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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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
55/2.8 AIS Micro
105/2.8 AIS Micro
135/2.8 AIS or Series E
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.
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!
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.
Originally Posted by msbarnes
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.
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?