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Nikon 100mm f/2.8
Nikon Series E (

© 2004-2012 KenRockwell.com
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Nikon 100mm f/2.8 Series E (52mm filters, 7.6 oz./215g, 3.5'/1m close focus, about $75 used). This free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

May 2012   More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews


Ergonomics:  (manual focus)


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs   Performance    Recommendations

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This is a great little lens. It's sharp, fast, and tiny. You can buy one used for about $75 and its optical and mechanical performance is superior in several ways to the fantastic $2,500 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II.

If you can do without autofocus and the ability to zoom you can get better performance in a smaller, tougher, lighter package, for 5% of the cost of the new AFS.

Don't confuse this with the classic 105mm f/2.5 AI-s Nikkor. The 105 is a much better lens mechanically, and includes a built-in telescoping hood.

This Series E lens is mechanically sturdier than most modern AF Nikkor lenses. It has a solid metal 52mm filter thread. The $1,800 80-200mm AF-S zoom's filter thread, as well as much of its outer barrel and focus, zoom and aperture rings, are made of plastic, making the AF-S easy to cross-thread and damage when changing filters in a hurry.

This Series E has an aluminum helicoid.

There are two versions of this lens, both with the same optics. The newest version looks very similar to more expensive Nikkor AI and AI-s lenses. The older version had no silver grab ring around its middle and had uglier shaped rubber nubbins on the focus ring.


Compatibility       intro     top

The manual-focus lens works great with most Nikon cameras, 35mm and digital.

It works flawlessly with every manual focus Nikon ever made, although it will need stop-down or manual metering with cameras made before 1977. Otherwise, it meters perfectly with every 35mm Nikon made since 1977.

On the D4, D800, D800E, D3X, D3s, D3, D7000, D700, D300, D200, D2 and F6, use the "Non-CPU Lens Data" menu option to set 100mm and f/2.8 to get full color matrix metering, EXIF data and finder read-out of set aperture. It works great in aperture-preferred as well as manual modes on these cameras.

It adds Matrix metering on the FA, F4 and F6.

The meters of cheaper digital (D90, D5100 and below) and cheaper film cameras (N80 and below) will not couple (or work at all) with this lens, so you'll be on your own guessing exposure using the rear LCD or an external meter, or get a tiny Gossen Digisix meter and hotshoe adapter, or the free Pocket Light Meter app to meter manually.

See Nikon Lens Compatibility for details on your camera. Read down the "AI, AI-s" column for this lens, but add that it won't meter-couple to cameras made before 1977 unless you have a coupling shoe added.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs   Performance    Recommendations

It has 4 elements in 4 groups.

It focusses to 1m or 3.5.'

It takes the Nikon HR-5 screw-in rubber hood and weighs only 7.6 oz. (215g). It measures 63.0mm (2.5") around by 58mm (2.3") long and takes 52mm filters

It is single-coated, which is all it's simple design needs to give better flare and ghosting performance than the 80-200 AF-S.

It stops down to f/22 with its seven-bladed diaphragm.


Performance         top

Intro   Specs   Performance    Recommendations

For those of us who actually shoot with an open eye, the 100mm Series E is a great lens. It's far better than the disrespect the geeky collectors give it. They don't shoot..

Unlike the zooms, the 100mm Series E has no linear distortion.

It has very good ghost and flare performance, also better than the 80-200/2.8 AF-S

The main performance limitation is secondary chromatic aberration, which is minor.

Here's how it performs with aperture:

f/2.8: sharp all over, some light falloff
f/4: sharp all over, negligible light falloff
f/5.6: no light fall off and as sharp as it gets. Stop down further only for depth of field; for aerial photography this is your optimum aperture.

In direct comparison tests at infinity at f/2.8 this lens was a tiny bit sharper than my 85mm f/2 AI-s, 80-200 AF-S and my AF 105mm f/2.8D micro. So there.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs   Performance    Recommendations

On my smooth FA camera it is often sharp handheld at 1/30. I have not tried it on the more vibration prone F100. Unfortunately on the EM camera with which it was often sold it's pretty bad at most speeds because the EM has a lot of mirror slap and this is a very light lens.

This often poo-pooed lens can make great images, and is the lightest telephoto Nikon has ever made. Get one and make fun of guys like me with their fancy AFS zooms.


Help me help you         top

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The biggest help is when you use any of these links to Adorama, Amazon, eBay, Ritz, Calumet, J&R and ScanCafe when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

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Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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