Nikon FF for cheapskates

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  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    D5*00 series currently have the smallest OVF of all Nikon DSLRs, followed by D3*00 series which have a bit larger magnification. Both are rather dark due to the use of cheap (and lightweight) pentamirrors. D7*00 series and up use pentaprisms, affording a much, much brighter view, with again a nice bump in magnification. But they are still tiny compared to the view out of a D600's viewfinder, which is almost (but not quite) as large and as bright as my old F, F2 and non-HP F3 SLRs, which themselves were not the largest nor brightest SLR viewfinders in the business: Olympus and Pentax had even larger magnifications, while Minolta had the brightest and easiest to focus screens.

    I did think about getting a focusing screen with center split image/prism ring for my D600, but decided against it as it'll probably mess up the exposure meter's readings, besides I don't feel like using my manual focus Nikkors anymore, so much so that I'm thinking about selling them all except for the ones that came attached with my F (single coated 50mm f1.4), F2 (K 105mm f2.5) and F3 (non-SIC 35mm f2 Ai-S).
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,425Member
    Thanks! You aren’t helping me resist temptation to take advantage of Nikons promo on the 7200 or 750!

    To confirm I unearthed my old N60 and the viewfinder is huge in comparison to my 5500.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    Finally, after 2 whole months of scouring through ebay and yahoo auctions in Japan (yes, I was that desperate), I "scored" a 35mm 2D for cheap, relatively speaking. Oily blades, mount showing brass, 1 cent shy of a Benjamin shipped. Yes, it's insane, I haven't seen a single, good condition one sell for less than 2 Bens during these 2 months, with copies in even worse condition selling for more than I paid for; this lens is certainly in high demand, higher than the 50mm 1.4D! Hope it is usable when I finish CLA'ing it, keeping my fingers crossed on this one, as this is the FOV I use most. I almost went Yongnuo but the even poorer optics and dicey AF kept me away, maybe next time when they bring out a mark 2 version, like they're currently doing with their 50s.
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,425Member
    @CaMeRaQuEsT sorry for the slightly OT question but did you notice any difference in metering between the 7200 and 5500? I just got my 7200 and it seems to be under exposing, sometimes pretty heavily, in high contrast scenes. Maybe the 5500 was more willing to let some areas get blown out?
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    @mhedges, to tell you the truth, I wouldn't have noticed any differences in exposure as I've only ever shot in RAW with those bodies and always PP the files in LR. You'll have to compensate accordingly, anyways, as more often than not the exposure outcome btw 2 different camera series usually won't match perfectly. I did notice that the D7200 exposed darker than the D7100, but then the D7100 needed more light to avoid banding issues that showed up in shadows, also they used 2 different generations of image processors, EXPEED 3 and EXPEED 4; here the D5500 and the D7200 do share the same EXPEED 4 processor, though not the same sensor (Sony on the D5500, Toshiba on the D7200) nor the same RAW compression capabilities (only lossy on the D5500, lossless on the D7200). Nikon ALWAYS tweaks exposure, color, NR, sharpness, etc. btw releases, so not even bodies that were released months apart will match.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,236Moderator
    I wonder what metering mode you are using in a given situation - the same on both? I also never had banding - probably because I ETTR always.
    Always learning.
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,425Member
    I used Matrix exclusively on the D5500. Generally with -1 stop exposure compensation to preserve the underlit look when I was shooting dark areas.

    I probably just have to get used to the 7200 a bit more. I haven't used it enough yet.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,122Member
    Put two identical cameras with identical lenses and target the same things. I’d place bets they would meter differently, due to manufacturing tolerances.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,191Member
    Spraynpray, I usually don’t ETTR. It is impossible to know exactly when the highlights are blown. This is very risky. Instead, when I am concerned about the absolute best possible exposure, which may be ETTR or ETTL depending on the situation, I take a five shot bracket.

    I make this easy by customizing my settings so I can press the shutter release once in single shot while keeping a function button (the one below the DOF preview on my D850) pressed. This takes all five shots quickly and stops when the bracket is complete.

    I then pick the best of the five in Lightroom and discard the rest. Alternatively, I can merge several images using the HDR function.
  • spraynprayspraynpray Posts: 6,236Moderator
    @WestEndFoto : That is a good use for a programmable button. I may steal that idea.

    I seem to remember you saying you usually ETTL before. I just chimp my histogram for the highlights as that is near enough.
    Always learning.
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,191Member
    I usually have exposure compensation set to -0.3. With my technique above, that is the setting that will most likely result in me using the middle exposure (non-compensated) in the bracket in post. That is likely more to do with my specific shooting needs and could be different for everyone.
  • Ton14Ton14 Posts: 576Member
    edited June 2018
    @WestEndFoto Can you explain to me why you don't use the bracket button, but customize another button? I can't do this with my D600 I think.
    Post edited by Ton14 on
    User Ton changed to Ton14, Google sign in did not work anymore
  • WestEndFotoWestEndFoto Posts: 3,191Member
    I use the bracket bottom to set the desired bracket. But with this setting, I hold the shutter release down and it takes a continuous shot and stops at the end of the bracket. No counting required and note I am on Singke shot, not continuous.

