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  • Entry #4
    © Glenn Hewitt

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45mm f/2.8 AI-P Nikkor

Suitable For:

General photography

Camera Formats:

FX and DX


Focal length: 45mm
Maximum aperture: 2.8
Minimum aperture: 22
Angle of View: 50°
Focus Throw: 90°
Maximum reproduction ratio: 1:7.6
Lens Elements: 4
Lens Groups: 3
Diaphragm Blades: 7 rounded
ED Glass Elements: 0
Autofocus: n/a
Minimum Focus Distance: 0.45m
Filter Size: 52mmØ
Filter Type: front screw in
Dimensions: 63mmØ by 17mm
Weight: 120g
Accessories: HN-35 hood

Bjørn's Rørslett's Overview:

This petite lens is an enigma with its "retro" looks and purely manual operation. With its superb precision construction in bright, satin-finished metal, it is an endearing contrast to the current breed of plasticky, wobbling AF lenses. The focusing throw is very short so focusing is fast and positive up to the 0.45m near limit. The lens is so short that the focusing and aperture rings are closely adjacent and thus need to be very narrow. To make handling the lens easier, the rings are conveniently ribbed and the inner aperture ring is slightly wider, thus easier to locate by touch only. To top it all, there is a peculiar-looking (shaped like a reversed funnel) sunshade that allows the special grey lens cap to be mounted with the shade in place. The sunshade is quite inefficient in keeping sunrays and raindrops from hitting the front element, however, so adding one or more K-rings to push it further out from the lens front is advisable.

Like its predecessor, the venerable GN-Nikkor 45 mm f/2.8, this lens has a simple Tessar optical design. This means just 4 elements (in 3 groups) are used and thus the reflecting surfaces are fewer than in most other lenses. In shooting against bright light sources, a small ghost spot occurs, but flare is otherwise quite well under control.

I have compared the new and old 45 mm closely and conclude that their designs are not identical, although both are Tessars. The new lens has a bigger exit pupil to make illumination more even over the entire image. It also focuses closer. Colour rendition is superb and image contrast is quite high, although slightly softer than most modern Nikkors. There is no ED glass in this lens, but colour fringing is perfectly controlled nonetheless. The aperture has 7 blades and is nicely rounded, this combines with the simple Tessar design to give excellent smoothness ("bokeh" is the buzz word) in the out-of-focus zone of the image. Geometric distortion is virtually absent so this is a perfect lens for architecture and similar applications.

This lens obviously is targeted for the new FM3A camera, but attaches to any Nikon body to make a splendid travel companion. It is small, inobtrusive, and capable of producing sparkling images. Equipped with a CPU, it will make the most out of all Nikons, even the most modern camera such as D1/D1X.

A final point: this lens is so small you can easily misplace it and never be able to locate it again. I hate to admit this has happened to me, so I'm on my second sample now. You are warned!

IR: The performance is excellent and no issues with hot-spots are observed on any camera tested so far.

Bjørn's Rating:

4.5 (DX:D1X)
4.5-5 (DX:D2X, D200)
IR: 4.5 (DX:D1, D70, S3Pro UVIR)

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