Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

Started 6 months ago | Discussions
lattesweden
lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 5,456
Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

The "Your favorite" series of threads now also include bodys, since no lens takes images without a camera body.

To avoid "brand wars" this thread is only for Nikon.
Similar threads focusing on each of the other brands will follow.

So, which Nikon model (mirrorless/DSLR, FF/crop etc) do you think is the best for use with vintage manual focus lenses and why?

Bonus questions:

  • What are the pros and cons of your favorite body?
  • How do you manual focus with it (describe the process)?
  • Does your favorite body have IBIS and how well does it work?
  • Does your favorite body have a database function one can build up in the body that stamps the lens name into the Exif and sets the IBIS right (if it has IBIS)?
  • Does your favorite body support adapted lenses in any other good way?
  • Which MF adapter brand and type (tube type with or without optics) do you use with your favorite body?
  • Which camera body from Nikon that you have tried, should be avoided for manual focus vintage lenses and why?
  • Is there in your view a budget body from Nikon for manual focus vintage lenses that would be good for a beginner or someone with a lower budget and why?

Extra bonus questions:

  • Since autofocus lenses have been around since the mid 80s and starts to become vintage as well: If you do use your camera body with adapted AF-glass, which AF-mount do you use it with and which adapter do you use? How do you think it works?
  • Any other thing about your favorite Nikon body that is worth to mention?
-- hide signature --

Best regards
/Anders
*********************************************************************
Used camera brands over 40+ years:
Minolta, Nikon, Balda, Ricoh, Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony.
*********************************************************************
In the photoworld all companies are polyamorous and it is just like a big swingers party behind the scenes.
*********************************************************************
Any photographer can have a camera painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.
*********************************************************************
Some of my images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/66357766
*********************************************************************
Article, how to FTP-transfer, edit & share RAW-images wireless out in the field:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4609147
*********************************************************************
Timeline over all mirrorless autofocus fullframe cameras:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65760019
*********************************************************************
Article about Sony EVF/LCD modes:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65550258
*********************************************************************

Rol Lei Nut Veteran Member • Posts: 6,059
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

Nikon FM: my first "real" SLR (previously I'd used my parent's Pentax Spotmatic). Basic, simple, indestructable. Mine still has a deep dent with a piece of embedded Cordura, the result of trowing a backpack containing the camera down a waterfall while canyoning...

Only real drawback is the top speed of 1/1000, sorted in the more prestigious FM2 model.

Nikon F2A: I dreamed about having one for a decade. When I finally got hold of a used one, I only took boring pictures with it. Why? Nothing wrong technically, it handled beautifully, but I just wasn't inspired when using it , despite it being a dream come true.

Nikon F (+FTn): an ergonomic mess! The Photomic's sharp edges got stuck in every bag I used and it tended to come off easily by itself, the winding lever loved to get tangled up with the strap loops, the shutter button was uncomfortable to reach, the lenses needed to be indexed after mounting, the fully removable back required a third hand when changing film, and, and and... BUT, I took some of my best pictures with it (unlike the F2A) and loved using it.

Nikon FE2: my first concession to modernity (autoexposure). Complete, does everything well, compact, nice camera. I just don't love it.

If I shoot film again, I'll dig out the F + FTn and let inspiration and creativity flow, despite the odd curse when the winding lever gets tangled in the strap rings again...

fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 8,087
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses
1

I have many cameras, and I wonder if a per maker thread makes sense, since each will have few people chiming in. My guess is that it's best discussed generically.

My biggest gripe with film is that 99.99% of the viewers for mine would not see a print but a scan. This is why I never use film. Then there's the chemical waste. But I like the restrictions and pace it imposes. I wish there was a "film mode" that would force one to take at most 36 picture, then have to do some action to change the roll. And the photos would be named according to the roll. Ok, it's a soft experience, but consider it like those Hardcore Mode in many games. It forces you to a different pace and level of attention. The mode should disable Review, and therefore also Delete. It'd be even more interesting if it automatically ordered contacts for each roll and sent to the Default address. Even more interesting, one should select the Film Emulation and ISO BEFORE shooting the roll, and unable to change it within the roll. I think this would give some cohesiveness and more like in the past we had music Albums who had more consistency and not just a collection of songs.

