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Squalo Bianco Jan 6, 2010 7:37 AM

Can one use old lenses with a D90?
Hello all, my father has some beautiful lenses gathering dust for his dust gathering 35mm Nikon that I would happily inherit.

I am going to get a new camera and if you tell me I can autofocus those 70s-80s lenses with the D90 I will rush to the shop (good price until jan the 15th). Besides, I love its low light capabilities, screen, pentaprism and controls.

If not, I will get a KX, better ratio performance-price even though it looks less pro.

Thanks in advance.

JimC Jan 6, 2010 7:53 AM

Most 70's and 80's lenses are manual focus. ;-)

Nikon's first Autofocus SLR was the F3AF (launched in 1983 along with a couple of AF lenses). But, it was unique, and Nikon really didn't launch an Autofocus SLR system until 1986 with the N2000.

I'd find out what lenses he has. If they're manual focus, they won't meter on a D90 (you need to move up to the D300 to get metering with MF lenses). If they're not AI lenses, you shouldn't even mount them on a D90 without converting them to AI first. But, you still wouldn't have metering with them on a D90, even if you could mount them, so you'd have to estimate the exposure needed (ISO speed, aperture, shutter speed).

If they're Autofocus lenses, no problem (they'll work fine on a D90).

JimC Jan 6, 2010 7:57 AM

You'll find a chart on this page that may be helpful:

Squalo Bianco Jan 6, 2010 9:20 AM

That was quite the answer Jim, much appreciated!

In my ignorance on old lenses, I thought newer cameras could autofocus all of them using ther built-in motors, but I understand I was wrong. I actually discarded the D5000 from my wishlist because of this, and now I read on that link you provided that the D5000 supports pre-AI lenses and that the D90 doesn't, but the former can't autofocus AF lenses and the latter can. Everything is becoming clear to me now.

That means I absolutely need to find out what lenses he owns. Given the dates in which he bought them, I would say they will all be AI or maybe (hopefully!) AF. I may try and visit him today, is there any fast and reliable way to spot the lens type?

Summing it up, please correct me if I'm mistaken:

If his lenses are pre-AI (unlikely), D5000 is the way to go.
If they are AI, then D90 although they will not meter.
If they are AF, they will work beautifully with the D90.

At any rate, too bad the D90 lacks built-in stabilization. Ah decisions, decisions. I can't spend the extra silver for the D300, so it will be either the D90 (680€ body only) or the mighty and minuscule Kx (530€ for the 18-55 kit).

JimC Jan 6, 2010 9:49 AM

If they're not Autofocus Lenses, they're not going to meter on the D5000 or D90, AI or not.

You have to move up to the D300 (or newer D300s) in the current lineup to get metering with Manual Focus lenses.

IOW, if even the camera supports mounting them, you'd still have to estimate ISO speed, aperture and shutter speed needed for proper exposure trying to use a Manual Focus lens on any model below the D300 in the current Nikon lineup.

Squalo Bianco Jan 6, 2010 10:02 AM

Yeah mate, I got the no-metering thing the first time, what I meant is that preAI -according to Ken- will mount on a D5000 but not on a D90. Looks like converting nonAI to AI is not somethng I want to do, specially with my old man's beloved lenses.

JimC Jan 6, 2010 10:05 AM

I'd find out what lenses he has and go from there.

No offense to Nikon users, but it may even be easier to use older Nikon Manual Focus lenses on a non-Nikon camera body via an adapter if you're on a tighter budget. You can actually find adapters for some of the other camera brands that let you mount older Nikon lenses and still have metering (including with most Canon, Sony and Pentax camera bodies).

Squalo Bianco Jan 6, 2010 10:11 AM

Thats sounds extremely interesting. Buying the Kx AND having all my dad's lenses stabilized by it would be marvelous. With one of those adapters on the Pentax, would I get metering too?

JimC Jan 6, 2010 10:22 AM

Yes, you'd have metering.

You'd need what is referred to as "stop down" metering, which means you'd want to set the aperture ring on the lens to the aperture you want to shoot at. Note that the camera is not going to be aware of your aperture selection, since there is no communication about it from the lens. But, the camera can still meter that way and select the correct shutter speed for proper exposure in some modes (or give you an indication in the viewfinder's meter so that you can center the needle in the display for proper exposure).

Here's an example of one adapter that you could use:

I'd suggest visiting our Pentax dSLR forum for advise from members if you want to go that route, as they can give you some pros and cons of different adapter/lens type setups. For example, with some lens types, you'll need to use an adapter with optical elements built in (adding a small amount of magnification) in order to focus to infinity.

Squalo Bianco Jan 6, 2010 10:59 AM

That is fantastic, you are the man. I will certainly go that route, mainly due to in-body stabilization and low cost. Let us see what the pentaxians have to say about it.

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