Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests

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as1mov
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Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
6 months ago

Hi,

where I can find sharpness tests of AI-s lenses? I'd like to compare their optical performance with the newer D and G lenses.

In particular I have 28mm f/2 and 50mm f1.2 and I'd like to see how good the 35mm f1.4 Ai-s performs compared with the others in its category.

P.S. I know only this web site for the 50mm lenses: http://nikonrumors.com/2011/11/03/seven-50mm-prime-lenses-for-nikon-f-mount-compared-by-cary-jordan.aspx/

Thank you.

hiro_pro
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago

Evaluations By Bjørn Rørslett

http://www.naturfotograf.com/index2.html

he's been doing it forever.

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Stephen Brenner
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago
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chooflaki
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago

as1mov wrote:

Hi,

where I can find sharpness tests of AI-s lenses? I'd like to compare their optical performance with the newer D and G lenses.

In particular I have 28mm f/2 and 50mm f1.2 and I'd like to see how good the 35mm f1.4 Ai-s performs compared with the others in its category.

P.S. I know only this web site for the 50mm lenses: http://nikonrumors.com/2011/11/03/seven-50mm-prime-lenses-for-nikon-f-mount-compared-by-cary-jordan.aspx/

Thank you.

Try the lenstip website. Read their articles. They do some head to head comparisons with the old and modern. In their comparison of the Nikkor S AUTO 5cm f2 from 50 +years ago it does very well against the Nikkor 1.8D. The NIkongear website where Bjorn Rorslett posts has  a wealth of info on old lenses. Worth paying the modest subscription to join.

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as1mov
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to chooflaki, 6 months ago

Thanks much.

Lenstip confirms that I did a good choice buying the 28mm f2 AI-s. It gives a five to the 24mm f2.8, which I'd like to considere now. And it gives five to the 35 f1.4, which I planned to buy.

The only surprise to me is the 20mm f2.8, it gets 4. According to Ken Rockwell's tests it is the best of the pack: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/comparisons/2010-09-22-20mm/index.htm (ok, this test is only about sharpness).

Would you buy this lens for landscape photography (if you do not mind MF and want a prime lense with excellent performance)?

I could also consider the Zeiss 21mm but the price is intimidating.

P.S.: Stephen, thanks for the link to photozone. Do you have the pages with the test diagrams (sharpness etc.)?

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chooflaki
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago

as1mov wrote:

Thanks much.

Lenstip confirms that I did a good choice buying the 28mm f2 AI-s. It gives a five to the 24mm f2.8, which I'd like to considere now. And it gives five to the 35 f1.4, which I planned to buy.

The only surprise to me is the 20mm f2.8, it gets 4. According to Ken Rockwell's tests it is the best of the pack: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/comparisons/2010-09-22-20mm/index.htm (ok, this test is only about sharpness).

Would you buy this lens for landscape photography (if you do not mind MF and want a prime lense with excellent performance)?

I could also consider the Zeiss 21mm but the price is intimidating.

P.S.: Stephen, thanks for the link to photozone. Do you have the pages with the test diagrams (sharpness etc.)?

If you want a really super sharp AI manual lens then try the Micro Nikkor 55mm f3.5. Slow but outstanding sharpness at all focal lengths and apertures. The very long smooth focus throw makes it easy to nail precise focus. I am blown away using this lens  on my Df.  It  has wow factor and I now use it as my preferred standard lens. They are ridiculously cheap too these days for what you get. Less  than a 100 bucks for a  good example. I have the Nikkor 20mm f4 which I like but I don't have other lenses of similar focal length to compare it with.

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Stephen Brenner
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago

P.S.: Stephen, thanks for the link to photozone. Do you have the pages with the test diagrams (sharpness etc.)?

http://www.photozone.de/reviews

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as1mov
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to chooflaki, 6 months ago

This is a super tip!! Here I found some amazing photos: http://www.pixel-peeper.com/lenses/?lens=163&p=3

I am rushing to ebay :), thanks a lot!

