Old PC Nikkor on DSLR

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by evan_bedford|2, Nov 2, 2017.

  1. Since it has no meter linkage, and no automatic aperture, on a camera such as the Df, which has a flip up AI tab, a preset lens will operate the same whether or not it's AI compatible, and unlike auto aperture lenses it also does not matter how the stop down lever of the camera works, since it will not do anything anyway. Compatibility just makes it easier to put on in a hurry, which is why I turned down the skirt on mine back when I was using it on an F3.

    When stopped down, it meters, and like any manual lens, will work in either M or A modes. The camera interprets the dimming when stopped down as lowered ambient light, and corrects for it. Mine meters quite decently in A mode on a D7100.
  2. Thanks Matthew. It all makes sense...except I'm wondering why the Df manual would state that the pre-AI 35/f3.5 is not compatible (p. 320). And the mating surface of my 28/f4 looks very much like it. (I don't have a camera shop anywhere nearby that might have a Df that I could try it on).
  3. The only thing I can think of is maybe the collar around the mounting plate on the really old PC lenses protrudes about a mm past the plate (mine does), whereas the collar on the not-quite-so-old PC lenses is flush with the mounting plate. And maybe the person who wrote the Df manual wasn't aware that the 28mm f4 lens even exists.

    So I guess I run the risk of having to either return the camera body, or taking apart the lens and grinding down the collar...though it almost looks like I could seal up the delicate parts of the lens, and then take a dremel to the collar.
  4. well, I bit the bullet and bought a Df from Japan. I'll report back when I see how the 28mm PC works (or doesn't work) with it. (I also have an AI-converted 105mm micro-Nikkor, but I'm not at all worried about how well it will get along with the Df).
  5. As has been noted already, PC-Nikkors have a preset aperture ring, the aperture must be stopped down manually when taking a picture (it does not close and open automatically), and metering must be done with the lens stopped down (stop-down metering). In other words, there is no automatic diaphragm and no meter coupling, so there is no such thing as an "auto-indexing" (AI) PC lens.

    On early PC lenses the barrel extends beyond the mount which may conflict with the AI follower tab on AI cameras (film and DSLR). Lenses with a shorter barrel which clears the AI tab are said to be AI compatible, even though they are not AI. However, among most earlier PC lenses, the barrel is thin enough to slip below the AI follower, so if you are careful you can successfully mount a "non-AI" PC lens on an AI camera without causing damage. Nikon is usually very conservative about this and camera manuals will simply say the lens is not compatible.

    The warning about the early 35/3.5 PC lens may also be due to the fact the shift mechanism is quite bulky and near the base of the lens, where it may conflict with the camera viewfinder prism. The later 35/2.8 PC has the same shift mechanics but it is higher up the barrel which gives it a bit more clearance. The outer rim around the 35/3.5 PC lens mount is also quite thick, I have a feeling it would jam against the AI follower even if were otherwise possible to mount it on the camera.
  6. I hope not just because you wanted to get these lenses to work? I'll be interested in you reporting back, but a Df is a lot more than, say, the Samyang 24mm T/S.

    Not that I've done much with my T/S lenses, but I think I've tended to, too. I might also have relied on the AF confirmation light, which I think you're not supposed to. (On Canon, my strategy was to go in A-Dep so all the AF lights would illuminate as they hit focus, tilt the lens somewhere close, then wave it around until the focal plane was in the right place. Sadly you can't get the newer AF modules to do that with a manual lens, unless something changed with the 20K. Live view is more accurate, of course.)

    I appreciate the light path is a little funny, but I've never been quite clear exactly what it is about tilt and shift that's supposed to make the automation play up.
  7. I've got a 28mm 3.5 that fits OK on my DX and FX cams. However, on full-frame any real amount of shift smears the image edge to an unacceptable amount. I always guessed to was due to the non-telecentric light cone that was OK on film but horrid on a sensor.

    On DX, it's acceptable but not stellar, and of course isn't really wide angle any more.

    I'd hope the modern Nikon shifts are designed somewhat differently. TILT and shift may alleviate some of the problem. Is that why all 'NEW' Nikon shifts are Tilt and shift?

    I've occasionally looked at a 45mm PC-E T&S but it's too £££. Photoshop will do an OK job too!
  8. Tilt is used so that you can change the plane of focus to be tilted relative to the sensor plane, it doesn't have to do with smearing when the lens is shifted.

