Author Topic: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"  (Read 2737 times)

Akira

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Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« on: March 19, 2021, 11:28:01 »
Today I was struck with a hunch, ran into a second-hand camera shop in Shinjuku and bumped into this lens.  :)

It is a very simple 5E3G design.  As the sun was about to set when I came home, so I could only do a quick'n' dirty test to make sure if the sample is not troubled.  And the result seems to be promising.  My sample have some scuffs here and there on the lens barrel but fortunately no dints, and the optics is clean.

I had Ai 400/5.6 ED IF in the past and used it with D610.  Given the AA filter in D610, the image quality of non-IF looks noticeably better.

I wonder which lens is made of ED glass (hopefully the third one, the single convex element).
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Birna Rørslett

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2021, 14:08:55 »
Congratulations, Akira. This version of the 400 Nikkors has ED but only the later incarnations were engraved "Nikkor*ED".

It is a very fine performer for all things landscape, albeit slow to operatate due to the long focus throw. The image quality in general surpassses that of the subsequent ED-IF version in my view.

Matthew Currie

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2021, 15:29:24 »
I also have this lens (the AI non-IF version) and it is wonderfully sharp.   When I was shooting lots of film, I used it fairly often, and also found that it was pretty comfortable with a 1.4x converter (in this case the original TC-14).  Not only the long focus throw but the lack of close focus make it a little inconvenient, but if your subject isn't moving too fast (or if you're lucky) it's pretty hard to beat for image quality.

This thread reminds me that I should get mine out and limber it up a bit (the focus helical tends to get stiff) now that the birds are showing up again.  Having trouble seeing whether attachments get in, but edit to add a shot made in 2015 with D3200 hand held (cropped)


richardHaw

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2021, 16:06:58 »
you now have ED :o :o :o

these are selling for quite a lot these days, these aren't rare either ::)

Akira

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2021, 16:50:56 »
Congratulations, Akira. This version of the 400 Nikkors has ED but only the later incarnations were engraved "Nikkor*ED".

It is a very fine performer for all things landscape, albeit slow to operatate due to the long focus throw. The image quality in general surpassses that of the subsequent ED-IF version in my view.

Thank you, Birna.  Actually I first knew about this lens when I was looking into the "Lens" section of your classic website which still offers various reference.


I also have this lens (the AI non-IF version) and it is wonderfully sharp.   When I was shooting lots of film, I used it fairly often, and also found that it was pretty comfortable with a 1.4x converter (in this case the original TC-14).  Not only the long focus throw but the lack of close focus make it a little inconvenient, but if your subject isn't moving too fast (or if you're lucky) it's pretty hard to beat for image quality.

This thread reminds me that I should get mine out and limber it up a bit (the focus helical tends to get stiff) now that the birds are showing up again.  Having trouble seeing whether attachments get in, but edit to add a shot made in 2015 with D3200 hand held (cropped)

Matthew, thank you for the info on the TC.  Now that I have the real thing, I do know how challenging to shoot an eagle in flight...


you now have ED :o :o :o

these are selling for quite a lot these days, these aren't rare either ::)

Rick, I had found a cleaner sample at Katsumido in Ginza on sale for 70,000 yen.  I found mine at Shinjuku Kamera Shijou for 44,000 yen.  The grease on the helix is dry, but the optics is clean.   :o :o :o  A good deal!
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Matthew Currie

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2021, 17:14:47 »
It may not be all that rare in the whole world (I think according to the Roland Vink site they made a little under 10 thousand of the AI version), I have seen very few for sale.  In fact the only one I can recall is the one I bought from KEH many years ago.

Mine was a "bargain grade" one, and the first and only lens I've gotten from KEH that may have earned that rating.  Though the glass was fine, it was engraved (LA Times) and a bit beat up, and was missing the tiny little setscrew in the mount that keeps it from over-rotating.  Fortunately I found this out on a Nikon F, whose back comes off and allows removal without damage. If it had been a digital camera I'd have been in a mess.

Akira

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2021, 17:57:41 »
It may not be all that rare in the whole world (I think according to the Roland Vink site they made a little under 10 thousand of the AI version), I have seen very few for sale.  In fact the only one I can recall is the one I bought from KEH many years ago.

