From Zuiko to Nikkor.

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by michael_barnes|5, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. I have two OM2's, a 21mm f3.5, a 28mm f3.5, and a 50mm f2.0. I'm not a pixel peeper but the lenses are good-enough for me but Zuiko lenses are known for being quite good. So now I'm thinking of going Nikon. The F/F2's and lenses (atleast the early ones..) have a reputation for being extremely durable and well-made. Optics, to me, are a bit secondary, I think. I want nice optics but I truthfully haven't come across many lenses that are bad. A minute drop in quality is fine, but it's incredibly hard to quantify what is minute and what is quality. My primary motive for switching is because I prefer the Nikon bodies: they're larger and heavier.

    Here is my plan:
    Nikon F2; 20mm f3.5, 28mm f2.0, 50mm f2.0, 105mm f2.5. All non-ai. No strong desire for 24mm, 35mm, and 85mm. All non-ai because they're cheaper, "legendary", and probably good-enough. I prefer mechanical bodies and don't need a meter (if I stick with OM then I'm going OM1 for sure). I don't want to spend an incredible amount of money but I believe that these all can be had very cheaply.

    1. I'm happy with all these focal lengths speeds, but should I opt for a newer design for any of the intended focal lengths? Looking through ebay these all can be had for $100-$200, even the 20mm. The only one that I might go newer is with the 20mm because of the filter thread.
    2. How do these stack up with the Zuiko's. I hate to ask a direct lens comparison but I figured I'd ask anyways. Zuikos are newer so one would think newer is better but Nikon has been known for making great glass too.

    If it matters I shoot all bw film and have no serious intention in going digital. I want this camera for walk-around mostly. I have MF for tripod work. The main appeal for OM is the size, really. However having a "better" body might mean more to me, not sure.
  2. F2s are awful old. If I wasn't used to them, I'd never switch to them at this point, but maybe that's just me.
  3. If you like big and heavy, consider
    adding an MD-2 motor drive with its
    ten (!) AA batteries. You'll have a
    serious handful of camera then.
  4. OTOH, there have seldom been more durable mechanical cameras. The light seals may (will probably) require replacement - neither hard to do nor expensive. F2 metering heads mostly still work. Few of the original Photomic heads for the F still work.
    You lenses are good choices on the whole, although if you find a 20mm f/4 first, I wouldn't scorn it.
    You might want to consider the 35mm f/2, if you get the 20mm, too, in place of the 28mm. It is a "classic" in the lineup.
    The original Nikkor-H 50mm f/2 is great, a lovely Double Gauss.
    Finally, as for the Nikkor 105mm f/2.5,
    "many photographers consider it to be the finest lens Nikon has ever produced." Hillebrand and Hauschild, Nikon Compendium.​
    Assuming, that is, that you really mean to make the switch. I only have the OM-1md, but think it very fine and it still works great too.
  5. About the F2. I understand that they're old but i don't need a meter. Most of my cameras are quite old so I do not fear old cameras, and they're usually easy to service it seems.
  6. Why not F3? It's deservedly a classic and the last old school manual top model Nikon made.
    As for the lenses, all kinds of things can be gained with newer glass but whether it matters is another thing. The Zuikos are competent lenses, but so are the Nikkors.
  7. I prefer a mechanical shutter. I use my handheld meter or guess so I see no reason to carry batteries.
  8. I would suggest the 20mm f/4 AI or non-AI (cosmetically they're nearly identical, and they behave identically on a non-AI camera) over the older f/3.5. The f/4 is a better lens and is nearly pancake size, very easy to use and carry around. The f/3.5 is significantly larger.
    For the 28mm f/2, you may find the AI version easier to come by, since the non-AI version was only made for a couple of years (the 28mm f/2 was introduced in 1975, and upgraded to AI in 1977). As with the 20mm f/4, it doesn't really matter which you get for a non-AI camera, since they are cosmetically almost identical and will function identically.
    Every version of the 50mm f/2 that I've used has been superb.
    For the 105mm f/2.5, you should be aware that there are two very different versions of it, both available in non-AI. The earlier version (serial numbers below 300k) are based on the Zeiss Sonnar design, while the later one is a Gaussian. I have the earlier one and I really like its rendering for portraits, but the later one is said to be sharper and more contrasty.
  9. A contrarian view. If you're after the most-est for the least-est, then the F/F2 route and NAI glass isn't a plan. Both bodies are into collectible territory now in solid, full-functioning condition. Beater examples are mostly history. Once you look past the romance, they're pushing 40+ plus years old and can suffer a range of age-related issues that a simple CLA won't magically erase(Sover Wong doesn't work cheap). NAI lenses in good condition aren't necessarily give-away priced, either. Making a retro fashion statement can get spendy.
    Why not look into an FM2n--the cleanest you can find. Mechanical shutter, decades newer, often available in nice shape for not alot. AI and AiS lenses(plus Ai-converted)are more common in popular focal lengths and affordable. There are rock solid alternatives in the same camera size like the FE and FE2. Late auto-focus models--all work nicely with manual lenses--like the N90s and F100 are also alternatives. Electronic shutters from that period are near bomb-proof relative to a high-mileage LBJ/Nixon era mechanical shutter.
    In short, shop around.
  10. I don't want to compete with collectors but browsing ebay many of these lenses that I have mentioned can be had for $100 or less. The clean F2's are expensive so I was thinking of getting photonic (even a dead one) for less.