    Scheimpflug principle - Wikipedia

    Since digital sensors have angle of incidence limitations, many older film (ultra)wide angles do not work well. However, the 19mm and 24mm PC (as well as the 45mm) are digital era designs. You may get some softness towards the extreme parts of the frame when shooting large buildings if you shift the 24mm PC a lot along the long dimension of the frame but mostly the issue has to do with field curvature. If you use a moderate amount of shift there shouldn't be any problem, but in extreme shifts it is best to carefully focus using live view and stop down the lens sufficiently. I tend to focus at a point closer to the far edge than the center when doing this type of a shot. The 19mm is said to have flatter field so it should be better suited for this type of work. On the other hand the 24mm PC has greater maximum magnification at minimum focus distance so the tilt can be used for near-to-far shots of semi-close-up subjects. I don't have the19mm but reports of using it seem favourable. It is expensive.

    I haven't had any optical issues to speak of with the 45mm or 85mm PC E. Neither has the 24mm's conflict with the pop-up housing of selected cameras. I should add that the 35mm PC (latest version) also works quite well with digital cameras and I haven't had any optical or mechanical issues with it. It doesn't have the sparkling colours of nano coated ED lenses though, but I don't recall seeing any significant image quality issues. I haven't used it in a few years so I should probably shoot with it with a newer camera to see how it does.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  9. Thanks, Ilkka - good to know the lenses hold up. Now this thread has reminded me, I'm beginning to wonder about the Samyang again - but I should probably give my existing lenses another go.

    With some loss of quality (not dissimilar to what I already get from correcting distortion), I tend to assume that correcting for shift isn't such a problem to do digitally. I've also been known just to use a wider lens, then crop off-centre (for example, pointing my 14-24 at eye level and cropping the ground out of the frame to get a building without converging verticals).

    Focus stacking helps make it less important, but tilt is generally a lot more interesting to me.
  10. Shooting wide (with the camera carefully leveled) and cropping is what I've done from time to time, it worked well with the 14-24. I know some photographers correct keystoning post-capture in software but I'm not convinced it is so easy to maintain correct proportions, is that something that happens automatically?

    Tilt is invaluable for near-to-far landscapes, I use it to photograph ice forming on water, leaves on the ground etc. While focus stacking is a useful technique, if things are moving in the scene, an artifact-free result can be difficult to achieve using stacking. If the scene is static then there can still be some problems with transparent objects (ice). I do use both techniques.
  11. Well, "holding up" is relative; it is typical that there is some loss in image quality when a lens is designed for a larger circle of coverage. However, personally I find tilt/shift lenses worthwhile and enjoyable to use. I can see why someone might prefer to use just a 14-24 and crop as needed as an alternative technique to wide angle with shift.
  12. "Tilt is used so that you can change the plane of focus to be tilted relative to the sensor plane, it doesn't have to do with smearing when the lens is shifted."

    - The opposite isn't true though.
    Shift should nearly always be used with tilt/swing in order to bring the "aim" of the lens back to the centre of the frame.

    Tilting/swinging the lens moves the axis off-centre of the frame and can degrade edge IQ. Some shift along the axis normal to that of tilt corrects this and optimises IQ. Something that Nikon's designers obviously haven't considered, since they arrange their T/S lenses to make this impossible by default.

    I sometimes wonder if there's a single trained or experienced photographer working for Nikon.

    " I know some photographers correct keystoning post-capture in software but I'm not convinced it is so easy to maintain correct proportions, is that something that happens automatically?"

    No. Keystoning correction in post always makes the subject squat, and this has to be corrected separately; pretty much by guesswork.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2017
  13. Surely that depends? If I'm shooting a building and converging verticals, surely I should be pointing the lens axis perpendicular to the building (if I'm standing at ground level, that means pointing the camera straight at the ground level of the building), and then shift the lens vertically (rise), with no tilt? Assuming a flat focal plane, that should keep everything in focus, no?

    I do agree that it seems odd for tilt-shift lenses (not just Nikon's) to default to the tilt and shift being at 90 degrees. I get why this is sometimes useful (shooting along a plane and wanting to avoid convergence - for example keeping a wall in focus while keeping its edges parallel), I just don't get why this would be more common than the alternative. My super-rotator has detents every 60 degrees for the angle between the tilt/shift axes, and that makes it a little awkward to align them properly. My Kiev 35mm actually shifts along the hinge of the tilt, so it's impossible to align them (even if the lens were disassembled). One thing I like about the newer Canons, the 19mm Nikkor, and the Samyang is that they do allow in-the-field adjustment of the planes.

