Hi I am building up my Nikon kit, having been up till now using Canon cameras. One of the intriguing features I have encountered is the fact that my D800 can operate screw drive type lenses. I am minded to pick up a couple of second-hand older screw drive lenses to try out the feature and use them until I decide to spend rather more money on the expensive zooms etc. My question is, in general, will second-hand screw drive lenses operate well or does the screw slot get worn through long-term use and the auto-focus become sloppy?
I have several AF lenses that use the camera body focus motor and they all work quite well. They might be a bit slower to focus, in general, but the difference is typically just a few milliseconds, so no worries, at all. I have some that are as old as the technology and they show no signs of degraded performance. The parts wear well.
There is less to go wrong with "screw-drive" lenses than with SWM lenses where the motor is in the lens.
Never had one need repair. I have several and still use old stardards like 180 f2.8 and 85 1.4 D. I prefer the 85 D to the new G. Focus speed is never really an issue with it. The answer to you question is probably, it depends of which screw driver type lens you are considering. Some are great, some not so much.
There's more than one type of lens, including more than one type of screwdriver AF lens. Some of them are built very, uhm, lightly. The 28-80/f3.5-5.6 is such an example. I've never opened one up, but I am reliably told that sticky tape is used in the construction. I wouldn't be so worried by the screwdriver nature of that lens, but the lens itself. The 28-80 was built down to a very low price point, as you can likely guess. Other screwdriver AF lenses, particularly but not limited to the pro lenses, wear pretty much like iron. I don't really remember how many of them I've had, but it's got to be more than a dozen, since I still own seven of them. I've seen virtually no issues with screwdriver AF, and none personally.
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
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Most of these lenses were purchased in the years 1990 ~ 1996. They still operate perfectly on my D3S, D3 and D2Xs bodies.
In fact, the only problems I have experienced over the years, have been with a 300mm f2.8 AF-I (pre-runner to 300mm f2.8 AF-S) and a 14-24mm f2.8 AF-S ( Motor played up from brand new and complete lens was replaced as I was going overseas on a photo trip.)
Fri 28-Dec-12 01:58 AM | edited Fri 28-Dec-12 01:34 PM by mkbee1
My 70-210 D lens worked great for about 20 years. I replaced it with the 70-300 VR.
My 28-105 D was refurbished 2 years ago, when the focusing ring fell off...it was about 15 years old.
They may not have all the bells and whistles the newer and more expen$ive lenses have, but they focus rapidly,accurately, and are sharp! I never had a problem at air shows or auto racing, and my 50 f/1.8 is still going strong.
I used the 70-210 and 28-105 on my 6006, then my D50, and now the 28-105 and 50mm are in use on my D90. Anything mechanical can fail, but they can usually be repaired inexpensively.
If buying older lenses and are in good shape they are worth buying. I pulled the first three out of storage about 2 years ago and only updated two becasue of the wider zoom ranges. The other two were puchased last year.
You could probably buy the first four for less than today's cost of a new 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII.
1993 - 20-35mm f/2.8, upgraded to an 17-35mm f/2.8 last year 1989 - 35-70mm f/2.8, upgraded to an 24-70mm f2.8 last year 1993 - 80-200mm f/2.8 1995 - 85mm f/1.4 f/2.8 1999 - Micro 70-180mm f/4.5-5.6
I've used these with the D7000 and D800 and found them to be excellent with the image quality difference between the old and the new is small.
My first AF lenses were the screwdriver types that I bought nearly 20 years ago. They are still working quite well, so wear has never been an issue with my screwdriver lenses.
If the D800 has an AF motor similar to my D700, the AF speed is reasonably fast. The fastest body I have for those lenses is the F5, but the other bodies do fairly well.
The real AF lenses to avoid are the AF-I lenses. They were all super-tele lenses (300, 400, and 600 IIRC), and those in-lens motors are prone to failure and there are no parts available. They are also very heavy lenses. I have only used the 400 f2.8 AF-I and it was a monster. It weighed much more than my 400 f2.8 AIS, and that is a beast.
My favourite screw dive lens is the 80-200mm f/2.8 that I bought to use on an F4s many years ago. I use it heavily with a D300 now to take wildlife pictures of large mammals and it has never let me down.
Metal/pro screw-drive (non-AF-S) Nikkor brand lenses would be expected to last longer than AF-S and VR lenses, but not as long as manual focus lenses. For this reason, I've decided to go with an entirely screw-driven and manual focus lens kit. During the time that friends/colleagues have sent their AF-S and VR lenses in to Nikon multiple times over the years, I continue to enjoy my non-AFS lenses without issue, and would expect it to remain this way into the future when AFS and VR motors for specific lens models are hard to find after discontinuation of the lens and their requisite repair parts (which happens some years later). There is simply less to break down, unlike with AFS and VR motors, which tend to break down after 15-20 years, sometimes earlier.
I'm actually trying to build my lens kit with D and non-d lenses. I just bought a non-d version of the 105 2.8 micro last week. It's already 20 years old but still auto focuses really well and is optically excellent. Besides these D/non-d lenses are all FX and cheaper than their AF-S versions.
Sun 13-Jan-13 02:24 PM | edited Sun 13-Jan-13 02:31 PM by gpoole
AF-S lenses are also D lenses. The D indicates that the lens provides focus distance through the electronic contacts. It is more precise to say screwdriver or non AF-S/AF-I lenses. It is true that AF without the D, I, or S are all screwdriver lenses.
Then of course we have AI-S manual focus lenses where the S means something completely different the the S in AF-S. Isn't Nikon nomenclature wonderful?
Edited to add: To me another advantage of screwdriver lenses is that all of them that I'm aware of have aperture rings. Most and all recent AF-S lenses a G type (no aperture ring). Because I started with Nikon in 1965 I still prefer to use the aperture ring over the command dial to set aperture. Fortunately all my DSLRs except my D90 that is my last round of backup support using the aperture ring.
Gary in SE Michigan, USA. Nikonians membership - My most important photographic investment, after the camera. D4, D810, D300 (720nm IR conversion), D90, F6, FM3a (black), FM2n (chrome) YashicaMat 124, Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5 My Nikonians Gallery & Our Chapter Gallery
>Edited to add: To me another advantage of screwdriver lenses >is that all of them that I'm aware of have aperture rings.
Well, (as Michael mentioned) there is the AF DX 10.5mm f/2.8G, which has screwdriver focus and no aperture ring. There have also been AF 28-80mm, 28-100mm, 28-200mm and 70-300mm screwdriver Nikkors that lack aperture rings
Thanks again for all this useful and interesting information. Well I plunged into the world of screw drive lenses and picked up a 20mm f2.8 D to use on the occasions when I am too timid to take my new 14-24mm. The 20mm D is a lovely piece of equipment. I was expecting something a bit more 'cheap plastic' but this is very nice even if it is not a metal body. It focuses fine on my D800 and gives pretty sharp images across the frame at f5.6-8. Not as good as the 14-24 when pixel peeping but fine when doing a wide landscape not requiring much cropping.