Nikon 135mm 2.8 ai vs NIkon 135mm 2.8 ais?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by dannyw, Oct 30, 2017.

  1. Ben, I'm with you on the 150/250 portrait combo on the rb67.
  2. You would have seen this one: Nikon Macro-Nikkor 65 mm f/4.5 lens test :D

    So you are telling me that you can spot an image taken with a 50mm focal length because it looks different from one taken, for example, at 35 or at 70mm? Does that translate to spotting an image taken with a 35mm lens on a DX camera? Would you stand at the same spot with a 35 on DX and 50 on FX or would you be at the 35mm on FX spot (so is it the 50mm FOV that makes it "boring medium" or can the 35mm perspective break the mold)?

    I felt encouraged to get a 50mm for FX when I realized that I had actually used the 35 on DX quite frequently.

  3. Wow all the responses are amazing so far thanks everyone! My main reason for asking is that i'm trying to build a portrait lens collection that I can use for family photos, headshots, and head and shoulders mainly. I've been looking at primes mainly because I like the look of portraits on older glass, and it can also save money.

    I've been also thinking about the 60mm 2.8d macro from Nikon, as I hear that's a good portrait lens on dx body cameras. Has anyone tried it before?

    so i'm looking for prime or other vintage recommendations for lenses if anyone has suggestions
  4. Wow, your last post really opens a can of worms :)

    I have no personal experience with the 60mm Micro. Regardless of the system I'm using, I tend to keep a manual focus 50mm macro around as it does double duty as both a close focusing lens and a normal lens, although I don't even do that all that often. With Velvia 50 outdoors, shutter speeds start getting dangerously low if you throw a polarizer into the mix. I have no reason to think the 60mm would not be excellent, though.

    For a DX body, don't discount the value of a good 50mm range lens, and you have plenty from which to choose. I'd suggest a 50mm 1.4 AI-s if I only kept one manual focus, but as I mentioned I have a bunch of 50mm lenses. I tend to hoard the early "chrome nose" 50mm 1.4s as they are a natural match to stick on Fs and F2s(I have bunches of those cameras also). 50mm does make a nice full body or 3/4 portrait lens on DX. They have a certain unique look that's hard to describe-just bear in mind that you will want one that is either AI converted or send it to John White for the said conversion.

    I mentioned the 5.8cm 1.4 earlier. This was Nikon's first f/1.4 SLR lens, and was a standard "bundled" lens with very early Nikon Fs. It's actually somewhat of an uncommon lens, and I think was only made for about 3 years(59-62). My example-and others I've seen-do have a decent amount of spherical abberation wide open(not always a bad thing) and also overall low contrast at large apertures, More notably, it tends to give a very interesting "swirly" bokeh-I'll try to either take some or dig some up. Also, I will mention this with a HUGE caveat that I take no responsibility, but the aperture ring is constructed in such a way that it completely clears the feeler tab on all the cameras I've tied and can be used unconverted(albeit with no metering). There are a couple of lenses where this is possible-the 20mm 3.5 UD is the other that I have tested personally.

    One real relatively inexpensive classic is the 85mm f/2. This is a great little(relatively) lightweight lens that's only a tiny bit longer than a 50mm. It turns into a great head and shoulders length lens on a DX camera. This past summer-when I was in the infancy of my whole-hog Nikon conversion-I went to a family wedding with an F3, F100, and D70(as much as anything, I was taking pictures of the location-a home that's been in the family for a while). In any case, though, I had the little 85mm in tow, and was snapping photos at the reception with it. In the middle of my doing that, my mom wanted me to take a picture of her with one of her cousins she hadn't seen in a while. Since my bag was a good ways away and her cousin was itching to leave, I made do with the 85mm and ended up probably 25 ft. away to 3/4 framing of two people-that not always a good distance to work with in that scenario.

    We've already mentioned the 105 2.5 and discussed it at length. There again, it's a classic and for a while was considered THE portrait lens. An even more budget oriented option is the Series E 100 2.8. The series E lenses were Nikon's low end line back in the day, but by and large they stuck to simple optical designs that could be made inexpensively and cut out features like multi-coating. They're overall very nice lenses and, again, attractively priced. There is a 105 1.8, but it's a somewhat pricey lens(although it is excellent). On a DX body, you're in a comfortable length for head shots.

