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Non-AF lenses on Nikon's newer "consumer" bodies

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by lukpac, Mar 19, 2003.

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  1. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Am I the only one that has a problem with this? As most people who are familiar Nikon equipment know, they've been using the same basic lens mount since 1959, when the Nikon F was introduced. What that means for users is that you can take a 40 year old lens and use it with a brand new body. The only exception would be the pre-AI lenses (pre-1977, I believe), although those are *easily* modified. I do this all the time: my favorite lens is a 1960s 105f2.5, used on my N70 (auto focus) body. It works great:

    [​IMG]

    This is one reason I love Nikon equipment. Cannon and Minolta changed their lens mounts when they switched to auto focus, meaning that all of those old manual focus lenses are useless on new bodies. Not the case with Nikon (and Pentax, for that matter).

    Now, many of the "low-end" AF bodies didn't have this ability. Well, you could still mount the lens, but you'd lose all metering ability, since the little AI prong was not included on these bodies. That included the N4004, N5005, etc. All of the "advanced amateur" bodies (N6006, N8008, N70, etc) included it.

    Unfortunately, that trend has changed. As far as I know, all of the current non-pro bodies (N55, N65, N75, N80, D100) omit the AI prong, meaning all metering is lost with non-AF/CPU lenses. You can technically use them, but what's the point of having to use a handheld meter with a new body?

    Is it just me, or does this not make any sense? Amateurs are pretty likely to have a bunch of older lenses, and unlike pros, probably can't justify buying all new lenses. Personally, I wouldn't mind getting something like the D100, but unless I can use non-AF lenses, it's pretty pointless.

    Am I the only one?
     
  2. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    My guess is it's basically a cost issue. Nikon and other manufacturers aren't really making much money on these cameras, so they shave a few bucks off manufacture and developing costs by making simpler mounts. Believe it or not, it's cheaper to make some electronic contacts than to make mechanical contacts. So the older lens users are SOL.

    I'm pretty sure Nikon has thought long and hard about this. You're in the minority I'm afraid. By now most amateurs have replaced their vintage prime lenses with more current zoom models.
    Also, I don't really agree that amateurs will be more likely to have older lenses than pros. I never "upgraded" to the auto focus lenses when I was using Nikon gear and I knew many colleagues who were the same way. Most working photographers don't make enough money to upgrade that often.
    Dan C

    edited for ham-fisted typing errors
     
  3. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    It stinks. Obviously there has been a management change at Nikon.
     
  4. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I'd assume it's a cost issue too, but really, how much does that really cost per body? We're talking about a ring that moves and some type of rheostat. A few dollars at the most?

    I'm not really prepared to spend several thousand dollars on Nikon's pro equipment. Like it or not, I just don't take enough photos - or make enough money selling them (read: none) - to justify the expense.

    FWIW, at least they read their mail at Nikon:

     
  5. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    A few dollars are a lot of money for an item that is mass produced. I guess they found out that most people are using recent lenses nowadays.

    Besides, you could always use an older body that has the feature that you need. There should be modern, feature-rich Nikon bodies on the used market that were made before this change.
     
  6. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your host Your Host

    Sure, Nikomat, Nikkormat, F Photomic, F2, F3, FM2, FM3, etc.

    I think what is bugging Luke is that Nikon has decided to change their policy after over 40 years.
     
  7. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Can't you use the built-in meter on those new cameras while the lens is stopped down to working aperture?
     
  8. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    It is frustrating, but it's also something of a minor miracle that Nikon has been able to keep that ancient mount into the digital age.

    They really didn't have much of a choice. Their popularity was sort of their curse, and they couldn't risk losing millions of dedicated customers by changing mounts on them.

    Canon had much less to lose and decided to take a gamble with a state of the art lens format. That gamble has paid off amazingly well for them.

    Dan C
     
  9. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    I think if Luke wants the latest body, then he should sell his 40 year old lens, and get a modern (perhaps used lens) instead of it. Try not to be sentimental about it. Many photographers still prefer fixed lenses, so they are available, and autofocus is a big plus in my opinion, I got used to it and don't want to miss it, simply because in some situations it is faster than manual focus. You take a sharp picture in situations where you would not have had the time to focus manually.
     
