Choos­ing clas­sic lenses for a Nikon DSLR

Amateur Photographer - - Tech Talk -

QI use a Nikon D300S and if truth be told I can’t quite jus­tify re­plac­ing it at the mo­ment. I re­ally want a D800 but I’m still sav­ing my pen­nies and it would have to be a sec­ond-hand one any­way. But in the mean­time I’m set­ting aside a small bud­get for some in­ex­pen­sive old man­ual fo­cus lenses. Do you have any tips on choos­ing lenses like th­ese based on my cri­te­ria? I re­ally don’t want to spend more than £100 and would like a de­cent widean­gle (around 24mm) and a semi-wide, for street pho­tog­ra­phy. Dean Jen­nings

AThe most im­por­tant thing you need to know is which lenses will work prop­erly with your cur­rent D300s and planned D800. Old man­ual fo­cus Nikon-mount lenses can work, but there are caveats. Lenses pro­duced prior to 1977 may re­quire phys­i­cal mod­i­fi­ca­tion as there is a risk of phys­i­cal dam­age to your cam­era. Th­ese older lenses are known as ‘pre-AI’ be­cause Nikon in­tro­duced the AI (Au­to­matic max­i­mum aper­ture In­dex­ing) sys­tem in that year. It’s sim­plest to fo­cus on AI- com­pat­i­ble and later lenses (like AI-S), though even with th­ese you can’t use Shut­ter pri­or­ity or Pro­gram ex­po­sure modes, only Aper­ture pri­or­ity and Man­ual modes. In other words, the cam­era can’t con­trol the lens aper­ture. You will also need to en­ter some in­for­ma­tion into a cam­era menu about the lens you are us­ing if it is a non- CPU lens. Non- CPU lenses have no elec­tri­cal con­tacts at the rear of the lens. Of course, don’t for­get the crop­ping fac­tor. It’s 1.5x the fo­cal length of a full frame lens to com­pute the equiv­a­lent fo­cal length/field of view you will get on your D300S. A 24mm lens, for ex­am­ple, will have a 36mm lens field of view on your DX sen­sor D300S. Don’t go for a less bright lens as your D300S fo­cus­ing screen is not op­ti­mised for man­ual fo­cus­ing. Stick to f/2.8 or brighter, like f/2. You don’t need to stick to Nikkor lenses; there are many very good man­ual fo­cus lenses from Tam­ron, Tok­ina, Viv­i­tar and oth­ers. There are far too many to dis­cuss here but a good source of in­for­ma­tion can be found by search­ing users’ own ex­pe­ri­ences of par­tic­u­lar

mod­els on­line.

Dean Jen­nings is look­ing for ad­vice on choos­ing lenses for his Nikon D300S

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