Best AF lenses for Nikon FA

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by cramej, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. cramej

    cramej Subscriber

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    I picked up a good ol' 28-80 3.5-5.6 AF lens the other day with the intention of using it on my N80 and FA. Of course, it works just fine on the N80 but because of the small rear element, it almost completely blacks out the split image on my FA at focal lengths greater than about 35mm. Does anyone know of another AF lens that performs better on manual focus cameras? I would like to get away from using my Vivitar Series 1 28-90 because the focus direction is backwards from Nikon and is really soft at f/2.8 and only so-so at f/4.
     
  2. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    You might also consider the K3 split image screen that was released with the FM3A as it will never blackout - slow lens, stop down, multiplier, bellows, etc. These screens are all interchangeable with FM2/FE2/FA/FM3A.
     
  3. ColdEye

    ColdEye Subscriber

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    50/1.8d if you want a cheap and good prime lens. :smile:
     
  4. OP
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    cramej

    cramej Subscriber

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    Thanks for the info. $35 for the lens and $35 for the screen still makes it a pretty good deal.
     
  5. OP
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    cramej

    cramej Subscriber

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    ColdEye - that's the one lens I regret selling (along with my SB-800 - grrrr) when I sold both my D200's and a few other lenses so I could fund my film habit. I wasn't thinking at the time that it would be handy to use on the FA.
     
  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    It is my understanding that the split prism needs a certain amount of light to work well, so blacking out of the split prism is normal as the full open aperture gets smaller.

    Variable f-stop lenses show this problem remarkably well. As you move from 28mm toward 80mm on your lens the aperture gets smaller moving from 3.5 - 5.6 and as the light available on the focus screen drops. The split prism reaches its usable limit at whatever aperture the lens reaches at 35mm, maybe f/4ish.

    This isn't just an aperture issue, poorly lit scenes can cause the same problem.

    Any fixed aperture lens at say f/2.8 or better should should be a big improvement.

    This would be nice. AFS-Nikkor 28-70 mm f/2.8 ED IF
     
  7. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Not so with the Nikon K3. There are other screens for other bodies that also do not black out like the B (New Split) for the Canon F-1N.
     
  8. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The AF 28-85/3.5-4.5 ought to be fine on your camera. The 28-70/3.5-4.5 should also be fine.

    The 28-105/3.5-4.5 has a short focus throw on its focus ring, but might be comfortable enough - give one a try if you can.
     
  9. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    I'd stick with fixed lenses.. F/2.8 zooms are just not meant for lil' FA's
     
  10. OP
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    cramej

    cramej Subscriber

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    The 28-85 was my first choice, however, KEH didn't have a late one with the good focus ring in stock. Plus, it would end up costing more than what I wanted to spend this time around (except that I went ahead and ordered a focusing screen...). I almost bought a 28-105 locally, but it was too much as well. The N80 will primarily be a 'point & shoot' used with flash for family gatherings and such so I'm not too concerned about maximum aperture.

    I have a couple days to think it over - I may still send the 28-80 back and get something else.
     
  11. OP
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    cramej

    cramej Subscriber

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    As much as I like primes and my Nikons, I have a pretty nice selection for my Minolta cameras and to duplicate that system in Nikon would cost me upwards of $1k. So far, my 75-150 has been used the most on the FA. With the motor drive it's a very well balanced rig and is often a companion to my medium format for portraits loaded with Neopan 400 shot at 640 and pushed 1 stop.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I like fixed lenses too but really cool zooms like the 28-70 I mentioned above work just fine on the FA and autofocus the N80.
     
  13. F/1.4

    F/1.4 Member

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    LOL sure they work fine, but it's like putting a folders can in the end of the camera!
     
  14. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Had no qualms using the little 28-70/3.5-4.5 on my old F eyelevel...

    [​IMG]

    -J
     
  15. OP
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    cramej

    cramej Subscriber

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    UPDATE - I bought the K3 screen and installed it today. WOW! Anyone who has a FA should get this screen - it's cheap ($35 from Adorama) and easy to install with the included tweezers. I had to clean off the mirror bumper goo first and replace with some adhesive felt, but that only added 10 minutes or so to the operation. The 28-80 I bought is f/5.6 at the long end and the screen doesn't even come close to blacking out.
     
  16. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    I use two mid range zooms on my Nikon F100 and F6. The 35/70 AFD constant speed F2.8 is phenomenal but are almost unobtainable now they are so good the owners hang onto them. There was an earlier version designated simply 'AF' which has the same optical design buy not the upgraded flash capabilities of the 'D'. The other is a 28/105 AFD 3.5/4.5 and this is not so far behind the 35/70, but lacks the wider aperture at all focal lengths. There are plenty on the used lens market.

    As for the Vivitar 28/90 I use one on my Minolta KM and I have yet to find it lacking. When they 1st came out in the 70's they were among the best there was available. It is a heavy beast but used on a tripod even at F2.8 with |Ilford Delta the resolution is very very good with virtually no fall off. Like most Vivitar series 1 lenses they were made by a number of independent manufacturers but badged as Vivitar Series1 and they can vary in quality. I would suggest yours is possibly a 'Friday afternoon' version where legend has it that standards would be less than the rest of the week. I have never used it wide open but at F4 I can print a decent quality 12x16 print in either B&W or colour.
     
  17. benveniste

    benveniste Subscriber

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    Whatever AF zoom you choose to use with the FA, you're going to be giving up focus feel compared to manual focus alternatives. I keep coming back to ye olde 35-105mm f/3.5~4.5 and 50mm f/1.8 as a result.

    I've used two different "standard" AF zooms with my FA. The first was the original 24-120mm f/3.5~5.6. With that lens, I did occasionally run into the "black out" issue when using eyeglasses. I also used a Tokina 28-70mm f/2.6~2.8 with good results, but the balance "in hand" isn't the best with that lens.

    Some other interesting choices:
    • 35-70mm f/2.8 AF Nikkor
    • 28-105mm f/3.5~4.5 AF Nikkor
    • 24-85mm f/2.8~4.0 AF Nikkor
    • Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8
     
  18. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    Whenever I'm asked, what is the best AF lens to use on a Nikon, I always reply the same: get an AF-D lens. The "D"s were still made with manual focus at least as part of the consideration. I have three AF-Ds and they all work well as manual focus lenses.

    To the OP: I'm glad to read you found a focusing screen that works. That was gonna be my next recommendation.
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2017
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