NIKON 35mm film MF/AF – camera/lens compatibility

As many know, NIKON cameras and lenses have been heavily used by pros in the 1970-1980. They invest a lot in their gear. That is why the compatibility is important. You do not choose only a camera or lens, you choose complete system. If this system keeps backwards compatiblity then you are good to go. With some exceptions…

F mount was introduced in 1958. Major upgrade happened in the late 1970s by showing AI type lenses, which pass aperture information to the camera by using mechanical lever. Then, there were minor upgrades like AI-S which one can recognize by having depressed channel on the mount ring, which looks like little well.

In the 1980s NIKON introduced AF system which was compatible with AI and AI-S. In the 1990s there was D which transmitts distance to the camera which may help with proper flash exposure settings. There were also not to so popular on the aftermarket model lines like AI-I, AI-S and AI-P which basically have its own AF motor. Secondary model description letters tells us about the motor type being installed in the lens. I won’t cover it by now, because I do not own aby of these. I may say something about AI, AI-S, AF which I do own. There is also G type lens which lacks aperture ring. In my very case, it is no use, because I aim at using also MF cameras.

MF cameras

If you would like to shot with MF camera and pre-AI lenses then you choice should be as follows: Nikkormat FTN/FT/FT2, F2, F2S, F2SB, Nikkormat EL, ELW. You can mount pre-AI lenses as well as AI/AI-S lenses on these cameras. If you aim shooting only AI/AI-S as well as Series E, AF, AF-S then of course limited only to MF you can easily choose the following cameras: Nikkormat FT3/EL2, FM, F2A, F2AS, FE, F3/F3HP. With pre-AI you will be able to mount such lenses, but will be stopped down. In case you do not aim at pre-AI lenses and would like to shoot only with AI/AI-S, Series E, AF, AF-S you get the following: EM, FG/FG20, FE2, FA, FM2, N2000/F301, FM10FE10.

AF cameras

If you would like to shoot AF camera then your choices seems to be quite limited because I do not recommend selecting the cheapest and the most popular because their lack of support for almost anything. I recommend going with F4, F5, F100, F70, F90. You will not be disappointed by these. With F4 yo will be able to mount pre-AI lenses.


F5, F100, F70, F90.


N2020, F601, F801. No AF feature on AF-I/AF-S.


F60, F50, F401x. No AI/AI-S metering, AF-I/AF-S will not have AF.