32 comments on “Nikon’s Series-E Lenses Compared

  1. Nice review man! I like your style of review. 🙂

    I was bought this lens, and sold my 75-150 F3.5 series E, sold my AF Tamron 70-300..

    I also was try many zoom for nikon lens :
    the series 1 Vivitar 70-210 f2.8-4, sigma 70-300, nikon af-d 70-300 f4-5.6, af-s 80-200 f2.8 VR,

    And This 70-210 F4 is More SHARP, more CONTRAST, more GREAT build, more SMOOTH bokeh, than the cheap and slower Nikon af 70-300 f4-5.6, Tamron 70-300, sigma 70-300…

    And this lens is “as SHARP as” and much LIGHTWEIGHT than the Hulkier AF-S 70-200 F2.8, with just 1 f-stop different.

    And GREATER than the faster Vivitar series 1

    The more I like than my 75-150 f3.5 is :
    -Macro function at 70mm.
    -more vivid color reproduction that my 75-150.
    -More zoomable.
    – Anything is GREAT & MIRACLE! For just $120-$170 price

    • Many thanks Patrick, glad you liked them. And all good points you mention in the 70-210’s favor. It really is a fantastic lens by any standard. 🙂

  2. I used to have the 35, 50 and 100 series E lenses for film use. I bought an Nikon FM new in 1980 and it came with the 50. I was so impressed that I bought the other two and even later when I could afford an F3 and AIS lenses, I never replaced the 35, 50 and 100. There was no need to, they were (and are) every bit as good as the more expensive and faster Nikkors.

    • I agree with you mostly there. The Series-E lenses are quite high-performing lenses–at least on APS-C. Don’t have a full-frame digital body to try them on, nor do I know how to objectively judge detail on 35mm film (if I processed it! haha). That said, optical formulas between the lenses are at least similar, if not the same. Only real differences are build quality and flare control, with the AI-s Nikkors generally excelling more in both over the Series-E’s. There are a few times I go out and miss that 100mm f/2.8…don’t bring back the tears, Andrew. XD

  3. Thanks for this great write up, exactly what I was looking for. Looks like a great little set of lenses w/ some really great bargains in there too.

    • Hey there Andrew, glad the post helped! The adapter type you are looking for is Nikon F to Sony E. Many companies manufacture an adapter type of their own, but if you’re using just AI-s/manual focus lenses, look for a “dummy” adapter that doesn’t have any electronic contacts with the camera.

      I used to use the Fotodiox PRO adapter, for a solid 4 years in fact. Just picked up a Fotodiox DLX adapter and it’s even compatible with the “G” type lenses of today (if I ever need to mount them). The better parts of this adapter though, the tripod mount is a lot more secure, and the adapter itself has much less play/wiggle between the lens/adapter and adapter/camera.

  4. Merci pour cet analyse. Mise à part le 75-150 et le 35mm, je les possède tous et j’ai beaucoup de plaisir à faire des photos avec le 50mm ainsi que le 100.
    J’utilisais un Nikon FA en argentique et maintenant un NEX6 avec un adaptateur.

  5. Hi Matthew.
    This is a really fab review and is a great help to me. I inherited a Nikon EM at Christmas and was hoping to hunt down some more lenses that would be compatible and know the Nikon E series lenses should be compatible.
    I am looking forward to learning more about my new camera and trying out different techniques and lenses!
    Kind regards,

  6. This is great – thanks Matthew.

    I use the 50mm, 100mm, 70-150mm and 70-210mm on MFT cameras. All the first 3 together in a bag for less weight than any comparable zoom with reasonable quality – and for the price – cheaper x 5-20 than buying a current panasonic/olympus M4/3 equivalent with apertures of similar size (1.8 to 4.0).

    I agree the 70-210 is great – but it gets left behind because of its weight. Afterall – the aim of MFT photography is to go light and compact !

    Flare control means lens hoods at all times – and on a M4/3 body remember this means hoods twice as long as you expect for the 35mm “full frame” equivalent. So a 28mm lens needs a standard hood suitable for a 50-55mm full frame lens. A 50mm lens needs a telephoto hood suitable for a 100mm full frame lens. To manage this I have bought a set of rubber lens hoods – the ones that can fold out in 3 steps and cost only GBP £1/1.20 Euro from online shops. Each lens has one on at all times – enabliing the usual lens cap to be used and giving a ring of soft protection in the camera bag as a bonus!

    That just leaves what to do for a 400mm equivalent for M4/3 – because we agree to 70-210 is too heavy. So my suggestion is to switch loyalties and look for either the Olympus 200mm F5 or the Pentax SMC 200mm f4. Both are light and compact and have good optics. Both are well built so have stood up to 30 years of use before you buy them on ebay. Furthermore these lenses (Nikon Es, Olympus 200mm F5, Pentax 200mm f4) were all “amateur lenses” so mostly had sparing use – so are both relatively inexpensive and are often spotless desite their age on ebay. Not so the “professional quality” Nikkor 105mms, Pentax 200mm f2.8s, Olympus 200mm F4s etc on ebay that seem all to have been used by war correspondents!

