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Nikon 50mm f1.4 'AI'.
Hello all. Settle in, pull up a sandbag, roll a fag and grab a cup of tea because this is going to be a long first post.

My name is Phil I am from the UK. I have used Photozone as my review internet site of choice for many years as a primary research tool when choosing my lenses. Along with Fred Miranda, Thom Hogan and one or two others I think PZ has been a faithful guide so thankyou very much for all of the help you had no idea you were giving me.

I wonder if you might be able to help me further.

I am going to Shanghai in August and I did not want to take my DSLR kit with me so I bought a compact system camera the Sony NEX-3 which, with some reservations that I am prepared to live with (fiddly menu based controls, poor battery life, lack of a viewfinder), I am very happy with, particularly the image quality.

I consider myself a reasonably experienced Photographer dabbling with a film DSLR from the mid eighties but switching to digital with a vengeance when it became affordable and like most experienced photographers I did not want to restrict myself to the slow, slightly soft 18-55mm kit lens. So I bought a Nikon 50mm f1.8 and a Kipon adapter with a view to using it purely as a manual focus lens.

Okay the Nikkor 50/1.8 is a belter, optically at least but I think that because the plastic finish is relatively rough, manual focusing was a bit nasty when fine tuning because of 'stiction' so I decided to sell it and after some research elsewhere regarding compatibility, price, image quality, build quality etc I found a beautiful Nikon 50mm f1.4 AI for less than £100 delivered. Problem solved, manual focusing on my Sony NEX-3 is smooth and creamy.

Anyway. According to the information I found after checking the serial number on my 50/1.4 it is indeed an AI lens and was made between 1977 and 1981. Looking at the compatibility side, all of the articles agreed that I could fit this lens to my Nikon D300 and it would meter.

Well I can fit it of course but it will not meter and after taking one test shot I won't be taking another because I heard and felt an audible 'slap' (don't worry, I checked, I haven't damaged it) which suggests that the coupling is not entirely compatible. If I gave the serial number, would it be possible to confirm that I have got my information right? And if I have got it right can anybody advise me? I won't be selling it on because, frankly, I am in love with it, it carries out its primary task on my Sony NEX beautifully so that is where it will stay but it would still be nice to be able to use it on my DSLR as well.

Thank you for your time.

Phil F.
Welcome on board, Phil.

I guess you're familiar with Roland Vink's excellent Nikon lens specifications and history summary:

Clicking on a lens' name gives you an image of the lens which should help to verify it's the one you own.

The D300 is compatible with Ai and Ai-S lenses. However, for the metering to work you have to enter the lens' specifications in the menu ("Non-CPU lens data" in the Camera Setup Menu). Once entered, the metering should work in A and M mode.

So, in general the lens, if it really is the Ai 50/1.4, should work just fine on the D300. The slap you decribe however sounds like there's some problem or issue with your lens. I have no idea though about what that issue could be.

-- Markus

MST. Thankyou. I followed your instructions and it works. Superb work sir.

It is hard to describe the slapping. It just feels like there is a little more oomph or 'clout' when the mirror comes up and the shutter fires but it is now metering fine on the D300 and it doesn't appear to be causing it any harm. I will keep an eye on it.

Again. Many thanks.

Phil F.

PS. Looking at Roland's chart it is without a doubt an AI and the Serial number falls within the expected values. Cheers.
The "slap" is quite normal with some manual Ai and AiS lenses.

It's probably less hard if you close the aperture a bit, hmm?

I had it with my 50/1.2 AiS and some other fast manual lenses I tried on the D300 and D700.

My 105/2.5 AiS and 200/4 AiS don't have it, but the old 35/2 OC (changed to Ai) I used yesterday did it as well.

Don't worry. It's the aperture closing lever of the camera that is hitting the aperture lever of the lens down fast.

With some lenses you can feel that slap, with other lenses less or not.


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