Who wants Nikkor Ai's?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by kenneth_smith|7, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. I don't know if I'll sell them anytime soon. They're so pretty, and hold in your hand like a Rolex. But they ain't as sharp. The 24mm f/2.8 AIS can't beat my kit 18-55mm. Same for all the rest, except maybe that 105mm f/2.5 P, crazy thing.
    So who want's them? I heard once that cine guys have an appreciation for the "look". If that's true I'll put them up for sale with that cavet. I don't want to sell these to anyone hoping they're sharp, and as far as I can tell, that's what people look for. Bourgeois as that may be, Henri.
  2. Whatever you do, do not sell the 105 f/2.5. Keep it in a golden chest.
  3. I think a lot of people would be skeptical of the idea that a kit 18-55mm, fine though it may be for the money, is better than most old AI manual focus lenses, even the 24mm. I'd suspect the problem could be on the near side of the camera rather than on the lens side.
    Of course, some old (read, "early"), zoom lenses weren't too hot. Some of them have even qualified for the Hypnoken's "worst ever" list; but that's an altogether different story than old primes, most of which are fairly close to their auto-focus descendants in design and overall sharpness, acuity, and the like.
    If you're asking for advice on value, whether to sell ? ? ?
    You'd have to list what the lenses are. Not all AI lenses are the same and they cover the time range from 1977-1986 or so.
  4. SCL


    I have a couple of AI lenses which continue to do a yeoman's job when stopped down a little. Anyway, they seem to sell very well on that big auction site, particularly if their condition is good. Also a lot of micro 4/3 people are using them with adapters on those bodies.
  5. Nobody wants those dino lenses. I mean all the newly designed zooms are modern and fresh. Maybe some crusty old movie guys but sharpness isn't important to them. Let's face it. Sharpness is everything, right? I run an old Nikkor AI lens disposal service. Just send me that junk and I'll take care of them for you.
  6. Everybody wants to slam the 18-55 (except the hated Rockwell) Well I can assure you I've done everything I can do to dismiss it, but even at f/5.6 it beats just about everything I have. And no to all lenses look the same by f/8 or f/11. Sorry Ansel. Love Ya. I don't see that.
    I am a careful and frequent tester, and the 24 AIS and 28 AIS both fail the test, lower center and corners. The 18-55 resolves better at f/5.6 than the Ai's at f/8. Albeit the corners of the 18-55 get better at f/8.
    I wish it weren't true as I hate the way the 18-55 feels in hand. Yuck, yuck, yuck. Still you can't argue with results, time and time again. I even put my two AF-D's 35 f/1.8 and 50 f 1.8 against it and they just managed to squeak by as being any "better".
    As for my AIS lenses, 24/28/35 f/1.4 and f/2.8 ( I'll keep the macros ) 85 f/1.8 135 f/2.8, 200 f/4, all these lenses are not as sharp as cheap moderns, like 55-200. Sorry.
    The query has been posted to hear from those that have an idea or reason why someone should desire them, which is why I mentioned the only party that I know of, cine digital or film, that have a sense for the "look". I think my original post makes clear that I simply want to avoid sticking anyone with these if they want sharp glass. I'm not selling here, just brainstorming the crowd.
  7. I did buy a slew of fast Ais Nikkors specifically for filmmaking applications a while back. They're good for filmmaking due to their oil-dampened focus rings (where focus is pulled manually). But now, I'm planning on shooting my Ais lenses on my modern full-frame bodies (for stills) for their "character." I even bought an old pre-Ai Nikkor 43-85mm zoom (according to Ken Rockwell, Nikon's worst lens ever), because of its "flaws." I think it's an aesthetic that's coming back into vogue, similar to the recent popularity of Lomography.
  8. manual focus Nikon camera users.... there are afs now for wides the 1.8s but they won't work on my Nikon fm. times I like to shoot film and do it without a autofocus space shuttle.
  9. I have a 28/2.8 AIS lens that produces good results for me. And the dreaded 18-55 kit lens does pretty well for me on a D300S. Just depends on what you are looking for, I guess. We could all spend the bux on a Leica S2 and companion lens...
  10. I'm still skeptical. And I am not 'slamming" the 18-55, which is a very fine lens, for the money, especially.
    But if you are consistently getting such bad results with the manual focus lenses, there's got to be some other factor than your conclusion that they are not "sharp", though that might be true for how you are using them. Not everybody nowadays is practiced in manual focus.
    Like Louis, I'll gladly pay for shipping for you to ditch them.
  11. If you do decide to sell them let me know. I agree that little 18-55 is pretty good and an excellent value. I simply have a preference for the older MF glass and use that most of the time. I have a couple of good AF zooms but am very pleased with the mf 80-200/4, 300 and a monster 85-250 as well as 28,50 and 85 lenses. They get used on whatever digital or film body I'm using at the time. If you decide to let go of the lenses you mentioned, especially the 85 and 135 I'll happily take them off your hands.
    Rick H.
  12. Kenneth said:
    As for my AIS lenses, 24/28/35 f/1.4 and f/2.8 ( I'll keep the macros ) 85 f/1.8 135 f/2.8, 200 f/4 . . .
    The only Ais lenses I own are the 20mm f/2.8 Ais, 35mm f/1.4 Ais, 50mm f/1.2 Ais, 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor Ais, and 105mm f/1.8 Ais. So, I would "want" all of them, except the 35mm f/1.4!
  13. It's like with fork and knife. They can be made of plastic or metal. You can eat your lunch with both, no difference. Plastic may be even better - disposable, no cleaning required. I like to eat with a metal fork, and photograph with AI/AIS lenses.
  14. The 24/2.8 AI is definitely an old school wide. Soft in the corners with lots of vignetting. But it's a subtle beauty with a painter's touch. Even though I have the 24-70 and 14-24, I still want the 24/2.8 AI back again after selling it. Same with the 28/2 AI. I have the 28/1.8G, but still reach for the 28/2.
    The compact 200/4, the Nikkor P, never did anything for me but be compact. But the 180/2.8 ED-IF (AI, as well as AF, AF-D) is a bit of magic. Avoid the non-ED versions altogether.
    The 75-150/3.5 Series E is the cult lens extraordinaire. I love the way it paints.
  15. Of the dozen+ Nikkors I own, 3 are AF and the rest are Ai or Ais. One of the reasons I bought a D600 was so I could use the manual focus beauties to their full (frame) potential. The 24 2.8 was so-so on my D200, but brought back to FX it is sooo much happier. My next wide angle purchase is going to be a 35 1.4 Ais.
  16. Now this is getting interesting.
    First off, I'm not ditching anything. Stand back you rabid dogs. I just wanted to hear, and now have, that people like to "paint" with lenses, and I understand, although not my thing really.
    As for Mr. W's comment, how to manual focus... using them... ??? In a test it's head to head, same subject, details left, center and right. Thats what I did just the other day with the 24mm AIS to see if it could stand up, and Nooooooo. I prefer the clear stuff.
    But thank you responders. I will maybe someday sell these because I believe they should be used and not adorn a cabinet, and I'm glad to know people can enjoy them.
  17. You still don't tell us the conditions of your "tests".
    e.g., all on tripod?, all used with manual focus? Show us some examples so we can see what you're talking about.
    We need to know what you are doing, because your results are so much at odds with everyone else, that I know, experience. I shot almost only with Nikkor lenses from 1971-2004 and never had to apologize for any lack of "sharpness".
    Is there fungus or some kind of oil film in your lenses? We don't have to "paint" with our old Nikkors at all.
