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Manual Lens Questions

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by gbenic, Oct 6, 2005.

  1. It was suggested to me by a camera dealer that perhaps I should stop looking for AF lenses and purchase a light meter and MF lenses. He said that I can get better build quality and picture quality with the old lenses. Do you guys agree with this reasoning? If so, which MF lenses are good and which should I avoid? This would be used with my D70.

  2. The older lenses are heavier but I'm not certain that equates to better built. Certainly there are some fine manual focus lenses out there, the Nikor 180mm f2.8 EDIF being one of the best.
  3. Yeah, that's what I was thinkin'. Perhaps for now, I will stay on my current path. Thanks.
  4. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Greg :

    Nothing wrong with MF lenses, nothing at all. I have a couple, and they're quite lovely to shoot with.

    Have a look at Bjørn Rørslett's site http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html and you'll find some exceptionally fair and knowledgeable assessments on MF lenses compared with AF lenses.

    John P.
  5. In general Yes, I have a few gems, 28mm F2 AIS, 50mm F1.8 AIS, 105mm F1.8 AIS, but really you need a D2 Body to be happy with them because I saw you have a D70 and it doesn't meter with them at all so it is not only MF but also you have to use a light meter to.
  6. One thing you might need to consider is: how young are your eyes and how good is your eyesight? The older you get, the more you need AF lenses. Just a thought.... I can't see through the viewfinder clear enough for focusing so I depend on good lenses to do it for me.
  7. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi greg-

    looking at your equipment list, you don't have a 50mm prime. you might want to scour ebay for a 50mm f/1.8E. you can probably get one for under $20. it's a cheap way to try out manual focusing lenses and see if not having any metering or autofocusing works for you.


  8. Thanks for all the replies.

    TOLady, the reason I gave up my Pentax SLR and went digital years ago was because of cataract surgery in both eyes. Auto focus was (and is) important. However, I have used my 70-300 ED in MF mode because it hunts at lower light. I think that it turned out okay. Now, that was before I finished reading the manual on MF and saw that the green light in the viewfinder lights up when I am in focus. I need to experiment a bit more and see how awkward it is to look at a moving subject and a focus light.

    Ricky, I was considering that. I have been watching the E series and they do sell cheap.

    Yes andreasb, the metering problem is there and I guess I would purchase a light meter for that. Perhaps after using it for a while and learning to "read" the light, I can guess at metering and use the histogram for adjustments.

    John, I do visit that site regularly when I see a "deal" on eBay. I value his opinion and the rating scale and reviews are simple enough for me to understand.

    All these comments got me thinking. If I use my lenses in MF mode and shoot in Manual mode on the D70 without looking at any lights in the viewfinder, will that mimic an MF lens on the D70?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2005
  9. marc

    marc Guest

    just someone else 2 cents

    af was developed for a reason, if you want to shoot anything moving or even have to follow something, it is nearly impossible to do this with manual lens.

    if you only shoot static or non moving then manual gives you time to compose.

    i do not know what you shoot and what you are trying to accomplish, but technology is good, today's modern digital cameras have af for good reasons
    in the d70 you have some of the most sophisticated af system, why not take advantage of the camera, and not try to outhink everything.

    as far as meters, why do you need one, does the d70 have a built in meter, if it does then trust it, if it does not work properly send the camera to nikon, and they will fix it.

    i wanted to buy a meter and was asked why do you need it.?

    i shoot everything, outdoors, indoors does not matter, no meter. no studio lites.

    spend your money on what you really need. i would be skeptical of a dealer trying to sell me older manual lens and lightmeters

    especially to be used with a nikon d70.

    just my two cents
  10. Baywing


    Feb 22, 2005
    CT USA
    Yes, if you set everything to manual, that will mimic what you would get, within reason. Alot depends on which lens you are using and the maximum aperture of that lens. If you are doing your "trials" with a 70-300 F4-5.6, you have f5.6 worth of light to focus with at 300 mm, which isn't much. If you were using and older MF 35mm f2.8, you would have a much brighter viewfinder and that might make it easier to focus, note I said might, because we are all different.
    The newer camera bodies (at least on the consumer-grade end) don't have the viewfinders or focusing screens set up for manual focus like the old MF bodies did. I've also found that the digital sensors in the DSLRs seem to require a better quality lens than their film equivilents. There are several very good AF lenses that Nikon has made over the last few years.
  11. Rob


    Jul 28, 2005
    Truro, Cornwall, UK
    Sandi, why not adjust the diopter?
  12. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi rob-

    i'm not sandi :)  but i have the same problem. i've adjusted the diopter to where i can clearly see the display and the screen, but not clearly enough to tell if the image is in focus. even in the days when i used an slr, i found it tough to focus using the groundglass. give me a split image any time.


  13. Rob


    Jul 28, 2005
    Truro, Cornwall, UK
    If it's any help, page 27 of the D70s manual ............
    "Diopter can be adjusted in the range -1.6m to +0.5m. Corrective lenses available separately allow diopters of -5m to +3m."

    I can't find anywhere on the web with htese corrective lenses. :frown:
  14. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Regarding MF lenses, I got a 50mm 1.4 AIS that I used a lot for indoor shots and - after some time playing and shooting with it - it gave me decent results (considering the low light conditions I had at the scene).

    The old MF lenses won't meter on the D70. You have to do EVERYTHING manual. If you are outside and have plenty of light, and want to get a deep DOF you can set a high aperture F8 or more and adjust the lens to the appropriate distance according to the scale (you'll probably need a DOF distance table to know where to set it to). The exposure itself needs to be done by trial and error.

    Focusing through the viewfinder is very difficult for me. I wear glasses, but I also added a diopter to the viewfinder to have it adjusted for my eyesight, so I can take off the glasses when shooting. However, the original D70 eyepiece is not very comfortable and too small to my taste. I changed it and added an adapter plus a circular eyepiece and rubber cup to fit snuggly on my eye - this helps a little. Still, manual focus through the viewfinder is difficult, to say the least.

    In the low-light shooting I mentioned above, I set the distance to the value I estimated, and I'm quite good at that. Naturally with low light and the apperture wide open, the DOF is very limited so you have to be precise. This won't work if the subject is moving too much.

    At the end of the day, I enjoy the 50mm MF lens I have, but I use it only for special purposes.

    This is my 0.02 Shekel worth of knowledge.
  15. Assuming the D70/70S have compatible eyecups etc. which I think they should (judging from compatibility listed on some products at BH), you can buy them at B&H Photo, and I think they had them on nikon's Nikonmall.
  16. Ai/Ais lenses are indeed fine instruments. The build quality and image quality are outstanding on nearly all of these old lenses. :biggrin: I have only used my 135mm a couple of times but the results were great!

    It's just a shame that Nikon lobotized the D70 so that auto metering won't work with these lenses. Shame on them!!!

  17. Rob, sorry for taking so long to answer - didn't check this thread. Focusing has nothing to do with it - it's eye disease - Juvenile Macular Degeneration. Just can't focus that close. Everything is in a Gaussian Blur world with or without diopter adjustment.
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