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Old 01-04-2012   #1
jpa66
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I just got an FM3a, which should be arriving in a day or two. I've wanted one for awhile, and now that I've got one, I need a bit of assistance about what 50mm lens to get. I'd like a low light 50, but I think that the 1.2 is out of my price range ( the FM3a was actually out of my price range, but I decided to get it anyway ), and I'm thinking of getting the 1.4. Which one do you Nikon users recommend? As a Canon user who always wanted to be a Nikon user, I'm not really familiar with Nikon lenses ( I don't even know what the difference between an Ai and an Ai-s lens is ), so I need some helpful advice. If anybody has any. please chime in.

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Old 01-04-2012   #2
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Jan,

My experience have been any version of the 50mm 1.4 is great lens. AI/AIS, AFD and the new G lens are great.
If you ever think of needing AF, the AFD version would work for you too.
Congrats on the FM3A, great camera, foolishly sold mine.
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Old 01-04-2012   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpa66 View Post
I just got an FM3a, which should be arriving in a day or two. I've wanted one for awhile, and now that I've got one, I need a bit of assistance about what 50mm lens to get. I'd like a low light 50, but I think that the 1.2 is out of my price range ( the FM3a was actually out of my price range, but I decided to get it anyway ), and I'm thinking of getting the 1.4. Which one do you Nikon users recommend? As a Canon user who always wanted to be a Nikon user, I'm not really familiar with Nikon lenses ( I don't even know what the difference between an Ai and an Ai-s lens is ), so I need some helpful advice. If anybody has any. please chime in.

Thanks,
Jan

Hi, Jan...send me a PM and I can helpl with some of that.
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Old 01-04-2012   #4
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If your wallet needs to recover, get yourself and your new Nikon a 1.8/50 Series E. It is small, cheap, light and performs well. You will need AI/AIs lenses for your camera (the difference is irrelevant for the FM3a). AF lenses work as well, if they have an aperture ring. I'm a big fan of the FM/FE type cameras, and the FM3A is particularly nice.

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Old 01-04-2012   #5
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I believe that the AIS version is needed by Nikon cameras offering a P program exposure mode.
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Old 01-04-2012   #6
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The 50/1.2 AIS is supposedly the sharpest of the 50mm Nikkor lenses. It is my favorite, but is a little big on my FM3A. The Series E 50/1.8 is a great lens, and is compact, but there are a couple other versions of the 1.8 which are similar in size. I use only two lenses with my Nikon cameras; the previously mentioned 50/1.2, and the 20/2.8 AIS. You will love the camera, it would be hard to find anything else as good.
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Old 01-04-2012   #7
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I never liked any 50mm Nikkor so I got the CV 58/1.4 Nokton. For me it was the best choice, and it is an excellent lens.
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Old 01-04-2012   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon42 View Post
If your wallet needs to recover, get yourself and your new Nikon a 1.8/50 Series E. It is small, cheap, light and performs well. You will need AI/AIs lenses for your camera (the difference is irrelevant for the FM3a). AF lenses work as well, if they have an aperture ring. I'm a big fan of the FM/FE type cameras, and the FM3A is particularly nice.

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Check this site.
Agreed here. If you want great IQ for next to nothing, then a 50/1.8E really can't be beat. Be sure to get the later version (with the chrome ring, instead of black) - it has a significantly better build quality than the earlier versions. If the E-series lenses seem too cheap for you, then just get the 50/1.8 AIS pancake - it's actually the exact same lens as the E, with the addition of the ear lugs.