    In regards to the FM2n, I'd rather go with an F3/F4 because I prefer larger bodies, that is primary reason why I'm leaving Olympus.
  11. Then go for an F3. Still think a relic F or F2, especially if you're on a budget, isn't a great idea. Keep in mind that an F3 isn't massively larger than the FM/FE variant bodies. I have 2 F3s that live on MD4 motor drives more for the improved grip than the shooting speed. Their prices seem to be down a bit now, too.
  12. I've used both OM system SLRs and Zuikos and Nikons and Nikkors. There isn't enough difference between most Zuikos and Nikkors to make that a significant decision point.
    Go ahead and grab the Nikon gear, but hang onto your OM gear and Zuikos. I wish I had.
  13. I have to disagree with C Watson. The
    F2 is one of the best camera bodies
    ever built. I still have 2 and wouldn't
    part with either. KEH has several
    available for good prices and they
    stand behind what they sell. Don't
    discriminate against AI and AIS
    versions, those work fine on all F2
    variants. The manual glass is available
    for a song. I bought an 85-250 this
    year for right at $100. It's a big lens
    and works great. A good F2 and the
    lenses you list should run you maybe
    $800 or less. Goods luck and have fun.

    Rick H.
  14. +1 to both Rick and Lex recent posts.
    If you want to shoot non-AI lenses (and they still tend to be cheaper than the others), the F2 is easier to use. If you don't need TTL metering, a plain prism (or even a non-working Photomic head) on the F is also a reliable shooter, notwithstanding its age. Obviously, one that was literally "through the wars" is best to avoid, but you can see that pretty easily even in eBay pictures.
  15. There's such a thing as karma. Really.

    An F2 Photomic is so ugly that it will affect your pictures.

    There's also physics, such as the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, where observation affects the outcome of experiments
    at a quantum level. Photons avoid the hideous looking F2, but will actually change course for the privilege of being
    gathered by a lens attached to a gorgeous F3. The difference is measurable, and typically exceeds 1/2 stop.

    Notice how strange looking th shadows are in JDM's pictures, with the shaow of the flim can not matching the shadow of the camera? That's Heisenberg in action, photons avoiding the F2 are traveling in curved paths, so the camera is casting much less shadow than you'd expect from something of its size.

