Downside to using AI / AIS lenses on Digital Bodies?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by josephbraun, Nov 16, 2008.

  1. I have heard some different things, and I was wondering if there was optically any downside to using AI / AIS glass on the Digital Bodies?
  2. I certainly can't think of any, having just bought a D700. I love using them and they are fantastic.

    No distance information being sent when using flash? Maybe that's a downside. Slower focusing? Maybe.
  3. If you are using an FX Nikon digital, the only problem is the only metering is Aperture preferred and Manual. Also, autofocus is not available but you know that already. With DX Nikons there is cropping because of the smaller sensor in DX. If you have AI-S or AI lenses you are already well aware of their quality. The beauty of this is you get the digital convenience and the high quality use of your old glass.
  4. There are some problems. For starters, the older lenses don't have ED elements. Often that leads to purple fringing (CA) on digital bodies. The other negative is they don't have the modern coatings. That can lead to flare and ghosting. I've used some older lenses on my Nikon DSLR and have indeed had these problems. Because I couldn't predict when these problems would show up, I simply switched to using Nikon's most modern zooms. I'm very happy with the results. As a bonus the new lenses are often have better controlled distortion thanks to aspherical elements.

    Kent in SD
  5. Its not as retro as using LTM Nikkors on an Epson RD-1 :)
  6. Well I get CA from my 80-2-- AF-D and it has ED glass in it. I also have a 180 mm AI-S that has ED glass in it.

    I also use a 5.8 cm f/1.8 that is single coated and have very little problem with flair or ghosting. It even works well shooting IR.

    I own and use more AI and AI-S lenses then AF lenses.For my day job I use two zooms. the 80-200 AF-D and a Sigma 100 -300 f/2.8. I also use a 105 f/1.8 that does not show CA on my D300 even at f/1.8.
    So I really do not see any drawbacks to using AI or AI-S lenses on a DSLR.

    And then think about this some of the best lenses Nikon has ever made where done before computers where around. the 58. f/1.2 the 105 f/2.5 55 f/3.5 Micro

    If you want to learn more about how there older lenses where built read this

  7. Not many serious disadvantages, nope. Depends on compatibility. Not all dSLRs will function well with manual lenses. As long as the lens is physically compatible and retains metering, it can be handy.

    Chromatic aberration can be a problem, but it varies. Some lenses can be a problem; most aren't. It depends on the sensor design too. Some dSLRs seem to show CA worse than others.

    Even combinations of dSLRs and lenses that can be prone to CA won't always show it. If there are no high contrast zones CA may not be visible. And CA can be fairly easily corrected with software now.

    Flare can be a problem in *some* circumstances with some lenses and cameras, but, again, not in every case. Depends on the lighting, scene contrast, etc.
  8. If you are NEF shooter, CA is much less of a deal, with excellent remedial ability via both in-camera and Capture NX. On flare/ghosting, it is gonna vary a lot of course, but most of this is easily preventable with good technique (!); and note that the 14-24/2.8 super lens is quite prone to both defects due to the bowling ball front element.

    No luddite here, I love the new nano-whatever coatings/ ED glass/ AFS/ VR/ ASPH; but the look is not the same, is it? And the feel of the good earlier series, reminds me of medium format lenses.
  9. Since I use aperture mode almost all the time, AI or AI-S manual lenses work great for me. Not to mention that they are better then a lot of the stuff out there. I am going to shoot a performer at a Kari-oki (?) using flash and my 35mm 1.4 on the D3 and with hyper focus it will come out great.

    When the focal length of the lens is known the automatic power zoom can be used with SB-800.

    When the maximum aperture of the lens is known the aperture value is displayed in the top control panel and in the viewfinder.
    The flash level is adjusted for changes in aperture.
    If you tell it both the focal length and maximum aperture of the lens that will enable color matrix metering. and that improves the precision of center-weighted and spot metering
    and i-TTL balanced fill-flash.
  10. It depends on the lens. Two older Nikkors I have --a 105mm f/4 AI-S Micro-Nikkor anda 50mm f/1.8 AI-S is great on both the D3 and D700. Another, the the 28mm f/2.8 AI-S which a certain "expert" with the initials K & R describes as "a spectacular and inexpensive lens. There is no sharper wide angle lens made by Nikon for SLR cameras, and it is the only Nikon wide angle, along with the 15mm f/3.5, that is completely free from barrel distortion at ordinary distances." --- is not so good --and by the way the 15mm f/3.5 ain't so hot either -- and that is only one of the many reason why taking taking his advice is a really bad idea.
  11. I use my 24mm f2 AIS on a d70 and have had a lot of fun with it.

