Considering a Nikon lense

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Fine Art Photographer, Sep 16, 2003.

  1. I am considering buying a 50 or 55 MM 1.8, normal lense for my Nikons. I am
    wondering if there is any/significant difference between the manual focus AIS
    model and the auto focus D model. The auto focus is cheaper, but I don't mind
    paying the difference if the manual focus is a lot sharper or gives better
    rendition of colors.

    Any advice, experience will be appreciated.


    Fine Art Photographer, Sep 16, 2003
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  2. And don't forget the 45mm f 2.8 "pancake" - Very sharp, and only about 1
    inch long......
    William Graham, Sep 16, 2003
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  3. There are two versions of that lens. The first was the 45 f2.8GN, which was
    nver sold as AI (but there were some with "factory" AI rings). The second
    is the one sold with the FM3a. The new version is a manual focus lens, but it
    has the electronics of an AF lens.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Sep 16, 2003
  4. Fine Art Photographer

    Pierre L Guest

    The 50mm 1.8D is considered about as sharp as you can get in a Nikon lens.
    It will work fine on any manual cameras, and because it's autofocus and
    D-type, it will also work fine (and use all the 3D matrix meter and flash
    functions) on any current AF bodies - in case you decide to get one in the
    future. The 45mm 2.8P is an expensive "boutique" lens that doesn't provide
    you with anything optically that the 50mm 1.8D doesn't. I've used both, and
    I prefer the 50mm.
    Pierre L, Sep 16, 2003
  5. They made some of these in AI as well.
    There are actually 4 flavors of these. The AI and early AI-S versions
    are somewhat larger physically. Then there were two flavors of the
    "pancake" AI-S lenses -- some focus down to .6m, others down to .45m
    Also a "pancake" style lens. I believe this one did not have
    The "A" and most "C" models of the 50mm f/2 were single-coated. The
    "K" and AI were multicoated. The f/2.0 lenses only stopped down to
    f/16 the f/1.8's down to f/22.

    Among the multicoated versions, optically it's a pick 'em. I can't
    tell any difference in the results from my AI and AF-D copies.
    While I haven't used a single coated version in a long time, given
    the simple design I wouldn't expect much of a drop-off.
    Michael Benveniste, Sep 16, 2003
  6. It's LENS!
    At the price level of Nikon normal lenses (plural of LENS) there is
    not going to be anything to get excited about. These are cheap lenses.
    If you're REALLY serious abot lenses, I'd suggest you get serious by
    looking at Summicrons.
    Michael Scarpitti, Sep 16, 2003
  7. Fine Art Photographer

    Gordon Moat Guest

    The old normal lenses included several 50 mm choices, a couple 55 mm choices, and
    58 mm. The 58 mm lenses are quite expensive, and tough to find. The few 55 mm
    choices are similar, though also still expensive. The used prices amongst many of
    the 50 mm choices is often very close, meaning you have several choices,
    including f1.8 and f2.0.
    If you want to manually focus, then the manual focus feel of the autofocus lens
    will feel loose. These later autofocus lenses have a very different movement to
    the older gear. Even the plastic body Series E f1.8 has a better manual focus

    While there are slight optical differences, you may not notice them too much in
    many photo situations. Except for the very old non AI lenses, most are coated
    optics, and good glass.
    Some good articles about these are at:

    <> for the 50 mm f2.0 and

    Just my personal experience with several of these. I have used the 50 mm f1.2,
    f1.4, f1.8 Series E, and one f2.0 AI. I have also tried several of the Autofocus
    50 mm lenses, which do produce good image results as well, though I am not a fan
    of autofocus, and all these have weak manual focus feel.

    The f1.2 seemed soft, and had more visible vignetting than the others. The f1.4
    AIS works really well, and only shows flaws in the defocus areas under high
    contrast situation, or when pointed directly at point light sources. To be fair,
    most normal to telephoto lenses can show harsh edged defocus highlights when
    point light sources are in the background of a scene. If you need that extra stop
    that an f1.4 gives you, the AIS is a nice choice.

