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My Holy Trinity of AI-S Portrait Lenses

Discussion in 'Lens Lust' started by TMR Design, Aug 21, 2008.

  1. I'll be following this up with another thread with images but once again I am beaming over my newest lens acquisitions and my love for AI-S lenses.

    First, let me say "Holy Crap!". :biggrin:

    I've posted images and portraits with my 105mm f/2.5 AI-S and recently I posted some walkaround shots with my new 24mm f/2 AI-S. I also picked up a 50mm f/1.4 AI-S to round out my holy trinity of manual focus Nikkor glass and I am so ecstatic about it.

    I just finished a shoot today with one of my (and some of your) favorite models, Anna. For this shoot she also bought her best friend Anne, and Anne wanted to do some boudoir and lingerie photos for her husbands birthday.

    I shot with all 3 (24mm, 50mm and 105mm) and the quality of the images has me blown away. I can't see myself using AF in the studio again and until I see lenses that can compare in quality and price I'm convinced that these lenses are going to be my workhorses for portraiture and studio work.

    I've said it before but it's worth restating... "Holy Crap!" LOLOL

    Shooting with lenses of this quality really make you realize how unsharp so much of the consumer AF glass really is and takes the images to a completely different level. Even when I haven't perfectly nailed focus I'm finding my keeper rate is 100% (in terms of focus) and that's just ridiculous. That has never ever been the case for me and consumer glass, even at its sharpest.

    Then, once you get past the sharpness you start looking at color, exposure, overall IQ and the rendering of the image. What I mean when I talk about exposure is that the AI-S glass is a "what you meter is what you get" type of thing and I find consumer glass is not that way at all. For instance, the 18-70mm or 70-300mm do not give me perfect exposure and don't 'jive' with meter readings from my Sekonic L-758DR. With the AI-S glass I take a reading, dial in the aperture and Voila!.. perfect exposure. Thats huge for me because I'm a metering/exposure junkie. Also, the AI-S glass has a consistent quality in terms of color, whereas again, if I take the 18-70mm and then the 70-300mm there is a noticeable color difference with a slight emphasis in magenta coming from the 70-300mm. So I like the fact that I can set a custom white balance for AI-S instead of one for lens A, one for B, once for C and so on...

    Can you tell I'm a happy camper?

    I'll post (and gush) more once I have some of these images processed and posted. Thanks for listening.
  2. rotxlk82


    Jul 20, 2007
    Glad your happy Robert, my 55mm AIS arrived today and I'm allready impressed by it (https://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?t=184623).

    Even without metering on my little D50 I am constantly being impressed by my older glass.

    I look forward to seeing your images and further feedback on your new stuff
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  3. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    do have a Katz eye screen in your D300 ?

    nice choice of lenses BTW
    I had the 24/2 and 105 2.5 and sold them because of no metering/ small D80 viewfinder

    now that I have the D300, I want to reaquire some of these older gems also
  4. Very nice images Robert. I was going to look at the 55mm AI-S but the 50mm f/1.4 presented itself and I couldn't resist. In my space I just love the 50mm field of view and although I will be using my AI-S glass for general purpose walkaround shooting, my main reason was for studio portraiture.

    I haven't even tried the AI-S glass on my D70 but I'm sure it shines there as well.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  5. Hi Frank,

    I do have the Katz Eye in my D300 and find it incredibly useful. It allows me to keep looking straight ahead instead of looking down in the lower left corner to see the green AF light. I can also say that over time manual focus becomes somewhat intuitive and now I use my eye first and then the Katz Eye as my reference. I've gotten to the point where I can trust my eye but when I'm in doubt the split prism of the focusing screen verifies my setting.

    I don't think the Katz Eye is everyone's cup of tea and for some it probably isn't worth the $150 but if you're serious about manual focus and don't trust your eyes or feel that you want to be able to check your focus then it's worth every penny. If you're happy with the green dot then it's probably not a worthwhile investment.

    When I look through the viewfinder and the camera is operating in 'full manual' then the information displayed means nothing and I just assume not look at any of it. My composition has gotten better because I'm not distracted by the display and the technical, and it allows me to concentrate on the creative.
  6. It does seem odd to me to be spending so much of my hobby time using manual focus lenses, remembering the days when AF came out and was such a big deal/must have for me. I'm having great fun with a 105/2.5 ais and a 50/1.2 ais (Moods!) on a D3, and just today received a 20/2.8 ais - which so far looks like it will be fun and good too. The performance to weight ratio is just fantastic for the 105 and looks like it will be that way on the 20.
  7. cotdt


    Jul 14, 2007
    Bay Area, USA
    the AIS lenses are warmer 'cause of their coatings but i wouldn't say that they are optically better than their AF equivalents. but they are cheap! the 180/2.8 AIS ED-IF is also a great lens, very different rendition from the AF version and superior. The 85/2 is really nice as well for only $150. and don't forget the fast Sigma 135/1.8 AIS.
  8. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    glad you are enjoying it Ron :wink:
  9. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    I was looking at the 135 2.8 AiS
    anybody have any thoughts on that one ?

