with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Nikkor 35mm SLR Lens History, Terminology and Technology

We’ve been shooting Nikon and Canon alternately for a long time. Brent adores his Nikon and tollerates the Canon, and I tollerate Canon, but use it anyway.

When I started in nature photography in 1975, there was little information available. Now it is overwhelming, and the Internet has expanded those resources. I was delighted to find Nikkor 35mm SLR Lens History, Terminology and Technology by Ken Rockwell which examines the technical terminology of Nikon or Nikkor lenses and equipment.

The key is to understand Nikon’s alphabet soup. Each time they add a new lens feature they usually retain the previous lens features, so the newest lenses have long lists of letters behind them. One usually can ignore the earlier letters, even though they still apply. As we will see, today’s AF lenses are still AI-s and F mount, even though they don’t always list that.

While still a work in progress, this is a fine work that takes you through the “alphabet soup” of Nikon and gives you insight into what they were or might have been thinking and doing through their lens and equipment development.

While Rockwell’s site is very old fashioned in design and layout, and cumbersome to move around, it is packed with a lot of interesting information and valuable resources. The How to Do Anything Photographic contains a list of technical articles and how tos that are very helpful and intersting.

Some of the articles are actually innovative and worthy of attention, like How to Use a Digital Camera as an External Light Meter, which should also be subtitled, “Using a Digital Camera as a Replacement Polaroid”, explaining how to take “test shots” with a cheap digital camera with a preview screen so you can “see” the results before you click the shutter on your serious camera. There are flaws in this concept, which he tackles right off the bat with “Overall camera calibration”. Excellent.

Keep up the good work, Ken.

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