    The Series E f1.8 (called series S in one of the articles above), gives a nice
    defocus rendition, and seems to avoid visible vignetting. I did find that it was
    a bit prone to flair, so a lens hood is recommended. This is also often a really
    low cost lens. If you have a pre AI Nikon body, there is not a prong piece. The
    barrel is really short, and could be tougher to use if you have large hands. The
    new 45 mm is similar in size. The AI and AIS f1.8 are longer, with more focus
    grip area.

    That leaves the 50 mm f2.0 AI, which I have borrowed a few times in the past.
    This lens was only made for a short time prior to the f1.8 AIS, so it is not
    quite as common. The front element is more recessed in the mount than the other
    lenses, meaning avoidance of flair good, even without a lens hood. The defocus
    areas are very smooth, and higher contrast point light sources do not affect it
    as badly as the other lenses. Stopped down, it is possible for the aperture to
    create geometric highlight shapes, something also possible with the f1.4 AIS
    under some conditions. After borrowing for a few years, I finally bought an f2.0
    AI. It should match my f1.4 AIS nicely.

    The extra stop of the f1.4 is great under low light situations. The 58 mm f1.2
    would be even better, but the cost is quite high. With the 50 mm f2.0 (or even
    the f1.8 AIS), this would make a good portrait lens, though head shots are better
    left to longer focal length lenses. The one I just got was under $50, and looked
    like it just came out of a showroom, so you should be able to find these for
    little expense. Happy hunting.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Sep 16, 2003
  8. Fine Art Photographer

    Gordon Moat Guest

    There are several versions, and there was an AI as the last one. More information

    Interesting information. I have never liked the manual focus feel of these
    autofocus lenses. Though until your post, I never had any good idea why it was
    worse. My thought was that it was more plastic, though it may just be the gear
    The later f2.0 are multicoated lenses, including the AI version. The f1.8 AIS is
    very similar. I am not as sure with the Series E, though it is tough to tell any
    differences in the image results, even with E100VS.

    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Sep 16, 2003
  9. He can't possibly be serious "abot" lenses, otherwise why would he ask
    for a Nikon lens?

    OTOH there are an awful lot of retirees, medical professionals, lottery
    winners and rich, talentless schmucks who MUST be serious about lenses
    because they ask for Leica.

    Well, I say ask, I mean they point at the shiny lens with the big price
    Martin Francis, Sep 16, 2003
  10. Thanks everyone for you input. I have just ordered the 50mm 1.8 AIS manual
    focus from B&H.

    I use even the auto focus in manual most of the time. And I like the way my
    other manual lenses focus.

    Thanks again.

    Fine Art Photographer, Sep 16, 2003
  11. Ah, Lauvone... Are any of your Nikons AF? If so which do you have?
    If you have an N50, N55, N60, N65, N70, N75, or N80 you should probably
    cancel that manual focus lens right about now unless you're happy using an
    external lightmeter all the time. Considering the amount of equipment you
    use, I assume you have an external lightmeter... but even so, you'd lose a
    lot of convenience and functionality.
    If you have MF Nikon, or an N4004/s/x, N5005, N6006, N8008/s, N90/s, F100,
    F4, F5 then I apologise (I also apologise if I got your damn silly US model
    numbers wrong) and have fun with your new lens.
    Martin Francis, Sep 16, 2003
  12. The biggest quality difference between the AF D and AI or AIS is in
    durability, not optical performance. Choosing between them depends on
    how you intend to use it.