    And it's Mr. vW to you, Mr. mith. ;)
  18. Oh yes, vW. Pardon. I am actually a myth, however.
    But I must excuse myself from your request. I'm not getting into the test end of this. I shot them they way I shoot. For me, all alone, they are beautifully not sharp. I also shot them from 75-present. Didn't even get a digital camera until March 2013. So while the Kodachromes may look right, these AI's used on a digital camera ( maybe I should have stated that part, yes, OK OK,) used on a digital, it's no go. I'm not doing chromes anymore. Perhaps they shine with film. I don't know if the optical laws bend around that corner.
  19. You said:
    I am a careful and frequent tester, and the 24 AIS and 28 AIS both fail the test, lower center and corners.​
    now we hear
    I'm not getting into the test end of this. I shot them they way I shoot.​
    I'm not doubting that you aren't getting sharp pictures with the old lenses, but I am very much doubting that it is the fault of the lenses, especially almost all of them, unless there is some environmental reason for the poor condition of the lenses.
  20. I refer to "paint" as having to do with the different response at different spatial frequencies. The classic Nikkor wides have a rounded character, a kind of glow. The newer lenses are more clinical. But this is not to be confused with sharpness. Even at f/5.6 and some distance away, you can see where the narrow range of focus is...and isn't. And to be sure, I see 1-pixel wide details where the focus /is/. The 24/28 lenses are also very hard to focus! I learned this especially on the D800.
    Expect some field curvature with these guys, so I don't think they will perform well on an Imatest or brick wall experiment. There's no question that you need to use a tripod and live view before you have an idea of just how precise you have to be, even with a wide angle lens, to achieve critical focus.
    One thing I just realized. You are using these lenses on DX cameras? (You mention the 18-55.) Oh my. You should see these lenses on an FX camera. That's what they were made for. I don't know that they have the extra resolution required to give on an 24mp APS-c camera. But on an FX camera, they look wonderful.
  21. The AI lenses are in excellent shape. I have tested them, as carefully head to head as I can. Only the 55 Micro and the 105 (maybe) exceeds my modest moderns.
    I thought maybe the film/digital might be an overlooked point, but maybe not, sans the "painiting thing"
    If you have a reason for disbelieving that these results are possible and that my testing is lacking in rigor I'm all ears.... eyes, to know more. I would love to use these superior lenses, if it wasn't for the fact that my cheap moderns make sharper pictures.
  22. Wow, Thanks Luke. They look great on FX !!! First time I'd heard that. I thought on DX I would be getting the center, and they should have been outstanding. All the way out to a full frame and they're better. Go figure. But if what you say is true, heck, I'll keep'um.
  23. Oh and excuse my bleariness, when I said I'm not getting into the test end of this, I meant on this forum, in this discussion. I didn't want it to digress into lens testing particulars, but now I'm glad it did. Me learning. Tarzan keep stinkin Ai's.
  24. These lenses are like gold on a full-frame sensor, as stated. There's a reason that filmmaker's, such as those on the recent S.E.A.L. action pic "Act of Valor", who utilized Canon MkII bodies for many scenes, also utilize some of the very lenses you own. Rest assured, they would not be adapting these Nikkor lenses to Canon bodies if their sharpness was sub-standard. Since a long smooth focusing pull is required for accurate manual focusing on motion picture cameras, the Ais lenses work very well. I've been in the motion picture industry for 30 years and deep into photography for 40 years, and those AIs Nikkors deliver the goods, as well have captured thousands of the most memorable images National Geographic and a million other publications ever produced. Check the camera bags now of all these pro photographers and see how many carry the 18-55 3.5-5.6 AF DX kit lens. Your kit lens is optimized for DX camera sensors, and yes it's sharp, but not because it's inherently sharper than other lenses. I've owned them all and the Ais Nikkors are sharp as hell and produce a richer glow about them that your kit lens does not. If you want to see these babies in action, I suggest you buy a full-frame camera or plop down $200 for a used F100, throw in a roll of Kodak Porta 160 or a roll of chromes, and prepare to eat crow.
  25. Kenneth, I agree that the 18-55 Nikon lens is better than most people give it credit for, but I own or have owned the
    24/2.8, 28/2.8 and 105/2.5 AIS versions, used them on my D800 and they're really, really good lenses.

    If you're having a bad experience with them, have you tried to identify the cause? An older lens can get haze on the
    inside that hurts sharpness and contrast. Also, the cameras that come with 18-55 lenses are the ones that have a very
    "slack" focus confirm dot. You'll think you're in focus but shooting out of focus photos. The only way to get good focus with
    one of those cameras and manual focus lenses is in live view with magnification. While using a tripod.
  26. If there WAS going to be a list, I'd like my name on the draft list !
  27. I like the 35 1.4, heck all of them please. I would love to have a 35 1.4, 105 2.5, a 20 something and a 24 and 28 even 2.8 will do :-D You don't have a 300 F2.8?
    If I wanted all the latest stuff the most clinical stuff, I would be poor by now. I picked up a 35-70 2.8 a some less than a yr ago and that's a great lens.
  28. Amazing what people see through what they hear.
  29. Hell's bells and buckets of blood! I mainly use the 16-85vr with my D300, but my 50mm 1.8 ais and 50mm 1.8 50mm af (pre-D) are rather good when I want maximum definition. Should I bin these two and buy the 18-55? Is it really that good?
  30. My camera has the FX sensor and low pixel counts so it works well with the Ai lenses. The 18-55mm doesn't work.
  31. They work great if you know what your doing ?
  32. For all you guys that want these, they do exist on ebog, KEH, etc. Don't hold out for mine. I'm almost convinced they're worth keeping. I'd be fully convinced if they made a sharp image on my D7000, but it seems I need to hold out for an FX. Never could see spending thousands for a camera, but that's another matter. I'm glad to hear the lenses are valued, they certainly feel valuable. As for clinical vs the other glowing descriptions. I'm not immune to that. I have a Zeiss Planar on a Rollie that's like porcelain, but it's also sharp corner to corner. So thanks for the many thoughts. Maybe I'll rent a D800 and take another look.
  33. Opps, Rollei. For you sticklers.
  34. When I purchased my first DSLR (D40), I was very surprised that the kit lens was as good or better as my 20/3.5 AIs and 35/2.0 pre-AI - CA was evident in the old glass and I wonder if in-camera correction for the kit lens made it look better in pixel peeping. I found that my 200/4 and 300/4.5 were equivalent to the 70-300/4.5-5.6G. Upgrading the camera to D300 and D800 did not change the trend of modern zooms having better IQ than my old glass with a couple of exceptions : 55/3.5 pre-AI and 105/2.5 pre-AI. Add auto focus and the decision on what to put into the bag is easy - the modern glass. I regularly carry only the 55 and 20 (and the 20 is likely to be replaced by a WA zoom).
    The old glass does "paint" differently and has better bokeh in some cases. I haven't gotten into DSLR video as yet so I'll keep my old glass for that application.
  35. I did a lot of "testing" when I got a D600, and checked back again when a D800 fell into my lap.
    I found that most of the older lenses do pretty well on the D800, though the best new lenses are a little better.
    One thing that the "testing" did reveal is that getting perfect focus on the test subject is absolutely critical and requires care. So now I make sure that the focus point is correct before passing judgement on a lens.
    I have concluded that the AF system in the D600 does about as well as the one in the D800 for sports, but it seems a good bit easier to achieve good focus with manual focus lenses on the D800 vs the D600, for whatever combination of reasons.
  36. Older lenses that were good on film are equally good on digital when used on a similar or lower resolution sensor.
    That means full frame cameras 12 to 24 megapixel.
    CA is not really relevant since they can relatively easily be corrected in post. Contrast is tricky because a more modern lens with better coatings and higher contrast may appear to resolve more when it can be the opposite. This is also a matter to resolve in post.