    Also, you must keep the function pressed until the bracket completes.

    This negates the need for counting and in practice every single shot becomes a five shot bracket. Sometimes I adjust the bracket to three or nine depending on the situation.

    It has also resulted in saved shots, as I tend to shoot with a slow shutter speed to keep ISO down resulting in every third or four shot being a little blurry when pixel peeping.

    Also, camera shake is reduced because the initial minor shake when you “pull the trigger” is not a factor on the second shot etc.

    As you can see, The strategies employed have more than one purpose as this demonstrates.

    You do end up with a lot of full memory cards - something I need to consider before I go to Europe for 25 days this fall.
  • Ton14Ton14 Posts: 576Member
    OK, get it, very clear.
    User Ton changed to Ton14, Google sign in did not work anymore
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    Just received my $99.99 35mm 2D. Glass is clean, mounts tight despite brassing on the bayonet, aperture blades were oiled up and stuck, after an hour of cleaning, the lens is now in very good overall condition. Its IQ, OTOH, is a whole different story. From wide open, all 4 sides are very soft, only the center circle, or somewhere between 1/4 to 1/3 of the total frame area, is really usable. Stopping down only brings slight improvements per step, so it's not until f8 that the whole frame is usable, except for the extreme corners, which only sharpen up at f22 but then the rest of the frame softens from diffraction. Also, it's got nasty coma that doesn't go away until f8. Nikon's previous 35mm f2 Ai-S, of which I own a very beat up copy of, has pretty even sharpness throughout the frame starting from wide open, and is very well compensated for coma. Even my E Series 35mm f2.5 seems to behave better than this 2D. This is really bad form from Nikon, even lazy, I'll say, as they took 25 years to come out with an improved version, the 1.8G. Also, the internals are mostly plastic, just like the E series and unlike the 20mm 2.8 AF and the 85mm 1.8 AF which are all metal inside. I really don't understand why this lens keeps such a high resale value, and am now left wondering if the 28mm 2.8D would have been a better choice, or even the Yongnuo 35mm f2 for that matter. In any case, I already have a better 35mm AF lens in my Tamron 28-75mm f2.8.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,122Member
    edited June 2018
    Sounds like you have a bad copy, or some misaligned elements, my copy does not have all the issues you are taking about it, and I use it on a D750 and D810. It's no landscape lens, no doubt about it, but it's not that bad.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    The 3 elements on front form a single piece with their plastic barrel, with no facilities for taking them apart, while the rear group is, as usual, capped by a metal crown that screws down onto its own plastic barrel. There is no adjustment or alignment point anywhere on the lens that I can find, other than how much torque I apply to that metal crown or the screws that hold the front elements to the lens barrel. There is no play or designed-in ramps between mating surfaces, not even spacing shimmies, all of which is actually very normal for simple, whole group focusing prime lenses like this one. If the elements are misaligned, it came from the factory like so and there is nothing I can do about it, maybe Nikon service can but I have no such facilities available where I live. I doubt it is misaligned, seeing that it does render sharply in the center at all aperture settings and that all corners behave in the same manner. In fact, the two reviews with MTFs I've found on the web of this lens seem to corroborate my findings:

    http://www.opticallimits.com/nikon_ff/444-nikkor_afd_35_20_ff?start=1

    https://www.lenstip.com/171.4-Lens_review-Nikon_Nikkor_AF_35_mm_f_2D_Image_resolution.html

    I don't know PB_PM, maybe I did get a bad copy, but with no other copies available to me to for comparison here in my neck of the woods, I can't verify this possibility.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    Ok, so I sat down and disassembled the whole lens again. Tried to unscrew that rear crown, which I had previously left undisturbed as the rear elements were perfectly clean. Lo and behold, the crown came unscrewed with little to no effort, it was either not properly tightened down during initial assembly or during a previous CLA, or else it loosened up with time and usage (bear in mind that this lens can be anywhere between 13-23 years old: its serial number starts with 34). I screwed it back tight along with all the other parts and now it is rendering quite a sharp image throughout the frame; in fact, it is now much sharper than my f2 Ai-S. I now feel very relieved as I had high expectations for this lens. Now I understand why this lens is so well loved, why it holds such a high resale value and why the f2 Ai-S is currently worth next to nothing. Thanks PB_PM for pointing out that my lens might be misaligned.
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,122Member
    edited June 2018
    Glad to hear your 35 is working better now, how you first described it just didn’t sound right.

    You never know with old used glass, an owner could have left the lens sitting in a baking hot car, causing glued elements to shift. Sounds like you lucked out.
    Post edited by PB_PM on
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    Gosh PB_PM, never thought about that possibility, although I guess such happenstance should show up as glazing or cracking when looking through the elements, but thanks for pointing that out.

