vintage photography

Best Nikon Manual Focus Lenses for Vintage Lovers

I am sure you have been in a situation where you were trying to get the perfect frame in a video but the focus on your lens gave way, and you ended up having to redo the shot. This is a common problem with most people who shoot video with autofocus lenses, and while manual focus does work, it is not as useful on some of the lenses that are intended for autofocusing.

This is where manual focus lens comes into play, and while they are difficult to use; if you are doing a lot of video work and you have to go through focus pulling and focus racking, then using a good manual lens is important. That is why I have decided to look at the best Nikon manual focus lenses.

Best Nikon Manual Focus Lenses

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 – Best Overall Lens

Nikon 50mm f/1.8 is over top pick in this list. The lens does not run into massive distortion. It is easy to use and delivers an exceptional experience

The last lens that I have here is a bit of a stir, to be honest. For starters, it is a manual lens, at least that is what Nikon intends it to be, but it also has an autofocusing system. The reason why I am calling this the best overall lens is rather simple, this lens is one of the most refined manual focus lenses in the market, and most importantly, easily available as well. I have actually reviewed the autofocus version of the same lens before, and the experience has been amazing every time.

The Nikon 50mm f/1.8D offers great overall quality for a price that is not going to bother a lot of people. With that said, the lens delivers excellent image quality, especially in the center of the frame, and considering how this is going to be used as a portrait lens, for the most part, it is better to have this.

Not only that, but the quality on the edges is also excellent, making it one of the best lenses for image quality. There is no bothersome chromatic aberration present in the images, either. I did notice some distortion but it was never an issue that ruined the pictures in any sense.

Now, an important thing that you must know about this lens is that the autofocusing on this is both silent and quick, and this is impressive because this is a manual focus lens at heart. So, having such a feature is always great.

I did run into some issues with this lens but nothing that would make the experience terrible. For starters, there is noticeable vignetting in the pictures, and the autofocus, although, a good feature to have, is not the most accurate.

Nikon-50mm-f1.8 - best Nikon manual focus lenses
Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Sample Image

Overall, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8D is a great lens for the money, you are getting some of the best results out of this lens without having to spend a lot of money. Autofocusing here is, of course, the cherry on top.

  • The image quality is excellent throughout the entire frame.
  • Chromatic aberration is never an issue.
  • The lens does not run into massive distortion.
  • Autofocusing is silent and fast.
  • There is noticeable vignetting.
  • Autofocus is not as accurate.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 50mm f/1.8

Nikon 105mm – Best Nikon Manual Focus Telephoto Lens

Nikon 105mm has a compact and lightweight construction with incredible sharpness even when wide open.

I am going, to be honest here. You are going to find a lot of oddities here in this round-up because manual focus lenses are not as popular as their autofocus counterparts but that does not mean that they are not good. The fact that Nikon is still making these lenses goes to show that they are good in almost every aspect and will deliver a good performance.

With that said, the 105mm is an odd focal length even for a telephoto. Normally when I think telephoto, my attention goes to the 85mm as that has become the standard but hey, nothing about this round-up is going to be standard.

With that said, this is one of the oldest lenses in the market. So, I was a bit skeptical when it came to testing but after spending some time with it, I realized how good this lens it is.

Nikon 105mm

For starters, it is one of the most compact and lightweight lenses that you can find on the market. Not just that, even at f/2.5, it is one of the fastest lenses and manages to capture some amazing shots without really a lot of issues.

Even at f/2.5, it manages to create some of the most stunning looking bokeh, which makes this lens all the better and a definite option that you should be taken seriously.

Last but not the least, the build quality on this lens is phenomenal, to say the least. You are not going to be disappointed by how solid this lens feels, to be honest.

During my testing, I realized that the only real issue that I had with this lens is the fact that chromatic aberration can come in the way in certain situations but aside from that, there is nothing about this lens that is not as good.

Overall, I would say that the Nikon 105mm is a good starting point and now I am even more excited to test out other manual focus lenses. For anyone who wants to shoot a video, this is an absolute treat and does the job well.

  • Has a compact and lightweight construction.
  • The bokeh looks excellent.
  • Incredible sharpness even when wide open.
  • One of the most well-built lenses.
  • Suffers from some chromatic aberration.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 105mm

Nikon 55mm – Best Nikon Manual Focus Macro Lens

Nikon 55mm brings you some stunning and sharp results with its DOF and IR markings and the macros are crisp.

I have always been a strong proponent of the fact that if you want to have a fun time with photography, you should have your hands on a macro lens. Now, I do know that these lenses, despite being commonly available, have a very cult-like following but if you are looking to experiment and improve your photography, getting a macro lens is never a bad thing and you will have a lot of fun with it, too.

The Nikon 55mm is one of the best Nikon manual focus macro lenses and honestly, if you are in search of something that delivers top of the line performance and some stunning macro photography, this lens is for you and you will not be running into any issues, to be honest. You are going to have a lot of fun with this lens and that is what I can guarantee you.

Even at f/2.8, this is one of the sharpest lenses that I have had the chance to use. It produced some of the most stunning-looking macro shots, and it only makes one wonder how good this lens normally is. This is not going to let you down.