    For those who worry that f5 is too small for a 200mm (400mm equivalent) remember why expensive fast lenses were sold in the 1970s-90s. Firstly – film was noisy (grainy) and lacked resolution after 400 ASA for colour negative and 100ASA for slides. Nowadays we all use 200-800ASA without a worry. Secondly, pentaprisms and mirrors sucked up light – and manual focus needed light for you to see the microprism. F5 lenses were DARK in the viewfinder. Now MFTs have electronic viewfinders – even F8 mirror lenses look as bright as F1.4 50mm’s when you compose and focus. Lastly – thoses expensive legacy f2.8 telephotos and zooms usually perform badly wide open. For the best image quality you will still be stopping down to F4.5 – F8. So in reality with a crop-format camera buying “amateur” “slow” lenses gets you kit that is less worn, smaller, lighter and cheaper — what’s not to like?

    What’s not to like?…..well – its just the matter of camera shake with telephotos in low light when even 800ASA won’t help. My solution with any portrait is to pop up the flash and use this to fill in. This gives central sharpness and contrast – and if the lens shake blurs the backgroud – well that’s creative photography for you !

    So – when “experts” tell you to buy fast, expensive, heavy lenses – just think again

    best wishes to you all – Paul C in the UK

  7. Nikon 28 mm f2.8 Series E
    Nikon 50 mm F1.8 Series E
    Nikon 135mm f2.8 Series E
    Nikon Series E 100mm F2.8 Ai-S Telephoto Lens

    What a wonderful review and I concur with you. The weakest of the bunch seems to be the 36-72 F3.5 but it’s not horrible. It’s not much on close focusing, but it is fun to shoot with.

    My favs are the 50, 75-150 and the 28.

    Next year, I’m hoping to shoot more with all of them.

    Merry Christmas!

    • Thanks for sharing! And yes, in the right hands, any of the lenses can make some good shots, I was fine with the 36-72 on occasion. I still have and shoot with the 50, and it has yet to let me down!

  8. I just recently started investing into classic prime lenses and i stumbled over your reviews. Your enthusiasm is certainly contagious! It makes me want to try these E-Series lenses myself.

    I have a question however. I already have a good 50mm prime but it seems that for my shooting style i’m often “too short”.

    I was thinking either about the E-Series 100mm or the 75-150. However i’m afraid that the 100mm might be to big of a step above 50mm. On the other hand I could imagine never going above 100mm with the 75-150 which would basically negate the heavy weight of it.

    In you subjective opinion, do you think a 100mm prime is in the end less flexible but more usable than a 75-150?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hey there matrigs! Glad you are getting into the classic lenses. The 100mm will provide a field of view about doubly-close than your 50mm. On APS-c, it’s pretty telephoto, but still reasonably wide on full-frame. I would recommend the 100mm Series-E if only for the reason that it’s compact and fast, with good optical quality. I had no real issues with the 75-150, but it obviously doesn’t have the same feel as a prime lens. You could always get both and try them out, because who knows, you may enjoy both for different uses!

  9. What to do for a “fast standard” lens with full manual control on a micro 4/3?

    As Matthew said – the old 28mm F2.8 “amateur” lenses are a problem on crop-factor cameras: the F2.8 depth of field becomes more like that of a F5.6 on a micro 4/3. Speed is slow at F2.8 – 3.5. Furthermore the typical 14-42mm “kit lenses” from Panasonic and Olympus are all great for image quality, so you have little to gain using one.

    So where to look for a “Fast standard?” manual focus lens?

    Well I stumbled onto the Meike brand 25mm F1.8 that comes with a native M4/3 mount. It had a recent price drop below £40 / $50 on auction sites at the start of 2019 – so I bought one on spec’. It turns out to be great; fully meatal construction, with 9 aperture blades its Bokeh is good (and you will be using it wide open I am sure); sharpness eis excellent centrally at F1.8 and good across the frame by F4-F5.6. Colour and contrast is good, and with a 50mm length lens hood – flare control is also fine. My only disklie – they have no click-stop for aperture.

    So – while its “off subject” for the Nikon-E topic – these Chinese “generic” lenses do fill in the missing gap at budget prices. I do have the excellent Lumix 25mm AF – but sometimes full manual control delivers better creative images.

    Best wishes to you all – Paul C

    • I agree, Paul. These Chinese-brand lenses have come a long way in recent years. My Laowa 15mm and 105mm are great examples of what they are capable of nowadays for a decent price.

  10. I own 50mm and 35mm. Personally, I can say that the review is matching my experience with them.

    “Size Vs. General Performance” is the winning point for me. 35mm got this really close focus distance is also nice for me. I’d like all my wide angle to be super close focus distance! I consider it is a pool choice not to have a close focus distance when having a wide angle lens.

    I sold a 35mm Samyang F1.4 in compare with the 35mm E.
    Reasons are: size & weight. performance from F4 at equivalent F-stop are quite oki for me between those two.
    Do not get me wrong. the Samyang was a better lens optically, but it des not suit me due to the weight and size.

    The 50mm, oh man, this one is a must have.
    I have 50mm 1.8 G as well. Beside the closest focus distance, I can not fault a thing compared with the modern G. And the size, it is so small that I actually have it all the time in my pocket or bag if I carry some other lens out shooting. very easy to be kept by my side. Which also means a lot of photo taken using it. Very practical.

    This 50mm reminds me a lot of my dad’s Voigtlander 40mm as well. Size, focus feelings and so on.

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