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Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 AI and AIS

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15 replies to this topic

Poll: Rate this lens (28 member(s) have cast votes)

Rate this lens

  1. 1 Star (appalling) (0 votes [0.00%])

    Percentage of vote: 0.00%

  2. 2 Stars (below par) (1 votes [3.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.57%

  3. 3 Stars (average) (2 votes [7.14%])

    Percentage of vote: 7.14%

  4. Voted 4 Stars (above average) (20 votes [71.43%])

    Percentage of vote: 71.43%

  5. 5 Stars (outstanding) (5 votes [17.86%])

    Percentage of vote: 17.86%

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#1 ChrisLilley


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Posted 11 July 2009 - 12:55

What is your experience with this lens? This topic will be indexed on our LENSES  page. Please keep your comments related to your experiences with this lens so that others may draw value from them. Off topic comments will be removed.

You may post sample images taken with the lens in this thread. If you have a question relating to the lens, please don't ask here, use the "Lenses For Nikons" board instead.

This thread is for the AI and AIS 24mm/2.8, with 9 elements in 9 groups (optical diagram). Focus throw was reduced on the AI-S version

If you have comments on the pre-AI lenses (Nikkor-N, Nikkor-N.C, "K type" Nikkor, which have a different optical construction, please use the thread for that lens.
Camera (ˈkæ mə rə), n. Device for taking pictures in bright light
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#2 knb


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Posted 11 July 2009 - 23:19

I have been using the AIS on FX (D700) for some months. Not the walkaround as a 35 might be, but very nice if you need the extra amount of wide angle. Here is an example from the main entrance hall of the former international airport in Oslo, Fornebu (named the Kai Fjell hall after the artist).

Attached Images

  • DSC_4442_700.jpg

Kjetil NB

#3 nfoto


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Posted 12 July 2009 - 11:18

For many years, the 24/2.8 AI was my most used lens. Very handy together with an 105/2.5 or the 105/4 Micro-Nikkor. I modified my lens so it would focus closer, to about 0.2m instead of the usual 0.3m.

Around 1988, on a stupid whim, I replaced the 24 AI with a 24/2 AIS that disappointed me greatly, so after a few months it was itself replaced with another 24/2.8, this time an AIS model. I'm still using that 24/2.8 on my DSLRs, now with a CPU-modification of course.

The 24/2.8 is a great all-rounder, and besides optical qualities it's small and neat so easy to take with you everywhere.

#4 waltonksm


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Posted 12 February 2010 - 16:10

This lens pretty much stayed on my FM2n body years ago.  I really like using it.

#5 Leon


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Posted 25 April 2010 - 13:19

Quality and usability today depends not only to the lens itself, but also on which camera the lens is fitted and which software is used for processing. It is not only a DX / FX debate but the quality of the sensor itself that is used that has their own characteristics and possibilities. Pixel density is another factor. (DX cameras plus D3x versus D3/D700).
Where as in past many lenses the usability are lowered by pronounced CA characteristics, much of it can be ignored today when using the right software and RAW converters, that do correct it for most of it. Quality and usability of images is pumped up. Within the down written experience you have to take account these used tools and/or camera model.

Camera D700 (sensor D3).
Software using Capture NX2 where CA is corrected by default settings.
My 24mm/2.8 AIS is a very jong copy - mint/new (serial >900850 about the latest in 2006).

Center sharpness is already very good at f2.8 But corners are lacking by vignetting for a really quite big amount and fuziness. Also a little trace of axial CA in high contrast scenes in out of focus areas can be seen (that can be improved in NX2 as default that correction is switched off, by turning on, factor 75-100).

Using f4 central sharpness is already about optimum, the sweet spot has grown.
Far out corners sharpness however is still lacking, but vignetting has reduced for a big amount.

F5.6 pops quality in the total picture area. Not that big amount anymore in center (that was already very good), contrast is a tiny better. But the big improvement is within sides and corners that have popped. In general the best quality besides the far corners.

