Information on Nikon Series E Lenses

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In addition to Nikkor lenses, Nikon produced a group of small, light weight and affordable lenses called the Nikon Series E lenses as alternative to budget conscious users and/or taking on third party independent lens producers. In many ways, these lenses use very similar optical formula as with the Nikkor lenses and feature same F bayonet mount in order they can used on any AI-spec Nikon SLR bodies. They have been scaled down in size, weight and in some cases, with a revised optical formulas to enable them to be more affordable and attractive to beginners, hobbyists and even seasoned amateurs who may be interested in Nikon products but still like to compare prices from other manufacturers.

They were originally designed to complement the small size and weight of the super compact camera body of Nikon EM, FG and the FG-20. These group of eight Series -E lenses, ranging from wideangle of 28mm to longer reach of 210mm, provide almost a complete package any new SLR users might cover in their general photography. Many of them also being bundled and sold along with the equally budgedly priced Nikon EM, FG and FG-20 camera body as most often, prices of Nikkor lenses may seem not as competitive whenever a similar package offered by rivaling brands was compared.

100mm E lens.jpg
Depends on applications and individual expectation - I don't entirely agreed E series lenses have far inferior optical quality than the corresponding Nikkors. However, there is also an undenying fact where it comes to their built quality, in general - in order to reduce the cost to enable them to be more economical, the general perception of users is, mechanical construction of Series -E optic are inferior to the more robust made Nikkor lenses.

AF-Nikkor Lens Resources (new)

Over the years, Nikon users have dividing opinion with introduction of Series E lenses by its creator. That was not surprising as these lenses present a strong feel of plastic construction which can be an entirely differing experience if you have used a Nikkor lens before. There were obvious short cuts here and there, for instance, on the user interface, the focusing ring on the Series E 50mm f1.8 and Series E 35mm f2.5 prime wideangle lenses were being designed to have even shorter width than the aperture ring's. All of the prime lenses other than the E 50mm f/1.8 lens have a concealed type of distance scale. The aperture ring were designed with a new shallow plastic embossed texture for early versions. The all plastic square / rectangular grips design of aperture ring generates an uneasy thought over its possible long lasting capability. The feel of solid, positive click stop when you turn the ring was heavily missed and generally, the great reduction of weight in general combined also adds a layer of discomfort and projects a fragile feeling to their thought. The chrome lens fastening ring commonly found on other Nikkor MF lenses was being replaced with plastic too in the early versions. The heavily negative comments from users eventually forced Nikon to replace them with a metal ring (Aluminum). Generally, these were the generally weaker points used in the design of the Nikon E Series lenses.

However, many of these Series E optic performs surprisingly good uniform image quality. Some of Nikon innovation such as NIC was used throughout in these lenses and overall, optical quality were generally above average if other third party lenses of comparing focal length were compared. In fact, based on technical specifications, many of the series E lenses are a replica of the more famed Nikkor optics. In some isolated cases, they may have even a slightly better design. Just take the Zoom Nikkor 70-210mm f/4.0 which incorporates a macro setting to enable it close focus down to 2 ft !

Lenscap.jpg (4k)
This is a classic lens cap for any Nikkor lenses. For unknown reason, E Series lenses came with another type of lens cap (I don't have that anymore to illustrate, because it is very insecure to use and very often it drops out from the lenses and I replaced them on my two remaining E lenses). The bright, embossed metallic looked 'Nikon' name was so unnoticed, and overall it presents a very 'cheap' feel that make one believes seemed like Nikon don't want to associate themselves with the series E lenses. For whatever the reasons, I don't think it needs to go to such extend to save cost by substituting a lens cap. I think Nikon felt the third party lens manufacturers are posting more threat to them and cheaper cost of production was to aim encountering such rivalry. But personally, strictly from the point of view as a consumer - I don't think that is very amusing. Facts remained - the Series E lenses was not so well accepted despite the early hype - I hope Nikon does not try to put the blame on consumers, instead, I think they should make a positive review and learnt the lesson from the episode try to understand alternative concept such as introduction of E lenses was not a just cause to consumers, but rather - interest of the consumers was actually their continual flow of financial support.

