Nikon NIKKOR 20mm 1:3.5 Ai Lens (f/3.5)

Review of the Nikon NIKKOR 20mm 1:3.5 Ai Lens (f/3.5).

Overall Rating:

See Nikon NIKKOR 20mm 1:3.5 Ai-S Lens Review, a lens with identical optical performance.

In 1967, Nikon introduced the Nikkor 20mm/3.5 UD lens, and they made about 40,000 of these wide angle lenses. Optically, these lenses were not great. In 1974, Nikon replaced it with the 20mm/4 which took 52mm filters but had similar optical performance. In 1977, Nikon introduced the lens in this review which returned to a maximum aperture of f/3.5 and had better optical performance. About 28,000 were produced.

Being an ultra wide angle lens on full-frame cameras, one may be tempted to use this lens on an APS-C sensor camera, but the optical performance is not quite up to the task. Its color fringing is relatively high. Better performance can be had with the AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens that comes with your Nikon camera. It is an okay infrared performer exhibiting only a faint hotspot at smallest apertures (that mostly only show in false color infrared). Color fringing is not a problem with infrared. This lens performs well on a short extension tube allowing for extremely close focusing and dramatic macro shots, or reversed on a bellows for much greater than 1:1 magnifications. It does exhibit some barrel distortion.

infrared at f/11
corner at f/5.6

This compact 20mm's front element does not turn as it is focused. It has all metal construction with excellent focus action having no play in the focusing collar. It is an Ai lens making for easier mounting and indexing with the camera's light meter than pre-Ai lenses have. It has a focus and depth of field scale as well as an infrared focus index. Focus stops at infinity (∞).

Diffraction has set in by f/8.



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