Further to f8 corners still do improve, center not anymore.
F11 brings the best for the utmost far corner areas (even f16), but contrast overall is just a very tiny trace less by diffraction. (Better seen in comparison to f5.6). But still fully acceptable.

Taking pictures, the 24mm/2.8 AIS can be used for city people street life candid photography already wide open, where in this kind of photography corners are not that important. But keep in mind the rather big amount of vignetting at sides and corners that can be annoying (Can be corrected for quite amount, but corners still lacks quality). Better to use f4.

For general architectural city scenes and landscape, better not to go below f5.6
Best general quality f5.6 - f8
f8 - f11 if the best quality is wanted in far out corners.

When CA and light fall-off is not corrected by post processing or inside camera firmware, usability of the 24mm/2.8 AIS lens is lowered for quite big amount (more small apertures exaggerate CA). I should say, lens is 4 stars - above average.
Using the right (automatic) CA correction and vignetting correction, I say, the lens is 5 stars - outstanding, in my kind of usage in photography (mainly used stopped down at least 1-2 stops). I put 5 stars within the poll.

As my copy is very yong (one of the latest that is produced), my findings seems very similar what is found at SLRgear.com for the AF version (D700 tab):

I like the lens by its small dimensions and light weight (manual preferable over AF for this focal length and personal usage by photography subjects).


#6 ylivalotus


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Posted 25 April 2010 - 17:49


Edited by ylivalotus, 14 September 2011 - 14:33 .

#7 JohnBrew


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Posted 12 July 2010 - 12:26

I got one last week. It sure is a beaut - small, light with pristine glass. I spent the weekend doing tests. I thought it would be sharper. It's not bad mind you, just not what I expected. The good news it is fairly even corner to corner, very little if any distortion and good dof, so it looks like a keeper.

#8 ylivalotus


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Posted 12 July 2010 - 12:32

I got one last week. It sure is a beaut - small, light with pristine glass. I spent the weekend doing tests. I thought it would be sharper. It's not bad mind you, just not what I expected. The good news it is fairly even corner to corner, very little if any distortion and good dof, so it looks like a keeper.

Stop down to f4 and the sharpness should be very good from corner to corner.  Even at f11 and f16 the lens should be sharp.

#9 nfoto


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Posted 12 July 2010 - 14:46

The 24/2.8 has peak performance at f/5.6.

#10 Alan7140


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Posted 12 July 2010 - 22:58

I bought a 24/2.8 a few months ago (along with a 28/2.8 - both AIS) to get that heavy boat-anchor 17-35 out of my backpack (24 & 28 were my most used settings on that lens), and have not regretted doing this at all.

Both do display some minor red/green fringing at very high contrast borders when used on the D3, but this is really only in extreme backlit situations with dark foreground subjects (forest foliage against a bright sky, for instance) and is easily dealt with in pp (I use a colour defringing action I've had for years which works just fine - it was marketed under "Purple Color Fringe Reducer", but the web link I saved then is now dead. The name was misleading, it has the ability to work on any colour fringing).

As for sharpness, both lenses beat the 17-35mm hands down in the corners at all apertures at the 17-35's relevant focal length settings. The 17-35mm is perhaps a bit sharper in the center than the 24mm, but the 28mm is well and truly its equal.

The 24mm is excellent in close focus situations as well (but the 28mm is simply outstanding).

Of course these observations apply only to my particular copies of the lenses used in the situations that I'm involved with (mainly forest shots and stitched panoramas), but I honestly prefer the old AIS rendering to the modern wide Nikkors, which I find too clinical and cold as well as a bit too contrasty for my liking. The old lenses seem to have a very slight yellow-green bias which supplies what I can only describe as the "classic Nikkor" look to the photos. It's subtle, but it's certainly there.

I should also mention the colour consistency that is displayed between these AIS lenses, the colour is identical between the 24, 28 and 200/4AI lenses I have, which is not something I could readily attribute to my later AF-D and AF-S lenses.

Last but not least is the build of the 24mm (and 28 & 200) - Nikon have certainly taken a backward step with their later lenses in comparison; these lenses are built with the precision and fit of a fine Swiss watch, and are a delight to use. Maybe I'm just old-school, but I reckon if your equipment is well made and inspires confidence, then your work improves as a result.