One of my all time personal favorites was taken with a Nikon FM & 50/1.8E:


late summer bliss by SL_Photos, on Flickr
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Old 01-04-2012   #9
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Never really knew too much about the E series lenses, but I know that the idea of one of those pancake lenses is very intriguing. Although I'd really like a 1.4. I've used my dad's Nikon AF 1.4 ( on an Fe I think ) in the past, and liked it, with the exception of the manual focusing ( it seems too loose ). So, NO AF stuff - strictly manual focus.
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Old 01-04-2012   #10
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I like the nikkor 50/1.8 AIS pancake (not E). Small and very sharp, also cheap.
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Old 01-05-2012   #11
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Originally Posted by yossarian123 View Post
Agreed here. If you want great IQ for next to nothing, then a 50/1.8E really can't be beat. Be sure to get the later version (with the chrome ring, instead of black) - it has a significantly better build quality than the earlier versions. If the E-series lenses seem too cheap for you, then just get the 50/1.8 AIS pancake - it's actually the exact same lens as the E, with the addition of the ear lugs.

One of my all time personal favorites was taken with a Nikon FM & 50/1.8E:
[...]
Nice picture - and I like your avatar's name Can you help with with the 1.8/50 AIS pancake? I just know the 2.8/45, and the 2/40 from Voigtlander, which was in my inbox Tuesday, has about the same size as the 1.8/50E and looks pretty nice.

Edit: Oops - just saw the pancake on the site I've provided the link

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Old 01-05-2012   #12
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I have the 50mm E series, 55mm / 3.5AI micro-nikkor and 50mm/1.4 Ais Nikkor and the Voigtlander SL 40mm /2 ultron with the closeup filter. They are all good on my FM3a. Overall, I really like the 40mm. Ideal focal length, lovely size, build quality and image and the close up filter is a bonus.

this site http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_surv.html is one that I respect for the Nikkors...
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Old 01-05-2012   #13
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Hm
my experience has been different than Frontman's.
Actually I have only two shots (on film) wide open, one of the 50 F/1.2 (whose only credit is being unbelievably bright in your viewfinder) and another from the humble 50 F/1.8 "stepped nose" for the same subject. The 50 F/1.8 was sharper and definitely more contrasty wide open - and it was NOT the only case I noticed it - while the F/1.2 had a "smoother" rendition of the same subject as you would expect from such a lens.
By the way here a 50 F/1.2 is sold for about 550-650€ depending on its condition. Exceptionally, once I found one below 500€ (the one I tried) but at that time I couldn't afford it.
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Old 01-05-2012   #14
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[...]
By the way here a 50 F/1.2 is sold for about 550-650 depending on its condition. Exceptionally, once I found one below 500 (the one I tried) but at that time I couldn't afford it.
You can buy one new at B&H for a little less than USD 700, which is about 530.
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Old 01-05-2012   #15
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If a Voigt SLII 40mm f2 is in your price range, give it serious consideration. I find that it pairs perfectly with the FM3a. A superb lens and I really like the focal length.
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Old 01-05-2012   #16
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The older nikkor ai 50f2's are high value lenses.
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Old 01-05-2012   #17
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One of my all time personal favorites was taken with a Nikon FM & 50/1.8E
Ha, I bought that very combo from eBay just this minute and then came over here. Like the OP, I will be new to Nikon film and lenses. Fancy the F2 Photomic as well.
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Old 01-05-2012   #18
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Just got the camera today. She's a beaut! Now I just need to get a lens ( or two... ).
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Old 01-05-2012   #19
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The 50mm 1.4 AIS is a lovely little lens. I picked one up for $150, but I've seen them go for around $120.
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Old 01-05-2012   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photon42 View Post
If your wallet needs to recover, get yourself and your new Nikon a 1.8/50 Series E. It is small, cheap, light and performs well. You will need AI/AIs lenses for your camera (the difference is irrelevant for the FM3a). AF lenses work as well, if they have an aperture ring. I'm a big fan of the FM/FE type cameras, and the FM3A is particularly nice.

