I realize the E series lenses are lighter (and cheaper). How does the glass compare with some of the heavier lines?
#1. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 0f8bthere Basic MemberThu 20-Sep-01 11:26 AM
LAST EDITED ON Sep-20-01 AT 04:15 PM (GMT)
Back in the "good old days" when Nikon was the undisputed king of professional level gear, every lens they offered was cut from the same cloth. Even low priced simple designs did not compromise on build quality. In effect, every Nikkor was a professionally capable lens... you couldn't buy a "bad" lens back then.
When Nikon wanted to court the amateur market, they smartly decided to offer a parallel range of cameras and lenses. The new series E lenses were offered, but the moniker of "Nikkor" was not used... they were simply Nikon lenses. The range was quite filled out with both prime lenses from 28mm to 135mm as well as several zooms. In context of those times, the build quality was noticeably less robust than the Nikkor lenses of the same focal lengths. Additionally, if you compared the cross section of the optical construction for both ranges, some short cuts were made to bring the new lenses in at a reduced price. For example, the 28mm f/2.8 Nikkor has 8 elements, while the series E has only 5... so the Nikkor would offer a higher degree of correction especially at the wider apertures. On the other hand, the series E and Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lenses exhibit the same optical formula, and other than the mechanical construction, they perform quite similarly from my experience. Another area of cost cutting was said (from the old Nikon literature) to be in the amount of coating applied when compared to the real Nikkors. In effect, Nikon produced a line of competent lenses to allow the advanced amateur who might not have been able to justify the similar lens from the Nikkor line.
I have been using the Nikon line for a long time and have used every vintage of lens offered since the Nikon F and non-AI lenses in the 1960's up to the current offerings in the auto focus line. IMHO, I think that while the series E was not as stout as the Nikkors, it is at least on a par, if not better than the consumer lenses offered by Nikon today. Add to the fact that the auto focus lenses require a bit of "slop" to allow the motors to drive the focusing ring and the "feel" of the series E lenses will offer a more traditional movement in use. Of course, the big problem now is that many of these lenses are now 2 decades old, so finding a pristine example would be harder to come by, and it would be easy to come across lenses that have been abused, (used hard), so sample variations could result in poor performance, unlike the Nikkors of that time which are pretty consistent, due to their tank-like build. Avoid the first examples, which were overly plastic. An upgrade was made to add a more traditional look and a chrome ring for mounting, IMO these are the ones to look for.
I have two good series E experiences. I bought a brand new 50mm f/1.8 (with the metal ring) for 10 dollars from a military exchange in Okinawa. It lived on an old Nikon FE2 as my "third world" camera for times I traveled to countries with high theft or harsh environments. Some of the slides produced with that set-up are still among my favorites. From f/4.0 the lens is very good, and just a touch soft wide open, but still usable. My best series E lens is also my best zoom ever from any vintage of Nikon gear. The late model of the series E 75-150mm f/3.5 is a classic. Every professional that I liked back in the 1980's was praising this lens, one photographer from an article in "Outdoor Photography" magazine after reviewing his slides from the first use of this lens went out and bought two more lenses to keep in the box so he would always have one when they were discontinued. This was a 100 Dollar lens that was impressing photographers that could afford any lens. Results are all that mattered, and this lens gives them. Mine is now 18 years old, and a bit loose on the zooming action, but the images pop off of the light table better than any zoom ... and many primes, that I have ever used.
#2. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 1Fri 21-Sep-01 01:12 AM
Thanks for all this information. I have resently purchased 2 new E series Nikon lenses from a friend. He never ever used them. One is the 50mm F1.8, the other, the 35mm F2.5
I also bought a zoom lens and a EM, filters, bag etc from him.
I basically just wanted some lenses for my FM2T. I know in the good old days, things where much simpler. I had some great camera equipment--even a spanking brand new FM! Had all of it stolen, though, and I have been screwing around with rangefinders for many years, since.
I've been reading some good things about the Nikkor 35-70 zoom. Is this lens really that good? I've been looking around for a used middle range zoom like that for awhile.
