Are there any focus-free lenses for nikon f-mount cameras?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by gabriel_moore, Jul 7, 2011.

  1. Granted I know I could buy some plastic garbage like a Holga or Diana lens with an f-mount adapter and have what I am looking for
    to a point. But I would like a glass focus free or fixed focus lens that would say be focued from 1-2 meters up to about 5-10 meters
    and have an fstop no higher than 8. I figure I wouldn't mind an adjustable fstop but I do not want to wait to focus. Also best case
    scenario is a small form factor. I don't think this would be an issue as imagine this would be a single element lens. Are there any
    lenses I could use with an adaptor? Or are there any high quality fixed focus nikon compatible lenses? Don't know if it is a strange
    question but any help would be great.
  2. You don't need a focus-free lens to do what you want. You only need a lens that supports manual focus and has distance and DOF scales printed on the outside of the barrel. However, to attain your desired DOF at f/8 at the focus distance you mention, you'll need a fairly short focal length. On a DX camera, using the conventional CoC value of 0.02mm and a 24mm lens at f/8, manually focused to 2.5 meters, you should have adequate focus between 1.5 and 8 meters away.
  3. It's just physics - there's no magical quality to the lenses you mention to make them focus from "1-2 meters up to about 5-10 meters". They focus at 1 point, and anything else is deemed acceptable. That's depth of field, which increases with a higher f-stop number, and with a smaller sensor size (as well as with a smaller magnification ratio - the wide angle lens DOF effect). Get a depth of field calculator, set your camera to manual focus, and bingo - focus free lens. Then take brooding black and white pictures, scratch them up in photoshop, and be "artsy" ;-)
  4. I have a nice older manual focus 55mm 1.8 and use it often like this. But as you said calculate the dof etc. I don't want
    to think of all this. Sometimes I want to walk out start shooting and not think about much. I just want it to be fast and
    simple. Basically like the Holga lens but a good quality lens. I don't need a lomo effect. Just good for street photos.
  5. GM: "... I don't want to think of all this. ..."
    You do it once, set the lens, put low-tack masking tape over the focus and aperture rings, and you never have to think about it again.
    In fact, using, you don't even have to think about it even once as it took all of 5 seconds to come up with the following numbers. I assumed you are going to use a DX format camera, ie, d70 through d300 and many others.
    Then, find any old manual 28 mm F-mount lens, set the distance to 3 meters and the aperture ring to f/8. Tape the settings, and subjects will be in focus from 1.87m to 7.62 meters, ie, exactly what you requested. If you don't like those numbers, you can play around with the above on-line calculator to get exactly what you want. If you go down to 24 mm, the depth of field gets larger.
    Getting the exposure right is another topic, but I'm sure someone will chime in with how to do this as well.
    Tom M
  6. Gabriel, you were rather particular in your requirements: focus from 1-2 meters to 5-10 meters, no slower than f/8. All you have to do is put on a 24mm lens that has a printed distance scale on it, turn it to 2.5 meters, stop down to f/8, then walk out the door and start shooting. Plus you have the option of focusing farther away if you really want to.
    Focus-free lenses typically are either slower than f/8 or don't focus anywhere as close as 2 meters. They're usually designed to focus all the way to infinity, so they focus at the hyperfocal distance for their focal length and aperture.
  7. This harkens back to the days when I was teaching commercial photography...
    One subject that was hotly discussed among every group of students was photography as technology versus photography as art. The artists in the group just wanted to take photos. They didn't want to be bothered with the details of the process.
    That's a perfectly valid position.
    Unfortunately, finding the technology to support the effort may be a challenge, depending on the desired results.
    This was the whole basis of the Kodak photo empire... the fixed-focus fixed-everything camera that everybody could use.
    The only viable option in an F-mount would be a relatively short focal-length lens (24 to 35mm) set at its hyperfocal distance. This doesn't require any calculation. Set your aperture, then turn the focus ring so the infinity mark lines up with that aperture number. The distance shown opposite that same aperture number on the other side is the near-focus limit.
    You could always lock the focus ring down with a piece of gaffer's tape if you don't want it to move.
    - Leigh
  8. Do like the street photog's of days gone by, set your 55mm f1.8 lens to a hyperfocal distance and aperture ring to f8, then take blue painters tape and lock the focus and aperture to accomplish the desired settings and you are good to go!, no fuss, no muss! Your shutter speed dial can be adjusted according to lighting conditions.
  9. What Craig said. You won't have to think about it after you set the focus ring once. Also what Tom said about using tape to keep the focus where you set it, but there is something better than masking or blue painters tape. Use gaffer's tape, which will not leave a residue. Gaffer's tape is available in good photo stores.
  10. Thanks everyone, I like all the suggestions. I think I should find an old 24mm pancake. The whole idea is speed and
    weight. I have a D40x that I like to carry for the weight. I love my pancake 55mm lens. I just seem to miss shots while
    trying to focus. I could get the dx version of the 55af lens but then I have to wait for it to focus. And the focus system
    in this camera is trash anyways. But I will try some tape an hopefully be done with it.
  11. Ok I used a dof app on the iPhone and now I am confused. It is telling me to only expect about a foot of my dof to be
    in focus even at f8. I really thought that at f8 I would have atlases a meter in focus or atlases relative focus. Have I
    missed something?
  12. DOF calculations depend on the focal length, aperture, focus distance, and a "circle of confusion" (CoC) which will be different depending on what format your camera uses (APS-C, full frame, medium format, etc.). Strictly speaking, it's also dependent on how the image will be displayed and used, but it is common to use values derived from the needs of an 8x10" photographic print. So if any of those values change, the resulting DOF value will change too.
    If your iPhone app is set for 24mm, f/8, 2.5m focus distance, a DX camera, and a CoC of 0.02mm, it should tell you that the field of adequate focus extends from about 1.5m to about 8m.