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anotherMike
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago

In general, the older AIS wides will be weaker in the corners compared to their modern (G) counterparts. Lens design for film is different than lens design for digital. Once you get out of the wide angles, you can still find a nice performing older AIS lens, although it still might lose the battle to a 70-200/2.8G VR-II on modern high rez sensors.

The 35/1.4 AIS was designed NOT to be super top quality best in the world, BUT, rather, to be a 35 F/1.4 lens that still took 52mm filters. The 35/2 AIS of the day was a bit better, and a modern 35 like the Sigma 35 F/1.4 Art or the Zeiss 35's still smoke it in the corners. Don't know yet how the new Nikon 35/1.8G FX lens will be as it's not out yet.

So to summarize, if you want to think about AIS lenses, think the moderate and semi telephoto's instead of the wide angles and you'll probably do better. Wide angle glass is tough on these modern high rez sensors - even the very best aren't perfect, so it shouldn't be too much of a mental stretch to realize the wides designed in the film era won't be anything special.

-m

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Stacey_K
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to chooflaki, 6 months ago

chooflaki wrote:

Try the lenstip website.

IMHO their results seem to be all over the map and many times are the "odd man out" reviewing a lens. 9 sites will report a lens seems to be a good performer yet lenstip will give it a thumbs down. I've seen them give positive reviews on a lens other sites agree isn't a great performer. They may have covered a lot of lenses but I don't trust their recommendations.

Photozone on the other hand is a site I trust the results from.

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gear1box
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to anotherMike, 6 months ago

anotherMike wrote:

So to summarize, if you want to think about AIS lenses, think the moderate and semi telephoto's instead of the wide angles and you'll probably do better. Wide angle glass is tough on these modern high rez sensors - even the very best aren't perfect, so it shouldn't be too much of a mental stretch to realize the wides designed in the film era won't be anything special.

-m

Mike --

As a lover of the sensuous mechanics of the AIS line, as well as an owner of more than a dozen examples, your advice concerning 50mm and up AIS lenses being more usable on dSLRs precisely matches my testing of my own samples.

Even some of my film faves -- the 24mm f2.8 and 35mm f2 in particular -- are, frankly, disappointing in the corners until you get to f5.6, at which point they about equal a current kit zoom.  Ouch.  Actually the only exception in my lot is the 28mm f2; it is great on digital.

But north of 50mm things are mostly very good, actually.  Some old war horses like the 105mm f2.5 and 200mm f4 are surprisingly practical on digital and, frankly, are quite small and handy compared to current glass.  The 75-150mm f3.5E is a winner too.

I find that going out with my 28mm f2, 50mm f1.8, and 105mm f2.5 makes a nice "classic" kit for my d600 body.  These FOVs parallel 60 years of Leica street shooters too.  I miss the 35mm though.  I can sort of imagine that i am that guy in the Nikon Df commercial . . . cheaper, with better ergonomics . . . but that is another story . . .

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 gary ray
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chooflaki
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to gear1box, 6 months ago

gear1box wrote:

anotherMike wrote:

So to summarize, if you want to think about AIS lenses, think the moderate and semi telephoto's instead of the wide angles and you'll probably do better. Wide angle glass is tough on these modern high rez sensors - even the very best aren't perfect, so it shouldn't be too much of a mental stretch to realize the wides designed in the film era won't be anything special.

-m

Mike --

As a lover of the sensuous mechanics of the AIS line, as well as an owner of more than a dozen examples, your advice concerning 50mm and up AIS lenses being more usable on dSLRs precisely matches my testing of my own samples.

Even some of my film faves -- the 24mm f2.8 and 35mm f2 in particular -- are, frankly, disappointing in the corners until you get to f5.6, at which point they about equal a current kit zoom. Ouch. Actually the only exception in my lot is the 28mm f2; it is great on digital.

But north of 50mm things are mostly very good, actually. Some old war horses like the 105mm f2.5 and 200mm f4 are surprisingly practical on digital and, frankly, are quite small and handy compared to current glass. The 75-150mm f3.5E is a winner too.

