Sylvia Livingstone

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Hi all

I recently picked up a used Nikon D300 (which is now my favourite thing in the world!) along with a functional AF 70-300m lens. So far, although I’ve a lot to learn, I’ve taken some reasonable shots as I get to learn how this camera works.

One of the reasons I decided to dive into photography now is a fascination with old lenses and the potential to link old (good) glass with more modern kit, especially if it can be picked up on a budget.

Now, because of the mount, I accept that Nikon isn’t necessarily the best option for trying vintage lenses but when I ordered the camera, I also sourced a mint Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135mm, thinking that a cheap adapter (without glass) would be fine. Although I’d no sooner ordered before doing some further research which suggested that wouldn’t quite be the case....

Anyway, the lens and adapter arrived and I prepared for the worst.....Wow! I was wrong - the detail and colour is incredible, a huge step up on the more modern (but basic) Nikon zoom I’d also purchased. I knew that the lens wouldn’t talk to the camera and that I’d be manually focussing but, close up, this thing is a revelation!

So that leads me to some questions which I’m hoping you knowledge folk can help with:

1. Of course the Zeiss lens won’t focus to infinity, so there are limits to what I can shoot, but is this ever likely to cause a problem?
2. As the lens isn’t talking to the camera, how do I best set the non-cpu data? Is it worth using whatever aperture setting I’m using at the time?
3. As a newbie, P mode is a big help, but with this lens I may be better served with A, S or M mode - any tips here would be very welcome.
4. Is it worth going for other M42 lenses (Helios for example)?

Any help here would be very gratefully received!
 

480sparky

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Nikon's website will have a chart showing compatibility with their legacy glass. Once outside the Nikkor Arena, you're pretty much on your own. M42 glass is definitely worth looking at, but M42 is only the mount (threaded). There's lots of crap M42 stuff out there. Do your research, ask questions, look at samples online. You'll find some gems if you take your time.
 

Derrel

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Hi all

I recently picked up a used Nikon D300 (which is now my favourite thing in the world!) along with a functional AF 70-300m lens. So far, although I’ve a lot to learn, I’ve taken some reasonable shots as I get to learn how this camera works.

One of the reasons I decided to dive into photography now is a fascination with old lenses and the potential to link old (good) glass with more modern kit, especially if it can be picked up on a budget.

Now, because of the mount, I accept that Nikon isn’t necessarily the best option for trying vintage lenses but when I ordered the camera, I also sourced a mint Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135mm, thinking that a cheap adapter (without glass) would be fine. Although I’d no sooner ordered before doing some further research which suggested that wouldn’t quite be the case....

Anyway, the lens and adapter arrived and I prepared for the worst.....Wow! I was wrong - the detail and colour is incredible, a huge step up on the more modern (but basic) Nikon zoom I’d also purchased. I knew that the lens wouldn’t talk to the camera and that I’d be manually focussing but, close up, this thing is a revelation!

So that leads me to some questions which I’m hoping you knowledge folk can help with:

1. Of course the Zeiss lens won’t focus to infinity, so there are limits to what I can shoot, but is this ever likely to cause a problem?
2. As the lens isn’t talking to the camera, how do I best set the non-cpu data? Is it worth using whatever aperture setting I’m using at the time?
3. As a newbie, P mode is a big help, but with this lens I may be better served with A, S or M mode - any tips here would be very welcome.
4. Is it worth going for other M42 lenses (Helios for example)?

Any help here would be very gratefully received!

Canon is a great d-slr brand for using adapted legacy lenses. SEVEN popular legacy 35mm system lenses focus to infinity with glass-free adapters on Canon d-slr cameras. Mirrorless camera are even better. Nikon F is a POOR choice for adapting legacy lenses, since it (NIKON F-mount) requires glass to focus to infinity,and yes, lack of anything except close-range focus will be a problem in MANY situations.

If you really wish to use adapted, legacy 35mm lenses, I would get another camera.
 

Designer

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..I accept that Nikon isn’t necessarily the best option for trying vintage lenses but when I ordered the camera, I also sourced a mint Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135mm,

Any help here would be very gratefully received!
Welcome, and congratulations on the Zeiss lens!

There are plenty of older, excellent Nikon lenses available as well. (PM sent)

I think the best strategy is to concentrate on lenses that produce excellent image quality. Good luck!
 

Derrel

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Look for 1960's and 1970's Nikkor lenses, for low prices, or third-party lenses; for example, a $15 pawn shop 135mm f/2.8 made in Japan, but in F-mount, will give decent to excellent quality, in most cases.The old AF Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.3~4.5 is a decent lens for $25-$45. A 1970's 500m f/8 Mirror-Nikkor is $100-$140, and is still plenty good as a Long lens for the beach, outdoors, etc.

Seriously: if your deal is using old lenses, a mirrorless would be best, for several reasons.
 

