Choosing Nikkors

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by msbarnes, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    I'm interested in getting a not so terribly expensive Nikon kit. I don't need metering so non-AI is fine with me.

    I'm interested in these focal lengths: 28mm f2.0, 50mm f2.0, 105mm f2.5. Maybe a 20mm f3.5 or 20mm f4.0 too.

    I'm undecided between some AI and non-AI variants. I believe some Nikkors have CRC. Should I go with any updated optics for these intended focal lengths?
     
  2. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    I've owned a few samples of the 50mm f/2 and 105mm f/2.5 and in my opinion all of them are great lenses. The 28mm f/3.5 is often overlooked, but later versions are very good and it is not expensive.

    I believe that all versions of the 28mm f/2 have CRC, as do the 24mm f/2.8 and 24mm f/2. The 20mm f/2.8 had it, but I don't think the earlier 20mm f/3.5 or 20mm f/4 lenses did.

    There's a very comprehensive database at http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/lenses.html.
     
  3. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Instead of the 2.0/28 or the 3.5/28 I'd take a 2,8/28 AiS. It has CRC and is a very good lens. The 3.5/28 never had a good reputation and is more difficult to focus due to the darker viewfinder image. Whether you take Ai, AiS or non Ai lenses depends a little bit on the type of camera you intend to use.
     
  4. Halka

    Halka Member

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    The 28mm 2.8 AIS has achieved somewhat of a cult status though, I've seen it go for about 2-3 times the price of an AI version.
     
  5. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    AI vs. non-AI: I can speak for 50mm and 105mm - they are all excellent, you can not go wrong with any version of 50 or 105 nikkor.
     
  6. Lukas_87

    Lukas_87 Member

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    yeah, 28 mm 1:2.8 close-focussing ais is somehow 'cult' (being sharp and small) lens but the 28 mm 1:2.0 is still better. its imaging characteristic is so unique you'll not find any comparable lens in the whole nikon lens line-up (although nikkor 35 mm 1:1.4 comes close) nor youll find any similar lens in the offerings of canon, olympus, pentax... yes, they have some f/2.0 28 mm lens but none of them will make that sort of images.
    and it has CRC in all its reincarnations from non-ai to ais.
     
  7. dorff

    dorff Member

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    What drives your decisions: Price, handling/weight, ultimate performance/sharpness?

    I've had a 28/2 AI lens, and sold it. I prefer the 28/2.8 AIS, which I bought for $30 used in great condition on a visit to Saskatoon. The fact that it focuses much closer swayed me, but in your case you could be more interested in the low light possibilities. Both are very fine lenses that I would not hesitate to use, but the 28/2.8 is sharper to my eye. If you are also into digital, the 24's (f/2 and f/2.8) are reputed to perform less well on digital than on film, where the 28/2.8 AIS is a very notable exception. Even though 28 mm primes are not that in favour nowadays, the 28 AIS is so good and useful that it bucks the trend of dropping prices. The better value for film only might be with one of the 24's.

    I think the 20/3.5 is not a bad lens, but the 20/2.8 is better no doubt. I find my 20/3.5 more useful for IR work on digital, and for close-ups with the K1(?) ring - hope I have the number correct, it's the very flat extension ring without an aperture lever coupling. I also have a 14-24 which is what I now use on both film and digital cameras, unless I want to use filters on B&W film, where the 20/3.5 again comes in handy.

    The 105/2.5 AI or AIS is a wonderful lens, especially the one with large rear element. The earlier design with small rear element is not quite the same. I've got the pre-AI 50/1.4 (AI converted), and haven't really considered the 50/2 that useful, but I have never heard bad things about it. The 50/1.4 is a great lens stopped down to f/2.8 or so. Wide open it lacks contrast, but is much better even one stop down at f/2.

    David Ruether has a list of Nikkors with plenty of useful info: http://www.donferrario.com/ruether/slemn.html. The evaluations are subjective, but in a sense worth more than sterile lab tests, especially for film use. If you shoot B&W film, then almost all Nikkors ever made will be mostly good enough for all but the most strenuous requirements. If you want to do colour work and scan at high resolution, you should think a bit more about what you get.

    Other lenses I can also wholeheartedly recommend:

    75-150/3.5 Series E
    25-50/4 AIS
    55/2.8 AIS Micro
    105/2.8 AIS Micro
    135/2.8 AIS or Series E
    200/4 AIS

    I have used many other MF (and AF) Nikkors too, and most of them are good to great. The one I don't like at all is the 28/2.8 AI that does not focus to 0.2 m, but to 0.3 m instead. Very soft and dull.
     
