Nikon introduced its current lens mount, called the Nikon F mount, in 1959 when it
introduced the Nikon F Camera. Every lens made by Nikon since then, over 400 in
total, will physically mount to any Nikon SLR or DSLR, with the following notable
- Some fisheye lenses have rear element that protrude into the camera body. Some
bodies don't provide enough clearance for this – although the lens may physically
fit, trying to take a picture may result in a broken mirror and damaged lens.
- The Pentaprism on some bodies doesn't provide clearance for certain mirror
lenses with wide lens barrels. For example, I used to own a Nikon F Photomic that
would not allow me to mount my 500mm F8 mirror lens. However removing the Photomic
head and using a simple pentaprism head gave the required clearance.
- Some of the older Non-AI lenses made prior to 1977 need to be modified (known as
"AI-Modified"), since their aperture rings can interfere with a tab on the mount on
some Nikon bodies, and trying to mount the lens can cause damage to the body.
- In 1993 Nikon introduced the F3-AF, with two specialized lenses with in-lens
motors and a teleconverter. These lenses are not compatible with Nikons DSLR's and
should not be mounted.
That said, details of the lens mount have changed over the years. The first changes
were to allow improvements to metering, then to support autofocus, and more recently
to provide contacts to allow camera-to-lens communication and power to support
detailed shooting information, metering, autofocus and vibration reduction.
Because of these changes over time, even though the lens may physically mount to a
modern Nikon DSLR, that doesn't mean the body supports all the functions of the
lens, hence this guide.
There is a lot of ground to cover, so we'll break this guide into the following
History of the Nikon F Mount
Nikon DSLR/Lens Compatibility
Nikon Lens Names & Acronyms Explained