Work with old Nikon lenses

Nikon is famous for not changing the mount of its SLR cameras since 1961. All lenses released since 1961 (sometimes earlier) mechanically compatible with all Nikon cameras, including with modern Nikon digital SLR cameras.

Nikon Nikkor-SC Auto 1: 1.4 f = 50mm on the Nikon D40x

Original (NON-AI, without AI conversion) lens Nikon Nikkor-SC Auto 1: 1.4 f = 50mm on the camera Nikon D40x. On such cameras, such old lenses are installed without alteration. Nikon D40x and similar cameras listed in this article do not have a diaphragm rheostat and use a “recessed” aperture limit lever, making it easy to use any old Nikon F mount lenses on them.

All old mirrored lenses with Nikon F mount are divided into:

  1. NON-AI or PRE-AI - lenses do not know how to transmit the aperture value to the camera, metering exposure difficult with them. This type can be converted to AI type. You can use here such a trick for automatic metering exposure on covered diaphragms.
  2. AI (Automatic Indexing - automatic reading) - such lenses are able to transmit the aperture value to the camera.
  3. AI-S (Automatic Indexing Shutter - automatic reading for excerpts) - improved, more linear aperture control circuit for the correct selection of the aperture / shutter exposure pair.
  4. AI-P (just 'P', Automatic Indexing with micro Processor - automatic reading and control using a micro-processor) is the latest development of classic lenses without autofocus. More details about 'AI-P' Read here.

There is practically no difference between AI, AI-S when working at modern central control centers. AI-S lenses have a strictly linear dependence of the aperture closing stage on the deflection of the aperture jumper. Also, AI-S lenses have a special notch next to the mount and usually have an orange minimum aperture mark. All lenses marked AF, D are also AI-S compatible.

Nikon Nikkor-SC Auto 1: 1.4 f = 50mm and Nikon F6 camera

Original (not converted) Nikon Nikkor-SC Auto 1: 1.4 f = 50mm and TOP film Nikon F6 Camera. Due to the diaphragm rheostat, this original lens cannot be mounted on the camera without additional alteration of the lens or modification of the camera.

All Pre-AI (Non-AI), AI, AI-S, AI converted lenses have a blinking aperture. This means that when the lens is attached to the camera, the aperture opens fully. The aperture will close to the set value only when the shutter is released. The camera will automatically close and open the iris when you press the shutter button. The mechanism for closing the diaphragm is realized through the "pusher" and "jump rope". All modern Nikon lenses have the same design (except for specific Nikon E).

Read aperture value

How does the camera read the set aperture value on the lens? It's very simple - older Nikon cameras are equipped with a special ring with a protrusion near the camera mount. The protrusion is shown in the image below. Special protrusion on the lens when rotating the aperture ring on AI, AI-S, Non-g the lens clings to a protrusion on the camera and rotates it, transmitting the aperture value to the camera.

Rheostat for reading aperture value for Ai, Pre-ai, AI-S, Non-G lenses

Rheostat for reading aperture value for Ai, AI-S, Non-G, Non-E lenses

The problem with installing old PRE-AI lenses on modern CZK

Old PRE-AI lenses abut the diaphragm ring against the protrusion of the diaphragm rheostat near the camera mount. Because of this, older PRE-AI lenses cannot be mounted on cameras that can read aperture value.

Here is the exact list of cameras on which it is not possible to mount PRE-AI lenses due to the protrusion of the rheostat:

D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750D780, D800, D800E, D810D810a, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200, D1, D1h, D1x, D2x, D2xs, D2h, D2hs, D3, D3x, D3s, D4, D4s, D5, D6 + S5 Pro, IS Pro.

Nikon Df can hide the rheostat, which is why there are no installation problems.

Projection for transmitting aperture value on the lens

A lug for transferring the aperture value on the lens, which engages with the aperture rheostat on the camera. Shown using an example lens Nikon AF Nikkor 28-70mm 1: 3.5-4.5D

Aperture Lever EE

Also old PRE-AI lenses cannot be installed on cameras

Nikon D50, D70, D70s, D80, D90, D100 + Fujifilm FinePix S1 Pro, S2 Pro, S3 Pro, S3 Pro UVIR + Kodak DCS PRO 14n (and its modifications) and Kodak DCS Pro SLR / n (and its modifications) (this is an accurate list)

из-за lever of the extreme position of the diaphragm. The lever is responsible for working with autofocus lenses that have an aperture control ring. These lenses are called Non-g. Below is shown such a lens with a protrusion that is combined with the lever of the extreme position of the diaphragm.

