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Using AI lenses on D5000


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BobCole19 Registered since 17th Sep 2009
Sun 20-Sep-09 01:24 PM

Trying to decide on a purchase, I've been reading all I can about the D5000. By its specs, it seems pretty close to ideal for my application (relatively inexpensive DSLR that can use my old Nikkors for timelapse photography).

The recall that has been discussed bothers me, of course.

The other cause for concern is whether using my old AI Nikkors will be problematic. Thom noted that the camera can use a wide range of Nikkors. But on dpreview, I saw a chart that says non-CPU lenses "Can be used in mode M, but exposure meter does not function; electronic range finder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster."

I'm having a hard time understanding "exposure meter does not function" as well as the term "electronic range finder."

Could someone please explain these terms to me? And, if someone has put his/her old AI lenses on a D5000, how is the experience?


Bob C


Chicago, US
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#1. "RE: Using AI lenses on D5000" | In response to Reply # 0

gkaiseril Gold Member Nikonian since 28th Oct 2005
Sun 20-Sep-09 12:45 PM | edited Sun 20-Sep-09 03:28 PM by gkaiseril

The AI lens was introduced in 1977. The Nikon "AI" lens is a lens that allows for the automatic setting of the maximum f Stop for Nikon camera. Earlier Non-AI lenses required the turning of the aperture ring for setting the aperture for exposure by centering the exposure needle within the brackets. AI lenses added a metering ring that the camera would allow the camera to set the f stop for the correct exposure. For both lenses the iris release lever allowed the lens's iris to close for the exposure. A Non-AI Nikkor lens.

The exposure meter will not adjust the lens's aperture for the correct exposure since there are no electronics within the lens to send lens information to the camera and to receive the signals from the metering circuitry and set the lens's aperture. You can use the 'sunny 16' rule to estimate the exposure and then chimp the shot and look at the histogram to fine tune the next exposure.

Once you stop the lens to f 5.6 or smaller, there is not enough light entering through the lens for the focus circuitry to work, detect contrast.

The lens will not auto focus since there is no focus motor within the lens and your camera does not have the in camera focus motor and screw head to turn the lens's screw driver head focus link, but you can manually focus the lens and the viewfinder's focus indicator will indicate when it thinks proper focus has been attained.

With the AI and Non-AI lenses the photographer had to manually turn the focus ring to set the desired focus.

With the original Nikon F, 1959 - 1962, one needed to use a external light meter and set the camera's f stop, shutter speed and focus prior to taking an image and then manually advance the film and wind the shutter spring with the film advance lever. One never needed to charge or replace a batter on that model.

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#2. "RE: Using AI lenses on D5000" | In response to Reply # 0

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Mon 21-Sep-09 04:08 AM

Hi Bob,

Welcome to Nikonians!
While Manual Focus AI and AIS lenses will mount on the D5000 and can be used in Manual (M) exposure mode the light meter built into the camera will not fuction with an AI or AIS lens mounted on the camera.
You can set the correct exposure:
1. As George recommends using the Sunny 16 rule.
2. Using a hand held Lightmeter.
3. Using trial and error with the cameras Histogram.
The only Nikon DSLR bodies capable of metering with MF AI or AIS lenses are the D_00 and D_ series bodies. These bodies will also allow using Shutter (S) priority exposure mode in addition to Manual (M) exposure mode.
Good Luck and Enjoy your Nikons!

Best Regards,