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AI/AIS Nikkors

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  1. RidingWaves
    Aloha all, I've got a ton of Nikkors and do much of my own lens CLA's so if you need help, let me know! ALoha
  2. John_Nikon_F
    Cool. If I have an issue that can't be solved locally, I'll look you up... Currently have a few myself. Three AIS lenses (20f2.8, 55f2.8 with properly working diaphragm and smooth focus, and a 300f4.5 EDIF) and five pre-AI lenses, four of which have been converted to AI spec using factory AI rings. Bodies are an F4s, the F3P depicted in my avatar, F2A, FM2n, and a couple non-AI bodies.

  3. RidingWaves
    Love the F3P, my most used camera. Don't let that 55 get too hot.
  4. John_Nikon_F
    Been lucky so far. Took my original 55 to Montana in the summer of '91, then to Colorado in the summer of '93, yet, it still worked perfectly, unlike the 135f2.8 Nikkor AI'd that I owned. That one did develop a gummy diaphragm...

    Oh, btw, thanks on the F3P. It's currently without an MD-4. Makes it harder to do time exposures, since one of the other bodies has to be used, unless I use the self-timer, or set it on "T". But, that's ok.

  5. RidingWaves
    Well, I've discovered some additional reasons as to why the Ai 85mm f2 gets such a bad reputation. I got mine as a lightweight alternative to the 105mm 2.5, 85mm 1.8 H.C and the 85mm 1.4 Ais. The focus was stiff, with the rear mount screws locked down tight, typical Ai stuff. I didn't want to break into it since I got it for a good deal and it was quite clean. Well, shooting at a wedding at the reception I launched it onto the floor, hardwood and it took more of a slide then drop, I was on my knees changing lenses and that one got away. Quick check was severely restrained focusing, so into the guts I went over this last week.

    So I daub on the lube on all the right spots, let it sit for a few days to soak in and start opening it up. Inside, WOW. Very similar to the Ai 135mm 2.8, which is to say, Trouble. So many points of design, manufacturing, and assembly that conspire to fail, or at least not work very well.

    I'll bet that Nikon had a few heads rolling when the Ai hit the fan. Seems to me that with the early Nikkors, up to the mid 70's, the metal barrelled lenses had exquisite design, manufacturing, and assembly. Yes they are heavy, and yes they have a lot of screws (slotted and thin, with soft metal so strips are common), but most of the time they are built to last. They probably cost Nikon a lot to make, and no doubt took a fair bit of time to make.
    Fast forward to the mid to late 70's. Competition increases, and sales go up, and I think this put pressure to make a more simplified design for the manufacturing cost side. The internals of the Ai series reflects this, using smaller helicoid rings and a more standardized apeture assembly. But the Ai was a failure IMO. They cut costs on the raw side, but the design of the internals were excessively fiddly, causing sample variation from poor workmanship. (I don't blame the worker, putting together a 135mm 2.8 is and was hell, I'd go nuts if it did that lens every day for a week.) I have no doubt that many Ai lenses were returned to be fixed, and I'd say that could be even worse, the Ai internals made for regular adjustments or repairs nearly impossible to do correctly.
    By the Ais series, Nikon has fixed the problem. Many parts are stamped instead of milled, fixed into place by lighter screws and secured by the infamous Red Glue. The internal design more closely mimics the early metal barrel series, but with subtle cost savings in materials and parts. Top of the line lenses such as the 85mm 1.4 resemble the early lenses very closely.

    So my advice, having been into the depths of Ai. If you are looking for a specific lens, if its made in Ais, that is the most preferred. If there is a choice between a more worn Ais and a 'mint but stiff' Ai, I think I'd still take the Ais. A cheap Ai that has a stiff focus may seem like a good deal but there is way more to go wrong inside. If you get a CLA on it there may not be that great of an improvement.

