Fastest Lens for Nikon F Mount?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Fragomeni, Jun 28, 2011.

  1. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Hi all,

    Just kind of curious here and my searches haven't turned up a definitive answer. What is the fastest lens made for the Nikon F mount? To my knowledge, the fastest lens Nikon has made is the f1.2. Anything faster out there for this mount? Thanks!

    P.S. One more question. Is there a Nikon F metered prism that will fit the original Nikon F body? Thanks!
     
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  2. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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  3. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    And the f/1.2 Nikkor lens wasn't much to write home about.
     
  4. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The Nikkor? There were three:

    55mm f/1.2 (non-AI)
    50mm f/1.2
    50mm f/1.2 NOCT

    The latter was stupendous, but horridly expensive.
     
  5. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    The 55 1.2 is derided all over the net.
    I have one and like it for what it does.

    Contrast can suffer at large apertures but I don't find it to be "the dog" a lot of net experts claim.

    In it's defense most normal 1.4's (I own about 5 of various manufacture) aren't that great wide open either.



    btw the Noct Nikkor was a 58mm focal length
     
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  6. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Agreed, sir.

    I still have the one I purchased new when I bought my F2 in the early 70s. I was in college and working at Disneyland for rent and food money. I wanted a lens that would allow photographs in very low light, since I was working night shifts and wanted to wander around after I was off. This lens did the trick nicely. And still does, as I still use the same camera/lens combination today.

    I think that if the choice is between a slightly less than optimum quality photo, or no photo at all, there is no argument to be made. And unfortunately a NOCT was light-years out of the question.

    Ken
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    The 55 1.2 is the worst of the bunch...but it is still good IMO. If you need f/1.2, you more than likely have more to worry about than extreme edge-to-edge sharpness and lack of aberrations. I love my Canon 55mm f/1.2 S.S.C., and it performs similarly to the Nikkor 55 f/1.2. I like it's ability to go "dreamy" and "shaky" when wide open. I have borrowed the Nikon 55 1.2 many times from a friend, but never bought one for myself, since it is pretty much exactly like my Canon lens I mentioned.

    The 50mm f/1.2 AI-S (still sold brand spanking new for about $700) is notably "better." And once you stop down one stop, it is unbeaten by anything as fast and as affordable. Stop down past f/2.0, and it has no real advantage over the slower 50mm lenses.

    The 58mm f/1.2 Noct-Nikkor is incredible at f/1.2. But they cost thousands of dollars. And once you start stopping down, you won't see a difference between it and the AI-S, except maybe that the AI-S will be a bit "better" at your everyday f stops. Not worth the money for a one-trick pony, IMO.

    The 50mm AI-S is the best compromise in the world of Nikon f/1.2 lenses, the way I see it. You can get them new for $700, or used for $300 to $500 depending on condition. It is very good wide open, an as good or better than any other f/1.2 Nikkor when stopped down.

    My comments above relate only to the 1.2 lenses. The best 50mm lens in terms of all-around optical performance is the 50mm f/1.8 AI (not AI-S, which I believe used the Series E optics), by far. The f/1.2 AI-S beats the f/1.8 AI up to and including f/2.0. Past f/2.0, there is no difference that I can tell, except that the f/1.8 has no distortion worthy of mentioning (and is much smaller and lighter). And it is also the cheapest. Go figure. But if you need f/1.2, you need f/1.2. Just think about whether you really need it before you pass on the sub-$100 50mm f/1.8 AI. My two cents. YMMV.

    The 50mm f/1.4, while extremely popular, is kind of pointless IMO, given the choices on either side of it. It's optical performance is good, but not "stunning" like the f/1.8, and it does not give you that much more speed. It also can suffer from some focus shift at the wider apertures. That can kill you when shooting at close focusing distances. What good is a wide aperture if what you focused on doesn't come out in focus on the neg? This being said, if you come across one for cheap, go for it. They are fine all-around lenses, and they give you f/1.4 if you need it.

    The 50mm f/2.0 lenses are nearly as good as the f/1.8 ones, and can be had super cheaply. This would be my recommendation for the best "dirt cheap" Nikon 50mm. This or a Series E.
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I have one and love it. Killer lens.
     
  9. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Yea, my fav is a 50 f/2 H but the OP wants speed.

    I had the pancake 1.8 and an ai f/2 but was too green at that time to really form an opinion other than "woah".
     
  10. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    P.S. Sorry that I did not really answer the question.

    AFAIK, f/1.2 is the fastest F mount lens.

    You can get metered prisms for the Fs. In fact, they are much more common than the standard prisms. And they came in at least four different types that I can think of (Photomic, Photomic T, Photomic TN, and Photomic FTn). Some are interchangeable and some are not. But due to the fact that they were designed for obsolete batteries, you will have to do some modifications to make the meter work properly.
     
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  11. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    Wow, thanks for all of the input everyone! It is very much appreciated. There's definitely a need for speed as far as I'm concerned which was the reason I posted my question in the first place. I'm somewhat surprised that Nikon never made a faster lens with Canon producing the f0.95 and Leica's f1 Noctilux (not to mention the current f0.95 version). Lets not let this spiral into a conversation about people's opinions of those lenses. There are some that love them and some that don't, nuff said. Are there any f-mount lenses made by other manufactures that exceed Nikon's f1.2 limit? I'm not talking about modifying lenses here, I mean lenses made by third party manufactures specifically for the Nikon f-mount.

    As to the metered prisms, any of the Photomic, Photomic T, Photomic TN, and Photomic FTn prisms will fit the original F body? Just clarifying.
     
  12. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Depends on when your body was made.

