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Archive 2012 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss
  
 
jamach
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


How do the Nikon triplets ( quads, quints ) compare in quality of optics:

35mm f1.4 ais
50mm f1.2 ais and the zeiss f1.4
85mm f1.4 ais
135mm f2.8

maybe even the 24mm f2 ais

Thanks

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 12:38 AM
kinconorb
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


The 35/1.4 is probably the only AIS lens I wouldn't suggest. All the others are you've listed are great, at least IMO they all perform quite well. I've never used Zeiss glass though; so cant really offer a definitive comparison between the two - all I can say is I was happy with the Nikons offerings - sans the 35mm of course.


Aug 20, 2012 at 01:05 AM
huddy
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


I have had the 35/1.4 and still have the 50/1.2. They are both very special lenses. The 35/1.4 does have some veiling flare at 1.4 that robs it of some contrast but that can be helped in post; it never bothered me and the lens is still very sharp, and gets stupid sharp by f/2. The bokeh can be busy, but you have to determine if that is something you like or don't like. I will buy another 35/1.4 eventually, and probably a 35/2 as well. I will say that Nikon's 35/2 is a nice lens that has a bit better control of field curvature if you are doing landscape type work.

35/1.4 example shots, all on D700 unless noted otherwise:






On 35mm



On a D90 now, at MFD, don't recall the aperture:


You could get similar results on a D7000



Field Curvature:



The 50/1.2 is a special lens. If you use it properly, you can get some really cool shots. It's a really nice lens for available light shooting, narrow D.O.F. and general purpose work.

50/1.2 and D700:






Not to shabby stopped down either:




or with Tri-X and an FM2 for a classic look:


The 24/2 is an ok lens. Nikon's 28mm lenses are more well regarded. I personally own a 28/2.

The 85/1.4 is a great lens and you can see lots of shots from it on the NMFG thread or flickriver. The 135/2.8 is less well known but also a nice lens. I can't help but recommend a 105/2.5 either. Any version. That is one of the most magnificent lenses that Nikon ever made.



Aug 20, 2012 at 01:33 AM
jamach
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks kinconorb!


Aug 20, 2012 at 01:42 AM
jamach
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks Huddy, those are great images, the fuzz on the baby's face is fantastic. Thanks for the time to share your pics. I have been looking at NMFG and wow!, fantastic images!

I am pumped to begin accumulating some more gear!

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 01:45 AM
Jammy Straub
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


A good tool to get a feel for a lenses rendering style is www.flickriver.com , click on groups at the top and find a lenses flicker group. Something like 'Nikon 50mm 1.8' or 'Zeiss 35 1.4' , find your group and sort by 'interestingness'


Aug 20, 2012 at 01:50 AM
jamach
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks Jammy!


Aug 20, 2012 at 01:50 AM
huddy
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


jamach wrote:
Thanks Huddy, those are great images, the fuzz on the baby's face is fantastic. Thanks for the time to share your pics. I have been looking at NMFG and wow!, fantastic images!

I am pumped to begin accumulating some more gear!

Joe


You're very welcome Joe. As the ring-leader Curtis always says, kit building is forever. I think you'll find lots of fun with these lenses on the D7000.



Aug 20, 2012 at 02:01 AM
brucemuir
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Huddy, hats off to your focussing skills!
Very nice!!



Aug 20, 2012 at 02:20 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Did someone call my name?

I would never say that Nikon MF glass is better than what you'd get from Zeiss at any focal length. I say that despite the many laughs I had over a year ago when a person then active on FM posted photos taken with the Zeiss 100 f/2 and Nikon's 105 f/2.5 AI-s and asked folks to say which lens took which photo. For all the talk about micro-contrast and such things, not many could tell the difference between the two hundred dollar Nikkor and the $1,200 Zeiss.

When having this discussion you must acknowledge that spending magnitudes more money should and will in most cases yield better results. If your budget permits, there is nothing wrong with spending over a thousand dollars for an MF lens and simply enjoying it. What most of us who are active on the Manual Focus Nikon Glass thread are doing is looking for great value for money invested, and in that regard, Nikkors really can't be beaten.

