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  1. #1
    EASmithV's Avatar
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    Nikkor 105mm AI-d or AI-S

    I'm thinking about getting either a factory AI-d pre-ai 105 or a newer AI-S. Are they optically the same? I read somewhere that the AI-d lenses weren't true AI lenses, and sometimes threw off some camera bodies. Is this true?

    Also, what other differences are there? Coatings? I quite like the way my 50mm f1.4 pre-AI looks.

    The answer probably is to go with the AI-S lens, but for portrait work, what would you prefer?
    www.EASmithV.com

    "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."— Dorothea Lange
    http://www.flickr.com/easmithv/
    RIP Kodachrome

  2. #2

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    I use the pre-AI 105 f2.5 single coat. You should see what it does on a Canon dSLR with an adapter.
    5x7 Eastman-Kodak kit / B+M 135mm Zeiss Tessar + Compur Deckel
    RB67 Pro S /50 4.5 / 90 3.8 / 180 4.5 / WLF / prism finder / polaback
    FED-2 / 50 2.8 Industar 26m / 85 f2 Jupiter-9
    Canon 300v / A2

  3. #3

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    It depends. The pre-Ai lens can be the old Sonnar-type, or the new Xenotar-type (same as AI and AIS versions). You can find out by checking the serial number: photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html#105
    The Sonnar-type lens has smaller rear element; they also have a distinctly different design compared to newer Xenotar-type lenses.

    Optical construction aside, there are more differences between the two designs. The Sonnar-type lens was only produced single-coated, with 6 or 9 (!) aperture blades. (I have both versions). The first Xenotar-type Nikkor-P 105/2.5 (s/n 407301 and up) was single-coated, and had 7 rounded aperture blades. The next one up was labeled Nikkor-P.C. 105/2.5, and was already multi-coated (an early version of NIC multocoating were used). The AI version had updated NIC (Nikon Integrated Coating) MC, still 7 rounded aperture blades. The subsequent AIS version had 7 straight aperture blades, and had NIC multi-coating. But that's not the end; in early 2000's, Nikon switched to another type of MC they named "SIC" (Super Integrated Coating); these were applied to AIS Nikkor 105/2.5 with serial numbers in the 103xxxx-105xxxx range (approximately; the 105,xxxx lens that I have already has SIC coatings on it; lenses earlier than 103xxxx may be iffy).

    Hope that answers the technical part of your question. Now, what you will prefer for portraits is a totally different matter of personal taste. Me, I have most versions of this lens, from the very early 9-bladed Sonnar-type to the latest SIC-coated AIS version. They render images in a very different way. Modern MC versions are sharp, very contrasty, producing smooth background rendering and lots of "pop" or "3D" in the images. I like that. However, the early Sonnar-type lens makes nice, well-rounded portraits with beautiful color gradations and that somewhat vintage, characteristic Sonnar look that's simply missing from the newer (and, technically, better) AIS lens.

    I took (and printed) many great shots with AI and AIS 105's... but my favorite portrait was shot with an old Sonnar-type lens.

  4. #4
    EASmithV's Avatar
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    Judging by what you said, it sounds like I'd prefer a Sonnar type. Which lens focuses closer?
    www.EASmithV.com

    "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."— Dorothea Lange
    http://www.flickr.com/easmithv/
    RIP Kodachrome

  5. #5

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    I think the new one focuses closer (1m). The old one focuses to 1.2m only.

  6. #6
    OldBodyOldSoul's Avatar
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    Not overly, if at all, important, but the AI-S version has a built-in hood and shorter focus throw.

  7. #7

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    My 105mm f2.5 focuses to around two feet or so, judging by the scale on it...and yes, I've actually used the hood. It's a wonderful portrait lens, and it does make a very "snappy" image...which I tend to like. In fact, this is one of the lenses that taught me that every lens does, in fact, have a personality all its own...there are subtleties within the glass that will show up in ways not merely represented by focal length and speed. As such, the 105 is a good lens to pair with Tri-X/Diafine if you like a darker feel in the images...or if you like to have a bit of "grit" (not grain, there's a difference). I'm also sort of looking forwards to seeing what it will do with a pyro negative.

    The pre-AI 50mm f1.4 is a cool-looking lens, is it not? I have "better" lenses but I still just really like that one.

  8. #8

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    I also have that pre-AI 50 1.4, it's a fantastic piece of glass and has the creamiest bokeh I have ever seen. Very sharp even wide open.

    I do have better lenses but they all cost thousands of dollars.
    5x7 Eastman-Kodak kit / B+M 135mm Zeiss Tessar + Compur Deckel
    RB67 Pro S /50 4.5 / 90 3.8 / 180 4.5 / WLF / prism finder / polaback
    FED-2 / 50 2.8 Industar 26m / 85 f2 Jupiter-9
    Canon 300v / A2

  9. #9

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    I have the non-Ai Sonnar type, and it is one of the finest 35mm lenses I have ever used. Incredibly sharp for distance, and a really great portrait lens.

    edit- a great source for Nikon info http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography.../htmls/models/

  10. #10

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    Which 105/2.5 Nikkor

    No manual focus 105mm f/2.5 Nikkors focus to two feet unless they have been modified. Not all pre-AI 105mm f/2.5 Nikkors are "single coated." The 105mm f/2.5 'K' Nikkor, the 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor PC and the earlier all black 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor P are all multicoated. Any coating improvement after the black P lens was very minor. The 'K' lens with the factory AI conversion ring is sometimes mistaken for the AI lens. To tell the difference you need to look at the color of the minimum aperture number and the tab which protrudes from the rear of the lens.

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