P.S.
Check this site.
Even the AIS version is cheap but better built. Both are small and outstanding lenses.
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Old 01-05-2012   #21
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I believe that the AIS version is needed by Nikon cameras offering a P program exposure mode.
No an AIS lens can work on quite nicely on any Film Nikon.
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Old 01-05-2012   #22
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If a Voigt SLII 40mm f2 is in your price range, give it serious consideration. I find that it pairs perfectly with the FM3a. A superb lens and I really like the focal length.
100% agree. Pete Smith OBM tested the Voigt 40/2 and said it was the sharpest lens he had ever seen.
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Old 01-06-2012   #23
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No an AIS lens can work on quite nicely on any Film Nikon.
Agreed. That's not what I said.
Here is cameraquest's info page on Nikon lenses: http://www.cameraquest.com/aidaiais.htm
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Old 01-06-2012   #24
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100% agree. Pete Smith OBM tested the Voigt 40/2 and said it was the sharpest lens he had ever seen.
Would love to pick up one of these for my FM3a.....sharp and tiny!
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Old 01-06-2012   #25
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You can buy one new at B&H for a little less than USD 700, which is about 530.
Plus shipping, VAT, duties...
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Old 01-06-2012   #26
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Plus shipping, VAT, duties...
Yes. But it is new and Nikon USA gives you 5 years warranty worldwide AFAIK on lenses.
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Old 01-07-2012   #27
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If your wallet needs to recover, get yourself and your new Nikon a 1.8/50 Series E. It is small, cheap, light and performs well. You will need AI/AIs lenses for your camera (the difference is irrelevant for the FM3a). AF lenses work as well, if they have an aperture ring. I'm a big fan of the FM/FE type cameras, and the FM3A is particularly nice.

P.S.
Check this site.
Another vote for the Series E. Even if you decide to get something else, get this ALSO. Not just for the size/profile. It just renders so beautifully. This is the only lens where i've wanted multiple copies....
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Old 01-07-2012   #28
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I have a 50 f1.8 Nikkor for my FM3a and it's an amazing lens - a much, much better fit for the tiny FM3a than the faster lenses.

I would not pair a 50 1.2 with this small body - handling really suffers.

I don't know, which version of the lens I have, but it's built is exceptional and manual focus feel is right up there with the most expensive Leica-M lenses, I use.

I picked mine up for a bargain at way under 100 EUR a few years ago.

If you are in for a second lens, have a look, if you can find a Nikkor 28 f2.8 with 0.2m close focussing - these two lenses are a fantastic pairing with the small FM3a (while the 28mm is an exceptional lens in all accounts!
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Old 02-29-2012   #29
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OK, I'm returning to this thread to report that I've just (finally) run a roll of film through the camera. All I can say is that this is without a doubt the greatest slr I've ever used! I cannot praise it highly enough. It's extremely intuitive and easy to use, and I love the display in the viewfinder more than any camera I've ever used. The camera actually has a display for the f-stop! The meter read-out is fantastic!

I actually shot a roll and then switched to my Bessa R4 and I greatly preferred the FM3a ( yes - it may be heresy ). It may just be the "shock" of the new, but this is one incredible camera. I simply love it!
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Old 02-29-2012   #30
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OK, I'm returning to this thread to report that I've just (finally) run a roll of film through the camera. All I can say is that this is without a doubt the greatest slr I've ever used! I cannot praise it highly enough. It's extremely intuitive and easy to use, and I love the display in the viewfinder more than any camera I've ever used. The camera actually has a display for the f-stop! The meter read-out is fantastic!

I actually shot a roll and then switched to my Bessa R4 and I greatly preferred the FM3a ( yes - it may be heresy ). It may just be the "shock" of the new, but this is one incredible camera. I simply love it!
Great, pictures would be terrific!
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Old 02-29-2012   #31
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With my FM3A, I primarily use a 55mm/2.8 AIS -- probably one of the sharpest Nikon AIS lenses ever made. However, there are times when I'd like something shorter so I may pick up an Ultron 40/2. pancake.
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Old 02-29-2012   #32
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The sharpest nikkor I have is the 55 2.8 af macro lens. It's performance is excellent as a macro lens and a normal lens. A bit bulky but a great lens nonetheless. If you ever decide to get a longer lens for portraits, it has to be 105 2.5 ais (with built in hood).

I have 50 1.8 and 1.8D af versions. They are both great and not that expensive. Good luck.
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Old 02-29-2012   #33
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Great, pictures would be terrific!