The protrusion for reading the extreme position of the aperture ring on the Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm 1: 1.8D lens, which is a NON-G type lens, that is, one that has an aperture control ring.

Lug for reading the extreme position of the aperture ring on the lens Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm 1: 1.8Dwhich is a NON-G type lens, that is, one that has an aperture control ring.

For automatic iris control, such cameras need to know for sure that the aperture control ring is set to the extreme position (maximum F number). If this is not done, then the camera display will show error message 'FEE' (the aperture ring is not set to the correct position). When the diaphragm ring rotates to its extreme position, this lever moves counterclockwise. For cameras with a diaphragm rheostat, such a lever is not required, since the rheostat itself takes over its function. The lever EE for reading the extreme position of the diaphragm ring is shown in the figure below.

EE lever for reading the extreme position of the diaphragm ring

Lever EE for reading the end position of the diaphragm ring, the lever moves, but does not "sink"

And here are the cameras

Nikon D40, D40x, D60D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300D3400, D3500, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500D5600D7500 + mirrorless cameras Nikon z5, Nikon z6, Z6 II, Nikon z7, Z7 II, Nikon z50, Zfc using the original Nikon FTZ adapter

have a different lever design EE... The lever is 'recessed' into the body of the camera rather than displaced, so the lever does not interfere with the aperture ring protrusions of PRE-AI lenses.

EE Lever on Nikon Junior Cameras

EE lever on low-end Nikon cameras. When the lens is mounted, it “retracts” and does not interfere with the installation of any lenses with Nikon F mount

Some cameras, such as Nikon D3400 и D3500 deprived of this lever at all. On these cameras, you can easily install all PRE-AI lenses.

Lack of leverage

Lack of EE lever on models D3400 и D3500.

To summarize, PRE-AI lenses cannot be mounted on cameras:

D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D800, D800E, D810D810a, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200, D1, D1h, D1x, D2x, D2xs, D2h, D2hs, D3, D3x, D3s, D4, D4s, D5, D6, D50, D70, D70s, D80, D90 + Fujifilm FinePix S1 Pro, S2 Pro, S3 Pro, S3 Pro UVIRS5 Pro, IS Pro + Kodak DCS PRO 14n (and its modifications) and Kodak DCS Pro SLR / n (and its modifications)

PRE-AI lenses are easy to mount on cameras:

Nikon D40, D40x, D60D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300, D3400, D3500, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500, D5600, Df, D7500 + mirrorless cameras Nikon z5, Nikon z6, Z6 II, Nikon z7, Z7 II, Nikon z50  Zfc using the original Nikon FTZ adapter

PRE-AI lenses are easy to convert to AI, usually for this part of the aperture ring is ground off and a protrusion for the rheostat is added.

Due to the lack of a diaphragm rheostat gauging exposure not available with cameras:

 Nikon D40, D40x, D50, D60, D70, D70s, D80, D90, D3000, D3100, D3200, D3300, D3400D3500, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500, D5600, D100D7500 + Fujifilm FinePix S1 Pro, S2 Pro, S3 Pro, S3 Pro UVIR + Kodak DCS PRO 14n (and its modifications) and Kodak DCS Pro SLR / n (and its modifications). But with models D5200, D5300, D5500, D5600, D3500 can be used here's a life hack.

Measurement exposure with old lenses is only available on cameras that have a diaphragm rheostat:

D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750D780, D800, D800E, D810D810a, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200, D1, D1h, D1x, D2x, D2xs, D2h, D2hs, D3, D3x, D3s, D4, D4s, D5, D6, Df + S5 Pro, IS Pro + mirrorless cameras Nikon z5, Nikon z6, Z6 II, Nikon z7, Z7 II, Nikon z50, Zfc using the original Nikon FTZ adapter (?)

Fast solution for compatibility

PRE-AI, NON-AI lenses can be easily used on any camera with macro rings... These lenses can be easily installed on any cameras via Any extension tube for Nikon F-mount cameras.

How to use old Nikon lenses on modern DSLRs and system cameras, see 'Using old lenses'.

What are old lenses for, if you have modern autofocus?

Old manual lenses give quite adequate image quality. Some of them are superior to their modern autofocus counterparts. For some lenses, there are simply no autofocus counterparts. For example, there is no analogue for Nikon 50mm f / 1.2 AI-s Nikkor MF with the same aperture. Moreover, old lenses usually cost much less than their modern counterparts. Old manual lenses got their second life after the boom on the CZK camera.

If it’s interesting to read more about modern lenses and their differences, I advise you to look into my article The difference between modern Nikon lenses, as well as interesting observations can be found in the article Aperture and video on the Nikon CZK и An interesting property of the diaphragm on the Nikon CZK.


