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Classic Nikkor lenses for my F, any advice?
Old 04-16-2014   #1
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Classic Nikkor lenses for my F, any advice?

I just got a chrome F along with my Nikkormat FT2, now I want some old and classic lenses to go with them, mainly non ai lenses like 24mm, 35mm and a 50mm. I got a non ai 50mm f2 that came with my Nikkormat that I really like, but I would love something from the S-series.

I“ve been looking in this topic and other threads at the forum, so many great lenses, but what should I get and why?
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Old 04-16-2014   #2
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As you say there are many lenses and most of them are excellent. I had a love affair with non AI glass (which to some extent I now regret as I need AI glass for my digital cameras, but I do like the results they give). And I like the look of those early scalloped lens bodies.

My choices would be the following to start with as they are abundant and mostly relatively cheap to buy - especially if not AI converted although you may wish to consider getting AI converted ones as they offer more choices (you can for example use them more readily on later bodies including digital ones).

Starting at the wide end there is the 35mm f2 which renders nicely and produces lovely images. The early 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f2 are both superb in their own way and each is worthy of buying and using. The 85mm f1.8 is lovely in all versions. And the 105mm f2.5 is a classic for portrait work. You may wish to consider getting a classic 135mm lens as well and if so I would say go for the f2.8 version which has an excellent reputation. The early Sonnar version (of 105mm lens) is still preferred by many over the later redesigned version. Some of the more rare, faster versions of lenses are also reputed to be wonderful lenses (e.g. the 35mm f1.4) but they tend to be pricey and harder to find, particularly if you want them in good condition as many seemed to be used by pros who knocked their equipment about.

There are many sites like the following one which offer reviews of these classic lenses. I suggest googling something like "Nikkor manual focus lens review" and see what turns up. http://www.momentcorp.com/review/index.html

Oh and this site offers nice discussion of the lenses and their design and construction. Scroll down for links to MF resources

http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography...kkor/index.htm
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Old 04-18-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
I had a love affair with non AI glass (which to some extent I now regret as I need AI glass for my digital cameras, - you may wish to consider getting AI converted ones as they offer more choices (you can for example use them more readily on later bodies including digital ones).
You should note that the recently introduced Nikon digital Df will accept Non Ai glass, it has the moveable tab last seen as standard on the F4, was optional on the F5 and F6.

Can I add a vote for the 200mm f4 ? a "best buy", I even found an Ai kit for mine last year.
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Old 04-18-2014   #4
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Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
You should note that the recently introduced Nikon digital Df will accept Non Ai glass, it has the moveable tab last seen as standard on the F4, was optional on the F5 and F6.

Can I add a vote for the 200mm f4 ? a "best buy", I even found an Ai kit for mine last year.
Thanks that's useful to know. I have never been tempted by the Df but this is one reason to rethink that position.
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Old 04-18-2014   #5
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Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
Thanks that's useful to know. I have never been tempted by the Df but this is one reason to rethink that position.
Indeed that ability and the sensor from the D4 is a tempting proposition. 760g as well (F3 762g, M240 680g) Mmmm
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Old 04-18-2014   #6
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Originally Posted by ChrisLivsey View Post
Indeed that ability and the sensor from the D4 is a tempting proposition. 760g as well (F3 762g, M240 680g) Mmmm
I use my non-AI Nikkors on my D5200. It works perfect in M-mode. You have to guess exposure in the first shot. The histograms tells if exposure is ok (an advanced handheld meter). It is easy to take pictures this way. The D3100, 3200, 3300, 5200, 5300 etc. has no interface for the AI/AIS lenses so no aperture simulator ring to interfere with the non-AI mount. Even the built-in flash or ext. flash can be used if switched from TTL to manual mode (1/1, 1/2, 1/4 etc. flash output).
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141781
Old 04-16-2014   #7
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141781

The one lens you should look for is the older 55mm f3,5 Micro-Nikkor lenses.
Stunningly sharp, fast enough for all day usage.

I added the 35mmf2.0 and the 55mm f3.5.
My rig that i can't carry anymore, consists of
28mm f3.5,35mm f2.8 (mine is crazy sharp) and f2.0,45mm,50mm f2.0,
105mmf2,5 (never really sharp) 135mm 3.5
and a special adapted Pentax Takumar 200mm f3.5(Ex Magnum Photographer)

I think only longer "S" lenses could fit the Nikon-F/Nikkormat with the correct adapter.
The mirror box would add extension to any other "S" lens, making it only useful for severe close ups!

