old Nikon lenses

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by thomas_o'day, Mar 5, 2012.

  1. I am currently a Canon user but was for many years a Nikon guy. While I am currently committed to the Canon line, I have read that I can use older Nikon lenses on newer Nikon digital cameras. I still possess many Nikon lenses and recently retrieved my 55mm Micro Nikkor lens from storage. I would like to pick up a reasonably priced Nikon digital to use with this great old prime as well as others such as my 105mm and 200mm. Any suggestions as a way to become a "switch hitter?" I can go at least $500 or a bit more to play with my old gear. Thanks for any thoughts. Tom
     
  2. Unless the D5100 meters with AI glass (not sure), your best bet is to look for a used D300 or D200. Maybe also a used/refurb D90. I am assuming the D7000 is out of your price range or else I would say that one is the ticket.
    I personally use a 55mm f3.5 pre-AI (modified) on my D7000 and formerly my D200 and it works great. May be one of the sharpest, best lenses ever produced, by anyone, period.
     
  3. If you can find a D1x D2x D200 or D300 in your price range they will work very well with AI or AIS lenses. If it was me I would probably be looking for a used D200
     
  4. An alternative would be to chip the lenses (search 'Dandelion') to get metering with AI/AIS lenses on 'consumer class' Nikon bodies, but since you have to buy a body anyways, the suggestions above are better. But if you go with a consumer (two-digit or four-digit) Nikon, also be aware that only a few of them have the drive motor for older Nikon AF (without the -S) lenses.
     
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    It depends on how "old" these lenses are. If they are pre-AI, you might want to use them on a D3000, D3100, D5000 or D5100, but you will have no metering. Pre-AI lenses are not going to mount safely on the D1, D2, D200, and D300 bodies.
    If those are AI/AI-S lenses, the D1, D2, D200 and D300, etc. will meter with them. For a $500 budget, the D200 is probably your best choice. I kind of doubt that you can find any D300 in good condition at that price.
     
  6. Pre-AI lenses are not going to mount safely on the D1, D2, D200, and D300 bodies.​


    You mean, without modification they won't mount safely ;-)
     
  7. Get inexpensive adapters (via the Big Auction site) to use your Nikon lenses on Canon bodies and save the $500...I use a 55. F2.8 micro (AIS) on a Canon 5D2 body all the time...fine results.
    If you do a search here or at any of the other photo web sites there will be many threads of people using Nikon lenses on Canon bodies with recommendations for which adapters to use; what to pay for them; manual Nikon lenses that are great on Canon bodies...
     
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    You mean, without modification they won't mount safely ;-)​
    If you modify them, they are not really pre-AI lenses any more.
    But in general, I tend to discourage people from buying into multiple, incompatible camera systems. The OP could mount those old Nikon lenses onto Canon via an adapter. But IMO the best thing the OP can do is to sell those old Nikon lenses and focus on Canon. Using some old Nikon lenses on an old Nikon DSLR (for DSLRs, anything more than 3, 4 years is quite old) will unlikely match the results from a good, more modern Canon system.
    Unfortunately, those old Nikon lenses probably won't fetch much money from the used market.
     
  9. If you modify them, they are not really pre-AI lenses any more.​


    Fair enough.
     
  10. I'd follow Roberts suggestion. Use them on your Canon gear with an adapter, that way you save a lot of money and it won't matter if they're Ai or Pre-Ai.
     
  11. Thanks all. My lenses were all purchased between 1967 and 1970. My cameras (both of which I still have) were Ft and Ftn. The Micro Nikkor, S# 225610, is an extremely sharp lens. I would only shoot in full manual anyway and I think I can still remember how to manually focus. I will look into getting an adapter to use on my 50d if possible but otherwise might try a d200. It was a very fun lens once and perhaps again.
     
  12. Or............
    I would buy a mirrorless camera and 2 adaptors......... 1 to use the Canon lenses on it and 1 to use the Nikon ones.
    I suggest this if the OP is just trying to have fun and enjoy his equipment. I think mirrorless cameras are really fun to use.
     
  13. Lenses from 1967 to 1970 are certainly pre-Ai. They can be mounted on some of the lower-end cameras without modification and without metering - see aiconversions.com for more info. Don't attempt to mount them on a D1, D2, D200, D300 without modification - you risk damage to the follower tab on those cameras. Best option I read so far is to use them via adapter on a Canon camera.
     
  14. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    My lenses were all purchased between 1967 and 1970.​
    Nikon's AI era started in 1977. Therefore, those lenses purchased years before 1977 are all pre-AI. Unless you spend money to modify them, they cannot be safely mounted onto most Nikon DSLRs, including the D1, D2, D200 and D300 mentioned in this thread.
    However, pre-AI lenses can be directly mounted onto the low-end, no-AF-motor DSLRs such as the D40, D40X, D60, D3000, D5000, D3100, and D5100. But manual focus on those viewfinders can be difficult.
     