    Early F bodies require modification for the FTN finders to fit.
    The other Photomics should fit all bodies.
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hi,

    All of these were F prisms. However, there are compatibility issues. My Photomic FTn (c. '69) will not mount on my earlier body (c. '67) which has a Photomic T, for one. And I do not believe that anything other than the original Photomic will mount on pre-Photomic T bodies, unless there is a red dot denoting modification of the earlier body by the company.

    I think all of the compatibility problems are rearward. My T prism from my '67 Nikon F mounts on my '69 F body just fine, but as I mentioned, the '67 body will not take the FTn finder from the '69 Nikon F. This is cured by filing the nameplate. But I am thinking that taking the nameplate off might work as well. (I don't care, myself. I don't feel a need to ever swap them, and I don't use the meters anyhow. I just tried it once because I was curious.)

    You can also mount F2 finders on an F if you remove the Nikon nameplate from the camera.
     
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  15. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    My F was made in 1965.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    So, your camera is either:

    1) made for the original Photomic head, and not modified to accept the T heads (and will also take the later TNs)
    2) made for the original Photomic head, and modified to accept the T heads (and will also take the later TNs)
    3) made for the Photomic T head

    T and TN heads have the same exact compatibility with bodies TMK.

    If option 1, it needs the original Photomic prism. But that is good; IMO it is the best in-camera light meter ever made, because it is actually an incident meter when you put the disc on (or reflected or narrow field if desired).

    If option 2, then you can also use the Photomic T and the Photomic TN, I believe. But not the Photomic FTn without also modifying (or maybe removing) the nameplate. And it can probably also take the original Photomic prism (the one that I think is so great), though I do not know that for sure.

    If option 3, it's compatibility is the same as with option 2. The only difference is that it came from the factory specifically to take the Photomic T head, instead of being modified to take it.
     
  17. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    If someone can give you a picture of early vs. late F's the difference is at the back under the eyepiece. on the newer camera, there is a wider section to clear the eyepiece of the meter head.
     
  18. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Go here
    http://www.destoutz.ch/typ_mirror-boxes.html#type5

    You need mirror housing type 5 to fit the FTn
    Look at the ridge (right in front of where eyepiece would be) where the finder snaps on. The ridge is cut back on the later bodies.

    There is also a nameplate issue. Early nameplates will not take the front 2 fingers that hold the Ftn finder in place.

    I think the FT and earlier finders will fit all bodies but am not 100% sure.
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    You mean the Photomic T finder, right? There was no FT finder technically, though "FT" is a common nickname for the whole "Nikon F Photomic T" camera.

    If so, it and the TN finder share compatibility TMK. But they are not compatible with non-modified early bodies that do not have the cutout for the finder. They will go forward onto bodies that came with an FTn finder, though (but not vice versa).

    As for the lens, if you need f/1.2, you basically have two main choices within reason. (I have counted out the Noct, because that is a rich crazy person's lens. :D) You have the 55mm f/1.2 and the 50mm f/1.2 AI-S. The choice will come down to budget, and to what comes along and for what price. I say if you can afford it, go for the AI-S hands down. If you can't swing 4 or 5 hundred bucks, and you find a 55mm f/1.2 for a few hundred, go for it. Also go for the 55 if you don't mind slightly soft images with distortion and aberrations.
     
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  20. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    My F matches Mirror Housing Type 4 on the page Bruce linked to.
     
  21. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    Yes, I meant Tn, T, Photomic with switch and Photomic with flag, whew hahah.
    All these should fit the non cutout type ridge...correct?

    It's crazy but the info is out there if you look.

    The only one that is a problem is the FTn (not the Tn). It needs the shorter cutout ridge, and the nameplate with beveled lower corners.
     
  22. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Hi,

    As I understand it, it is only the early bodies made for the original Photomic finder that have a cutout that is too small. Thus, these bodies, if unmodified, will not take anything but the original Photomic head.

    My FTn head fits into the back of my body that was designed for a T head (thus also a TN head). It is the FTn clips and the name plate that interfere when I try this, not the rear eyepiece cutout.

    Again, there is the original Photomic head, the Photomic T head, the Photomic TN head, and the Photomic FTn head.
    To refer to the entire camera with any of these heads mounted, insert "Nikon F" in front of the name of the metering head. The flag is only on the original Photomic head, and only on early ones, not on any of the models with letters after "Photomic." Late Photomic heads used a switch, as did all that followed.

    So, three main varieties:

    1) Photomic, which is the only one that works fine with the small cutout - early models had a flag, later models a switch
    2) Photomic T/Photomic TN - identical compatibility AFAIK - both need large cutout - working difference is metering pattern
    3) Photomic FTn - rotate aperture ring to index the lens - uses clips on front - requires large cutout and beveled nameplate

    I believe that each main type will go forward without problems, but neither will go back without modification.
     
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  23. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    When you say designed for the T, what type ridge does the mirror box/body have?

    I'm trying to sort this out once and for all.
    So the old ridge style will interfere with anything but the "Photomic" finder (the first 2 types)?
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    When I said designed for the T/TN, I meant a body with the large cutout, but without beveled edges on the nameplate.
     
  25. dehk

    dehk Member

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    50 1.2, or non F Nikkor will be the Nikon TV-Nikkor 35mm f/0.9 . Fastest Nikkor ever made.
     
  26. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Here is a back-to-back comparison of a camera designed for a T finder and a camera designed for an FTn finder. Both have the large rear cutout. (I just shot these with my computer camera so it would be quick and easy.)

    [​IMG]

    The source of interference when trying to mount an FTn head on an earlier body is with the nameplate's lack of bevels, not with the rear cutout.

    The only bodies with the small cutout were those made prior to the T head. And many of those were modified to take the later heads. But even if they have been modified, they will not take the FTn head without beveling the nameplate.

    In short, the only bodies compatible with every metering head are the bodies designed for FTn heads, or those modified to mimic them.