Another great thing about this lens is that it comes with DOF and IR markings, while these might confuse those who shoot in autofocus, for a manual user, this is a blessing. The lens also has an excellent focus ring that truly brings out the joy of using manual focus lenses.

Nikon 55mm
Nikon 55mm Sample Image

Sadly, the macro on this lens only goes down to 1:2 magnification, which might not be ideal for everyone but if you are okay with that, this is an amazing lens worth checking out.

In conclusion, at 55mm, this is one of the perfect macro lenses available in the market, and you will have a lot of fun shooting with this lens.

  • Stunningly beautiful and sharp results.
  • The DOF and IR markings make it easy to use the lens.
  • The focus ring feels excellent.

  • The lens only goes down to 1:2 when magnifying.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 55mm

Nikon 50mm – Best Nikon 50mm Manual Focus Lens

Nikon 50mm has a tang-like shape and comes with DOF and IR markings. It also offers excellent contrast.

50mm is generally considered the best focal length for almost all the things that you are going to do with a camera. However, things are a bit different when you are looking at a manual focus lens. You see, all the 50mm lenses that I have reviewed in the past were autofocus, be it a lens for the Nikon D810, or some other camera, they were all autofocus lenses.

This, however, is a manual focus lens, and well, things are different here, and remember, different does not mean bad in any sense, to be honest.

For starters, the lens has one of the best build qualities that you can find in any lens, to be honest. Despite being old, the lens is built like a tank and Nikon has left no stone unturned in terms of build quality.

Nikon 50mm - Sample
Nikon 50mm Sample Image

This lens, much like its siblings, also comes with DOF and IR markings, making it easier for everyone to use the lens to their liking and preference. You will not be let down, that is what I can guarantee you.

My favorite thing about this lens is that despite being at f/1.4, it offers excellent center sharpness, which is not something common when you are at such a bright aperture, but this lens handles it like a champion and does not let anyone down, either.

With so much to love about this lens, there are a few downsides, the lens does run into ghosting and flare issues quite often, and there is slight vignetting when you are using a full-frame camera.

Simply put, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 is a great lens for manual lens lovers. Sure, it will take some time getting used to the nooks and crannies of manual focusing but once you have perfected it, you will have a great lens at hand.

  • Built like a tank.
  • Comes with DOF and IR markings which are really helpful.
  • Amazing center sharpness.
  • Offers excellent contrast.
  • There is some ghosting and flaring.
  • Runs into vignetting on full-frame cameras.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 50mm

Nikon 50mm f/1.2 – Best Nikon Manual Focus Portrait Lens

Nikon 50mm f/1.2 comes with brilliant build quality and offers one of the shallowest depths of fields.

The purpose of this round-up was to be short because we were not going to confuse the users with an abundance of manual focus lenses. I know I mentioned before that manual focus lenses are mostly used for videos, but many of us dare to use manual focus lenses for photography too, especially portrait photography.

After all, if you are not able to get even the last bit of a picture in focus, then what is the point, right? With that said, the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 is the fastest lens in the list in terms of its aperture but does it live up to its name? Well, that is what we are going to focus on

Again, I am going to give credit where it’s due as the build quality on these best Nikon manual lenses is one of the best that you can imagine; the lens feels solid in hand and is not going to break on you. It is built to last. The lens also brings a very shallow depth of field at f/1.2 and produces some of the most beautiful-looking bokeh that you could ask for.

In addition to that, the one thing that surprised me the most was the sharpness of this lens. Normally, at f/1.2, lenses get softer and lose a lot of contrast, as well, but that is not the case here as the lens manages to maintain perfect contrast and great sharpness.

Another thing that you should know is that the lens also has DOF and IR markings, which has become a staple for manual Nikon lenses, and well, at f/1.2, it is one of the fastest lenses in the market.

Nikon 50mm f/1.2 Sample Image

This is not to say that there are not a few downsides to this lens. For starters, the chromatic aberration is not as good, and focusing can take some time.

Simply put, the Nikon 50mm f/1.2 is one of the best manual focus lenses for video and portrait work, too. Sure, it will take you some time to fully get used to the lens but the overall performance is exceptional here.

  • Excellent build quality.
  • Offers one of the shallowest depths of fields.
  • Great performance in terms of contrast and sharpness.
  • Excellent for low-light shooting.
  • There is some chromatic aberration.
  • Focusing comes with a learning curve.
Check Latest Price for Nikon 50mm f/1.2

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Nikon does make manual lenses still, but the production has been scaled back ever since autofocus lenses became the norm in the market.

While manual lenses are more synonymous with video shooters, you can use these lenses for photography as well.

The Nikon manual lenses just like the autofocus lenses use Nikon’s F mount as the standard offering.


I am fully aware of the fact that getting your hands on a manual lens might sound like a bad decision in 2021. But trust me, I have been shooting videos and some photos with a manual lens for some time and the results have been great every single time.

Sure, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but with the right amount of practice, you can truly make a manual lens your own and get some incredible results in return, as well. You will not be let down by how good the performance is on these lenses.

That is why this round-up focuses on listing down some of the best manual focus Nikon lenses that you can find.

Gary Sindell

Gary Sindell

Hey, I’m Gary Sindell from beautiful Vancouver. A passionate photographer turned ‘Lens Guru’, I’ll help you discover the power of the right lens and elevate your photography game.

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