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  1. #1
    Derek Lofgreen's Avatar
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    Understanding Nikon Glass

    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.
    My Photography Site www.lofgreenimages.com and My Blog

  2. #2

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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. #3

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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. #4

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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. #5
    copake_ham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by r-brian View Post
    .... You could look for a 35-70 f2.8 AF or AF-D, an absolutely great lens.
    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. #6
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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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
    Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

    A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.

    Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?

  7. #7
    keithwms's Avatar
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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.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  8. #8
    Derek Lofgreen's Avatar
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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.
    My Photography Site www.lofgreenimages.com and My Blog

  9. #9

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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. #10

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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.
    W.A. Crider

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