7 Best Lens for Nikon F3 Compared & Reviewed – Find Out Which One Wins

Only the best lens for Nikon F3 can help you make the most out of this single-lens reflex camera. Introduced in the 80s, the F3 boasts manual and semi-automatic exposure which gives the photographer ample control over the shots.

So, today, we’d like to walk you through the 7 top lenses which in our view provide great value.

Best Lens for Nikon F3

Lens for Nikon F3 – Comparison

They come in different makes and sizes. Want to cut to the chase? The list below is meant to simplify things for you.

RankingProduct NameLens TypeMaximum Focal Length
1Nikon Nikkor Ai 80-200mm
2Nikon 55mmMacro55 Millimeters
3Nikon 28mm f/3.5 MF lensTilt Shift28 Millimeters
4Nikon 135mmTelephoto135
5Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mmStandard50 Millimeters
7Nikon AF Nikkor

1. Nikon Nikkor Ai 80-200mm f/4.5 Zoom lens

This lens is rated as one of the best Nikon lenses probably due to its sharpness at its price and is compatible with most Nikon cameras.

It is a bit heavy at 742g and measures 6.06″ by 2.86″. It has an optical construction consisting of twelve elements in nine groups and is also multi-coated with the Nikon Super Integrated coating to give it sufficient flare and ghosting resistance.

The diaphragm consists of seven straight blades while the aperture ring is all metal. The lens also supports 52mm metal filters.

The MF action is very smooth while the bokeh is just flawless. Barrel distortion is moderate at 80mm and non-existent between 105-200mm.

It is incredibly sharp even at wide-open apertures.


  • Strong build
  • Very sharp
  • Affordable


  • No moisture-sealing

Also read: 15 Best Lens for Lumix G7 – From Wide-Angle To Standard Lenses

2. Nikon 55mm f/2.8 AIS Micro-Nikkor lens

This lens was released in 1980 and is one of the sharpest macro lenses to have ever been in existence. Its optical construction consists of six elements in five groups and will provide an effective field of view of 82mm when mounted on a DX sensor body.

The lens produces impressive sharpness while Chromatic Aberration is a non-issue. Vignetting and distortion are also barely noticeable.

It has a fully-metal solid build with a focus ring which turns smoothly as a result of it being well-dampened.

It supports 52mm filters and being an MF lens; the front element does not rotate during focusing.


  • Very sharp
  • Solid build
  • Smooth focusing


  • Too flare-sensitive

3. Nikon 28mm f/3.5 MF lens

The Nikon 28mm f/3.5 is a manual focus lens released in 1980 and has an angle of view of 75.4 degrees. It has an optical design comprising of nine elements in eight groups, as well a nine-blade diaphragm which will deliver you a fantastic bokeh.

It has a reasonable weight of 380g and measures 65 by 78mm and has a metal mount. Whereas the lens has no weather sealing, it supports 72mm screw-on type filters.


  • Solid build
  • Amazing bokeh
  • Stunning appearance


  • Prone to flares

4. Nikon 135mm f/2.8 Nikkor AIS MF lens

Once you add this lens to your photography chest, you can rest assured that it will deliver you outstanding results all-through. With an optical design of five elements in four groups, this lens is extremely sharp at all apertures.

You will not have much trouble carrying it around as it weighs 429g and is 84mm long. It has a minimum focus distance of 1.3m and supports 52mm filters.


  • Very sharp
  • Small and compact
  • Sturdy construction


  • Sturdy construction
  • Pricey

5. Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens

This professional grade lens was announced in September 2008, and its primary target market was the pros in the photography field. It has a reputation for a splendid performance in low-light conditions due to its large aperture of f/1.4.

The optical design consists of eight elements in seven groups, while the nine-blade diaphragm combined with the shallow depth of field helps in creating a pleasant bokeh.

It utilizes the Silent Wave Motor (SWM) for a swift, precise and quiet AF operation. The lens has the Super Integrated Coating (SIC) to give it an impressive flare and ghosting resistance.


  • Versatile
  • Impressive low-light performance
  • Fast and silent AF


  • No weather-sealing


The Nikon AF f/1.8D lens is a small and compact lens whose f/1.8 aperture makes it quite suitable for portraits as well as travel photography.

Its optical design features six elements in five groups and has the Nikon Super Integrated Coating (SIC) which gives it a ghost and flare resistance aspect. The diaphragm has seven blades which contribute to a pleasant bokeh.

You will be impressed with its sharpness at f/2.8 and below since at f/1.8 you will experience some softness.

