Zoom-Nikkor 35-105mm f/3.5-4.5, is, unfortunately, a push-pull zoom. Rather than having a zoom ring that turns, the focus ring is pushed or pulled to control the zoom range.

The grease in nearly all of these lenses has deteriorated to where the zoom mechanism is unable to hold itself in position. For that reason, the lens will have tiny changes in focal length when trying to focus the lens. This will be made worse if the lens is pointed up or down.

Nikon Macro Lenses

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

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • The best vintage macro lens I've used.
  • Was produced in multiple lens mounts.
  • Incredible value.

Also found at: 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.
  • An outstanding lens for close-up photography.
  • It doesn't need to have an extension tube to reach 1x magnification.

Also found at: KEH, Adorama

Komine produced both of the two mentioned macro lenses in Japan. The lenses were sold under numerous brand names. Rokunar, Elicar, Spiratone, Quantaray, and Panagor are brands that also released 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 better option.

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 the availability and the popularity of older lenses. During the last several years, film photography was going through an increase in interest, which has pushed prices higher.

Economic conditions are constantly changing, and unforeseen developments can result in changes in prices. Even so, the relative difference in prices between lenses should be expected to stay the same.

Checking several websites is the best way to get current pricing. If you are lucky enough to find a good deal, buy it because the best deals do not last long.

What Lens Mount Does the Nikon FG-20 Use?

The Nikon FG-20 has a Nikon F-mount. Released in 1959, the Nikon F-mount is still being used. Changes have been made over time to add CPU contacts, electronic aperture control, metering information, and autofocus.

For the FG-20, you want manual focus lenses that are either Ai-S or Ai. Those lenses have a meter coupling ridge which enables the camera to meter light correctly.

For an explanation of the differences between lenses, this page explains everything you need to know 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 F-mount lenses is 52mm. Keep in mind that, lenses with large front elements are going to require larger lens caps and filters.

The nice thing about having a standard filter thread diameter is that you only need to purchase a single set of lens filters.

Non-Ai vs Ai & Ai-S Lenses

Earlier F-mount Nikon cameras used a Meter Coupling Prong. The Nikon FG-20 uses a Meter Coupling Ridge.

A handful of lenses have both types of meter coupling as they were produced when Nikon was transitioning to Ai lenses.

Older lenses that only use a Meter Coupling Prong will damage your FG-20 if you attempt to put one on the camera.

More Nikon FG-20 Resources

There is no more info on the best Nikon FG-20 lenses. When new info is included on the site, links will be added here.

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