Data Sheet: Nikkor Ai-s 35–105 mm f/3.5-4.5

Pekka Buttler, 12/2023

Pictured: Zoom-NIKKOR 35~105mm 1:3.5-4.5


The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications (measurements based on pictured sample):

Brand:Nikon (Nikkor)Lens nameZoom-NIKKOR 35~105mm 1:3.5–4.5
Focal length(s)135–105 mmAngle-of-view262°–23°20
Maximum Aperturef/3.5–4.5In Production1983–2005
Lens mountNikon FSubfamily (if applicable)Ai-s (Automatic indexing)
Length386,1 mmDiameter463,6 mm
Filter ring diameter52 mmWeight515 grams
Lens element count16Lens group count12
Aperture blades (S/R/C)57 SFocus throw90 °
Minimum focusing distance1.4 m (normal)
27 cms (macro)
Maximum magnification1:11,6 (1:3,8)
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:
• The lens is a one-ring zoom, meaning that the same rings controls zooming (forward–backward) and focusing (through rotation).
• The length of the lens changes significantly while zooming. The lens is longer when zoomed closer.
• Focusing does somewhat change the length of the lens. Moreover, the entire lens’ front (including filter ring) rotates when focusing.
• This zoom is close to being parfocal in the normal range.
• The lens offers a dedicated macro mode, that offers a decent close-up capability. Without the macro mode, the lens’ minimum focusing distance is quite dismal.
• Nikon offered a dedicated lens hood for this lens (the HK-11)
• This lens was ‘succeeded’ by three consecutive (1986-1991; 1991-1994; 1994–2001) slot-drive autofocus lenses(see version history below)
• Interestingly, this manual-era lens outlasted them all, as it was discontinued as late as 2005 (!). By that time, Nikon had manufactured almost 400 000 copies of this lens.

Left: Lens set at 35 mm
Right: Lens set at 105 mm.

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.

Version history

Nikon has, throughout the decades, produced several zoom lenses that share the same mainline specifications: a focal length range of 35–105 and a maximum aperture of f/3.5–4.5:

MFDmacro mode?weightnotes
Ai-s 35–105mm f/3.5–4.51983–200516e/12g1,4 mat 35 mm510 g(this lens)
AF 35–105mm f/3.5–4.51986–199116e/12g1,4 mat 35 mm460 g
AF 35–105mm f/3.5–4.5 new1991–199416e/12g1,4 mat 35 mm540 g
AF-D 35–105mm f/3.5–4.5 IF1994–200113e/10g0,85 mno410 g


Besides adapting, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs7. Likewise, if it still has its 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.

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 may not allow for 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 Aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor Ai lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200

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