I find that going out with my 28mm f2, 50mm f1.8, and 105mm f2.5 makes a nice "classic" kit for my d600 body. These FOVs parallel 60 years of Leica street shooters too. I miss the 35mm though. I can sort of imagine that i am that guy in the Nikon Df commercial . . . cheaper, with better ergonomics . . . but that is another story . . .

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gary ray
Semi-professional in early 1970s; just a putzer since then. interests: historical sites, virginia, motorcycle racing. A nikon user more by habit than choice; still, nikon seems to work well for me.

I tend to concur. I also own the 105mm f2.5, 200mm f4, 75-150mm f3.5E.  I will add the Micro Nikkor 55mm f3.5, 28mm f2.8(close to medium  focusing only) and the 50mm f2 of most vintages as worthy old lenses IMO to use with modern DSLR's.

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a_c_skinner
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to chooflaki, 6 months ago

The 55mm 3.5 micro is often said to be very sharp close up and less so at infinity the 2.8 throughout the range but check for oil on the diaphragm blades.  The 200mm f4 non micro never seems anything but very good as is the 70-150 Nikkor E.  The 28mm comes in different versions some very good, others mundane.  The 24mm 2.8 gets good notes but does show colour fringing that can be noticable.  I've got a 35mm 2.8 which is very sharp, unlike the reviews of this series of lenses, of which there are about half a dozen iterations.  The numerous versions of many lenses make this tricky.  I was ostracized on another Nikon forum for saying we look at lenses not pictures (I said it about the Noct lens, owners of which brook no reservations).  The 20mm 3.5 is said to be very flare resistant and superb close to, less so at infinity.

All lack modern coatings (obviously) and will flare worse than modern coated lenses.

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chooflaki
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to a_c_skinner, 6 months ago

a_c_skinner wrote:

The 55mm 3.5 micro is often said to be very sharp close up and less so at infinity the 2.8 throughout the range but check for oil on the diaphragm blades. The 200mm f4 non micro never seems anything but very good as is the 70-150 Nikkor E. The 28mm comes in different versions some very good, others mundane. The 24mm 2.8 gets good notes but does show colour fringing that can be noticable. I've got a 35mm 2.8 which is very sharp, unlike the reviews of this series of lenses, of which there are about half a dozen iterations. The numerous versions of many lenses make this tricky. I was ostracized on another Nikon forum for saying we look at lenses not pictures (I said it about the Noct lens, owners of which brook no reservations). The 20mm 3.5 is said to be very flare resistant and superb close to, less so at infinity.

All lack modern coatings (obviously) and will flare worse than modern coated lenses.

Ted --
Andrew Skinner

The early non Ai  versions of the Micro 55mm f3.5 compensating type are reputed as outstanding close up. The later  AI versions are not as great close up  but just as outstanding at the other extreme. These are better as a general purpose lens rather than for micro with great sharpness at infinity. I have read that the oil problem is an issue with the later f2.8 version.

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afoton
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to a_c_skinner, 6 months ago

a_c_skinner wrote:

The 20mm 3.5 is said to be very flare resistant and superb close to, less so at infinity.

All lack modern coatings (obviously) and will flare worse than modern coated lenses.

My 20mm/3.5 is more resistant to flare than all "modern coated" lenses I have ever tried.

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anotherMike
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to chooflaki, 6 months ago

I've got one of the early 55/3.5 micros that has been AI'd and it's stupid sharp in the close range, as good as anything made today. And it pretty much blows at infinity - kit lenses would be better. But close up? Wow....

Interesting that the 20/3.5 is mentioned. Haven't used one in a LONG time, but really liked it long ago... but I seriously doubt it's as flare resistant as something like the 28/1.8G.

-m

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AZ Steve
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to afoton, 6 months ago

When the D800E lured me back to Nikon after a few years with Canon, I eagerly dug out my AI, AIS and AF-D lenses and tested them systematically on arrays of resolution charts.  I very much wanted to love the 20/3.5 but the edges weren't encouraging even at f/8-11.  As others have said, the wides are nothing to enthuse about.  From 50mm up, many of the older lenses deliver pretty good images.  The problem for me is that these longer lenses rarely offer an appreciably better image than the f/4 VR zooms at my preferred f/5.6-f/9.  Certainly if I used wider apertures, such lenses as the handsome and optically fine 85mm f1.8 would see some use.  The 400mm f/5.6 AIS delivers a fine image wide open, but lacks AF and VR. . .