  13. I have no idea what assumptions the app may be making or what parameters are being used for the calculation, so it's difficult to assess the results.
    I just pulled out a Nikor 24/1.8 D lens that has a DoF scale. At f/11 the DoF extends from about 1 meter to infinity.
    DoF is strictly a function of magnification. The greater the magnification, the smaller the DoF. Shorter FL lenses have greater DoF because their magnification is less.
    - Leigh
  14. At least in some senses, the "strange" 12mm lens meets your specs ( ). It is claimed to have a 180º field but is probably closer to 170º. It has 'no focus' and goes from f/8 to f/16. It is a fisheye.
    Here's how it looks on a FX and DX body. It is T-mount lens. It's considerably sharper when stopped down, but these are handheld at f/8.
  15. You just need some tape
  16. The original Nikkor 8mm f/8 fisheye lens was actually focus free, with no focusing ring at all. It also required full-time mirror lock-up, because it protruded into the mirror box, so it would not be practically usable on a modern DSLR.
    There may be another fisheye or two that Nikon made without a focusing ring, but almost all Nikkor lenses give the photographer the ability to adjust focus. As has already been suggested, you may stop them down and lock the focus with gaffer's tape such that they behave like fixed focus lenses, though.
  17. I've got a Ai 24 f/2.8; got hyperfocal markings for f/4, f/8 and f/11, this would do what you seem to want, and these lenses do not cost a fortune.
  18. well i did some tests with the 55mm ( I do not have the 24mm wish i did ) and the results were not very good. I really only have about a foot of focus. I assume some of this might be due to the fact that the sensor is DX sized and the lens is more like a 75mm on the D40x. The 24mm is what I am assuming I really should find. Anyone know a place near Nürnberg Germany where i can find one for cheap? The one large used camera shop I know of didn't have any nikon pancake lenses last time i was there.
    to: JDM von Weinberg Love the 12mm lens. I looked on ebay and didn't see anything. I am going to check too. The article you linked to mentioned a spiratone fish-eye. I have that lens. It is a strange beast. It also has a similar lens cap of the domed variety, but the body is long and has it's own f-stop control. I love my spiratone but it is too long, especialy since I don't have a 53mm thread to f-mount adapter so I mount it on the end of my 55mm 1.8 and just make sure that both have the F-stop wide open.
  19. I will say, that I also have a 55mm Micro 3.5 and have been able to dial it in with the near desired effect using the information that you all have provided, but I had to step it up to F32. This lens is a little larger than i want to use, and at f32 i am going to need a lot of sun.. unfortunately i want to take a lot of pictures in the U-Bahn ( subway/metro/underground ) and I need something faster.
  20. Gabriel - PLEASE look at and you won't have to do these experiments, guess at what will and won't work, etc.
    Tom M
  21. I have been using, and i started with the settings that it gave me. I might be chasing a white whale. The two lenses that i have ( both 55mm ) behave very differently one is a pancake E series and the other is a Micro-Nikkor. The settings from dofmaster almost work for the micro but not for the E series. No matter what I do with the E series I only have about a foot of focus.
  22. There should be virtually no difference in the DOF between two lenses of identical FL and aperture on the same body. That's why a chart / calculator such as DoF master can exist.
    Something is wrong with either the lens (eg, a stuck aperture), your measurement technique, or your use of DoFmaster. As shown below, a 55 mm lens at f/8, focused to 10 feet on a DX body should give you sharp subjects from 8.6 to 11.9 feet. Is this more or less what you got when you used the calculator and is it more or less what you see experimentally for your 55 mm micro-Nikkor?
    If the E-series is not performing in the same way, please post pictures of the same subject with the same settings using both lenses and maybe we can figure out what it wrong. BTW, you have checked it for a stuck aperture and other such mechanical problems, haven't you?
    Tom M
  23. neither lens has a stuck aperture. I am trying to focus a lot closer than 10 feet though. i am trying to focus from about 5 or 6 feet till about 15. It is a wide section and i do not assume that i have the correct lens. I assume that i need a different one, thus the very first question. I have been able to dial the Micro in to about 7feet till about 14feet ( assumption ) but i did step up to f32 and use a tripod. The other E series i set up a series of bottles along a two meter expanse spaced 30 cm apart and tried a variety of f-stops and it seamed to constantly focus about 30 cm of the scene. I am at work but I will try and post some test shots. I have been using a tripod to test, but a requirement for this is that i can shoot handheld.
  24. If you are at f32, then you are going to have diffraction issues, I believe. Counter-productive.
  25. These requirements are very close to those you originally posted, only now expressed in feet. As I said in my earlier post, a 28 mm lens at f/8 on a d40 will almost meet your needs and a 24 mm will definitely meet them. There is no way that a 55 will even come close (as shown in the previous screen shot that I posted), so why bother futzing around with it.
    Here's the DoF-master screen shot for these conditions (this time expressed in feet, not meters).
    Tom M
  26. But I don't have a 24 or 28mm lens. I have two very different 55mm lenses. Here are two images showing that. Both set at f8 1/60 shutter and focused at .8 meter
    here is the e-series
    and here is the micro
    At full size the micro has an almost acceptable focus from 60 - 100 cm and the e-series only from 70 - 90 cm
  27. I really think that I have to go find a 24mm lens for cheap. Here is my calculations trying to get the magic 3 meters out of my set up and I think it is impossible.
  28. I just saw your post Tom, I think we were illustrating the same point at almost the same time.. haha. Anyone have a 24mm manual focus Nikon lens that they don't want?
  29. ...removed ...
    I was posting at the same time as the OP.
  30. Out of interest, if you want a compact design with a fixed-focus lens, why use a DSLR? There are any number of very cheap compact cameras out there with fixed-focus lenses - something they achieve partly because the small sensor size means the actual focal length for a reasonably normal field of view is quite short, so "f/8", for example, is a tiny aperture. Much of the performance problem with compact cameras is the time it takes them to focus, which I suspect goes away if the camera won't focus anyway. Any lens quality advantage that an SLR might have is kind of wiped out by not choosing to focus it, or using a small aperture. An SLR is not the best tool for every photographic scenario.

