nikkor vs. series e lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by joanne_gonzalez, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. i'm planning on getting a nikon 135mm f2.8 lens. however, on KEH i see that
    there's a nikkor and a series E. is there a big difference between them? should
    i go with nikkor or the series E? thanks a lot.
  2. Hi, I think series E have a lesser reputation overall.

    What's the price difference? Do you need to save money or get a better lens? Is the series E also a 2.8 lens?

  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Series E was Nikon's "economy" line from the late 1970's to 1980's. In today's terms, those are consumer-grade lenses. I cannot comment on the specifics about the 135mm, but generally speaking, Series E lenses are not as well built compared to the Nikkor AI lenses from the same era. Optically, most Series E lenses are fine.
  4. ky2


    Some E's were single coated, and therefore flared a little more, or were not as saturated. They were also not backward compatible with pre-AI bodies. Their build level is fine (they're better built than current consumer lenses, more or less the same a pro AF lenses are built today). Optically, some E's are stunning: the 75-150E and the 100E are steals.
  5. Although the optics of the Series E lenses are, in some cases on par with the regular Nikkors, the build of the lenses isn't as good. The E Series marked the beginning of the plastic era that eventually spilled over into the pro lenses.

    The E series 75-150mm zoom received especially high marks as does the 100mm and the 50mm f1.8. But they aren't as durable.
  6. The build quality was not nearly what you might expect from a regular Nikkor - more plastic parts as opposed to metal.
  7. Regarding the series-E 135/2.8, it is a good lens but I would pay a little more for the AI or AIS version. They are more solid to handle, a shade sharper, and they focus closer - 1.3m (4ft) compared to 1.5m (5ft). That extra foot at close range is suprisingly useful.

    The only reason I would go for the series-E lens is if you are on a very tight budget, or want a smal light lens for travel and hiking. Even then, the diffence is not great - I'd go for an AI or AIS lens.
  8. Series E lenses were one of Nikon's early ventures into the low-end consumer market. The build quality and (some suspect) the optical quality was compromised too much to endure. The only E lens with current standing is the 50/1.8, which has a cult following in these pages. Series E lenses, like the ill-fated Nikorex F and the Nash Rambler are models the manufacturer would like to forget.
  9. Interestingly enough the series E lenses were probably built to a higher standard than any of the consumer grade Nikkors today.

    I own none of the series E lenses but was around when they were available new - the finish & weights were well below the Nikkor line. However - some of them have acheived legendary status which would have surprised me years ago but not now.

    For the prices of 135 f/2.8 nikkors I would simply get the better of the two - that being the nikkor - may want to consider a 105 f/2.5 instead as it's a great performer & is hard to beat value wise.

    Good luck & have fun
  10. I forgot the reference to add:

    75-150 mm f/3.5 Nikon Series E Zoom is very well regarded by a lot of people.
  11. "Some E's were single coated ..." -- Yaron Kidron

    According to "Eyes of Nikon", all of the Series E lenses except the 50/1.8 and 100/2.8 had full NIC multi-coatings. At least this was the status for the later "chrome ring" Series E line.

    Having said that, 135/2.8's are dirt cheap today, and if it were me I would go for the Nikkor for the better build. It's also slightly different optically, with a 5/4 design versus the simpler 4/4 design in the Series E.

    And indeed the 75~150/3.5 is a very nice lens indeed, with an "E"conomy build quality that would put to shame just about every manufacturer's (including Nikon's) current economy consumer zooms.
  12. ky2


    "...except the 50/1.8 and 100/2.8 had full NIC multi-coatings"

    Which happen to be some of the best E's ever... go figure marketing ;)
  13. The E lenses were a major effort at cost cutting, but Nikon did a good job with them. People have resisted the change to plastic and lighter weight, but optically the series E lenses I've used were very good. I'd go with whichever lens is in better condition and has the cleaner glass. I'd take a series E that was pristine over any earlier lens that was in poorer condition. OTOH, I'd take a mid vintage AiS in excellent condition at any reasonable price. Though they have a passionate following, I never buy the early Ai lenses, only the AiS with rear cutout and orange f/22 or f/32. Some of the Ai lenses are a bit too heavy duty for me!
  14. Unless you are a working pro and need durability, you'll be just fine
    with the Series E lenses. Nuff said.
  15. Hey, I don't think you need to pay much more for 2nd handed AI/AIS than the E series, so for durability and assurance of optical performance (E are nice, but I am not sure about the 135), get the AI/AIS. I also suggest you try couple them to your main camera body to feel the balance.
  16. I would definately go NIKKOR A1/A1s every time as they a generally much better build quality and the definition and contrast of the lenses are better. They can also be picked up reasonable cheaply now, I picked up a Nikkor 135mm F2 the other day for the princely sum of $140 and its a great lens on both my F2 and Digicam....!!
  17. The 35/2.5 Series E, at least in non-chrome ring form, is certainly single-coated. It's also an excellent lens, quite sharp, although of lower contrast and more prone to flare than the 35/2.8 AI.

    I'm quite fond of my Series E lenses, and currently own the 35 and 100 in non-ring form and the 50 in chrome ring form. Build quality is on par with the better AF primes of similar length. Optically they're excellent, as Nikon chose to cost-cut on build and coatings rather than optics, although they tend to be simple designs.

