A Nikon system for all bodies, all focusing methods, all lighting situations (or: how to get me to post here – write long answers to Facebook questions.)

In response to this question in the F2 group on Facebook.

Did a quick run up through that list, and his price would be consistent with dealers selling those items used (without adding in smaller items, prices on the MD2+MB-1 and PB/PS-6 can vary a lot, didn’t bother with the Vivitar; it’s not really worth much) at roughly Adorama’s Ex- or bettter cosmetic KEH BGN items my running tally on my calculator was 3050. Of course, you would get a 3 or 6 month warranty there, respectively, plus grace return, but you would not likely get boxes.

It’s neither here nor there – much will depend on what you want. I own much of these, have tried, rejected some. Here are some notes, FWIW, Bjorn Rorslett is a good subjective resource; I only disagree with one or two of his assessments. (I ended up reordering these by focal length to consider overlap.)

20 2.8 AIS I’ve handled it, some in store images, played with a freind’s copy; never felt the desire for it. While Rockwell and Rorslett end up giving it a similar “rating,” I think Rockwell’s description of it as “typical wide Nikkor prime” (barrel distortion, veiling flare wide open, etc.) is dead on; better “technical” performance will be found in later designs.

24/2.0 AIS This feels a lot like the 35/1.4 to me, only it take even longer to sharpen up and dispose of flare; it is a lens I’ve tried and don’t own.

28/2.8 AI It’s a dated, albeit fine lens, but the AIS close focus is better (for my purposes) and other than price ($150), I would skip both of these and go for the real gem of the MF Nikkor wides – the 28/2.0 AIS.

35/1.4 AI (mine is AIS; identical as far as I know, other than the standard mechanical change of focus throw/grease and 7 vs 9 (AIS) blades.) I use this lens out of necessity; had the Samyang or Zeiss been out at the time, I would own those. Very bad CA on FF digital. AIS copies I’ve seen tend to have Schneideritis, haven’t seen enough AI copies to speak to that.

50/1.4 AF(D?) Nothing specific to say about this; it’s very much a typical post AI 50/1.4. Manual focus will be a weakness. With respect to other options, it doesn’t have the technical distorion flatness of the 50/2.0 AI, the low light abilities of a 58/1.2, the romance and sheer T/stop of the 55/1.2, the modern utility of the CV 58/1.4 SLII, the unique formula of the 5.8cm/1.4, the pastels of the 50/1.4 non-AI SC, the modern abilities of the 50/1.4G or (and fantastic non-vignetting of the) Sigma 50/1.4 – of course, these would be useless on all but the last AF film bodies. Yes, I have a lot of normal lenses for 35mm.

85/2.0 AI (I think I have the AIS) Bjorn is correct on his claims of a “grey” rendition; Ken Rockwell is correct about the handling of this lens; it’s almost exactly the same barrel, size, and weight of the K style non-AI 50/1.4. If you need a compact 85 to go with a FG or FM bodies, this is your one choice. But it has a rendering style that doesn’t do much for me.

85mm/1.8 AF If this is the non AF-D version, then this is the first AF Nikkor I ever owned, bought from B&H used, I think just after they moved into the “new” store on 9th Ave. It is really a nice lens, I think formally better than any of the other slow 85mm options and a 9 blade AF lens at that. However, this really is ever slightly larger than the worst AF focus rings Nikon has made (70-210/4, I’m looking at you) and it is pretty bulky given the maximum aperture; this also makes the screwdriver AF particularly slow.

80-200mm/2.8 AF-ED If this is the one ring/push pull version, I hate it. Whether 1 or 2 ring zoom designs are better for manual focus, that one ring design is not. Now the 2 ring version, well, consider that in 1996 that was the top of the line tele zoom and remains for sale today, unchanged, outlasting numerous successor models. Even by the standards of manual lenses, this is a decent manual focus feel. I haven’t used this on my D800E, so I don’t know how well it holds up there, but if you want to avoid G lenses, what else are you going to use – often for $500 used?
***NOTE*** The M / A ring on the 2-ring tends to slightly fracture and can completely break. Be gentle with it; you may need to encircle and support the ring with your thumb and index finger to properly rotate it.

Wow, I just meant to write the 1st paragraph. If you knew all this, well, I hope it’s useful to someone. I don’t know if you are using this to jump start a working Nikon collection on an F2 body, (this doesn’t feel like a shelf collector’s set) whether you plan to use this on MF and AF film bodies, digital Nikons and/or Canons (I do all those). Now, this is obviously in light of my use (tending towards available light, MF, and avoiding G lenses), but I think there is too much overlap here; and some more modern, cheaper options. For that person, well, I would spend my money today on some combination of these:

Nikkor 17-35/2.8 AFS – $800 and forget about the below
Zeiss 24/2.8 – 500(ZF)-800(ZF2) though not a huge fan, no CRC but close focus
*Nikkor 28/2.0 AIS -$500 CRC and really good at it.
Samyang 35/1.4 – $450 certainly over my 35/1.4 AIS
Nikkor 35/2.0 AIS – $250 budget option, no CRC

40-58mm – Depends on purpose. ¬†Always keep one of the AI/AIS 1.8 low distortion ones around for “in the field” copy type work $100.

*Samyang 85/1.4 Р$260 (Yes, really.  One lives on one of my F2AS bodies.)
*Nikkor 105/2.0 DC – $700-$1000 (watch for decentering – may be wise to buy new, best manual focus on an AF lens, very misunderstood)
Nikkor 80-200/2.8D – As needed, above.

Some other older notes from a while back (though considered for a 5DII, many Nikkors though).

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This entry was posted on ‍‍כ״ג סיון ה׳ תשע״ג - Friday, May 31st, 2013 at 16:49 and is filed under 24 lies/sec, hardware, interference, open tabs, product, ruminations, shutim, specula, tech. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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