🌟 Exclusive 2024 Prime Day Deals! 🌟

Unlock unbeatable offers today. Shop here: https://amzn.to/3LqnCuJ 🎁

manual lenses on Nikon DSLR

Rick Mark

TPF Noob!
Mar 4, 2006
Reaction score
I'm starting to shop seriously for a Nikon DSLR. This forum has been very helpful, but I'm trying to get clear on something.

Since I already have a collection of very good Nikon lenses, many of them manual focus, I want to buy a camera that lets me use my old lenses (especially my 400mm for birds).

What I'm finding out on the forums (this and others) is that I should not even consider the D50 or D70, because they won't meter and because focusing manually is difficult for some reason. But evidently the D200 may let me use my manual lenses without trouble.

Anyone have any experience with this? Thanks ...
Since no one has replied to this message, I'll answer it myself.

I took the plunge and bought the D200. Evidently, neither the D50 nor the D70 work well with manual lenses. The D200 works great! It focuses easily and meters well with the manual lenses. I'm getting terrific results. Very glad I made this decision.

Just thought there might be others out there thinking they can get a D50 and get good use out of their manual lenses, so you might want to be prepared - from what others have told me, it's very difficult to focus manually with the D50 and D70 and you will not be able to meter properly.

and.. .could you explain me from technical point of view why I won't be able to meter correctly with D50?

This is how it was explained to me: the higher-quality D200 is designed to recognize the aperture setting on older manual lenses. So the camera's built-in light meter works fine, and as you change the aperture on the lens, the meter responds and automatically changes your shutter speed. I've been using the D200 with manual lenses, and it works very well.

But the D50 and D70 are not designed to recognize the aperture setting on older lenses. So the meter doesn't work properly. You can still use the lenses, but you basically have to guess at the exposure setting. Or bracket extensively.

I imagine that through trial and error, you can get pretty good at guessing proper exposure. Heck, I used cameras without light meters for years and it really wasn't that hard to get decent shots.

Couldn't you just use aperture priority on the D50, D70 and set the same aperture on both the camera & lens...and letting the meter set the shutter speed?
I don't know.

On the D200, I tell the camera what the focal length of the lens is and the maximum aperture setting. As I adjust the aperture ring on the lens, the camera knows I'm changing the setting and the meter responds accordingly.

I guess you could do what you suggest, but it would be more time-consuming, and not something I would want to be fiddling with in the field.

Also, the D200 is evidently giving me "matrix metering," as opposed to simple spot-metering or center-weighted. I think this is a more advanced system that you can't get with a manual lens on the D50 or D70.

Another advantage to the D200 is the actual focusing. I'm told that the viewfinder on the D50/70 is not very good for manual focusing, a big issue for me since I rarely use autofocus. Manual focusing on the D200 is pretty easy.

But I have no experience with the D50 or D70. Maybe someone else can say how this has been working for them.

I don't know much about Nikon, I though I would just throw the question out there.

I shoot in aperture priority most of the time (with my Canon gear), and I don't see it being much slower doing that...since you already have to adjust the aperture ring on the lens.

I didn't know that the metering mode would be affected by the lens (again, I don't know much about Nikon), as it's an in-camera function.

I rarely use Matrix metering and usually prefer to use centre or centre weighted.
Hi Mike,

You might be right that you could get used to pretty quickly changing the aperture setting in-camera at the same time you change the aperture on the lens. I really hadn't thought of that.

I think what convinced me to spend the extra $$ on the D200 (a LOT of extra $$) was the combination of better metering, better focusing, and of course the massive amount of MBs (10 meg). If the only advantage had been the meter, it wouldn't have been worth it to me.

As it is, I can say the D200 is working very well with my manual lenses.
Rick, I'm jealous. A lot of my fellow pro PJ's are happily ditching their D2h's for D200's right now. And I am not scheduled to get 2 new bodies until next year...

Here is what I carry: My bag

Most reactions