28/2 AI vs AIS

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by jmal, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. jmal

    jmal Member

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    I have read some reviews of the 28mm f2 AI lenses and people seem to love them. So, my first question is whether anyone here has experience with these. My other question is whether there is any significant difference between the AI and the AIS versions. The rave reviews I read were for the older AI lenses. Also, how do they compare to the 28 2.8 AIS lenses. I borrowed a friends 2.8 and loved it. I bought one for myself and was not satisfied with the images. It could have been the conditions/subject matter, but my return period was coming to a close and I decided I would rather have my money back than take a chance that I had a lemon. Anyhow, I just want a good, fairly fast wide lens for an upcoming trip to Portugal. I want to be able to take in a fair amount of territory on the narrow streets. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    Jmal
     
  2. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    There is more difference between the 2.8 Ai and the 2.8 Ais, the Ais is the one to get. The 28mm F2 is a great lens, supposed to have not changed thru the versions but I think there were very subtle adjustments made to the glass types and curvatures.
    Nikons' other premimum fast wides of the era, the 24mm 2.8 and the 35mm 1.4, had adjustments made. The 35mm had curves changed to adjust for a change in glass, the older N and N.C versions used the radioactive thorium glass, turns a bit yellow as it ages. The change was in the Ai series, although I did come across an early K type that had the yellow glass. I prefer the older version, especially in B&W.

    The 24mm 2.8 had a change at the Ai version, curves changed and some elements got thinner, ususally a sign that they changed to a higher refractive glass type.

    I have 2 28mm F2, early N versions and I love them, very sharp and no flare even into sunlight. Great close-up, with CRC, good performance and very useful at wide f-stops, small, light (compared to say, the 28/1.4), great bokeh, what's not to like?
    My advice is to aim for either an early version converted N 28mm f2 or get the latest Ais 28mm f2. Not a very popular lens, but the performance is worth it. As you found out, the 2.8 version is hit or miss.
     
  3. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Oh, another thing, if you get the 28mm F2, you can use the deeper HN-3 hood if you don't use a filter ( I don't). Its deeper than the recommended HN-1 and does not clip the edges, works well in low light night shooting. Otherwise, the HN-2 works as well, even with filters.
     
  4. Marc Akemann

    Marc Akemann Subscriber

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    I've had great success with the same 28/2.8 AIS Nikkor for about 10 years now. I use it professionally. Have also used the 28/2 AIS lens in the past. I saw no difference with my photographs when using either lens. The biggest difference is in the pocket book. Close focusing is 20cm (7.87") for the 28/2.8 AIS and 25 cm (9.84") for the 28/2 AIS. I don't think the f/2 is worth the extra money over the f/2.8, although the f/2 is a fantastic lens. Make sure, if you get the 28/2.8, to get the AIS version. It's got CRC, like the f/2. Previous 2.8 versions and AF versions are not CRC lenses. There's also a 110g (3.88 oz) difference in weight, with the 28/2.8 AIS being lighter. By the way, with no disrespect meant toward 'RidingWaves', generally, any lens is hit or miss.

    Speaking strictly by image quality, you can't go wrong with either of these lenses.

    Marc
     
  5. spiralcity

    spiralcity Member

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    When the AI lenses where changed to the AIS lenses, all Nikon lenses that where in production at the time of the change where converted to AIS system. So the glass didnt change in the slightest.
    The AIS lenses are Automatic indexing-shutter lenses. This allows cameras to detect the focal length in use providing info for Program and shutter-priority.

    Lenses that were retrofitted to AIS:
    20mm f/3.5
    24mm f/2
    28mm f/2
    28mm f/2.8
    28mm f/3.5
    and a list of others.

    There was a total of 33 focal lengths converted to the AIS system.
    Cosmetically the lens barrel slimmed down. The same thing happened when the AI lenses were introduced.
    The wide angles lost the throw required to focus to infinity.
    The AI version of the 24mm f/2.8 had a throw of 180 degrees, the AIS had a throw of only 90. This made the lens faster to focus.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 16, 2007
  6. Marc Akemann

    Marc Akemann Subscriber

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    ....except for the 28/2.8 AI which went from a 240g, non-CRC, 7 element/7 group lens to a 250g, CRC, 8 element/8 group lens. The minimum focusing distance got shorter, too, from 30cm to 20cm. This is one of the reasons you'll find, like at KEH, a 28/2.8 AI in EX+ condition selling for less than a 28/2.8 AIS in a lesser EX condition.

