ANY Nikon DSLR bodies (10mp+) that take N/Ai Lenses w/o any modifications?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by peter_arbib|1, Feb 17, 2018.

  1. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If you are referring to the electronic range finder, i.e. the arrows and circle inside the viewfinder of AF bodies that indicate whether the AF point is in focus, that is optical. Pre-AF lenses without any CPU electronics can still work with that feature on AF bodies.
    peter_arbib|1 likes this.
  2. Okay, good to know, I am reading DPR review on the D5100, seems like any MF lens that is f/5.6 of faster will allow the Electronic RF to work.

    The D5100 seems like a good deal under $200-300 used, though, the D5200 with a 24mp sensor is a nice jump for $325-400 used.....

    I didn't really think I would find what I wanted, This thread has educated me for sure!
  3. On the D3200 at least there is a difference between the focus confirmation dot and the "electronic rangefinder" which actually places a scale in the viewfinder. The focus confirmation dot works with all lenses, although its accuracy is a little questionable in difficult scenes. It's pretty good most of the time, but unlike those in some higher end cameras it does not have arrows to tell you which direction to go. The rangefinder scale, which is very nice, replaces the meter in A,S and P modes when AF is switced off, but not in M mode, which means it does not appear at all for un-chipped lenses. It's a great help when manually focusing an AF lens for macros, or with chipped MF lenses, but with manual lenses all you'll get is the confirmation dot.
  4. That's good enough... I mainly use 28/35/50 on my F and F2, with a 1.5x crop.... 24/28/35, plus I am not a "wide-open" shooter, I shoot from f/8-f16, so the focus error won't show in most cases.
  5. You should be OK with the dot. I've found that if not in a hurry it can help to focus past the dot and back again a time or two to zero it in.
  6. BTW, just for fun, I just had out one of my two lenses mentioned that will fit on bodies with an AI tab(at your own risk).

    This is the 5.8cm f/1.4, Nikon's first f/1.4 SLR lens. It was available with the F in 1959, but was replaced by the MUCH better 50mm in 1962.

    I was using this lens on my unforgiving D800.

    At f/1.4, the lens is loaded with spherical abberation-enough that it has a sort of soft focus effect combined with "swirly" bokeh. It's also quite low contrast.


    It cleans up a fair bit by f/2.8


    And looks great at f/8(but then what lens doesn't).


    On the other hand, I have two fluted focus ring Nikkor-P 105 2.5s that have factory AI conversions(replacement aperture ring). This was considered a "reference" lens for a long time, and it's excellent even on unforgiving cameras like the D800. The amber single coating on the old Nikkors does hamper them somewhat in the sun(use a hood), but it's still excellent. I don't have any example photos to show.
  7. Sorry to be late to the party. Just so that Peter is clear: like most Nikon bodies since the F2AS, no Nikon body (including the Df) has an attachment for pre-AI "rabbit ears"; in addition, no Nikon DSLR has the ability to perform stop-down metering (which is how many film Nikons deal with pre-AI lenses). The Df, uniquely, can meter with pre-AI lenses (with its AI follower tab flipped up in the manner of the F2AS, F3, F4 etc.) - but you have to set the aperture concurrently on the camera and on the lens. This sounds annoying to me, but I don't have a Df - I'm just trying to make you feel better about not getting one.

    With mechanical AI lenses, high-end DSLRs (currently D7000/7100/7200, D500, all the FX bodies - but check the links above) have the same mechanical ring which gets moved around by the lens aperture ring (or specifically the meter coupling ridge on the back of it, introduced on AI lenses) as the F3/4/5... This means the camera can meter.

    Any recent DSLR without the coupler ring (currently the D7500 is by far the highest end - e.g. most of the rest only have one control dial and have a pentamirror instead of a pentaprism) will work with most pre-AI lenses (exceptions are mostly intrusive lenses due to lack of mirror lock up). You won't meter, though you may get exposure info from shooting in live view and using stop-down metering in that way - which is roughly what a digital mirrorless system will get you. You'll have to set the aperture on the lens (the camera can't control aperture, as with electronic lenses) and set shutter speed manually. If you use the finder, you can still check exposure in image review.

