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how many AI-P lens are there?

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by slappomatt, Apr 21, 2007.

  1. slappomatt


    May 13, 2006
    San Diego CA
    just wondering. I have heard of the 45 2.8 and pretty sure I've seen some higher end tele's with AI-P. just wondering as Ive seen some nikkors that had a P in the name and I dont think they are the type that meter on newer bodies. thanks in advance for any info.
  2. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
  3. Given that the 500mm P has 8 lens elements, 45mm P 4 elements and the 1200-1700mm P - 18 elements, the P can't stand for penta.

    The P designates that the lens has a chip to send lens information to the camera. Unlike regular AI lenses, AI-P lenses will meter on a D100, D70 and D50 (perhaps D80?). AI and P lenses also meter on D200, D1 and D2 series.


  4. Nikon DID use letter to indicate a len design but I'm not sure how many or which ones. I believe that H and Q were among them though and, like fks, I thought P was one as well.
  5. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi larry-

    as i stated in my post, i was talking about the older lenses :wink: if you check out the link in my previous post, you'll see the naming convention that nikon used in the pre-AI days. they stopped using this when they went to AI, so P=pente doesn't apply to the AI-P lenses that we're discussing. it was an answer to matt's question of why there are more than three lenses with P in the designation.


  6. Hi Ricky

    I misinterpreted the context of your original reply. I apologize

  7. slappomatt


    May 13, 2006
    San Diego CA
    hm. thats a shame. only three, and only 1 I could afford. although its a cool looking lens. I dont think I would really use it that much. the 45 that is. I would love to try out that monster 1200-1700 but I doubt I'd see one as long as I live. I guess there is always chipped MF lens. :) 
  8. rvink


    Mar 21, 2006
    New Zealand
    That's true of Nikkors made before 1975.
    Q = Quatro = 4 elements
    P = Penta = 5 element
    H = Hexa = 6 elements etc

    The Ai-P line of lenses were made well after that. In this case P = CPU, meaning non-AF lenses which have a built-in CPU for advanced camera functions such as Shutter and Program modes, and matrix metering.

    The first lenses were the 500/4 P and 1200-1700 P super-tele lenses in April 1988, soon after Nikon instroduced its AF lenses in Sept 1986. The screw-driver AF system is a "one size fits all approach" which works well for small to medium size lenses - they can be made smaller and cheaper than those with a built-in AF motor (Canon EOS). However it's inadequate for big telephotos. At the time, Nikon's biggest AF lens was the 300/2.8, which has decent performance when used with a professional camera. Nikon did announce an AF 600/4 at the time, but AF performance must have been poor and it was never produced. Nikon photographers had to wait until 1992 when the AF-I super-telephoto lenses appeared, which had internal AF motors.

    That left Nikon with a large gap in their lineup for a long time. They had a comprehensive range of excellent AI-S telephotos, but these would only work in manual and aperture priority modes, and center weighted metering with most cameras. Nikon's AF technology was not suitable for big telephotos, and lenses with built-in AF motors were still many years off. Enter the 500/4 P. In some ways it was a stop-gap measure. Mechanically it is similar to older AI-S telephotos but with electronics of an AF lens, so it is completely compatible with the AF cameras (except for AF). The lens was a big success for Nikon, with good sales, no doubt helped by good optical performance and well considered balance of focal length and speed. The 1200-1700/5.6-8 P appeared at the same time, but it is really a show-case lens.

    Nikon released one more AI-P lens in 2001, the tiny 45/2.8 P, as a companion lens for the FM3a.

    You could add the 85/2.8 PC macro to the list of Ai-P lenses since it is also a manual focus lens with a CPU. However this lens also transmits focus distance so it is a "D" lens.

    It is a shame Nikon did not decide to upgrade the manual focus line to AI-P. The greater compatibility with AF and digital cameras would have increased sales in that market, with the result they may still be in production today. Most were discontinued at the end of 2005. It would have not been possible to convert some lenses - 50/1.2 and 35/1.4 - because the rear element is too big to allow room for the CPU contacts.
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