Additional Information on
Nikon AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s and AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D Ultra-Wideangle Lenses

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Background & a quick reference on Version History Probably the first Nikkor 20mm ultra wideangle lens by Nikon which was designed specifically for reflex photography was a Non-Ai 11 elements in 9 groups 20mm f/3.5 UD Auto lens introduced back in 1967. Nikon did had a rangefinder 2.1cm f/4-16 Nikkor-O which was released as early as 1959 and was sold even after the reflex version was made available to Nikon photographers, the RF ultrawide was eventually being discontinued in 1967. The RF lens Nikkor-O 21mm f/4.0 was used as the basis as a reflex ultrawideangle lens when Nikon turned to reflex design with Nikon F in 1959. During the Pre-Ai era, the Nikkor 20mm f/4.0* introduced of 1974 actually has a slower maximum lens speed than the earlier 20mm/f3.5 UD lens. The said Nikkor 20mm f/4.0 was updated as an Ai Nikkor spec in 1977/8. But during the general lens updating process, Nikon had also released in an all new version of a Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 where the same lens was eventually being updated as an Ai-S 20mm f/3.5 in 1981. The first radical change of the 20mm was occurred in in 1984 where the classic Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s was introduced. However, Nikkor 20mm with a fast lens speed of f/2.8 was already shown to the public where a prototype Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 was shown in Photokina, 1976 which the f/2.8 lens has a dimension almost identical with the pin-size 20mm f/3.5 mentioned earlier. The immensely popular Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s which has served to service Nikon photographers worldwide for so many years was eventually saw it was being replaced with the debut of the autofocus equivalent of AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 in 1989. * A Nikon story behind the decision of why the newer/slower 20mm f/4 has a slower lens speed from the earlier/faster 20mm f/3.5UD.
RF Nikkor 21mm f/4.0 Manual focus Nikkor 20mm f/3.5UD ultrawide Manual focus Nikkor 20mm f/4.0 non aiultrawide Manual focus Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 Ai ultrawide Manual focus Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawide

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Nikon's AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s ultra-wideangle lens
Marketed 02.1989; Discontinued: 1994

With the migration from Manual focus to autofocus in 1986, the evergreen manual focus Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s ultrawideangle lens, easily being regarded as one of the most affordable Nikon classic wideangle lens was re-introduced in a typical autofocus outfit in 1989. Fortunately, the weak presentation of the first generation of the AF-Nikkor lenses was less apparent in this update as the early feedback from Nikon photographers had forced Nikon to improve the overall physical built quality of all the AF-Nikkor lenses introduced during the late '80.

autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens
So, it means to say the late introduction of the AF Nikkor has skipped the weak presentation found in the many first generation of AF Nikkor lenses and was given a much better finishing and overall appearance. Nonetheless, although whatever the exterior it may be, this has nothing related to the top class optical quality it is capable to delivering. For those who envy the classic manual focus 20mm f/2.8s lens, the AF 20mm f/2.8s was simply a direct migration from MF to autofocus ultrawide because its optical formula and optical performance was virtually identical with the MF version.

As during the early days of Nikon AF evolution, development for AF Nikkor lenses was at a very slow pace. I guess Nikon had bought some time with the
AF-Converter TC-16 to enable Nikon photographers to "transform" manual focus Nikkor lenses into a lens with autofocus capability. Partly, I guess Nikon could have also began to realize Canon's new approach of a EOS/USM technologies had mirrored some apparent weaknesses in their own autofocus architecture and they were trying to find a solution which actually had halt the progress in lens development during that stage. But whatever it is, when the fourth generation professional Nikon F4(s) was introduced in 1988, there was an immediate need to speed up on new AF Nikkor lenses again so as to make the Nikon F4 more appealing to professionals.

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Shutterblade team' (e-mail)who specializes trading of new, used collectable cameras. The Company also operates a popular Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

Unlike manual focus lenses, in particularly with telephoto, autofocus has made life so much more easier for photographers to capture pin-sharp action pictures; ultra-wideangle lenses category with an autofocus feature may NOT necessarily provides an absolute advantage especially when dealing with dimly lit environment or shooting low contrast subject. The old ways of using depth of field can be even more effective and more responsive instead of waiting for the autofocus at times to hunt for focus. I think most of us would agree many of the manual focus Nikkor lenses are extremely well made as well as add to the fact they have excellent lens handling. The ruggedness of many of the MF Nikkor lenses can be quite a desirable element commercially for Nikon due to their long lasting properties as users seldom changed their usable lenses simply just because it now provides an autofocusing feature. For an instance, I am still using my trusty, old Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s which has survived my last 20 years of personal photography and it is still working well. So, from the perspective of commercial return, making good and ultra-durable lenses is not a good idea at all for Nikon. Sometimes it just makes me think was it a basis why modern lenses are being designed and made this way ? Imagine if all lenses you have purchased can be easily lasted 20 years, it is certainly not a healthy sign at all for the creator huh? haha.

