Hello everyone,

So I've been going crazy researching cameras and lenses. I finally purchased a Canon T3i but I'm still a bit stumped on lenses. I know to get a Nikkor and I'm looking for a 55mm while trying for a 3.5 f-stop but this is where it gets tricky. Doing searches on E-bay, most of the AI 3.5 lenses have issues: fungus, hazing, or just not in very fair condition. However I've found non-AI lenses that are in good or very good condition. I tried searching the forums here to see if there's a difference between non-AI and AI/AIS but I can't find a definite answer. If someone can perhaps give me an opinion on this, it'd be greatly appreciated.

One last thing, I read that the AIS 55mm Nikkor was only available in 2.8. Does the lower f-stop make a difference? Should I stick with the 3.5 non-AI or go with the 2.8 AIS?

Thanks for any advice.

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Ok, I think that it doesn't much matter about the 2.8 or 3.5 f stops, as you will likely be using long exposures anyway for stop motion. The 3.5 should be a little cheaper.

I think the non AI lenses are older lenses, and are simply not as good, so ideally keep looking until you can find an AI lens in decent condition, or learn how to dismantle lenses to clean them....!

Just to answer your last question. Go for the 55mm f2.8 AIS.

AI or AIS are both fine.  2.8 max aperture is also fine, you probably won't be using it opened up for stop motion, so it's not a particular benefit, but it's certainly not a problem.  My 55mm is a 3.5, which for general photography would be considered not as good as 2.8, but in practice I usually animate with it set to f-11, f-8, of f-5.6.

Older non-AI lenses:  This quote is from the Wikipedia article on Nikon F-Mount lenses:

"non-AI lenses (manufactured prior to 1977) can cause mechanical damage to later model bodies unless they are modified to meet the AI specification;"

I think there is a physical problem with part of the lens protruding too far into the camera body or something.  It may get in the way of the mirror flipping up - I found that with some old cine camera lenses on reflex movie cameras, the back of the lens stuck too far back and collided with the rotating mirror shutter.  But I don't know for sure if that is the issue with non-AI lenses on more recent Nikon bodies.  It may be something else.  I just avoided non-AI lenses and stuck to AI or the later AIS so it never came up.  Some old lenses offered for sale have been modified, or AI'd, so they can be used.

Thanks Simon and Nick. Really appreciate the time and information you both have offered.

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