  15. I have around a dozen Ai manual focus Nikkor primes that I use on my D200 (though I mostly use current zooms), including a 55 3.5 and they are work flawlessly. if the quality is any less than a new lens on a new body, my clients are still handing over their money without complaining.
     
  16. Though it's great to have the backward computability of the older nikkors, I have always been (usually) disappointed with the end results. Good for film does not always equate to good for digital.
    Over recent years I have sold off loads of older glass (frequently at a profit), my only 'keeper' from the old days is my 300 f2.8 AIS..... its tatty and battered but produces the most wonderful images.
     
  17. I second the advice to go mirrorless with them. Lighter, easier to carry, easier to focus, newer tech chips give great quality. I have a Samsung NX and using my old Nikkor glass with and it's a ton of fun! Makes for nifty video lenses too. The Sony 5n is neat too with focus peaking.
    Here is a flower shot I did last week with the Samsung and my old, pre-AI 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor. The neat thing about going mirror-less for macro is no worries about mirror lock up or vibration.
    00a6NX-447791584.jpg
     
  18. Thanks Louis, That is exactly the lens I want to play with and get reacquainted with. I also still play with my Canon Eos Elan 7E which is dated and film but a terrific technology. That clarity is what I would expect, very nice shot.
     
  19. Adapt them to your Canon body with cheap mechanical adapters. I use a Nikon 8mm f2.8 AIS, Nikon 80-200mm f2.8 AF D, and Nikon 400mm f2.8 AIS on my 5D II. In the past I used the following Nikon lenses on various Canon bodies, 14/2.8 AF D, 28/2 AIS, 50/1.4 AIS, 135/2 AIS, and 200/2 AI.
    Your 55 and 105 would be awesome on your Canon body.
     
  20. I third the mirrorless option. I'm using an NEX with Olympus and Minolta MD glass, and I love it. No, it's not Zeiss ... but some of those old lenses are really good, and the only "cost of a second system" was the camera body and a couple adaptors.
    MF doesn't bother me on a walking around camera. I still have my Nikon SLR for low-light and action. And the focus peaking really does help a lot.
     
  21. The most cost effective thing is to get a $20 adaptor on EBAY to use those Pre-AI lenses on your Canon body. And the big advantage I see (besides the cost saving) is that you won't have to learn another puzzling Digital Camera interface. And a lens is a lens, whether used on film or digital. The formula won't change if it's optically correct, the math is the same. The whole "Optimized for digital" is just a marketing ploy.
     
  22. I use AIS primes with my D700 for many reasons (I also have AF-D and AF-S Nikkors). I recommend you follow Shun's advice and sell them. I would not want to use a pre AI lens with a modern body as I prefer the metering, manual focus I often like. I don't see the value of buying a older body then upgrading older an lens just to use them buy YMMV. Mixing systems doesn't appeal to me either but I do have a Fuji X100 to go with my D700 system.
     
  23. I use everything on Canon bodies. No Nikon yet, but they would work. Unless there is a big advantage to having a Nikon body, use the Canon.
     
  24. The whole "Optimized for digital" is just a marketing ploy.​
    INCORRECT. Google "NEX-7 legacy lenses corner" to find out why.
     
  25. "I would not want to use a pre AI lens with a modern body as I prefer the metering,"
    The Canon system will meter on Manual and Aperture priority mode using Nikon, or any other lenses mounted using an adaptor. I think it's utterly absurd that Nikon disabled this feature on mid-range bodies like the D90 for AI and AIS lenses. For the record I have a D90 as well as my old EOS 20D. I love Nikon control layout and flash system. If you're looking for an excuse to buy a Nikon body, go for it! But I'd stay away from those crappy Live view mini sensor-cams. Just my opinion.
    As for legacy lenses being inferior, well, I guess cinematographers adapting Nikon AI and AIS lenses to use for Hi Def video don't really care about lens quality.... ;)
     
  26. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Russ, you are dragging this thread off topic. Just to make it clear to the OP, while getting an adapter to mount Nikon lenses onto a Canon EOS body is relatively inexpensive, you will only have stop-down metering with such combination. That is inherently an inconvenient and inaccurate way to meter. However, with digital, you can always use trial and error with the histogram to determine metering. That is a slow process but doable.
    For a Nikon body to have (aperture wide open) metering with AI/AI-S lenses, it requires a complex aperture follower tab mechanism. David Hartman posted a drawing of such mechanism back in 2004: http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/009HKx
    Actually I have said it a few times that I wish Nikon had not put that mechanism onto the D7000, and it could have saved say $50 from its final price. Adding such mechanism would certainly make the lower-end DSLR less competitive and serve little purpose. Most of those who buy consumer DSLRs will buy no more than 2, 3 consumer AF-S lenses, and there are many (cheap) AF-S DX lens selections in these days.
     
