classic lenses

Started Aug 12, 2012 | Discussions thread
Jonathan Siegel
Regular MemberPosts: 411
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Re: classic lenses
In reply to oneANT, Aug 12, 2012

Hi! I shoot almost exclusively with classic ai and ais lenses. Perhaps I can lend some advice. I started out with a D80 some years back and at the time, became enamoured with my friends 50mm F1.2 ais. I eventually picked one up, and slowly over time collected some more, including the 35mm F1.4 ais, 135mm F2.8 ai, and a 50mm F1.4 ais(quite a different character from the F1.2). I have a Voigtlander 20mm F3.5 which I would not say is a classic lens, however I will put in a good word for it as a solid performer. I have taken all of these lenses traveling with me around the world and they are all marvelous, solid, and have never failed me.

I would absolutely recommend picking up a 50mm F1.2 ais if you can find one in decent condition, and a 135mm F2.8 ai or ais if you can also get one in decent condition. The 50mm F1.2 ais is a bit expensive, but worth it if you are looking for a very unique lens with a special character and output. On DX you can get shots like this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/3772764172/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/3807984810/in/photostream/

One thing though, not long after getting into classic glass, I started eyeing FX and managed to make the move to a D700. After that everything changed. I'm sure others have had different experiences than I have, but after making the move, that 50mm F1.2 ais and all of my other lenses took on an entirely new character:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/5781874726/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/5168667429/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/6458696607/

I picked up the 135mm F2.8 ai for about $100~ at a second-hand shop in Tokyo, and paid another $100 to Nikon to overhaul it, regrease it and clean the glass. I love this lens, it's very compact and does a fine job isolating subjects:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/6634641469/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonsiegel/5464599290/

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