    Remember that a D7000 packs 16 megapixels on DX which only has 44% of the area of FX. That means it is equal to a 36 megapixel FX camera like the D800 when we are talking about pixels per sensor area. Similar to looking at 100% crops.
    A 24 megapixel camera like the D610 is equal to about a 10 megapixel DX camera. So the lenses that looked good on a D200 or a D300 at 100% crop will look equally good on the D610 at 100%.
    A 16 megapixel camera like the D4 or Df is equal to a 7 megapixel DX camera. What looked good on your D70 at 100% crop will look good on these cameras as well.
    Finally a 12 megapixel FX camera like the D3 or D700 is equal to about 5 megapixels on DX.
    That's comparing the images on 100% crops. Since FX format is 2.25 times larger than DX we have 2.25 times more pixels at the same pixel per area density. So for a given final image size the FX image will have 50% more resolution than the DX image. That's why FX always looks good on lenses that DX cameras don't.
  37. If the 18-55 was built tough I bet it would even make it into a Nat. Geo. photographers bag. I guess it was a marketing decision to get them into the hands of millions and set the bar fairly high for IQ in even the cheapest DX body, and why not? I don't really know why so many modern Nikkors, even some upper tier models, are plasticy, with awful plastic mounts. But they're sharp to the corners stopped down. The 18-55 at f/5.6 out resolved into the corners my 24 AIS set to f/8. What else am I supposed to do, buy a D800?
  38. Sorry Pete, I didn't see your post before responding to Robert. My comment is not referring to your very interesting and useful information. Thanks.
  39. This thread enticed me to drag out an old 1973 Nikon 400 F5.6 PC AIS lens and take a few shots with it on a D7100. The resolution is as good as any telephoto Nikon lens I have today. It was one of two lens that Nikon ever produced (2 years only) that had a real fluorite lens element. However, the lens is surprisingly difficult to use compared to modern lenses today. The focus ring takes at least a couple complete turns to go from close focus to infinity, the lens focuses past infinity due to the fluorite glass, and the close focus distance seems really far away but it is good for portraits taken form a distance.
  40. Long after the APS format was even modestly popular I bought Nikon and Minolta APS cameras for very little and had fun using them. With a Nikon Pronea S or 6i and the excellent 20-60 zoom. almost everything in the frame was sharp at or near the wide end. The focal length was short, the lens was slow and depth of field was great. The ix Nikkors could be used in AF or MF. Now change over to a digital sensor of the same size, use higher ISO settings whch still have high IQ so you can get a higher shutter speed, use IS and when the image is recorded by the sensor, sharpen it either in-camera or in PP. The combination of these things will allow you to get sharper looking images. The compaints about older lenses have to do with a lack of AF, no IS (in the case of Nikon) and the fact that a number of factors can cause older lenses to work less well with a digital sensor than with film. Put a roll of TP or Imagelink HQ or CMS 20 into your film camera an then make test shots with a 55/2.8 AIS. The amount of information captured by these films in one frame would require a digital sensor much more powerful than the one in a Nikon D800. We know that film this slow is not suitable for every subject or every situation but the idea that a lens like the 55/2.8 AIS has suddenly become less sharp or unusable is simply incorrect. Most of the credit for IQ improvement with digital equipment has to do with improved high ISO performance, improved AF and improved IS. Only a little of the improvement is due to newer lenses or better lens coatings. Anything that makes a lens work better with a digital sensor is welcome. Some improvements are more obvious than others. If I use a 6X7 camera hand held and in poor light and then scan the negatives with a cheap flatbed scaner, I might conclude that an APS camera gives better fnal results than a 6X7 camera. That would be an incorrect ocnclusion. The 18-55 which came with my Pentax K-x is surprisingly good. Is it as good at 50 as a 50/1.7 SMC Pentax F which was made for film cameras? No it isn't.
  41. Ai-converted is not AiS.
  42. Just for the sake of belaboring it. Compared to AF DX 18-55 & 55-200 @ f/5.6 & f/8.
    24 f/2.8 AIS worse
    28 f/2.8 AIS worse
    35 f/2.8 AIS equal
    35 f/1.4 AI'ed worse
    50 f/2 AI better
    55 f/3.5 non AI better
    55 f/2.8 AIS better
    85 f/1.8 AI equal
    105 f/2.5 non AI equal
    135 f/2.8 AIS worse
    180 f/2.8 AIS ED equal
    200 f/4 AIS equal
    I don't usually fuss all over the place like this, but I just stopped shooting 35mm color last year so this is just the housekeeping that many of you did years ago. I will keep the lenses, and maybe someday get an FX to see how they look. Lazy Sunday, hope your team won.
  43. When testing manual lenses there is one thing that can make you draw the incorrect assumptions.
    I'm thinking about when you focus at infinity with lenses that have hard infinity stops like most manual focus lenses have.
    The problem is that the distance between the f-mount and the sensor has to be absolutely perfect on the camera and on digital cameras it's not at all uncommon that it's not. On Nikon this distance is 46.50 mm.
    This has no effect on AF lenses because the AF sensors are adjusted with software to get the focus spot on at infinity. Since most people use only their kit zoom on their camera and only a few people would use a manual focus lens and of those only a few would identify the real problem so Nikon aren't too worried that a few cameras aren't up to specs. It's the same thing with focusing screen alignment. Only those who focus manually and actually use the viewfinder for this, often with something like a split image focusing screen, would notice any misalignment.
    Anyway the register distance is one of those gotchas that can make a lens look worse than it is when it fact it's a camera body problem.
    An old trick to test this was to put a camera on a tripod and focus at something. Tape the focus ring so it can't move. Then take another camera and put the taped lens on it. If the focus is off the register distance is off (or actually the focusing screen alignment if you just check visually).
    And the focus screen alignment is also a problem but most people figure out by themselves out that they need to focus using liveview on the LCD if they want reasonably right focus for testing purposes. Just missing the focus by a tiny bit can affect the image sharpness a lot.
    Anyway, I have most of the lenses above but I'm very seldom shoot at f/5.6 or f/8 so I wouldn't know how the 18-55 and 55-200 compared to the older lenses.
    Also some lenses such as the 35mm f/1.4 were also optimized for shooting at large apertures and at closer distances so these lenses would not perform as good at f/8 and infinity as some of their slower counterparts would.
  44. All true what you say, but regardless of tests, if I use the focus assist light when shooting, and I have to, I'm going to get these results. It's not like I'm trying to give a final verdict to these lenses. I want them to succeed, but my results on a d7000 are currently as stated. Now if there's a method to improve their focus in real life shooting, fill me in. I'd rather not buy that d800, and whose to say I wouldn't encounter the same problem.
  45. I thought you would have used live view? Non? How else would you get critical focus? Those wides are tough to focus exactly.
  46. Kit lens 18-55 f 8, ISO 100 (or so). Sharp enough?
    That being said, my 50 mm f 2.0 non ai was so sharp that it is considered a 'classic' and I didn't know it. I think the same design was carried over into the AI lenses. I shot it on cameras that took the 'rabbit ears' mount that also accepted AI when it was introduced. Nikon then did not think to obsolete all its older lenses like they did when they introduced their 'G' lenses for the lower priced cameras.
    I had ALL the AI lenses except maybe one or two teles. The zooms deserved their poor reputation, but the primes below 200 mm if not the sharpest possible lenses had AMAZING color contrast, that just cannot be obtained from today's usual lenses, with the exception possibly of some nanocoat lenses. I'd say the 105 mm Micro nano shows some amazing color rendition, but it's still different from the color contrast of the AI/AIS lenses.
    I think the stunning color contrast, (which I haven't read above in a cursory reading of recent posts after an extensive reading earlier today), is the secret to the 'painterly' secret of the AI/AIS lenses, to address another issue raised here.
