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Damage from pre-AI lens?

opm

FI
8 posts

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opm Registered since 22nd Apr 2013
Mon 22-Apr-13 10:07 AM | edited Mon 22-Apr-13 11:56 AM by opm

Hello everyone! I'm new here.

I'm posting because last weekend, I made a stupid thing and tried an old pre-AI (according to http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html#35 and http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm) Nikkor 35 mm 2.8 lens on my two-week-old Nikon D800.

I was with a friend who has this old lens and wanted to try it on my new body. At first it seemed that the lens would not mount at all. But I have no previous experience of old Nikon lenses, and after my friend showed me how I need to align the aperture ring with the mark on the silver ring of the lens, I was able to mount the lens and even take some pictures. However, I noticed that the body always indicated the aperture to be F8, whichever F stop I dialed on the lens, and the pictures came out very badly underexposed.

Now I found several sites saying that such lenses (unless modified) "will not mount" (the above Ken Rockwell page) or some such thing and may damage modern Nikon bodies. This left me quite worried. Is it the meter coupling lever that may be damaged -- mine *seems* intact -- or something else? How can I tell that my body is OK? Do I have to try it with an AI lens to really know?

Could some of you more knowledgeable Nikonians please help a newbie here?

-opm

James23p

Memphis, US
11234 posts

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#1. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 0

James23p Moderator Awarded for his wide variety of skills, a true generalist both in film and digital photography Nikonian since 25th Apr 2004
Mon 22-Apr-13 10:30 AM | edited Mon 22-Apr-13 10:37 AM by James23p

It would be the metering tab/coupling, pre Ai lens do not have a knotch that fits the coupling thus it would damage the tab/coupling. It maybe that your friends lens has been Ai'd many were years ago. Some cameras could be modified to accept Non Ai lens and the lowest consumer DSLR's and SLRs never had the meter tab/coupling since they were not compatible with Ai and AiS lens like your D800.

Here's a few pictures of an Ai and Non Ai Nikkor you can see the knotch cutout for the Ai coupling and that is what the tab on your D800 uses to know what aperture the lens is set to allow metering.

Jim

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Attachment#1 (jpg file)
Attachment#2 (jpg file)

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benveniste

Boston Area, US
10255 posts

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#2. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 0

benveniste Moderator Awarded for is high level skills in various areas, including Macro and Landscape Photography Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his generous suppport to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Nikonian since 25th Nov 2002
Mon 22-Apr-13 10:33 AM

When you mount a non-AI lens on a camera like the D800, the metering tab on the camera and the aperture ring on the lens try to occupy the same space. Needless to say, something has to give.

Sometimes the metering tab gets damaged and the camera will need repair to work with AI lenses. More often, though, tolerances and wear allow the aperture ring to "ride over" the metering tab. That may have been the resistance you were feeling when you first tried to mount the lens, and may account for the incorrect exposure. (Other things, such as setting the wrong maximum aperture, could also contribute to the underexposure.)

I suggest visually inspecting your camera and trying an AI lens, but if you were able to remove the lens cleanly there's a good chance you didn't do any permanent damage.

"There is no real magic in photography, just the sloppy intersection of physics and art." — Kirk Tuck

opm

FI
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#3. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 1

opm Registered since 22nd Apr 2013
Mon 22-Apr-13 10:43 AM

Thanks for the reply and pictures, James23p! The lens definitely has not been AI'd (I've seen pictures of this modification in e.g. https://www.nikonians.org/forums/dcboard.php?az=show_topic&forum=301&topic_id=9558&mesg_id=9558&page=2).

-opm

opm

FI
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#4. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 2

opm Registered since 22nd Apr 2013
Mon 22-Apr-13 10:52 AM | edited Mon 22-Apr-13 10:58 AM by opm

Thank you so much benveniste! What you say seems to be based on real experience.

Yes, I guess I was pushing the lens against the metering tab; there was a springy feeling at first. Luckily, the tab shows no signs of damage as far as I can tell. (Can't I post pictures here, because of my "basic" account?) And I certainly noticed nothing odd upon removing the lens.

I have no easy access to AI lenses, but I'll try to find one and try it later.

-opm

archivue

Paris, FR
5525 posts

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#5. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 0

archivue Registered since 26th Mar 2002
Mon 22-Apr-13 10:59 AM | edited Mon 22-Apr-13 11:01 AM by archivue

It usually breaks or deform the small plastic coupling lever ! When without a lens it should move with a gentle finger push from right to left (looking at the camera) and when released at it's maximum should come back to it's original place (spring loaded).

