Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 Ai-S

Nikon Micro NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 Ai-S

Lens Summary

Brand: Nikon

Also Known As: Nikon 55mm f/2.8 AIS

Lens Type: Prime Lens

Format: Full Frame / FX

Focus: Manual Focus

Lens Mount: Nikon F

Release Date: 1979-09-01

MSRP Price: $409.95

Made in: Japan

Infrared Rating: Good

Production Status: In Production

Lens Description: This manual focus Micro lens is perfect for extreme close-up and general photography with continuous focusing from infinity to 1/2 life-size (1:2).

Photography Life Review Summary: A great classic with impressive performance, especially when stopped down to f/5.6. CA levels are controlled extremely well and the lens is distortion-free. A great buy, especially on the second hand market.

Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 Ai-S Specifications

Lens Specifications
* Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area 
Lens TypePrime Lens
Focal Length55mm
Mount TypeNikon F
FormatFull Frame / FX
Compatible Format(s)FX, DX, FX in DX CRop Mode, 35mm Film
Compatible with TeleconvertersNo
Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization)No
Aperture Information
Aperture RingYes
Maximim Aperturef/2.8
Minimum Aperturef/32
Maximum Angle of View (Full frame or larger format)43°
Optical Information
Lens Elements6
Lens Groups5
Focus Information
FocusManual Focus
Built-in Focus MotorNo
Minimum Focus Distance0.9 ft. (0.25m)
Filter Information
Filter Size52mm
Accepts Filter TypeScrew-on
Physical Characteristics
Weather / Dust SealingYes
Mount MaterialMetal
Dimensions(Approx.) 2.5x2.4 in. (Diameter x Length), 63.5x60.9mm (Diameter x Length)
Weight(Approx.) 10.2 oz. (285.6g)
Other Information
Available in ColorsBlack
Supplied Accessories52mm front lens cap, Rear lens cap

MTF Performance

Here is how the lens performed according to Imatest:

Performance is very impressive wide open in the center of the frame. Mid-frame and corners start out a little weaker due to field curvature, but the performance is restored to very good levels when the lens is stopped down to f/8. Center frame peaks at f/5.6 reaching excellent results, while the corners are the best at f/8. The lens did exhibit some focus shift issues, but they were not anything major like on some older manual focus lenses.


This lens is practically distortion free – very few Nikkor lenses are this good! Imatest measured a tiny bit of barrel distortion at -0.05, which is not something one would be able to see with a naked eye.

Chromatic Aberration

Chromatic aberration levels are surprisingly low for a classic lens (most modern lenses measure around 1 pixel in CA):


Vignetting levels are moderate wide open and decrease significantly when stopped down to f/4:

Here is the worst case scenario, shot at f/2.8:

Nikon Micro-NIKKOR 55mm f/2.8 Ai-S Vignetting

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Terry Griffin

My main use of the Micro Nikkor is copying historical photos so that I can clean up the creases, stains, etc. for archival purposes and in one case, they were used for wallpapers in our local historical hotel. I’m always very impressed with the resulting images from my D810/Micro Nikkor combination. This combination beats the heck out of photo scanners! I haven’t used it for outdoor photography yet but intend to.


I own 16 Nikkor primes and 4 Nikkor afs zooms for fx, f mount, and this is the sharpest lens I have, at any distance. For shooting landscape at f/8 it’s almost too much sometimes. No idea how they managed to do this in 1981, with almost only handwritten computations For portrait at maximum aperture, you enjoy extreme sharpness in the center, enough depth of field to get the whole subject in focus, very smooth bokeh and a very noticeable 3d effect. For macro work you have no fringing and beautiful contrast and color rendition. It is tiny, lightweight, its front element is so deep that you almost never need a hood and it’s rock solid. If I was allowed to have only one lens it would be this one.

Carolyn Jones

Absolutely – a stunning lens – love it to the moon and back (IG Riverlane_photos to see pics)

johan joubert

Just bought a F2.8 from B&H…previous lens was a 1979 F3.5. Most stupid thing I did was to sell it.
Still a brilliant sharp lens and incredibly sharp.



Can I ask whether the indicated “Minimum focus distance” is referring to the distance between the film/sensor and the subject, or the one between the lens and the subject. Thank you.

Pete A

The focus distance marked on a Nikon lens, and its minimum focus distance, is the distance between the image plane (film/sensor) and the in‑focus object plane (subject plane).

Airy Magnien

A macro lens that also can be used for general purposes, as it delivers sharp pictures near infinity too. One drawback is its propensity to flare, plus the limited aperture that makes manual focussing a bit more difficult than necesssary.

Despite popular opinion, its sharpness is similar to other (non macro) standard lenses’. It exhibits much less distortion though, which can be advantageous for architecture shots, for instance.


I have a Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 and agree with all the above comments regarding sharpness, distortion and chromatic aberration. However, using it on a Fuji X-T2 and processing raw files in ACR, I find I have to tweak colors a lot: reducing magenta saturation and increasing yellow, pulling shadow blue out in curves, etc. This isn’t true for all shots, depending on the colors in the scene, but for a lot of them.

Yogi Mik

Don’t blame a lens for that, but an X-Trans III camera.
More often colors are impossible to tweak right in the post.
This is a known issue.
I’ve wasted 3 years trying to find the way to fix colors in the post.
I was using Capture One, LR & PS with expensive pluggings, too … with no avail.
In the end, I gave it up, as well as my X-Pro2.
I’m back to my X-T1 SG, and I started to like my images as well as easy, and quick edits in COP.
I regret of using X-Pro2 in the first place … because I wanted X-pro form factor.
I should buy an X-Pro1 instead, or just stick to my X-T1SG, which luckily I haven’t sold.
I haven’t sold my x-pro2, cos of low resale value.
I use it sometimes for Monochrome, and Acros.
I’ll never buy a new iteration of FujiX camera, nor Fujinon X lens again.
The last excellent lens I bought, was XF16/1.4, when it was released.
I buy old cams, and classic lenses, only.


The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8 has most likely the highest resolution of any lens in the world! The amount of detail it can resolve, clearly surpasses even the current 36Mp sensors. Even zoomed in to 300% on the camerascreen it is still supersharp, and only the individual pixels limit performance. Not bad for a lens from the 80’s. The reason for this is simple: Lenses for the F-mount around 50mm is the easiest to design. But the bigger you try to make the lens’ aperture, the more tradeoffs you must accept; and sharpness and distortion are traded for more light-gathering.
Thus: if you accept “only” f/2.8, you get a supersharp lens with ZERO distortion that is just as perfect for normal use too! My kind of lens!


I bought this on a camers shop used for 50 euros! Amazing lens, it never leaveds my camera.

Phil Wardle

I picked up this lens for a little over $100 on eBay, and it is quite simply the sharpest lens I have ever used, the results on both my D7200 and D850 are truly amazing. A must buy for all Nikon owners with a compatible body.


Thanks for running this test!

I’m looking at your IMA test results, and thinking my 55 / 2.8 AI-S at f/11 would make an outstanding multi-row panoramic lens on my D810.
Center, Mid and Corner are the closest at f/11, and (on paper) might prove the most consistent for stitching.


Super macro lens
My wish for 40 years. It was too expensive. Buy it now as second hand.