the Nikon 43-86/3.5 F in review



I've been exclusively using the later Zoom-NIKKOR Auto 43-86mm F3.5 for the past couple of months; the version which Ken Rockwell refers to as 'just fine'.
I'd obtained this lens from a bundle that included an F3 that I subsequently sold with an 85/2...
Anyway, I had been avoiding the 43-86 on digital because I tend to shoot wider street work at 18mm with a 1.5 crop. The crop factor produces an equivalent field of view of 27mm (~28mm) on 35mm/full frame, wishfully yet woefully, à la Garry Winogrand.
I began to reason that 43mm should be a stellar focal length on full frame since this produces a field of view similar to the cone of attention of human vision when discounting peripheral vision of the actual 22mm focal length; there would be little difference between what one sees, and what appears in the viewfinder once the camera is brought to the eye. The ability to shoot at the terminal 86/3.5 could produce adequate portraits in sufficient light, and this combination lent me to believe the lens was intended to be a capable walk-around "kit lens" — but with such an undesirable minimum focusing distance of 1.2m, the tighter  64.5mm equivalent field of view contrived from the cropped 1.5x43mm, and lack of autofocus, using the lens oftentimes felt tardy albeit leisurely.
The lens yields images with a relatively low contrast and natural tones, creating the illusion of a wider dynamic range. However, highlights and lighter tones tend to become milky and ill-defined. There is a low threshold for highlight clipping in harsh light, or when the image is overexposed, even by one to two thirds of a stop, which may result in unpleasant bokeh at f/3.5. Flaring and ghosting have not been an issue for me, but chromatic aberrations are present to varying degrees.The object resolution at f/3.5 is unremarkable but will be noticeably greater when stopped down. There is a lack of significant vignetting, probably due to the crop.
The lens presents a sound proposition for practicality, and has some character that I'd like to reclaim on full frame. 













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