    There were just a few other changes in other lenses (from AI to AIS), but generally, spiralcity, you are correct with the rest of your information. I won't go into the other changes since this thread is about the 28/2 and 28/2.8.

    Marc
     
  7. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    As FilmSprocket noted there are a few other lenses that changed Optically along the way. Generally, the statement of the unchanged optical formula is correct but I'll tell ya, Nikon was far from stationary, so a blanket statement will undoubtably have exceptions.
    Nikon even stated it in the 1001 nights about the 35mm 1.4, which was generally thought that never changed. But those of us who noted long ago the yellow cast in the old one and the non-yellow cast in the new ones knew something had changed.

    I happen to think that the 24mm f2 had a slight change at the Ai/Ais switch, and I have a Ai 24mm 2.8 that has the old N formula rather than the new formula of the Ais, so thats another. Don't get me started on the 50's which have had many changes.
    If you can find Nikon orginal optical diagrams and compare them, they can give a good idea of the changes, they seem to have started to use thinner elements about the time they did the Ai switch.
     
  8. KrankyKraut

    KrankyKraut Member

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    One change affecting picture quality in going from AI to AI-s was upgraded coatings. For example, I have used 24mm 2.8, 105mm 2.5 and 200mm 4.0 lenses in Ai and Ai-s versions, and the AI-s had better color contrast, which I believe is due to the improved coatings.
     
  9. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have 2 Nikon 28mm lenses...the f/2.8 AIS and the f/3.5. Both are top notch! the 2.8 is razor sharp and is one of Nikon bedrock lenses. I have never heard anything bad about one before???
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    http://www.cameraquest.com/aidaiais.htm

    From the page (written by Stephen Gandy and published on his Cameraquest Website), emphasis is mine:

    "AIS Lenses: A Technological Dead End

    "In 1981 Nikon introduced their AIS (AUTO INDEXING SHUTTER) lenses even though no Nikon could use AIS features until the FA in 1983. AIS lenses look a lot like AI lenses, but have their smallest F/stop marked in ORANGE.

    "AIS lenses also have 1) a little indentation in the stainless steel lens mount to indicate that a lens with a linear action diaphragm was mounted. This feature was originally used on the FA/FG/2020/2000. No current production Nikon camera uses this information. 2) internal modifications to allow AIS lenses faster and more accurate shutter priority and programmed exposures by way of linear aperture movement, i.e. an equal mount of movement anywhere along the linkage results in the same amount of diaphragm action.

    "Construction-wise, AIS lenses are usually smaller and lighter than their predecessors. In other words, costing cutting was coming home to Nikon. Most AIS lenses show cheapened construction. The typical five screws for the bayonet mount was reduced in most cases to only three. The traditional chrome ring on Nikon lenses between the focus ring and the aperture ring was replaced by aluminum.

    "IF the optical formula is the same--as they often are--I prefer the heavier constructed AI lenses over the AIS.

    "Is AIS Better than AI? Not often!

    "AIS lenses offer minor advantages on the Nikon FA, 2000, and 2020 ONLY, that's it! On these THREE cameras, AIS lenses allow use of the "HI" program exposure, giving higher shutter speeds with lenses longer than 135 when the camera is set on PROGRAM. THAT'S IT FOLKS. Whoopdedoo. The later AF cameras usually replaced this feature with a program shift.

    "The current lineup of Nikon AF bodies makes NO distinctions between AI , AIS, or AI'd lenses in terms of features or metering options (the F4 did, but it's discontinued).

    "Read it again, it's important: The current lineup of Nikon AF bodies makes NO distinctions between AI , AIS, or AI'd lenses in terms of features or metering options(the F4 did, but it's discontinued).


    "Some claim that AIS lenses are needed for program mode on the FA/FG/2020/2000. I don't think so: it's not what the instructions books say that I've read. They all will work with AI in program. Just set the lens to its smallest F stop and shoot.

    "If you plan to use manual lenses with current AF bodies, think twice before paying extra for AIS lenses. They seldom offer any benefit!"
     