The fact that it was "stuck" at f/8 means that the lever didn't follow the aperture ring tab (as expected with an pre-AI lens).
Some hope left that the tab being plastic deformed enough to being laterally shoved out of the way in a given position (rotation of the tab)), but a thorough inspection should be made to see if it is a permanent deformation (with even some ripping in the plastic) or if it seemingly escaped the worst.
The second test is to put an AF-D (not AF-S as they don't have an aperture ring nor the mount tabs) or an AI-S lens, mounting it carefully and looking if the plastic tab of the camera follows the tab on the lens mount.
Then by setting on, and moving the aperture wheel to minima and maxima, see if it relates to the lens given apertures? If the camera tab doesn't come back to it's original position (because it's bent), the minimal and maxima aperture won't be perceived by the camera (a f/2 will show as a f/3.5 for example)...

The bad news is that this little plastic tab is related to a more complex mechanism that needs, to be repaired or changed, to open completely the camera !!!

If you only use AF-S lenses you can live with it but you'll miss lots of the older lenses advantages and some resale value !

Per my usual Nikon service center, this is quite frequent, just as broken shutters that closed on the sensor cleaning apparatus (or even fingers) of people cleaning their sensors with batteries not at the proper level (or taking too much time doing it)...

While with a Nikon we can use most of the historical lenses there are some limitations, specially with the pre-AI lenses (though I have several AI'sed that works well) and some lenses have protruding parts that can break the mirror.

Jacques

"Un photographe, finalement, c'est quelqu'un comme les autres, mais qui prend des photos." - Man Ray
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opm

FI
8 posts

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#6. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 5

opm Registered since 22nd Apr 2013
Mon 22-Apr-13 11:11 AM | edited Mon 22-Apr-13 11:12 AM by opm

Thanks, Jacques!

>When without a lens it should move with a gentle finger push
>from right to left (looking at the camera) and when released
>at it's maximum should come back to it's original place
>(spring loaded).

That's exactly what it does. Feels very smooth and clean. I can push the plastic in a little, but only about a tenth of millimeter, maybe.

-opm

opm

FI
8 posts

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#7. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 6

opm Registered since 22nd Apr 2013
Tue 23-Apr-13 10:55 AM

Folks,

I tried the camera today with an AI lens. Works like a charm!

Thanks again for your help.

-opm

archivue

Paris, FR
5525 posts

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#8. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 7

archivue Registered since 26th Mar 2002
Tue 23-Apr-13 02:48 PM

Phew... Great news...
I guess that now you can immediately recognize a Pre-AI, AI, AI-S lens !!!!
On the second hand market there are quite a few Pre-AI that were AI'sed, those can be interesting lenses to get, specially if you also have an "older" film camera (or will try at some time in the future).

There are many shops that will do the proper filing job, but it's harder nowadays to get the proper replacement part for the small aperture numbers on the lens mount, unless cannibalizing some broken equivalent lenses ( don't throw those lenses, keep the parts)!

Enjoy your D800...

Jacques

"Un photographe, finalement, c'est quelqu'un comme les autres, mais qui prend des photos." - Man Ray
My Gallery...
My Other Gallery...

MEMcD

US
31276 posts

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#9. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 7

MEMcD Moderator In depth knowledge in various areas Nikonian since 24th Dec 2007
Tue 23-Apr-13 07:34 PM

Hi Olli,

Welcome to Nikonians!
Glad to hear your D800 was not damaged.

Best Regards,
Marty

mgd7

New York, US
104 posts

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#10. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 0

mgd7 Registered since 06th Mar 2012
Fri 26-Apr-13 11:47 AM

Glad your D800 seems not to have suffered from the experiment.

I have to say, though, that your first problem was wanting to put the 35 f/2.8 on your D800. That lens's main attributes are that it is small, light, and dirt cheap these days (including the cost of getting it AI'd, I paid <$40 for mine), but image quality is not it's strong suit even stopped down. I later acquired a 35 f/2 AIS which is a MUCH better lens all 'round (and not that much more expensive these days, if you can find one).

Mike

opm

FI
8 posts

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#11. "RE: Damage from pre-AI lens?" | In response to Reply # 10

opm Registered since 22nd Apr 2013
Fri 26-Apr-13 01:25 PM | edited Fri 26-Apr-13 01:28 PM by opm

Thanks for sharing your experience, Mike! I just wanted to try the lens because a friend happened to have it lying around. But given your assessment, I probably won't even consider AI'ing it.

-opm

G