    So: no perfect compatibility (annoyingly) for pre-AI. Hopefully something you can work with. Failing the D7500, I could believe something like a D5200 would be a good option.

    Historically, Canon didn't provide focus compensation for purely mechanical lenses, but the metering worked. Nikon were the reverse - the digital rangefinder was fine, but metering wasn't.

    I'd agree with concerns that many less-recent lens designs are clearly behind state of the art. Many are fine, residually in good conditions, but things have moved on. Unless you're excessively keen on your current glass, a relatively cheap modem zoom will behave as well.

    Good luck, and I hope that helps.
  8. I'll start by saying that I have really enjoyed using older lenses (John White modified 28mm f3.5, 5.8cm f1.4, 105mm f2.5, and 135mm f2.8 and a 200mm f4 with a Nikon aperture ring update) on my D610 - I've seen excellent results from all of them.

    A couple of options, short of modifying the pre-ai lenses (something I admittedly have no problem with - unless they are really early - 9 blades, tick marks, Pat. Pending - does any collectability really trump usability?):

    1. You could dig around the web and see if anyone has NOS Ai aperture rings from Nikon for your particular lenses - that would be a reversible fix that would allow them to be used on just about anything
    2. You could buy a Canon 5d or Sony A7 for a few hundred dollars and adapt the lenses. Either would give you a full-frame sensor and accurate metering.
  9. The way the Df deal with pre AI lenses is OK for A mode but for M mode is very troublesome. You have to turn the sub command dial to meter then set the aperture on the lens. With A mode you set both to the same aperture and then forget it. Well I would even intentionally set them at different aperture to create the exposure compensation.
  10. Using a focus aid stopped down is not a big deal, did it with my Fuji X-E2,
    I have a Minolta III meter, so, I don't expect to use a meter in a DSLR.. just like how I meter with my Nikon F and F2 with the DE-1 pentaprisms

    If I could find the Ai kits, I would change out the mount... just don't want to cutaway the mount bob whites way... not as a collector, just not my style for a modifier.
  11. I DO NOT like milled aperture rings. I have two lenses with them, but both were bought already that way. One is a 55mm 1.2, and the other a 45mm 2.8 GN.

    The Nikon rings are nice, although can be hard to find for the more popular lenses. There are some NOS ones out there. Another option is to find an otherwise junked lens with a factory ring.

    I am an unapologetic collector, and at the end of the day I LOVE the look of an original fluted non-AI ring on a chrome nose, fluted focus lens sitting on an F or early F2. I have a pretty nice range of non-AIs-ranging from 20mm to 200mm-and have been known to go out with nothing but an F or F2 and those lenses. I am still keeping my eyes open for an F2sb so that I can have the best coupled meter for non-AI lenses.
  12. Peter: if you don't care about metering at all, then any recent DSLR without an aperture follower should do you (but since you're talking about the F2, I need to clarify that I don't consider the D70 to be "recent"). Pick whichever feels best within your budget. Though the histogram on image review is probably still going to be useful.

    BeBu: Aperture priority on the Df is fine so long as that means you never change aperture? I still adjust aperture shot-by-shot in aperture priority to control depth of field. The system works, but it's one of my least favourite parts of the Df design - I really don't understand why they didn't just implement stop-down metering. Unless they just couldn't because they used the D610's shutter mechanism and it doesn't allow decoupled aperture lever movement?
  13. Where milling is concerned I'm at the other end of the spectrum from Ben Hutcherson. Almost everything I have is at or below "bargain" grade, and most of my pre-AI lenses were very cheap, largely because they're of no interest to collectors. If someone did not already hack the rings, I'll do it - I flatter myself that my milling is a little neater than most of what I've seen out there, and if the lens makes any decent images on my D7100, its value has gone up.
  14. Speak for yourself:)
    But the pre-AI are cheaper, thank goodness, for those of us who still use F2 and earlier bodies. And they also work in stop-down mode on EOS cameras with an inexpensive adapter. If the Df had been available in 2004, I probably would never have gone to the Dark Side.

