The 5 Best Nikon FM2 Lenses
The Nikon FM2 is a great 35mm film SLR camera when paired with the right lenses. The 5 best lenses for the Nikon FM2, plus some alternative lens options will be covered.
Here is the list of the best lenses for the Nikon FM2:
- Standard Lens - Voigtländer Nokton 58mm f/1.4 Lens
- Wide Angle Lens - Nikon Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 Ai
- Portrait Lens - Nikon DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2 D
- Zoom Lens - Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
- Macro Lens - Vivitar 90mm f/2.8
The best lenses are broken down based on the type of photography they are commonly used for. There are several recommended options to select from that cover different price ranges.
Any Nikon F-mount Ai, Ai-S, AF, or D series lens will work with the FM2. Any lens that has an electronically controlled aperture, such as G-series lenses, will not work.
Do not use ’non-Ai’ F-mount lenses as they can cause damage. See the Nikon F-mount lens and camera compatibility page for how to identify ’non-Ai’ lenses.
The kit lens options for the Nikon FM2 would have been one of the several 50mm lenses Nikon offered at the time of the camera’s release. Those would include an f/1.4, f/1.8, and f/2.
A 50mm lens can be used for all types of photography including travel, landscapes, street, architecture, portraits, and everyday use. This is the most popular focal length used on the Nikon FM2.
Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 Noct
- Exceptional optics.
- Has a Meter Coupling Prong.
- CPU Contacts.
- Can be purchased new.
Comparing the Nikon Nikkor 55mm f/1.2 Ai or 50mm f/1.2 Ai lenses to the Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 Noct isn’t remotely fair.
The Voigtlander 58mm f/1.4 Noct is one of the best lenses ever made for the F-mount. You’re going to be hard pressed to find a better lens to use on your Nikon FM2.
What sets the Voiglander apart is the combination of modern optics, manufacturing, and design. It is a manual focus lens, with an incredibly smooth focus ring.
Additionally, the lens has CPU contacts, a meter coupling ridge, and depending on the version, metering prongs. That means the lens can be naitively used on all Nikon F-mount cameras, from film to digital.
For a photography enthusiast, this is great because the lens can be used on a film camera and then on a DSLR. Keep in mind, having CPU contacts means you’ll get full EXIF data with your photos.
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E
- One of the most popular 50mm lenses Nikon ever made.
- Excellent value.
- Light, small, and compact.
- 52mm filter threads.
The massive popularity of the 50mm f/1.8 E Series lens was a surprise to Nikon. It was released as a budget option, but it was a hit with everyone from new photographers to pros.
Look for the version with the chrome ring around the barrel of the lens. Those are the second version of the lens that has a better build quality. The first versions are all black.
The small size and lightweight size means that the FM2 will stay light and compact. It is the perfect lens to leave on a camera that you just want to be able to grab and go.
Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/2 Ai
- Sharpest of all the vintage 50mm lenses.
- Optical multi-coatings to improve performance.
- Very easy to find.
- Shockingly inexpensive.
If you want the sharpest 50mm lens out of the vintage Nikon options, this is it. The lens is sharper at f/2 or any other aperture than the Nikkor f/1.2, f/1.4, or f/1.8 lenses.
The smaller aperture does mean the lens is not as well suited for low light focusing as the other lenses. You’re also not going to be able to achieve an extremely shallow depth of field.
The allure of a big aperture must be strong as the f/2 is the cheapest Nikkor 50mm lens. A very attractive option as you get the best image quality with money left over compared to a different purchase.
Wide Angle Lenses
Nikon 24mm f/2.8 Ai
- Great combination with a 50mm lens.
- Optical multi-coatings to improve performance.
- Widely available.
- Relatively low-priced.
The AI, AIS, AF, and D versions of the 24mm all use the same optical design. Versions with autofocus will have improved lens coatings, but are not as enjoyable to manually focus on the FM2 as fully manual lenses are.
The Nikon 24mm f/2.8 has the best price-performance ratio of any wide-angle lens for the FM2. The Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 does not handle flare well and has more noticeable barrel distortion while also costing more.
Any lens that is wider or faster jumps into price ranges that I would consider to be overpriced. The image quality will also not be as good as a vintage medium format, larger format, or modern wide angle lens.
Nikon 28mm f/2.8 Series E
- Good when combined with a 50mm lens.
- Optical multi-coatings to improve output.
- Widely available.
The 28mm is a borderline wide angle lens that should cost around half of what a 24mm is going for. It is small and compact, making it perfect as a standard lens or as part of a small kit.
Look for the second version of the 28mm Series E that has a chrome ring around the lens barrel. The construction quality is better than the first, all-black version.
Portrait & Telephoto Lenses
Nikon DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2D
- Has DC - Defocus Control.
- Produced from 1993 until 2016.
- Ridiculous value used.
- Excellent availability.
The DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2D was made for 23 years. It was still being manufactured after just about every other focal length was updated to the G series. It was and still is a popular lens.
The DC stands for ‘Defocus Image Control’ which allows you to control how the bokeh is rendered. This is a somewhat unique feature. There is also a DC-Nikkor 135mm f/2D.
Minolta also developed something similar, VFC ‘Variable Focus Control’, which was used on a couple of wide-angle lenses to allow the focus plane to be shifted.
What really blows my mind is that the DC-Nikkor 105mm f/2D can be found used for around the same price as the Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 Ai.
Nikon 85mm f/1.4 Ai
- Hard to find in good condition.
- Same optical design as the 85mm f/1.4 D series.
I don’t shoot portraits. Even if I did, I wouldn’t buy any of the vintage 85mm f/1.4. It doesn’t matter the manufacturer, if it is a vintage 85mm f/14, it’s overpriced.
I thought the 85mm f/1.4 was a bad deal at just under $500. As I’m writing this, I’m seeing prices over $700.