    Oh, and don't worry about batteries. The F3 gets so many shots from a lithium battery that if you put a fresh one in as
    soon as you get it, it will last you until 2015 when Kodak and Fuji discontinue all their color flims, and the battery you
    replace that one with will last past the end of all B&W flims. So you really only need two tiny batteries before you go
    digital after getting tired of paying $75 for a roll of Tri-X that someone in Nigeria insists was kept in a freezer.
  16. I see has some iPad issues. Not as serious as dpReview's issues, though.
  17. Like Lex, I too had OM's. The lenses were every bit as good as Nikkors. Where Olympus tripped up was persisting with Mercury batteries for too long and they were useless at marketing to pro's. If you are persisting with film and manual focus, then stay with your OMs for a while.
    If you sell your OM gear, I went through the same searching. And BTW the word "legendary" and old Nikkors is not accurate, and I'm saying this from long experience and a long time Nikon owner.
    Selected Nikon lenes are good, even great but on a par with Canon. Not as good as Leica. But $ for $ Nikons can give spectacular results if you are also good enough.

    My Nikon film cameras and lenses are as follows and the lenses are not the most expensive, but are regarded as almost as good.

    Bodies: FM2n, FE2, F4s, D300, D700. I sold one D700 6 months ago for $2300 and just bought another used one for $1300.
    Lenses (AIS): 28/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, 105/2.5, 80-200/4. I also use a 70-210/4AFD and also the 35-70/2.8AFD on the F4s.
    All these lenses will work on the very latest Nikons and in the case of the AFD's, those bodies that have an internal AF motor.
    The above would represent a total investment of about $2k. Why do I stick with Nikon? Investment protection and lens backwards and forwards compatibility, even into digital bodies.
    One would have to be a very good photographer indeed to push the capability of these lenses. If you were that good and were still in film then medium format would beckon.
  18. Some thoughts:
    • "it's incredibly hard to quantify what is minute and what is quality... " If you shoot with care and/or with a tripod, you`ll notice even subtle differences. Wide open with old lenses, hand held with old cameras and on film, it could not be that easy. With digital systems, it is extremely easy.
    • If you want a F or F2, ¿why not? Don`t expect it to be as precise as a F3 or later camera, or to get results at the level of current standards. If you like that look, go ahead. It`s all about enjoyment.
    • As mentioned above, cameras this age could not be in optimal condition. Mechanical systems wore out even without use, grease could get sticky or dried, degradated foams, etc. It is obvious.
    • As mentioned above, if you want big and heavy, and built in meter is not a requisite, why not a medium format system? Results use to be sharper per se, you`ll be working with larger negatives. It`s so easy to find very good deals here.
    • Are you already processing your negatives&prints in your own darkroom? If not, I`d think it twice...
  19. having owned all the cameras/systems you have mentioned, i'd have to say that all you'd be gaining by going from om to f2 would be a lot more bulk & the ability to change viewfinders - plus you'd have to adapt to the nikkors' direction-of-turning, when it comes to aperture/focus [if you're not already familiar with it]. although i dearly loved my f2 set-up, i couldn't imagine going back to them, since going the om-1 route.
  20. Michael,
    Your 21mm is a great lens and a good copy is not that cheap even today.
    I don't have experience with the other two, as I've the 24mm F:2.8 and two 50mm (the F:1.8 and F:1.4) but not the macro F:2.0, however I heard very good opinions about this lens.
    As you say that one of the reasons driving you to change is size - did you consider getting a OM1n and the Winder2?
    I moved to Nikon when I got my first DSLR and later on I bought two Nikon used film bodies (a FM2 and a F80 to use the G lenses) but I still have my OMs (a OM2 and a OM1n) and I think they don't loose in terms of performance and OM1n is a great body when it comes to the relatively silent shutter and the possibility to put the mirror up and shoot with no vibration.
  21. Michael,
    Your 21mm is a great lens and a good copy is not that cheap even today.
