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

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Ai Zoom-Nikkor 43-86 mm f/3.5

Retaining a similar revised optical design that first adopted in 1976, the 43-86mm has an Ai lens coupling system added during the general Nikkor lens updating program in 1977. Another easy lens identification was the lens data that previously imprinted inside the filter rim was now engraved at outer rim of the focusing ring section. Secondly, as with physical appearance of other Ai lenses, the aperture ring has a diamond-ridged pattern with ADR scales while design of the grip on focusing ring was also being updated with a more modern Nikkor zoom lense look and feel. Most seasoned Nikon photographers would believe Ai version onwards may be a better investment if compared as the revamped optical design could has various optical aberrations sufficiently corrected for various subject-to-camera distances, and the lens produces the sharpest images at about the 3m (10 ft) range, the most usual subject-camera distance. The NIC lens coating may has also contributed to its high image contrast and faithful color reproduction

Credit: A lovely image contributed by a professional photographer, Mr. Neal Bruns <>Image copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

A short remark from a passionate user wrote in his description: " ..... Nikon’s very popular short “push-pull” zoom lens in exceptional condition. Clean optics and great cosmetic condition. Nice tight zoom action... nothing baggy or loose here. .... Includes Nikon original front & rear lens caps. I believe that this was the last “AI” ( automatic indexing ) version of this zoom. Every thing working as it should. Nice and compact measuring 2.5 width x 3” length perfect for when you want just a little extra focal length from normal. Standard 52mm filter size.... "

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NOTE; What Douglas claimed may have some basis as the Ai version had S/N began with 810001 and S/N of his lense was a high 1037442. Although there wasn't a Ai-S version that has surfaced thus far, I would think his lense was near its discontinuation towards 1981.

Credit: Image at right was contributed by Mr. Douglas Green <>. The image at far left courtesy of Mr. Misa Hassan <>. Both images copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

The colour coded depth of field scales and Infrared index engraved on the lens barrel are more "simplified" than the pre-Ai versions. Naturally, the Ai version of this zoom lens carried an additional advantage even if it is used with some newer series of Nikon MF SLRs that began offering Programmed AE control. Simply stopped down the aperture to its minimum setting should enable a camera with such capability to enjoy fully with the exposure control feature (as shown at the image above with the lens attaching to a Nikon FG camera by Douglas). Anyway, the Ai version also weighs heavier at 450g than the non-Ai version (410g), possibly due to extra lens elements used and added lens coupling mechanism.

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Although it was not entirely comfortable to be referred as a Nikkor classic but undoubtedly, it has sold very well in numbers but more importantly, its commercial success has inspired Nikon to offer more adventurous design on zoom lens type in the years that followed. So, this lense still holds an important position at the course of MF Nikkor lens development program and it is impossible to carry on with other sections in this MF Nikkor website without highlighting this popular standard-to-tele zoom lense first.

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

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

Focal Length: 43-86mm; Maximum aperture: 1:3.5
Lens construction: 11 lens elements in 8 groups
Picture angle: 53° (f=43mm) - 28°30' (f=86mm)
Distance scale: Graduated in meters or feet up to 1.2m (4 ft.) to infinity (

<<< ----Optical construction of the Zoom-Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 in PDF (68k) format.

Aperture scale: f/3.5 ~ f/22; Aperture diaphragm: Fully automatic; Focusing/Zooming Control: By turning the single zooming/focusing ring
Exposure measurement: Via full aperture method; meter coupling ridge provided for Ai cameras and meter coupling shoe for non-Ai cameras

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Dimensions: 66.5mm dia. x 81.5mm long (overall) 73.5mm extension from lens flange
Weight: 450g; Attachment size: 52mm (P = 0.75)
Front lens cap:
Snap-On; Lens hood: Screw-in type HN-3
Lens case: CL-32S hard leatherette, No. 62 soft pouch, Plastic case CP-2; Usable Nikon Teleconverter(s):
TC-200, TC-201. TC-14A; Note: Serial numbers for this Nikkor zoom lense may have been started with 810001 onwards.

: Image courtesy of Mr. Douglas Green <>Images copyright © 2003 All rights reserved.

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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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