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afoton
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to AZ Steve, 6 months ago

AZ Steve wrote:

When the D800E lured me back to Nikon after a few years with Canon, I eagerly dug out my AI, AIS and AF-D lenses and tested them systematically on arrays of resolution charts. I very much wanted to love the 20/3.5 but the edges weren't encouraging even at f/8-11.

I do not shoot resolution charts. And if I did, I wouldn't be surprise that the corners of 20mm/3.5 is soft, because it has some field curvature. In real life this can be a problem, or it can help out placing the sharpness in a 3d world.

When flaring is the problem, I choose a lens like 20mm/3.5 because that lens solve the problem. There is no help of a lens with super resolution if the picture is spoiled by flare.

The 20mm/3.5 is not a perfect lens, but because of its good sides, I have no problem liking it.

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Birdmanfriday
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to as1mov, 6 months ago

as1mov wrote:

Hi,

where I can find sharpness tests of AI-s lenses? I'd like to compare their optical performance with the newer D and G lenses.

In particular I have 28mm f/2 and 50mm f1.2 and I'd like to see how good the 35mm f1.4 Ai-s performs compared with the others in its category.

P.S. I know only this web site for the 50mm lenses: http://nikonrumors.com/2011/11/03/seven-50mm-prime-lenses-for-nikon-f-mount-compared-by-cary-jordan.aspx/

Thank you.

I own both lenses. I mainly bought them for use on my D7100 but I've also tested them on my D800.

Of the 28/2 I'd say:

  • Flares badly at f2 but a lens hood helps somewhat.
  • Lacks contrast wide open
  • Geometric distortion is well controlled
  • Has significant field curvature and if the centre is sharp, the corners with appear soft when shooting a flat surface. However, focus more towards the corners using LV and it becomes clear that curvature is the problem, rather than poor resolution.
  • Contrast and resolution improve very dramatically at f2.8 and are simply excellent from f4 - f11 from the centre to about 85% out. Extreme corners are never quite critically sharp on FX but are fine on DX.
  • Performance at 2.8 is better than the 2.8 version IMO
  • Great for video
  • Mechanically it's superb and a joy to use.

Of the 50 1.2

  • Flares badly at 1.2 and 1.4
  • Produces rather nice hazy results wide open - 1.4 making it great for portraits if you can nail focus
  • The best 50mm I've used at f2
  • Outstanding between f2.8 - f5.6
  • Geometric distortion is minimal
  • Coma distortion is evident
  • Mechanically excellent
  • I haven't tested the extreme corners as I don't use it that way, but find them pretty sharp from 2.8 on the basis of informal use.
  • Difficult to focus accurately without LV wide open
  • Great for video
  • The only affordable 1.2

I like them both and think they're great on DX. The 28/2 is particularly nice as a 42mm equivalent walkaround lens on DX, with the added depth of field masking focus errors. Like many MF Nikons, their edge performance on FX may be a little less than stellar. Maybe a 1.2x crop would minimise their deficiencies?

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gear1box
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Re: Nikon AI-s lenses - quality tests
In reply to AZ Steve, 6 months ago

Z Steve wrote:

As others have said, the wides are nothing to enthuse about. From 50mm up, many of the older lenses deliver pretty good images. The problem for me is that these longer lenses rarely offer an appreciably better image than the f/4 VR zooms at my preferred f/5.6-f/9.

Steve --

You bring up a point that, frankly, is hard for me to get past.  In truth all these lenses have to be shot at f4 to f5.6 to get edge performance really satisfactory.  But at that point we are close to kit-zoom territory, so why bother?

And when it comes to primes, truly the f1.8Gs are hard to beat for a 28-50-85 range.  And i get AF.  And i get flash automation.  At least the AISes will matrix meter with many bodies now.

Look, i love using them, they will last until the second coming, but i really cannot say that i see the difference in my prints.

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