Thread: Manual Nikkor vs. AF Nikkor

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  1. #1 Manual Nikkor vs. AF Nikkor 
    Senior Member Shawn Nelson's Avatar
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    I'm a Canon guy (thus I have 0 background in Nikon stuff) but sice I had a Red zoom reserved I realized I needed to buy Nikons until that ships.

    I remember back on DVXUser Jim mentioned the biggest drawback of using still lenses is the small focus throw (or, how much of a barrel turn to go from the closest focus point out to infinity).

    So recently I bought two good quality used manual AI Nikkor primes (50mm 1.4 and 135 3.5) and was amazed at what a long focus throw they had in comparison to AF primes! Wow! An AF prime has only a 1/4 max barrel turn, and trying to pull focus with that small or a radius would be so hard. But these manual lenses rotate almost a full 2/3, more than double the focus throw of an AF!

    Dang, I had heard that manuals were better for general construction but in my mind, having more than double the focus throw makes a manual Nikkor vastly better for Red.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member Dominic Jones's Avatar
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    I would (and do) only use manual Nikkors (in all applications, actually, but then I don't do sports stills or photo-journalism!) for motion picture work, unless I've got a very good reason - i..e the lens is simply not available in MF or the AF version has significant optical improvements (which is very rare in the case of Nikkors).

    I'm the 100% opposite of you Shawn, a Nikon guy with no Canon knowledge to speak of - is the same not also true of Canon MF glass? I've heard there's some great stuff about there too, and I imagine the focus throws would be similarly longer...

    Although I suppose you've got the problem of different mounts with Canon, don't you?

    Should be mentioned though, throw on MF still lenses is still *way* smaller than on Cine glass, and is still an issue on long lenses at wide apertures. It's not an unmanageable problem though...
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  3. #3  
    Manual Nikkors, especially later AI lenses are by far the best choice, excepting situations where either no manual equivelent exists (IE 17-35mm f2.8) of where the AF version is obviously a superior optical reformulation over it's MF predecessor (35mm f2). But for the majority of Nikkors this is true.
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  4. #4  
    Senior Member Shawn Nelson's Avatar
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    Evin, I was planning on buying a 7 prime set of all manual until I saw how much you recommend the 35mm f2 AF. How is it so much better? I just hate the idea of one of my lenses having only a 1/4 barrel turn focus throw.
    "Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible." -MC Escher
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  5. #5  
    FWIW, I did a shoot this past weekend with Erik Rangel (another REDservation holder here) and we used my Nikon 17-35 in conjunction with a 35mm adapter on a JVC HDV camera... Crappy camera aside, the lens is great. It does breathe quite a bit, more so than I've seen from the smaller primes, but it's a great piece of glass. This will be one of my primary lenses (along with a 50mm f1.2 and an 85mm f1.4) until I get ahold of the RED zoom. ...And even then, I may pass on the RED zoom if it's not all it's cracked up to be or I run short on funds. The turn of the barrel is very slight the entire focus range only accounts for about half a turn of the focus ring. And while it clicks with a bit of resistance at either end, the ring continues to spin. It was difficult to focus at times -- we had tons of shots at odd angles, under tables, floors, hallways, chicks in leather with guns... But it worked good overall... Or maybe my standards are just too low. Heh.
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  6. #6  
    Shawn, go for the 35mm f1.4 if you want the best manual lens.
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  7. #7  
    chicks in leather with guns...

    I'd say your standards are in line, man.

    :)
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  8. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by pixelchef View Post
    chicks in leather with guns...

    I'd say your standards are in line, man.

    :)
    Who needs the leather?
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  9. #9  
    Quote Originally Posted by pixelchef View Post
    I'd say your standards are in line, man.
    ...Here's a partial frame (screen grab) - one of the girls pulling her underwear out of her butt crack between takes -- greenscreen too, I could have some real fun with this footage. :D
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  10. #10  
    Junior Member sean90291's Avatar
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    Evin, I sent you a PM about this on DVXuser (guess I should have sent it via RedUser). I have a line on a well cared for Nikkor AF 20-35mm 20-35 D f/2.8 zoom lens for $700 but I'll probably have to act fast. I believe this is the older version of the Nikkor 17-35mm f2.8 ED-IF AF-S Zoom that Evin likes so much. Since I've been hunting for a few months for the 17-35mm, seeing prices stay at around $1200, I am inclined to grab the 20-35mm version for $700. Should I?

    Any advice appreciated!
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