Nikon N90s with AI Lenses and Flash--How Good is This?

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FilmOnly

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I love my Canon MF gear (F-1N, A-1, AE-1P), but am considering a better system for flash photography. Thus, I am thinking of buying an N90s and using it with AI lenses. Why AI lenses, you may ask (with no AF or D features)? I do not need AF and I prefer having a good MF lens with good distance scale markings on it. The problem is with Nikon's varying (and sometimes odd) dpth of field scale selections. The 50/1.8 AI is close to what I like: it has markings for f/5.6, f/8, f/11, and f/16. I prefer having markings for f/4, f/8, and f/11, as these are the ones I use most (and almost exclusively). A marking for f/16 is nice, but not necessary. My Canon lenses all have 4, 8, 11, and 16--I love these options. I have ruled out the 50/1.4 AI--which has more preferable depth of field markings--because some have commented that the 50/1.8 AI is a better lens. I absolutely despise distortion, and when I read Ken Rockwell's review of the 50/1.4 AI, I was disappointed. A lens with little or no distortion is a rare find, and the 50/1.8 AI has been touted as such. I have performed tests with a number of good lenses and all showed a tad more distortion than I had expected.

Considering all I have indicated, how good of a system will I have with my proposed lash-up--the N90s with a 50/1.8 AI? Specifically, how good of a flash system would I have, especially for fill flash use? I see the camera has a good sync speed (1/250th), and has TTL flash. I am considering the SB-26 and SB-28 flashes. I would be compromising a bit with the 50/1.8's distance markings, but would the flash performance be worth it? I welcome any other comments, either on the body or lens.

PS: for those inclined to suggest a Canon T90 for its 1/250th and TTL, I note that I have ruled out this fine camera because it does not have a vertical release (the MB-10 for the N90s does).
 
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Markok765

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FYI - The AF-D lenses send distance information to the camera for exposure.
I know when I didn't focus on my subject - eg accidentally focused on the background - my subject was overexposed.
 

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You'll get reasonable results with AI lenses using flash but the flash system is really designed to be used with so-called CPU lenses - i.e. AI-P (rare) or AF (of any flavour). Flash metering with AI lenses is centre-weighted, still TTL but not as good as matrix-balanced fill flash with AF lenses.

My personal opinion is that Nikon's best 50 is their 50/2. I have no idea what depth-of-field markings are on it as I tend only to depend on depth of field using wide-angle lenses.
 

johnnywalker

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The 50 1.8 is a fine lens. If you're referring to the depth of field markings, mine is marked for 22, 16 and 11. I can't see the usefulness of anything less - it would be just too hard to see. I've never used one, but there are a number of posts/threads extolling the virtues of the F90.
 
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FilmOnly

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Some very interesting comments here--thanks. Yes, I meant depth-of-field markings. I guess my brain was not functioning that well this morning...

Anyway, I find it very interesting that someone has recommended the 50/2 AI. When I had been using Pentax gear, my best results from a 50 were from my SMC-A 50/2. We all know that there are compromises built into every lens. For the past several years, I have had the suspicion that, in general, those compromises become more apparent with speed. I have owned and used virtually the entire range of 50s from all of the major Japanese brands--from f/1.2 to f/2--and have always prefered the performance of the slower versions, i.e. f/1.7/1.8 and f/2.

PhotoJim: I thank you very much for suggesting the 50/2 AI. As far as I can tell, it has my ideal DOF scale...the 4, 8, 11, and 16 are colored numbers. Could you please tell me more about this lens? What, specifically, do you like about its performance?
 
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benjiboy

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I would recommend you buy a CanonT90 body and a Canon 300TL flash and stick to what you have, it has a very sophisticated flash system and my results with it have been magic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canon_T90#Flash.
P.S Canon did make an optional vertical release button for the T90 that screwed into the cable switch socket, but they are rare now, and as with all vertical releases it was very easy to fire the shutter by accident with them.
I really think you shouldn't rule the T90 for such a minor thing, most of the best SLR s ever made didn't have one.
 
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FilmOnly

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I have considered this a number of times, but always end up going back to: no vertical release...results in awkward/poor posture for doing portrait work.

PS: "Rare" is an understatement for the button.
 
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FilmOnly

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That is why I like the Canon F-1 series. With this run, they seem to have thought of everything, including a vertical release. Too bad they had those brutal flash sync speeds. I will never understand why the classic "pro" Canon and Nikon bodies have such low sync speeds. The technology was there. Why the 1/80th and 1/90th? The Pentax ME Super--a "non-pro" camera--offered 1/125th. One would think that by 1981, with the introduction of the F-1N, Canon would have gone higher.
 

PhotoJim

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PhotoJim: I thank you very much for suggesting the 50/2 AI. As far as I can tell, it has my ideal DOF scale...the 4, 8, 11, and 16 are colored numbers. Could you please tell me more about this lens? What, specifically, do you like about its performance?

I've owned two of this lens: an ancient 50/2 non-AI Nikkor-H, and an AI 50/2 (which was multicoated). Both were very sharp. The loss of 1/3 stop is pretty much inconsequential.

The 50/2 is quite a bit larger than the 50/1.8s I've played with, but the results are great. You will certainly get some people who think the 1.8 is better. I think that it's very very close and in your case, with your DOF scale preferences, the /2 probably fits you better. The /2 is usually very inexpensive, which is a nice bonus.

You may wonder why I sold my 2s. I didn't want to pay to AI-modify my non-AI one, and the /2 needed a CLA due to dried-out lubricant and since I already had a /1.8E and /1.4D (AF), I felt like the /2 was superfluous. However, the pictures I got with my /2s are outstanding.
 
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FilmOnly

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Thanks, Jim...your input has been helpful. Now I must make a final decision in regad to the N90s.
 
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