Geeking It Up

A few years ago I replaced my dormant Nikon F80 film kit with a new D5500 digital system. I really liked the compact and lightweight new DSLR and eventually got 3 new autofocus DX zooms to go with it.

These new zooms give me image stabilization and cover a wide range of focal lengths from ultrawide to telephoto, and make up the bulk of my photo sessions with the Nikon. I never have to worry about focusing as they have ultrasonic motors in the lenses that provide fast and accurate focus.

My film kit also had a number of very nice lenses that I could mount on the new camera, and although they had excellent optics. presented me with some challenges:

  • The lenses were for film rather than my DX system and as such their focal length was 1.5X higher. No wide angle any more although I got a better telephoto performance.
  • The lenses had Nikon’s 30-year-old screwdriver autofocus system. Although some of the new heavier and more expensive Nikon bodies still support this legacy system, my camera did not. The only solution was to focus manually, something my old and out of focus eyes could not do well.

Then a miracle of sorts happened in the form of my cataract surgery in late 2017. After this, I was able to see so clearly that I could focus a camera manually and accurately for the first tie in close to 20 years. 

The camera does make it easier with a rangefinder icon and focus light in the viewfinder but I do OK just focusing the view.

My favorite lens right now for nostalgic photography is a 1989 35mm F2 Nikkor AF. It is lightweight and corresponds to a 50mm lens on a film camera. The photo above was taken on a nice November day with that lens.

Here is one from 2015 taken with a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AF lens. This one has a slightly telephoto performance on the D5500. I wasn’t as adept at focus back then but the focusing aid in the camera helped me.

 Finally here is another landscape photo from 2015. This one was taken with a Nikkor 24mm 2.8 AF lens. This lens was quite wide in my film set but here is showing only a moderate wide-angle view.

All of these lenses have great optics and contrast, so it would be a pity to stuff them into the closet and never use them at all. At the same time, their lack of autofocus and image stabilization limits them to bright sunny days and short term rambles.

I have many happy memories of using these lenses with my film kit. They are a valuable set of tools when I decide to go out and geek it up around Almonte.


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