Get Ai'd where possible.More useful..
My 55mm is not Ai.!
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Old 04-16-2014   #8
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I have only a few Nikkor SLR lenses, but I chose them carefully from the list of lenses that were affordable and also were superb.

1. 24/2.8 wide angle
2. 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 normal
3. 55/3.5 micro
4. 105/2.5 tele
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Old 04-17-2014   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
Starting at the wide end there is the 35mm f2 which renders nicely and produces lovely images. The early 50mm f1.4 and the 50mm f2 are both superb in their own way and each is worthy of buying and using. The 85mm f1.8 is lovely in all versions. And the 105mm f2.5 is a classic for portrait work. You may wish to consider getting a classic 135mm lens as well and if so I would say go for the f2.8 version which has an excellent reputation. The early Sonnar version is still preferred by many over the later redesigned version. Some of the more rare, faster versions of lenses are also reputed to be wonderful lenses (e.g. the 35mm f1.4) but they tend to be pricey and harder to find, particularly if you want them in good condition as many seemed to be used by pros who knocked their equipment about.
Thanks Peter for your reply and sharing your knowledge, this is very helpful. As mention, I do have a nice 50 f2 that performs very nice, I tried it on my D700 yesterday, and it gives great results in manual mode. I“m also a happy owner of a 105 2.5 ai, an outstanding performer on both film and digital, but it would be great to have a 135 too.



I will check out the links you added, thank you very much.



Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
The one lens you should look for is the older 55mm f3,5 Micro-Nikkor lenses.
Stunningly sharp, fast enough for all day usage.

I added the 35mmf2.0 and the 55mm f3.5.
My rig that i can't carry anymore, consists of
28mm f3.5,35mm f2.8 (mine is crazy sharp) and f2.0,45mm,50mm f2.0,
105mmf2,5 (never really sharp) 135mm 3.5
and a special adapted Pentax Takumar 200mm f3.5(Ex Magnum Photographer)

I think only longer "S" lenses could fit the Nikon-F/Nikkormat with the correct adapter.
The mirror box would add extension to any other "S" lens, making it only useful for severe close ups!

Get Ai'd where possible.More useful..
My 55mm is not Ai.!
The 55 is really a lens I would like to own leicapixie, seen some very nice pictures taken with it. Seems like you got most of the lenses I would like to get! Ai lenses are more useful, I know, so I“m also looking for those. Still I would love a 35mm S-lens, both for its optical qualities and for it“s look, not much looks better and more classic for me that a black F with a S-lens on
Thanks for your reply, I really appreciated it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have only a few Nikkor SLR lenses, but I chose them carefully from the list of lenses that were affordable and also were superb.

1. 24/2.8 wide angle
2. 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 normal
3. 55/3.5 micro
4. 105/2.5 tele
Thank you Raid, some classic lenses you got, all of them are on my "wanted" list! Is the 24mm an ai lens, or non-ai, and how do you like it?
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Old 04-17-2014   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by raid View Post
I have only a few Nikkor SLR lenses, but I chose them carefully from the list of lenses that were affordable and also were superb.

1. 24/2.8 wide angle
2. 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 normal
3. 55/3.5 micro
4. 105/2.5 tele
I agree entirely with Raid, except that I like the 2.0/50 Nikkor HC. VERY close call, though. I like my 1.4/50 a lot, too.
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Old 04-17-2014   #11
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The Nikkor 5.8cm f1.4 is a good classic lens,


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Old 04-17-2014   #12
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The 24/2.8 gives me great looking images. My example is AI.
This is a sharp lens.

The 55/3.5 micro is viewed by many users as being even sharper than the 55/2.8 micro. It is an inepenive lens these days.
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Old 04-17-2014   #13
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Don't forget the 180mm f2.8. My favorite zoom is the 50-300mm f4.5. The 300mm f4.5 was the best 300 in its day; but it is now mediocre. There is a lot of manual focus Nikon Big Glass for sale on e-bay. The 43 - 86 zoom was made in vast numbers, but is not a very good lens optically.
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Old 04-17-2014   #14
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And I forgot the other absolute classic - the 80 - 200mm f4.5. It is the zoom lens that made broke the optical performance barrier.
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Old 04-17-2014   #15
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A good site for lens info: http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html
I really like the 55/3.5 micro and 28mm 3.5.
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Old 04-17-2014   #16
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I have the coated (HC) version of that 50 f/2 and it's among my favorite lenses. I also can't recommend the Nikkor-H 85 f/1.8 enough. Stellar portrait lens.

