AI-S lenses

Started Sep 17, 2013 | Discussions
sgoldswo
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AI-S lenses
Sep 17, 2013

I enjoy photography but I've not adverse to making life harder for myself in order to enjoy the experience of photography, which is, to me, at least as important as the resultant stills. I recently discovered the joys of MF AI-S lenses (in particular the 50mm F1.2 and 35 F1.4) which has lead me to order the 105 F2.5. I'm eyeing up an old 28 F2 too as well as a 180mm F2.8. I used them mounted on my D800E and D600.

Optical performance would be important, though I don't really care if the relevant lens is soft wide open if its sharp at about F4-5.6. The key to me is the render and the quality of the images at screen size.

Are there any others people would recommend (or others from other brands that fit my description above)?

Thanks,

Simon

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paulski66
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

The 135 f/2.8 (or, if you want to spend more and can find it, f/2) is an excellent portrait lens.

I have the 2.8. Optically, I probably prefer my 105 f/2.5 more, and mechanically the 135 has a very stiff focus ring, which I think is an issue with the 135 f/2.8. But I also got it for $85, so no complaints, I guess.

ETA: You can routinely find the 2.8 version for well under $200; the f/2 version will set you back about $500, if not more.

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starman1969
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to paulski66, Sep 17, 2013

Maybe you could find a Noct 58mm f1.2

I believe it was optimized to give great performance at wide apertures. From what I've heard they are extremely rare though, and expensive!

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Dodi73
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

Among AI / AI-S lenses I'd suggest you what you already have

- 28 f/2

- 50 f/1.8 stepped nose (rare to find but with a slightly better rendition)

- 105 f/2.5 (see below)

- 180 f/2.8

Another lens you might find very good is the CV 40/2 ( I had it ) assumed you like that awkward focal length; conversely I've never been a fan of the 35/1.4. The only copy I could ever try during a fair was soft and had focus shift issues.

Something you could evaluate instead is the difference between ai and ai-s lenses. Some prefer the new lens coatings and the built in lens hood - actually I don't know how much they effectively influence the image, on the 105 2.5 I had both the AI and AI-S version and preferred the former because of a larger (more accurate) focusing gear

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BobSC
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

My two favorites were always 35/1.4 and 180/2.8

60 micro can be nice too.

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Cerumen
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

I favor shorter focal lengths for manual focus, since even the FX bodies are nowhere as easy to focus manually as FMs and similar from years ago.

I honor the "55 and under" rule for manual focus, having bought and sold many longer manual focal lengths, simply because I missed focus too frequently.

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rubicon
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

I too, enjoy the older lenses, although i have sold off most AI, and AIS lenses I've owned, one I'd like to mention, now I never really warmed up to although several noted photographers "loved" it. Nikon series E 75 150 zoom, like i said I had one but just never warmed up to it, most of my MF Nikon lenses were primes, just like today I've renewed my love of primes and sold off most zooms. My D700 bag contains a 17 Tokina, Nikon 28 1.8 G 50 1.4 G and 85 1.8G I find more use with these than zooms.

Good luck in your quest, I'd like two right now just haven't searched very hard and Nikon 105 1.8, a friend would swear by it back in film days he shot a F5, and the 135 f2, I had the 135 2.8, and 180 2.8 AIS versions and used a F3HP and my [still own] FE2 and F100.

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TWHook
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to rubicon, Sep 17, 2013

The lenses you mentioned in your original post are basically what I just recently bought within the past month. Mine are the 28 2.8, 50 1.2, 105 2.5, and 180 2.8, all AiS. It is taking some adjustment to manually focus but if you have a full frame camera (I use the D700 and D800) focusing isn't as hard to manage as I thought it would be. The little round dot is the viewfinder is pretty useless for my purposes but sharp (or at this point "sharpish") images can be had by focusing by eye.

The most difficult lens for me is the 180. I don't know why but that is the case. It feels ungainly on the camera and holding it comfortably is an adjustment. The 105 is a wonderful lens and renders colorful and sharp images and at this point is my favorite. The 50 1.2 is a steeper learning curve and the 28 has not gotten much use as yet.

I chose the 28 2.8 rather than the 28 2 because it was said to be a flatter field and is said to produce sharper images throughout its aperture range. Time will tell. By the way, you are probably aware of Bjørn Rørslett's webpage (http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html) which is a good resource for information about these lenses.

I bought these for the some of the same reasons you noted, the pleasure of going back to old way of taking pictures. Furthermore, I want to do some video and wanted a good range of focal lengths. The 50 1.2 is the best built of the bunch but the 28 is good too. The 105 and 180 seem less so but all of them are marvels of engineering art.

I will curious as to your reactions (as well as others on this forum). For me it is a brave new world (or renewed world as I started out with manual focus) and I hope you share the excitement I feel using such lenses.

Good luck.

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yray
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

50-135 f/3.5 AIS zoom is as sharp as a prime. It makes a great portrait zoom on a full frame camera, and an excellent landscape lens too. In terms of sharpness it is probably as good as 70-200 f/2.8, for 10% of the cost. The bokeh is excellent, the color transmission is excellent, and, apart from being MF, it has only one drawback -- it is susceptible to zoom creep. But given its optical qualities and a great build, this is a fairly minor drawback IMO.

