One of the main reasons I never switched from Nikon to Canon was the fact that Nikon has never changed its lens mount from the F camera in 1959 until today. Several years ago Nikon published a list of their current lenses which would make the most of the then new D800E cameras. The list was small and with very few exceptions the lenses on the list where very expensive. I own several of those lenses, and they are indeed fine lenses.
However for some types of photography, older Nikon Manual Focus lenses may be a better choice.
- The focus mechanism is better on these lenses than the manual focus control for autofocus lenses. So if you're going to be manually focusing for landscape, macro, or product photography, you will get better results.
- These lenses have a depth of field scale, simplifying setting the proper focus distance particularly when photographing landscapes.
- Without the complex mechanical and electronic parts required for autofocus and Vibration Reduction technologies these lenses tend to be more reliable and cost much less to repair. In fact I've had more difficulty getting my newer autofocus lenses repaired and in two cases fairly new lenses were returned by Nikon stating that parts were no longer available.
- Many of these fine lenses can be purchased in very good condition at very low prices compared to the current lenses offered by Nikon.
There are a couple of things to be aware of.
- Only the higher end Nikon Digital Cameras will support metering (check prior to purchasing) without a modification to the lens to add a cpu chip and contacts. This is something I have not tried so can't personally recommend at this time.
- Lenses made prior to 1977, known as non-AI lenses, need to be modified prior to mounting on your camera as damage may result. The modification is easy to perform yourself and there are several people performing this service for a reasonable charge. But don't mount the lens without doing the mod.
- While this article is for Nikon users, some people are adding an adapter to mounnt these lenses on Canon and Sony cameras with good success. You may want to check out your options for this.