    I still see heavy coma at f2, diminishing through each step down and finally disappearing completely at f5.6, replaced by nice sunstars. LCA is also present in relative amounts to the incidence of coma. Does your copy behave like this, too?
  • PB_PMPB_PM Posts: 4,122Member
    Cannot say I notice any heavy coma, but I typically use it for indoor portraits. The only issue mine has is a slight bit of hesitation in the manual focus ring close to infinity. The gears could likely use some lubrication too, since every now and then it squeaks.
    If I take a good photo it's not my camera's fault.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    As expected, all this mirrorless FF frenzy is driving DSLR prices down across the board. All the used equipment I posted about here that I have bought in the last couple of months is now even cheaper to buy, while a brand spanking new D750 can be had for $1K (gray market, after using ebay's $100 max discount coupons or during their 10% ebucks promos) and the 1.8G lenses are getting cheaper by the day. And things should get even better as soon as all that shiny new mirrorless FF gear starts shipping. What a great time to get into a FX DSLR! DX? Why? A used D600 is now almost as cheap as a new D3400/D3500! Unless you really need to go lightweight, the better video chops or the additional 1.5x reach for your tele lenses, I really don't see the point in buying into DX over FX.
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,425Member
    It's certainly debatable. My counterpoint would be that a lot of people just plain don't want to hassle with used gear. Especially in the entry level market, where most of the buyers probably wouldn't see any difference in image quality anyway. And you can get a 2 lens kit new with warranty for the same price as a 5 year old camera that was known to have issues.

    I'm not saying that is what I would do, just that a reasonable argument can be made for it.
  • CaMeRaQuEsTCaMeRaQuEsT Posts: 335Member
    Finally had the chance to give my 85/1.8 AF and 35/2D a good shake-up, here are some thoughts:

    The 85/1.8 AF is definitively not as sharp as either the 85/2 Ai-S or the 85/1.8G. It has lots of LoCA wide open, just like my 50/1.4D, so I'm mostly using it stopped down to f2.5 or smaller. Has got almost no distortion, and the vignetting is nicely subtle and mostly gone by f5.6. Focuses sharp after fine tuning, but won't with my Kenko PRO1 C-PL-W on, though this might be attributable to a mfg. defect of the filter which clearly shows ripples on its polarizing film to the naked eye. Amazingly great contrast for such an old lens, even when shooting straight into the sun or with it just off frame, even with the scratches on the front element, but it does flare, though not obnoxiously so. Good bokeh, not as great as the 85/2 Ai-S or the 85/1.8G, but its bokeh circles of points of light are beautiful nonagons when stopped down. FOV is to fall in love with, as this is the most I've used this FOV because I bought the (now sold) 85/2 Ai-S when I was about to stop using film, so I've only got a couple rolls out of it, then I was full-on DX and it was very hard to shoot portraits hand held with its 128mm equivalent FOV, while the 50/1.8G on DX does not give quite as dramatic results with its equivalent 75mm FOV/2.8 DOF. If anything, this lens has me wanting to up-sell back to a 85/1.8G, not so much because it's a bad lens, it's still a very nice lens given its age, but rather because I'm liking the FOV so much I now want an excellent lens. I'll put it up for sale, but will keep on using it a lot for as long as I still own it.

    Now on to the 35/2D. During re-assembly of this lens, I slightly over-torqued a pair of screws that hold down the front elements group, specifically the pair located at the top (distance scale) side. That stripped the threads off the shanks inside the rather soft plastic inner barrel. So now the lens is permanently de-centered because this pair of screws can't hold any torque to counter the rest of the screws, which together hold the front group down at tree points, forming an equilateral triangle. I'll try filling the shanks with Loctite to see if I can get this lens aligned back to center, but as it stands the lens is basically useless. Wished Nikon didn't go so cheap with this lens, or the 28/2.8 AF and D or the different 50 AF and D lenses for that matter.

    As for my other lenses, I'm still getting lots of mileage from the 20/2.8 AF, but fungi is showing up again, so I'll need to strip it down once more, perhaps this time I'll leave the elements soaking in peroxide overnight. The 50/1.4D, though, is seeing no use at all. I might pick it up while the 35/2D is temporarily out of commission, though I'm not crazy about using it; in fact I might put it up for sale, too, as the 35 sits better between the 20 and the 85 than the 50. Lastly, I've basically forgotten that I own the Tamron 28-75/2.8, it's still got that dirty inner element and its weight/size makes it too big for the small Tamrac 5531 bag I'm currently packing my D600 and the other lenses in. I think I'm going to advertise my D600 paired with this lens, as I've gotten no responses from trying to sell the D600 alone, and I really, really want to unload it/them in time to buy the D750 when it finally becomes available brand spanking new for $1K or less.
  • mhedgesmhedges Posts: 1,425Member
    So let me just ask - after all this issues you are seeing, are you sure this was still worth it? I'm not sure how much money you saved on this stuff. Like, is it worth messing with the 85/1.8 AF when you can get the newest AF-S version for a little over $400 gray market (or less if you wait for an eBay sale)?
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