    You started off asking about the 135 2.8. There again, you can't go wrong with that lens. There's also a 3.5 version that I've found respectable, although I'm not sure if it made it into the AI era. Converted ones are certainly out there. I've only used mine on film(mostly Plus-X and Tri-X) on Fs and F2s, but have been pleased with it. Again, for the budget conscious, there's a series E 2.8 that is optically simpler and again single coated. I've not used it so can't comment. You have the heavenly 135mm f/2 in either AI or AI-s, although these are harder to find and are expensive. On a DX camera, you'll find yourself working a decent distance away even with a tight head shot. It might be worth starting with the Series E just to see how you like it on the camera.
  5. Maybe as a first step, use your current lenses to determine for yourself which focal length (more or less) would work for you. Some love using a 50mm on APS-C as a portrait (head-shot) lens; others (including me) find it just too short a focal length to be pleasing. Some find 100mm or more way too long on APS-C, others prefer it..... Another thing is how much you'd be willing to spend.
    For example, the AF-D 60mm macro is not as cheap as a 135 f/2.8 or 105 f/2.5; if you enter that price-bracket, I'd argue the 50mm f/1.2 warrants a look too. The 60mm macro is not so much a vintage lens anyway, though very good but I would consider the current 60mm f/2.8G instead, as it's excellent. The Samyang 85mm f/1.4 comes to mind too - again, not very vintage, but a seriously nice lens. Well, simply put: plenty choice, so it's worth breaking it down to a focal length you really find working well yourself, and then narrow the search.
  6. Dieter: Yes, I probably hit the 65mm macro. Teach me not to remember to type "micro".

    Reliably? No. A bit? Yes. (Assuming something I can reference in the scene, and obviously ignoring crops.) Honestly 35mm isn't as wide as I'd normally go, but it's as wide as I prefer to go with group shots of people in the interests of limiting perspective distortion at the edges. I got mine largely for taking pictures of groups sitting around tables in a pub. Can I tell 70mm from 50mm? Maybe; again, I'd usually go to 85mm, which I think I could distinguish. If I'm at 70mm it's usually (unless I'm tight cropping some geography) because I've got the 24-70 or 70-200 on the camera and I actually wanted a bit more reach.

    I apply equivalence. It's the normal field of view (when viewed from the obvious distance) that I find less interesting - unless, again, the subject is novel enough to compensate. 35mm on DX, 50mm on FX, a 50mm-equivalent crop out of a 14-24... all the same to me. And if I'm using a 50mm there's a good chance it'll be at a wide aperture, again differentiating from the conventional view. Not that there's anything wrong with 50mm (I'm not going to argue with HCB), but I need all the help I can get in making an image look interesting.

    I have a 50mm f/1.8 for my Eos 300D (so 80mm equivalent) - although it was a lot more to do with cheap aperture than preferred length. I've never owned a DX Nikon.

    Maybe I just need to learn how to use a 50mm, of course. :)
  7. I agree with the advice to decide on the focal length you want. 60mm is a good portrait length on a DX body (90mm equivalent in full frame terms, and so very close to the 85mm traditional lens); 60mm f/2.8 doesn't give you that much opportunity to blur the background, which is a traditional feature of a "portrait lens". Yes, it's a macro, but it's a fairly short one - it's better as a copy lens than for actually focussing anything small because the working distance is limited. If you want to go down this route, I'd suggest a look at one of the 90mm Tamrons (of any vintage) - the longer focal length gives you better background separation, and they'll similarly give you more working range for macro shooting. I have a 90mm Tamron on full-frame, bought partly as a portrait option, but I quickly supplemented it with a faster lens (actually the Samyang that was suggested) and a longer macro (150mm Sigma).

    For pure portraiture, I'll second Wouter's suggestion of the Samyang 85mm. I disposed of mine because I was finding manual focus too tedious with moving subjects, but it's optically decent, has good bokeh, and is very fast for the price; it's also effectively AI-P, so you can control the aperture from the camera rather than the focus ring. I switched to the 85mm f/1.8 AF-S (which has less offensive bokeh than the AF-D version) just to get AF, but the LoCA bothers me (backgrounds go green), so I'll probably switch to an 85mm Art at some point. But that sequence ramps up the cost a bit. :)

    As a modern short portrait option on DX, I've often pointed people at the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 HSM (the one before the Art). It's not that cheap or small, but within the DX circle it's very good, and it has nice bokeh. (The corners on FX are horrible, though.) The Art is better, but it's huge and expensive. That may be going too far for your budget, though it does autofocus. It's a little short for portraiture, but not much, and that's what cropping is for. If you want a 60mm macro for portraiture, the Tamron 60mm f/2 is worth a look - again above the budget you're considering.

    I defer to the expertise of those with more Nikon use than me when it comes to the merits of the older manual-focus lenses - I'm sure they're all decent.

    Best of luck. Welcome to Nikon Acquisition Syndrome.
  8. Yeah-I got my first Nikon in January...and I couldn't begin to tell you how I've added since.

    Manual focus lenses take you down a dangerous path. I started there as I'd initially thought I'd stay with Canon for digital, but it became to easy to switch(and of course I ended up buying much nicer AF lenses than I ever had in EOS mount).

