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Thread: Nikkor MF short primes...

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    Nikkor MF short primes...

    Looking at picking up a couple of shorter Nikkor Ai/Ais primes - anyone care to share their thoughts on:

    28/2 Ai
    28/2.8 AiS
    35/2

    May also pick up a 50/1.2 just for the hell of it, so I'll toss it in the pile as well. I've used the 50/18 early and some longer primes in the past (85/104, 180/2.8, etc) but not so much the short end. Checked the usual suspects (Bjorn R, Photodo, etc.) but the more agnostic opinions the better.

    Will be used on a 1Ds2 initially, but wouldn't hurt to get re-acquainted with that 'reverse' Nikon operation..
    Last edited by robmac; 2nd July 2008 at 17:43.

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    Subscriber Member Jonathon Delacour's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor MF short primes...

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    Looking at picking up a couple of shorter Nikkor Ai/Ais primes - anyone care to share their thoughts on:
    28/2 Ai
    28/2.8 AiS
    35/2
    I have no experience with the 35/2 but 28mm is one of my favorite focal lengths for both full-frame and APS-C. I have the 28/2 AI-S, 28/2.8 AI-S, and 28/2.8 AF-D Nikkors plus a 28/2 Zeiss ZF. Which leaves just the Nikkor 28/1.4 to complete my collection!

    Although the 28/2.8 AF-D has a bad reputation -- the Photozone review is typical -- I've found its performance perfectly acceptable on my D300. In fact, the D300 plus 28/2.8 AF-D is my normal carry-around combo. If lens performance is paramount I switch to the Zeiss 28/2, even though I find it difficult to focus accurately on the D300. But that's not what you asked about.

    The Executive Summary? A good copy of either the 28/2 or 28/2.8 (AI or AI-S) is an excellent choice. If you don't need to shoot wide open, you'll save money buying the slower lens.

    However the 28/2 is not a great performer wide open. The general consensus -- matched by my own experience -- is that the 28/2 AI-S is slightly soft at f/2 but, once stopped down to f/4 or f/5.6, there is little difference between the 28/2 and 28/2.8 AI-S lenses. I expected the 28/2 AI-S to be easier to focus but that hasn't been the case.

    On his CameraQuest page about Nikon manual focus lenses, Stephen Gandy writes:

    Construction-wise, AIS lenses are usually smaller and lighter than their predecessors. In other words, costing cutting was coming home to Nikon. Most AIS lenses show cheapened construction. The typical five screws for the bayonet mount was reduced in most cases to only three. The traditional chrome ring on Nikon lenses between the focus ring and the aperture ring was replaced by aluminum.

    IF the optical formula is the same--as they often are--I prefer the heavier constructed AI lenses over the AIS.

    Given that on a Nikon DSLR, it doesn't really matter whether it's an AI or AI-S lens, that distinction is also unimportant on a Canon DSLR.

    According to Leo Foo's Nikkor Resources main page on the 28mm lenses, both the AI and AI-S 28mm versions employ Nikon's Close Range Correction System to ensure good performance at close focusing distances. Most of the pictures I make with a 28mm lens are taken at relatively close distances -- I don't photograph landscapes -- so CRC is important for me. The Nikkor 28/2 lens focuses to 0.25m, the Zeiss 28/2 to 0.24m, and the Nikkor 28/2.8 to just under 0.2m (9.85in, 9.45in, and 7.87in respectively).

    Here are some more links which might be worth a look:

    David Ruether's and Grover Larkins' Subjective Evaluations of Nikon Lenses
    ("28/2 often not as good at wide stops as the f2.8 AIS 28mm - but often better than the f2.8 AIS by 5.6")

    Roland Vink's Nikon Lens Serial Numbers (invaluable for figuring out when a particular lens was manufactured)

    Leo Foo's 28mm manual focus Nikkor pages: 28/2.8, 28/2

    Nikon wide angle that comes close to Leica at f/2 (interesting discussion about Nikkor 28mm and 35mm lenses)

    Google search on "nikkor crc 28mm" also yields a number of interesting results

    I don't think you'll have much trouble finding a good copy of a 28mm Nikkor. Either the 28/2 or 28/2.8 offers excellent value for money.

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    Re: Nikkor MF short primes...

    Johnathon - excellent input, much appreciated. I'll check out some of the sources you listed.

