A Summary of Nikon lens Versions

F - Early Nikkors for the Nikon F (1959)

  • Single coated lenses with reflections colored bright amber or light blue to pink
  • Focus ring with metal scalloped grip or with diamond pattern rubber grip.
  • Solid aperture coupling prong.
  • Barrel colored chrome or black.
  • Early versions in cm, no screws in mount and engraved "Nippon Kogaku Japan".
  • Late versions changed to mm, then 5 screws in mount, then engraved "Nikon".

    C - MultiCoated lenses (1971)

  • Multi-layer coating on all lens surfaces - reflections colored dark green, red and purple.
  • Engraving ".C" added to lens designation, except early 28/2 and 35/1.4.
  • Barrel colored black, otherwise identical to late F type.

    K - New Nikkors (1974)

  • Modern appearance similar to Ai type, functions the same as earlier types.
  • Rubber focus grip, finer texture than Ai lenses.
  • No ADR scale on aperture ring, solid aperture prong and no lens speed post at rear of lens.
  • I have no idea why this series are known as "K" type.

    Ai - Auto indexing lenses (1977)

  • Ai cam on aperture ring automatically indexes the camera meter to the lens.
  • Aperture ring with secondary Aperture Direct Readout (ADR) scale, visible in viewfinder of Ai cameras.
  • Aperture coupling prong with cut-outs to illuminate ADR scale.
  • Lens speed post at rear of lens at 6 o'clock position. The EM, FG, FA, F301, F501 & F4 use this for flash or matrix metering.
  • PC and Reflex lenses are not auto indexing but are designated Ai* to indicate the barrel style.

    Ai Converted lenses (1977)

  • Barrel style of older lens types. No lens speed post at rear of lens.
  • Nikon conversions have a new Ai-style aperture ring with ADR scale.
  • Custom conversions can be done by cutting existing aperture ring to form the Ai ridge.

    Series-E (1979)

  • Economy range with greater use of plastic in construction, some only single coated.
  • Same features as Ai-S but lacks aperture prong. Designated "Series E" not "Nikkor".
  • Early version black with thin metal rear lens protectors.
  • Late version with chrome ring, solid rear protectors and Ai-style focusing grip.

    Ai-S - Ai with Shutter priority (1981)

  • Smallest aperture number colored orange on ADR and aperture scale.
  • Linear control of aperture via stop-down lever for accurate exposures in shutter priority and program mode.
  • Focal length ridge built into rear lens shield indicates 135mm lens or longer for P-Hi mode with FA and F501.
  • Lens type notch - small semicircular scoop at rear of lens indicates Ai-S lens.

    F3-AF - Autofocus for F3 camera (1983)

  • Early AF lenses with built-in focus motor, 6 CPU contacts on lens mount.
  • Only 80/2.8 and 200/3.5 ED-IF.
  • Also TC-16 with built-in focusing to provide limited AF with manual focus lenses.
  • Compatible with F3-AF, F4 and F501/N2020 but not other cameras.

    Ai-P - CPU Lens (1988)

  • Manual focus lens with electronics of AF (non-D) lens, for advanced operations with AF cameras.
  • Only 500/4, 1200-1700 zoom and 45/2.8.
  • Some manual lenses can be converted by having a CPU chip added.

    AF - Auto focus (1986)

  • Lens focused by motor in camera, 5 CPU contacts on lens mount.
  • Plastic barrel, selected lenses metal with crinkle finish. Cheap lenses with plastic mount.
  • AF lens (1986) - First version with plastic focus ring and push-twist aperture lock.
  • AF-N (1988) - New style with rubber focus ring and sliding aperture lock.
  • D lens (1992) - Transmits focus Distance for improved flash metering.
  • AF-I (1992) - Telephoto with Integrated AF motor, 10 CPU contacts, manual override of AF.
  • AF-S (1996) - Similar to AF-I with improved Silent Wave motor.
  • G lens (2000) - No aperture ring, aperture controlled via camera, cannot be used on manual cameras.
  • VR lens (2000) - Vibration Reduction to reduce effects of camera shake, 10 CPU contacts.
  • DX lens (2003) - Lens with smaller image circle for DX format digital cameras.
  • Alphabet soup - AF-S DX VR Zoom-Nikkor 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 G IF-ED !!

    IX - Lenses for APS camera (1996)

  • Low price compact lenses for the Pronea APS camera.
  • Has F-mount but cannot fit 35mm cameras - no clearance for reflex mirror and image circle too small.

    Glossary of terms

    IF - Internal Focus, focus achieved by moving an internal group of elements.
    RF - Rear Focus, a variant of IF where the rear group of elements move to achieve focus.
    CRC - Close Range Correction (floating elements), lens groups move independantly providing a higher level of correction at all distances.
    ED - Extra-low Dispersion glass for minimising chromatic aberrations.
    Aspheric - Lens element with non-spherical surfuce. Either precision ground, Hybrid (plastic molded to glass) or glass molded.

    NIC - Nikon Integrated Coating, multicoating applied to lenses since the mid 1970s.
    SIC - Super Integrated Coating, improved multicoating applied to lenses since around 2000.
    Nano Coat - Highly effective but delicate coating applied only to selected internal lens surfaces.

    Micro - Lens for closeup photography, also known as macro lens.
    Medical - Macro lens with built-in ring flash.
    Fisheye - Non-rectalinear lens with extremely wide picture angle.
    OP-Nikkor - Fisheye lens using Orthographic projection
    GN-Nikkor - Lens with guide number coupling for flash photography.
    DC-Nikkor - Lens with defocus control
    Noct-Nikkor - High speed lens for available-light photography
    PC-Nikkor - Shift lens for perspective control.
    PC-E-Nikkor - Tilt/shift lens with electronic diaphram.
    UV-Nikkor - Special lens for ultra-violet and infra-red photography.

    UV-Nikkor - Special lens for ultra-violet and infra-red photography.