  10. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    I respect that Luke loves his vintage lens. They are beautiful pieces of equipment with a build and heft that no modern mass-produced lens can match.
    However, we can't expect this 40-year-old gem to play happily with the latest digital gear.
    Time marches on, for better and worse. And despite modern lenses feeling rather cheap and plastic-ish, the glass is better than ever.
    Dan C
     
  11. petzi

    petzi Forum Resident

    Location:
    Germany
    Well apparently it does work if one uses the full-featured camera body from last year's line of products...
     
  12. Drew

    Drew Senior Member

    Location:
    San Antonio, TX
    There are a lot of things I don't understand about the current state of the camera industry .

    I looking at the Nikon N65 about 2 years ago (admittedly in the low end of the 35mm SLR market) and was shocked when the sales person behind the counter told me that this Nikon model has bulb mode (hold the shutter open indefinately) but no option for a cable release or cordless remote shutter release. I made sure the salesperson told me that again to get it straight.

    Why would you mount a camera to a tripod to do some kind time lapse photography and be forced to reach across the top of it and hold the button down to keep the shutter open, hoping to avoid camera shake?

    I also don't understand why (almost) all currently made 35mm SLR's from any manufacturer have a built in flash that probably adds $25-50 to the cost of the camera body but has a guide number of maybe 11 with ISO 100 speed film. If the buyer wants to do any serious flash photography he/she has to go out and spend another $150 or more for a decent flash unit anyway. Has to be a marketing ploy.
     
  13. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    My guesses.
    I believe the built in flash is a HUGE selling point. When these silly things started popping up (pun intended) some 15 years ago most serious shooters and pros giggled. But it seems to be a fact that most people who buy a low to mid-line SLR want that built-in-pooper for convenience.

    Those some convenience seekers wouldn't be caught dead making a time-exposure. Simple supply and demand. 5% use a cable, 95% use the lame flash. No one wants to spend very much money. Camera makers are just giving the customer what they want.

    What gets me about modern cameras are those point and shoots with big zooms that open up to a staggering f10 max. :eek:
    If I wanted a pin hole camera I'd build one myself and save $200!

    Dan C
     
  14. Dan C

    Dan C Forum Fotographer

    Location:
    The West
    Yeah but like Luke said, you have to spend a lot of money for the privilege.

    In that case, it's far cheaper to buy a new lens and a more "affordable" digital camera.
    Nikon has even gone so far as to design a line of lenses specifically for the smaller imager used on dit-cams. Saves money and weight, but they won't cover the area of a 35mm frame on your film camera.

    Personally I think we're seeing the slow evolution of still cameras into full high-rez video cameras with frame grab capabilities.
    When the quality gets high enough and the price comes down, it'll be the end of still cameras for the masses.
    Only a small niche will shoot still frames.
    Dan C
     
  15. lukpac

    lukpac Senior Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    I few random replies:

    I'm not holding on to my 105f2.5 because it's a collector's item. On the contrary - if that were the case, I wouldn't have had it AI converted a few years ago. I'm keeping it because I love the focal length, I love its quality, and well, I have it - why should I get rid of it? Oh, and not to mention it's really fast, which is great for low light work (and not to mention keeping depth of field at a minimum).

    No, you can't use stop down metering in manual mode with those bodies, since most of them don't have depth of field preview buttons. I think the N80 and D100 do, but the others don't.

    Sure, I could hold on to an older camera - that's what I'm doing now with my N70. But if I want to use a digital camera, I either have to give up my lens, or pay the price for one of Nikon's professional bodies (which *do* continue to support older lenses fully).

    As far as those built-in flashes go, call me crazy, but I really like them. I really don't take many flash pictures anyway (I much prefer using available light), but if I do need a flash, it's there. I never liked having to haul around a flash with my old (MF) body.

    See, my problem with this decision is it has nothing to do with being technologically possible or not - it obviously is, and isn't too hard. It has everything to do with cutting corners. I'd happily pay another $20 to have this feature in the mid-level cameras, even if it costs Nikon $5 to add it.
     
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