Nikon Nikkor 43-86

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Donald Harpold, Jul 5, 2021.

  1. Hello All you Nikon fans
    I have, over the last couple of months, purchased some Nikon cameras and lens at yard/garage sales and was hoping you could give me some insight into the lenses, most came with the 50mm 1.4 which I would think is pretty much a standard for Nikon and a good lens, I did get a loose 28mm f2 lens and one of the cameras came with a 43-86 zoom with the text on the outside of the barrel.

    I read that this 43-86 is one of the ten worst Nikon lenses, but there are two different the later with the text on the outer lens barrel which is better, as I plan to get rid of of a couple of the cameras I was wondering if the 43-86 is worth keeping.

    I am planning to keep the 28 and probably one complete camera with a 50


    the cameras are two F's and one FE the two F's have the metered prisms one of which needs service.
  2. m42dave

    m42dave Dave E.


    I'm not a Nikon owner, but in the past have tried the later 43-86 AI version (sounds like the one you have) and thought it was a good lens. It's a different design than the earlier 1960s version which Ken Rockwell talks about on his site, if that's what you were reading.

    They aren't worth a great deal used, so it might be worth giving it a try. You might find it useful paired with the 28mm. One limitation of the 43-86 is its relatively long minimum focusing distance of about 4 ft.

    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
  3. Might as well keep it since they don't generally bring a lot on the used market. Useful as a walking around lens. I regret selling mine a few years back, but I do like the Tamron Adaptall 35-80 that I replaced it with.
  4. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I have both the old version, used extensively in film days, and the last version acquired for a pittance recently. I never found the old version to be bad, and found the new version to be quite good on quality FX Nikons. Ignore the bad press and give the new one a work out. I think you will be pleasantly surprised when using it in good light.
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2021
  5. Thanks All
    I was planning to run some film through all of them and decide which to keep
    I appreciate the responses
  6. There were some advances in the 43-86mm over time, but its utility was primarily its convenience as a sort of universal lens (modest wide angle to modest telephoto).
    It was handy and the optical quality was better than it got credit for.
  7. Used Nikon zoom lenses go for pretty low prices.

    I do remember the AI 43-86, as I thought a little about buying it 42 years ago,
    but bought the AI 35/2.0 instead.

    A few years ago, I got an AI 80-200 for $12, which might be representative
    of the prices for some other lenses.
  8. My parents were pros with their own little b/w commercial studio. Back in the early 1960s when my memories of the biz begin, nearly everything "important" was shot on 4x5. For stuff that was going to be used VERY small, like catalog shots, sometimes a medium format negative from a succession of Mamiya TLRs we had was "acceptable". The only 35mm camera we had then was a Stereo Realist from the fifties used for personal shots, like kids and vacations.

    But the Nikon system called to us. We started with a Nikkorex F in 1963, and soon moved on to Nikkormats and Nikons. I think the (pre-AI) 43-86 was the third Nikkor lens we got after the 50/2 and 28/3.5. But it was quickly consigned to use only for family slides, because while it was indeed convenient to have a semi-wide to semi-long in a single package, it just wasn't critically sharp at any focal length.

    Postscript: I still shoot with our old F2s, mostly with the 35/2, 45/2.8 GN (so small and light!), and 105/2.5 lenses. But I had no desire to ever use the 43-86 again. When my dad, who'd been a photographer since the 1930s, died in 2011, we had a long-broken Nikkormat FTn with the 43-86 mounted placed in his coffin. It just seemed appropriate for him to have a camera at his side.
  9. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    I have taken quite a lot of photos in the last year with both the old and newest versions of the 43-86. The old version is adequate, the newest version quite decent. People who have viewed the photos agree at least in respect to the late model, and are surprised with the quality of results from the much reviled first model.. A different experience.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021
  10. That was my first Nikon lens, and I loved it.
    Maybe ignorance is bliss, but to me it was a GREAT lens.
    The only time it sucked was shooting gym games. f/3.5 STUNK, compared to f/1.4 when you only have film, with a pushed MAX ASA/ISO of 1200.​
    I did replace it with the version 2, but I still have my original version 1 lens.

    For me, for convenience, the only thing better than the 43-80 was the 35-105.
  11. As above, my first Nikon lens is (I still have it) the AI 35/2.0.

    Not so many years later, though, I got the AI 35-70/3.3-4.5, which I used for many family shots, mostly color negatives.

    My wife-to-be had an FM before we met, so we had two cameras wherever we went together.
    After not so long, it was negative film in hers, and slide film in mine.
    (Mine is black, so easy to tell them apart.)

    Nothing against the 43-86, but I think I like the 35-70 range better.
    Gary Naka likes this.

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