Personal taste plays a big role, but you will see a few lenses mentioned repeatedly. Actually, bokeh aside, these old lenses were mostly surprisingly good, even compared to modern lenses. Here are some of my favorites (and not favorites):
24/2.8 - a great wide angle. The 28/3.5 is fine, but you will see the 24 on almost everyone's list. There are at least a couple good 20's also, but the 24 is good, widely available, and not expensive.
35/2 - I'm very happy with my non-"C" version (not multicoated). The survey link in post #2 gives some good info on the variations. I had the 35/1.4 and was happy enough with it. It is sharper than the f2 but to my eye, bokeh is decidedly better with the f2 version. The 1.4 was noticeably easier to focus.
50/2 and 1.4 are both great lenses. The f2 is definitely sharper over the whole field, but the 1.4 is a fine lens and has been my preference lately. Neither is generally known for great bokeh. People will show of photographs with nice bokeh from both (and I can too), but both can look pretty mediocre (or worse) in that regard at some stops and distances. I think the bokeh is slightly better with the non-multicoated versions.
105/2.5-either version. As already mentioned this is one of the great Nikkors. The later Gauss type is really sharp and has good bokeh. The Sonnar is plenty sharp and has a nice look.
The 85/1.8 gets mentioned a lot and is a very nice lens, but you mention bokeh, and too me it is not in the same class as the 105's, or at least not as consistently. Like the 50's, it can be excellent (especially wide open), but this is one where, to me, the bokeh deteriorates seriously as it is stopped down.
Last edited by Mark Crabtree; 10-30-2011 at 12:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.