Author Topic: 55/2.8 AIS  (Read 415 times)

Airy

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55/2.8 AIS
« on: August 24, 2020, 22:19:51 »
A good general-purpose lens it is, provided one does not shoot against the light. I did not use it a lot, except on OM-D with an adapter.

Here, it is shot wide open (second shot at a more conventional f/8, for the sake of comparison). Outlining of parts behind the focus plane is somewhat apparent (upper right corner), while OOF parts in front of the focus plane look cleaner.
Airy Magnien

Roland Vink

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2020, 01:37:56 »
The AI-S 55/2.8 micro was central to my lightweight travel/hiking kit many years ago. In combination with a 20/3.5 or 28/2.8 and a 135/2.8 I had the flexibility of a wide-angle, standard, telephoto and macro, all with a reasonably fast aperture.

The 55/2.8 micro is not perfect as Airy points out. It's a little over-corrected for spherical aberrations which is why the background rendition is nervous (it improves at close range) and the foregrounds are smoother. And it does not like shooting into the light, even late copies with SIC coatings, but I rarely found this to be a problem as the front lens is well shaded. Working distance is also short for true macro work but it's useful for casual closeups in the range 1:6 - 1:3 that normal 50mm lenses can't achieve. Otherwise it is a very well balanced lens - sharp with good colours and contrast, fast enough for most purposes, well-built, compact and affordable.

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2020, 22:07:16 »
Some fresh shots, trying to fathom the personality of this old lens. Here, at f/2.8, and slightly cropped : subject isolation looks OK (enough sharpness vs. smooth enough blur). The darker bottom is not so much due to vignetting than the lowering sun.
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2020, 22:10:39 »
Artemisia absinthium. f/8. A more conventional use case for sure.
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2020, 22:11:42 »
Elderflower, f/4. Relatively cool shadow light - it is not a cast caused by the lens, nor by PP (I did not alter the Df Auto-WB settings).
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2020, 22:12:53 »
Duckweeds, f/11
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2020, 22:16:56 »
Passiflora. f/8. Here, the background is pleasantly blurred: no outlining (other than at 2.8 and mid-distance, it seems).
Airy Magnien

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2020, 22:20:59 »
This time at f/4. Glorious sharpness as usual; the relatively contrasty background is not so well rendered. This is where the Zeiss 50/2 MP may have an edge, rather than close-up sharpness alone. (At longer distances, the Zeiss beats everything else in the f/2-f/4 range).
Airy Magnien

Roland Vink

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2020, 00:30:25 »
From https://imaging.nikon.com/history/story/0026/index.htm: "This lens features a very small spherical aberration in the shooting range from a long distance to a portrait distance ... at the magnification from 1/10 to 1/2 we find that the spherical aberration increases a little ..."

The small spherical aberration (or even over-correction) at far distances explains the hard background rendition. At close range the aberration increases which is why the background are smoother at this distance.

If the Zeiss 50/2 has smoother bokeh and is sharper at far distances, are there situations where you prefer the Nikkor?

Airy

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2020, 00:41:25 »
Probably not. The Zeiss (Milvus version !) happens to be overwhelmingly good in all compartments. The problem is its price (I could find a "brand new" second hand copy shortly after its release).

But I have yet to make side-by-side comparisons of those two. For high magnification works, they are probably very close; the obvious differences I found so far (against the light shooting, mid distance bokeh, etc.) are not the main use case of the Nikkor.
Airy Magnien

Erik Lund

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Re: 55/2.8 AIS
« Reply #10 on: September 17, 2020, 08:24:37 »
Very nice showcase images, it's a cheap lens for how well it performs!
Erik Lund