D700 and older lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by james_priestley, Jul 11, 2009.

  1. After shooting with my friend's D700 for a good week, I was convinced that it's time to move on to a camera with an FX sensor. So I'm buying a D700, and was looking for a nice mid-range zoom to start off with until I get the money for a 17-35 and 70-200 + a 50mm prime. Particularly, I've been looking at some older AF lenses originally made for film cameras.
    I'm looking into buying a mint condition AF-n 28-85mm (f/3.5-4.5). Based off of reviews that I've read, it seems like a good starting place until I can afford some better glass. My question is, am I in any way hindering my experience with the D700 by using older film AF lenses? Does anyone have any experience with this lens in particular? Does anyone have any lens suggestions around the same focal length range of comparitive quality/price?
    Any help is appreciated. Thanks in advance! :)
  2. The D700 can use older AF lenses that require the AF to be diven by the body - the focusing speed will not be up to the newer AFS lenses though.
    The 35-70mm is very good mid range zoom and can be picked up for £250 used.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    James, I think you are doing this all backward. I would get the lenses ready and then buy the body. DSLRs depreciate over time rather quickly. When you get the camera, hopefully you'll already have some good lenses ready to take full advantage of the camera.
  4. I was very unimpressed with the 28-85mm AF N long time ago when I had one. I would consider the 28-70/3.5-4.5D or the 28-105/3.5-4.5D if you want a standard zoom on a budget - these are good lenses. The 35-70 seems to me to have a limited range and the autofocus isn't up to today's standards but some like it.
    No, actually many film lenses perform better on FX than some lenses designed for digital in the era before FX came about. You just need to know which lenses to get. ;-)
  5. The 28-70 was another one I was considering. Since you've owned both, how do they compare in terms of AF speed / accuracy, distortion and sharpness? Thanks for the help so far!
  6. I think your choice is a good one. It is "cheap as chips" on eBay as these lenses were commonly sold with top end consumer cameras in the early 1990s but the lens still has the ability to turn in pin sharp images with good contrast and color, and relatively little wide end distrotion. I would go so far as to say that peraps the main issue with this lens is that it was overshadowed by the 35-70mm f2.8 which is still made due to its extreme high performance. Its only significant downside that I have been able to see is that it flares quite a lot when the sun is in frame or near it. But that is a small price to pay for the otherwise excellent performance from a consumer grade lens (well, prosumer anyway.) If you have not yet bought, I would advise buying the second version of this lens, not the first. Apart from the nicer handling, some authorrities claim it to have better optics (admittedly though others claim the upgrade was only cosmetic.) I do not know for sure but can say I own the second version of this lens and its a "cracker." I am sorry I cannot answer your main question directly other than to say that I still have mine and use it on my D200 and as its not a D lens I suppose there is a slight loss of functionality there but otherwise I do not notice it. I have other more expensive later lenses but have no plans to sell this one. In fact I still own the 70-210mm F3.5-4.5 AF that accompanied it too and despite owning lenses like the 180mm f2.8 do not plan to sell this either as I know I cannot buy a replacement that is anything near this in quality for the pittance I would get paid if I did sell.
    If you have not seen this page before this link takes you to pages on this lens, starting with version 1 of the AF.
  7. Thanks for the insight Peter! I also was drawn towards the 28-85 for its more robust construction, being mostly metal as compared to the generic plastic prosumer lenses in its class. I was also looking at the 35-70mm f2.8, but the low availability and high asking prices for new / mint condition models shifted my interest in favor of the 28-85. And yes, I was looking at the AF-n version, with the cosmetic upgrade. I read that it has particularly nicer handling on the manual focus ring, as the original had a thin plastic ring, while the AF-n uses a ruberized-plastic that is much easier to handle.
    Thanks again for the help, I think I've made my decision. :)
  8. Glad to have helped. I do think this lens is vastly under rated by the general photography community and the only reason I can really proffer is that its because it was so widely available in its day and still is. I suppose too its ranking was not helped by its zoom range which for many, was not especially useful on a DX camera (although I liked it as I prefer a slightly longer lens. IN any event on a D700 I would expect it to perform well based on my personal experience. Sure its not their top pro lens either then or now but its a very respectable performer - then and now! If you look at my Flickr site, most of the earlier photos were shot with this lens. More recently I have been trying other mainly more modern lenses but the performance of the venerable lens is still up there with them if not ahead in many instances.
  9. A tamron 28-75 2.8 works perfect on a D700, sharp, contrast full and lovely bokeh and a Sigma 15-30 is great too. Both you find reasonable priced second hand.
