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Alternatives

Nikon has been continuously manufacturing 20mm wide angle lenses since the introduction of the rangefinder Nikkor-O 21mm f/4, so it would probably make sense for you to start your search for alternatives among the various 20mm Nikon primes, including Nikon Nikkor 20mm f/4 Ai, Nikon Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 AiS and Nikon AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8D. Nikon users (as well as those willing to adapt alternative lenses) might want to consider the recently released Voigtlander Color Skopar 20mm f/3.5 SL II (also available in Pentax K mount). If you are exclusively looking for an alternative wide angle prime, you should consider the duo of Zuiko OM 21mm lenses Olympus OM 21mm f/2 and Olympus OM 21mm f/3.5. Leica affectianados should consider Leica Elmarit-R 19mm f/2.8, while Carl Zeiss fans would swear that Contax branded Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 is the best wide angle prime ever manufactured. Speaking of the Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 - Carl Zeiss recently re-released its SLR series of lenses, which also includes the new version of Distagon T* 21mm f/2.8 in Nikon F (ZF), Pentax K (ZK) and even Canon EF (ZE) mounts.

 

Recommendation

Nikon Nikkor UD 20mm f/3.5 can be quite an interesting lens to explore, if you're into manual focus lenses of course. The lens is by far not without drawbacks, so you should not expect miracles from it. But if you are willing to adjust your expectations, Nikkor UD 20mm f/3.5 can become an enjoyable lens to use. Among the most interesting characteristics are the fenominally low (for an ultra wide angle lens) distortion and rich, super-saturated colors and good contrast reproduction (at smaller apertures at least). Among things to consider is the rather low resolving capabilities around borders and obviously vignetting and flare. But the most enticing factor to many would be the price - a 20mm prime for less then US$200? Considering that the demand for these old lenses remains quite steady, trying it poses very little risk - you will always be able to sell it back at any time.