If you are willing to go to newer stuff, the 135mm f/2.8 has a special place in my heart as well.
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Old 04-17-2014   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by De_Corday View Post
I have the coated (HC) version of that 50 f/2...
With the exception of a very few special purpose lenses, ALL Nikkors made in F-mount are coated.

The "c" that appears on some F-mount Nikkors indicates that they are "multi-coated" with Nikon's "integrated coating", a process with a minimum of 8 layers, on all glass to air surfaces. Earlier F-mount lenses lacking the "c" are either single-layer coated or coated using simpler multi-coating techniques. The only uncoated F-mount Nikkors are those made for imaging outside of the visible spectrum (e.g. the UV-Nikkor, ...).

The "c" did have a different meaning with the S-mount lenses and other early Nikkors. There, the "c" did indicate that the lens was coated. Nikon (then Nippon Kogaku) changed the marking policy with the introduction of the F, specifying that coating is standard across the board so marking the lens as such was unnecessary. The "c" was re-introduced as a mark of the new and much improved coating and then later omitted as the IC coating became the standard across the board.
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Old 04-17-2014   #18
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24 2.8 N. Good for film, not digital.

35 2.0 single coat was my first.

50 2.0 Nikor C. Classic image while still giving nice performance at 2.0. 1.4 are not good at 1.4 until the modern versions

105 2,5 is probably the best loved Nikon lens all time. The Sonar version has a small rear element and is not as at at 2.5 in close range as the Gauss which has a rear element that fills the opening. Closed down , both are the same. Sonar are single coat.
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Old 04-17-2014   #19
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Frontman; that“s on heck of a camera and lens, love it!

Thanks alot gentlemen, I really appreciate your comments and tips here, it“s very helpful for me in this great journey of classic lenses!

I“ve checked the links given here by some of you, also very helpful, especially the knowlede regarding the serial numbers as a guide for the best lenses, I wasn“t aware of this.

Again, thank you each and everyone, please feel free to share some pictures too if you got any.
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Old 04-17-2014   #20
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Personally I wouldn't overlook the Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-s. Amazingly sharp, no distortion and non too expensive.
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Old 04-17-2014   #21
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Personally I wouldn't overlook the Nikon 28mm f2.8 AI-s. Amazingly sharp, no distortion and non too expensive.
A legendary lens, to be sure. I have the 24 2.8 AI-s and enjoy it quite a bit - better for when you want the "wide shot".
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Old 04-17-2014   #22
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I really enjoy using the 35mm f2.0 "O" Nikkor, as well as the 105mm f2.5 "P" Nikkor.
Both lenses have great build quality, I prefer the metal focusing ring over the later rubber, and performance.
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Old 04-17-2014   #23
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I too have a Nikon F and a 50 F/2. Love the pictures that come out of it, but I would like something a little sharper, and also a wider one. I bought the 50 f/2 for 35 dollars so no complaining there. I did own the 50 f/1.2 but my appartment got broken into, and I lost it, along with the F2 attached to it..
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Old 04-17-2014   #24
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Another vote for the 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor.

Stunningly sharp both close up and at infinity, little distortion, cheap, small, no need for a lens hood/filter (deeply recessed front element) and perfect as an all-rounder despite being a macro lens.

The newer Ai/Ai-S f/2.8 is meant to be better than the f/3.5, but in practice I suspect variation between individual lenses negates this"improvement".
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Old 04-17-2014   #25
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My idea for an "essential" F kit would be the 55 Micro Nikkor f3.5, one of the best macro lenses made (only one that I have found to be better is the Zeiss Macro Planar 50mm f2.0 - but much bigger and much more expensive!)
The 105f2.5 - a lens that even in its early guise still stands out as a portrait lens and landscape lens. Get a screw in hood for it though - the original clamp on hood falls off - all the time!
The older 28f3.5 with the chrome barrel - a bit slow, but usually reasonably priced and very good.
The odd man out would be the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2.0 - more money, but superb quality - and a really smart Proxar lens set-up (screws in to the hood).
If you need a bit more speed from a 50, the 50mm f1.4 is generally very good - and as a non AI lens amazingly cheap.
The 58mm f1.4 is not a stellar performer - actually quite crappy at f1.4 - and I base this on having had several of them. Still have one which is mint - former owner always kept a filter on it - but even so at f1.4 and f2.0 it really doesn't cut it.
For a long lens - best deal is the 200mm f4.0 - not that popular so easy to find cheap - and it is a very good lens, tack sharp (if Larry Burrows liked it - it is good enough for me). It is also light which is another bonus.
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Old 04-17-2014   #26
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Dwig, thanks for the info on the coating process. That certainly makes a lot more sense.
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Old 04-17-2014   #27
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Quote:
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I“ve been looking in this topic and other threads at the forum, so many great lenses, but what should I get and why?
The problem that I see is that every RFFer will advise you to get the Nikkors he owns and likes, so at the end of the day you will be advised to get about all the Nikkors produced ever.

