Monday, January 06, 2014

Why I prefer Manual Lens than AF lens


I have always preferred owning Manual Lens over AF lens. I feel that sometimes, the feeling of focusing with your own hands is better than relying on the AF mechanism.

I've owned the Canon L 70mm-200mm f2.8 IS II, 200mm f2 L, and various other lens, and I do like them, however, as a collector, I do not recommend keeping the AF lens for long.

For example, the Nikkor 85mm f1.8.

There are many different versions out there. the Pre-AI 85mm f1.8, AI, AI-S and AF-D, AF-S.

I've owned an AI'd, and a AIS version, as well as a AF-S and AF-D version as well.
And yes, Nikon makes it hard to distinguish between the lens.

- G lens
- VR lens
- AF-S lens
- ED lens
- IF lens
- AF-D
- AI-S
- AI
- AI'd
- Pre-AI

AF-S and AF-D are different lens, AF-S lenses are better quality and they have built in Motor for faster Autofoucs.

In the case of the 85mm f1.8, I did not notice much of a difference in image quality between the manual lens and the AF lens. The build quality was much better on the old AI lens but that is pretty much it. In terms of size, the AF-S lens is generally much bigger and bulkier.

So if you are just guy with a camera, then getting an AF-S or AF-D lens would not really be much of a difference. the AF-S can be a lot more expensive, but it is probably more durable as well.

As a camera collector, I would say the AI, AI-S lenses have pretty much the same coating as the newer lens, just perhaps they are built much tougher with a metal housing. The focusing on the old manual lens are also smoother and you can focus more accurately as well.

I do not usually shoot wildlife or sports, hence I have all the time to focus, and having an autofocus is not important. When shooting portraits, I actually prefer manual focus as I can use live view to slowly focus on the right focus point, check it again before I press the shutter release. The feel of the lens is more important than the AF speed or autofocus for that matter.

When I do street photography, I do manual focus as well. You don't need to focus fast if your aperture is at f5.6. Most things will be in focus.

Having manual lens, for a person that travels means more space in the camera bag. These lens are generally smaller. Many of them are very rugged and they cost less to clean and service.

For example, cleaning my 50mm f1.2 AIS costs about $50 but cleaning my Canon 50mm f1.2L costs $150. And for manual lens, the cost less to buy (used) and they may appreciate in price. I bought my Nikkor 85mm f1.4 for $350, and I can probably sell it for $500.

I would definitely recommend getting fast manual prime lens to shoot. They are usually cheaper (not for some lens) than the AF versions, and they hold their value well.

-- Robin Low

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