    The 28/2 ZF is tempting. I owned the ZF 35/2 and felt it had too many shortcomings (CA in high-contrast winter shooting) and the 100 ZF I owned, like Woody's, was returned for a stick-in-concrete focus mech, but I may give the Zeiss/Cosina one last try with the 28 or maybe the 50/2. The 28 does get good, albeit some mixed reviews (field curvature, treatment of lights in night shots offset by that Zeiss color/contrast). OTOH, the Ai/S 28/2.8 is a boat load cheaper - albeit a stop slower.

    Much like yourself, I use lenses in the 28-35mm FL in a more close focus fast reportage style to sneak a shot (as much as you can 'sneak' with a 1Ds2) vs. landscapes, so a CRC-style ability, floating elements, etc are important.

    Thanks again.

    Rob

    Am thinking of a move to D700 later this year to get a smaller footprint and maintain FF, so may acquire more Nikon-centric glass vs Leica than I'd been originally intending so as to not have a stable of lenses to shift if/when a move is made. On the longer end, I have a Mamiya 200/2.8 APO with a Nikon adapter that performs like a champ on the Ds2, so it should do nicely on any D700.

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    Subscriber Member Jonathon Delacour's Avatar
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    Re: Nikkor MF short primes...

    Quote Originally Posted by robmac View Post
    The 28/2 ZF is tempting. I owned the ZF 35/2 and felt it had too many shortcomings (CA in high-contrast winter shooting) and the 100 ZF I owned, like Woody's, was returned for a stick-in-concrete focus mech, but I may give the Zeiss/Cosina one last try with the 28 or maybe the 50/2. The 28 does get good, albeit some mixed reviews (field curvature, treatment of lights in night shots offset by that Zeiss color/contrast). OTOH, the Ai/S 28/2.8 is a boat load cheaper - albeit a stop slower.
    Rob, the 100/2.0 ZF was on the top of my "To Buy" list until I read about the stiff focusing that a number of forum members had encountered. I have absolutely no regrets about buying the 28/2.0 ZF.

    Interestingly, the AI-S 28/2.8 is available new from both Matsuiyastore (an eBay vendor with an excellent reputation) and B&H Photo Video for about US$380 while KEH currently have a LN- 28/2.0 AI-S for US$499.

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    Re: Nikkor MF short primes...

    I REALLY wanted to like the 100 - sharp, etc. But that focus ring was literally 'grab with one hand, get a good grip and twist hard. The aperture ring is also VERY close to the body and situated in a narrow valley between the body and much larger lens barrel - makes changing aperture quickly a bit of an acquired skill. John Black's site www.pebbleplace.com discuss the aperture valley of death issue quite well - in his case on the 50/2.

    Arne Harving (on this forum as well) has had some defective sample issues with a 35/2 and a couple of ZM units. He may be worth talking to if you want to proceed.

    LLoyd Chambers' paid review of the ZF line is very good, but while he does report on issues like field curvature, etc., not seen in other reviews and there is some chat about sample variation, his 100/2 was a smooth operating unit.

    There are multiple debates going on at moment on the ZF lenses on the alt glass forum on FM, but I'd advise caution. Things have well past the point adding value to anyone and have become 'nasty' -- with the low point being little old me (Conner999) being labeled a racist for indicating the Zeiss/Cosina relationship needs to improve the mechanical QC on some of the lenses. I left the discussions some time ago in disgust.

    I would still consider some ZF lenses if I were to move to a D700. Color and res are Zeiss thru and thru as you know from the 28/2.

    However, I would personally buy any such lenses used and with a good exchange policy. I think the premium commanded from new for some of them doesn't jive with the consistency of mechanical (for me) QC, ergonomics of the longer units and the control of CA that, with the exception of the 50/2, is no better/worse than one would find with a lesser-priced C or N lens. CA I can live with in most cases, playing multiple-copy mail order roulette at $1500 a pop across border I will not.

    In the case of the 100 for me, I weighed it's attributes against a C or N macro at 1/3 the price or a used Leica 100 APO and for me, given the stiff focus ring and my retailer telling me it was a common issue with the 100, didn't justify trying other copies and the customs hassles that would entail.

    On the flip side, I know Kit L on this forum loved his 100/2, so it of course varies by individual taste - and sample received.

    Thanks again for the info - I'll check out those vendors.

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