    So, I did fix the little 85mm. Took 2 weeks, and it still has a bit of a slow section of focus which I'm sure will work out in time. Nice and sharp as well. I sure wish I'd waited for an Ais version though..
  6. John_Nikon_F
    Interesting. With respect to AI lenses and the late non-AI lenses made prior to the AI update, I haven't had that experience, except with that one late 135f2.8 that was AI converted. I do find that I prefer the longer focusing throw of the AI lenses to the AIS lenses, though. At the moment, I don't have any factory AI lenses, but have two AI'd 50f2 Nikkor-H's (one Nippon Kogaku version and one Nikon version), the AI'd 85f1.8 K-series lens, a Nikkor-NC 24f2.8 AI'd, a Nikkor-O 35f2 AI'd, and three AIS lenses, those being my 20f2.8, 55f2.8 (fourth lens that I've had, and, like the other three, no problems), and 300f4.5 EDIF.

  7. Uncle Bill
    Uncle Bill
    Since I own a F3HP, a FM and a FE I should join the sister group to my Pre-AI Group. To date my only AI(S) lenses include a 35-105 F3.5 Macro AIS, 28 f2.8 AI, 50 F1.8 AIS, 50 1.4 AIS and a 105 f2.5 AIS. I would love to get a 35 f2 lens at some point but I find them thin on the ground and once in a while I get to use my brother's Nikkor 20 f2.8 AIS lens.
  8. John_Nikon_F
    Bill, they're out there. Another possibility is to grab a Nikkor-O 35f2 or Nikkor-OC 35f2 with the AI conversion ring. Then, it'll be allowed into both groups.

  9. Uncle Bill
    Uncle Bill
    The Ai/S 35/2 is on the wish along with other lenses, with my contract coming to an end shortly (and no work currently on the horizon) I'll make do with an O in stop down mode on my F3HP, FE and FM.
  10. John_Nikon_F
    Do you currently own said "O"? If so, take it to a repair shop and get them to mill the aperture ring to AI spec. If not, keep your eyes peeled on eBait, KEH, etc, for an AI'd "O". Can be had for less than $100.

  11. titrisol
    Some AIs lenses were a good improvement, among those the Micro55/2.8 (even though a lot of people prefer the old 3.5) the 28/2.8 and the 105/2.5
    I wish I could get an 18 or a 135 (my favorite tele)... just keep looking
  12. f2john
    Here is another place the get a lens AI'd. http://www.aiconversions.com/PricesAndShipping.htm . I've never used him as my lenses are all non AI since I have an early F2. HTH
  13. Sanjay Sen
    Sanjay Sen
    Since I have and use a lot of Nikon gear, almost all manual focus, I thought it would be a good idea to join this group. The gear that gets the most use are my FM2n with a 50/1.4 Nikkor, and the F3HP.
  14. brass majestic
    brass majestic
    I'm joining this group because I figure I'll get, I hope, a quicker answer to a question. I have a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor -S that is fairly ancient w/a serial #414474. It was a pre AI lens that I had converted. Does anybody remember when they, after making the cut, glued the strip of aperature numbers right behind the prong coupler. It's stayed there all these years - I don't remember when I had it converted, maybe 15 - 20 years ago?? But now it's come loose and started to fade and get worn and I'm told that Nikon does not supply them (no surprise). Question; Does anyone here know if the strips can be had or, if possible, can I get the whole ring replaced or should I just spring for another newer AI 50mm 1.4. Thanks.
  15. John_Nikon_F
    William Sampson of the Nikon MF Yahoo forum can fix that, as can John White. Search on Google for "John White AI Conversion" or "William Sampson AI Conversion" and they should pop up.

