A Nurse with a Gun

Friday, March 20, 2009

Manual Focus

I cut my teeth on manual focus cameras. Turning a focus ring to get a shot does not bother me a bit. In fact, I like it. I usually shoot in aperture priority mode, so as long as a lens allows that, I am happy. One of the great benefits of Nikon cameras is the interchangeability of the lenses. A thirty year old lens can often be used on a new Nikon camera, and vice versa. Even though they weigh more, I actually prefer the older, metal lenses.

As I go shopping for bargains in Nikon lenses, I have gathered some information from Ken Rockwell's Nikon lens compatibility charts. I am putting the information here, so I can access it, and use it easier. This lens compatibility information is specific to my Nikon D-200. Many older Nikon lenses can be used on the digital SLR bodies, although a 50mm lens presents itself as an 85mm. To get the same results that a 50mm normal lens gives with film, a 35mm lens is used on a digital SLR camera. These are my own notes for my convenience.

The oldest Nikon lens that will mate up to a Nikon D-200 is an AI (automatic indexing) lens. These lenses were introduced in 1977, and are recognized by a smaller set of aperture numbers that could be viewed through the viewfinder of the camera. These lenses also have two extra holes in the coupling prong that allow light to strike f/8 and f/4 so they can be seen in the viewfinder.

Nikon Series E lenses were sent to market in 1979. These were budget lenses, but they still contained superior optics. The Series E lenses gained a poor reputation among camera geeks because Nikon was honest enough to admit they contained plastic at a time when plastic in a camera lens smacked of cheapness. Today, plastic lens casings are commonplace, even among high priced gear. The Series E lenses represent some of the best values in prime lenses that will work on a D-200.

In 1981, the AI became the AI-S lens. The AI-S lens is easily recognized because the smallest aperture marking is in orange. These are still the same manual Nikon lenses made today.



OpenID reflectoscope said...

Funny you should write on lenses: I was looking through an optics catalog for some stuff for our microscope at work, and it occurs to me that the pursuit of fine optics is a fascinating aspect of applied engineering.


2:30 AM  
Blogger Mark Horning said...

This IMHO is the reason to go with Canon or Nikon when buying a DSLR.

Both companies have lenses going back decades that are compatible. We have tens of thousands of dollars of Canon lenses at work going back to the 60's that fit/function on our new camera bodies.

1:55 PM  
Blogger The Raving Prophet said...

If you want to look at lens compatibility, though, Pentax pretty well has the gold standard on that. Any K mount type dating back over thirty years will mount right up to their current DSLRs. Sure, you might not get the image stabilization working (you'd have to manually input the focal length), but it will work just fine.

5:00 PM  
Blogger Old NFO said...

Nice looking old Nikon!

5:18 PM  
Blogger boomvark said...

I have a Nikon F. The thing was old when I bought it in early 1992. It may literally be as old as I am, and I ain't exactly young. I had it overhauled a few years ago, and except for a few inevitable dings it's just about as good as new.

I've got a couple of digital cameras, and I like them a lot, but the old F is still the one I reach for when I'm going waythehell back out into the boonies for a week and plan on coming back with pictures.

(WV: gyrecie. Sounds like my kind of finger food.)

7:40 PM  

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