Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3? Zeiss Planar T* f/1.4 vs Nikkor f.1.2 or f/1.4?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
LenneMc Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

You forgot the Nikkor 50mm f1.8, f2. and the Series E 50mm 1.8. I have the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, and I am disappointed with the bokeh at 1.2. Rather nervous, lots of onion rings. I am starting to be impressed with the lowly 50mm f1.8 Series E (silver ring). The bokeh seems very smooth at 1.8, sharp enough, and extremely well balanced on my FM2.

robot vulture wrote:

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?




I am an owner / big fan of the FM3A and have tried most of the lenses on your list. I've been shooting with it for the last 5 years. My thoughts on the lenses:

Nikon 50/1.4 AIS:

This was the one I started with. I shot a lot of early rolls with this lens and took many beautiful shots i was happy with. I found it too soft at 1.4, but it's fantastic from F2 onwards. It's a nice compact size too, it pairs well with the camera.

I haven't been shooting much with it in the last 2 years. The main reason is that after shooting some zeiss lenses, the colour of this nikon lens doesn't seem that great. Also the bokeh can be nervous at times.

Zeiss 35/2 ZF2

This wasn't on your list but it pairs great with FM3a. The image quality on another level to the nikon AIS lenses. The only thing issue with it though is it's slightly long and heavy for the FM3A. Not an issue if it's going in a bag, but might be annoying around the neck.

Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron

I picked this up a few months ago, and imho it is overall the best to pair with the fm3a. I love the colour rendition (slightly muted compared to zeiss), sharpness and bokeh. Form factor is very small, and it's a stop faster than the nikon 45/2.8P.

Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF2

Picked up one of these recently. Haven't properly tested it out on film yet, but from digital tests and what i've seen on the web i'm expecting good things. It's not up to the level of the milvus 50/1.4 but i think it'll be a big step up from the 50/1.4 AIS nikon. This lens does apparently have focus shift though, so something to be careful of.

Zeiss 50/1.4 Milvus

Amazing colour rendition and detail on film. Shoot a roll of portra 400, scan it well and you'll be amazed at the detail you get out of it. Too big for FM3a though, but it's fine on larger bodies like F5/F6/F100.

Nikon 45/2.8P

Haven't had a chance to properly test this on film, but seems ok on digital. Initial impression is that i prefer the voigtlander- faster, nicer colour rendition, better ergonomics.

Nikon 50/1.2 AIS

I've seriously looked at this lens a few times. imho if you go for this over the 1.4, it's because of the better bokeh and focus transitions rather than the extra speed. If you really want 50mm, it's worth serious consideration vs the zeiss 50/1.4.

Whichever lenses you go with though, scanning process is really important. I gave up on labs a long time ago - I hate the frontier colour rendition (too cyan/yellow, auto colour is terrible, needs lots of corrections just gross overall). Honestly if you want good output, just buy a coolscan 5000 and be done with it (you can feed the scans into NLP this way too if you desire). Scanning is a big topic in itself..

A few random shots taken with the voigtlander lens recently:

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