DIY solution for using Nikkor G lenses on Nikon film SLR cameras

A reader sent me this DIY solution for using modern Nikkor G lenses on manual Nikon film SLR cameras like the FE or FM2 (it solves the lack of aperture ring problem):

1. You need a Nikkor G lens,  a Nikon film SLR camera and a piece of string:

2. Link the string to the aperture pole of the lens, then pull it and hold it:

3. Hold the lens and mount it on the camera:

4. Hide the string (it looks stupid):

5. Press the preview button to check whether it's works or not:

6. Press the lens release button and rotate the lens for getting a smaller aperture. Look at the position of the fronts on the lens before and after rotating. I held the preview button and I got f/2.8 by observation:


  • Losing maximum aperture for focusing
  • The split screen doesn't work with apertures with or slower than f/5.6
  • Not easy to extinguish aperture sizes with or slower than f/5.6
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  • Imperious Images

    Interesting solution. Maybe if you’re on a tripod in studio it could work. I’m sure the demo’ed DX lens was just an example right? 😉

    • shadowfoto

      well, the 35/1.8DX works on FF, albeit with heavy vignetting most of time.

      • Wide-open, that vignetting isn’t bad. But stopped down, it’s stark and dark.

  • T.I.M

    I use the same trick for my 5×7″ view camera, it works well but I’m loosing the 3D tracking when I use the autofocus.

    • 3D tracking on a viewcamera, hahhhahhh…. 🙂

  • Erics

    Even easier solution is to buy D lenses, before they go out of stock (or buy used).

    • arachnophilia

      or buy nikon film SLRs that support G lenses…

  • Wei-Hao Wang

    The place where the string goes through the lens and the lens mount will have a larger separation than normal. This brings a small tilt to the optical axis. The effect can be very noticeable on high-resolution FF digital sensors (such as D800), but probably not a big deal for film.

    • Umm, the whole workaround unnecesary on a DSLR… 🙂 The article is about analog cameras. 🙂 Btw. you are right, I would never put anything between the lens and the camera…

      • yes, I mentioned this is for film SLR cameras

        • I know that. 🙂 But Wei-Hao worries about usability on a D800. 🙂

  • saywhatuwill

    Nice idea.

  • The most stupid thing I’ve ever read on NR. The lens should be mounted very precisely. Any obstacle stucked between (even a thin spring) makes the lens decentralized, and may damage the lens mount, too…

  • Deryk

    Cool, but I would rather put one of Nikon’s all metal manual focus lenses on one of these cameras.

  • TheInconvenientRuth

    …and when you try to shoot at f/16 your lens falls off?

    • esquilo

      Then you just remove the string and let the lens stay in the fully stopped down position.

    • Daniel Högberg

      Why would you ever shoot @f/16? I never shoot above f/2.8, especially with the af-s 50mm f/1.8 as its so freaking sharp even wide open. If I want extreme depth of field I use a smaller sensor, NOT full frame.

  • Michiel953

    Useful tip. I will try this on my over fifty years old Werra. I’ll remove the fixed lens (because of its obviously lousy image quality on film) with a hacksaw (should be easy), using a hoover later to get rid of the metal dust (not that that would harm image quality of course), and get my 35/1.4G on with a piece of string and a lot of duct tape.

    Hey presto, off we go.

    But…, why?

  • myNameIsCondor

    What’s the point of that? Nikon has probably the most impressive manual lens portfolio of all time. Plus the manual Zeiss offerings. Why would someone want to adapt one of these poorly built, plasticky lenses that don’t even have a aperture ring? I don’t get it.

    • true

      I’m not sure if it applies to all primes, but some of the newer G primes are lighter weight. The rendering of colors and bokeh is also different.

      Despite being lighter, some of them might have better sharpness or contrast. Maybe as a trade-off for more distortion / chromatic aberration though.

      • neversink

        Many of these old Nikkor lenses still have incredible IQ. I have used some with my D4 and D800. The old lenses were made during the film era and are still a perfect match for film. This is a ridiculous and useless”solution,” but ingenious in a way. It’s really not a solution to anything because many of the old classic lenses are available at very reasonable prices, and most are better suited for film.

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  • Elbert Jan Achterberg

    Frankly this is beyond stupid. The lens could fall off, the aperture lever could be damaged, when the wire wears little bits of it will end up on the film (That could be a plus it would add to the ‘vintage’ look of the images), in the shutter mechanism, or on some other part where you don’t want it.

  • Winston

    This is an interesting solution. Looks neater than some of the others I’ve read, but do practically the same thing – hold the aperture diaphragm coupler open at the correct aperture. Thin string is less likely to go wrong compared to duct tape or toothpicks.

    The Nikon FA works with G lenses, if you move the aperture ring coupler anticlockwise to the 12 o’clock or 11 o’clock position and secure it there before mounting the lens. The lens will then work correctly in P or S mode (but may display F– as aperture in S mode). If you don’t move the coupler, the FA will shoot wide open only P or S mode as it thinks the aperture ring is “stuck” wide open. This has been tested on my FA and 24-120 f4 VR.

    • Carleton Foxx

      real photographers use gaffer’s tape.

  • Danny Hernandez

    Or you could go buy a 50mm f2 for $35.00

  • pl capeli

    g lenses = optical excellence combined with foolish build quality and the unforgivable loss of an aperture ring… witness fujis newest lenses for a comparison

    • myNameIsCondor

      Ditching the aperture ring was by far the biggest fail of this glorious camera maker!

  • onthedot

    Here’s your “You know when you’re a redneck when…” card. LOL

  • IndyReader

    You don’t need this trick if you just use a film camera that supports those lenses, like the F6.

    • nhaler

      Do you know if the F5 supports them?

      • Douglas Green

        Yes it does.

        BTW, if you have G lenses, and you want to use them on a film body, you should get:either:

        An F4, F5, or F100 if you want a high end film camera. You can get a nice condition F100 for under $150 nowadays.

        An N80, N75, N65, N60, or N50 if you want an inexpensive film camera. You can get a nice N80 for $50-$75 nowadays, and if that’s too much, you can get a clean working N65 for about $25 or less.

        If I wanted to use these lenses on a film camera, I would much rather buy either an F100, N80, or N65 at those sort of prices than I would use a kludged up hack like this.

  • Daniel Högberg

    This is amazing! Im using this hack on my Fm2 with 50mm AF-S f/1.8! This lens is sharpest 50mm lens I have so Im greatful that I now can shoot the serious analog stuff with it too! Thankyou so much!

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