In 1979, Nikon introduced a series of light weight budget priced lenses to complement the introduction of the Nikon EM and the forthcoming FG and FG-20. Instead of having “Nikkor” as part their names, these lenses are called “Nikon Series E”. The whole family of Nikon Series E lenses consists of: 28mm f2.8, 35mm f2.5, 50mm f1.8, 100mm f2.8, 135mm f2.8, 36-72mm f3.5, 70-150mm f3.5 and 70-210mm f4. Not all them were introduced at the same time with the EM. For example, the 70-210mm f4 was introduced in 1982. Some of the Series E lenses listed above went through cosmetic changes during their production span and the 50mm f1.8 is one of them. The photo above shows the later version of this “pancake lens” with a wider focusing ring and the aluminum ring as the depth-of-field scale. The original version introduced with the EM is “more pancake” since its focusing ring is even narrower with the aluminum ring omitted (Anyone can provide a photo of the original version so that I can share in here will be greatly appreciated). Some other Series E lenses (including 35mm, 100mm and I think also the 28mm, can anyone confirm?) also received similar cosmetic upgrades. The main reason behind is believed to be the “plastic cheap look” of their original versions when compared to the “traditional” Nikkor lenses. This is also the reason that many hardcore Nikon fans regard them as inferiorly built and “non-canonical”.
Although much less durably constructed than their bigger brother Nikkors, most Series E lenses are able to optically outperform their third party competitors. Some of them, like the 50mm, 100mm and the 70-150mm, are even trusted by serious amateurs and professionals for their exceptional optical quality and relatively cheap prices in the used market today! Moreover, all Series E lenses were built to AI-S specification which enables the use of shutter-priority and programmed exposure for compatible/capable bodies like the FG and FA even though the first AI-S Nikkors were introduced 2 years later in 1981 (Coincidentally, the later version of the Series E 50mm f1.8 looks very similar to the AI-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8).
I bought the Series E 50mm f1.8 above because I wanted a small light weight 50mm prime for everyday “rough” use on both of my film and digital bodies and thus I can reserve my AF 50mm f1.8D for studio use or location portraits only. I even got a “free” EM body when I bought the lens! Another thing worth mentioning is the Series E 50mm f1.8 is a great economical choice for macro photography when used with extension rings and this was discussed in a previous post.
Well, how about some sample photos? The photo below is taken with my Series E 50mm f1.8 mounted on a F-801 with Ilford Delta 100 loaded.
Status: In Collection