    Eastern Spey Clave, October 4th and 5th, 2003

    Visit The Streamer Page at
    Peter Charles, Sep 16, 2003
  13. Fine Art Photographer

    George Guest

    Yes, Nikon normal lenses ARE cheap lenses. Of course, if you read any photo
    magazines that test lenses you'd know that since around 1953 Nikon lenses
    have been outperforming Leica lenses. Initially, Nikon built their
    reputation by building lenses for Leica cameras that photojournalists were
    bringing back to the US when they covered the Korean war and would make a
    quick stop in Japan for better deals on photo equipment. Perhaps you'd be
    happy if I would sell you a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 for $2,400...then you get both
    a superior lens AND your ego stroked knowing that you bought "the best"
    because it cost $100 more than a Leica 50mm f/1.4. Also, a fair amount of
    "Leica" branded stuff is rebranded Minolta (reflex and M-series) and Samsung

    Nobody buys Leicas to use them or Leica wouldn't spend all their effort
    making 1001 variations of "limited" editions so that some collector with
    more $$$ than brains would buy each and every one of them.
    Ever notice how it isn't difficult to find mint/unused Leicas that are even
    50 years old??? That's because they sit on shelves. Absolutely the only
    real use I've ever heard of for Leica rangefinders used to be in courtroom
    photography because of the lack of mirror noise...they WOULD have been
    useful for performances (for the same reason) except Leica doesn't make any
    lenses long enough and even if they did, most people would rather buy a
    house with the $$$.
    George, Sep 17, 2003
  14. Fine Art Photographer

    George Guest

    I agree that the manual focus lenses have a nicer feel, but if you go
    digital in the future you may regret not getting an AF lenses because
    currently Nikon doesn't allow the METERING SYSTEM to work on digital cameras
    with non-AF lenses. In my opinion a very short-sighted decision on their
    part...when they allow manual lenses to meter, external flash sync (PC)
    socket, AND use a 24mm x 36mm sensor, I'll be first in line to buy.
    George, Sep 17, 2003
  15. Fine Art Photographer

    Jonesy Guest

    Actually, Lauvone will still be able to meter with the manual focus
    lens with an N50 or N70. :)
    Jonesy, Sep 17, 2003
  16. I have the older "GI" version. I like it because My camera will fit in a
    fairly shallow foam lined suitcase with the lens attached. Unfortunately, I
    can't use the Guide Number feature because all my strobes have the TTL
    quench feature....This lens has the coupler that changes the aperture with
    the focus ring for use with the older full power only flashes. A great idea
    that never was fully utilized......I had mine AI converted by John
    William Graham, Sep 17, 2003
  17. Nope, N70 only.

    Christoph Breitkopf, Sep 17, 2003
  18. Dang, I forgot to say which cameras I was gonna use it with. I have 2 F2, and
    F3HP, a FM2n and an N90s. I use the N90s on Manual about 90 % of the time
    anyway. I trust my focus more that the sensors :)>)

    I plan on using the lense for shots of Show cars in outdoor locations. The
    N90s meters just fine with the manual lenses. I have other manual lenses from
    24 2.0 thru 200 4.0 and have no problem at all.

    However, for most of the macro and other work I do, where a fast shutter speed
    is nor required, I use the FM2n and use the timer so the mirror locks up when
    the shutter release is depressed. That way, all the vibrations are gone before
    the shutter is tripped.

    Thanks to everyone for the advice and experience you have given. I hope the
    50mm 1.8 manual will be here by Friday so that I can break it in Sat :)>)

    Thanks again.

    Fine Art Photographer, Sep 17, 2003
  19. Fine Art Photographer

    EDGY01 Guest

    I sold my Summicrons and my Noctilux and am keeping my Nikkors. Saw no
    difference between them and I've been shooting over 30 years.

    Dan Lindsay
    Santa Barbara
    EDGY01, Sep 19, 2003
  20. Not surprising.....On the trumpet newsgroup, there are a group of elitists
    who own Monet trumpets (Portland, OR) these horns sell from 6 to 12 thousand
    dollars each....(The average pro trumpet is about 2000 dollars) There is the
    same endless argument over weather they sound any better as there is on this
    group over weather Leitz lenses take any better pictures than Canon or
    Nikkor lenses.....The guys who own them claim they do, but I claim its
    placebo effect.....I think that much the same thing is true of Leitz
    lenses......Once you have paid all that money, you've got to believe they're
    William Graham, Sep 19, 2003
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