AF lenses for manual cameras ???
I'm curious about the new AF Nikkors (specifically the 24-85mm) for use with my new FM3A. I wanted a fully manual camera and now I'm curious if and how these new lenses are applicable.
Is it a bad idea to get one, like the 24-85mm AF ?
I've been looking at pictures of them and they look like they can be used manually. But I want to be sure before I lay down the cash.
Can these lenses handle the rigors of manual focus over time?
Are they durable?
#1. "RE: AF lenses for manual cameras ???" | In response to Reply # 0henry Basic MemberFri 15-Feb-02 03:45 AM
I own 1 MF lens and 3 AF lenses. AF lenses, as long as they are not G (G has no aperture ring) are perfectly fine with FM3a (and FM2, FM, FE, FE2, F3 and so on).
As for manual focusing, sadly I have to agree that many of the AF lenses don't offer great focusing feel. It's throw is often shorter and it just feels different. The distance indication on the lens is also not as precise. Nevermind the depth of field charts on the lens. Even a MF 105 feels different from an AF 105. That's my opinion.
MF has a more secure feeling to it. AF is very loose because it was done so to autofocus faster with the AF bodies. Shorter throw so that the ring doesn't have to turn so much to focus.
#2. "RE: AF lenses for manual cameras ???" | In response to Reply # 0geo Basic MemberFri 15-Feb-02 05:44 AM
Henry is right, those lenses CAN work on MF cameras, but will show a few shortcomings, focousing feel being the most evident one.
I would like to mention a few more. To me, it's a matter of system phylosophy. AF is mostly about "getting the image quickly": so, you see zoom lenses. MF mostly means that you can take your time to get the right shot. And there are a lot of great classic prime lenses, that had no need to compromise with variable focal lenght and light focousing barrel movements. So those classic primes can provide you with performances that you won't get from AF zoom lenses. We talk not just about "sharpness", but about "extreme sharpness" together with "good bokeh", "little or no distorion", "little or no vignetting". Actually you can get lenses with high class optical performance even in the AF line, but they often show some type of compromise. Let's see.
Most AF primes are RF or IF, just because they can not afford to move all the lens barrel to focous: it would be too heavy. Their RF or IF design compromises good bokeh in favour of AF speed. So, designers outfit such lenses with "rounded diaphragm blades": this clearly means that the lens is not able to render a nicely blurred image of the diaphragm, and they have to make it round to get more acceptable bokeh. Otherwise, they have to fit the lens with complicated and expensive systems such as the DFC elements in the AF 105/2 and 135/2.
A few Nikkor AF primes share the same optical design of their MF cousins. Such lenses are the 20/2.8, 24/2.8, 50/1.4, 50/1.8, 300/2.8 ED IF (not the AFS).
So, all considered, I'd suggest: buy the 24-85 if you need that kind of lens, but don't expect the refined image quality (and higher operative capabilities duo to lens speed) that you could get from a classic trio like AI-s 24 or 28/2.8, 50/1.8 and 105/2.5. Those MF lenses can be bought used for really cheap money and, provided you get good samples, they are so robust that will keep on serving you for much longer than any amatorial AF zoom.
#3. "RE: AF lenses for manual cameras ???" | In response to Reply # 0f8bthere Basic MemberFri 15-Feb-02 12:52 PM
As a person that has gone from old non-AI'ed lenses, through AI / AIS manual focus lenses, and onto autofocus lenses, I have arrived at a conclusion that FOR ME is correct. I have all but totally gone back to AI / AIS lenses.
They feel good in use. They are durable in most harsh conditions. Optically, they may have been surpassed by the best of the newer lenses with-in certain ranges, but the manual focus Nikkor lenses from say the mid-to-late 1980s are across the board one of the most consistently high performing ranges in photography. Canon, Minolta and Pentax all produced a couple of "killer" lenses, but you would be hard pressed to have found a "bad" Nikkor lens from that era. Add to this fact of performance and mechanics that many thousands of near perfect manual focus Nikkors are sitting on used camera shelves at great prices waiting for some new FM3a user to discover what he has been missing from the "cookie cutter" f/slow to f/slower plastic zooms, and the news is almost all good.
I was happy that Nikon brought out the FM3a, and then it hit me that my ability to go to the camera shop and scan the overflowing used equipment shelf for old Nikkors might be compromised. When relatively new Nikon users get an FM3a and discover how nice the gear was from that bygone time, those lenses will be snapped up at a faster rate. A higher demand could also make the prices higher in the market.
If you want to use an auto-focus zoom on your FM3a, go ahead. That cross utilization is one of the important benefits that separates Nikon and Canon. If you are using a mix of auto-focus cameras with the FM3a, then it makes sense to have an AF based lens outfit. Minimally, I would get at least one nice manual focus lens for those times when you want to go out with a single camera and just shoot pictures. I have been doing photography for a long time, and I am still amazed at how restricting yourself like this can make you "wake-up" visually.
I have only a couple of auto-focus lenses that are still working, (my 35mm f/2.0 and 50mm f/1.4 AF lenses are inoperative due to mechanical breakdown), but every manual focus lens I have, (some from the 1960s) is still working perfectly. When you divide the initial cost over time, manual lenses are a bargain. If you have an FM3a, you are giving up nothing using older lenses. In all honestly, you are probably not giving up much by using auto-focus lenses. Check back with us in 10 years and let us know.
#4. "RE: AF lenses for manual cameras ???" | In response to Reply # 0SzennyBoy Registered since 28th Jan 2002Wed 16-Jan-08 11:47 AM
Using AF lens on the manual bodies are not a problem. I use a AF 105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor on a F2A body with no problems at all. However, this lens was designed for manual focusing as well, hence the dedicated AF to MF switch on the lens and the large focusing collar located more-or-less in the middle of the lens. This makes it easy to use as a normal manual focusing lens (see first attachment).
As for the lens you're after, the AF24-85mm f/2.8~4D IF, the focusing collar is located near the front of the lens and is rather small compared to the larger zoom collar at the base of the lens which is the natural position you'd go for if you're used to MF lens (see second attachment). This means that it might take a bit of getting use to for focusing if you're switching from MF lens.
The other issue which you'll need to check is the total angle of rotation for focusing between infinity and extreme near-field range. Most of the AF lens have a shorter rotational range compared to the MF lens for the purpose of increasing the AF focusing speed. You will need to decide if that is acceptable for your kind of photography.
One lens that might be worth checking out is the AF 35-70mm f/2.8D (third attachment). It is a very good lens and very sharp. It is also a push-pull zoom so it will feel like the manual zooms of old. The focusing feel of this little baby is great although is does seem louder on AF. I have had this lens in my bag for over 9 years and I have never had any problems with it!
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