Can I use an older F mount non ai lens with a Nikon Dslr?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by mark_stephan|2, Oct 25, 2017.

  1. Can I use an older F mount non ai lens with a Nikon Dslr? Possibly the Df? Do any of them have the ai tab? I don't mind using older bodies if something is compatible.
  2. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    You can use AI lenses on the DF and D750. I have quite a few that I use fairly often on both cameras. I have not used my pre AI on the D 750, on the DF you can flip the tab out of the way and use them, though I haven't used pre AI there either -- I stick to the film cameras with the really old lenses.
  3. Apart from the DF, you can NOT use any NON Ai /Pre Ai lens on any other Nikon DSLR body or late film body
    (I have several classic non Ai and Ai lenses I use with my several Nikon DSLR's, including a DF)

    With exception of the DF, the aperture tab on the aperture coupling ring on the body is fixed on all Nikon DSLR's
    Consequently when you mount a NON Ai lens, you will risk tearing it of and damaging the camera

    Any advise suggesting the contrary is completely wrong
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2017
  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The Df has an aperture follower tab that can be flipped up. Therefore, it is compatible with non-AI/pre-AI lenses.

    Otherwise, the general rule of thumb is that you can mount a pre-AI lens on those Nikon DX DSLRs that have no AF motor inside. I.e. the D40 series, D60, D3000 series and the D5000 series.

  5. Not quite. According to John White of you may use non-AI/AIS lenses on "the D40, D40X, D60, D3000 series, D5000 series and Df "

    Here is the link:

    Compatibility Table

    The safest curse of action is to send your lenses to John White and have him convert them. Then you can safely use them on any Nikon F mount camera. I had John White convert several of my non-AI lenses. They all work perfectly with my F100 and D750.
    Sandy Vongries likes this.
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Once you send pre AI to John,White they are converted perfectly. I have had quite a few done. A great guy to do business with! There are some pre AI lenses that are collectable and you might not want to convert those -- he can advise you.
  7. There are also a very, very limited number of pre-AI lenses that will usually safely mount on a body with an aperture follower tab. The aperture ring is constructed in such a way that it will clear the tab.

    With that said, there are two lenses I'm thinking of and both of them are fairly scarce. I'm not going to specify which they are because I've only used them with an over-abundance of caution to make sure I wasn't breaking or about to break anything.

    In general, though, all of the above is applicable.
  8. Having a pre-AI lens converted seems like a sensible 'investment' .. unless you'd want to keep it as an 'original'.. I used a converted 24/2.8 for years, with pleasure.
  9. Make sure if you're fitting unconverted pre-AI lenses to older lower end cameras that you check John White's page on which fit which, or check your own camera first.

    Although lower end cameras do not have AI followers, they do have a maximum aperture switch, and the partial conversion that is fairly common for AI compatibility does not clear that tab. On older AF cameras, including some earlier digital ones, that tab is actuated by pushing sideways, and an unconverted lens will hit it. On later models, such as the D3x00 and D5x00, and those mentioned above by Shun and bgelfand (and also, by the way, the D7500), that switch operates by pushing down, and no harm will occur (the tab does nothing with a manual lens anyway). It is possible to make pre-AI lenses completely compatible, but it is not always done.
    Andrew Garrard likes this.
  10. Thank you, a wealth of information. My wife has a D3200 she hasn't used in a long time. I have a few non-ai K type lenses, the 28 f/3.5, 50 f/2 and 43-86 but I also have a small collection of ai/ais prime lenses from 24 through 200 that I'm going to start using. Once again, thanks for your assistance. BTW, I'll eventually try the K type lenses and report back once doing so.
  11. Matthew is mostly correct.

    F-mount lenses with a physical aperture ring block how far the aperture can stop down from fully open according to the position of the ring. For electronic lenses with an aperture ring, in order to control the aperture, the camera needs to know the aperture it will try to set the lens to by controlling the aperture lever won't be constrained by the aperture ring, which is why Nikon DSLRs mostly have a way to tell the lens aperture ring is set to minimum aperture (the lens aperture will move from fully open to fully closed as the aperture lever moves).

    Aside: "Needs to know" is debatable. I could see uses for guaranteeing a minimum aperture (to avoid diffraction) even allowing for over-exposure. But that's not a feature Nikon exposes.

    Low-end DSLRs other than the D3400 have an AI minimum aperture switch (which engages with the nubbin for the "EE" DS-1 and related auto-aperture "EE" attachments for the F2, that actually turn the aperture ring on the lens). This tells the camera that the lens is set to smallest aperture, since the nubbin would be in the right place at minimum aperture. The D3400 doesn't have a switch at all, and won't meter even with electronic lenses that have an aperture ring because it doesn't know the aperture is set to minimum. On the oldest low-end bodies, the switch is pushed sideways by the EE tab, so if you mount a non-AI lens with a solid rear ring it might crunch the switch ("might" because the design of the rear of the lens varied). On newer low-end bodies, the switch is pushed into the body, so it's harmless to use a pre-AI lens (except ones that are intrusive into the mount and require mirror lock-up). None of these bodies will meter with a non-electronic lens, but they'll otherwise work.

    Higher-end bodies have an AI aperture follower tab that rotates around the lens mount; this is presumably more expensive to engineer than the switch on the low-end bodies. This tells the camera what aperture the lens is set to (relative to its maximum), so you get metering and aperture-priority control with purely mechanical lenses. If you tell the camera what the maximum aperture is (which you have to do in a menu because DSLRs don't read the AI maximum aperture post), you even get (2D) matrix metering. This is also how higher-end bodies tell when an electronic lens with an aperture ring are set to minimum aperture.