I don’t think the lens is remotely close to a good value. Haze and dried out helicoid grease are common problems with these lenses due to their age. The “excellent condition” lenses will not live up to that description.
The lens was included because I know people are going to look for it and buy it regardless of what my thoughts on it are.
Nikon also made 85mm f/1.8 and 85mm f/2 lenses which are more reasonably priced. Though you do need to pay close attention to lens condition as they all tend to have more wear than other lenses.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the D series autofocus lenses use the same optical design. They are newer, which will make it easier to find a lens in good condition.
If you don’t mind carrying around a boat anchor of a lens, the Nikon Nikkor 300mm f/2.8 Ai is also in the same price range.
Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E Lens
- 85mm alternative.
- Good value.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Many copies are available.
85mm focal length lenses were not as commonly used as they are today compared to when the FM2 was first released in 1982. 135mm or 100mm focal lengths were more common because they were less expensive.
Just like all of the other Series E lenses listed, the 100mm f/2.8 hits a good balance of functionality, value, and performance. It feels good to use on the Nikon FM2. That’s why the lens was favored when released and why numerous copies are readily available on the used market.
Another option is the Nikon 135mm f/2.8 AIS.
Before the introduction of autofocus, in the early 1980s, there were a small number of lenses made by third-party manufacturers that performed better than what Nikon was offering.
A large number of these top-performing lenses were released with Vivitar branding. Any zoom lens that has the Vivitar Series 1 branding on it is going to have the best optics you’ll see from a vintage zoom lens.
Unfortunately, finding copies of these lenses in good condition can be extremely difficult. Beyond that, no vintage zooms offer outstanding performance. If you see one for sale that is cheap enough, it may be worth picking up.
Vivitar Series 1 70-210mm f/3.5
- Covers a popular zoom range.
- Good for portrait or wildlife photography.
- A rare example of when a third-party lens is the best.
Optically, the performance from this lens is going to be better than any Nikon counterpart. The fit and finish is a little lack luster.
For sharp photos, just like every vintage zoom lens, you will have to stop the lens down to f/5.6. There are no intermediate stops between f/3.5 and f/5.6.
Keep that in mind, as shooting at f/5.6 will make low light photography difficult. You’ll be fine shooting outdoors during the day.
The lens is sold with mounts for other camera systems. If you decide to buy one, make sure that it is for the Nikon F mount.
Vivitar Series 1 28-90mm f/2.8-3.5
- Covers a useful zoom range.
- Great for everyday general photography.
- A rare time when a third-party lens is the better choice.
Depending on the type of photography you intend to do, this could be a more useful zoom range.
However, owning 58mm and 28mm primes will make a majority of the zoom range redundant. The primes also have better image quality, are smaller, and weigh less.
Nikon Macro Lenses
For capturing photos at macro magnification (1x), focal lengths in the 90mm-105mm range will be the best choice.
You’ll have a large enough working distance to be able to use flash, while avoiding excessive weight and high costs that come with longer focal lengths.
All of the 50 or 55mm Nikon F-mount macro lenses require the use of extension tubes to reach 1x magnification.
Vivitar 90mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
- The best vintage macro lens I've used.
- Available in multiple lens mounts.
- Incredible value.
My favorite vintage macro, the 90mm Vivitar, was made with a variety of camera mounts. Fortunately, it is not difficult to find one in a Nikon F mount to use on the FM2.
The lens is ideal for shooting macro at 1:1 magnification because you’ll get around 3 inches of working distance. The working distance being the distance from the front of the lens to where the subject is in focus.
Both of the Vivitar macros were made by Komine and were released under several different brand names. If you decide to search for one also look under the Panagor, Elicar, Quantaray, Spiratone, and Rokunar brand names.
Vivitar 55mm f/2.8 Macro Lens
- The second best vintage macro lens I've used.
- A good lens for close-up photography.
- It doesn't need an extension tube to achieve life-size magnification.
The Vivitar 55mm is an excellent choice for close-up photography. That would include copy work, nature, and tabletop photography.
There is not enough working distance to working at 1x magnification. However, an upside to that is that at 0.5x magnification you won’t have to be several feet away from the subject, like with a 90-105mm macro lens.
An earlier f/3 version of the lens exists and should be avoided. The f/2.8 version is significantly sharper.
Alternative Macro Lenses
Used Nikon Lenses
Prices change all the time depending on supply and interest in film photography and manual focus lenses.
During the last several years, film photography was going through an increase in popularity, which has pushed prices higher.
What Lens Mount Does the Nikon FM2 Use?
The Nikon FM2 uses the Nikon F lens mount. The F-mount has been in use since 1959. Over time changes have been made to add metering information, autofocus, electronic aperture control, and CPU contacts.
Use manual focus lenses listed as either Ai-S or Ai with the FM2. The meter coupling ridge on those lenses will allow the camera to meter accurately.
Do not attempt to use ’non-Ai’ lenses on the Nikon FM2 as they will cause damage. For an explanation of the differences between lenses, see the Nikon F-mount lens and camera compatibility page.
Standard Lens Cap Size
The standard lens cap and filter ring thread diameter for just about all vintage Nikon lenses is 52mm. Keep in mind, lenses with big front elements are going to need larger lens caps and filters.
Employing a standard filter thread diameter is useful because you only need to buy only one set of filters.
Non-Ai vs Ai & Ai-S Lenses
Earlier F-mount Nikon cameras had a Meter Coupling Prong. The Nikon FM2 uses a Meter Coupling Ridge.
Lenses built around the time when Nikon changed to Ai lenses can have both forms of meter coupling.
Non-Ai lenses do not have a notch cut out at the outer base of the lens mount which will damage your FM2 if you attempt to put one on the camera.