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Thread: 28/2 AI vs AIS

  1. #1

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    28/2 AI vs AIS

    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

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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. #3

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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. #4
    Marc Akemann's Avatar
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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

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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 spiralcity; 12-16-2007 at 03:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  6. #6
    Marc Akemann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spiralcity View Post
    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.
    ....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

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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. #8

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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. #9
    stradibarrius's Avatar
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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???
    "Generalizations are made because they are generally true"
    Flicker http://www.flickr.com/photos/stradibarrius
    website: http://www.dudleyviolins.com
    Barry
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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!"
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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