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  1. #1

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    Which Manual Focus Nikkor 85 is Best?

    I will be looking for a manual focus Nikkor 85. I do not need the extra speed (or cost) of a 1.4, and so a 1.8 or f/2 would be fine. I plan on using this "portrait" focal length in a somewhat atypical manner--i.e. outdoors. Thus, sharpness will be essential. In certain situations, I will use the lens in a more conventional manner, too. Which 85 would be best--the AI 1.8, 1.8 H, 1.8 HC, AI f/2...? Please be as specific as possible.

  2. #2

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    Use to own an 85 mm f/2.0. Great lens. Small and lightweight. Never had a sharpness issue.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  3. #3

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    Don't rule out AId lenses! Single-coated pre AI lenses are my favorite Nikkor glass, and they are super cheap compared to AI and later lenses. An AId lens may go for less or may go for more than an unmodified pre-AI lens, depending on which way the wind is blowing, but one will almost certainly go for less than an AI or later version. If lens speed is really not important to you, I'd go for the slowest one you can get, as it will likely be the cheapest, and will be just fine in quality.
    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)

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Don't rule out AId lenses!
    I agree. The original 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor is wonderful and you can find it AI modified.

  5. #5
    PhotoJim's Avatar
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    The AF (D or non-D) manually focuses quite nicely (not very damped but I find it to be fine). The results are spectacular.

    I use my non-D AF lens on manual bodies more often than I AF with it.
    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?

  6. #6
    John_Nikon_F's Avatar
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    This one:

    I've had two. This version, and the single coated Nikkor-H version. Both perform pretty much identically. Both lenses were factory AI'd, when I got them. Not sure if my current one (the one depicted above on my F2A) was originally sold with the AI conversion ring or not, but, that doesn't matter to me. It is my favorite lens, and, since it's the MF version, it takes 52mm filters.

    -J
    APUG: F2AS x2, F, FM2n, Nikomat FTn, FT2
    DPUG: D200
    Nikkors: 18-70/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX (f/D200), 20/3.5 UD, 24/2.8 AI, 50/2 AI, 50/2 K, 50/1.4 AI, 55/3.5 Micro PC, 55/2.8 Micro AIS, 85/1.8 K, 105/2.5 K, 135/3.5 QC

    My FB - My flickr stream
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  7. #7

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    If you are looking for the bargain of low price and high image quality, along with truly stellar build, choose a Nikkor 85mm 1.8 H or H.C. Same optics as the K series which was the forerunner of the Ai series, the H has less coatings than the H.C which truly has multi-coating. Make sure to get a good hood, the HN-7 works well, but shooting without the hood nearly wide open at a backlit portrait will grant you much praise form the subject, has a nice dreamy yet sharp quality, a Must Try with this lens. I have many 85's, 2 F2, H, H.C, the beautiful 1.4 AiS and the AF 1.8. Eventually I'll get the 1.4 AF when the new one comes out. The Scallopped Ring 1.8 H or H.C. has a great combination of price, value, build, speed, sharpness and character. I have 2 of the F2 models, the longer focussing throw Ai and the shorter throw AiS and while they are decent lenses and a handy weight and size, the MF 1.8 is a better lens.

  8. #8

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    Wow--what helpful information! I will now do some hunting :-)

  9. #9

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    I forgot to ask: is the AI H NPK version single-coated or multi-coated? In similar condition, both the AI H NPK and AI'd versions seem to be in the same price range. I will probably go for one of these two.

  10. #10

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    Since the H.C. clearly has a true multi-coating, many have assumed that the pervious series only had 'single' coating. Nikon (and a lot of other makers too) was putting more than one layer of coatings on lenses for quite a while, (especially on interior element sets, usually so the operator wouldn't "clean" them) and even stated it in product info. The full-on multi layer came after Pentax started making it a marketing thing, and everyone else had to keep up. That said the additional coatings do help with color rendition and contrast in backlit shooting, but if you shoot mostly B&W and use a hood the early series are quite sharp and have a charming character, seems to pull more subtle tones out the shadows in B&W for me. Some of my Nikkor F series have a cooler color 'tone' when shooting in color, sometimes that can add to the image impact. If you can find the H.C for good price get that one, especially if you plan on doing more color work, if not the H can be gotten for silly money and is a solid lens.

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