The AF operation is fast, and the minimum focusing distance is 0.45m. Vignetting and CA are very well-handled.

The barrel is constructed out of dense plastic while the mount is metallic. The filter threads are plastic, and it can support 52mm sized-filters.


  • Lightweight and compact
  • Excellent flare and ghost resistance
  • Versatile


  • No weather-sealing

7. Nikon AF Nikkor

This lens was released in 1995 and can work on both FX and DX cameras. It is very light, weighing just 205g and balances perfectly when mounted on camera bodies.

The build is a sturdy one, with a high-quality plastic barrel and a metal mount. This combination gives it a very solid feel.

It has an AF operation which is fast, quiet and accurate. When it comes to sharpness, be sure to avoid the smallest aperture if you want to be impressed.

Distortion, Chromatic Aberration, and Flares are well controlled.


  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fast and silent AF
  • Sturdy build


  • Disappointing bokeh 

Lens for Nikon F3 – Buying Guide

The F3 is known to be compact and generally light in weight. It, however, only seems to accommodate AI or later lenses.

Is it possible to use the Nikon F3 camera with non-AI lenses? Well, the answer is a yes only that you need to remember to flip up the lever. Actually, the main reason why AI lenses are preferred is that they are much easier to install.

Besides the AI vs non-AI debate, you still want to stick to the ideal aperture size as well as focal range. The kind of specs you choose should be influenced by your style of photography.

Here is a detailed look at the factors to consider when buying the Nikon F3 lens so you can make the right decision.

Your style of photography

One of the key things to consider is the kind of photography you will be shooting. For instance, if you are a portrait photographer, the best lens for your Nikon F3 should be mid-range and sharper.

Architecture and landscape photographers, on the other hand, need wide-angle lenses so they can capture more of the scene.

As far as wildlife photographers are concerned, their best option would be telephoto lenses. These types of lenses are designed to discreetly capture animals from afar.

Last but not least, if you will be shooting small creatures or tiny details, you should choose a macro lens.

Focal length

This is the distance between the lens and the subject you’re shooting. Generally, lenses are available in three categories including short, mid-range, and long-range depending on their focal length.

Lenses with a short focal length range from 35 to 60mm while those with mid focal length range from 90 to 105mm. Long-range lenses, on the other hand, are between 150 and 200mm.

So, the longer the focal range, the further away you should be from the subject for better focus. But if you are shooting subjects near you, then a lens with shorter focal length would be the best choice.


If you’ll be shooting in low light conditions, then you will need lenses with wider apertures instead of narrow apertures.

Generally, a lens featuring a maximum aperture of f1.8 or slightly lower can capture clear images without a good light source. However, a lens with a maximum aperture of about f5 may not shoot effectively in extremely poorly lit conditions.

Nikon or Third Party Lenses?

Nikon lenses are designed to work well with Nikon cameras. As such, they are always a safe bet. However, there are still some manufacturers out there that make great lenses for Nikon cameras including the F3.

Nevertheless, if you want a reliable lens that you’re sure will work smoothly with your Nikon F3, always go for Nikon.

Size and weight

Lenses tend to vary greatly when it comes to size and weight. Generally, zoom lenses are considered to be a tad heavier compared to prime lenses but with some exceptions.

So, to determine what size of lenses you need for your Nikon F3, you should consider where you’ll store the lenses. This is because telephoto lenses may not fit in a backpack or camera bag when attached to the camera body.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still not sure which lenses are the best for your Nikon F3? Check out these frequently asked questions so you can make the right choice.

What lenses are completely compatible with Nikon F3?

There are so many of them especially from Nikon but the above options are some of the best on the market.

Are Nikon F3 camera lenses interchangeable?

Yes they are. Generally, they are interchangeable with film DX, FX, and SLR bodies because they all feature Nikon-F mount.

Can I use any lens on my Nikon F3 camera?

No, you can’t. Nikon F3 lenses can only be used with Nikon F3 cameras. However, third-party lenses with the F-mount can also be used on the Nikon F3 camera.

Which One Is The Best?

Our top favorite remains the Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4G Lens which is a standard lens with a really wide aperture. It’s ideal for low light photography and also doubles up as a perfect travel lens.

Final Thoughts

The Nikon F3 camera model is probably the best balance between manual and automated focusing. It represents the best of both worlds for the discerning photographer. And it’s, therefore, our hope that the Nikon F3 lens reviews above will help you make a solid and informed choice.

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