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  1. #1

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    What Were the Good Pre-Ai lenses?

    I'm seriously considering picking up a non-Ai body and am wondering what the standout lenses were. While I prefer 28mm, 50mm and long lenses, I'll consider anything with good bokeh and resolution. Subject matter is open mountain landscapes, flowers and city shots. Thx.
    W.A. Crider

  2. #2
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    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." Anaïs Nin

  3. #3
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    Most of them except the zooms are outstanding even by today's standards.

    But keep in mind that you don't need pre-AI lenses for a pre-AI body; AI lenses are rearward compatible. You need AI lenses for an AI body, however; pre-AI lenses are not forward compatible unless the camera has a flipable AI tab.

    In other words, AI and AI-S lenses make more sense if you ever intend to use the glass on anything other than a pre-AI body (including modern film and digital Nikons).
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 10-29-2011 at 11:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    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."

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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    Most of them except the zooms are outstanding even by today's standards.

    But keep in mind that you don't need pre-AI lenses for a pre-AI body. You just need AI lenses for an AI body.
    I thought they couldn't index for metering? I though you needed rabid ears.
    W.A. Crider

  5. #5
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waynecrider View Post
    I thought they couldn't index for metering? I though you needed rabid ears.
    http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/nikortek.htm#ai

    Check out the photos of the various lenses on that Webpage to see that AI and AI-S glass do have the meter coupler.
    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)

  6. #6

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    Only the E series lenses came without the ears, and they could be easily added for pre AI metering cameras.
    Bob

  7. #7

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    AI and AIS manual focus Nikkors communicate aperture preset ring position with F, F2, and Nikkormat bodies via the meter coupling prongs (“gunsight”) on the outside of the aperture preset ring on the lens. This connects to the meter coupling pin on the body or finder.

    AI and AIS lenses communicate with AI, AIS, and AF bodies via the shoulder of the meter coupling ridge cut into the rear of the aperture preset ring. This connects to a rotating ring about the lens mount.

    Some folks have the correct “shoulder” machined into the rear of the preset ring on original F-mount (“non-AI”) lenses to give the older lens AI compatibility.

    Thus, you can use most AI or AIS lenses on any Nikon F body. The only exception is that the PROGRAM cameras, such as the FG, FA, and others require the signal notch of AIS lenses cut with the periphery of a thin milling machine cutter into the rear surface of the lens mount at one of two different depths signifying:

    1. Lens is less than 135mm (or if it is a zoom, its maximum focal length is less than 135mm). In this case the spring-loaded plunger switch of the body will instruct the camera to use the low speed program up to a certain range of light levels.

    2. Lens is 135mm or greater (or if a zoom, its maximum focal length is 135mm or greater). In this case the different depth of the “S” (maximum focal length Signal notch) will instruct the camera to switch to high speed program at a lower light level to avoid blurred shots from slower shutter speeds.

    The Series E (“Economy”) manual focus Nikkors have no meter coupling prong and so can’t communicate with the meter of F, F2, or Nikkormat cameras.

    Other than the restriction on PROGRAM bodies, you can use and AI or AIS lenses on almost any Nikon manual focus body and the position of the aperture preset ring will be communicated to the meter.

  8. #8

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    To answer the OP question, I'll stick it out and say of the Non-Ai series, the 85 f/1.8, 24mm f/2.8, 35mm f/1.4, 28mm f/2 are the best. Maybe throw in the 50mm f/2 H as well.

  9. #9

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    Standouts? There's hundreds of scientific, pseudo-scientific, and barroom reviews of Nikkors on the web. Few take into account unit and batch variations and many are "judged" in a manner that is patently inaccurate, such as the sharpness of tree leaves, as if the wind never moves them. Nikon often made design and optical changes and didn't make a big deal of it. Only by knowing you need 'this serial number or earlier', or 'that serial number or later' can you be mildly sure of something. (Whatever that might be. An Italian bicycle builder once said "A little mystery will keep us employed.")

    I have three bogus rules I follow if I'm buying: 1. Try and ignore emotion. 2. Later lenses handle flair better (because of better coating technology). 3. Hand-holding and film speed destroys resolving power. Full stop. So you might want to throw away the charts.

    With that out of the way here's *my* list of pre-Ai standouts:

    Any 105mm f/2.5. Truly, the Alpha and Omega of Nikkors.
    50mm f/2
    24mm f/2.8

    If you want my desert island scenario it's

    28mm f/2
    50mm f/2
    105

    Good luck, work 'em hard whatever you get, and don't forget to have fun.

    s-a

  10. #10
    CGW
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    Stick to the links in #2. Rorslett's probably owned and shot more Nikkors than anyone here.

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