    I don't have experience with the other two, as I've the 24mm F:2.8 and two 50mm (the F:1.8 and F:1.4) but not the macro F:2.0, however I heard very good opinions about this lens.
    As you say that one of the reasons driving you to change is size - did you consider getting a OM1n and the Winder2?
    I moved to Nikon when I got my first DSLR and later on I bought two Nikon used film bodies (a FM2 and a F80 to use the G lenses) but I still have my OMs (a OM2 and a OM1n) and I think they don't loose in terms of performance and OM1n is a great body when it comes to the relatively silent shutter and the possibility to put the mirror up and shoot with no vibration.
  22. Thanks for the responses. Some clarifications:
    I realize that I can probably notice sublte differences between lenses but I seldom get a negative that I have disappointed by its lack of sharpness. And what I meant about quality is that sharpness is only one metric in measuring a lenses optical quality.
    I guess the F2 is not in its optical condition but neither is my Leica or 'Flex. I just prefer older and more primative cameras, I guess. I find the F2 and F3 similarly priced and since I don't use no meter, I see little reason to go F3. I figured that F3 is more accurate but for my shooting style, I'm not that precise anyways (I guess exposure often).
    I'm not really looking for sharpness. My main motivation for switching is improved ergonomics. I do have some Rollei's which I love, but I enjoy 35mm for different reasons: faster to focus, 3:2 ratio, low-light, ease-of-use, etc. I do not like MF SLRs all too much to be honest. They are too large and cumbersome. I just wanted a body that was slightly larger.
    I do process my own negatives and make prints, but even if I didn't, I'm not looking for improved optical qualities. As you have suggested, if I'm going for improved optical qualities then I might as well go large format.
    With this siad. I think that I will stick to my OM's. I went to shoot today and they really aren't thaaat bad. I think it is just that this Nikon thing has got me curious. I will probably get an F2 + 50mm just to check it out. If it really feels THAT much better, then perhaps I will switch. However, I do not think the ergonomics will be that much better to justify a system switch.
  23. In terms of ergonomics and function I've found the FM2N to have a slight edge over the OM-1. This is primarily due to the shutter speed control placement - the ring around the lens mount was a bit awkward with the OM-1. And the oversized film speed knob seemed a bit silly.
    The faster top shutter speed and flash sync speed also gave a slight edge to the FM2N. I push b&w film a lot and occasionally found myself finishing up a roll of Tr-X or TMY pushed to 1600 in daylight where a 1/1000th top shutter speed wasn't enough.
    At the other extreme, the FM2N's LED meter display is much easier to see at night and in dimly lit venues, compared with the OM-1's analog needle display.
    The FM2N and F3 meters are less vulnerable to stray light entering the eyepiece. The OM-1 meter could easily be thrown off by low angled sun from the rear and needs one of the OM eyepiece shades or careful positioning by the photographer to avoid that problem.
    On the other hand, I snagged lots of photos with the OM-1 that I'm still happy with, including in dim light, theaters and clubs. So those few shortcomings weren't significant enough to be a serious hindrance.
    And the OM-1 kit was much more travel friendly. I could fit that entire kit - OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4, 50mm f/3.5 macro, 75-150/4, 28/2.8 and T20 flash, plus film, etc. - into my small Lowepro Off Trail waist bag or Beseler canteen shoulder bag. Can't beat those 49mm filter thread Zuikos for portability.
    In contrast my FM2N is jussssst enough larger that it won't fit the same bags comfortably. And the 52mm filter thread Nikkors are a tight squeeze in the Lowepro Off Trail lens pouches. So I have to use a larger Domke shoulder bag for the Nikon gear.
    Again, I often regret selling that OM kit. It was really handy for travel and long walks. If I had to do it again I'd grab an OM-1N, 50/1.2 or f/1.4 Zuiko (I was partial to the older single coated silver nose 50/1.4, for slightly lower contrast and really nice bokeh), 28/2.8 and 75-150/4 Zuikos. Those would cover everything I'd need. I already have a good Tamron Adaptall 24/2.5 with OM mount.

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