    Stop-down on any camera-- non AI PC-Nikkor 35mm f/2.8 on Canon
  15. Oh - no aperture lever? I suppose that makes sense.

    I too have a couple of tilt-shifts which I have to stop-down meter on my D810: a 65mm f/3.5 Hartblei Super-Rotator that I acquired with an EF mount, and a 35mm f/2.8 Kiev tilt/shift. I used to have a Peleng 8mm fish-eye for Canon, which had a similar stop-down mechanism.

    I also have a 58mm Petzval, which would be stop down if there was anything to stop down. It has drop-in Waterhouse stops.

    So you could get a pre-AI lens to work better on a Nikon by filing off its aperture lever so that the aperture ring was the only thing controlling the aperture. Somehow I doubt this is what Peter wants to do, though!
  16. Well, I might get them filed down... there are not collectors, but, the 1971 35mm f/2 Nikkor O, 1972 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor S chrome nose, and the 1971 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor P (scalloped medal focusing ring and f/32) are classics though.

    Thinking I might go that road if I get a Nikon DSLR...but I would have to up my budget to the $450-600 range
  17. JDMvW, I'm reminded of an old Beyond the Fringe skit about a miner (who could not become a judge because he did not have the Latin) remarking "I',not saying you get a load of fools down the mine, I'm not saying that. I'm just saying we've got a load of fools down MY mine." I'm not saying pre-AI lenses aren't collectible. I'm just saying mine are not!

    By the way, the pre- AI 35/2.8 PC remains my favorite normal lens on DX. I keep thinking I ought to get one of those fancy newfangled AFS ones, but fear I might be disappointed.
    peter_arbib|1 likes this.
  18. This lens was why I went to Nikon ca. 1971, and also the reason for my getting a "full-frame" Canon EOS 5 camera in 2000-something.
  19. As my local photographic shop mainly stocks non-Ai lenses, I have grown to appreciate them as I see so many of them. However as you say, using them these days can be a challenge. I did cut down an aperture ring once then looked at the result – which even though I milled it true, looked nothing like a proper factory ring conversion with its proper aperture marks. So now I either use my Df or look out for a factory ring. Using the Df method sounds long winded, however once you get used to it then it’s no trouble really. I have had some wonderful results on that camera with the 135mm f/2.8 Nikkor-Q and I am completely satisfied.

    I just looked at the Df online to see prices today – but am surprised to see used bodies selling for more than what I paid new a couple of years ago. May be the weak £. I know the Df is not liked by many, but I absolutely love what I get from it and how it works – could have been personally designed for me! For most old non-Ai Nikkors the sensor seems to enjoy the challenge and the results are clean and open looking.

    I have 24mm f2.8, 35mm f2.8, 50mm f2, 135mm f2.8 and 200mm f4.
  20. Although some of them do not perform as well as modern glass, my favorite Nikkors are the "C" multi coated lenses from the early 70's, but still with metal focusing rings. With a little patience, I have been able to put together a good set of these all with the factory AI ring, mostly from Ebay, all reasonably priced.

    A few older lenses such as the 5.8CM/1.4 are not readily available with factory AI rings, so I found a user grade one and had it milled. I do like using that lens on occasion, people render nicely with the 5.8 on a D3s, set at around f2-2.8.

    From a pure collector standpoint, I suppose my converted lenses are not original, but another viewpoint would be that they might be "rarer" than the originals. On the other hand, I see no reason for not milling more worn user grade lenses so that they can continue to be used. I would not mill really nice older lenses, though, especially the early ones. Most of the common older lenses are inexpensive enough to have one both original and milled, though there seems to have been something of an uptick on older lens pricing in the last couple of years.
    peter_arbib|1 likes this.

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