I don't own any Zeiss lenses so I can't give you a first hand comparison though I own all the Nikkor lenses you list above and then another 25. Today I shot with the 35 f/1.4 AI-s, the 135 f/2 AI-s and the 400 f/5.6 AI-s ED-IF and had great fun. And I'm quite pleased with what those lenses produced. I'd also note since you're shooting with a D7000 that we have quite a few folks on the MFNG thread using that camera with a wide assortment of these lenses.

Rather than asking questions on this subject, I'd encourage you to do what Jammy is suggesting and look at images. I'd also suggest that you buy an MF Nikkor and see whether you enjoy the experience of using on. I'd suggest you start where I did with the 105 f/2.5. I now own 3 versions of that lens, one of which cost less than a hundred dollars and two of which cost less than two hundred dollars. These lenses are beautifully made, a joy to hold and pure pleasure to use. The nice thing about it is that it is practically impossible to lose money on one after you've bought it, unless you drop it or go unconscious while shopping and pay too much for it. See for yourself what the folks from around the world hanging out on the MFNG thread have found. We're having a gas and these lenses are great.


A three photo panorama taken this afternoon with the 35 f/1.4 AI-s at f/8 on a D700.



Edited on Aug 20, 2012 at 02:34 PM · View previous versions



Aug 20, 2012 at 02:34 AM
 

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jamach
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks Curtis, I will get a mf goodie soon and ask more questions, and look at all the pics in the NMFG, am up to 81, still have about a thousand pages to go. I dont like flickr, tho they are a nuisance to get used to, and Getty, I think, looks in there, but Getty got bought I may have read. I have been looking at pics for years, finishing my mfa in photography, and have been teaching. But I do enjoy looking at pictures, and making them.

Sorry if my new excitement is old hat, deciding to get the d7000 again was quite an ordeal

Nice picture of the tourists looking at the golden gate

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 04:18 AM
philipj
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


I've asked a few people about the Zeiss/Nikon divide for manual focus glass. Someone I know who has moved entirely to ZF.2 lenses had the following to say in Zeiss's favour:

- more modern optical coatings for better control of flare and ghosting. The T* coatings are highly regarded, whereas none of the Nikon AI-s glass gets the nanocrystal coating, unfortunately (though if you buy new, some of the more recent NIKKORs have SIC and NIC coatings).
- more modern optical formulae, usually with very agreeable bokeh (many of the fast NIKKORs are famous for having jittery bokeh).

For me it came down to money. The Nikon lenses are older designs with some charming characteristics, the Zeiss lenses are usually newer designs with prettier bokeh and better coatings, but so much more expensive. It's more fun having more (now 4 in my kit) of the good to excellent NIKKORs to play with than only one or two Zeiss lenses for the same dollar amount.



Aug 20, 2012 at 04:49 AM
jamach
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


makes sense Phillipj, thanks much, am going to try for a 55 f1.2 soon. But there is also a 50mm f1.2, and also a 58?mm f1.2 nocturnal.....knowing all you guys will come in handy.....

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 05:30 AM
James R
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Get a reversing ring and those lenses become great macro lenses.


Aug 20, 2012 at 05:34 AM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


jamach wrote:
makes sense Phillipj, thanks much, am going to try for a 55 f1.2 soon. But there is also a 50mm f1.2, and also a 58?mm f1.2 nocturnal.....knowing all you guys will come in handy.....

Joe


After buying the 105 f/2.5 AI-s and discovering the pleasure of shooting with these wonderful lenses, I bought three lenses offered by someone on the Buy and Sell board. I really didn't know what I was doing, but I was mesmerized by the 50 f/1.2 AI-s that was part of the package. I'd just sold my EF 50 f/1.2L and thought a really fast Nikkor would be a good addition to my paltry kit. I've really been happy with that lens, but it has lost its place in my heart to the 55 f/1.2. I first bought the last AI version but then was enticed by a new participant on the MFNG thread from Sydney who kept posting great photos taken with a much older version, one with a scalloped focusing ring. After much searching I found a mint copy of a 55 f/1.2 S-C AI'd. The C stands for multi coating. The 55 has the speed of the 50 but tends to produce a more pleasing bokeh. Here's a photo of my current 55 mounted on a friend's D800 that I used for a week. Is that a sweet lens or what!?