Diacyclops81 Contributing Member • Posts: 678
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses
2

Since this is a digital website, except for the film forum, I thought the question posed really meant to ask…your favorite Digital Nikon camera body for vintage lenses. Would it be a DSLR or perhaps one of the Z bodies. For me I only have a Fuji S5 Pro …which is sort of a Nikon. And like many DSLRs one can use adapted lenses on it, but there are backfocus issues and dinking with getting focus right with macro or teles is a pain. Now, someone should say something about their Z. I tried a Z5 and was unsatisfied, just personal issues with the IBIS and focus aids that others might not find bothersome.  I guess if I had the money a good used 800 series DSLR might find a place in the file cabinet, or a Z7ii or Z9 if I won a small lotto jackpot. I have a couple minty Nikkormats for film use and self defense…being solid and hefty weapons.

fferreres Veteran Member • Posts: 8,087
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

Film is ok, there's even a forum dedicated to film photography.

lattesweden
OP lattesweden Veteran Member • Posts: 5,456
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

Diacyclops81 wrote:

Since this is a digital website, except for the film forum, I thought the question posed really meant to ask…your favorite Digital Nikon camera body for vintage lenses. Would it be a DSLR or perhaps one of the Z bodies. For me I only have a Fuji S5 Pro …which is sort of a Nikon. And like many DSLRs one can use adapted lenses on it, but there are backfocus issues and dinking with getting focus right with macro or teles is a pain. Now, someone should say something about their Z. I tried a Z5 and was unsatisfied, just personal issues with the IBIS and focus aids that others might not find bothersome. I guess if I had the money a good used 800 series DSLR might find a place in the file cabinet, or a Z7ii or Z9 if I won a small lotto jackpot. I have a couple minty Nikkormats for film use and self defense…being solid and hefty weapons.

What did you find problematic with the focusing aids of the Z5?

Also I read somewhere that on some (all?) Nikon Z bodys one can build a database with lenses whos names, focal length etc gets stamped into the Exif and that it then also sets the IBIS right.  Does the Z5 have this?

-- hide signature --

Best regards
/Anders
*********************************************************************
Used camera brands over 40+ years:
Minolta, Nikon, Balda, Ricoh, Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Sony.
*********************************************************************
In the photoworld all companies are polyamorous and it is just like a big swingers party behind the scenes.
*********************************************************************
Any photographer can have a camera painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.
*********************************************************************
Some of my images:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65325637
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64169208
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/64221482
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65120847
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65121520
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/66357766
*********************************************************************
Article, how to FTP-transfer, edit & share RAW-images wireless out in the field:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/4609147
*********************************************************************
Timeline over all mirrorless autofocus fullframe cameras:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65760019
*********************************************************************
Article about Sony EVF/LCD modes:
https://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/65550258
*********************************************************************

Parry Johnson
Parry Johnson Senior Member • Posts: 2,333
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses
1

I've used many Nikon film and digital cameras over the years.  Some of my vintage lenses are Nikon manual-focus lenses, but the majority are Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses.

My favorite film bodies would be the F90X for automation and the F2A for simplicity and ruggedness.

The digital cameras I use most are mirrorless because they allow me to adapt other mounts with few restrictions.  My Nikon 1 V3 works best with F-mount lenses with the FT1 adapter, and works well as a super-telephoto paparazzi stealth camera.  (My little Tamron 135mm f2.5 makes for a tiny 360mm combo that's great for candids at weddings or in any crowd.)

Then again, my Z7ii allows me to adapt anything.  I never fully appreciated my old Canon FL 58mm f1.2 lens until I could use it as it was designed for 35mm film cameras.  (I bought it long after switching from Canon FD to Nikon film bodies, and it was only so-so with the V3 and its 2.7X crop factor.)  Recently, my 24-70G got stuck on the FTZ adapter, and I luckily was able to finish a paid shoot with an old Pentax 35-105 f3.5, and with no real visible lack of quality.  Now how cool is that?

 Parry Johnson's gear list:Parry Johnson's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon 1 V1 Nikon D7100 Nikon 1 V3 Nikon Z7 II +28 more
carylee2002
carylee2002 Regular Member • Posts: 360
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

My Favorite Nikon is the original F with the standard prism. I own also the F2 and F4.. but its hard to beat the original.

 carylee2002's gear list:carylee2002's gear list
Fujifilm X100F Fujifilm X-Pro1 Fujifilm X-E1 Nikon D7100 Fujifilm X-M1 +29 more
Ricosuavefoto Forum Member • Posts: 56
Nikon Z5 is great
2

I have a Nikon Z5 and using vintage lenses with it is great. It is my favorite body for this because it is the one I have. I started with 35mm full manual (Pentax Spotmatic F, Zorki) and for the last 20 years or so that I have been on DSLR (Pentax, Nikon) I thought it would be fun to go manual but focus was a pain. No split prism focus and only the little green arrow focus indicators made it difficult on all my DSLRs.

But when I got the Z5 I learned about focus peaking, so I got adapters and gave it a try. It really works great, and that along with the ability to zoom 200% in the viewfinder gives me easy and crystal clear focus. And all the old tricks of setting hyperfocal distance with a fixed aperture or choosing ISO/aperture/speed work as well. If you set the manual lens settings, you also get IBIS. You can used aperture priority and let the camera pick shutter speed and ISO if you want. And there are cheap 3rd party adapters for pretty much every lens mount.

I don't know what pro shooters think of the Z with vintage lenses. It is a slower process and the modern lenses are really good. But if there is a look you want, or if you want a cheaper option for a particular focal length, or you just like nostalgia and farting around with vintage stuff, the Z5 is great with vintage lenses.

