Additional Information on
Manual Focus Nikkor Zoom 43-86mm f/3.5 Auto lense - Part I

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43-86mm f/3.5 Zoom-Nikkor Auto

Introduced in 1963 - it was Nikon third zoom lense and a work of genius from Japanese optical designer,
HIGUCHI, Takashi who also has a hand in designing other zoom lenses such as Zoom-Nikkor 85-25cm f/4~4.5 Auto and Zoom-Nikkor 20-60cm f/9.5~10.5 Auto. Although many Nikon followers thought the lens used on the Nikkorex should ranked earlier but since the Vario-Nikkor is a fixed (non-interchangeable) lens type specifically designed on the Nikkorex Zoom 35, we have to exclude it from the interchangeable Nikkor lens series. Anyway, for quite a long spell, the Nikkor 43-86mm zoom used to be Nikon's best seller and has gone through a few rounds of upgrades, both physically and optically. It was also one of the longest serving Nikkor lense which stretched almost 18 years in its entire product cycle which ended in 1981.

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This relatively compact lens, comprised of a 9 elements in 7 groups design in the original version, is capable of zooming continuously from semi-wideangle (43mm) through normal to semi telephoto (86mm). Focusing, though possible at any focal length, can be easily accomplished at the longest lens extension because of the large image size and small depth-of-field. A good feature of this lens was its aperture remains constant throughout the zooming range. Within its zooming range of 43mm to 86mm, the sharpest image is obtained at the focal length of 60mm and focused distance of about 3 meters or 10 feet. In the design of this lens, special emphasis has been given to compactness and lightness for utmost mobility and ease of handling. Hence, this Zoom-Nikkor is suitable for general photography, including candids, landscapes, portraits and sports coverage, where the photographer wishes to change the focal lengths in quick succession without having to change his lens.

Credit: This well taken image of the Non-Ai Zoom-Nikkor 43~86mm f/3.5 AUTO lens courtesy of Mr Tommy Goodwin <>. All images copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

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Technical Specification for Non-Ai 43-86mm f/3.5 Zoom-Nikkor Auto:

Focal Length: 43-86mm; Maximum aperture: 1:3.5
Lens construction: 9 elements in 7 groups; Picture angle: 53° (f=43mm) - 28°30' (f=86mm)
Distance scale: Graduated in meters or feet up to 1.2m and 4 ft; Aperture scale: f/3.5 ~ f/22; Aperture diaphragm: Fully automatic

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Meter coupling prong: Integrated (fully open exposure metering)
Focusing: By turning the single zooming/focusing ring
By back and forth movement of the zooming/focusing ring (reference markings for 43, 50, 60, 70 and 86mm)

<<< --- Click on image at far left for an illustration of its optical construction in PDF (51k) format.

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Credit: Two additional images of the Non-Ai Zoom-Nikkor 43~86mm f/3.5 AUTO lens courtesy of Mr Barry Grant <>. All images copyright © 2003 All rights reserved. Note the original Nikon plastic lens case. Images have been scaled and retouched slightly for broadcasting.

Attachment size: 52mm (P=0.75); Filter: 52mm screw-in
Dimension: 66.5mm dia. x 78mm length (2-9/16 in. X 3-1/16 in.); Weight: 410g (14.5 oz)
Accessories: 52mm Snap-On front cap (108-00-400), plastic case type L (108-02-300), rear cap type F (108-00-400), 52mm screw-in lens hood (108-01-203), leather case (108-02-304), plastic case type L (108-02-300), flexible pouch No. 52 (108-02-302)
. Although it is not applicable anymore, but Nikon Product Code No. for this lens: 108-05-100 Note: According to Nikon Handbook by Peter Braczko, he believes serial number from 438611 to 554261 are the first version and may fetch a higher premium than series that followed later. Hmm ....

The first update of this 43mm-86 mm f/3.5 Zoom-Nikkor auto lense may have been occurred in 1974 with the chrome rim at the front replaced in a black finishing. As many of the Nikkor lenses were given a revised NIC lens coating during this period, this lens may have also benefited from the same process.

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Note chrome rim at the front was replaced with a black matte finish. But lens data of both versions was still imprinted inside the filter rim.

Credit: Image at far left courtesy of Mr Tommy Goodwin <>. Image copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

A more radical change actually happened two years later in 1976 where this lens went through an optical revamp with its original 9 elements in 7 groups being altered to 11 lens elements in 8 groups design (those versions that have their S/N began with 774071). Although optically this easy-to-use zoom lense can't be regarded as the sharpest Nikkor lense you can find in the constantly expanding MF Nikkor lens family at the time but the absolute convenience in its ability to substitute a few lenses is good enough for it to create an immensely good following in particularly among less demanding group of amateur users.
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A good point in its operation was the single zoom/focus control design that allows split-second response and is particularly convenient for photography of moving subjects and this compact zoom accepts Nikon 52mm filters that enable it to share many common standard 52mm lens accessories.

Credit: Image of this Non-Ai Nikkor Zoom-Nikkor 43~86mm f/3.5 lense mounted on a Nikkormat FTN courtesy of Mr. John Walls <>. Image copyright © 2001 All rights reserved.
When Nikon introduced the Ai meter coupling system to both their camera and lenses in 1977, there were already a few alternative wideangle zoom lenses with competing zoom range existed in the Nikkor lens family. Seemingly had its charm sustaining very well, this little zoom was also being upgraded in a similar fashion during that period.

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Credit: Image courtesy of Mr ED <>. Image copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

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