  16. ken472
    I'm fairly new to apug but I love anything Nikon and I don't have any no-AI stuff, so I thought this would be a good group to join. I currently have a FE-2, FM2n and FM. They are all black versions. I wanted the FM2n for several years and when I finally could afford one I found I like the FE-2 better. I found I like the viewfinder display better in the FE-2.I have several lenses including my most used 50-135 f/3.5.this lens is awsome. I also love my 105 f/2.5.
    Does anyone else prefer the FE-2 to the FM2n? What's your favorite Nikon lens?
  17. cooltouch
    Howdy folks,

    Just joined. At present, I don't own any AI or AIs compatible Nikons -- just an old and beloved F2 with meterless DE-1 eye level prism finder. I've owned several AI-compatible Nikons, however. Ken, I'm like you -- I also prefer the FE/FE2 over their FM equivalents for the same reason. I prefer a match-needle metering arrangement. Both the FE-2 and FM2n are great cameras, though.

    About half the Nikkors I own are AI or AIs glass: a 24/2.8, 28/2.8, 50/1.4, and 80-200/4.5. I also own a 35/2 and 105/2.5 that have been AI'd (by Nikon with the proper aperture ring), plus I own a non-converted Pre-AI 55/3.5 Micro. I also own a couple of CPO long teles that are preset T-mount lenses -- a 500/5.6 and a 650/6.8. Both of these old lenses are quite sharp and contrasty. For flash work, I have a Metz 60-CT1 and a couple of old Braun F900s -- all giant potato masher things with guide numbers up around 200. Sometimes those big flashes are just a bit much and I resort to an old Yashica unit that I can mount on the camera with the F2 adapter. Definitely old school all the way.

    On another subject, I was by Costco yesterday. I remember it seems not so long ago when they had an entire aisle devoted to film. Now they have one small space for film and only one flavor: Fuji 400 Superia X-TRA. I was really surprised at the price: less than 7 bucks for six 36-exposure rolls. That's what? Less than $1.20 a roll? I've never used this film before, but at that price, I think I'm gonna go snag me a box or two. I've read a few reviews of it online, and folks seem to like it.

    Anyway, it's good to be here.
  18. ken472
    The Fuji Superia 400 is good film. I've used lots of it doing photos for our local theater group. I personally love Fuji Reala and Ilford XP2. I'm very old school, too. Along with a couple Nikon flashes, I have 2 old Vivitar 352 potato masher flashes and just got a Wein Safe sync so I can use them on my new Canon SX10 IS.
    As far as lenses I have a 35 f/2.8 converted to AI, a 43-86 later version with AI conversion, a 50 f/1.4 converted to AI, a 50-135 /f3.5 AIS, 80-200 f/4.5 converted to AI, 105 f/2.5 AI that stops to f32(not sure what that version is called)Also some Vivitar models 75-260 and 400 and 85-205.Believe it or not the Viviatar 75-260 is a great lens. I sold my first one and regretted it so I found another not quite as good on the outside but makes great photos.
  19. stevenb1
    brass majestic, you might try John White at www.aiconversions.com.
    I just had a Vivitar Series One AI'd by him and he uses white tape with the aperature numbers on it behind the prong.

    I'm new to this group, equipment wise I have a couple of F3HP's with MD-4 motor drives, a databack and MK-1 frame rate regulator. I have an assortment of prime and zoom Nikkor lenses, mostly AIS, one is AI, my 200-600mm zoom is non-AI and the Vivitar mentioned above was converted.
    I've used the Fuji Superia 400 for shooting outdoor sports with good results.
    Lenses I've used with it are 200mm/2.8 ED, 135mm/2.8 and 300mm/4.5, all AIS.
  20. brass majestic
    brass majestic
    John Nikon F3HP & stevenb1,
    I found William Sampson web site. He does supply the adhesive white tape strips with the f/stop numbers printed on it according to what lens you have. About $2 plus $1 shipping. In the meantime I typed out and printed the numbers (Times New Roman font size 6)for my lens [ 16 11 8 5.6 4 2.8 2 1.4 ] and glued the trimmed down strip with rubber cement in place. I removed the prong. It'll suffice for now. I'm thinking about applying a thin coating of clear finger nail polish or polyurethane over the strip to further secure it and to keep it clean. Thanks for the tips. Russ
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