With your Nikkors 50/2 and 105/2.5 you've got among the best normal and short telephoto lenses ever made for an SLR system.

Depending on what you want to add to your kit you may want to get a 35/2, a 28/2.8, or a 180/2.8 ED.

Anyway - it may be shorter for the experts to tell you which lemons Nikon have made. Since they weren't that numerous, this will be an easier way to go.
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Old 07-05-2014   #28
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Quote:
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The problem that I see is that every RFFer will advise you to get the Nikkors he owns and likes, so at the end of the day you will be advised to get about all the Nikkors produced ever.
My thoughts exactly! haha

I've been fortunate over the last few years to build up a nice kit with the super-low prices on pre-AI lenses. My collection includes 28/3.5, 35/2, 50/1.4 and 55/3.5. My others: 20/2.8, 24/2.8, 50/1.4D, 50/1.8, 60/2.8, 85/2, 105/2.5, 135/2 DC and 180/2.8 ED are all AI or AI-s. As has been said, no one can choose your focal lengths for you. Some folks like to shoot wide, some more tele. Some like to collect every variation of the 50s, 55s and 58s. Thankfully with the prices for non-AI being what they are, the costs of experimentation are quite agreeable!
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Old 07-05-2014   #29
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Its interesting. From time to time I go through periods when I fall in love all over again with my manual focus Nikkors. Early on in my photographic career I decided that I liked the earlier non AI lenses best of all, I think because I had already fallen for Pentax Takumar lenses in M42 mount and wanted something of a similar vintage in a Nikon mount. I have seldom been disappointed. For example as posted below, I have both an early 35mm f2 (AI converted) and a D model AF one. Of the two I think I prefer the early one which renders in a very classic manner.

While most of my shooting these days is done with an AF Nikkor of some type (its just easier) I do so love capturing images with the above mentioned 35mm lens, my 50mm f1.4 (and f2) of the same vintage, my 105mm f2.5, my 200mm f4 and so on . And I have just bought a 180mm f2.8 (badly in need of a service but otherwise beautiful) and have just adapted a 135mm f2.8 to AI spec. I also have a range of later native AI lenses and while many of these are excellent, for some reason I dont necessarily get the same kick from them.

Whats the expression.....ahhhhh they done make nostalgia like they used to!
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Old 07-11-2014   #30
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I have my original set of Nikkors since around 1970 culled down to my absolute favorites: 20/3.5UD, 24/2.8, 35/2, 50/2, 50/1.4, 55/3.5 Micro, 85/1.8, 105/2.5, 180/2.8 and 300/4.5. All were originally non-ai which were factory converted except the 85 which was converted by the late, great Pete Smith. I have enjoyed using these lenses occasionally on my Canon 5D (as a matter of fact I bought a non-AI 20/4 specifically for the 5D because the EF20mm is huge and not that great), and recently got a Nikon adapter for the new Leica M. I had intended to pick up a used D700 but now that I see the DF I think I'll hold out till they're down in the $1000-1200 range. Love those old Nikkors.
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Old 10-03-2014   #31
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A new lens to my collection/bag, a very nice Nikkor-S Auto 24mm f/2.8 on my F.
Still more to get, so far I got the Nikkor-S Auto 35mm f/2.8, Nikkor 35mm f/1.4 ais, Nikkor 50mm f2 and the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5



Later this weekend I“m going out with a sailboat along with the 24mm on the F.
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Old 04-17-2014   #32
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There have been some advises for the Nikkor 50/3.5 micro. Just remember that there are at least 2 types. The old Nikkor-P compensation type and the newer 50/3.5 with a optimized design for "non-macro" work. It you want the lens for macro work then get the old compensation type or if it is to be used as an general purpose lens then get the newer version. The old 50/3.5 compensating type is probably one the best macro lenses ever made.

Also look for one the newer Nikkor Q 200/4 (the one which stops down to 32). It is a very cheap lens......and very good.....much better than you would expect. Even at 4 it is sharp as has a very nice bokeh. It is a much under estimated lens. I have tried my on digital......and it is superb.
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Old 04-17-2014   #33
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the pre AI Nikkor H 50mm f 2 was my all time favourite slr lens
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Old 04-17-2014   #34
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Originally Posted by lxmike View Post
the pre AI Nikkor H 50mm f 2 was my all time favourite slr lens

Ditto!