  27. Shun, I have a feeling that the tab is on the D7000 because of video. Just my guess.
     
  28. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    The ability to zoom is critical for video, at least for consumer and most pros. For those who use the D7000 to shoot video, I see little reason to use AI/AI-S lenses. Back in that era, there were very few good zooms and the zoom ranges were limited.
    Remember that on the Nikon 1 mirrorless system, Nikon has a special 10-100mm super zoom for video capture?
    Moreover, image quality requirements for video are very different from still capture. Try to freeze the frame in the middle of any video and you'll see the difference. But that is another topic and another thread.
     
  29. A lot of cinema/video guys I know don't shoot zooms. And most pro cinema lenses I have seen don't zoom, and are in fact, manual lenses.
    With a manual lens you can get better control of breathing and generally a better feeling manual focus. When we are talking DSLRs, the better feeling manual focus with longer focus pulls can be VERY critical. Not to mention, using manual apertures is the only way to change aperture in live view, another huge plus for AI/AI-S lenses in the video department. The D7000 took a square shot right at the Indie segment, so not supporting AI/AI-S glass would have really hurt it.
     
  30. The OP has stated that he would be using manual exposure primarily, so I don't think that metering is much of a big deal to him. Seems to me that using adapters on his Canon body would be the most economical solution to trying out these old lenses on a modern digital body. He does already have the lenses after all.
     
  31. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Not to mention, using manual apertures is the only way to change aperture in live view, another huge plus for AI/AI-S lenses in the video department.​
    Zach, may I suggest that you pick up a D7000 and try that to see whether your comment is correct or not?
    I happen to have the new 85mm/f1.8 AF-S, which is a G lens without an aperture ring, on my D7000 since I am testing that lens for photo.net. And I tried that myself.
     
  32. I have one. Pretty sure I can't change aperture in live view. Don't have it on me, I'll double check with my 35 f1.8 at home.
     
  33. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Well, I can change the aperture on my D7000 in live view using the sub-command dial, with the 85mm/f1.8 AF-S G lens attached.
    Again, the D7000 is a consumer camera, maybe a higher-end consumer camera but still for consumers. At that level, the ability to zoom during video capture is critical. My wife is really into video capture and I use her videocams once in a while; zooming is important for the way we capture video, but we are cerainly not big time cinematographers.
     
  34. Shun, when you change the aperture, does it change the image you see on the LCD? I am wondering if it is because I didn't see the LCD change, that I didn't think you could do it. Like I said, I'll need to double check.
    As for a big time cinematographer, I am not. I do small, short videos, for small businesses, for the web. The D7000 offers great video that is easily "professional" at a great price point.
     
  35. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Zach, it is like you change the aperture setting, it only takes effect when the image is actually captured. You look thru the traditional viewfinder, the image there doesn't change, but you can see the exposure settings change.
     
  36. A very interesting little hornet's nest I kicked up. I will try the adapter method first. This would just be an occasional 'fool around' because I have very fond memories and some excellent results using the 55mm Micro-Nikkor. However, I also have 2 /35mm, two /50mm, Probably 2/105mm and at least 1 200mm. I inherited some from my step father and had my own. Someone else can get rid of them after I'm gone. I also still have a Nikonos underwater camera circa 1967 with two lenses and a flash attachment. Once I have something, I hang on till the end. Stubborn Irish! Also my Miranda GT with a slew of equipment. Perhaps I should start a museum. Tom
     
  37. Well Tomas the same with me I don't like to sell my staff too. So as our friends mentioned that the best economical way is
    to go for adaptor and mount them on your canon body. I would also like to add a point these old lenses are way better
    than new ones for macro through reverse ring since you can control the aperture. I normally revers my nikkor 50 mm f1.2
    to me canon 50 mm and I can get amazing shots
    Check out this example

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/42957363@N03/5356391188/in/photostream
     
  38. I will prob catch crap for this, but the old D50 is my suggestion. I have a D300 now, Have had almost everything else. But the D50 still has equal image quality as the D300... (I will catch crap for that I know, but it's true).... It actually makes me upset. It will not meter with non-CPU lenses, but it's digital, so you can play with settings and quess until you find the right exposure (delete) then shoot away. The D50 can be had in mint condition for 180.00. Great little DSLR. The SONY 6MP sensor was great. Not so great auto-focus, but who cares shooting manual. For the record.... Ive had D50, D70, D70s, D80 (2), D90 (2), D200 (3), D2X (1), D300 (2) and too many to list Nikon Film cameras... and I still use a mix-match set of AI, AI-s, AF, and other lenses on all my bodies. Still use an FT-n and FT-2 all the time too....HAVE FUN
     
  39. Charles, you will "catch crap" for it, because it simply is not universally true; saying "it is true" may mean it's true for you. It's surely not true for me. I've had a D50, I have a D300. At ISO 800, RAWs from both cameras, using the same program: give me the D300 anytime. It's cleaner, and the noise is less colour noise and more monochrome (which to the eye is far more acceptable).
    The D50 was and is a great camera, and a good piece of advice to the OP. But for many people, it is not in the same league of image quality as the later cameras - and there is nothing wrong with that.
     

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