On a positive note, the Series E lenses are acceptable in overall general performance, given the high cost of entry of premium Nikon SLR cameras and Nikkor lenses, here at least, with the Series E lenses and companion Nikon budgetly priced SLR bodies like Nikon EM, FGa and FG-20 - they do provide an affordable entry to 35mm SLR photography. Minus other hiccups, when you compare the series of optic with current AF Nikkor lenses, there are some delightful touches too not found on current batch of AF series of lenses as all Series E lenses were equipped with a clear , well defined depth of field scales. Essential features such as aperture direct readout scales were also retained and virtually all series E optic carry AI-S lens-specifications, they have less compatibility issues raised when used them with AI-bodies that have been produced after 1977 for a more accurate full aperture metering system. Optically, the Series E lenses can yield more than satisfactory results than expected. The E 70-210mm & the 75-150mm Zoom lens are the only two Series E lens that have a built-in Macro setting (Reproduction ratio: 1.6 life-size at 0.56m (2 ft.) in macro mode for 70-210mm and close 1m (3.5 ft.) at all focal lengths; a magnification ratio of 1:5 is possible at the 150mm focal length for the 75-150mm); there are also some other points that should also take into your consideration, such as the E 50mm f1.8 can also be an excellent choice of a bellow lens other than a superb normal lens. The Nikon E series 28mm f/2.8 and Nikon E series 35mm f/2.5 come with closest focusing distance of an amazing close working range of 0.3m. All these lenses are treated with Nikon exclusive NIC process. So it is not entirely disappointing, the difference is only how to take good advantage of the lens types, design, features with your photography.

Ranging from 28mm wideangle to 70-210mm zoom, I do have quite an extensive experience with seven out of eight Series E lenses, and generally, they produced relatively sharp images with excellent contrast and superb color rendition Frankly, used E series lenses are selling so cheap and these lenses are looking very attractive alternative.

Note: To see some clearer illustrations of a E series lens from the back, Click here.
Nikon FE w/50mm f1.8.jpg

On a technical note, all Series E lenses were the first to incorporate few modifications on the lens mount to permit additional mechanical communication between the lenses and camera body. These changes enable them to benefit from technologies such as high-speed program auto first introduced in the Nikon FA camera. Thus, technically - ALL Series E lenses are AI-S in nature.

Obviously, Nikon understands what these shortfalls and weak offerings were and designated the Series E group of lenses as 'Nikon' and reserved their 'Nikkor' name on the regular optics. When these lenses were introduced, other than the new entry users of Nikon photographic system, most Nikon faithful were not entirely happy with the missing meter coupling shoe on the aperture ring of the Series E series because it also signals the end of commitment for continual support in their future SLR camera models with non-AI SLR bodies. Note: The EM was also the first Nikon body that came without a retractable meter coupling lever on the mount.

Warning: Certain AE modes (Programmed AE and Shutter Priority AE) on selective Nikon SLRs will not work efficiently with older TC devices. Use an Ai-S version for better compatibility, read the respective Tele-Extender(s) sections.

Nikon Series E Lenses.jpg
Nikon Series E lenses
28mm | 35mm | 50mm | 100mm | 135mm | 36-72mm | 75-150mm | 70-210mm

Nikon EM, 1979 | Nikon FG, 1982 | Nikon FG-20, 1984
Specifications :
Nikon EM, Nikon FG, Nikon FG-20
Additional info available on :
MD-14 | MD-E | SB-15 | SB-E | MF-15 Databack
E 50mm f1.8.jpg
Nikon E series group of lenses comprised of 5 prime and 3 zoom lenses. The prime lenses are: E 28mm f2.8; E 35mm f2.5; E 50mm f1.8; E 100mm f2.8; E 135mm f2.8. While the Series E Zoom lenses are: E 36-72mm f3.5, E 75-150mm f3.5 and a E 70-210mm f4.0.

ALL series E lenses are native AI-S lenses. Please refer to a new section on AI-S lens compatibility chart prepared by Lars Holst Hansen.

NEW:- Comparing these Series E lenses with some autofocus Nikkor lenses

EM.gif FG.gif FG-20.gif
| Nikon EM, 1979 | | Nikon FG, 1982 | | Nikon FG20, 1984 |

Specifications : Nikon EM, Nikon FG, Nikon FG-20
Additional info available on :
MD-14 | MD-E | SB-15 | SB-E | MF-15 Databack

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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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