Nikon has a lot of experience in creating lenses and a very large fleet of old high-quality optics, which can be purchased for little money and get an excellent image result.

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Material prepared Arkady Shapoval... Look for me on Youtube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Telegram.

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Comments: 212, on the topic: Working with old Nikon lenses

  • Egor

    An interesting article, especially when you really like manual optics)

  • Dmitriy

    Arkady, please tell me why, I quote
    if non-AI lenses are used, they will not be able to mount on cameras ... D90.
    Why can't they install? The bayonet mount is the same.
    Is it all about the metal “ears” near the back of the lens?
    If so, is it worth bothering with installing the Conversion ring for 25-35 bucks, or can you simply cut them off with a file?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The problem is the protrusion of the skirt of the diaphragm ring, it can simply be cut.

      • Alexander Belozerov

        Arkady, I'm sorry, I'm bothering you again. I have already taken 2 lenses according to your “tip” to my D90. Sigma 17-50 and 70-300 VR. I like both. My question for you is the following ...
        I liked the photos on the site made by Helios 81. But judging by the articles, you probably would not advise me to take it as a portrait for my carcass?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          I did not advise. Take Nikon 85 / 1.8D / G for a portrait :)

      • Levon

        It seems like everything is chewed by Arkady, but I still don’t understand, what a fool! Do PRE-AI lenses necessarily have aperture rings on the inner lens? For example, I want to put a Sigma MF Super-Wide II 50 mm f / 24 film lens for Nikon on the D2.8, which will hinder in this case: the protrusion of the diaphragm skirt or the protrusion of the lever for the rheostat? What to grind: a part of a skirt or also a lever?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Maybe nothing will be needed, otherwise a skirt. The reasons are described in the article for d50

    • Stanislas

      I am using MC Helios-81H 2/50 on a D90 camera. the diaphragm ring rests against the end position lever, i.e. screwing the lens into the mount moves the lever. I solved the problem simply, I set the desired aperture value and "hand over" the ring a little back to set the lever in the desired position.

      • Jura ^ __ ^

        ... that vzagal, maybe simpler. Just before the installation of the school (crammed into the bayonet), the “skirt” was stripped of the inner side of the vistup-richag, such a rank, nothing wicked. Todi do not cut it, everything is spinning visually. After an hour, the hands are automatically adjusted “like this” by screwing the device into the camera.

        pictures, yak wono - I'll throw it off for cute for bazhannyam (ina (at)

        • Pakhom Sidorovich

          Then you read in Russian and don’t understand a damn, this one on Nenko’s mov

          • Nikolay Fedorovich

            Mean don't read

        • Sergei

          Yura, can you take a photo for me?

  • Yura

    And for whom did you bother with the metal?

  • Oleg Yudin

    I don’t know which topic to use for the next question, so I’ll ask a few - How to use and where to get a magnifying eyecup, for example TENPA 1,22x NIKON.

  • Olga

    MF Nikkor 105 / 2,5 Ais; MF Nikkor 135 / 2,8 Ais E; Tell me, do these lenses fit on the D90 ???

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes, they do.

  • Andrei

    Good day to all !!! I bought yesterday Nikkor PC 105 / 2,5 as new for 68u.e. so I want to hook it on my D200.
    please give me links with pictures from where and where to saw!
    Thank you.
    or maybe there are already sawn rings (in ibei)?

    • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

      If the lens is fixed and the aperture is adjustable, then you don’t need to saw, you have Nikkor PC 105 / 2,5.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Nikkor PC 105 / 2,5 should board the D200 without modification. Rings of sawn does not exist.

    • Sergei

      for $ 70 with a 4,0 hole you can buy! Why do nothing to bother?

    • Jura ^ __ ^

      can be simpler. Just before the installation of the school cage (put into the bayonet mount), you’d be amazed, that the “skirt” was missing from the internal side of the main entrance, so that there’s no way that they’ve got any better. Todi nicho do not rub, everything is spinning v_dmіnno. With an hour, the hands adjust automatically “so” by screwing the obtuct into the camera.

      pictures, yak wono - I'll throw it for cute for bazhennyam (ina (at)

  • Konstantin

    Non-AI or pre-AI lenses will be on the camera D7000? Thanks.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Not all. Usually you need to grind the diaphragm skirt.

