Ai and AiS Lenses
Since I now have a grand total of 2 AiS lenses... i.e. the infamous Nikkor 43-86 f/3.5 and the newly acquired Vivitar Series 1 28-90 f/2.8-3.5. I thought it might be nice to get some discussions going on these old, but still very useful, lenses.
The 43-86 works ok, but is pretty limited, especially for a DX camera. It may end up being a good portrait lens down the road, but I don't do a lot of portraits. And with a min focal distance of around 1 meter...
The Vivitar S1 28-90 f/2.8-3.5 (Macro) on the other had seems to be a damn fine lens, and, at first blush, in many categories, better than my AF lenses. In particular color and contrast even wide open (but not into the sun). The Macro capability pretty much focuses down to a couple of inches at 28mm, and I've been very pleased with the images so far.
Now that I'm getting the hang of manual focus again it's kinda fun, and the first couple of 11 x 14 prints are pretty impressive.
I'm considering the Vivitar 70-210 f/3.5 Macro at this point. So e-bay here I come.
What say you Nikonians?
I don't see the point in owning the 43-86 when that range even down to the aperture is covered by the 28-90.
To be brutally honest I didn't realise the Vivitar lenses were any good. In NZ the only Vivitar products we used to see were low end flashes and I think really cheap P&S cameras. If the lens works well maybe there are some bargains to be had.
The 43-86 was part of the FE package offered by dealers back in the late 1970's, and for the time was a pretty nifty lens. Now days, pretty useless. Seems that Vivitar sub-contracted their designs to several Japanese lens manufacturers of the time (mid 1970's to early 1990's) including Kiron, Komine, Cosina, and Tokina.
Originally Posted by K1W1
I posted a few photos from the 28-90 f/2.8-3.5 Macro on the POTD thread. Here is another.
Remember Prospero rocking an unmetered & MF Kiron maco on here a couple years back.
Yeah. I was also looking at the Vivitar Series 1 105 f/2.5, but still seeing how manual focus pans out. I'm pretty sure that the 28-90 is a made by Komine who also made version 3 (arguably the best of the mfrs for Vivitar), so I'm still looking for a nice copy of the 70-210 f/2.8-4 as well.
I decided to try one of the Tokina made Vivitar 75-205 f/3.8-4.8 Macro DL's, but have not had time to really try it out yet. But for $69...
I'm thinking that the 55-200 VR is probably a better way to go, and it has been a pretty decent shooter. More as we go.
P.S. Changed the original post stating "75-105" to 75-205.
Preliminary on the Vivitar 75-205 f/3.8-4.8 DL Macro (Tokina) is:
Not real sharp at f/3.8, but gets better quickly when stopping down. At f/5.6 onward it is pretty sharp. The copy I have is pretty "twitchy" on the focus ring (not well damped). Additionally, this is not a light lens, and camera shake does come into play above 105mm (as is the case with all non VR lenses). This lens is night and day different from the Series 1 28-90 f/2.8-3.5 Macro which feels like a pro lens and I'm really happy with it.
I was originally looking for a fast 24-70 and found the 28-90. Not sure that longer AiS zoom lenses will work as well. They are up against the Nikon 55-200 VR and the Tamron 70-300 VC. Both very good consumer lenses.
But just for the sake of argument, and comparison, I'm looking at a Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f/2.8-4 (by Komine). With a little luck I should have one soon, and will give it a test run.
If any of you out there have some of these old lenses, let us know what you think.
Originally Posted by Dread Pirate Roberts
Dennis was/is very talented. I miss seeing his posts and images.
The Kiron 105 f/2.8 Macro (Ai) is still going for $300+. Tempting, but...
Would also like to see Dennis posting again. And others who seem to have vanished from DCRP.
Couldn't agree more, I miss the past members.
So, my conclusion on manual lenses:
There are some very good Ai and AiS lenses out there, and they work great when shooting static objects and/or attached to a tripod or monopod. For me, on days when my hands are fairly calm, the Vivitar Series 1 28-90 f/2.8-3.5 is a fun and sharp lens as is the Vivitar 75-205 f/3.8-4.8 (at f/5.6 and above). On days when my hands aren't so calm it is almost impossible to handhold shots below 1/120. Additionally, having to refocus constantly can add problems.
Admittedly, I have tested only a few manual lenses, but while I have been impressed with the quality/cost of the Vivitar examples, not having AF can be labor intensive on a DSLR, and I miss the VR feature, especially beyond 105mm, but even at lesser focal lengths.
For someone just starting to shoot with a DSLR, and/or with steady hands, these older lenses represent an inexpensive method to take high quality images. A few of the videographers I've talked to also really like these older lenses. Since I haven't really gotten into that aspect, at least I have one of the fan-favorite lenses, if I ever do.
I was going to invest in the Vivitar Series 1 70-210 f/2.8-4 Macro, but have come to the conclusion that the Nikkor 55-200 f/4-5.6 VR is probably just as sharp and contrasty, and a more useful tool in my low-cost arsenal.
I have also reached the conclusion that the combined weight of the 18-105 VR and the 55-200 VR is about the same as either of the Vivitar's alone.
I will definitely keep the 28-90 just for its great Macro capability. The 75-205 is there to remind me of why the new lenses exist, and it really is an interesting paperweight. I may still try to find a Kiron 105 f/2.8 (if the price is right).