    They can have a prong added for Pre-AI meter coupling (just like non-G AF lenses can have the prong added).
  18. "The 35/2.5 Series E, at least in non-chrome ring form, is certainly single-coated." -- Adam Maas
    Adam -- That may very well have been true for all of the earlier non-chrome ring primes (the zooms were always NIC to the best of my knowledge). It's possible that when Nikon upgraded the E line to the chrome ring versions, the 28mm and 35mm wide angle primes also got a coating upgrade. It may only be "marketing hype", but in "Eyes of Nikon" (1985), NIC multi-coating is explicitly listed in the descriptions for all except the 50/1.8 and 100/2.8.
    I also have a couple of Series E brochures from that era. The 1981 brochure that covers the original five Series E lenses (28/2.8, 35/2.5, 50/1.8, 100/2.8, 75~150/3.5) makes no mention whatsoever about coatings (don't highlight what isn't there?). A later brochure for the full "chrome-ring" line (8 lenses) reads "Nikon Integrated Coating ... is applied to most of the Series E lenses ..." Again, the 50/1.8 and 100/2.8 are notable in that there is no mention of NIC, but for all the other E lenses, NIC is explicitly included in their individual descriptions within the brochure (these old Nikon brochures always make for interesting and enjoyable reading :)).
    Nevertheless, for inexpensive lenses, they were quite good in their day, and can hold their own against any cheap zoom built today - the 50/1.8E design continues today as the (SIC multi-coated) AF 50/1.8D. I've never used the primes, but do own the 75~150/3.5, which is a fun lens to use and always delivers pleasing results to my eye.
  19. Nikon glass is Nikon glass is Nikon glass. I'd shoot with a Nikon Series E lens before any third party lens, period.

    I've shot numerous photos with my Nikon 50mm AIS f1.8 Series E lens and had great results. On average, nobody will ever tell the difference. In high contrast scenes with glare, the Nikkor lens may fare slightly better because of multicoating, but even then, I dare anyone to prove that the Series E optics are inferior enough to show an obvious difference in quality. And don't point me to some test site, I want real images.

  20. Something to consider: has BRAND NEW 135mm series E lenses in
    stock now at a price of $169.95. Apparently (reading a post on another forum) these are the
    last of some unsold stock from Nikon. As some others have pointed out, a well cared for
    Series E might be a better buy than a worn Nikkor... and you can't get any better condition
    than brand new.
  21. I find it interesting to read the various opinions (positive and negative) about the Series E lenses. Clearly some people had a bad experience with them. All I can say is that my 50mm f/1.8E and 100mm f/2.8E have served me very well. (The 100mm lens in particular is very sharp and lightweight, great for portraits.)
  22. "Me too" - the 75-150 has impressed me and was very cheap for its performance when bought second-hand. One comment about use of plastics; I had understood that the mechanisms in the E lenses were all metal and it was just the outside casings that were polymer-based (polymer sounds better than plastic, no?). Can anyone offer any more info on this?
  23. As for the 135mm...I don't really know. I think for the price the Nikkor just has a better feel to it.

    I have only 1 Series E lens, the 75-150/3.5. That thing indeed has a very nice look. The boke is often more interesting--even if not quite as smooth as the 105/2.5 AIS--and it is very crisp, especially stopped down a bit.

    If the zoom ring did not work loose and if the front element did not rotate on focus, it would be fabulous. It's too bad they never made a 75-150/3.5 Nikkor to replace it and remedy those issues.

    If the money is particularly important, get the Series E. If the difference isn't major and you can get a good condition Nikkor, I'd go that direction. The other interesting possibility would be a new Series E as someone else mentioned.

    I think either would be fine though...very very few of the Series E lenses were optical dogs.
  24. well i own 3 series e lenses 50,100,and 80-210.i love all 3 very much and the 100 and 80-210 i use the most uver any other lenses (even though the zoom is very heavy by todays standard but i cant smack it and break it as easily .these lenses are very high quality buildsthough the zoom by nikkor today standards is slow .i would use one first if possible and then u can determine on your own which you prefer.good luck.
  25. The 75~150/3.5 is my idea of what a zoom lens should be - compact, fast, sharp, great range and inexpensive. I learned about it from a number of Nikon lens review sites. It is now my favorite lens for portraits and street shooting, and often for landscapes. Recently I got another mint one for back up from eBay for $50.

    There are two vesions, and the one with chrome ring is better. The lens is not as sturdy as the primes, but at this price who cares. The zoom is loose and creeps. I had my first one "tightened" by a camera shop. For the second one, I followed the DIY tip offered by someone at Thom's site. The lens is not AF, but I shoot manually anyway.

    Now if only there is a comparable 24-75/3.5 or similar one to match it, I'll be all set.
  26. ...i see that there's a nikkor and a series E. is there a big difference between them?
    I have Nikon's own literature from the 1980s, and can directly compare the optical layout of both lenses. The formulas are very similar, but the true Nikkor uses a more complex third / fourth element(s) set up with a cemented pair, while the Series E has a single element that closely matches that shape. Whether or not this would result in a difference that actually shows up on film would be hard to say.
    I'll post a quick scan to show the internal and external views of both lenses.
    FWIW, I don't know if you are married to the 135mm focal length, but like some of the others, I have the 75-150mm f/3.5 Series E lens and find it to be terrific. It is like a flexible 100mm or so lens with better framing options than a single focal length. Several of the photos in my folder (click on my name to access the photos) were amde with the 75-150mm zoom. You can check the data to confirm which lens was used.

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