The 5 Best Nikon FG Lenses

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

The Nikon FG is a terrific film SLR camera. This article will talk about the 5 best lenses for the Nikon FG, plus a handful of alternative lenses.

More info is below, but if you're short on time, below 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 categorized by type of photography and value. There are a number of outstanding lenses to choose from that are in price ranges appropriate for the value of a FG.

Standard Prime Lens

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

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E

If you do not already have one, a good first lens for the FG is the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E. The 50mm f1.8 is really easy to find, has good photo quality, is affordable, small, and lightweight.

You'll want to buy the second version of the lens, that has a chrome ring around the body of the lens. It is made out of 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.
  • Excellent value.
  • Light, compact, and small.
  • 52mm front filter threads.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 50mm Series E lens is known as a pancake lens because it is thin. When mounted on the FG it barely sticks out. This is handy for carrying the camera under a coat to help you keep a low profile.

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

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4

  • Excellent optics.
  • Optical multi-coatings to reduce flare.
  • Widely available.
  • Comparatively inexpensive.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 is 2/3 of a stop faster, at the increased cost of size and weight. It is a little higher priced than any 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 prime lens, 2nd version.

Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f/1.4 Lens

  • Spectacular optics.
  • Has a Meter Coupling Prong.
  • CPU Contacts.
  • Can be purchased new.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Nikon produced a 55mm f/1.2 and 50mm f/1.2, but the value for money isn't there. Because of the age of the lenses, you should 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 better choice for a top-of-the-line lens. It has the smoothest focusing ring I have ever encountered on a manual focus lens. The Voigtländer is a complete joy to use.

Furthermore, the lens provides compatibility that spans all 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 move the lens from a Nikon DSLR to a Nikon 35mm film SLR seamlessly.

Alternative Standard Lenses

These are some other 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 combination with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to improve output.
  • Easy to find.
  • Relatively low-priced.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

A great option for a wide-angle lens is the Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8. The lens is ideal for landscape or architectural photography.

There are plenty of wider focal lengths to select from, but they are frequently are a whole lot more expensive or have noticeable 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 Lens

Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

  • Excellent when used with a 50mm lens.
  • Optical multi-coatings to reduce chromatic aberrations.
  • Many copies are available.
  • Easily affordable.

Also found at: eBay and KEH

A lower-priced option, the Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E, is on the border of being a wide-angle lens. It is appealing to use with the FG due to the low price and ease that the lens can be found.

Alternative Wide Angle Lenses

In terms of price, the correlation is easy to understand. The greater the field of view, the less affordable the lens ıs going to be. Lenses with larger apertures also go 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

Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E Lens

  • 85mm substitute.
  • Good value.
  • Comparatively inexpensive.
  • Widely available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The 85mm focal length wasn't as commonly used as it is today in 1982 when the MMDOEL was first produced. 135mm or 100mm focal lengths were more prevalent because of their inexpensive cost.

Like all the other Series E lenses mentioned, the 100mm f/2.8 hits a good balance of price, performance, and functionality. That's why the lens was very popular when released and why numerous copies are available on the used market.

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

Nikon Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 Lens

  • 85mm substitute.
  • "Vintage" portraiture rendering.
  • Many copies are available.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

The "classic" look of the Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 comes from the focal length combined with the lens only having 4 elements.

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

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

Alternative Telephoto Lenses

There's is no shortage of other telephoto lenses to choose from. Focal lengths longer than 135mm and 85mm lenses 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 FG Zoom Lenses

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

Some of these lenses were released with the Vivitar brand name. Any lens that has the Vivitar Series 1 branding on it is going to 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 popular focal range.
  • Excellent for portrait or wildlife photography.
  • A rare example of when a third-party lens is the best.

Also found at: eBay, KEH, Adorama

Alternative Zoom Lenses

Unfortunately, shorter focal range zoom lenses have problems making them an undesirable choice to use with the Nikon FG. Wear and tear along with age has caused many Nikon zooms to end up being basically useless.

The only zoom lens I would advise searching for is the Vivitar Series 1 VMC 35-85mm f/2.8 (Also found on KEH). Bear in mind, the lens can be challenging to find.

Vintage Zoom Lens Problems

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

The grease in just about all push-pull zooms has broken down to where the zoom mechanism is unable to support itself. Because of this, the lens will have tiny changes in focal length when attempting 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 made by Komine

Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

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

Also found at: KEH, Adorama

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens manufactured by Komine

Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens

  • The second best vintage macro lens I've used.
  • A fantastic lens for close-up photography.
  • It does not require an extension tube to reach life-size magnification.

Also found at: KEH, Adorama

Komine manufactured the two recommended macro lenses in Japan. The lenses were also sold 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 superior choice since it has a greater working distance.

For close-up and table-top photography, the 55mm macro lens is the superior 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 depending on availability and interest in older lenses. Over the past several years, film photography was seeing an increase in popularity, which has pushed prices higher.

Economic conditions are constantly changing, and sudden changes can result in changes in prices. However, the relative difference in lens prices should be expected to stay the same.

Checking several websites is the savvy way to get current pricing information. If you are fortunate enough to find a good deal, quickly buy it, because the best deals are short-lived.

What Lens Mount Does the Nikon FG Use?

The Nikon FG has a Nikon F-mount. Released in 1959, the F-mount is still being used today. Over time changes have been made to add autofocus, CPU contacts, metering information, and electronically controlled apertures.

Use manual focus lenses described as either Ai or Ai-S with the FG. Those lenses have a meter coupling ridge which will allow the camera to correctly meter light.

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. Keep in mind, lenses with large front elements will use larger filters and lens caps.

Employing a standardized filter thread size is great because you only need to buy just a single set of filters.

Non-Ai vs Ai & Ai-S Lenses

The early Nikon cameras had a Meter Coupling Prong. The Nikon FG uses a Meter Coupling Ridge.

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

Non-Ai lenses can damage your FG if you attempt to put one on the camera.

More Nikon FG Resources

There is no more information on the best Nikon FG lenses. When more info is added to the site, links can be found below.

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