    John (Crosley)
  47. Ai's? I shoot the odd port rate with my 85mm Nikkor H. Not as sharp as the 18-55 but has character. While I can add character in PS, this lens helps me think in character while shooting. Though haven't used it in a few years.
  48. Luke Kaven , Feb 03, 2014; 03:02 a.m.
    I thought you would have used live view? Non? How else would you get critical focus? Those wides are tough to focus exactly

    (How do I do quotes right? You know it that neat box thingy. KS )
    Spectral Highlights for one thing. I also did infinity focus on large groups of trees with fine branches. No way would I use the monitor because I never use it in shooting. I'm glad to be convinced by everyone's contribution here that these are fine lenses, and I will keep them, but my "tests" are always practical shooting tests. I was leaning towards dismissing them unfairly, and now stand thankfully corrected. Heads up vW, yur right. And thanks to all voices. This is a fine forum.
  49. Hmmm . . . my 16/3.5 AI and 400/5.6 ED AI are simply excellent on my D800. My departed 50/1.2 AIS gave me a "look" at f/1.2 that no other Nikkor could, and my 135/2 AIS was pretty darned good for a $400 lens. My 135/3.5 AIS is right up there with my 70-200/4 or 70-200/2.8 in a much smaller package.
    My 45/2.8P is glued to my D800 most of the time.
    Many of my AI/AIS Nikkors were perfectly fine on myD700 and only started to show there optical design age on my terribly demanding D800, which is quite a feat.

    There are a lot of very very good AI or AIS Nikkors out there along with some real lemons (to go along with the AF and AF-D lemons that Nikon has too).
    Just because a lens is of an old design doesn't necessarily make them by default non-useful or not sharp.
  50. Opinions about lens performance are different from opinions about what it's like to shoot with a given lens. If you're using a DX camera with a small finder, and an electronic rangefinder that sometimes does and sometimes doesn't, it's very difficult to achieve critical focus with a wide MF prime. If you're publishing your opinions about how these lens perform, then you'd want to give them a fair shot. Live view. Tripod. It's the only way. But I wouldn't suggest that you're testing lenses when you're really doing "practical shooting tests." Can't have both!
  51. The original post was asking who still used/ wanted these. I never wanted to get into it over tests, and he said she said. Forums take on a life of their own, and the idea IMO of "publishing" is a stretch.
    Not to be defensive but I don't think Live View is superior to sighting a spectral highlight, or infinity focus on distant objects. These lenses are not large telephotos that have leeway regarding the infinity focus. 24 & 28 especially can safely be focused at infinity. If they couldn't they'd be causing a ridiculously unnecessary problem for practical use.
  52. But they ain't as sharp. The 24mm f/2.8 AIS can't beat my kit 18-55mm.
    I don't want to sell these to anyone hoping they're sharp​

    Kenneth, I believe you are getting these responses because you made these statements as if they are absolute truth. Obviously, a great number of people disagree with you. You have also not provided any evidence to substantiate your claims. Try writing in terms of "your opinion" or "in your experience" and I suspect you will not get such a harsh reception.
  53. You're a nice fellow, and I'm just trying to see that information that gets around to thousands of people doesn't pass through uncritically. When you go down a whole list of lenses and rate them better/same/worse, then it's more important to check up on the testing.
    A couple of points worth making. The infinity stops on these 40 year old lenses are sometimes not as exact as they once were. But even if it is right on the mark, one should remember that infinity is a long way off, and in fact there are no photographic subjects at infinity. In short, focusing on infinity ensures that *nothing* is in critical focus. :)
    This actually isn't just an academic point. I took a picture of something 5 miles away with an 85/2 AI, and the critical focus was way back from the infinity mark. This made a difference. With critical focus, I was able to distinguish a 1-pixel wide power line at that distance. At infinity, I could not. The lightest possible tap on the focus ring, akin to blowing on it, made a discernible difference. A tenth of a millimeter would have been extreme.
    This is more important when you use those wides on a dense sensor. They have deceptively fine planes of focus. On a high resolution sensor, you can see just how narrow it is.
    Tripod. Live view. Lather. Rinse. Repat.
  54. It would be coddling my audience to treat people as children and ever so carefully parse my wording as not to mislead or offend. This is our modern condition, a combination of litigation and infantilism. If the good people of a photography forum can't discern that posts of lens experiences are subjective then we are lost.
    People have many resources on-line for scientific lens testing. My chat here can't possibly be confused as such. If anyones bias is for absolutes they'll need to be more discriminating when choosing sources.
    This worry over wording everything just exactly right will never please everyone and only makes for dull conversation, totally lacking of insight. For petes sake, I only started this because I felt it would be rotten of me to ebay this stuff and stick the unsuspecting with less than stellar lenses.
  55. Infinity and beyond, I'm outta here.
  56. Just some thoughts really about how to get the most out of your legacy favorites. We mean well. We gave you hope for your glass. You might have let that stuff go! (And we would have gladly bought it cheap.) Have fun.
  57. Since Kenneth is out of here, I thought it might be useful to have a discussion of where he went wrong trying to use his
    (really quite excellent and enviable) collection of AIS glass on his DSLR.

    My first thought is that if he has a camera that came with an 18-55 lens, it's sure to be one that's not good for use with
    AIS glass. No metering, and that aggravating focus confirm dot that has too much slack in it. Combining that slack focus
    dot with the lower quality finder, it's very difficult to get good focus without using live view with magnification and a tripod.
  58. There's a big difference between 1 mile, 5 miles, and infinity on an AI lens. The finder on an APS-C camera is no good for that kind of critical focus. The electronic rangerfinder is no good for anything. Yet the D7000 sensor has the equivalent density of 36MP FX equivalent. There's no slack in the system.
  59. I'm very grateful for the contributions than have encouraged me to keep these. What a boon. Very grateful.
    The 18-55 did not come with my purchase denoting a cheaper camera. I have the excellent d7000 and purchased the excellent 18-55 & 55-200 separately. I use the 35 AF-D f/1.8 90% of the time.
    I conducted the live view tripod experiment. Impractical as it may be for actual use. As best as I could see the screen, the resulting photograph produced better corners. I then shot as per electronic finder. The photograph produced a better center with the same corners as before. This was the 24mm f/2.8
    That demonstrates, I believe not only the curvature of the lens, but also the capability of the electronic finder that has been easily dismissed.
    Infinity seems to be where it should be on the barrel. I have not done any of the other lenses. I trust that they are fine lenses. They have character, no doubt, but I think many people are going to prefer the clinical sharpness of moderns.
  60. I had a long love affair with those lenses. I particularly loved the 105. But as with all love affairs, there came a time to move on. I have the memories... some are very negative, but some are positives too. At times I slide through them. I have regrets, but not many. I really don't miss them... not much. I have hooked up with some really cool new items that keep me really occupied and challenged. I have no desire to relive my past.
  61. Interesting perspective E.J. With a good editor you might have the beginnings of a novel.
    After doing the 28mm and getting much the same results my hopefully last thoughts are towards the live view vs. electronic. The best image is the ground glass viewfinder. I can't really get the sparkle clarity on live view, and the focus assist is according to many unreliable. It wasn't. The differences are extremely small and with both 24 and 28 that manifests as merely sharpest at edge or sharpest at center. Bottom center I mean. Either way the best way to focus these is with the viewfinder itself. Find whats most important and think hyperfocal. Why don't they add a microprism? That's the focusing issue.
    The sharpness issue remains the same. These two classics are beautiful and sharp albeit not center and edge at the same time. Moderns are more precise, and even the lowly 18-55 is sharp everywhere @ f/8
    Gad. Enough Kenneth, go to bed. I apologize for EVERYTHING.
  62. Correction ( already) The 24 doesn't give me edge and center sharp at the same time. The 28 does. The 28 is PERFECTION. I'm having an on-line nervous breakdown.
