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Old March 8th, 2009, 06:38 PM   #1
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Which Nikon lenses to look for?

I confess I don't know much about the different models of lenses Nikon has made over the years. AI, non AI, AI-S, AF, AF-S, G, etc...?

Can anyone explain which models we should be looking for to best work with the 5D2, and which we definitely don't want?

Also, any suggestions on Nikon "money" lenses would be great!

Thanks!
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Old March 9th, 2009, 05:58 AM   #2
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All of the Nikon AI and AIS prime lenses are great and compatible with the 5D. These are the old manual lenses. Good cheap readily available lenses include:

24mm or 28mm f2.8
35mm f2
50mm f1.4 or f1.8
85mm f2
105mm f2.5
135mm f2.8

There are a few faster primes (50mm 1.2, 85mm 1.4 etc) but the ones I've listed are very affordable and easy to find.

I also use a couple of cheap AF zooms (the 28-105 and 75-240) because unlike using a Canon zoom in video mode (in which the shutter speed shifts corresponding to focal length during the shot!!!), the camera doesn't know what the lens is up to and allows the shutter to remain at 1/50th regardless of focal length.

Basically any F mount (that includes AI, AIS and more recent AF lenses) will work fine EXCEPT for the recent DX lenses made for crop frame SLRs (these also lack aperture external rings). Just be sure to by a full frame lens with an aperture ring.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 09:56 AM   #3
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Josh,

Do you know if the non-AI lenses are also compatible? Say, using the Kawa adapter?
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Old March 9th, 2009, 12:46 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dylan Couper View Post
I confess I don't know much about the different models of lenses Nikon has made over the years. AI, non AI, AI-S, AF, AF-S, G, etc...?
Here's a resource to the ins & outs of Nikon lenses that I trust: Nikon Nikkor Lenses

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Old March 9th, 2009, 01:24 PM   #5
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Josh, thanks for the insights on the AI/AF. As Greg asked, any idea about non-AI? Is nonAI a pre-AI lens or something?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peer Landa View Post
Here's a resource to the ins & outs of Nikon lenses that I trust: Nikon Nikkor Lenses

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Good find!
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Old March 9th, 2009, 02:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peer Landa View Post
Here's a resource to the ins & outs of Nikon lenses that I trust: Nikon Nikkor Lenses

-- peer
I second Peer's suggestion. This is a very good site. In the course of an evening you will be able to shortlist the lenses you'll want to get. Don't forget to look for used lenses in your area. You may be surprised at the quality of what is available and best of all the pricing.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 04:07 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Greg Joyce View Post
Josh,
Do you know if the non-AI lenses are also compatible? Say, using the Kawa adapter?
I'm actually bidding on a couple of non-AI (1960s era) lenses right now as they're dirt cheap. I see no reason why they wouldn't work, but I haven't tested them or heard about their compatibility with the 5d mkii.

The non-AI lenses won't meter properly with Nikon DSLRs, but as far as mounting on an adaptor for use with a Canon, I presume they'll work just fine (the Canon adaptors don't communicate with the extra nodes/grooves in AI lenses anyway). But don't quote me on this :-) I'm experimenting!

Another great site for Nikon lens evaluations is this Bjørn Rørslett's:
Lens Evaluations

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the desired lens type, wide angle, zoom etc and there are nice concise ratings. I like Ken Rockwell's site too, but as lens reviews can be quite idiosyncratic (as both Ken and Bjørn's are), it's nice to get a second opinion.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 06:26 PM   #8
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Dylan:

I am using Non-AI, E series, and AI on my 5D2. All that really matters is that you can adjust the aperature, and it remains set there as you shoot. These all fit that bill.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 06:46 PM   #9
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If you are willing to spend a bit more money, I would look at a 20mm/2.8 prime: very wide and virtually no barrel distortion. In the zoom end of things I would consider 15-35mm/2.8. It is not a cheap lens but it has the stellar optical characteristics of the 20mm prime but it's a fast zoom.
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Old March 9th, 2009, 07:13 PM   #10
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yes to non-AI mounts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Dahlberg View Post
I'm actually bidding on a couple of non-AI (1960s era) lenses right now as they're dirt cheap. I see no reason why they wouldn't work, but I haven't tested them or heard about their compatibility with the 5d mkii.

The non-AI lenses won't meter properly with Nikon DSLRs, but as far as mounting on an adaptor for use with a Canon, I presume they'll work just fine (the Canon adaptors don't communicate with the extra nodes/grooves in AI lenses anyway). But don't quote me on this :-) I'm experimenting!

Another great site for Nikon lens evaluations is this Bjørn Rørslett's:
Lens Evaluations

Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the desired lens type, wide angle, zoom etc and there are nice concise ratings. I like Ken Rockwell's site too, but as lens reviews can be quite idiosyncratic (as both Ken and Bjørn's are), it's nice to get a second opinion.

I can answer my own question now. Yes, the adapters will work with non-AI mount lenses, too. At least my Kawa adapter worked just fine with an inexpensive Nikon non-AI mount 28mm f2.5 Vivitar lens.
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