A lot of Nikon shooters such as myself use the old Nikon lenses (pre-auto focus) on their digital Nikon bodies. This might seem a little strange sticking a lens thats 15 or more years old on a fancy modern SLR, however there are a few good reasons why you would.

The main reason why I bought a few old manual lenses was down to how reasonable the price was on some very fast glass. My Nikon 24mm f/2.8 was £110 and my 35mm f/2.0 was a steal at only £70. Compare that to the likes of the modern versions –

  • Nikkor AF 24mm f/2.8D – £329
  • Nikkor AF 35mm f/2.0D – £254

So a massive difference in price (as long as your search around) from the newer auto-focus models to the older manual versions, and to be fair there isn’t much difference in glass and optics from the old to the new.

Build quality on the older lenses as well I feel is much better than the plastic feel you get from the “lower” range Nikon lenses. You actually have some weight to them rather than worrying about cracking the plastic if you misuse the lens a little.

Also Nikon have never changed their lens mount……….EVER! Therefore even some of the older and rare manual lenses will fit onto the digital bodies, however please check as there are a few which might need modifying or the camera set up a certain way before using it.

So now you’ve heard why I chose some older Nikon lenses, now it’s time to tell you how to use them. If you have used a film SLR’s you’ll notice that they normally have a split screen in the middle which is there to aid you whilst focusing, however if you look at your DSLR screen or through the viewfinder you don’t have this.

How To Use Manual Focus Nikon Lenses

Well good old Nikon have thought of that. If you look in the lower left of your viewfinder you’ll notice two triangles and a dot. This is your focus indicator, which is very handy when using manual lenses on a digital body (or using any lens in manual focus mode.)

How it Works

Center the focus brackets on your subject and lightly press the shutter
release button. The focus indicator appears or blinks as follows.

 appears: Subject is in focus.
 appears: Focused on an area between camera and subject.
appears: Focused on an area behind the subject.

It does take some getting used to using old manual focus lenses on a DSLR, but once you’ve got the hang of it you can in fact focus rather quickly. Hopefully this helps some people out who have a couple of old manual focus lenses that they thought weren’t any good on their new DSLR’s.

Any questions then please get in touch and I’ll be more than happy to help!