  63. Kenneth - I'm glad you did not actually leave!
  64. Louis:
    Your gorgeous and bitingly sharp portrait demonstrates why I cherish my copy of the 55mm Micro manual focus. A true gem of a lens, and I don't miss autofocus in micro work anyway.
  65. That 28 is one of the best Nikon lenses I ever had.
  66. I still have a love for the old lenses. Artistic work gets such an amazing look with them. My 50mm f/1.2 is my favorite for Reverse Macros & other things. As I'm going through my lenses I don't use. That's one I'll hold on to if only because it brings me back to my very first Nikon FM with my first 50 mm lens. It was no f/1.2, but I learned so much with that camera & lens. The little girl in me will therefor hold on to that lens. I have others I'm not attached to. Those I will sell. But that 50mm f/1.2 - - it will remain with me....
    The colors of those old lenses. The amazing tones & shades...... They're a joy to behold.
  67. I thought that you'd end up liking the 28mm. The best samples of the 28 are up with the best 28mm lenses ever made, at least as good as the distagon.
  68. Thanks for your persistence.
    Nice words Lil Judd.
    I'm almost embarrassed to say this but I just stopped by that famous selling site to see what they were going for and snagged another 28 for $70.00. Guy said it had some fine scratches on the rear. I couldn't see anything in the pics.
  69. Send them to me, I don't need the 24 2.8, already have one but I'll take your 105, after all, its so inferior and all. I too think many would think you statement re AIS lens vs your kit lens a bit polemic. Also there, are a couple of AIS zooms that actually look very nice on modern digital cameras. Try the old 80-200 4.5 or little newer 4.0 with the slide zoom, it can take some very nice photos.
  70. Some might indeed find polemics in the toss, but the 18-55 lens merely served as the reason for my dismay with the Ai's. If you read the whole terrible saga though, you'll see crow feathers adorning my dinner plate. The Ai's required more careful focus than I had attained in casual shooting. This was pointed out early on but my incredulous nature and the memory of several attempts with head to head shooting always going to the 18-55 @ f/8 especially prevented enlightenment. Now however, convinced as I am I won't be selling. However they are available at ebog and KEH, for very reasonable prices. Sometimes a steal.
  71. The real lingering issue is not one of sharpness, but focus. Focusability. Is that a word? The Ai's are sharp but only if the focus is precise, at least with a DX camera. So precise that practical use is compromised. It might seem an easy thing to do, but I have found that it's hit and miss to the extreme. Where does that leave the use of them? Landscape OK, but anything more active seems a risk. Is the situation any better with FX I wonder? How can less megapixels per area make for a fully realized image?
  72. One problem with modern cameras is that they are optimized for autofocus. The focusing screen is optimized for brightness and not to determine focus like manual focus cameras was.
    Nikon doesn't care about that so they don't provide photographers with screens suitable for manual focus like for instance Canon does. But you can usually buy third party screens that fit. I prefer split image screens for precise focus but even matte screens are available that's a lot better than the stock screen.
    DX cameras are a bit more tricky to focus than FX cameras. Viewfinder size is of course important but also the fact that you have to use wide lenses on DX to get the same angle of view. And wider lenses are harder to focus, everything else being equal.
    BTW, Another use for AI lenses is to put them on other cameras, both for stills and video. I use some of my Nikon lenses on Panasonic m43 cameras with adapters. Canon is the probably the best dslr for this as they have a short register distance and can take a lot of other brands of lenses with the right adapter. So a lot of Nikon lenses on Canon 5D of different vintages.
  73. Kenneth -

    Your original intent of the post is a worthy discussion, but the phrase "you can't mean what you say unless you say what you mean" applies. Exact wording has and always will be critical to a discussion.
    Certainly some of the AI/AIS primes are bested by modern kit zooms, especially on DX, but there are some real keepers out there (like the 28/2.8 AIS) that still perform in an excellent fashion decades after they were designed. The task is to figure out which ones to keep. It certainly helps that many are not very expensive.
    Glad to see you are still hanging with this thread.
  74. John:
    I'm glad that you don't mind my continuing this. I know I'm erratic, I'm a misunderstood genius and I'm doing the best I can to play on the same field with adults. Tedious.
    I agree the lenses are keepers. Now I'm just working on getting them to work their best, and I fear I might be in the market for an FX, eventually anyway. I just got into digital last year and am in no hurry to keep spending the big bucks. Being a misunderstood genius, of course I can't sell anything.
    Most of my work is medium format black and white. The digital just made sense for color, especially my street color, not so much landscape. I like the digital for my Eggleston rip off's. For those of you who believe geniuses don't need to rip off other's , I give you this quote from Pablo himself, "I only steal from the best".
    I'll use these lenses if I can get them in focus. I like sharp and that means corners. Meaning is elusive is my work. There really is no intention to communicate ideas, so the content is in their presence. Crisp, clean clear images send me into raptures. The sense of presence, reality, is so satisfying, especially when it's nothing in particular.
  75. "Crisp, clean clear images send me into raptures"
    This is the constant quest of Photographers throughout the ages, yet the etched, scathingly razor sharp antiseptic look that is seen at times in portraiture of humans isn't reality in my view. No one looks that way. I know I wouldn't want a picture of me to look like that.
    So somewhere there's a sweet spot, and I have found AIS lenses, some AIS lenses to avail that. So, not because I happen to own them, in fact I'm happy to, but AIS lenses are just right. They are keepers.
  76. Don Bright !! I have really enjoyed your recent work here. Simple, straightforward, and packed with resonance. I too love the Pentax 6x7.
    As for my topic, I can see that by enlarging the issue to focus problems on digital,that I have stumbled onto a very well covered topic in these very forums. Perhaps I should bugger off after all. Thanks to all.
  77. Kenneth,
    No point in buggering off on my behalf, I just think that the etched look in portraiture is a little much. So once again its about application, and decision making, not one or the other. I would concur in the fear of going DVF, I don't think anyone here wants that. Your point of subject here is interesting. There's a lot to learn about optics. I try to keep up, yet its hard to know where the manufactures are going with all of this when looking back in history to determine the trajectory of refinement. In the case of Nikkor AIS lenses, certainly when they were released new to the world they were good enough to be considered ahead of their time. With modern tools, and machines that make these lenses, it stands to reason that the optical dynamics should be more finite. It's easy for me to grasp that aspherical elements are a boon for optical performance for the edges, for the corners, and there's more, and more, and more about optical performance I don't know about. So why do we care? Because we know the good ones are expensive, and we need to latch on to some feature to justify it. We all want the silver bullet. Pricy stuff! I wish I knew more.
  78. I use an old 135mm non AI f/3.5 for portraits. Had some mold in it when I bought it for nothing at KEH. The every wrinkle mug shot approach that Time Magazine drags out all the time, might look good on an old Indian man, but in general I find it annoying. A face in your face. Becomes far more about the material, skin meets glass, and says next to nothing about the subject the way an Arnold Newman or Irving Penn did. Even Avedon has great character conveyed despite all that 8x10 detail. Kevin Bubriski's Nepal portraits are stunning with a 4x5, but never a study in facial detail. The lens is not the subject. But give me all I want up front and then I'll pare back when and where I want. Every published black and white landscape person I admire has crisp detail in every corner. And only half of them are using view cameras, which as you probably know doesn't make corner detail a cinch either. Tilt forward and tree tops start to go.
    Obsessing over all this lens stuff makes me feel a little uncomfortable, we're supposed to be all about the content and all but eschew the equipment. But I owned all these lenses and I was shocked at how bad they looked on this digital camera. What an insult. Fortunately they proved to be OK, if you can focus between a mosquito's eyelashes.