(One note: only the newer Nikon AF-S lenses with built-in motors will autofocus. Everything else is manual focus. The newer AF and AF-D and G lenses with electronic connections will control aperature and record exif data with the Nikon FTZ adapter but are manual focus because the FTZ has no screw drive. Older Nikons and other brands will not supply exif data and will be manual focus and aperture.)

 Ricosuavefoto's gear list:Ricosuavefoto's gear list
Nikon Z5 Nikon Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 Nikon Nikkor Z 28mm F2.8 (SE) Nikon Z 40mm F2
iljitsch Senior Member • Posts: 1,534
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses
1

Well, I haven't used that many Nikon cameras, so let me list two favorites and one less favorite.

First and foremost the Nikon FE. I learned photography on a super simple SLR back in the 1980s and the FE is a much better/nicer version of that. Still entirely manual except that it can do aperture priority auto exposure. And  it's old enough that it even allows mounting pre-AI lenses, although the metering is difficult and I don't want to give myself additional opportunities to waste film by introducing unnecessary extra variables. (Same reason why I don't use flash with film.) The FE also has some forward compatibility, with AF lenses also working on it.

Second, my D7100. Probably DX for old lenses is not ideal but I've never had an FX digital camera so I don't know what I'm missing. The D7100 has an aperture coupling ring so it works perfectly with AI AS-s manual focus lenses such as my 105 mm f/2.8 macro lens. You can can set up the camera to either let the camera set aperture, or you use the aperture ring.

You do get to set 10 or 20 non-CPU lens presets, but that's just focal length and minimum aperture.

Then the Z fc. I was quite disappointed when I found out that the FTZ adapter not only lacks a focus motor so no autofocus with AF lenses, or an aperture coupling ring so no easy compatibility with manual focus lenses, but with non-CPU lenses you don't even get all the focus aids you get on the D7100 with the same lenses or with CPU lenses in manual mode. So you have to use not very reliable/accurate focus peaking or use slow and laborious viewfinder zoom to nail focus. And the camera makes no attempts to control the aperture. So when you want to shoot at f/16 the viewfinder operates at f/16, so good luck focusing with so little light coming in and such a deep field of view.

All of that said, a big advantage of the Z cameras is that they have the shortest flange distance known to man so there are cheap adapters for pretty much any mount to Z. So I plan on getting an M42 adapter so I can use my Pentacon 135 mm f/2.8 "bokeh monster" (13 aperture blades!) lens a bit more. I do have a super thin adapter for M42 to F mount but with that, you can't focus to more than 10 meters, so not quite as useful.

The DX Z lenses don't have in body image stabilization, but the FX ones do. Not sure how well it works with non-CPU lenses. Like with the D7100, I can set up focal length and max aperture for 10 or 20 non-CPU lenses but unlike with the D7100, the actual aperture is not recorded in the EXIF data.

 iljitsch's gear list:iljitsch's gear list
Nikon D7100 Nikon Z fc Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D +10 more
Parry Johnson
Parry Johnson Senior Member • Posts: 2,333
Re: Your favorite Nikon camera body for use with vintage manual focus lenses

iljitsch wrote:

Then the Z fc. I was quite disappointed when I found out that the FTZ adapter not only lacks a focus motor so no autofocus with AF lenses, or an aperture coupling ring so no easy compatibility with manual focus lenses, but with non-CPU lenses you don't even get all the focus aids you get on the D7100 with the same lenses or with CPU lenses in manual mode. So you have to use not very reliable/accurate focus peaking or use slow and laborious viewfinder zoom to nail focus. And the camera makes no attempts to control the aperture. So when you want to shoot at f/16 the viewfinder operates at f/16, so good luck focusing with so little light coming in and such a deep field of view.

Yes, there are some limitations with Z bodoes, but once you get the hang of it, focus peaking works better than the green dot and arrows. I've also set one of my buttons to zoom to 100%, so a quick check is easy.  Whenever I'm using an MF lens, I have to slow down anyway, so focusing wide-open then stopping down isn't a problem for me.

All of that said, a big advantage of the Z cameras is that they have the shortest flange distance known to man so there are cheap adapters for pretty much any mount to Z. So I plan on getting an M42 adapter so I can use my Pentacon 135 mm f/2.8 "bokeh monster" (13 aperture blades!) lens a bit more. I do have a super thin adapter for M42 to F mount but with that, you can't focus to more than 10 meters, so not quite as useful.

I bought a few cheap Fotasy adapters off Ebay for each specific mount.  Most of my MF lenses are Canon FD mount, and before I sold off my M42 lenses I used a Canon "P" M42 to FD converter, which gives infinity focus for M42 lenses. (An M42 to Z adapter would be cheaper and easier to find, plus easier to use.)

 Parry Johnson's gear list:Parry Johnson's gear list
Nikon D800 Nikon 1 V1 Nikon D7100 Nikon 1 V3 Nikon Z7 II +28 more
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