  8. nwilkins

    nwilkins Member

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    105 2.5 is great.
    28 3.5 actually produces pretty great results, but it is a little tough to focus quickly/accurately and not great for low light because it is so slow. Can focus pretty close though, and if you're using it in daylight conditions you can just stop down and use hyperfocal focusing.
    28 2.0 is a great lens but can be a little pricey - wish I owned one.
    24 2.8 is definitely worth considering - wish I owned one of those too!
     
  9. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I have two of the 50/2 lenses, a few years apart, one for each of my bodies. They remind me of a Summicron-R. I've had two of the f:1.4s, one of the f:1.2 50s, and the f:2.0s are the ones I kept for the image quality. They have a tiny bit of barrel distortion at the very edges, you have to look for it but it's there.

    The 105 is everything you've heard it was. Maybe better. I hold mine (a Sonnar) in very high regard.

    The 28/2.0 has CRC and a very good reputation, although I haven't used one.
     
  10. MikeTime

    MikeTime Member

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    In my experience?

    I've had the 2.8/24 Ai for a long long time; can't remember when I bought it used, or for what price. '85? Great little lens, use it anywhere.

    Just acquired the 2.8/28 Ai-S in as new condition, at an undisclosed price. This is a really fantastic piece of glass; still difficult to focus in a dimly lit bar using an F2AS.

    I have the 1.8/50 Ai (wanted the 2.0, didn't get it), great lens. Simple. Good. Use it everywhere.

    1.4/50 Ai-S is very good, you have to accept a little softness wide open.

    1.2/50 Ai-S (bought it new for eur 440). A gem. Period. Use it wide open, it gives sharp low contrast a whole new meaning. Get it!

    2.5/105 Ai-S, I wish I'd never sold it. The 2.0/85 Ai-S is pretty compact and no slouch either. Great portrait lens. Consider it?

    Cheers,

    Michiel
     
  11. eSPhotos

    eSPhotos Member

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    I have them all (plus a lot more). 28mm f2.0 is great lens. Sharp and contrasty even wide open. But for wide Nikkor lenses, I prefer 24mm f2.8 over the 28mm.
    50mm f2.0 is probably the best 50's. I have a few faster 50's but f2.0 is the best.
    There needs no explanation about the legendary 105mm. I have both older Sonnar design and new DG design. The sonnar is tad softer but has smoother bokeh. Both are fantastic.
    Those 2 20mm you listed are not in the same league as other nikkors listed above. Except older 20mm f3.5 UD which is great lens. 20mm f2.8 is the best among 4 versions of the 20's.

    Other not expensive but good lenses are:
    35mm f2.0 AI - My go to lens. Always on my F3
    85mm f1.8 - All are non-AI. Brilliant.
    180mm f2.8 ED - legendary. Little pricy.
    200mm f4.0 AIS - if 180mm is too much for you go for this lens. It's as good.
    55mm and 105mm micro Nikkors are stellas too.
     
  12. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    I have multiple copies of just about every lens you mentioned.

    As above, the 28mm 2.8 Ais with close focus really is excellent, Nikon took everything it learned from the 28mm f2 and put it into a cheaper smaller lighter closer focussing lens. That said, the 28mm f2 is still one of my very favorite. I'd look for this one first, even the old ones had the same optical formula and multicoating. The Ai 28mm 2.8 without CRC was an ok design, I had a few and yes it didn't fair very well against the F2 so those got sold. Not an awful lens, just doesn't compare to the better 28's.

    The 24mm 2.8 are all great. The early metal barrel (and some select K versions) had a different optical formula, very subtle changes to the look of each one but both are fine, I prefer the early version for B&W. The 24mm f2 is very interesting, decent at 5.6-8 like all Nikkors but the bokeh close in and wide open or near to it is compelling, nice if you're into that....

    OF the 20s, the one I carry the most NOW is the F4 version, only because its in the best condition and I don't need the speed of the 2.8 with the added weight. The 2.8 has more overall flare although quite contrasty and is very good close up. The 3.5 of mine is very worn, but is still sharp and despite a couple of nicks in the front element, still gives amazing images when shooting into the sun, F22 and an orange or red filter on B&W makes a very strong statement. I keep mine just for that look.

    Can't go wrong with a 105mm 2.5, epic design. Of the mid-tele's, I have had a couple of 85mm f/2's and sold a few, I keep one around because it is crazy light and small, a good 'throw it in the bag' lens. Yes, its not as Great as the others, and yes its a bit softer wide open and close in but that ends up being quite nice with the ladies. And yes, like others have mentioned on the internet, it does have a slightly more muted color, but in these digital days nothing a push on the Saturation slider won't fix. I prefer either the 85mm 1.4 Ais if I need the speed and can deal with the weight or more likely either the AF 85mm 1.8 or if I need to be Vintage then an 85mm 1.8 H.C which is well worn but still a great performer, both the 1.8 are lighter than the 1.4 enough that adding the 1.4 will mean taking out 1 or 2 other lenses from the bag. Horses for courses!