Got it - just let me develop them first!
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Old 03-01-2012   #34
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Got it - just let me develop them first!
Can't wait to see them. You inspired me to pick up the FE2 and run a roll through it myself. So, while I am working on that, I decided to make it my one camera one lens rig for the week.

Not only that, but I started looking over mir.com to familiarize myself with the similarities and differences between the FE2 and the FM3A. Great reading IMO.
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Old 03-08-2012   #35
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Have to agree with the suggestions for an Ai-S 105mm f/2.5. Fantastic lens! Here's a recent shot taken with my copy on my FM3A.


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Old 03-08-2012   #36
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OK, I'm returning to this thread to report that I've just (finally) run a roll of film through the camera. All I can say is that this is without a doubt the greatest slr I've ever used! I cannot praise it highly enough. It's extremely intuitive and easy to use, and I love the display in the viewfinder more than any camera I've ever used. The camera actually has a display for the f-stop! The meter read-out is fantastic!

I actually shot a roll and then switched to my Bessa R4 and I greatly preferred the FM3a ( yes - it may be heresy ). It may just be the "shock" of the new, but this is one incredible camera. I simply love it!

I found my FM3A to be a little disappointing viewfinder wise ... though I agree they handle beautifully!

ps ... that's a lovely photo Jon.
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Old 03-08-2012   #37
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I have a Nikkormat FT2, and the Nikon 50 2.0 non-ai lens that came on it is as sharp as a pin. Actually, all of the Nikon 50 lenses are very good. But I think the Leica R lenses are better, so I'm scheming to afford a 50 R Summicron w/ an adapter for the FT2. It's just something I do w/ every Nikon camera that comes my way....sooner or later they all end up w/ a Leica lens on them. My "new" Chinon CE-4 would like one too (in K mount), so I'd better order 2 adapters so I can shoot that Summi on both systems.
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Old 03-08-2012   #38
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I have a Nikkormat FT2, and the Nikon 50 2.0 non-ai lens that came on it is as sharp as a pin. Actually, all of the Nikon 50 lenses are very good. But I think the Leica R lenses are better, so I'm scheming to afford a 50 R Summicron w/ an adapter for the FT2. It's just something I do w/ every Nikon camera that comes my way....sooner or later they all end up w/ a Leica lens on them. My "new" Chinon CE-4 would like one too (in K mount), so I'd better order 2 adapters so I can shoot that Summi on both systems.
The Cron R 50 is superb. Just packing mine up to send to Sherry for a little TLC...never thought about an adaptor for the FE2 Where do you get your adaptors.
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Old 03-08-2012   #39
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Never really knew too much about the E series lenses, but I know that the idea of one of those pancake lenses is very intriguing. Although I'd really like a 1.4. I've used my dad's Nikon AF 1.4 ( on an Fe I think ) in the past, and liked it, with the exception of the manual focusing ( it seems too loose ). So, NO AF stuff - strictly manual focus.
Couldn't agree more. Whenever I use my Nikon AF 1.4 on my FM2n, it just feels like garbage. Hate the plasticy, sloppy feel of the focus, and my AF 1.4 is one of the early ones made in Japan (my sources say they are made in China now). So I would definitely look for one of the AIS manual focus lenses for your new FM3a. Congratulations on the new camera.

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Old 03-08-2012   #40
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ps ... that's a lovely photo Jon.
Thanks Keith

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Jon--
This is really beautiful image quality and the 105/2.5 is but one part of the equation. What film, developer and scan parameters did you use with this image? This is some of the best B&W I have seen on the web and I'll bet it prints even better in the darkroom!
--Steve
Thanks Steve! That's high praise indeed The film is Neopan 400. I cheated on the developing and got my local Yodobashi Camera to do it. I think their lab uses Super Prodol for Fujifilm B&W films. I used my Coolscan 5000 to scan using basic USM settings of 20, 10, 3 but that's it - ICE etc. is turned off. In PP, I adjusted the curves slightly and cropped slightly. That's it!
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