Best Nikon AI Lenses 2023: 8 Top Choices

For close to five decades, Nikon AI lenses have proven to be game-changers in the photography scene. They have given the users more freedom on aperture control than the earlier version was offering.

In this article, we are going to tell you more about the best Nikon AI lenses so that you will be in better shape to make the right choice next time you go shopping.

As such, we shall discuss the factors that you need to consider, and they include:

  • Intended use
  • Low light performance
  • The budget

Construction, just to mention a few

Before we get to these factors, we shall review some models of Nikon AI lenses, which we believe are the best in the market.

Best Nikon AI Lenses

Top-Rated Nikon AI Lenses: A Comparison Table

You can narrow down your search for the ideal AIS lens by going through the brief reviews we have done below.

RankingProduct NameMaximum Focal LengthMinimum Focal Length
1Nikon 105mm f/2.5 Ai-S Lens105 Millimeters105 Millimeters
2Nikon AI-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens
3Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E Lens50 Millimeters50 Millimeters
4Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Lens55 Millimeters55 Millimeters
5Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-S Lens35 Millimeters35 Millimeters
6Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 Lens50 Millimeters50 Millimeters
7Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-S Nikkor Lens24 Millimeters24 Millimeters
8Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI Lens24 Millimeters24 Millimeters

1. Nikon 105mm f/2.5 Ai-S Lens

For the professionals, this lens may offer just what you are looking for. It has a manual focus operation and is often mentioned as the ‘Classic’ portrait lens.

You are likely to appreciate the sharp images that this lens captures while the f/2.5 aperture ensures that it is the perfect choice for PJ and other low-light uses.


  • A classic portrait lens
  • Sharp images
  • Ideal for low light applications


  • Only for professionals

2. Nikon AI-S FX NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

Are you looking for a well-made lens? If you are, then your search should stop at the Nikon AI-S 50mm prime lens.

It is crafted from high-quality materials to enhance its durability. Additionally, it comes with a one-year warranty to give you peace of mind as you use it.

One of the reasons why we rate this unit highly is its impressive performance, even in poorly lit conditions.


  • Sturdy construction
  • Has a one-year warranty
  • Excellent low-light performance


  • Has soft images from f/1.2 to f/2.8

3. Nikon 50mm f/1.8 Series E Lens

This is a manual focus lens that any beginner would enjoy getting into the game with. It is easy to operate, and within a short while, you should be a master of manual focus lenses.

As for the construction, it is well-built to ensure that it serves you for a long time to come. What’s more, is that the lens is lightweight and compact to make it easy to move around with it.

It may not be zoomable, but this lens still delivers some sharp and vivid images that any photographer would appreciate.


  • Durable
  • Delivers sharp and clear images
  • Lightweight and compact


  • Only performs well away from the sun

Read another post: Top 5 Best C Mount Lenses for the Money

4. Nikon 55mm f/2.8 Lens

This is another Nikon lens that has been delivering impressive performances for all the while it has been around.

Let’s start with the build quality, which is sturdy enough to ensure that it withstands all the hardships it is exposed to. The focus ring on its part is also well-made and easy to turn so that you are comfortable in using it for long durations.

What’s more, is that it is incredibly sharp for crisp and clear images. Even better is the close-range manual focusing system that offers any precision that you desire.


  • Sturdy construction
  • Compact
  • Fantastic performance in low light conditions


  • Only for large and still subjects

5. Nikon 35mm f/1.4 AI-S Lens

This manual focus lens is one of the fastest wide-angle lenses, and this makes it suited for press photography.

It uses the Close-Range-Correction (CRC) feature to ensure that all images are of high quality and free from flares and aberrations even for close focusing distances.

The lens features an all-metal construction to maintain the sturdiness and durability associated with all Nikon lenses.


  • Decent pricing
  • High-quality construction
  • Minimal barrel distortion


  • Not sharp when wide open

6. Nikon Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 Lens

This lens was specially designed for use in low light conditions. As a result, you should find it useful for different types of photography, including portraits and on the road.

In case you find yourself in a situation that needs a limited depth of field, then this lens should give you what you are looking for.

The manual focus of this lens is unbeatable and is more than capable of delivering outstanding performance.


  • A great performer in low light situations
  • Well-made
  • Fantastic resolution


  • Some distortion present

7. Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-S Nikkor Lens

If you are looking for the perfect wide-angle lens for outdoor photography, this lens is likely never to disappoint. It offers you a wide field of view, plus the aperture only adds to its outstanding quality.

The manual focus too is fantastic while the lens comes with a 5-year warranty to give you peace of mind.


  • Covered by a 5-year warranty
  • Offers a wide angle of view
  • Great for outdoor shots


  • May not be ideal for distance subjects

8. Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI Lens

The last product on our list is a manual focus lens with a focal length of 24mm and f/2.8 aperture. It provides a wide depth of view and would serve you well as you take outdoor shots.

It may not be zoomable, but it still delivers sharp and clear images as you desire.

We have no complaints about the build quality and the packaging as well.


  • Provides a wide angle of view
  • Well-made
  • Great manual focus


  • Limited zooming ability

The Buying Guide

Several factors should influence how you go about choosing the best Nikon AIS lens. First, we advise that you go for a glass that is capable of putting a decent performance even in low-light situations.

Also, a wide field of view is essential as it determines how much the lens would capture.

The other thing you need to think about is how you plan on using this lens.

Last but not least, the budget is also an important factor, noting that the pricier products tend to offer more advanced features.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In this section, we have compiled some of the common questions posed regarding Nikon AIS lenses.

Are Nikon AI and AIS lenses similar?

No, they are not. For the AIS lens, you have to choose the aperture manually, while in the AI lens, the aperture is automatic.

How do Iget the best Nikon AI lens?

To land the best item, you simply have to focus on several factors, which include the price, the intended application of the lens, the low-light performance, and the field of view.

Which one is the Best?

In the end, we have chosen the Nikon 105mm f/2.5 Ai-S Lens as our top pick.  This because it has the ideal combination of features that ensure it delivers an excellent performance.

Final Thoughts

Now that you have known more about Nikon AI lenses, why don’t you go ahead and apply this knowledge in your search for the best item? This way, you would have a reliable means of capturing the special moments so that you would have a story to tell in the future.

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