  79. Just for the fun of it. . . . I have two Nikon Nikkor-Q 200mm f/4 and one Nikkor-Q.C , all Nikon factory AI ed. Two Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI & AI-S. One 80-200mm f/4.5 AI and recently I bought a new Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/4 VR lens. The story is. I shoot, Nikon Df, a series of picture in a nice sunny day from the same subject at the same time all with f8 and the same shutter speed, same ISO 200. Made an unedited .jpg files reduced to monitor screen size, 24" and a pixel size crop of the original size image, center and from the edge. Send it over to my friend, a very fussy photographer, for assessment, asking, witch image is the sharpest, and over-all, the best of them. He didn't know witch one witch. Pointed out a best image and the best corner sharpness and turned out it was an old Nikkor-Q 200mm f/4 lens, not the brad new AF-S 70-200 at 200mm f/4 VR lens. His opinion was exactly my as well. The old 200/4 are 80-120 dollar, the 200/4 AI-S 120-160 dollar and the new AF-S 70-200/4 VR including tax over 1600.00 dollar. Anybody has something to say? Other then my limping English.
    I have the 24-70/2.8 but, I happily using the 50-135mm f/3.5 AI-S push-pull zoom, with very sharp results, and excellent focal range.
    The only one lens I haven't find prime, equivalent or sharper is the fantastic AF-S 17-35/2.8 lens, made in the film era, as many amateurs calling those lenses as a film lens and no god for the digital cameras. Total nonsense. Misinformed young people.
    And so on, the old Nikkor-Q 135/2.8 excellent sharp lens, and I can list more.
  80. Bravo Bela. Nice story. I'm about to get heavily into Q lenses. Besides the obvious equation that a good photographer can make... you know the rest. Old glass is fine, I'm thrilled to have discovered that. I wish Nikon had done more to accommodate the focus issue, but technology whether you want it or not has it's price. I'll help your English, use Which not witch. The latter is my ex wife.
  81. Oh, and I forgot to compliment the Nikon dF, if it mounts the Q's that beats all. I can't put them on a d7000. I still use them occasionally on all my film cameras.
  82. Thank you Kenneth. Which, not witch, which was my previous two ex wife. Damn, spelling correction didn't shown the mistake.
    The Nikkor-Q? All my pre AI lenses converted to AI, at the time by Nikon. You can mount a NON AI lens on the Df. The 200mm test was done on the Df.
  83. Bela, I have that 17-35 and I love the look of the photos on it on my D700, totally concur. How did your 80-200 4.5 pics come out?
    Kenneth, sorry for overstating my case re: use of "polemic". I just didn't agree with the general premise.
    John, that's very sharp, but then, it looks like there's a fair amount of processing applied to that photo, or am I wrong on that?
  84. Hmm. Maybe there /are/ good 200/4 Nikkor-Qs out there. The one I had was such a dog that I had written off the whole breed. Nice and compact though!
  85. Subject: Amber, from a visit to Poland. Nikon D7000 w/Micro-NIKKOR 105mm f/4 Ai & PN-11 for 1:1; north facing window light. This lens provides all I need for my macro interests, although my Micro-Nikkor 55mm Ais is often in my kit just in case. A focusing rail would be handy.
  86. Hi Barry; The 17-35/2.5 is a legend in my opinion and many others. The images in the film era and then the digital, always tick sharp and color is super, contrast is supper too. Non of the other wide angle zooms come close to it. I never needed to use polarizing filter on the 17-35, sky is always beautiful blue.
    Luke, those Nikkor Q and the Nikkor-Q.C, both of are very sharp, actually a slightly sharper them the 200/4 AI-S. The 200Q and the 200Q.C, the Q.C. is a little warmer in color then the Q. But both sharp. The old 80-200/4.5 zoom, also a sharp lens it is not worst then the new AF-S 70-200/4 VR. I didn't checked those lenses full open, because I never using or hardly ever using a lens full open.
    The Niagara images on my portfolio, which I shoot two days ago, some of the images , details of the falls was shoot with the Df + 200/4 AI-S, 100 ASO at f8. Far as I remember.
    By the way, the focus issue is not an issue on the Df bright and very nice view finder. It is very good camera, the one thing I hate is, you can't have an optional battery grip for it, for better handling with big lenses.
  87. Louis, you totally wrong. As I all ready stated. My Nikkor-Q200/4 as sharp as my new 70-200/4 VR if it is not sharper. Most of the time, sharpness happen the rear side of the camera and not of the front.
    The AF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 ED kit lens I get with the D40 is a very sharp lens, regardless of the cheep plastic wrapping. It is my "social" camera
  88. I was printing fiber in the wet darkroom yesterday with my elegant and stately D2 enlarger. TMY 35mm from Nikkor AI's, and I don't remember which lens. I had a 50 f/2 and probably the 24 or 28. All I can say is ridiculous detail, just flat out ridiculous. Absolutely sharp to the corners.
    What made me drift into doubt over the years can be attributed to my use of color neg. I had reasons for it. I stopped shooting chromes because of cost, and although I shot black and white I still seemed to drift into this belief that newer was better. By the time I compared my older lenses to even the kit, I was practically on the verge of selling the older ones. Thank You Luke and others. Here's a few from the 28mm AIS from today's cold morning in Wyoming. Thank God, I don't live in the east.
  89. This is my backyard looking east.
  90. Hi Kenneth. Yes, we are brainwashed by business, mostly camera stores and they reviews in disguise, the new lenses are better, new technology etc, all those b.s. It is not always thru. Most of the newer lenses, having the same optical elemets, construction as the old ones. Except, all in plastic now. Improvement maybe the coating and the repeated untrue claim, you need new digital lens for you digital cameras. All this is b.s. I never noticed any reflection, ghost etc on my images, shoot with D40, D3s, D4 & the new Df. Regardless, I had all the newest AF-S lenses I my need, Af-S 14/2.8, 17-35/2.8 (not new, really) 24-70/2.8, 70-200/4 VR, 85/1.4 ( the older AI-S and the AF-S (not much different, on the contrary, the AI-S, seem to me, sharper. The only advantage about the new lenses is the AF, because on digital cameras the focusing screen prism, wasn't so good.(not for me) Now, the Df solved this problem too, it is so easy and clear to focus manually, like it was with the film cameras, F5, FX90, FM2a, FM2 FE-2, F3, etc. etc. I'm not a fanatic old fart, I had plenty of time to test all those old lenses, all the way back to the 1950s. Yes, there has ben some dogs, but today even more, never mind the build quality, even a good and expensive pro lenses, I hate those plastics. As I hate the new lenses of the sam optical configuration are double the size of the old AIs. Look at the Noct-Nikkor 58/1.2 and the new monster AF-S 58/1.4. To my surprise, the new AF-S 70-200/4 VR is not better then the old old 80-200/4.5 AI-S zoom nikkor. If it is better scientifically, in lab test, it is not showing in an average size or pixel size view or print on the monitor.( EZIO 24") Those people whom finding excuses, never learned photography, they excepting quality from the camera, but, not from themselves. Growing up in the AF and digital era, I met people whom has no idea, they camera has a light-meter, never used "M" mode and believe all those business propaganda. Yes, some cases, some of the new lenses are slightly better in a certain way. Definitely, not in build quality. Did you noticed, most of the people, never printing they images and posted only on web pages, stored digitally for infinity. Digital lens?! What is digital lens? No such a thing as digital lens. Lens is an optical devise and nothing to do with digitalizimo. ( new word I invented heh.) The only thing they have, a little better coating in the inside element, which is never proven to me, it is extremely effective and important. And, I'm shooting a hell of a lot against the sun and even the sun in the composition many time, See my images.
