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AF vs. MF, filters, and 35mm [film] lenses?


TPF Noob!
Dec 25, 2007
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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I am to photography. Wait, scratch that. I am very new. Over the past few months, I have researched and talked a lot. Anyway, I recently purchased a Nikon D50 body. I am now faced with the task of buying lenses (no easy task). I have ended up very confused on three questions, so I am coming to you all for some answers. Here we go:
  1. There is a switch on the body side of Nikon lenses. You know what I'm talking about. The AF/MF switch. I know what it stands for, but what's the difference (besides one is automatic and one is manual)? How does this affect the image and it's quality (if at all)? Why would one person shoot with AF, but not with MF?
  2. I'm an eBaY guy (don't start) and I've seen these filter kits for sale. These filter kits contain like 80 billion filters (some of which I've never even heard of). As a newbie, what filters do I need? I plan on photographing landscapes, people (portrait), and everyday family things.
  3. This is my hardest question...I have seen a lot of old Nikon film lenses for dirt cheap. I have heard that older Nikon lenses (Al and later) work with newer DSLR cameras (except for D40/x). Why don't people buy these? Do you lose quality? Is the glass bad? If I wanted to buy them, I know the lenses need F mounts, but what Nikkor film lenses have F mounts? I know about the 1.5x conversion factor for Nikon lenses, but besides that, what is the downside?
Sorry for all the questions!! Feel free to answer one or all. :lol:

Af or MF doesnt affect image quality, the main reason for using af is its easier and especially on moving subjects. A good uv filter, and a polorizing filter are usually about all you need, you can get some other ones like blue to counteract tungsten light but with custom white balance thats not really nessecary. There are also start filters which makes lights have the lines coming off them like stars. Im not sure how many old lenses will fit on the d50 but the only problem is the d200 is when you start to get the metering cuff that allows you to auto meter with older lenses, without that you need a light meter.
Hi B! All good questions and welcome to the board and the wonderful world of Nikon!!

1: Unless I'm mistaken the AF/MF switch is to turn off electronics which wouldn't be used with manually focusing a lens. You don't really need it with a manual only lens and will mess up your camera trying to focus an autofocus lens (except an S type but let's not cloud the issue) with it turned to auto.

2: The only filters you might need are a circular polarizer, a UV filter and a neutral density filter. The UV for protection mainly as the sensor already is filtered for UV. The circular polarizer for darkening the sky and reducing specular highlights and glare in general. Don't go cheap on these!!!

3: Mostly the glass is good in these older lenses and in some cases it's great! You can find some steals in this area. I've said before that you can get the equivalent of a 200mm f2.8 lens if you get a Nikon Q 135mm f2.8 for around $30. Stick with Nikon for the most part although there are some really good third party lenses. If you want a telephoto look up a Nikon 180mm (270mm equiv.) A 28mm Nikon works great too and being fairly short -42mm- it is easy to use manually.

Have fun!!

Older film lenses (AI converted, AI, and AI-s) are fine and will mount, but they won't meter on anything less than a D200. This is why film guys with a lot of old manual focus lenses that they still want to use get D200's or higher. I'd stick with "AF" or newer lenses, just so that you'll have metering, and autofocus.

And as the others pointed out, the focal length ranges for the zooms might be sorta oddball on 1.5x digital bodies. The 50mm "normal" lens that everybody used to have for film is not quite long enough for a portrait lens on digital, and is much too long for a walkaround for most purposes on digital too. Still, for 100 bucks you can't beat it. Great little lens. I do like my 28-70mm f/2.8 Tokina which is a film lens (AF-D equivalent) for shooting my 9 month old daughter, although for group shots inside, 28mm is definitely not wide enough. I need to grab one of my digital lenses that goes out to 18mm for that.

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