    Another aside: The important thing for the camera to control the aperture is that the lens be AI-S - i.e. that the aperture lever movement is linear with respect to aperture. I remain confused why Nikon don't allow you to tell the camera the lens is AI-S, which would allow aperture control from the camera for AI-S lenses.

    Yet another aside: On the high end bodies, it would be nice if you could use a lens with an aperture ring (electronic or AI-S) to set the minimum aperture and still allow the camera to control the aperture directly - this would give you a range of acceptable aperture values. I'd find that useful. But currently you have to set aperture from the lens unless it's electronic, and if it's electronic you have either/or, not both, aperture control mechanisms.

    On most DSLRs, the AI follower tab is fixed, and will get crunched by the rear of most pre-AI lenses. Uniquely among DSLRs (but in common with a number of film bodies), the aperture lever of the Df can be flipped to one side, allowing you to mount a lens that would otherwise crunch it. In this case, for metering, you need to set the aperture both on the lens and on the Df - unlike some film bodies there's no stop-down metering mode that would allow you to set things in just one place.

    Summary: Lower-end Nikons actually have better compatibility with old lenses than most higher-end ones, because the lens physically mounts without crunching anything. But you get metering on older lenses on a high-end DSLR than you do with an old one. The D3200 should be fine in terms of mounting things (there's a list of what's incompatible on p.169 of the manual).

    Or you could use an adaptor and mount anything on a mirrorless body, if aperture priority will suffice.

    K-type lenses? You're not talking Pentax, are you? You can't adapt them (and still get infinity focus, except with teleconversion). I hope you mean F mount. :)

    Good luck, and do report back.
  12. I carelessly said "maximum" when I of course meant minimum, as noted above. I tend to do that. I did not realize the D3400 drops even that switch.
  13. :) I realised you probably meant the right thing, I was just trying to avoid confusion for anyone new to it. I'm sure I'll do the same soon enough.

    And yes, the D3400 surprised me as well; I only noticed recently that the switch had gone.
  14. I've wondered for a while why the minimum aperture switch was needed...CPU lenses should be able to tell the camera whether or not they are set to their minimum aperture and all new designs are G lenses anyway.

    With that said, it does go back to the early days of AF bodies. The N4004s sitting on my coffee table has it. I'm glad Nikon has finally dropped it.
  15. For compatibility, this chart is pretty useful.

    A quick search on this forum would have supplied you all these answers already, it's been asked and answered often enough.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2017
  16. It could have been part of the lens electronic communication protocol - but it isn't (as far as I know). It would involve the lens having an electronic encoder for aperture, which I guess would have added to the cost and reduced reliability back in the early days. AF-D added distance to the protocol; I'm not actually sure how "G" is transmitted. Even if Nikon put this functionality into later lenses, they'd have been stuck with earlier ones. And the high-end Nikon bodies needed the mechanical feeler anyway for support with non-electronic lenses.

    So it does. I knew there were autofocus limitations; I think I'd forgotten that the aperture ring was also missing.

    If it simplifies the construction of the D3x00 series, I guess, which ought to reduce costs. It does reduce the chances of using some older lenses, even if most would be manual focus on those bodies. The 300mm f/4 AF-S that I use fairly frequently has an aperture ring, and it's not been replaced by the PF version for all that long. Likewise the 17-35 f/2.8. That may not be hugely relevant for most D3x00 shooters, but it means I'm discouraged from getting one as an emergency back-up body in case my D810 dies. I'll be moderately put out if the high-end bodies ever go there, although I maintain that Nikon could at least take the AF following ring off the lowest-end FX body at some point in the future (if it doesn't have a mirrorless mount anyway) in order to reduce cost and increase robustness.
  17. It would be really helpful if we had a sticky post mechanism. Compatibility, what you're allowed to link to, etc. could go in it. Presumably we have something of the sort so that news items can stay at the top of the list. Would it help for us to have a photonet article on the subject? (I'll happily take a stab at it, but I'm not going to guarantee when I'll get to it.)
    Wouter Willemse likes this.
  18. Andrew, I've said several times that I believe within 5 years, the lowest end bodies(D3000 series) will drop the aperture stop-down lever and thus will only be completely compatible with E lenses.

    I'd be happy to be wrong, but it would make sense as it would eliminate any mechanical connection and wouldn't make a difference to the target audience for these bodies. For the folks for whom it WOULD make a difference, they would just be forced into a 5000 or higher series body.

    If Nikon did that, it would eliminate the final legacy component of the F mount-aside from the bayonet itself of course. With that said, any lens with an aperture ring would still be compatible-it would just be used as a pre-set lens.
  19. That also wouldn't surprise me, Ben. (I expected that too, once E aperture started being used for anything other than tilt-shift.) It'll mean that anyone wanting a budget back-up body will either have to spend more or buy older - but the improvements between generations in the D3x00 line haven't seemed significant to me since the D3200. Not that I've looked closely!
  20. Yeah, E is pretty much a necessary evil on PC lenses unless you want to go back to the old days(like my 35mm) of preset apertures...and a lot of folks don't want to bother with that.

    If you're listening, though, Nikon-can you PLEASE give us an F6s(or whatever you want to call it) with AF-P and E support? The F6 is the only single digit F series body that I don't own, but if they'd release an updated version I'd put my money where my mouth is and buy a new one. I have actually never bought a new film camera, and part of me is tempted to buy an F6 but $2K is a lot to get that experience...there again I'd do it on a revised one.

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