non-AI Nikon/Nikkor 135mm/F2.0 lens

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by roy_ramavarapu|1, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. I looked around in the archives for the subject lens, and find a lot of information on the same lens but apply to the AI, AI-S, and the more recent AutoFocus DC (DeFocus Control) version; there is also a lot more information on the F2.8 and F3.5 versions of this lens. The excellent site has a one sentence description, and I quote: "This remarkable Nikkor 135mm f/2.0 telephoto lens was first being introduced in December, 1975 as a Non-Ai Nikkor lens."
    Would anybody have more information on this non-AI version, and where would this non-AI version be available for purchase. The associated AI conversion ring for this lens (I purchased one set) is currently available on the big auction site. I looked at most places (most auction sites, KEH, other websites/dealers for this non-AI version, but cannot find any - it is as if this version did not exist. I presume only a few were made in the non-AI version.

    There are also excellent reviews of the AI & AI-S and the AutoFocus DC versions. Apart from these reviews, would any user have a more personal opinion as to whether the DC version is better than the AI & AI-S version(s)?? The DC version costs almost twice the AI & AI-S version(s).
    (Along the same lines, I came across the Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 135mm F2 manual focus telephoto lens that costs twice as much as the Nikon/Nikkor DC version. Interesting price range for the same lens).

    Best regards to everybody, and wishing you all a Happy New Year 2014.

    Roy Ramavarapu, 28 Dec 2014
  2. Scroll down in this link:
  3. Hi Dan:
    I saw that link and contents previously; has notes on the AIS and DC versions, none on the non-AI version. Many thanks.
    Roy, 29 Dec 2013
  4. The non-AI (K version) and AI should be the same optically.
    Never have used the manual focus version, but did have the DC. It was a great lens at f2.8-4, when in focus. I have found that the most difficult thing with high speed lenses is to get them in perfect focus, especially with moving photographer and subject.
  5. First Roy, let's clarify that the 135mm AF DC Nikkor is a completely different lens from the 'standard' 135mm f/2 version. DC stands for 'De-focus Control', which allows the spherical aberration characteristics of the lens to be altered; effectively giving the user control over bokeh. This lens design was only introduced in 1990 and has no Ai, Ai-S or pre-Ai equivalent.
    The non-DC 135mm f/2 Nikkor is simply a fast medium telephoto. According to this list there were less than 4,600 non-Ai versions produced between 1975 and 1977, making them fairly rare. The Ai version is almost twice as plentiful, while the Ai-S version introduced in late 1981 has sold in far greater quantities.
    Apart from changes in AR coatings over the years, the optical design appears to have remained the same. It's an old school Zeiss-like design, even in it's Ai-S incarnation. Heavy glass (860 gm) and unit-focusing meant that it didn't easily lend itself to AF adaptation, hence its replacement by the AF DC version.
    So, Roy, unless you're looking for a pre-Ai example to sit on a shelf as part of a collection, I'd forget about it. The later Ai-S version will be easier to find, more compatible with modern camera bodies and may deliver slightly better IQ than those early examples; due to improved coatings and generally having a better chance of not being cleaned to death or suffering other wear-related problems.
  6. The K, Ai, and Ai-S are the same optical formula.
  7. I once have had the AI -which is otically the same as the pre AI- now I own a DC, they are different lenses and the DC is the "better" lens. BUT: The AI was a unique lens when it came to flare, direct sunlight on the large front element at F=2 brought flashes of flare I have never seen before. On other lenses flares are unwished, on this lens they are art.
    The DC is AF, sharper, more contrasty and has that DC feature, but am disappointed as it lacks that crazy flaring -which was the main reason I got it.
    Beside the flare effect the AI (and the preAI) is quit useless, at F=2 images are soft, bleach and its hard to focus.
    For GP all variants of the 180/2,8 are much better.
  8. If you find a non-AI version it may be slightly cheaper, though not much with this lens. I wouldn't worry too much about finding a pre-AI version and grab a good copy of any version if you find one. The 135/2 in any manual focus version is high on my list of lenses to purchase right now.
    Rick H.
  9. How come non-Ai, pre-Ai (or whatever you care to call 'em) Nikon F lenses have now become designated as type 'K'? Surely that's too easily confused with K-mount Pentax lenses?
    Wouldn't simply 'N' or 'F' be a much better one-letter signifier?
  10. I bought a new non-AI 135mm f/2 in 1978 and immediately had it AI'd by Nikon ("converted, not modified"). It was a decent lens optically but was lubricated like it was going on a photo safari into Death Valley. It had the stiffest focusing of any lens I've ever used, and it didn't loosen up with use. I don't know if all examples of that lens were like this (the EPOI tech guy said they were), but if you do find a non-AI version, make sure it focuses smoothly.
  11. Rodeo Joe - The "K" lenses were the last incarnation of pre-AI Nikkors. They had rubber focusing rings and as far as I know, in most (if not all) cases they were the optical equivalent of the first-version AI lenses that followed.

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