#3. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 2f8bthere Basic MemberFri 21-Sep-01 11:09 AM
If you are looking for lenses for your FM2T, then the news is almost all good. I am astonished at the amount of perfect AI / AIS glass sitting on the used shelves at the camera stores I go to. I myself was stupid enough to trade in my older lenses to go into autofocus, and then was forced to buy it (or most of it) back at a loss when I realized that the grass was indeed not greener with the new gear.
You have an outstandingly robust camera, so even if it takes a bit longer, treat it to some good glass. After thirty-something years of shooting, I would happily have only two great lenses in my bag, then to have a half a dozen "lesser" lenses. The image is made by the lens, the camera only holds the film, so use good lenses.
You ask about the 35-70 zoom, but you don't specify which model. The AIS f/3.5 was very good, if not just a bit too large. The AF f/2.8 is excellent. There was a variable aperture lens offered a few years ago, an f/3.3-4.5 in both manual and autofocus. It was not too bad for its performance to price ratio. The one caveat is that it is not too fun to use a variable aperture zoom on an FM2, since zooming will require that you also adjust the exposure, which slows the process down in dynamic shooting situations. When I use my FM2, it is with prime lenses or fixed aperture zooms.
BTW... I also am using rangefinder cameras... Leica M's. I find that SLR and RF cameras compliment each other well, and often carry both at once. I will often have a FM2 with a 105mm f/2.5 and a Leica M6 with 35mm f/2.0 together, and that makes a good combo for fast shooting.
#4. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 3Fri 21-Sep-01 05:02 PM
Thanks. Yes, I'll be looking for a few great lenses, I just have to find out which ones are great. The E series lenses where real cheap from a friend. Certainly not Zeiss quality, though functional nevertheless. I've been away from Nikon for over 20 years, and several months ago was able to snag a used FM2T. Mint condition. But I had to pay for this $$$. Leica? More $$$. I liked the 1954 M3.
#5. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 4Ed Basic MemberSat 22-Sep-01 11:50 PM
Just to confirm Al's response, the 75-150/3.5 Series E is an old-fashioned plasticky zoom, but boy the images I've taken with this lens are comparable to those taken with my primes (and I have an mixed bag of AIS and AF primes). I don't think the optical quality differs between the early plastic ring version and the later chrome-ring version. The chrome-ring version looks like an AIS Nikkor though. I have the early version and it must be over 20 years old now. But it still has a home in my camera bag today.
Regarding other E lenses, the 50/1.8 Series E has the same optics as the AF and AIS version, so it must be pretty sharp. However, I've never liked the bokeh of my 50/1.8. The 28mm Series E has the same optics as the early 28mm f/2.8 AF non-D version, which was not very good. I own this early AF version as well as the 28mm f/2.8 AIS and the difference is very apparent, both in color rendering, contrast and sharpness (at least to my eyes).
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#6. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 5Sun 23-Sep-01 11:59 PM
Thanks. I'm not looking to buy any more E Nikon lenses. I'm looking for a good medium range zoon like the 35 - 70 (older type). So far the dealers haven't had any in here in Vanacouver, and try to shove crapy expensive stuff on me which, of course, I don't want.
I'm in no rush, though, so when I find what I want, I'll buy it.
#7. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 6Ed Basic MemberMon 24-Sep-01 01:06 AM
Note there's 2 versions of the manual-focus 35-70/3.5. One has 77mm filter and the other is 62mm. I was looking at buying the 62mm version (which is said to be the later and better version) being sold at photo.net a few months ago.
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#8. "RE: Nikon Serious E lenses" | In response to Reply # 7Mon 24-Sep-01 10:38 PM
LAST EDITED ON Sep-26-01 AT 08:46 AM (GMT)
LAST EDITED ON Sep-25-01 AT 02:39 AM (GMT)
I'll start looking this week for the F2.8 version. If I can't find one right away, it doesn't matter. One will pop up sometime. My motto is that if you can't find what you're looking for, for Heaven's sake, don't settle for anything else---unless you get something near as good at a Hell of good price!
Update: haven't found one yet.
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