    Just a thought.
  31. Well Andrew, you make a good point. And I have a point and shoot that fits the bill mostly. I can even focus lock it and
    it is even fast. But it isn't fast enough. Shooting from the hip per say I might shoot a few frames without looking. Most
    point and shoots can not do this. Also if I shoot at night or in the dark almost any point and shoot will have visible
    noise. Much more so than a large sensor dslr. I did mention that quality was a big concern. I want something that may
    bot be veesable. But it never hurts to ask right?
  32. Understood, Gabriel. The problem with noise in low light is that the way DSLRs (and other large sensor devices) get good performance is by having a large bit of glass capturing lots of light to feed to the sensor. A large absolute aperture (i.e. a large aperture in f-stop terms combined with anything but a wide lens and a large sensor) means a shallow depth of field, and therefore no fixed-focus. All things are relative - if you only want small prints and can live with quite a large circle of confusion, you can obviously live with a larger aperture and better low-light handling. Although technology (and therefore sensor ISO response) is gradually improving, I think you're fighting the laws of physics a bit. I mention the smaller formats on the assumption that you might want a normal lens field of view - if you're willing to go wide angle, you have much more depth of field to play with, and the suggestions of 24-28mm lenses (or using the kit lens at that focal length) may do you nicely.

    The other thought is: do you really want fixed focus? I've shot blind from my hip (and arm's length, and the far end of a monopod) with some success by putting my D700 in area autofocus and letting it pick what is hopefully the subject. I've used wide angle lenses as well, though - mostly because it's hard to judge where I'm pointing. I appreciate that the D40x's autofocus is a bit less flexible.

    To go with that thought: do you want to shoot blind, or just shoot from the hip? If you want to treat the DSLR as an autofocus camera with a waist-level finder, using live view with any of the cameras with a tilting LCD (especially the latest Olympus, which is supposed to be very fast, or the NEX series with the D7000's sensor) might let you do this. Again, just a thought in case a completely different approach is of use. Or, of course, you can shoot film and get an F5 with a waist-level finder, although that might not meet your "small form factor" requirements.

    Best of luck, and I hope my thinking-outside-the-box isn't too off-topic.

Share This Page