Nikkor-UD 20mm f/3.5


This is a sharp vintage prime dating from the 60s or 70s (manufactured from 1967-74). Though smaller than the AI and AI-s versions that followed the optical performance is just as good or better.

My pre-AI copy was converted to AI to make it usable ton modern cameras and I suggest you buy one converted already if you don't know how to do the conversion yourself.

Today, Nikon makes a similar 20mm lens. It is faster at f/2.8 but it is available in both AI-s and auto focus flavors.


The lens is setup with 11 elements in 9 groups. That is a lot of glass which is why you get good results from this lens.

Maximum Aperture: f/3.5

Minimum Aperture: f/22

The diaphragm is 7-bladed, producing an okay bokeh.


Constrcuted with metal all over, including an aluminum lens cap that screws into the filter ring. Parts like the aperture ring are cast aluminum and brass internals the lens is built to last decades if not centuries.


Wide open the lens is very sharp in the center and stopping down a little brings overall sharpness around f/8.

The aperture is not super wide so you will not be able to get a some crazy-small depth-of-field out of this lens, but it is still very usable wide open at f/3.5. This lens is preferred for its sharpness compared to inferior lenses in this genre (wide angle).

I like that I can focus pretty close to the subject (this is not a macro lens) and have a view-angle that captures their environment. That is the style of photography I like to do with wide-angle lenses.

You may be looking for a wide-angle lens in order to "fit it all in" like for big group photos of people where you know you can't step back far enough to get them all in. If so, this lens is a dream.

You may also like a wide-angle lens to photograph landscapes where seeing the vast expanse before you is the goal. Thankfully, this lens is charmer in this line of work as well. Photographers don't typically shot a big landscape at gigantic apertures like f/1.4 so having a lens that only starts at f/3.5 is fine.


As mentioned earlier there are newer AI, AI-s, and even auto-focus flavors. Each of these will likely cost you a lot more with only the super-modern f/2.8 perhaps edging out the optical performance.

There are some zooms that cover this focal distance such as the 16-35mm and while just as sharp in the center these zooms tend to have more disortion throughout the zoom range.


Following are some sample photos to demonstrate the power of this type of lens and some general uses which will likely yield good results. If you shoot things like these, then this lens may be a good one to think about adding to your camera bag.

Check out more photos I have shot with this lens in my Flickr Album.