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leighton w
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

The 55/2.8 or 3.5 micros are excellent lenses as well

There are also a few good zooms, but my favorite by far is the 50-135mm f3.5 AI-s. Sharp and contrasty as well as fun to use. Here's a link to some images from this lens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/t_leighton_womack/sets/72157633395551520/

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Dodi73
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to leighton w, Sep 17, 2013

Agree for the 55 f/2.8 AIS .. it's a true classic, I totally forgot it...

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rubicon
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to TWHook, Sep 17, 2013

Thanks for the link! I've wondered many times about a link to some good old Nikon lenses, I have a  old Nikon sales brochure of complete MF lenses printed about 1984 or 85, lots of neat lenses.

Maybe you can answer a question? I've been doing some shooting of old homes in our area in the historic district and do my repairing of converging lines and just straighten up in LR4, and I've had an idea of the AIS 28 PC, I cannot justify the new PCE lenses, the cost is way out of my league. Do you know would the 28 PC AIS, do a better job than LR4?of course I may not be using LR correctly.

Again thanks for the link, you've got me thinking I think I'll pull my old 85 2.0AI out of the drawer and place it on my D700 and go for a walk, its already in the CPU, thanks!

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rubicon
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to leighton w, Sep 17, 2013

The 55 3.5 macro ah yes! I still miss it, i had the 60 AF macro didn't like it and bought the 55 3.5 used and kept it for years, sold it about 5 years ago, great little lens, wonderful color yup! I miss it, you people will bankrupt me!! I get reminded of great lenses I was very lucky to own and would like to re acquire again.

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TWHook
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to rubicon, Sep 17, 2013

rubicon wrote:

Maybe you can answer a question? I've been doing some shooting of old homes in our area in the historic district and do my repairing of converging lines and just straighten up in LR4, and I've had an idea of the AIS 28 PC, I cannot justify the new PCE lenses, the cost is way out of my league. Do you know would the 28 PC AIS, do a better job than LR4?of course I may not be using LR correctly.

I don't know anything about that lens and don't use Lightroom, but if it's a tilt shift, it sounds like a good bet for architecture. Sorry I can't be of more help!

Tom

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yray
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to rubicon, Sep 17, 2013

rubicon wrote:

The 55 3.5 macro ah yes! I still miss it, i had the 60 AF macro didn't like it and bought the 55 3.5 used and kept it for years, sold it about 5 years ago, great little lens, wonderful color yup! I miss it, you people will bankrupt me!! I get reminded of great lenses I was very lucky to own and would like to re acquire again.

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One more vote for 55 f/3.5 macro, supremely sharp and contrasty.

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rubicon
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In reply to TWHook, Sep 17, 2013

Thanks I think I'll start a thread, I would guess some old AIS shooters would know. And it is a tilt shift lens Nikon made two different lenses a 28 and a 35, although I don't think they have all the movement of the newest versions.

Thanks.

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CFynn
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

sgoldswo wrote:

I enjoy photography but I've not adverse to making life harder for myself in order to enjoy the experience of photography, which is, to me, at least as important as the resultant stills. I recently discovered the joys of MF AI-S lenses (in particular the 50mm F1.2 and 35 F1.4) which has lead me to order the 105 F2.5. I'm eyeing up an old 28 F2 too as well as a 180mm F2.8. I used them mounted on my D800E and D600.

Optical performance would be important, though I don't really care if the relevant lens is soft wide open if its sharp at about F4-5.6. The key to me is the render and the quality of the images at screen size.

Are there any others people would recommend (or others from other brands that fit my description above)?

Thanks,

Simon

For the 180mm you might consider the AF-D version that is still in the catalogue.  I think the optics are the same and the build quality and manual focus is (nearly) as good as the AIS version.  But at 180mm you might find autofocus useful.

Either way, the 180mm 2.8 is a lovely lens.

24mm 2.8 is not a bad small w/a lens

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CFynn
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to rubicon, Sep 17, 2013

rubicon wrote:

Thanks I think I'll start a thread, I would guess some old AIS shooters would know. And it is a tilt shift lens Nikon made two different lenses a 28 and a 35, although I don't think they have all the movement of the newest versions.

Some of them are just shift with no tilt - but shift is really all you need to correct for converging verticals.
Another option is to use a wider angle lens, so you can get the buildings in while keeping the camera level, and then just crop out what you don't need

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John Brewton
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to Dodi73, Sep 17, 2013

Firmly in the 105 2.5 Ai camp. A classic lens.

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PerL
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Re: AI-S lenses
In reply to sgoldswo, Sep 17, 2013

(sgoldswo wrote:

I enjoy photography but I've not adverse to making life harder for myself in order to enjoy the experience of photography, which is, to me, at least as important as the resultant stills. I recently discovered the joys of MF AI-S lenses (in particular the 50mm F1.2 and 35 F1.4) which has lead me to order the 105 F2.5. I'm eyeing up an old 28 F2 too as well as a 180mm F2.8. I used them mounted on my D800E and D600.

Optical performance would be important, though I don't really care if the relevant lens is soft wide open if its sharp at about F4-5.6. The key to me is the render and the quality of the images at screen size.

Are there any others people would recommend (or others from other brands that fit my description above)?

Thanks,

Simon

I use the pair of 35 2.0 and 85 2.0, nice and compact. A bitingly sharp lens is the micro 55 2.8 (but can have problems with sticky aperture blades).

85 2.0 AI

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