    CA has shown up in a few photos, but I was able to correct it easily in lightroom anyway - so no big deal.

    Of course it doesnt meter, but after a few dozen photos I managed to be able to guess in the ballpark and adjust via the
    histogram as needed.

    Manual focus, wide open, on the d70 is relatively annoying though and my percentage of keepers is not as high as I would like.
    Going to purchase a katz eye screen for christmas and go back to wearing contacts rather than glasses. :)
  12. A few old favorites that work beautifully with my D2H:<br>
    55/3.5 AI'd Micro Nikkor (verrry sharp, usable even fully stopped down for maximum DOF)<br>
    105/2.5 AI (sharpest lens I own when compared wide open)<br>
    180/2.8 pre-ED non-AI (I have to use the M2 extension tube for this combo, which restricts me to closeups;
    excellent wide open, nearly equal to the 105/2.5 AI)<br>
    300/4.5 AI ED (also very sharp wide open, excellent at f/5.6, no problems with CA)<br>
    These are all at least as good as they are with film.<p>

    Almost as good as with my film Nikons:<br>
    28/3.5 PC-Nikkor (occasional problems with CA on high contrast areas)<br>
    85/2 AI-S (some internal flare robs contrast wide open, but it works well by f/2.8)<p>

    Usable within limits: 50/2 AI Nikkor (very soft wide open with purplish CA, veiling flare a problem when shooting
    into even diffuse bright light).<p>

    A few non-Nikkors still work well, within limits:<br>
    17/3.5 Tamron Adaptall (since sold; odd color cast, easily corrected in raw files; a bit low in contrast;
    occasional problems with ghosting flare in direct sun, but surprisingly well controlled for an older lens)<br>
    24/2.5 Tamron Adaptall (odd color cast, easily corrected in raw files)<br>
    105/4 Spiratone Portragon T-mount (an oddball soft focus lens, fixed aperture lens with no diaphragm, a single
    optical element, heavy spherical aberration, a predecessor to the LensBaby)<br>
    135/3.5 Lentar T-mount preset (lovely bokeh and moderate contrast and color saturation due to simple design,
    round aperture and single coated optics)<br>
    70-210/2.8-4 Vivitar Series 1 (never the sharpest puppy in the litter wide open, but acceptable stopped down;
    only moderate contrast and color saturation; good resolution; very handy due to continuous close focusing design,
    no need to resort to gimmicky "macro" setting)<p>

    The main advantages I've seen with newer Nikkors is due to the superior multi-coatings, which significantly adds
    to snappy color photos. Veiling flare is extremely well controlled, even with affordable lenses like the 18-70
    DX, so color saturation and contrast are very appealing. Even AF Nikkors lacking ED elements are very well
    controlled to minimize CA. Whenever I read complaints about flare and CA with Nikkors made during the past few
    years my first reaction is "Newbie." Unfair? Maybe. But any experienced photographer who's old enough to
    remember the lower priced camera manufacturer brand and third party zooms of the 1970s-'80s can remember what bad
    flare and CA were *really* like.
  13. It depends on the lens. Some of the older AIS are gems and true bargains. Some are not so good. The 35mm f1.4 is still an AIS lens and from what I have read a great one. I currently have a 28mm f2 AIS and had a 400mm ED-IF f5.6. Both are very good.
  14. " Whenever I read complaints about flare and CA with Nikkors made during the past few years my first reaction is "Newbie." Unfair? Maybe."" I've been taking outdoor photos almost daily since about 1985. Call me "newbie" if you want--I don't care. I just report what I see. Being a frugal Midwestern guy, if the less expensive lenses had worked for me, you can bet I would have kept them, but they didn't. As someone else noted, it depends on what you shoot. I like to photo railroad trains, and their strong headlights shining directly into a lens is highly likely to cause problems in old designed lenses. I also do a lot of night photography using a massive lighting system. This too can easily cause flare, and CA that might not be as noticeable in daytime photos. Trains/tracks/buildings also have lots of straight lines, and older lenses often have distortion problems with that. I got to a LOT of work to get my shots, and I want the best lenses I can get. I just replaced the lenses rather than spend computer time fixing it all. I suppose there are lots of clueless "newbies" out there taking very complicated photos with up to a dozen radio triggered lights though. Kent in SD
  15. Is there a website that will tell me the metering compatibility with different nikon models and ai(s) lenses?
  16. Flare? And how about Nikon 50/2 AI (recessed front lens makes for a nice built-in hood) and, especially, 28/2 AI? No flare
  17. I use the 28mm f/2 Ai-S, which produces very pleasing images on FX cameras. It has soft corners at wide apertures
    but since I use it for people photography, it hasn't come across as a problem yet, and the center sharpness is
    just excellent, and the lens is comparatively compact and lightweight, quick to focus and extremely resistant to
    flare and ghosting. I also have a 35 PC Nikkor, which works well but isn't as good optically as the new 24mm
    PC-E. It has a little low contrast and saturation compared to newer lenses, but the image definition is quite
    ok (not fantastic, but quite respectable).