    I assume they mostly shoot test charts with their lenses on a tripod, and that's why the ergonomics end up how they do. I'm mildly interested to know how much the focus peaking on the D850 helps with live view tilt-shift photography; the split-screen live view present since the D810 is something I advocated so that I could get a tilt-shift plane in the right place, but I still would have preferred an arbitrary 4-way split in the live view (even at a slow frame rate). I've mostly heard people like that idea, and given how long ago I asked for it, I'm not sure why Nikon haven't done it yet (compared with engineering time on, you know, bluetooth transfer of JPEGs from a 45MP camera, which is obviously at the top of everyone's priority list when you could already do it with an Eye-Fi; maybe it's for their test shot images...)

    You can be a little more scientific about it, but yes, keystone correction causes distortion, just as people at the edge of a wide-angle look distorted (from normal viewing distances). There are some alternatives - for example Photoshop has a distortion correction option that appears to apply a cylindrical projection correction. For a wide angle group shot, this stops the people at the edges of the frame looking distorted when viewed from normal angles, but it also stops straight lines from appearing straight.
  14. The 19mm PC does offer the choice of orientation of tilt and shift independently of each other, but it is ... expensive. With the other current PC Nikkors, you can request Nikon to change the relative orientation of tilt and shift (it requires a change of cables in some of the lenses). One can make a case for either configuration.
  15. Quite; my limited experience with my Hartblei is that both configurations (of not intermediate orientations) are useful, and shipping back to the Nikon isn't conducive to capturing "the perfect moment".

    I struggle a bit with the behaviour of my Hartblei, or at least did when I last tried it, because of reflections. My Kiev, in addition to ergonomic problems, isn't very good optically. I'd love the 19mm, but since I'm still saving up for a D850 (and an updated 70-200, and an 85mm Art, and a 135mm Art, and another trip to Yellowstone and Glacier...) it's not high on my list.

    The Samyang, while by all accounts not amazing optically, is a small fraction of the price of the Nikkor. And it also has the independent orientation controls. I hope Nikon get around to updating the ergonomics of the others, too.
  16. I guess tilting must affect the degree of non-telecentricity of a shift(ed) lens, and the degree of soft/smear at the edges?

    Obviously, tilt moves the focused plane to an angle perpendicular to the lens axis, which i though would make for a better light cone to sensor angle than just shift alone?

    But maybe not!
  17. "Surely that depends? If I'm shooting a building and converging verticals, surely I should be pointing the lens axis perpendicular to the building (if I'm standing at ground level, that means pointing the camera straight at the ground level of the building), and then shift the lens vertically (rise), with no tilt?Assuming a flat focal plane, that should keep everything in focus,no?"

    - I think you're misunderstumbling me.

    When you use tilt primarily to alter the plane of focus, then the lens axis is automatically aimed away from the frame centre, and can cause poor IQ at the edge opposite the axis aim. To correct this you often need to use shift to re-centralise the axis aim, with some repositioning of the camera.

    Of course there are circumstances where tilt and shift need to be used differently, but not quite so frequently.

    Incidentally, only the sensor plane orientation affects subject shape - (back movements in LF camera terms).
  18. The older AI PC lenses will work you have to pay attention to the clearance. The same goes for the new PC-E lense, they were made for the pro bodies like the D3 & D5. I have the 24 F3.5 PC-E and I have to be careful on my D750. As far as metering, you must meter before shifting or tilting then go manual for all versions. The new versions have their own built in electronic shutters and are much sharper than the old versions. They are not out of reach second hand not much more money than the old ones.
    Just never force anything
  19. "The new versions have their own built in electronic shutters..."

    - I don't think so.
    They have electrically operated apertures, but not built-in shutters.

    I also don't see much difference in sharpness or fringing between the new 24mm PC-E and my older 28mm f/3.5 PC-Nikkor.

    Come to think of it; some leaf-shutter lenses wouldn't come amiss in Nikon's line up. They should be relatively easy to implement electrically, and with modern materials could possibly operate up to 1/2000th s.

    Why should little compact cameras have better flash synch ability than a DSLR?
  20. Well, the Nikon Df arrived today. The PC 28mm f4 popped on easily, and the Df metered through it just fine. Next, I guess I'll have to see if I get smear with shift, as Mike mentioned above.

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