A beautiful portrait taken by Shyan from Taiwan
A very creative use of a 20mm ultrawide for portraiture.

Credit: Image courtesy of Shyan from Taiwan, whose online PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

My first experience with the AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s was back in 1992. Probably because I was still having the my "old flame" for my Nikon, despite the fact it was an improved version from the original version that went on sale in 1989, I remembered I was still didn't quite like the oevrall feel of the lens on my first impression. As compared to the MF Nikkor lenses, the aperture ring was rather fragile (if I can provide a feedback, the older design of Nikkor lesnes projects a more rigid and quality feel), I guess it misses the positive, solid clicks when it turns the ring. I had my reservation too with the stupid adoption of material used on the aperture ring too. I do understand it was primarily designed as an autofocus lens and inevitably the manual focusing ring had to be narrower as it is a secondary feature but it lacks a quality feel as compared to the Manual Focus Version. Well, I may have some complaint here and there, but it does changed my initial perception later because it works extremely well and smoothly with my autofocus Nikon F5 but all of a sudden, I have realized autofocus had change the course of photography and the sheer convenience it provides may make you very forgiving in minor details (If you can't understand, it is very similar to shoot digital from film). I guess more importantly as I have a long experience with my MF 20mm and I find the optical performance of this ultrawide was equally superb. The AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s has retained the floating lens elements design which enables one of the favorite application of this ultra-wideangle i.e. by combining close-focus / wide perspective such a pleasant experience. The autofocus may even possibly add to a new scope of possibilities such as shooting at ground zero level without the need to focus via use of F5's opened prism. Well, as individual shooting habit can be very different, what I had tried may not be as desirable to use for others but it simply illustrates a new possibility, that is all. But bottom line remains, optically this autofocus Nikkor ultrawide still delivers what it does best - image quality. If you are happy with the MF classic, there is not reason why you don't with this AF lens. Technically, as distortion is inevitable for ultrawide lens especially when you tilt. Although this can be useful at times to emphasize perspective but for those who dislikes this nature, a basic trick to equalize this issue is to make your subject perpendicular to the focal plane. However, it is not a rule of thumb because all I can throw you with an idea is, creative application of its optical characteristic can often yield surprising visual to excite a few eyes.

autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens front view autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens rear section view
You can safely regard all AF Nikkor lenses are native Ai-S which provides excellent backward compatibility with older Nikon Ai-based SLR models.

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Shutterblade's Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005.
Although unlikely, but for old time photographers who may be still waiting for a shift from MF to AF, the familiar feel of a famed Nikon style still intact and every segment for taking pictures with your AF Nikon camera with this ultrawideangle couldn't be easier. Simply because it was designed as an autofocus lens from scratch where priority is set for such purpose, the secondary manual focusing ring is narrower than the manual focus counterpart. When you intend to switch from autofocus to manual focusing, just simply slide the a tiny switch located just under the lens data. As from Nikon FG and Nikon FA onwards, virtually all multi-modes Nikon on PROGRAM AE and SHUTTER PRIORITY AE require to set the aperture ring to its minimum aperture. The Minimum aperture lock, other than setting the minimum aperture, doubles to provide accidental switch by users. Replacing the space saved fro MF focusing ring is a fairly wide plastic distance window which provides distance information (white figures for metres, yellow for feet and marked 0.85, 1, 1.25, 1.5, 2, 3, 5, and an infinity symbol (OO). The aperture ring which I have made so much of a fuss earlier has its minimum aperture marked in orange. Similarly, the smaller scales for the ADR (Aperture Direct Reading) is for certain Nikon SLRs that still adopting such a feature where it projects the selected relative scale readable optically through the viewfinder. The rear lens mount of the lens is a metal piece and incorporates all the encodes and levers where a typical Ai-S lens to feed essential basic lens data as part of exposure calculation. It has an array of 5 contact pins, also serves similar purpose. I like the use of the rugged metal real lens mount, I notice many of the newer series of budget AF Nikkor are following Canon's way to reduce cost for mass market appeal.

ake Lac Croix, Minnesota Boundry Waters by RK Foxman
Lake Lac Croix, Minnesota Boundry Waters ...

