Film Lens Designations

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by pbjef, Feb 9, 2011.

  1. I've recently "re-discovered" using film lenses in my Nikon DSLR. I want to look for a few film lenses but I'm not sure what Nikon puts on the name of the lens to designate it as made originally for a film camera. Any help?
  2. There is no special designation for "film" lenses. DX lenses are made for small sensor DLSR cameras.
  3. Different Nikon DSLRs will get along differently with older lenses (some may not AF, or may not meter, or may not mount at all if they're quite a bit older). Rather than explaining it all in advance, it will help if you mention which camera(s) you're using - then we can tell you which pitfalls to watch for. In many cases you can make very good use of older lenses.
  4. "Film" era lenses use to be all these that doesn`t have the "DX" designation, and most of them released in the 20th century... it means that all lenses without the DX will work on a full frame camera, despite of being film or sensor based. There is no such differentiation.
    Obviously in the digital era, lenses should be designed to be used on digital cameras. I actually don`t know which one is the first non-DX, full-format (FX) lens specifically designed to be used on digital but I can suspect it was near to the 70-200VR v.1 (c. 2003?).
  5. Hi Jef. As Lorne says, Nikkor lenses with "DX" on them have only enough coverage for a crop-sensor DSLR; used on a film camera you'll get black corners at some, if not all, focal lengths. Otherwise, I believe Nikon assume that their more recent lenses will be used both on film and digital. I'm ignoring the question of whether very old lenses will work on the camera, if that's what you mean - different bodies have different levels of compatibility with AF-D, AI and pre-AI lenses.

    Sigma use "DG" in the lens name to indicate that it was designed with digital in mind (telecentric light exiting the back, coatings that block sensor reflections more effectively than was needed for film) - this is separate from their "DC" notation for a reduced image circle. I'm not aware of Nikon having anything similar. I suspect anything released significantly before the D1 (or Kodak backs based on Nikon bodies) didn't pay much attention to whether it might be used on film, but how well they may or may not work varies by lens. Bjørn's site is a good place to check for the behaviour of older lenses.

    Good luck, and I hope that helps.
  6. I don't need autofocus, maybe a better way to look at it is I'm looking for an 18mm or 12mm lens. Or something close to a fisheye lens. My goal is to save a little money so I don't need the technology built into it. I'll focus, I can do that.
    How would you look for one of those lenses?
  7. Copy and paste these into Word (etc) for future reference :
    Also, tho frowned upon, Ken Rockwell has a good list too at his site ... Google "Nikon lens compatability' and it will turn up too.
    Both are quite useful.
  8. So why is it frowned upon?
  9. Jef - if you're looking for a lens for a crop-sensor DSLR, a warning that the old ultrawide lenses aren't very good (and Nikon never made a 12mm film lens) and are very expensive, because they needed full frame coverage. If you want cheaper than the Nikon DX ultrawide zooms, you're better looking at more current off-brand options. If you want something for a full frame camera, Sigma's 12-24mm zooms are the widest I know without going fish-eye. Nikon's slower 18mm and 20mm AI lenses are okay stopped down a bit (I'm told, I've yet to get one) but you're still paying a lot more than an 18-55 kit zoom if you only need crop sensor coverage. Sorry not to be able to give you an obvious option.