  10. I think Shun's advice is getting underrated, and not the 28-85 :)
    Might be me, but to me the major advantage of FX over current DX are 3 points:
    1. High ISO performance. If you need it, you need it; but as a normal amateur I find ISO1600 on the D300 suffices.
    2. Wide angle lenses; though there are plenty good DX wide angles available, so this point is not that critical anymore.
    3. Less depth of field possible with fast lenses.
    Now personally, only the last point is of interest to me; but it does mean that if I ever buy a D700 it will see primes 90% of the time, and not a consumer zoom. I just do not see a €1800 body with a €200 lens, it's like a Ferrari on spare tires.
    So, I'd either follow Shun's advice, and first get the good lenses which will do justice to your future FX camera, or shop around for 2nd hand primes (which can be dirt cheap). And why wait for buying a 50mm? The 50 f/1.8 is as cheap as lenses get and hard to fault (at its price for sure).
    If not, go for the Tamron Hans recommends.
  11. There is one more advantage of FX over DX: Lenses tend to perform better on FX than on DX given the larger pixels on FX and hence lesser resolution requirements on FX (same number of pixels assumed here which is the case with D700/D300).
    So, cheap lenses do better on FX than on DX and I think, James, your approach is a good one.
    Shun, your comment is valid too but it looses a bit, if the cameras in question do not use similar lens sets. FX lenses are different from DX lenses, an FX mid-range zoom used on a DX camera lacks range at the wide end etc.
    I have the AF-S 17-35/2.8, the AF 80-200/2.8 and the AF 50/1.4, complemented with the 28-105/3.5-4.5. This setup perfectly fits my needs.
  12. The issue at hand is not buy glass first, camera second, it's the utter lack of prosumer level FX glass from Nikon. Most of these lenses were DC after nikon phased out film cameras and have yet to be updated for digital.
    I regularly use my Nikkor 28-200 AF-G as a walking around lens, and it works just fine, in fact last trip to Europe, this was my "day time" lens with an 28-70 f/2.8 as my "night time" lens. the combo worked beautiful and made sure I had room in my bag for souvenirs
    THAT SAID, I have had some BAD LUCK with the lack of anti-reflective glass especially in my 50 f/1.4 with sensor reflections, see attached.
    (this was a perfectly posed autistic child, gonna be the photo of the year for his mother, and the xmas lights reflecting just ruined, it, well beyond my photoshop skills to repair).
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    So, cheap lenses do better on FX than on DX and I think, James, your approach is a good one.​
    Not entirely true. Just compare my D300 vs. D700. The D700 is less demanding in the center, but it uses a lot more from the edge of the image circle where cheap lenses tend to do falter. The D3X is the most demanding among them all since it demands excellent edge performance, where even lenses such as the 17-35mm/f2.8 and 14-24mm/f2.8 tend to show their limitations.
    Generally speaking, I wouldn't buy an FX body until you have sufficient money to get the body and some decent lenses so that you can take full advantage of it from day 1. DSLR bodies are updated very frequently, and even lenses are updated every several years. Essentially it pays to wait, but of course you don't want to wait forever or we'll all be dead. What I would avoid is buying components prematurely.
  14. I see Shun's point, but when I say I'd be buying a 17-35mm f/2.8 and 70-200mm f/2.8, I meant it as in the next few months. I don't think the D700 will be out-dated by another camera within its class in that time period.
    So when I buy it, I'd like to have a nice midranged zoom to use the camera until I have the money to buy the more expensive glass in the following months. A midranged zoom + 50mm f/1.8 prime for low light would hold me over until then for most things in my opinion.
    My primary interests in moving to a full frame sensor are exactly what Wouter outlined. The high ISO performance really shines, as I have a tendency to take a lot of photos in situations with dim lighting. Add that to the fact that I'm a big fan of wide angle shots . Having played with a D300 in conjunction with DX wide angle lenses like the 12-24 f/4, I find them lackluster in comparison to shooting wide angle shots with a full frame sensor. I have a friend with a D700 and a 17-35mm f/2.8, and I was completely blown away.
  15. Leigh.... Send me that image off-list and I'll work on it for you. Send the full-res original.
  16. After years of buying gear "to start off with," let me just say that you should just bypass the interim stuff and buy what you really want. Settling for anything less just means spending money on something now that you will unload later on.
  17. Last I heard the 17-35mm lens was discontinued by Nikon...and was (is) not quite as good on full-frame digital as it was (is) on film. So you might want to hold off on that one for now and see if Nikon announces something in the next 3-6 months...Otherwise the primes (50mm; 85mm and certainly the 105 2.5 ais) are all very good to excellent on full frame digital - if you don't mind changing lenses and can live without a zoom, that might be a better option...
    Anyway, have fun with getting the kit you want...
  18. The 17-35 mm lens is absolutely beautiful on the D700 ... and if it is being discontinued, then you better hurry up and get it.
    I think Shun's advice is dead on here.
  19. The old 24-85 AF-S is a pretty good lens IMHO ... not the one that is not AF-S. I don't remember if I ever used it full frame. But I sadly sold it when I bought my D70 with its kit lens.