    Apart from these three manual focus Nikon lenses, I use five Zeiss manual focus lenses. They generally have a bit
    more even image quality corner-to-corner, flatter field, higher sharpness, but on the other hand the
    characteristic high contrast doesn't suit all my subjects; for people pics I sometimes like lower contrast. The
    most recent wide angles from Nikon (14-24, 24-70, and 24 PC-E) are really excellent (in some ways they are better
    than the Zeiss wide angles I have) - it really shows that they were co-developed with the D3 sensor in mind. It's
    just that these high-end Nikon wide angle lenses are really big, and sometimes I prefer to use a smaller lenses:
    hence manual focus Nikon and Zeiss wide angles. I just don't feel comfortable with a 14-24 style lens.

    All my teles (apart from one 100mm macro lens) are autofocus. For the applications I use long lenses, I can
    really benefit from autofocus and have no plans to acquire long manual focus lenses. I would not mind having a
    105/2.5 Ai-S, which has a great reputation as a people photography lens, but I already have that focal length
    range covered with (regrettably, much bigger) autofocus lenses.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Joseph, you don't need any web site. The rule is very simple: any Nikon film or digital SLR that has the aperture follower tab built in can meter with AI/AI-S lenses that have no CPU. Among DSLRs, that means all the higher-end ones, i.e. the top-of-the-line DSLRs with single-digit model numbers such as the D1, D2 and D3 families and the so called "prosumer" one with 3-digit model numbers from 200 or greater, namely the D200, D300 and D700 so far.

    Everything else, i.e. from the D40 to D100 can only meter with lenses with a built-in CPU.
  19. I'm not sure what you're responding to in my comments, Kent. Are you saying you're seeing *worse* flare and CA in your more recent model Nikkors than with older Nikkors?
  20. Kent-

    "Whenever I read complaints about flare and CA with Nikkors made during the past few years my first reaction is
    "Newbie." Unfair? Maybe.""

    I wouldnt presume to speak for Lex, or anybody else for that matter, but I read this statement a bit differently from your
    reading I think.

    It seems to me that Lex is saying that his reaction is "newbie" to those who complain about flare and CA when using
    MODERN Nikkors. ---- "made during the past few years..."

    And it seems to me that you were saying that the OLDER Nikkors had those problems, which is why you switched to
    MODERN glass which doesnt exhibit flare or CA as much.

    So, it would appear, to me, that Lex was not calling you a Newbie since so far as I can tell -- you were not complaining
    about flare or CA on MODERN Nikkors.

    Hopefully I'm not reading everything wrong here or I will feel fairly silly. :D
  21. That pretty much sums it up, David. And note that I didn't specifically name names. Or actually call anyone in
    particular a n00b. I just thought it. The same way I think "...need air... can't breathe..." whenever I see a
    thread asking about bokeh or the best portrait lens.
  22. IMO, if the lens has a suitable focal length and the speed you need, you'll invariably get a great image. OTOH, if, like me, you tend not to use long lenses, and have a DX sized sensor, there aren't that many common lenses that will be more useful than the modern zooms. With a DX sized sensor, I rarely need anything longer than 50 or maybe 70mm. The shortest AiS I own is 20mm, so the only advantage over the zoom is speed. I haven't seen noticeable image quality differences. Where I do find old lenses to be useful is macro work, especially where the lens is used reversed.
  23. I'm using the TC-16 on my D2H with a 300mm 2.8--and it (kinda sorta) makes that old beater of a manual focus lens
    into an autofocus lens. (As I understand it, the TC-16 has a moving element which can focus a variable amout
    depending on the focal length of the lens. With a 50mm, it has a wide focusing range; with the 300mm, it only "fine
    tunes" the focus.) With the above camera/tc/lens combo, the birds I photograph look sharp. (That being said, my
    lack of technique makes the "sharp" birds look crappy--the photographer's problem not the equipment.)