    If a fish-eye will do you, I was pretty happy with an 8mm Peleng on my Canon crop body ( have a review); Samyang make a fish-eye that's reasonably affordable and gets better reviews. I just picked up a Sigma 8mm f/3.5, but that's because I want a full image circle inside a full frame (and I don't have the money to drop on a 6mm) - it costs more than the others. There are some other off-brand fish-eye zooms that are worth considering. Good luck.
  10. So why is it frowned upon?​
    Ken is a tad opinionated and controversial. His site contains a lot of useful and interesting information - but there's a Nikon forum policy not to link to it in case beginners start reading, take everything he says as irrefutable fact, and have more harm than good done to them. At least, I believe that's the reasoning. So long as you read the site with the understanding that Ken's way of shooting is not the only way of shooting, and are prepared for the occasional glitch in his fact checking, it's a good read. I go there regularly, and only occasionally grind my teeth.
  11. On the Fred Miranda forum there is a discussion going on now that is on manual focus lens, it is over 60 pages and should give you every thing you want to know on the older lens. A lot of the older lens are very good on digital.
  12. "Ken is a tad opinionated and controversial. His site contains a lot of useful and interesting information - but there's a Nikon forum policy not to link to it in case beginners start reading,"
    Surely this isn't true, is it?
    Not that I'm a fan, but if this is the kind of official policy there is on, I'm outta here.
  13. Pierre: each forum within the larger PN site has its own guidelines and moderators (though all are subject to site-wide policies). There are, for example, rules against links to eBay auctions and other similar provisions to cut down on forum spam. The Rockwell Rule is in place because pointing traffic away from PN and over to some of his tongue-in-cheek or deliberately pot-stirring blog posts can well and truly confuse newbies seeking specific guidance in this brand-centric forum, as well as turn many discussions on PN into lengthy and historically repetiitve debates about him rather than the topic at hand. Obviously he gets talked about here regularly. And you can certainly mention him and something you read there. But linking traffic from here into specific pages on his site has proven to be enough of a counterproductive headache that the moderators have acted to make that (and a few similar destinations) a no-no.

    While PN's moderation and culture may seem heavy handed to some visitors, it's the main reason that this site remains so useful, and not just another discussion forum choking on spam links and endless re-arguments over external personalities and their blogs. Obviously we're still allowed to mention that Canon is inferior, that digital is better than film, that 80mm is the only true portrait focal length, and other similarly religious matters. :)
  14. Pierre - I believe there's a specific block on direct links to Ken's site from the Nikon forum, not in general. I'm not a moderator - if I spoke out of place by stating what I believe to be the explanation for the forum policy, apologies, and I'm sure Shun et al. can give you the official version.

    My impression is that there's no problem in pointing people at Ken's site, so long as there's a suitable disclaimer with it. Ken himself states that his site is not intended to be balanced or entirely factual (see the "about" section on his site). Personally, I'm very happy to point people there, and happy to read it myself, but I can see how some of what he writes might cause confusion to beginners - so I usually add a note when I send a novice there. I assume that, in order for this to become policy, the Nikon forum has historically (before my time) seen a lot of posts from people who misinterpreted (if only in terms of authority) what Ken said, and the forum maintainers decided that they needed to cut back on the flow a bit. Given all this, it's understandable that a bare link to a page on his site, which a beginner may stumble across and then use as a kicking-off point for the rest of his site, might be a bad thing to leave in the wrong thread.

    Not that any of this is any of my business - I just report the situation as I see it, as someone who frequents both this forum and Ken's site. The forum maintainers here are doing it out of the kindness of their hearts, and I can't object to whatever they feel the need to do in order to make their lives easier - but I can sort of see some justification to it, and I hope it helps if others share this understanding.

    Edit: cross-over with Matt, with whom I'm glad to see I have the same view of the situation.
  15. Hi Matt,
    Pierre: each forum within the larger PN site has its own guidelines and moderators (though all are subject to site-wide policies).​
    Where are these guidelines or forum specific rules posted?
    I looked on the main page of this forum and could find only a brief description of the forum and the names of the moderators, but no rules or a link to rules. There is nothing "stickied", either.
    I would expect any rules to be conspicously posted, otherwise how can we keep from running afoul of them?
  16. Hi Jeff,
    I suggest you look up any lens you may be interested in on Bjorn Rorslett's site:
    Click on "Lenses" in the left hand column. Bjorn has tested many "film" lenses on DSLR cameras. I find his ratings and comments to be very helpful.
  17. Yeah, you can't link to ken rockwell dot com. It's sometimes a bummer. But if you were to go there, an look in the Nikon section, under Lenses, and go to the Lens Compatibility Chart, it's got good info laid out in a way that's probably easier to understand than some of the popular sites.
    But in a general sense, and lens that's not DX is for film, the only question is whether it's fully compatible with any given film camera.
  18. the only question is whether it's fully compatible with any given film camera.​
    Or, indeed, whether it's compatible with any given digital camera.
    Where are these guidelines or forum specific rules posted?​
    Actually, I was having a look for where the block was mentioned, as part of this thread, and realised I didn't know where it was documented (short of actually trying to do a post with a link to Ken's site in it). Am I missing something obvious? If not, is there any chance that forum-specific rules could be linked from the main forum page? (A general request for

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