  20. I wasn't aware that the 17-35mm was being discontinued. It was first on my list to get though. Nikon still lists it on their site if I recall correctly, and it's still listed on Ritz, Adorama, J&R, B&H Photo and Video and Amazon. And yes, the 17-35mm is just downright amazing on a D700 from what I've been able to play around with them for, and from what I've seen from other people.
  21. nikon 20-35 f2.8 and a fifty (i highly recommend the 50mm f1.8 af made in japan version) is what i work on 99.9% of the time. i paid $500 for the 20-35 and want for nothing, brilliant and cheap (my favourite combination).
    in my bag, for every assignment. i carry a d700, 50mm, 20-35mm, super beat up old push pull 80-200 f2.8 and a d2xs. paid less than a new 70-200.
  22. Leigh -- you sure those are sensor reflections, not filter reflections? I've never seen sensor reflections anywhere near that bad.
  23. Hi there, I have recently switched from D2x, D200 and D300 to D3 and D700 ie: DX to FX - Glass? I have tons of it, but have got rid of all my DX lenses apart from an 18-55 which I use on an Infrared D100. The most useful lens - if you want a walk about, that will not give you neck strain - I find is a 28-200. I have the new AFS 12-24 f2.8 and the 24-70f2.8 and a 70-200f2,8. Also the 17-35 f2.8, which you can still get hold of, but I would advise hurrying. In older lenses I have the 105 f2 DC, 105 Micro, 70-180 Micro, 80-400mm, 300 f4, 500 f4 P, 1000 reflex, 24 PCE, and several smaller lenses like 50mm f1.8, 16mm fisheye, etc. This may seem like overkill, but I tend to travel light, two or three bodies each with a lens for the project in hand. One lens worth a mention that is cheap is the 35-70 f3.3, an excellent little lens. Until recently I had the old 70-210 D version which was almost as fast as some of my AFS lenses, and the non D version is no slouch either. Nikons inbuilt backward compatibility means that even manual AI lenses will work, and and AF - D lens should work fine with the D700. My advice has always been - never skimp on the glass, you may upgrade the bodies but the good glass remains some of mine is pre digital but still provides superb results..
  24. seems silly to me to spend so much money on a full frame slr, and then throw cheap zoom glass on it. you would be better with an even cheaper 1.8/50mm prime.
  25. unless of course you need the high iso performance.
  26. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, if one needs high-ISO performance, it makes little sense to put some slow zoom on the D700. (This is just a general comment. I am not sure why the OP needs a D700.)
  27. I waited for the DSLR's to mature to a point when I thought I could get a DSLR and not be tempted into buying a new one a few years down the road. I sold my F100, N70, and SB28 to buy a D200. I was happy sorta. DX is good. DX is bad. The lenses used on the film bodies still worked but with the 1.5 change in perspective. Good and Bad. I could work with with it though....
    Then photos opportunities started happening in dark environments. Even fast lenses would not work. I had and still have a 180F2.8, 105F2.8, 24F2.8 and my only zoom, the 35-70F2.8. My newest lens is a 50F1.4 I bought to try to help in the low light..... The lenses just could not get it done. I have pushed 800 film to 3200 with icky result with these lenses but what could one do? I was at the limits of the equipment. What to do, What to do?
    Then the D700 was announced. Long story short I bought it a few months back. I thought the F100 was a heck of a camera. Nothing compared to the D700. All of my lenses work just fine. Very impressed. I have been in situations where there where lots of other people with cameras but I was the only one taking photos. Their equipment just could not handle the low light. A D700 pushed to 3200 with a 180/F2.8 or a 35-70F2.8 COULD get the photos. And I needed every bit of speed out of the lenses which where shot wide open or just a bit stepped down.
    But here is the rub. A D700 can only do so much. Low light still requires good, fast glass. If one needs high ISO then one is going to need fast lenses. When I am shooting at 3200 ISO with the D700, the lens is at 2.8 to 4.0 at best.
    DSLR are computers to which we attach lenses. Computers go up in function and down in price every couple of years. The price of my lenses has remained stable. Good glass ain't cheap. And it ain't going to get cheap. My D700 will be a lot cheaper in a few years...
  28. i guess my original point Shun, was that you don't need to spend a fortune on good, fast glass.
    i work day in day out on less than $1200 in fast nikkors (all bought second hand and now with many, many miles on them). i need a d700 before i need to trade my 80-200 for a 70-200 vr.
    good glass can be cheap (relatively).
    20-35mm f2.8
    35-70mm f2.8
    50mm f1.8 af
    80-200 (push pull) f2.8
    180mm f2.8 (first version with plastic exterior barrel and exact same optics as current)
    70-210 f4 (the constant f4 version if you can find it)

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