    Kenneth. The 28 you used is a f/3,5 or f/2.8 AI-S. Never mind I had bot of them and shown for beginner amateurs and even advanced amateurs, how sharp this lens, both of them. . . . See the image below.
  91. Zowie. Digitalizimo. Wacko. I like. I'm glad you got to see all the west and everything. With that crazy name of yours I figured you were back in Mostar printing with a kerosine enlarger, but now I see your one of those filthy rich Russians. You'll have to excuse and hopefully enjoy me. I was never properly trained.
    What truly more than anything convinced me that the new was better was never marketing or an inbred insatiable consumerism that likes to refer to people as dinosaurs. What startled me was this monitor. I think the flickr's and elsewhere shocked me with the stunning detail. Meanwhile my C-Prints from 35mm, my scans (of course) just about anything from a 35mm camera that I did was starting to look bad. Then I go and set up some tests with my old lenses and put them against the kit. Darn kit looked better, Try again and again, still looked like modern had it. But now fortunately, with the focus issue clearly in mind, and with dragging out all my film and looking at it, I can see the oldies are great. Truly great if you add in the character. I can't see a Df in my future though. D4 sensor at a D800 price, when I'm not a low light shooter.
    Besides I just got this D7000, I think it's wonderful, and I believe it's good enough for me. Medium and large format are really my main thing. Delta 100 in 5x7. Talk to me baby. Can't even afford that stuff anymore, and you have to buy it by the case.
    Your portfolio is brilliant. Very direct and clear. I will spend some quality time with it later. I never put my stuff up because it's practically all film based and scanners are not satisfactory IMO.
  92. Hi Kenneth. I like you letter very much, your style I envy, and jealous for the brilliant English you have. I wish, I can wright and speak so nice English as you did. I understand you very much and I don't take any of your word defensively.
    My name, and me is not Russian and I'm not a filthy rich at all. I spending my life time investment, having no family, last them, and I'm a 75 year young guy. Oh. And a cancer surviver. If you happen to read my biography, you my learn more about me. One fact is thru, I don't like to be hypocrite and I'm not very good for social smooth talking, being a nice guy, rather speaking my mind, being street-forward, without the nice smooth garnishing.
    I know, my English is terrible if I have to wright or speak, heavy accent and bad pronunciation, but, believe it or not, I read a lots of books and reading is no problem for me, subject, philosophy, fine-literature, art, science, astronomy or many other subject.
    Try those old lenses and you going to find out, some of them very good, even with todays high standard.
    Thank you for your compliments of my portfolio, and sorry if I insulted you in some way, I didn't mean it, and have a nice day, Kenneth.
    From a filthy rich Hungarian. Bela Laszlo Molnar
  93. I'll write you off the discussion. Tell everyone where that astounding Alpine is. I couldn't find a location for it.
  94. Hi Kenneth. It is in the Rocky Mountains in Canada, Jasper National Park. I don't know the name of the peak.
    All the best to you.
  95. Ha, my English is terrible. I should'nt say, I'll write you off the discussion. That must have sounded like "get lost". No I meant to say, I'll e-mail you apart from this forum discussion. Wow, this is exhausting. There seems to be an offend meme at every turn.
    Look for my e-mail Bela. Goodnight Irene.
  96. Thanks to everyone.
  97. Kenneth said:
    [Bela's] portfolio is brilliant. Very direct and clear.
    I agree! Beautiful portfolio! Finally, a technically savvy photographer with a highly accomplished, artistic vision as well! Bravo, Bela!
  98. Well, I tried speed-reading this rather lengthy thread, because . . . it got interesting! Now, I'm on the hunt for a decent 28mm f/2.8 AI-s. Or, perhaps the 28mm f/2.0 AI-s? Maybe even the uber-28mm f/1.4 AI-s?
    The only thing I wanted to add was that I just ordered a refurbished Nikon D3200 from Amazon for $315 [hint: go to Amazon, and search, "Nikon D3200 refurbished"]. Why? So I can mount my yet un-converted, pre-AI Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 zoom, famously derided as "Nikon's worst lens" by some guy named Ken. (Note that according to John White's aiconverions.com site, most non-screw drive Nikon DSLRs can safely mount pre-AI lenses.) I bought the 43-86mm lens a couple months ago for $40 on Ebay, but hadn't had the heart to send it off to perform the conversion. So now, in just a few days, I'll be able to mount it to my new Nikon D3200, and see just how much intentional lens flare I can create with this thing!
  99. I just ordered a refurbished Nikon D3200 from Amazon for $315 [hint: go to Amazon, and search, "Nikon D3200 refurbished"]. Why? So I can mount my yet un-converted, pre-AI Nikkor 43-86mm f/3.5 zoom, famously derided as "Nikon's worst lens" by some guy named Ken. (Note that according to John White's aiconverions.com site, most non-screw drive Nikon DSLRs can safely mount pre-AI lenses.)​

    I have a D3200 and I can use un-modified pre-AI lenses on it. If you do a search, you will find conflicting information - even between official Nikon websites.

    I don't know about the 43-86 but I have used 35, 50, 105 and 200 with no problems.
  100. Ralph, Steve. I read a lots of fancy expert opinion on the Nikon 43-86mm f/3.5 Zoom lens.
    My experiences was at that time terrible. I had a Nikon F2 that time, and get the 43-86/3.5 zoom, my firsts zoom ever and the last. It was the new silver-nosed version and after a couple of rolls of film, I never used again. Many years past, then the digital era started, and computer, internet, more and more information flying around to read, including KR. Regardless all the bad comments about him, from some of the people in the net, I like the person. I like the strait forward talk, technical and practical experience, knowledge this guy have. Hi is a supper knowledgeable engineer on many field, and his advise is right most of the time. His opinion of photo gears is right most of the time but not all the time.
    Back to the 43-86/3.5.
    I learned from other photographers, the so called Nikon 43-86/3.5 is redesigned, nikon admitting they first attempt to design a zoom lens failed. The reputation was all ready on, on this so called pig lens. But, after the newer version, some people started using them, which I forgotten completely.
    And someday, after one of my best friend past a way of cancer, a dedicated Olympus user, remembering him and his Olympus, and by this time eBay existed and C.L., I find in Toronto somebody selling the old OM-1 mint, with two lens and a flash light. I get it for 80 dollar the whole package, bought for a respect to my memory for my long gone friend, and some other sentimental reason, including curiosity.
    Then, the nostalgia get on me, about my old photo gears, Nikon all the way from the first Nikon F, and all those lenses, specially those later created beautiful engineered AI and AI-S lenses, which was engineered and made like a Swiss watches.
    Started to buy all my lost lenses which ones I sold or treaded in for some new stuff. The first lens was the 43-86/3.5 AI, at that time I learned the redesign story, and I heard some positive comments from some user.
    All the bed reputation of this lens, I find out this new "black nosed", and now, AI or AI-S lens, not as bed after all. Bought one, second, third and tested them on D70, D90, later on D700, then on D3s, D4 and find out they are not as bed as many people thinking of it. It is a relatively good sharp lens for average use, like family or other social photography. I believe those people never get to grab one and test it today, they just repeating some of other guys comments as an expert on everything, known nothing. I remember meeting a young photographer, talking about old AI lenses and he shown me his daughter graduation images, all are very nice and sharp, done with some of Nikon DX format camera, and guess what . . . . With the NIKON Nikkor Zoom 43-86/3.5 lens. . . . The lens reputation so much ruined, even the newest version, nobody wanted. I wanted to sell one of my 3 sample, all AI, for 45 dollar on C.L, nobody wanted. If I haw a young guy around me, whom just started photography with little money to spend, I would given to the guy for free.