    NB: the TC-16 only works with the D2H and D2X and some older film bodies. (The D200, D300, and D3 only work--
    partially--with a modified TC-16)
  24. Lex-

    Could you please identify the best portrait lens in the AI / AIS line and describe its bokeh?

    Thanks. And remember to breathe! :)
  25. "It seems to me that Lex is saying that his reaction is "newbie" to those who complain about flare and CA when using MODERN Nikkors. ---- "made during the past few years..."

    And it seems to me that you were saying that the OLDER Nikkors had those problems, which is why you switched to MODERN glass which doesnt exhibit flare or CA as much. "

    I was amused as much as anything. You are correct though, I misread the original quote. I'm often in a hurry in the mornings, and missing just one word can dramatically change the meaning of the whole sentence.

    As others have said, it depends on what you photo as to what lenses will work. I'm at one extreme with some of my photos, and older lenses can quickly show their flaws. Someone who mostly does portraits would likely not have the same problems. As for modern lenses, I do have some problem with CA even with them. I think it has to do with the high edge contrast that flash produces. The problems from the newer lenses are noticeably less though.

    There are times an older designed lens is easily the best choice. Some of those include times when f2.8 speed is still not fast enough. As Ilkkla mentioned those lenses tend to be smaller & compact, especially when compared to lenses such as 24-70mm f2.8 etc. Unfortunately for me, neither of those attributes are at the top of my list of importance. As with everything, it all comes down to what you like to photo and the look you are after.

    Kent in SD
  26. David, be nice. Remember, Lex is a moderator here. :)
  27. The 45 AiP f2.8 should meter with the DSLRs-D200, D300, D700 etc.
  28. Fab, I had one of those. It's an OK lens optically, but ergonomically it is the worst. Hated it! Plus the silver lens on a black body doesn't look too great anyway. Would pay $250 for a black one. Not $600. They are more collectors items than users I say. For $600 I'd buy a nice Zeiss.
  29. My problem with with AIS, AI and older lenses was just the fact I couldn't focus the darn things reliably anymore when I switched
    to digital with it's DX tunnel vision. Never had problems focussing them on my old manual bodies. To me photography is about
    seeing, and the finder is most important!

    My long beloved 105 1.8 still was great for a concert lens, when I was lucky enough to catch focus right. Sold it, bought an
    85mm f1.4 AF, no regrets! Same true on my fast shorter lenses. I suppose I should have tried the katzeye screen.

    Instead I learned the 17-55 beat the pant off most of them and nailed the focus for me reliably on my D200. Too bad its so scary
    looking with its hood, I prefer subtle.

    Sold the 20 2.8, 24 f2, 105 1.8, a couple of 50s. Still have 180 which is great when I get it focused, and a few other odds and
    ends. But they'll have to pry the 35mm f1.4 AIS out of my dead fingers. I can't wait to use it on a D700 or whatever when I get
    one. Not in the budget for a while though.
  30. Neil, I feel your pain about the difficulty focusing.

    I put a Katz eye focusing screen in my D2H. The split prism really helps in most situations. It's just like
    focusing a manual film SLR
  31. I've an AI-converted 55mm f/3.5 P.C. Micro-Nikkor, which I use on both my D200 and FM2n. It's the sharpest lens I have, and despite it being 34 years old, it still works and looks like new. I doubt whether many of Nikon's recent lenses will still function and work equally well in 34 years.

    I also use a 28mm f/2.8 AI-S which is in fair condition both mechanically and optically, yet it still gives me sharp and contrasty images on both the D200 and film. Those old AI(-S) lenses are (often) beautifully made and continue to work well, especially if you have a body that can meter with them.
  32. "Another, the the 28mm f/2.8 AI-S which a certain "expert" with the initials K & R describes as "a spectacular and inexpensive lens. There is no sharper wide angle lens made by Nikon for SLR cameras, and it is the only Nikon wide angle, along with the 15mm f/3.5, that is completely free from barrel distortion at ordinary distances." --- is not so good -"

    Ellis, what's wrong with the 28mm f2.8 AI-S on DSLR? I have one and am using it on my D700. Everything seems to be fine, sharpeness when stepped down to f/11. Vignetting is the only issue (and flare).
  33. Hmmm... the AiS 28mm f/2.8 is definitely a gem on the D300. From 2.8 to 5.6 it's definitely better than the AiS 28 f/2.0. And for close-up work you can't find a better lens. Remember, the AiS will focus down to 0.2m.

    BTW: the Ai 28 f/2.8 (with a minimum focus of 0.3m) is only mediocre.
  34. To my post above it should read:

    ...for close-up work you can't find a better wide-angle lens.

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