The following stitched panorama was made from 8 shots taken with the 24mm AIS on a sunny mid-summer day in the Tasmanian wilderness. I post this example because the contrast ratio encompassed was truly horrendous being from bright sun-lit water to deepest shadow, and because there were people involved I was limited to the one exposure setting during the sweep with the pano head (no opportunity for HDR bracketing). The 24mm AIS and D3 handled this far better than I expected, and to be honest I think had I used the 17-35mm the result would have been too contrasty to process or print properly. To give an idea of how bright it was, I did not see the seated guy in the shadows at all when I took that final frame after taking the other sunlit shots.

Posted Image

(Edit: BTW, the camera was level; panoramas have the effect of demonstrating that water runs downhill.... :D )

#11 lenmil


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Posted 22 May 2011 - 04:39

Only had the lens (24mm f2.8 AIS) a short while. But so far i am loving it. Solid feel and constuction. It works very well on D700 and so far no problems focusing it. The D700 has focus aids if you need it by showing green arrows to indicate which way to turn the focus ring and a green dot to confirm that the lens is in focus. I think it does need to be stopped down a bit. And there are signs of distortion at the outer egdes. Close focus is not too bad either. The copy i have is an old one but in very good condition. But having an old lens work so well on a modern camera is amazing. As Fred has said, get those AIS lenses. Well worth the money.

ISO 200 1/320 f8 DSC_3821 (600 x 399).jpg

ISO 400 1/640 f8 DSC_3844 (600 x 399).jpg

ISO 400 1/800 f5.6 DSC_3895 (600 x 399).jpg

ISO 200 1/1000 f8 DSC_3813 (600 x 399).jpg

Edited by lenmil, 22 May 2011 - 05:06 .

Take the shot, you never know.

#12 a_c_skinner



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Posted 01 June 2011 - 08:55

As above, optically good but some colour fringing is noticable, esp as you stop down.

Light and robust. I needed to have the filter rim straightened after a 6' drop under (fortunately!) my D200, but otherwise unscathed.


#13 geecen

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 11:40

I've had the AIS version for about 5 months or so now, and I'm finding it very useful.

It's small and light, which means it can serve as a good, wideish walk-around lens on my d200. As others have mentioned above there can be a bit of CA, but for the way I shoot -slow and carefully + post- it's not much of a big deal. The only problem I've had with mine is that the infinity distance mark is actually past infinity -I presume it needs calibrating- which in combination with the short focus throw makes zone focusing impossible, which is a shame.

All in all a great purchase for those chasing the elusive DX wide prime, and it's pretty easy to focus just with the d200 green dot.


#14 Ihmemies


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Posted 29 March 2013 - 00:22

I had the Ai version for some time, and the only comment I can add is flare. I haven't had problems with flare with other lenses, but my sample of the Ai 24/2.8 had a distinct blue flare when the sun was in the frame or near it. I did not encounter this with modern coated lenses like AF-D 24/2.8 or Ai-S 24/2. Based on that experience I'd get a later Ai-S model with improved coatings to avoid that.

Edit: also normally I don't notice CA on film, but I remember seeing CA with 24/2.8 on Kodachrome.

Edited by Ihmemies, 29 March 2013 - 00:24 .

#15 ozone



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Posted 27 April 2013 - 17:55

Sharp enough lens, but the flare and ghosts made it useless for me.

Outdoors the sun was everpresent due to the wide scope of the lens, with lots of flare and a few ghosts as the nearly permanent addition to the images.

Indoors I use at least 2 SB-900 with wireless remote, and got 2 or 3 green or pink big blobs/ghosts in most every image.

Sold it quickly.

Edited by ozone, 27 April 2013 - 17:55 .

#16 davepaterson



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Posted 27 April 2013 - 19:11

I loved this lens in the days of film - it was my standard lens. It is very well-made, small, light and has nicely-damped focussing. But on the D700 and even more the D800 it is not quite in the first rank, though still useful. 

Dave Paterson

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