    More story to learn, I have a couple of old Nikkor-Q 135mm and 105mm lens, some of them in a very bad shape, and one has a spider web like fungi inside and lots of dust. I tested the lens, and to my surprise, I get a very nice sharp picture with it, on the D700 camera. The only thing you not supposed to do, to shoot against a bright light, and no problem at all. I wanted to sell for a guy, whom can afford even a 100 dollar lens for a new 135/2.8, for 30 dollar. The guy seen the lens and don't wanted even for 20 bucks. I tried to show him, mounted on my camera and shoot something, to shown, you cant see of those fungi in the picture.
    Yes, the pre AI, silver nosed is bad, but the new AI-AI-S version, black nose, is entirely different lens in the same housing and AI or AI-S.
    Ralph. Don't think the 28mm f/1.4 ( extremely expensive lens) is a very sharp lens or sharper then the 28/3.5 or the slightly, only slightly better 28/2.8 AI-S lenses. I have plenty of photographs of the 28/3.5 AI-S, some, the Nikkor-H converted to AI, and all of them razor sharp. I noticed lately, Nikon's old lenses prices gone up in the last two years, specially the last one year.
    The lens designers was as good 50 years ago as they are today, and certain lens design never changed only the body, coating, and added AF to it in the new, plastic shell. Ask Nikon to produce the so called "Holly Grail," 13mm f/5.6 AI-S super wide angle, perfect rectilinear (no lens distortion at all) hand polish lens. The guy whom polished this fantastic lens, the aspherical elements specially, is not exist anymore. If you ever seen a video, specially images made with this lens, you would understand what I mean. No comparable, similar lens exist today. It is not only the creasy collectors, for the price of this AI-S lens 50,000-80,000 BP price tag. A 100,000 Canadian dollar+shipment and custom charge.
  101. Ralph, you will flip over the 75-150 f/3.5 Series E, the cult classic. You can get these for $125 in good shape. Get the one with the silver ring if you can find it. This is one of the most beautiful drawing lenses ever...ever.
  102. Maybe even the uber-28mm f/1.4 AI-s?​
    It's actually an AF-D - which in this case also is an Ai-S - there never was a purely manual focus 28/1.4 though.
    Still own the 105/2.5 Ai that I purchase as my first lens in 1979; it's going to see some more use now that I have a D700; the lens didn't work that well for me on a DX body. I also have the 28/2.8Ai-S and the 75-150/3.5 Series E (with the usual "loose-as-a-goose" zoom ring). Sold the 20/4 Ai last year because on FX it vignettes too much. The 80-200/4 Ai-S was OK but not a lens I really felt I would get much use out of. No plans on acquiring any more Ai/Ai-S lenses though.
  103. Dieter said:
    It's actually an AF-D . . .
    Ah, yes! I stand corrected! I love its crinkle-finish metal barrel, similar to my same-era, AF Nikkor 18mm f/2.8D.
  104. Luke said:
    Ralph, you will flip over the 75-150 f/3.5 Series E, the cult classic.
    Thanks, Luke! I'll check it out!
  105. Bela said:
    With the NIKON Nikkor Zoom 43-86/3.5 lens . . . The lens reputation so much ruined, even the newest version, nobody wanted. I wanted to sell one of my 3 sample, all AI, for 45 dollar on C.L, nobody wanted.
    Thanks for that detailed commentary, Bela. I deliberately sought out the more flawed version for its signature flare. I paid $40 for it on Ebay, and was glad to have one in such good condition for that price (looks like new). Hope to get the D3200 on Monday so I can try it out.
  106. Ralph, congratulation for your Nikon D3200. Use a good hood, HN-3, for the 43-86/3.5 and avoid direct sunlight falling on the front element. Then, you going to have relatively nice sharp, contrasty images. Would be better and sharper the black nose version.
  107. Luke said:
    Ralph, you will flip over the 75-150 f/3.5 Series E . . . Get the one with the silver ring if you can find it.
    Wow! A 112.5-225mm equivalent, f/3.5 constant-aperture, compact zoom! I love it! Do you know how many different versions were produced? What is the desired characteristic of the "silver ring" models? Thanks!
  108. Do you know how many different versions were produced?​
    Two - one with a black ring and one with a silver one.
    What is the desired characteristic of the "silver ring" models?​
    Optics is identical, it's just the looks (make them more similar to the Ai/Ai-S Nikkors of the same time). The lens was actually made by Kiron - there's also a Kiron70-150/4 that is just as good (and a Vivitar 70-150/3.8 (also made by Kiron).
  109. This is a Nikon-designed lens, but manufactured by Kiron. Amazing bokeh, not just for a zoom, but for any lens. Extremely low flare! Great for low-light portraits. Basically, no discernible compromises.
    Silver ring is metal, black ring is plastic. It's the knurled ring you use for mounting/dismounting the lens. The silver is slightly easier to use. As Dieter says, they are optically the same. You will have to get the floppy zoom ring fixed, since the friction pads have long since worn thin. It's a small price to pay for this gem.
  110. The Nikon series E 75-150mm f/3.5 AI never had a silver ring version. I mean it, the nose ring. All of them black. So far, I newer heard or see of it, and not shown in any Nikon brochure or other places. The 43-86mm f/3.5 NON AI had a silver ring nose. And the 74-150 is a 112-225mm CROP-equivalent on the DX body.
    You guys mixing up the 43-86/3.6 and the series E 75-150/34 lenses. if you mean the mounting silver ring, to grab, which is all the AI and pre AI lenses haw it , a very small exception. 100mmf2.8 has two version too.
  111. Addendum; If you mean the silver ring at the close rear end, close to the aperture ring, for easier mounting, grab, then you right. Some of the lenses, like the 100mm f.2.8 has two version too.
  112. That's the one, Bela.
  113. Dieter said:
    Optics is identical, it's just the looks (make them more similar to the Ai/Ai-S Nikkors of the same time).
    Thanks for your reply, Dieter! Thanks for all of that additional info as well, Luke, Bela! Much appreciated!
  114. Just as an addendum to this surprisingly persistent thread:
    Neither Nikon nor Canon (nor most others, for that matter) have substantially changed the formulae/designs of many of their prime lenses since 1970 or so.
    There have been improvements related to new and better optical glass(es), aspherical elements, and better lens coatings; but the old Double-Gauss, Sonnar, and retrofocus designs still underlie the new whiz-bangs.
    That's not the least of the reasons to doubt the initial conclusion that the old lenses were "unsharp".
    Autofocus and electronic controls have been introduced, but the optics themselves are surprisingly constant.
    And even the best zoom lenses, much less the "kit" lenses, still have trouble equaling a prime lens at any given focal length. Through the miracle of modern computer-aided design, they come astonishingly close on occasion.
  115. Who says they are not as sharp? As sharp as what? The AI/AIS lenses still hold their own against any of the newer lenses and they are built far better. I would say the photographer is more of a limiting factor than the lenses themselves. All of my Nikkors, all 17 of them from 16mm fisheye to 600mm super-telephoto are AI/AIS and I would not trade a single one of them for the crappy plastic AF ones of today. The biggest limitation using MF lenses on DSLR's is the focusing screens on most DSLR's generally suck for critical manual focusing and I would never rely on the focus indicator dot, especially in low light. I have a microprism screen in my D700 and have no problem whatsoever getting critically sharp focusing with it.
  116. Louis Meluso [​IMG][​IMG], Feb 01, 2014; 08:24 p.m.
    Nobody wants those dino lenses. I mean all the newly designed zooms are modern and fresh. Maybe some crusty old movie guys but sharpness isn't important to them. Let's face it. Sharpness is everything, right? I run an old Nikkor AI lens disposal service. Just send me that junk and I'll take care of them for you.​
    That is one of the most ignorant and mis-informed posts I have ever read on this site. How many of these "dino lenses" do you actually own?
  117. Scott, please engage your sarcasm and irony filter.

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