Mine was a "bargain grade" one, and the first and only lens I've gotten from KEH that may have earned that rating.  Though the glass was fine, it was engraved (LA Times) and a bit beat up, and was missing the tiny little setscrew in the mount that keeps it from over-rotating.  Fortunately I found this out on a Nikon F, whose back comes off and allows removal without damage. If it had been a digital camera I'd have been in a mess.

I don't think it is as rare as 300/4.5 ED non-IF, but it is far rarer than the IF version.  I haven't seen that many even here in Tokyo over a couple of decades.  Maybe it was sold more outside Japan?

I don't know how mine would be rated by KEH, but I think 400 USD for its condition was a fare price.  FWIW, mine is a K version modified to Ai using the genuine aperture ring.

As I'm not a big fan of lenses using lots of elements like the modern AF zooms, I opted for a simpler one.  And this one is perfect for me.
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Akira

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2021, 18:16:04 »
I have tried the "PC" version at a shop when I had D610 and I was not that impressed, even although it was impressing enough for its age.  I only made a couple of test shots hand-held, but at least the image was not blurry.

I don't remember if the focusing ring went past infinity on the PC version.  The focusing ring going past infinity indicates the usage of ED glass.
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Gerhard2006

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2021, 19:49:05 »
I have this lens as well and it is very sharp. I used it on my Nikon 1 V1 and took a picture of the back of my neighbours car, and I blew it up on my screen on the back of my camera I could read very clearly the letters on the little date sticker on the license plate. So I was very impressed with this lens. Unfortunately it’s a little hard To hand hold for my old shaky hands so I look forward to eventually using it with a Z6 with image stabilization. Is there anybody here who has tried this combination? Regards Gerry

Birna Rørslett

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2021, 19:55:46 »
Most if not all 400mm lenses benefit from tripod mounting.

Not that many of these transitional models exist. According to Roland's pages, around 3.000 of the K/AI predeccesors to the ED-IF were made. The 300/4.5 ED saw perhaps about the half in volume.

Jack Dahlgren

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2021, 19:58:40 »
I have the P.C Auto version which I by chance found an AI conversion kit for. I like it a lot for being relatively compact and very sharp. Focus throw is long.
I think the ED-IF version is much more common.
Roland's numbers show less than 3500 of these in Pre-AI and AI form, so I think that is rather uncommon.

David H. Hartman

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2021, 20:12:12 »
A tip for making focusing easier with the 400mm f/5.6 ED AI ...

Something I learned when using a 300/4.5 Nikkor-H was that one finger can be used to lift the front of the lens to make focusing easier. As the barrel is extended to focus close, pressure and leverage increases on the helical making the focus ring stiff. If one finger is used to take some weight off the helical focusing at near focus distance can be as smooth and easy as it is when the lenses is focused near infinity. This may seem awkward at first but once learned it can be done both hand held and on a tripod.

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Birna Rørslett

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2021, 21:20:09 »
... I don't remember if the focusing ring went past infinity on the PC version.  The focusing ring going past infinity indicates the usage of ED glass.

The P.C 400 focuses beyond infinity.

MEPER

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2021, 21:57:00 »
I think we have many examples where the older Nikkor version is the better?
I have the "wrong" 400/5.6......the IF-version. It is best to keep a hand on camera when lens is used on a tripod. Then it can make some quite sharp images.
Most if not all of my images that are not 100% sharp using this lens is because of lens-shake on tripod or lens was not focused 100% accurate.
After all it is not very often we can blame the lens for causing the image not to be sharp enough?

Jack Dahlgren

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Re: Ai and K Nikkors 400mm f5.6 ED "non-IF"
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2021, 23:45:26 »
I think we have many examples where the older Nikkor version is the better?
I have the "wrong" 400/5.6......the IF-version. It is best to keep a hand on camera when lens is used on a tripod. Then it can make some quite sharp images.
Most if not all of my images that are not 100% sharp using this lens is because of lens-shake on tripod or lens was not focused 100% accurate.
After all it is not very often we can blame the lens for causing the image not to be sharp enough?

What I like about the 400 P.C Auto is that it is light enough to hand hold and when used with a Z series camera there is lens stabilization.
I have a 300mm f/2.8 AI-S and it is not fun to carry for long.