AIS lenses can they be used on D40, D50?

Started Jan 1, 2007 | Discussions thread
Eric L Andersen Regular Member • Posts: 136
Cheap D200

Jim5k wrote (slightly trimmed):

Ah, so there IS someone else out there like me. I too am dying for
a camera that will work (and meter) with my wonderful AiS lenses.
...
Frankly I'm a little upset with Nikon for abandoning me. Ever since
I got into photography in the 70's, Nikon has always made a camera
for me (the FM series). They were even making TWO models just
before they stopped making film cameras (FM-3 & FM-10). I asked
them why they didn't make a digital equivalent, and they said
because there was no market for it. But if there was no market,
then why were they making the FM-3 & FM-10?!? Besides, how would
they know - they never tried marketing one.
...
Suggestion to Nikon: Make a version of the D-40 specifically to
work (i.e. meter) with your old manual focus AiS lenses.

I'd love a D200 to use with my old 24 2.8 (though the crop factor somewhat reduces its usability for me), and especially my 90mm Vivitar Series 1 Macro. However, my D70 does quite well manually. At this point the greatest benefit would be TTL flash metering, and I really need to save my money for a 12-24 zoom (I really did love that 24...

I hear and appreciate all of the folks who want AIS coupling on cheaper DSLRs, but Nikon's right - there's just not a big enough market. So many people say "how expensive can that little coupling be?".

The design and manufacturing prep costs of a DSLR have to be in the millions (or even tens of millions) of dollars. Adding AIS coupling involves changes in the body and lens mount, the addition of mechanical coupling, electromechanical sensors (position sensitive, not just on/off), circuitry changes, and extensive firmware support. Yes - some aspect of it all does exist in the D2x and D200, but integrating it into a new design is not trivial. Even ignoring any up-front design costs, the manufacturing cost is not insignificant, as it involves not only parts and assembly, but integrated testing as well.

I'd be quite surprised if the manufacturing cost of the AIS linkage would be less than $50 per unit evn at relatively high volumes. I'd not be surprised at over $100. In a high-end body like the D200, especially given that it represents Nikon's commitment to backward compatibility, that's not a problem. In would kill the D40, though.

The D40 is aimed in part at that same segment of the market that bought a Nikkormat and a 50 2.0 and never switched lenses. I'm betting that a significant fraction of D40 buyers never move past the kit lens and many of the rest buy a 55-200 and that's all. Nikon did push the envelope a little by removing the focus motor to drive the cost as low as it did. Adding $50 or more at a roughly $500 price point to support metering with MF lenses could cost them tens of millions of dollars in market share in that customer segment, to gain a small fraction of us who love the old glass.

I do like the idea of ANOTHER lower-end camera with AIS support, but I'm not holding out hope. I suspect that a lot of those who own and appreciate AIS lenses are enthusiasts who have either the skills to use those lenses on the D40/50/70/80 or who are willing to pony up for a D200. Until Nikon sees a greater benefit in selling probably tens of thousands of cameras to us than opening a potential market of millions
of new buyers they'll keep AIS coupling segmented at the higher end.

I WOULD like a better viewfinder, too, though... Sigh.

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