    I picked up my first Nikon F, then realized I should get every prism variant. I picked up an F2, and then an F2A and F2AS followed. I loved the FA bought, so I decided I needed an FM, FM2n, FE, and FE2, and FM3a. The only one I DON'T have is the FM3a, and that's mostly because I haven't been able to stomach paying $500+ for a compact Nikon(the FM3a was introduced in 2001 to replace the FM2n and discontinued in 2006, so it's a relatively new piece in film camera terms).
  9. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Having just bought an F5 I sympathise, but I have always found that If you watch and wait on the internet, sooner or later you can get a good camera for a good price. I paid just over $300 delivered for a very minty F5. It is a behavior pattern / syndrome that some of us are afflicted with. Fun, though!
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
  10. The FM3a is a bit a rare bird - I doubt its price will drop soon (just like the F6 prices seem to hold up). But luckily, Ben, looks like you're short on Nikkormats, so there is still stuff to explore ;-)
  11. For portraits on DX, Thom Hogan recommends the Tamron 60/2 over the Nikon 60/2.8.

    For 50mm, consider the 50/1.2 Ai-S (still available new).

    Instead of the Nikon 105/2.5, consider the faster 105/1.8 Ai-S instead.

    Have a look at the Voigtlander Nokton 58/1.4 SLII. Or if you feel flush with money, the AF-S 58/1.4.

    Owned one for years, fine lens. But try to find the older 85/1.8 instead (not an Ai lens though and hence needs to be modified)
    Another one that would need modification to fit a Nikon camera is the Leica Summicron-R 90/2 (the non-APO version, the APO one is certainly better but also expensive).

    One lens I believe has not been mentioned yet: Nikon Series E 75-150/3.5. Not fast but good for portraits nonetheless. Just watch out for the loose zoom ring (fixable).

    As I already mentioned, for portraits on DX, I'd pick the current Sigma 50-100/1.8. Heavy (1.5kg) and expensive ($1100) but you gain the flexibility of a zoom without giving up the fast aperture.

    One a side note: before you purchase any manual focus lens for use on a DX camera (and even FX), make sure you are comfortable with manual focusing at all. It is not easy to nail (at least not for me) on today's AF camera focusing screens and using live view may not always be an option.

    Plenty available on ebay in the US. But pricey for sure.

    I am certainly affected - but luckily my affection seems to be limited to current cameras and lenses;)
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2017
    mike_halliwell likes this.
  12. I did what Dieter suggests... why not just bit the bullet and get a Sigma 50-100mm 1.8 DX?

    It will cover most focal lengths associated with portrait use, depending on whether were talking equivalents, ie 75 - 150mm in FX format.

    It can be got new for £650 in the UK. It's even got a tripod foot, if you use a monopod (you know what I mean!!)

    It's super sharp wide open so you can actually use it @ f1.8 if you need a shallow DoF.

    If you like MF, it's got a nice wide focus grip.

    What's not to like.....;)
  13. Indeed, anyone in the US can have one-they just have to be willing to pay for it. The least expensive I've seen is ~$400 for a pretty beat up one, and new in box examples are well over $1K.

    Before I broke down and bought the 45mm 2.8P, I was looking for FM3as with that lens on them since it was kind of sort of designed for the camera. I can remember watching a kit that came with a nice camera, the 45mm lens, a cheap AF zoom, a Vivitar 70-200 or some such, and a lower end Vivitar flash. The mess ended up bringing close to $800.
  14. OK, I should have said "weird bird" for the FM3a; it's not super-rare, but it's holding value quite well, and given how prices for older gear is going, I don't see that changing soon.

    Indeed the Leica R lenses can be nice, but pricey, options - and you need to have a Leitax conversion ring for each lens (as it fully replaces the bayonet). The most affordable ones are the Summicron-R 50mm (lovely character lens) and the Macro-Elmarit-R 60mm (very good lens) - definitely more expensive than equivalent Nikon lenses of similar age, but very good optics. While I haven't Leitax converted any myself (prefer keeping them original), I'm quite sure all these 3 lenses mentioned can be converted to Nikon F. Some other R lenses may not be suitable.
  15. Indeed. All Summicron-R 50 and the Summicron-R 90 are rather easy to convert; for the Macro-Elmarit the difficulty of the procedure depends on which particular version is involved.
    On the leitax website there is a list of lenses for which the conversion has been performed as well as possible restrictions. In the majority of cases, the conversion is fully reversible.

