Understanding Nikon Glass

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Derek Lofgreen, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Subscriber

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    Okay, I need your help understanding what is what on Nikon lenses. I am buying an F4s and want to get a good all around sharp fist lens. I am new to the Nikon side of things and don't even know what to look for. What does G and D mean? AI etc.? Any help to get me started would be great.

    Thanks,
    D.
     
  2. Dave Mueller

    Dave Mueller Member

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    D means the lens has a CPU inside that provides focus distance to the camera, used in Nikon's "3D Matrix Metering". G means it does not have a manual aperture ring, therefore it can only be used on the newer cameras. Look around, somewhere I've seen a chart that shows which lenses work with which camera, and what functions are/are not available. AI and AI-S are older lens features that I think won't matter for the F4.
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The MIR website has lots of info on Nikons.

    First lens? The 50mm F/1.8. New it's not much money.
     
  4. r-brian

    r-brian Member

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    The AI and AI-S lenses are manual focus lenses. They will work on a F4. AF and AF-D are auto focus lenses. The D lenses provides distance information (thus the D) from the camera to the dedicated Nikon flash to provide a better flash exposure. I've used non-D lenses on D camera bodies with and without flash.

    What first lens is a difficult answer. The 50mm f1.8 AF is a very good lens at a very good price if you like and can live with just a normal lens. Personally, I'm not a normal lens shooter. You could look for a 35-70 f2.8 AF or AF-D, an absolutely great lens.
     
  5. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    I agree. I have this zoom and can attest that it is a great shooter.

    Obviously not as fast as the 50/1.8 but plenty fast enough with a nice f/l range. I usually carry my 28mm with it and find it to be a great "day trip" kit.
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    What focal lengths do you like?

    Some good prospects, depending on your preferences:

    Autofocus:
    AF 24/2.8 (D or non-D)
    AF 28/2.8D
    AF 35/2 (D or non-D)
    AF 50/1.8 (D or non-D) or /1.4 (D or non-D)
    AF 85/1.8 (D or non-D)
    AF 28-105/3.5-4.5D
    AF 35-70/2.8
    AF 35-80/4-5.6D (with metal lens mount, i.e. first version) (a real sleeper lens)
    AF 35-105/3.5-4.5D
    Any of the f/2.8 zooms

    Manual focus:
    I won't cover the focal lengths already mentioned above, although some of the manual equivalents are well worth pursuing
    AI or AI-S 105/2.5
    AI or AI-S 200/4

    Rules of thumb about lenses for the F4:

    - VR will never work (nor will it hurt)
    - G lenses won't work in manual or aperture priority mode, but work in program mode and shutter priority
    - AF-S lenses do autofocus - the F4 is the oldest Nikon that supports AF-S. In fact, it was released long before AF-S even existed.
    - the D feature is not important. The F4 doesn't support it, but nor will it hurt. Buy D lenses if you have or plan to acquire a D body (F50/70/90/90x/100 family or newer, plus the F5 and F6) and the price isn't that much more.
    - manual-focus lenses work well on the F4. AI and AI-S lenses support matrix metering (which even the F5 can't do) as well as aperture priority and manual exposure modes. AI-converted lenses work the same except you lose matrix metering.

    In short: prefer AI/AI-S manual lenses and non-G AF lenses, but all will work to some degree.

    Jim
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I agree with the above. As a general resouce, it's not a bad idea to pilfer the data at photodo and photozone.de to get an idea of what is what. There are no dogs in the current Nikon lineup; likewise, I don't know of any bad older Nikkor lenses; I only had one bad experience with a new Nikon lens and that was one of the very first 80-400 VR offerings, but I understand that it has now been greatly improved and even the nutty 18-200 VR is said to be pretty decent. However, there are some *awesome* Nikkor lenses and some like the 50/1.8 that give truly remarkable bang for the buck.

    Incidentally, I suspect that the very best zoom in Nikon's current lineup is the 70-200 VR, and the best prime in their current lineup is perhaps the 105/2.8 VR, if one factors in distortion and VR and all that, which isn't relevant unless you plan to get a VR-compatible body. But there are many, many very fine and much less expensive non-VR or manual lenses. The older Nikon primes are excellent. My favourite walkaround lens is a manual focus 105/1.8. Love that thing.

    If you have the $$$ and don't mind manual focus then consider the Zeiss ZF lenses for Nikon mount.
     
  8. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Subscriber

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    Great info guys, thanks. No I know what to look for. I'll keep you posted with my first roll through the camera.