  • R'RёS,R ° F "RёR№

    Hello Arkady. I have a question for you that interests me very much. I have to say right away, I did not dare to ask for a long time, but shoveling the Internet did not work. The question is: At the moment, in Nikon cameras, does the diaphragm leash (jump) exist as a rudiment or does it only control the diaphragm using a carcass? Just opinions on the Internet were divided, but no one found the truth. Someone says that this is already a relic of the past and Nikon, like Boot, has electronic aperture control at the moment. And someone says that jumping is the only way to control the diaphragm. Again, the question: When using the adapter to mount the Nikon lens on the Sapop camera, how is the aperture set in modern lenses, i.e. without a control ring? I really hope that at least you are competent in this matter. I will look forward to hearing, by the way, I will be grateful if you duplicate the answer not only here, but also to my mail.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Modern lenses still use a jumper-blinker to control the aperture, I wrote about this in an article about the shortcomings of modern CZK - To make sure of this, just remove the lens from the camera and press the lever with your hand, the diaphragm will open.
      Aperture control rings do not have class G lenses, manual aperture control is not possible, described in more detail here - If you use Nikon lenses on Canon, then for non-G lenses, the type of control works using a ring, but with G-type lenses it’s more complicated, you can lock the iris control lever mechanically and always shoot completely, if not, the aperture will be constantly closed.

      Also, Nikon has specific lenses - PCE, they already have internal aperture control, but only a few cameras can work with them. Hope I helped you.

  • Sergey SPb

    Good day. I have a Leica R 35/2 favorite lens on the D800. Unfortunately, control was only through M. The lens on the carcass was registered, but in mode A the carcass does not see aperture changes on the lens. What's up?
    Ps Zeiss 85 zf1 after registration on the carcass displays the aperture correctly.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      How is the Leica R 35/2 installed on the camera?

      • Sergei

        Through an adapter on Nikon. As I understand it, due to the lack of a jump rope, the carcass does not see a change in the diaphragm and you have to pick everything up with your hands. It's right?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          yes, that's exactly what happens.

  • passer-by

    Arkady, tell me
    Can I install lenses from KENON on NIKON?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      You can install - it's difficult to shoot.

      • passer-by

        I understand there will not be infinity and the adapter will be homemade ?!

  • Ilya

    Good afternoon. I have D 50. In aperture priority mode, exposure metering works.

    I use jena 50mm 2.8

  • Anastasia

    Thank you for the detailed presentation of such specific material!
    But for me several questions remained unclear:
    1) what other modes, in addition to the manual, will be available for the Nikon D200 and the lens marked AIS
    2) if autofocus is only in the carcass, in what mode will it be available if the lens is manual?
    Do not consider it stupid, I just choose a carcass and a lens, I have no experience with them yet

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Hello. The article describes that D200

      "Can be used in aperture priority mode (mode A)"

      With old lenses, autofocus is not possible with any Nikon camera, it is also written about

      All old lenses do not support auto focus. To focus, you will need to twist a special ring on the lens

      • Anastasia

        Then I don’t understand for what lenses the focus in the carcasses was created?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          For AF type lenses. This is described in this article - just keep an eye on the meaning of the article.

          • Anastasia

            Yes, thanks) As I sent an extreme question, everything immediately came together in my head))

  • Dima

    Thinking about buying shirik for D90. I want something wider than 35 / 2D (which I am satisfied with). I want a fix, because I like to shoot them, I like aperture 2.8 and higher. In addition, I love their small mass and dimensions. He laid eyes on 20mm / 2.8 (D), 24mm / 2.8 (D), 20mm / 2.8AI, 24mm / 2.8AI. After reading the forums, several questions arose.

    1. Is there a fundamental difference between AF and AF-D? I know about the transmission of the distance to the object. Is there a difference in optics?
    2. Is there a fundamental difference in optics between AF (-D) and AI versions? I know about manual focus and the lack of a light meter on the D90. Is there a difference in optics?
    3. How good is 20 / 2AI? I read about him a variety of reviews.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      1. Usually AF, AF-D have the same optical design, but there are exceptions. also, AF-Ds usually have SIC enlightenment instead of NIC. Basically there is no difference.
      2. Each individual AI (AI-S) lens and its AF modifications may have different optical schemes, you need to look directly at what you are comparing.
      3. For each case, he has his own "goodness". Find my opinion here

  • Vitaly U.

    Good day. Tell me: will the Nikon Series E 7000 mm f / 100 and Nikon 2.8mm f / 105 Ai-S lenses work (and in what modes)? Do they need pedals under the D2.5?

  • Jean Valjean

    In the following quote IMHO an error: instead of 800 twice 900
    Very important: Nikon SB-900, SB-910, SB-900 flash units support the automatic flash mode with aperture priority, which allows you to use the flash in automatic mode 'A'

  • Vitya

    Dabry day ... Having bought a video Nikkor 24 mm F 2.0 Ai-S for dying ... Fotik d800 ... Maybe I'm not kindly connecting ... .And the value of the diaphragms (F2.0, F2.8,) hangs on the display of the fotik F1.F2.F3 and even up to F7 and before the letter F there is a tricycle hanging ...