  11. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Yes, But....
    The Ai series often had a what I've come to call in-between construction. WHat I mean is that with the Nikkor-F series most lenses were built exceptionally robust, thicker high quality turned aluminum helicoids, many screws etc. The Ai was the in-between, where Nikon started to aim at more of a larger market and the construction was modified to make it less costly to make and to save labor. This was not always successful, some lenses were overly complex and were clearly had assembly challenges which often led to quality control issues. Ais series fixed this, the aperture units and helicoids were more standardized and featured more high quality stamped steel rather than machined parts, less cost but also faster more precise assembly with less quality issues. Repair of AIs usually needed replacement of parts rather than adjustment like the Nikkor F, the Ai could usually be adjusted but is more challenging. Which is better? I'd take a lens with less wear over one with more wear, any series. The Nikkor F are serious tanks. A well working Ai lens is a good choice unless it needs work done on it, say rough/stiff focus, which can add more problems (stuck/stripped screws). Ais usually are in better shape due to age, plus actual spares might still be found. That said, I regularly use 30+ year old Nikkor's, have worn out Ais from hard use and have some Ai series that cannot stay in adjustment. Some Ai lenses (construction) are serious dogs, and I'd choose an AIs over an Ai for those Any Day for more money.
     
  12. Lukas_87

    Lukas_87 Member

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    I own 2/28 ais - great lens. it's imaging characteristics is somewhat discernible esp. at large apertures.
    it's bit soft on f/2, f/2.8 it gets better, at f/4 it's somewhat best-looking (IMHO - really sharp, no vignetting and still different from the other 28's), from f/5.6 up it's just like the 2.8/28 and it looks like "loosing" a bit of its look.

    my favourite shot: http://www.fstop.cz/e/12.kozesnik/untitled/ (shot on f/4 and about 1/30 sec.)
     
  13. jmal

    jmal Member

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    Wow, 2.5 years later the thread revives!
     
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  15. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    I shot the Ai version for years, and loved the color rendition with the older coatings- especially in the woods.
     
  16. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    In addition, I would like to point out that the cost reducing measures that Gandy mentions started with the Ai series, and IMO some didn't work very well, but the Ais series, while continuing to use cost-cutting, had a greatly improved mechanical engineering that made the lenses more durable and lens prone to falling out of adjustment. The Ai is much closer to the Ais than the Nikkor F, and if you want the finest mechanicals that Nikon made then get those tanks.
     
  17. mohawk51

    mohawk51 Member

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    I've owned both the 28 F2.8 AIS and the F2 AIS (still have the F2). If you shoot any landscape pictures you probably would want the F2, because the F2 keeps everything sharp from near to infinity. The F2.8 keep everything sharp from near to mid-distances. Believe me, I've seen the difference. Also there's something regarding the colors that the F2 delivers. They're vibrant and they seem very saturated. I suppose that's why I sold the F2.8 and have never regretted it. I sort of prefer the focal length of the 24mm but the 28 F2 IMHO, kicks the 24's butt regarding flare & ghosting. I've been shooting Nikkors for over 30 years and I'm picky. The 28 F2 passes and exceeds the "picky" test.
     
  18. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    And again!
     
  19. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I'm confused....
     
  20. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    In my experience I've found the F2 versions more prone to flare than the F2.8 versions of the 24 and 28.
     
  21. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I've got the 24 f2 ais and the 28 f2 ai both are great, though the oem hoods dont do much they are both very sharp and work amazingly well on the street.
     
  22. mohawk51

    mohawk51 Member

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    In my previous quote today, I also meant to say that I have the very late version of the 28 F2 AIS (601000). These have the Super Integrated Coating on the elements. Could be that is why the flare and ghosting is a bit more controlled.
     
  23. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    And this part?
     
  24. Lukas_87

    Lukas_87 Member

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    well, there are two types of f/2,8 28mm lens - those which can focus closer (to 0,2 m if I remember correctly) have CRC and are far superior in close focus range to the version focussing only to 0,3 m close.
     
  25. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    In my experience, with 2 versions of the 28mm f/2 and one version of the 2.8 Ais, this is not the case. I'd have that 2.8 CRC checked out.
     
  26. mohawk51

    mohawk51 Member

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    I shoot for a couple of magazines and even the photo editors noticed the difference between the F2.8 and the F2 28mm lenses. Crystal sharp from near to infinity on the F2. Can't explain it except to maybe think that the F2.8 might have been designed for just near-mid distances only. Bjorn Rorslett seemed to agree.