The 105/1.8 and the 24/2.8 AI-S would round out my recommended trio. I also used to own the 105/2.5 AI, but the 1.8 beats it.
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Old 04-17-2014   #35
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Some reviews of Nikkors from old magazines - contemporary to the lenses being reviewed. I have posted some others with reviews of Leitz glass in another thread.

Hope this helps your decision making. Your thread prompted me to remember these pages.






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Old 04-18-2014   #36
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Wanna shoot those old non-AI lenses on a digital? Get a D3100! No aperture coupling so all non-AI lenses fit, the APS-C sensor is 14MP.

I just received a 2.0/135mm AI lens, to use on the D700. It weighs in at 860 grammes and takes 77mm filters. But I love it already!
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Old 04-18-2014   #37
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Some great suggestions here already!

There have been several threads like this over the years. You'll find some good info there by searching.

FWIW, my favorites from my news photo days:

24/2.8
35/2
85/1.8
180/2.8

Add the 300/4.5 (the black barrel model has higher contrast and a better tripod socket than the old chrome barrel model) to round out the kit and give yourself a little reach. Find yourself an F36 motor and you'll be set to take news pictures!

And as someone else has noted, there are some very inexpensive non-AI lenses out there in the slower models of certain focal lengths:

28/3.5
35/2.8
135/3.5

If you just want to fiddle around outdoors during the day, a kit like that added to your existing 50 will take you a long way very inexpensively. (Omit the 35 and save $50 if you're a dyed-in-the-wool 50mm guy.)

Have fun!
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Old 04-18-2014   #38
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A few people here are commenting on the 85mm f1.8.

I do not own one of the MF ones and never have but I have seen what it can do (on the web) and I am very impressed. My favourite, needless to say is the older non AI one which both looks extremely handsome with its scalloped focusing ring and performs superbly optically. I am pretty sure this lenses optical formula did not change at least during its MF era and maybe when Nikon moved to AF although later lenses benefited from newer coatings. If "benefiting" is the correct description. In some ways I prefer the way the older coating's render - a little bit of flare when shooting against the sun does not always hurt and can add character to an image. It depends on what you are looking for in the image. (I often prefer character in an image to technical perfection).

I do own an 85mm f1.8 AF D lens and confirm that is a beauty. So much so that when the opportunity came along to buy an AF 85mm f1.4 lens and I sold the f1.8 to help pay for it I eventually went back and bought another f1.8. Now I own both and have no desire to do other wise. In my view the f1.4 is perfection for portraits and the f1.8 is likewise for general work - sharper than its faster sibling and more "technically" perfect for that kind of work when its needed.

Oh and I do own an AIS 85mm f2. While some people disrespect this lens it is no slouch. While I prefer the rendering of its 1.8 sibling, it is never the less sharp and by no means an inadequate lens. Well worth owning particularly considering it can be picked up quite inexpensively. Interestingly when preparing this post I went to eBay and found that all versions of the 85mm lens seems to be lower priced than I recall. Maybe they have fallen somewhat recently?

One final thought. For many years I have owned a 50mm f2. The early scalloped ring pre AI version of course. At some point I bought on eBay an original Nikon AI conversion ring for my lens - one of the last ones to be found on that site I think. These are hard to find for obvious reasons and also because a different ring was needed for every iteration of each lens. Every time the lens physically changed a different ring was needed. Even when relatively minor changes were made like a change to the minimum aperture. (Obvious when you think about it).

I have used this from time to time on my digital Nikons and have to say that it renders beautifully. It really is a lovely lens. And very cheap being able to be purchased for less that $100. Here are samples of images made with it.



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Old 04-20-2014   #39
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Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
I am pretty sure this lenses optical formula did not change at least during its MF era and maybe when Nikon moved to AF although later lenses benefited from newer coatings. If "benefiting" is the correct description. In some ways I prefer the way the older coating's render - a little bit of flare when shooting against the sun does not always hurt and can add character to an image. It depends on what you are looking for in the image. (I often prefer character in an image to technical perfection).
One of my shooting buddies owns the AF-S 85/1.8, and I have an Ai'd Nikkor-H. One evening we were snowed in and so we swapped them back and forth on his Nikon D800E. It being his camera, I don't have the images, but I remember the only real difference being a softer contrast on the old H. (which to me was very pleasing)
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Old 04-26-2014   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post
Wanna shoot those old non-AI lenses on a digital? Get a D3100!
Just did, for son No.2, but I may borrow it

Thanks for the tip.
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