The NOCT, the 58 f/1.2 is a very expensive lens that will not likely make its way to my kit because of the price.

Since you're checking out the thread, I'd suggest you save yourself some time by skipping the first thousand pages and view the last seven hundred. We've been attracting ever better photographers and the quality of what is posted at the moment is quite wonderful. I wouldn't want you to be put off by our early efforts.

Here's a link to an awesome portrait posted today that was shot with my first 55 f/1.2 AI, which is now in the hands of a wonderful photographer in Missouri.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/929565/1708#10894779



Aug 20, 2012 at 05:59 AM
dj dunzie
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Curtis... very very well said. I think you hit the nail on the head with your first post here. I've enjoyed a lot of older Nikon MF glass, including a 28, a 35, several 50's, a 105, a 135 and a 200, and while they were fun to play with and a pittance of a cost to have that fun, shortly after I "discovered" my first Zeiss lenses, and ended up (1) buying 3 of them (35/50/100) and (2) selling off all my MF Nikkors.

My reasoning for selling the Nikkors was pretty simple... after buying the 3 Zeiss lenses I realized I was really not going to be spending time with the MF Nikkors anymore. Any MF time I wanted to spend was going to be dedicated to the more expensive ZF's. What are they better at? Well, build is a no-brainer. The Nikkors felt sloppy in comparison. They should for the difference in cost. My ZF100/f2 cost more than what I paid for all 7 of the Nikkors I owned at the time. They also had far superior coatings, making them more versatile in tougher conditions. (Although let me say some people use this "disadvantage" to their "advantage" and make some incredibly imaginative and effective images shooting MF Nikkors in those conditions... just check out the MF Nikkor thread to see what I mean...)

HOWEVER... for someone starting out in MF lenses, I honestly think you'd be crazy to just go out and invest heavily in Zeiss glass, when you can get a couple Nikkor MF's to experiment with for a tiny cost, and then if MF isn't for you, sell them for what you paid for them. Try to enjoy that with Zeiss glass... ain't gonna happen.

Let me also say that some Nikkors are absolute stunning optics, and others are, well, not. Curtis would be a great reference. For me, the 105/f2.5 was phenominal until mine got a fungus issue. The 50mm/f2 and 28/f3.5 were also excellent for sharpness. And part of the fun is trying to find those hidden gems on the market, often for $50 to $100 in good condition!!



Aug 20, 2012 at 01:24 PM
CGrindahl
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


The only comment I'd take exception to DJ is "build is a no-brainer." I've shot with both the 100 and 50 Makro lenses and they were lovely, but certainly not better built than fast Nikkor lenses. It is true that Nikon built a great many MF lenses but very few continue to be manufactured. That means most of us are buying on the used market where old lenses are often well past their prime. But for the careful buyer willing at times to pay a premium, it is possible to buy these old lenses in mint condition. These are beautifully crafted and every bit as well built as Zeiss, even though they lack modern lens coatings.


28 f/2 AI-s, 35 f/1.4 AI-s, 50 f/1.2 AI-s, 85 f/1.4 AI-s, 105 f/1.8 AI-s, 135 f/2 AI-s

I didn't include in this photo taken some time ago the 180 f/2.8 AI-s I bought in its original box that is is mint condition. These all have beautifully damped focus rings, aperture rings that snap sharply into place and metal construction. There is nothing not to like here in my opinion.



Aug 20, 2012 at 02:57 PM
jamach
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks JamesR, reversing ring is on the list
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=nikon+reversing+ring&N=0&InitialSearch=yes&sts=ma

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 04:08 PM
jamach
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks DJ!

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 04:09 PM
jamach
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Nikkor ai/ais vs Zeiss


Thanks much Curtis! Let me know when your 'Nikon Ai/Ais' is published...

Joe



Aug 20, 2012 at 04:11 PM
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