Credit: Image courtesy of Roman FOXMAN, whose online PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

At the front, Nikon has redesigned with a built-in bayonet fitting that accept an optional HB-4 lens hood. I remember I did bought a metal lens hood for the older MF 20mm f/2.8s but seldom uses it as proper storage is an issue and in practice, the wide hood offers little shield for front or side light projection onto the front lens element. Overall, I still think this is a great wideangle lens; it combines a low light performing f/2.8 aperture which enables available light photography. As compared to some of the high performance ultrawideangle Nikkor zoom lenses, this AF 20mm lens is very portable/affordable package for mobility and to serve the financially incapable. Most of all, it delivers a top quality image resolution (don't try to knock me off with MTFs readings or other conclusive technical analysis as I am not a slave to those figures and graphs). I like it as it is my personal conclusion and I don't have to please anyone on the web not the Company, where if ever I find one good stuff in a Nikon, I praise, or otherwise, I will present my own experience as a consumer). The lens is fully compatible with a long list of Nikon SLR camera across the MF/AF, film or digital bodies (Sadly, only the high end Nikon digital SLR cameras offer a better compatibility). The filter attachment size of this 20mm ultrawideangle lens uses 62mm which makes the owner be able to access to a wide range of popular (and cheap) filter accessories in the market. Lastly, if your Nikon is not a 3D Matrix powered Nikon model, the trading price of this lens at the used market makes this lens most appealing to those who may not be able to afford one of those luxurious high performance Nikkor ultrawide zooms. But if you do own a Nikon SLR camera that offers 3D Matrix Metering and/or planning to purchase a Nikon Digital SLR in the near future, you should always put priority on the AF-D version that features on the next chapter.

autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens element reflection autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens front lens view autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens side view

Credit: Image courtesy of Jeff@photocreative ® where Jeff's Company PHOTO CREATIVE INC> has a very popular EBAY STORE on its own. Tel: (905) 629-0100 Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

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Technical Specifications for AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s ultra-wideangle lens:-

Type of lense: Autofocus Nikkor fixed focal lens with built-in CPU and Nikon bayonet mount
Focal length: 20mm
Maximum aperture: f/2.8; Minimum Aperture: f/22
Lens construction: 12 elements in 9 groups with CRC floating lens elements for close focusing
Picture angle: 94°
Picture angle with Nikon DX Format digital SLR cameras: 35mm (135) format equivalent to 30mm.

autofocus AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 Ai-S ultrawideangle lens setup
Distance scale: Graduated in meters and feet/inches from 0.26m (11.5") to infinity (OO)
Distance information: nil; Manual focus possible
Reproduction ratio: 1:8.3 maximum

<<<--- To differentiate IF your AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 is a D-type with distance relaying chipset, is to see if the lens data has a "D" behind the f/2.8. i.e. it should marked as 1:2.8D for the newer series.

Credit: Image(s) courtesy of 'Shutterblade's Ebay Store. All image(s) appeared herein are Copyright © 2005.

Aperture scale: f/2.8 to f/22 on both standard and aperture-direct-readout scales
Minimum aperture lock: Provided
Depth of Field Scales: provided for f/5.6 and f/11 only
Diaphragm: Fully automatic, 7 blades; Lens Coating: NIC (Nikon Integrated Coating)
Exposure measurement: Via full-aperture method for Ai cameras or cameras with CPU interface system
Mount: Nikon bayonet mount; Attachment size: 62mm (P=0.75mm)
Standard accessories: 62mm Snap-On front lens cap; Rear lens cap LF-1; Hard lens case: the newer CL-30S Usable (Optional)
Optional Accessories: 62mm screw-in filters, Screw-in lens hood HB-4 (optional)
Dimensions: Approx. 69mm (2.7") dia. x 54mm (2.1")
Weight: Approx. 260g (9 oz.)

Usable Tele-Converters: - Nil (Nikon not advised and meaningless to do so).

NOTE: Production Serial Numbers believed to have started from 200001 for this AF Nikkor wideangle lense < 202526 - 269471 > - Roland Vinks's data -

Nikon AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s Ultra-wideangle lens setup
| NEXT | The next upgrade, Nikon AF-Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D Ultra-wideangle lens with distance information relaying chips

Version History: | Nikon 2.1 cm f/4~f/16 Nikkor-O | MF Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 UD Auto | MF Nikkor 20mm f/4.0 | MF Nikkor 20mm f/3.5 non-Ai/Ai | prototype Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 | MF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s | AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8s | AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D | AF RS-UW Nikkor 20-.35mm f/2.8s | Relative: Canon equivalent of the Autofocus EF 20mm f/2.8 USM Ultra-wideangle lens

Some suggestive reading reference of this 20mm wideanle lens on the web (External Links): Ken Rockwell's one-page summary; Ebay Search on prices of used AF 20mm f/2.8 Tom Hogan's post at; Nikon Imaging brief summary

PINE.. at the wilderness by  Marc J. Bloostein
Lone pine tree at the wilderness ... use it cleverly, a 20mm wideangle projects space and dimension.

Credit: Image courtesy of Marc J. Bloostein, whose online PORTFOLIO can be accessed at PBase. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

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Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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