    I know the 135/2 is very nice, but a little pricey
    I also lust for the 105 1.8
  10. I didn't mean to imply they were better than the AF counterparts. I do think they are optically better than the consumer AF counterparts. I've looked at enough images to say without question that they blow away the AF lenses I own, which are the 18-70mm and 70-300mm. They don't blow away the 25-70mm but if I want to manually focus I have to say that I can't stand the MF rings on almost all of the AF lenses. They just don't do it for me. Most feel cheap and even the best of them don't have the long throw or feel. That is part of what has drawn me to the AI-S glass. I love manually focusing but don't enjoy the challenge of doing with a plastic MF ring where a little is a lot and there just isn't the precision.

    Some Nikon AF lenses are brilliant but I haven't found one that I like the MF ring. That's just personal preference.
  11. I was looking at 135mm lenses but in my studio it's just too long. Anything above 105mm is too long for me in the studio. If I have another 10 feet I'm sure I'd be using a 135mm and possibly a 180mm.
  12. mood


    Jun 27, 2007
    So Fla
    makes sense Robert

    I always feel the 105 is too close to my 85
    so I have been looking at 135 for myself
    my shots are all outside , so the length is not a problem
  13. How can you not include an AI-S 35mm f/1.4 in your Trinity? You need a Quartet, that's what you need, Robert! :wink::smile: I am with you on the feel of the long throw and the quality that is oozing out of these oldies but goldies. FYI, I have the 28/2, 28/3.5, 35/1.4, 55/2.8 macro, 105/2.5 and 180/2.8. I used to have the 85/1.4 too but replaced it with its AF equivalent as I found it too difficult to focus wide open...
  14. Hi Phillippe,

    35mm is a wonderful focal length but that and 85mm fall in a weird place for me in the studio. I love 35mm for street and candid and I love 85mm for outdoor use and for creating that wonderful bokeh (I'm getting ahead of myself and gearing up to possibly get and 85mm f/1.4).

    I very carefully mapped out the focal lengths I needed based on my shooting style and the size of my studio. The 'trinity' gives me just what I need.

    Believe me, I lost sleep over whether to get a 35mm or not but since I do have the 35-70mm I figured that in a pinch I could use that for the 35mm FOV.
  15. btg1


    Jun 20, 2008
    The 135 AF DC/f2 (or 105 version) has a really nice manual focusing ring (and the lens is solidly built). I have been trying to figure out all the focusing mumbo jumbo on my D700.. and.. well on one shoot (that was pretty important) - I gave up on AF and shot completely MF... nice! (Though I think the D700 screen could be a touch better for critical focus).

    I was used to using MF on my F5.. kinda gave up with the D70 (focusing screen is blah) and now with the D700 may just go back to manual...
    *and* you are all making me want to try these AI-S lenses...
  16. I think that if you have a D300, D3 or D700 then manual focus not only becomes possible and practical but very POWERFUL!

    I'm such a huge fan of MF these days. There's nothing like it.

    Don't get me wrong, I love and want great AF lenses but like any of the tools photographers use, each has its place. Certainly if I was a sports or action photographer I would want fast and accurate AF over MF. When I shoot outside or want to grab shots on the fly and timing is of the essence there's no substitute for AF.
  17. itsmike


    Mar 2, 2008
    Greenlawn NY
    Rob, I have a 35mm F1.8 MF no Metering lens that I got with my N80, I have to admit.. The Feel of the MF Ring is night and day from the other lenses.. I don't have a meter, so usually it is a Chimping Fest when I use it.. But when I nail the Exposure, It is nice..
  18. Hi Mike,

    That's the beauty of using thee lenses in the studio. Meter your strobes once with a hand held light meter, set the aperture and shoot, shoot shoot. In-camera metering doesn't matter.
  19. pforsell


    Jan 15, 2008
    Robert... the trinity is not enough. You need more and then more and then some :biggrin:

    A candid of a colleague of mine at an outdoor event 2 days ago. AIS 105/1.8 on my antique D200.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
  20. Hi Peter,

    I'm surely not done piecing together my lens collection but for now these three gems give me exactly what I need for the studio and for a good deal of the candids I want to shoot. I'll figure out what else I need as more time passes.

    Very nice shot, by the way.
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