  • Sergei

    I put Helios 5100m-44 on the D7 without a chip. When focusing, the green light turns on, but when shooting, the focus area is shifted to more distant subjects (back focus). Aperture 1 \ 2. When using the 18-55 whale lens in manual mode, the back focus is not noticeable. There the diaphragm is 1 \ 5.6 at 55 mm. Does the device require adjustment? Or is it due to the features of the lens?

  • Andrei

    hello Arkady I now have such a lens, Nikon Nikkkor qc auto 1: 3.5F 135mm, the fact is that it is non ai, I have Nikon D3000, I glued Lushnikov’s dandelion on the lens, everything seemed to be correctly flashed, but the aperture is constantly open even when lowering it does not cover the shutter, the jump on the lens is operational, on the carcass it also makes a movement during the descent, what could be the matter, or is it still in the ring

  • Mark

    Hello! I had a slightly different problem. I have Nikon F60 and Jupiter 11a with an adapter and Lushnikov dandelion. Once connected, the screen constantly shows F EE. As it turned out, this shows that the diaphragm is not at its maximum value. And unfortunately, I can’t close it, or rather I can, but the sense of this is zero)). A pity to tear off the chip, I still use this lens on the Nikon D5000. Probably have to look for a lens under the film. What can you advise on a film with the same distance? Or is it possible to get around the chip without breaking it?

  • Nicholas

    I have a D3100 from the article it became interesting can I use old lenses like
    Nikkor Nikon 135mm f2.8 QC AIS or there will be problems, how will my camera react to this and similar lenses?

    • Pakhom Sidorovich

      I inserted and tried

  • Anatoly Snezhan

    Arkady, I want to buy Nikon (I chose the company only due to circumstances (I have 4 "new" lenses from Kiev-19 TTL, with N mount). Question Can you advise which Nikon model I should take? I would like the D7100, I like it, it is ideal for me. But ... definitely disappears - too expensive! D7000? Looks quite pale against the background of my sister, and even "bites" - with attributes it costs well over $ 1000. However, mentally I have already prepared myself to buy D7000. True, only carcasses (there is the same four Soviet lenses - from a wide angle to a telephoto lens - 200mm, so you can take a carcass more expensive). Can you advise, or maybe it's still D5100? Is there a serious difference? Is it worth overpaying for D7000? For the difference + surcharge you can buy a light lens- Or a 55-300 TV set? I don’t want and can’t overpay, because I don’t take photos, I don’t hack, and most importantly, I’m over 60 ... But in the end I want a camera with a long shutter resource, reliable, and To the maximum, I have “made friends” with Soviet optics.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      For old optics, the d7000 is great, the d5100 does not know how to work with it. The resource for an amateur is not critical.

  • Anatoly Snezhan

    Initially, I looked (especially now, when the price has fallen) D5100. But yesterday I dug deeply, read the opinions on the forums - I doubted: not reliable in work, the shutter is flying, etc. Therefore, I ask for advice from an authoritative person.

  • Anatoly Snezhan

    Arkady, how good it was that he hit you right away! .. Resolved - D7000. Maybe it will get cheaper by spring .. And what do you think, which one should be taken as a good staff? Keith 18-105 somehow lathers, I love sharp photos ... And fast shots, reportage.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Good shots are worth a good lens. You can do with any fix.

      • Anatoly Snezhan

        There is already a D7000 with a whale of 18-105 mm, a month ago I bought 35 / 1,8. There are also five excellent manuals - Kiev H-lenses. There is only a 300-400 mm telephoto. However, I am picky, I don’t want to be dark, blurry and slow, and there is no money for good glass. I get along like that ... Well I am an amateur.

  • Yuri Ivanovich

    Nikon d7000 (it was still D50 before) installed Nikon AF Nikkor 50 mm 1: 1,4 switches to AF mode AUTO only removes when aperture 16 is set, when moving the aperture 11 or less fEE appears. And such nonsense was on the D50. A new lens and I don’t even know what to do. Tell me who can.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It should be so. The diaphragm needs to be controlled from the camera by the front selector (it was not on the d50). In this case, the aperture ring should be in the F / 16 position, and the orange latch should be locked.

  • Yuri Ivanovich

    Thank you very much, I don’t even know how to thank, otherwise I already thought. that this is some kind of malfunction. There is little information in the instruction book; I did not find anything on the Internet. Thanks!!!

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