    I converted only one lens, the Leica Apo-Telyt 180/3.4. I would quite possibly have done another, the Macro-Elmarit 100/2.8, had I known in time about that option.
  16. That can't be emphasized enough! Portraiture with long manual lenses will require a compliant and patient subject. While I skipped the AF SLR focusing issue with switching to Leica M getting a somewhat fast long lens focused takes it's time. I was frustrated enough to buy a DSLR with 70-200/2.8 AF and might get a 85mm next.
    Since somebody mentioned Tamron 90mms on the previous page: Beware! My Adapt all tends to generate aperture shaped reflections in the center of images when stopped down.
    I'm not familiar with the Nikon market. - Shouldn't there be an abundance of unknown brand 3rd party 135/2.8s? or are they Unusable since pre-AI? To correct Wouter: Leica issued a 80mm R lens 75mm was M only and a somewhat traditional insanely fast focal length, when we look at the old Zeiss (that got recently revived).
    Lens line advice in gerneral: I love my (admittedly AF) 135/2.8 on DX like sensor. It is long but handy for less compliant head shots distant activities details and still convenient to carry around. For compliant portraiture a 50mm is great and a 60mm surely nice too; i.e. pick one or the other. While I think you can't go wrong with Macro AF lenses; manual ones can be a bit nasty. Sometimes they have way too much focus throw for my taste; i.e. far to few degrees of ring movement between front and back focus to get the focus where it is desired. - You might feel the same attempting to focus older screwdriver AF lenses manually or might have perfect control over your watchmaker's hands and no issue with that. - Try before you buy or at least do a image search and try to realize how bad things will be while comparing to a focus ring you have.
    The 2nd lens to pack with a 60mm depends on your subject. If it is a single person, I'd grab a 35mm, going out ready to shoot anything a 24mm - Keeping DX focusing in mind I don't recommend shopping for heritage primes below 50mm. Super wides (24mm or less) from film days are neither very likely to shine on digital nor as fast or compact as their modern counterparts. You'll also be urged to zone focus &/ stop down for optical reasons. - Better get a dedicated DX zoom there. I don't feel 35/2's focus popping obviously on AF screens either, so mine collects dust and doesn't get used wide open.
  17. ???
    Who mentioned a Leica 75 or 80 anywhere?
    I think about the only manual focusing that is more troubling than having to use an AF focusing screen in a SLR/DSLR is focusing anything longer than a 75mm (or even 50mm) using a Leica rangefinder. I had already sufficient trouble doing it reproducible with a 90mm lens and found it nigh impossible with a 135 (despite the magnifying goggles). A viewfinder magnifier sure helps; the need for emphasizes the fact that a rangefinder camera is best used with 50mm or shorter focal lengths.

    That's a good point. The Macro-Elmarit 100/2.8 sure was extreme in that case - and easy to focus on a Leica film camera. But on an AF DSLR focusing screen, even a lot of turning off the focus ring produced no discernible difference in the viewfinder. The problem gets even more amplified with lenses faster than f/2.8 as that's the DOF limit the AF screens generally allow to discern. Relying on the "green dot" focus confirmation sometimes helps but also distracts from composing the image. And it sure becomes complicated when the subject is moving.
  18. I saw the following sets:
    2 lens kit:
    • 35 + 105 (as I recall, this was the traditional 2 lens PJ kit)
    4 lens kit, based around a 50mm normal lens. A 3 lens kit would simply leave out the longest lens.:
    • 24/28 + 50 + 105 + 200
    • 24/28 + 50 + 135 + 300
    How many and which lenses depended on your lens budget $$$$.
  19. The "slow focusing" of manual lenses seems to be a strange comment to me.

    I have taken a LOT of portraits with a 135mm f/2 on my Canon New F-1, and I guess I was proficient enough then(and remain so) with the split image that I never had issues nailing the focus-especially if the light was good. I also don't have any issues on medium format, although I prefer WLFs and use the pop-up loupe to nail focus. With an RB67, you have to spin the focus knob a bunch with longer focal length lenses(for anyone not familiar, these are bellows focusing cameras). I guess I've never found portraiture at least of anything but young children to be very demanding focus wise.
  20. Please note that I was talking about using manual focus lenses on current DSLR cameras whose focusing screens are nowhere near giving the same "pop" and ease of focusing as those in manual focus film cameras did/do. Just put a fast lens on a current DLSR, observe the green dot focus indicator while also looking at the screen to see effect focusing has (or doesn't have). At least for me, most of the time while the green dot is blinking nothing changes on the focusing screen at all. Now put the same lens on a manual focus camera (even without a split-image indicator) and watch how the correct focus literally jumps at you on the screen.

    A steep-pitch focusing helicoid seems to help with the "pop" on an AF camera focusing screen but doesn't necessarily improve accuracy. A shallow-pitch focusing helicoid has you turn the focusing ring back and forth and back and forth without ever giving you a good indication of spot-on focus.

    It doesn't even take an f/1.4 lens. I can reliably focus my 105/2.5 on an F3HP 10 out of 10 times. Put the same lens on a F100 or a D810 and that drops down to chance when I only use the viewfinder screen and a bit better than I also consider the green dot. One reason I cannot use the 105/2.5 for portraits as an inordinate number of shots would be slightly OOF (like focus on eyebrow/bridge of nose rather than the eye).

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