MartinCrabtree

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What's nice about Nikon is the availability and compatibility of vintage Nikon glass. I have a few older Nikon lenses adapted for use in all modes and matrix metering. This was taken with a 50mm f1.8 Series E Nikon on my D90 in full manual w/flash. So don't overlook the OEM stuff seeking great photos. You can install the chip yourself if you want to or just shoot full manual with a handheld meter. I usually do that before spending the time on adapting.


DSC_1339_113tag5.JPG
 

vintagesnaps

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I have a different system, Leica Thread Mount (LTM), but use vintage lenses on my digital (mirrorless) camera and on film rangefinders. Works great, but I shoot manual settings anyway. Sounds like that might be what you'd need to learn instead of using modes.
 

unpopular

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Vintage glass can offer a lot of nice surprises, and I use them almost exclusively. I've experimented with modern-ish AF lenses, but never really felt totally comfortable with them, and always ended up going back to vintage glass. Because "sharpness" may not be what you're going for with vintage lenses quality "glassed" adapters are an option, though I understand why you might be skeptical, and I don't use them myself.

That said, the Chinon 50/1.4 is a great lens and is definitely one of my favorites. It can be found in a number of different brands, the one I have is a GAF/Sears that can be found for cheap. Obviously anything from Zeiss/Zeiss Jena are a good choice, and the 50/2.8 Tessar T* is also one of my favorites.

Another great thing about M42 is that you can just drop $10 on some mystery lens, and sometimes it'll turn out pretty nice. I've bought Porsts and Accura's with ... well, interesting results. But if things don't work out or you're not impressed, you can take them apart and build frankenlenses.

Another fun lens is the Vivitar 35 "circular saw". It's a WILD lens, wholly unpredictable and a super weird circular saw diaphragm that sometimes will show up in your bokeh ... that might not seem like a good thing, and it isn't, but it's a really fun lens wide open with this cool dreamy effect, especially at close focus.
 

compur

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You might want to try that Zeiss lens with an adapter that allows infinity focus. Yes, I know those adapters have that dreaded glass element in them that everyone knows is horrible (even thought they never tried one) but you might be pleasantly surprised at the result and the adapters are cheap.
 

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I own an M42 to Nikon F adapter...it's BAD...it turns razor - sharp Super Takumars into dreadful performers....but on the Canon 20D and 5D, the same lenses are excellent. Adding a single, generic negative element between a good lens and a good sensor...not a good idea. Perhaps there are some "good quality' adapters for adapting lenses to Nikon F cameras..but I have never heard of their existence.
 

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You wrote:
1. Of course the Zeiss lens won’t focus to infinity, so there are limits to what I can shoot, but is this ever likely to cause a problem?
2. As the lens isn’t talking to the camera, how do I best set the non-cpu data? Is it worth using whatever aperture setting I’m using at the time?


A-1--s this ever likely to cause a problem? Yeah...how close and far can the lens focus?

A-2-2. As the lens isn’t talking to the camera, how do I best set the non-cpu data?--- There is a specific menu called Non-CPU Lens, with numbered selections..1-8 or 1-9 IMMSMC....the photographer pre-enters lens focal length and maximum aperture...let's say Lens #1...you enter 135mm and f/2.8...this info is used in the EXIF reporting
 

unpopular

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OTOH, your minimum focus will be less without infinity focus. It just kind of depends on what you're after. I've shot plenty with enlarging lenses just plopped into an M42 adapter, focussing by moving the camera back and forth. Sometimes being limited to close focus is kind of refreshing.
 

jcdeboever

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Nikon has some really good older glass. I have this last model manufactured, 43-86 zoom built like a tank, probably the nicest build quality lens I own. Everything I read on it said it was the worst zoom ever, total dog. Supposedly it got a little better on the last version, which I own. Frankly, it is a really good copy and I like using it. Maybe Ill pop it on my D610 and see what it does, post a pic or two here. I use it mainly on my Nikon F and have been happy with the $10 dollar lens. I love my Nikkor 50mm f2 AIS. I also have a 100mm f2.8 e series, fantastic $25 lens. I love my 135 f2.8 ais, what a lens, paid like $40 for it and its like new. I have others that are cool, like the 50-135 ais f3.5 zoom, its a very good, unknown lens. I pick them up if they are cheap enough and in good condition.
 
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unpopular

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My first camera was a Nikon FM with a Nikkor 50 1.2 - not a cheap lens by any means, but it was AMAZING. Definitely set me down Nikon fanboy path for many years. Even opted for Nikkor when I was shooting large format.

If longer focal lengths are your thing, then maybe even medium format adaptors and lenses might be an option. Never looked too much into that. Certainly more expensive than M42. But might have some interesting options - maybe even T/S?
 

480sparky

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...........If longer focal lengths are your thing, then maybe even medium format adaptors and lenses might be an option. Never looked too much into that. Certainly more expensive than M42. But might have some interesting options - maybe even T/S?

That's be one helluvan adapter.
 

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