    I'm ever so slightly partial to the 50mm 1.8 Ai long nose, I feel its got the best balance of speed size weight bokeh and sharpness, as well as a delicate color rendition. But I am also very fond of the 50mm H.C, or Ai, brilliant color reproduction (really, does this have ED glass? amazing colors) and i very much like the bokeh at between f/2 and 2.8. THe H.C version doesn't focus that close but I carry a K1 Ring for those moments.

    Good luck with your search. Let us know what you get!
     
  13. agphotography

    agphotography Member

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    I love my 24mm f/2.8 AI on my F3 it's been a wonderful lens to shoot with. I also really like the 50mm f/2 I have the non-AI H version but I just ordered an AI version for a comparison. Something tells me I'm not going to find a world of difference. This lens is seriously impressive.

    I also recently got the 105mm and its every bit as good as people say. I have the older Sonnar type and it is quite nice.
     
  14. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    I own the 50:1.4 AI, and the 135:2.8 Series E - I love them both, a lot. The 50 had been rebuilt and cost me $100 from a local analogue specialist. The 135 was handed down from the lens fairy - no joke.
     
  15. Halka

    Halka Member

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    Care to elaborate on that? :smile:
     
  16. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    I like threads like these, in which we can all plug our favorite lenses with no pressure. I have enormous respect for my 24mm f/2.8 AI; it is a stellar performer. It has CRC and focuses down to 1’ by itself. Reversed, it achieves a 2.6X reproduction ratio (with a bellows, you can go up to 10X, but I’ve never tried it). The K1 extension tube works very well with the 24mm; you don’t often think of using a wide angle for close-ups, but it’s a trip when you first try it! I haven’t noticed any distortion with the 24, but I tend to want a wider lens for buildings and interiors anyway.

    My favorite telephoto is my Nikkor-Q 135mm f/3.5. It’s a beautiful lens and it kicks ass. I have a 200mm f/4 AIS, but I never really clicked with it; I get frustrated by its minimum focusing distance. The felt-lined hood is pretty bitchin though.

    All that said, the focal lengths I use the most are 18 and 50. My 18 is sort of my normal lens and I use 50mm lenses like short telephotos. It’s important to note that I shoot urban landscape and I avoid people like the plague. Everyone has different needs and everyone sees differently.

    Regarding the 28mm f/2.8 AI vs. 28mm f/2.8 AIS, Mike Johnston has stated that he prefers the AI version for its better bokeh; he shoots mostly B&W though. The only 28 I’ve personally used is the 28mm f/2.8D, which I always heard was a dog, but I like it just fine.
     
  17. destroya

    destroya Subscriber

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    have the 24mm 2.8 AI and love it on film but as mentioned, its a little soft on a FF digital. have used a few of the 50's and the only one I kept/bought was the 1.8d. if you can look past the non-ai buttery focus its a great lens that you can still get new for around $110

    also look into the 85mm f2 Ai-s lens. great lens in a very small package.
     
  18. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    agphotography: the difference is that the Ai version focusses closer, and has more multicoating so better in back light and stronger colors. The H is one of my favorites in B&W, very high contrast.
     
  19. agphotography

    agphotography Member

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    Well I thought I had ordered an AI but KEH informed me that it wasn't actually available so they refunded me. Oh well I'll continue to be happy with my H :smile:
     
  20. okto

    okto Member

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    You might be thinking of the 28/2.8 AF, which IIRC used the optics from the 28/2.8 Series E, in a massively bone-headed move. I wasn't impressed with mine even on a D200. Nice FoV, but just blah in terms of IQ.

    The 28/2.8 AF-D is a completely different optical formula.

    (I love chewin' the rag about Nikkors.)
     
  21. rwreich

    rwreich Subscriber

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    A good friend found a photog bag belonging to a family member and gave it to me. Included several lenses and my beloved FM2n w/ motor drive. Like I said, it was the lens fairy;-)
     
  22. LJSLATER

    LJSLATER Member

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    You're right, I didn't know the AF and AF-D had different optics. I have a D200 also; I got the 28mm because I was trying to find a normal lens that wasn't the 35mm f/1.8G. I was going to try the 35mm f/2D also, but before I could, I gave up on digital for my personal work.
     
  23. okto

    okto Member

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    That just warms the cockles of my heart to hear. ^_^
     
  24. okto

    okto Member

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