Old Lenses on New Cameras - What do you still use?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by FleurDuMal, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. FleurDuMal macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    London Town
    Hi everyone.

    Now, as I am a cash strapped student who has been working very hard all summer to earn myself some money, the money that I have earned I want to stretch as far as possible. Having decided that I'm in the market now for both/either a fast mindrange prime (for portraits/difficult light) and a wide-angle zoom (see my other recent thread), I am willing to do anything to get the best optical quality for the least money (OK, aren't we all... :rolleyes: ).

    One option I'm considering is taking advantage of Nikon's impressive back-catalogue compatibility on all its cameras (I have a D70s). However, I don't seem to see people on these and other forums talk about buying up old lenses cheap and using them for their new digital cameras. How comes? I assume the optics were just as good 5 or 10 or 15 years ago? In the end, I'm most bothered about coming out with a high quality picture. If it means I can save a £100 plus, I'm willing to forgo ability to capture EXIF data (I can use a notebook anyway). I'm even willing to relinquish auto-focus for some types of shooting (I only really see auto-focus as a major advantage in action photography, and perhaps street photography, where you really need to capture a specific moment - I've got my heart set on the 18-200mm VR for street photography anyway).

    So I'm just wondering whether it's really a good idea to buy cheap(er) older lenses of eBay and use them on my new D70s. Has anyone on here had a bad experience doing something similar? Is there a reason you'll only buy lenses from the current range (if you do)? Do optics really improve with every revision of a lense?

    I'm interested in hearing what you think.
  2. ScubaDuc macrumors 6502


    Aug 7, 2003

    I am in the same boat as you...sort of because I have over 25 Yrs of Nikon equipment, including a bunch of AI lenses. I agree with you: they are great. The only problem I see is that your body, the D70 does not support exposure metering with AI lenses, so if you want to use them it becames a bit of a hussle, for you have to guess the exposure, look at the histogram and then compensate. Best is to get a body that supposrts AI lenses directly, like the D200 (I am not sure about the D80) but you would still get the 1.5x factor since you would be using 35mm lenses on an APS format.

    I think the old fixed focus lenses are better than today's zooms: but that is my personal opinion....
  3. kwajo.com macrumors 6502a


    Jul 17, 2002
    Bay of Fundy

    well for what it's worth I agree 100%. I primarily use old primes for my shots now, I was tired of the look I got from modern zooms. I have an extensive collection of old Pentax lenses that I still use, and unlike you I don't have to guess the exposure because I get full metering and even focus assist ;)

    I love the look I get from the old glass, there is something about it that reminds me of a simpler time, where colours were more accurate (none of this over-saturated junk) and images were a bit more natural looking
  4. iHotu macrumors regular

    Apr 1, 2006
    at large
    Add the fact that most DSLR don't have manual focusing aids on the focus screen. I have tried to use Canon FD lens with a 20D via an adapter with stop down metering, but it is just to much of a pain to deal with.

    What I would really like to see is an third party manufacture produce a generic DSLR body that could be specified to take old mounts from all the major manufactures.
  5. FleurDuMal thread starter macrumors 68000


    May 31, 2006
    London Town
    Ooooh...I never thought about the incompatibility of exposure meters :eek: . Do you know whether this lense will be compatible with my D70s? http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Nikon-Manual-...ryZ48556QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

    I suppose for inside portaits, where I have a lot more time to mess about with test shots, etc, an exposure meter isn't essential. I can rely on trial and error more. But if I'm out and about, I'd really need the exposure meter - even if I'm doing a landscape as clouds can move quickly and that perfect light might only be around for a couple of minutes before it disappears.
  6. QuantumLo0p macrumors 6502a


    Apr 28, 2006
    My lenses

    When I bought my D70 I also bought the DX18-70 because it's a good fit for my requirements. Many people opt for shorter or longer lenses, depending on what they do. My existing lenses are what I used on my Nikon F100.

    My existing lenses are:
    The Nikkor 70-300mm f4.5. A good lense for a cheap price if having f2.8 is not critical.

    The Nikkor 28-105mm f3.5. The beauty of this lense is it also does macro. This was my main lense before my DX18-70 came along so now I use it solely for macro photography.

    The Nikkor 50mm f1.4. Well, the f number says about all there is to say about this little gem. I was originally looking for a fast wide angle lense but I couldn't justify the cost. The Nikkor 50mm f1.4 was much cheaper.

    Good luck!
  7. Silentwave macrumors 68000

    May 26, 2006
    Gainesville, FL

    Attempting to mount it will severely damage your camera.

    Any lens you buy for a Nikon DSLR must be an AI or AI-s or later lens. Generally not AI'd, or non-AI. These can be converted, but many conversions people do are only good for the pro cameras and will damage consumer cameras like the D70.

    I love MF lenses. I've used the 50mm f/1.4 AI-S, 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 AIS, and I own the 28mm f/3.5 AI (a superb IR and general purpose lens), and the 45mm f/2.8 AI-P, which has a CPU so it will work with any camera's exposure meter.

    I do not find MF lenses any 'better' than their direct AF counterparts however. the 28/3.5 and 45/2.8P don't have ones, but the 50/1.4 is better in AF in my opinion, and the longer lenses have been improved. I love the look I get from the better modern zooms- sharpness can rival good primes in some cases.

    For me the only differences between AF and MF are fun and ease of use, except for the IR suitability of my two MF lenses.
  8. blodwyn macrumors 65816

    Jul 28, 2004
    Portland, Oregon
    I have a D200 and I've successfully used a F1.8 50mm lens from my old Nikon 35mm SLR. It works great - you set the lens focal length and maximum aperture in the D200 menu, and then you get metering capability. By that I mean that when you manually adjust the aperture, the shutter speed will adjust to suit.
  9. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Nikon has always had the focus assist feature on their autofocus bodies going all the way mack to the N2020 which was the first Nikon AF body. My Nikon D50 has the same system. Two arrows tell you which direction to rotate the focus ring and a green light comes on when the focus is correct.

    Yes the D50 will not meter with the older non-AF lenses but you can use the histogram display. People who have a collection of older lenses likely also have some photogrphy experiance and likely understand how to use the manual exposure controls

    That said the only older lens I use is the old 55mm "micro nikor". It is still a very sharp macro lens. With this les I can get a full frame shot of a postage stamp I do have some others that would be good to use. the 135mm f/2.8 and the 100mm f/2.5
    The 135 f/2.8 sells for under $100 and will give a look that you can't get with a cheap f/5.6 zoom lens. f/2.8 gives a narow depth of field
  10. beavo451 macrumors 6502

    Jun 22, 2006

    A mentioned, Nikon has the focus assist light and arrows. Katz Eyes also makes split screen VF screens.

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