Data sheet: Nikkor AF 35-135 mm f/3.5–4.5

Pekka Buttler, 02/2024

Note please: there are two optically and cosmetically different versions of the Nikkor AF 35–135/3.5–4.5:
• Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5–4.5 (1986–1988) (this lens)
• Nikkor AF 35-135mm f/3.5–4.5 new (1988–1998) [data sheet]
This data sheet covers only the first version.

Pictured: Nikkor AF 35-135 mm f/3.5–4.5


The table below summarises the lens’ key specifications of both versions (measurements based on pictured samples).

Brand:AF NikkorLens name35-135mm 1:3.5–4.5
Focal length(s)135–135 mmAngle-of-view262°–23°20
Maximum Aperturef/3.5–4.5In ProductionAF 1986–1988
Lens mountNikon FSubfamily (if applicable)AF
Length3107,6 mmDiameter471,1 mm
Filter ring diameter62 mmWeight636 grams
Lens element count15Lens group count14
Aperture blades (S/R/C)57 SFocus throw≈90 °
Minimum focusing distance1,5 m (0,4 m)Maximum magnification1:3,5
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Historical notes:

• When Nikon introduced its autofocus system (the F-501 camera and AF lenses) in 1996, they initially introduced 6 primes (from 24–300 mm), one tele zoom (the 70-210/4 [data sheet]), one macro lens, one autofocusing teleconverter and four lenses corresponding to the definition of a standard zoom:
– Nikkor AF 35–70 mm f/3.3–4.5 [data sheet]
– Nikkor AF 35-105 mm f/3.5–4.5 [data sheet]
– Nikkor AF 35–135 mm f/3.5–4.5 (this lens)
– Nikkor AF 28–85 mm f/3.5–4.5 [data sheet]
• Here there is a clear pecking order, with the Nikkor AF 35–70mm f/3.3–4.5 being intended as the entry-level kit zoom and each of the other zooms offering some extras.
• The first version of the 35–135/3.5–4.5 was replaced in 1988 with a fundamentally redesigned lens. See more in ‘versions’.

Further notes:

• The lens is a 2-ring zoom, meaning that the one ring controls zooming and another ring controls focusing. Being a first-generation AF Nikkor lens, it features the despised, narrow, plastic focusing ring.
• The lens changes length significantly while zooming. It is at its shortest at the 35 mm setting and lengthens when moving towards 135 mm.
• Focusing also changes the length of the lens (albeit only slightly). When focusing, the filter threads and hood mounting bayonet rotate.
• The lens has a macro-mode that you can engage at the 135 mm focal length setting. In that macro-mode the minimum focusing distance is ≈40 centimetres and the maximum magnification becomes 1:3,5 (measured)

Left: Nikkor AF 35–135mm f/3.5–4.5 Zoomed to 35 mm
Right: Nikkor AF 35–135mm f/3.3–4.5 Zoomed to 135 mm

• This lens has a manual aperture ring. Also it is of the generation of Nikon AF lenses where autofocus was actually facilitated by a focusing motor in the camera body (not the lens). The lens does not offer controls to switch between manual and auto focus. Instead, this operation would be done on the camera body.
• Nikon offered a dedicated, bayonet-mounted hood for the lens (the HB-1).


Nikon has, throughout the decades, produced three zoom lenses that share the same mainline specifications: a focal length range of 35–135 and a maximum aperture of f/3.5–4.5:

MFDzoommacro mode?weightnotes
Ai-s 35–135mm f/3.5–4.51984–199815e/14g1,5 m1-ringat 135 mm600 g
AF 35–135mm f/3.5–4.51986–198815e/14g1,5 m2-ringat 135 mm636 g*(this lens)
AF 35–135mm f/3.5–4.5 new1988–199815e/12g1,5 m1-ringat 35 mm681 g*[data sheet]
* Numbers based on measurements on samples. Other weights based on online sources

• The way the macro mode operates differs significantly between the first two versions:
– with the Ai-s version, you can rotate the focus ring beyond MFD when the focal length is set to 135 mm
– with the first AF version, you press a button to rotate the zoom ring beyond 135, which rearranges the optics within the lens.
• The change from AF (this lens) to AF New was not a mere feature upgrade. Instead the lens was redesigned with a different optical recipe and a change in egronomics.

A brief genealogy of Nikon SLR lens types

Nikon is undoubtedly one of the great names in 35 mm SLR photography. The Nikon F mount has been in continuous production since 1959. During that time, the mount has developed/changed in some detail, however without ever fully sacrificing compatibility.

In short (a longer version is here), the development of Nikon’s SLR lenses can be traced as follows:
• 1959–1977: Pre-Ai. Manual focus lenses that use ‘rabbit ears’ to communicate selected aperture with the camera body.
• 1977–1986: Ai and Ai-s. Manual focus lenses that may have ‘rabbit ears’ for backward compatibility, but are designed to communicate selected aperture with the camera body through indentations in base of aperture control ring.
• 1986–today: AF and AF-D. Autofocus lenses that do not have a focusing motor within the lens, but rely on the focus motor within the camera. All AF and AF-D lenses are simultaneously Ai-s lenses (they are Ai-s lenses extended with AF) 6
• 1996–today AF-S and AF-P. Autofocus lenses that have an internal focusing motor and do not rely on the body having a focusing motor.


Besides adapting, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs. Moreover, if the camera body contains a slot-drive focusing motor, this lens will even auto-focus7. Likewise, if the lens has been retrofitted with ‘rabbit ears’, it can be natively used on all Nikon F-mount film cameras ever produced (without the rabbit ears, it is limited to post-1977 bodies).

Thanks to being a fully manual lens (manual aperture, manual focus), the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable dumb adapter (and such adapters are easy to find). Moreover, a large range of special adapters (helicoid adapters, tilt/shift adapters, speed boosters) for using Nikon F lenses on most mirrorless systems are available. Currently no adapters for mirrorless exist that would allow autofocus through the slot-drive screw.

Using Nikon F lenses on non-Nikon SLRs and dSLRs is likewise a distinct possibility. Thanks to the relatively generous flange focal distance of the Nikon F mount (46,5 mm), adapter rings for all dSLR mounts are available as well as for a goodly portion of film-era SLR mounts. Such rings will not allow autofocus, and are unlikely to support auto aperture, but even then the lenses can be used in stop-down metering mode.


  1. Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’. ↩︎
  2. Picture angle is given in degrees and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
    > 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
    70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
    50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
    40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
    20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
    10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
    5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
    < 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens ↩︎
  3. Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity. ↩︎
  4. Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers. ↩︎
  5. S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures. ↩︎
  6. There is a further sub-class of AF-D lenses called AF-I lenses that are otherwise AF-D lenses (meaning, fully Ai-s compatible), but have an internal focus motor. Only long tele lenses were made in AF-I variants. ↩︎
  7. As of this writing, the following Nikon dSLRs fully support autofocus, aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor AF/AF-D lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, Df, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200 ↩︎

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