    D.
     
  9. Squidward

    Squidward Member

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    By all means avoid any DX lens. These are intended to be used with digital SLRs and will give you differing amounts of vignetting due to the smaller image circle.

    Back in the '80s Nikon came out with an economy line of lenses called the Series E lenses. These are less expensive lenses that have almost the same optical quality as the regular lenses that Nikon produces but they use more plastics in its construction (including some lens elements!).

    The F4 is unique in the Nikon lineup because it bridges the gap between the older manual focus lenses and the newer AF stuff. Even the rare F3AF lenses will work with the F4. The meter coupling prong can be flipped out of the way so that unmodified lenses made between 1959 and 1977 can be used (albeit in stop-down metering mode) with this camera as well. It's probably the most versatile Nikon camera made in terms of lens compatibility.
     
  10. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Welcome to the Nikon side of things.

    The only mention I'll make is to be aware that the build of the new 50mm F1.8D is not up to the good ol' Nikon standards I know. If you can find the previous "N" version I'd go with that instead if you want a 50mm. I believe the "N" version was built around the same time as the F4. I had one for my old 8008s camera and stupidly sold it. Same great glass without the D function which is no big deal unless your shooting alot of lighted portraits and even at that I never had a problem.

    Personally I prefer the 35mm F2 as a general shooter. 2nd lens would be a 24mm wide or the 50mm, but that's just me. I find the 35mm more useful in the city or in tighter quarters as a first lens.
     
  11. marsbars

    marsbars Member

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    I will second an AI or AIs lens in 50mm f/1.8. Great lens, fast and sharp. I would prefer the 1.4 but the premium for the 1/2 stop isnt worth it to me.
     
  12. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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  13. rkmiec

    rkmiec Member

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    i had a nikon f5 and for lenses i had a 85 1.8 non d lens,what a great lens for sharpness and it is not to expensive.also i had a 180.2.8d lens.wow what a great lens and i miss this the most
    also i had a 24-120 and that lens was garbage,in retrospect i should have sent it in for a check but i didnt know that was an option.goodluck
     
  14. panastasia

    panastasia Member

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    Regarding fixed focal length lenses (any brand): I've found that, for general purpose, a 28mm is far more useful than a 24mm (more distortion) or 35mm (not always wide enough). For longer focal lengths the 80mm, or 85mm is more useful for portrait and still life subjects because of the pleasing perspective and shallow depth-of field. The standard 50mm is useful for low light conditions because of the f-stop advantage, otherwise, I never used it much. I used a 28 and 85 90% of the time. I'm now using a 28-100 zoom all the time when shooting 35mm format because maximum image quality is not an issue - I use MF for that.

    I never cared for more exotic (extreme) focal lengths for various reasons, a 200mm being the exception because it gives a flat field look w/distant objects such as: sunsets, mountain peaks, portraits (close) and the like.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2008
  15. Alden

    Alden Member

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    No one mentioned the 55 Micro? Sharpest and most used lens out of twelve total Nikon lenses I own, all manual, all primes.
    I even bought the older 3.5, and found the contrast to be best of all. No.2 35mm f/1.4, and No. 3 85mm f/1.8
     
  16. timeslicer

    timeslicer Member

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    Ionly use manual focus primes on my F4. They balance well on the camera and as you will apreciate the viewfinder is outstanding making autofocus unnecessary in my view. Using a 35,50 or105mm on the F4 gives a great handling experiece, best of any 35mm in my view, and reminds me why I enjoy cameras and photograpy so much.
     
  17. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    For manual focus primes that are relatively inexpensive- the 24/2.8, 35/2, 50/2, and 105/2.5. AI and AI converted lenses are generally heavier built than those that followed. The early AIS lenses had a problem with a new type of lubricant being used that flows onto the aperture blades. Later AIS lenses corrected this, so it is worthwhile checking for oil on the blades.
     
  18. marsbars

    marsbars Member

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    Although I don't own a F4 I do own an F3 and the three lenses that I have narrowed things down to for my bag is the 24-mm f/2.8 , 50-mm f/1.8 , and a 135 mm f/2.8. They span a pretty good focal length. All have yielded sharp images. I would like to add a decent zoom for an all purpose lens, however I have yet to find one that suits me at a good price. I would say that unless you need the AF for the shooting you plan to do, I would go with the MF lenses as they are pretty abundant and pretty cheap on the used market.
    Also I will second checking out the MIR site. Very informative.
    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonf4/index.htm
    That link will take you right to the sites page on the F4.