What has been learned - part two

I have really been sorting through my collection in more detail lately. If I only knew then what I know now! And honestly that’s in part why I am sharing what I have learned. So lets dig into to part 2 of the series!

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What has been learned

HeliCycle 85HCF18 NDF 1744

I thought it was time again to talk about this passion we share of collecting manual focus lenses.  While I primarily lean towards Nikon, there are others some day I might like to experience.  Today though, we are going to talk about the Nikkor fleet I have been amassing and what I have been learning.  Some of this will be obvious for long time collectors and some of it might not.  Hopefully it will in its entirety leave you with some food for thought.

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A Sizable Collection

It’s been quite a while since I blogged on photography and the honest truth was I needed a break after intensely building up my manual focus lens collection and website to go along with the main FredMiranda.com thread Manual Focus Nikon.

All lenses2 D81 4564
Website are no small amount of work when they are complicated and very public like some of mine are as they draw hackers and then one has to work to beef up security, stop spammers, ect.

Anyways, this post is about the collection itself and how it’s morphed and where after some time away from it I have landed on the topic.

At one point I had inventoried it all and had a plan to start reducing some of the glass. However, apart from some true duplicates I don’t plan to really get rid of many now. Some I bought to try and most now I want to keep. They all mostly have something special about them. Keep in mind that I don’t even come close to owning even a quarter of all the manual focus glass Nikon made. I forget the count but I believe it is well over 200 and I have a bout 50.

I leaned towards the faster versions of the common focal lengths and also picked up a few oddities along the way as well. Some I got because the eBay deal was too ridiculous to pass up. I’d say most were rated EX to EX ++, there are a few that are BGN that I may upgrade to cleaner better copies now that I am at that point. They tended to be the earlier ones. Some were overrated and I simply confronted the seller and they reduced the price to be more aligned with the actual condition. To that end there were about a handful rated EX+ that are simply EX.

Many people ask where I get them and I do have a post or two on the site about this, in summary most come from Japan sellers and I have had few problems by and large and no real regrets. I would say overall I got lucky too, as there is no guarantee you will get what you order and think you’re paying for, one has to be cautious at understanding and reviewing adds to look for fine print or little signs in the pictures.

But let’s get past that and talk about where I am now, and that’s the joy of owning a fine collection! Why do I need so many? I don’t, that’s the honest truth. Honestly I don’t need any of them if truth be known as I have 4-5 AF zooms that can cover the whole range and many outperform the prime counterparts from the legacy era. So what’s the lure?

LensShelve D81 4567
Choice is the simple answer. The ability to walk up to my shelves and pick a few for a given outing. Birds, grab the big guns. Landscapes, grab the wide primes. Macro, portrait, or just fun, it’s all there on those shelves, well built and actually makes for a lighter kit and more challenging experience to go out and manually make pictures with them. The other side of it is that these lenses have qualities, characteristics that you can make a part of the choice. Some have different colors they render as well that is not easy to achieve with mere post processing.

So that’s its folks, choice is the pure joy of it all, being able to grab from a collection and go shoot and then grab totally different ones the next times out. I could choose to carry one a week and have enough for the entire year, or one a day and may 7 passes through them in a year. I feel blessed to have been able to acquire them, fortunate... and yes, even honored and privileged to carry some of these!

Be careful if you start trying these, you might find you need a shelf or two in the near future.

Till next time!

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Everything Changes Over Time


Wow!  its been a while since I scratched out some thoughts on this blog.  I have been busy building up NikkorGlass.com and playing with all the cool old glass I have accumulated!  Let's say that at this point I want no more for older glass! There are few Nikkor lenses I could still will get but plan to acquire through trade-offs over time.  Examples would be trading away a 28 F2.8 Ais for a 28 F2 Ais.

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Nikon and Sony

SunriseRoad 85F2Ais D753535 Edit

Well Nikon, I was skeptical about the new Sony Mirorless offerings, I am even on record as being doubtful on some forums.  That said, I bought one and am not operating off of direct experience.  It’s pretty darn good!  You need to come up with a similar offering.  Build that Hybrid I have been trying to talk you into these past few months.  Do something please!  For the Sony faithful, I must eat some crow and say that the new Sony's are something to reckon with!

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The fun and excitement of collecting MF Nikkors

Wow, time flies and its time to share some thoughts again.  The lens inventory seems to keep growing but slowing down again.  If for no other reason its because I have so many lenses already its hard to find ones i want to buy.  The lens bucket list is mostly satisfied and I don’t shoot long lenses enough to really sink more money than I have into them.

Last night I came across some great deals, one was for a 24 Ais on Fred Miranda buy and sell and I was tempted because the one I have needs focus work.  Instead I dropped some coin on some tools and will attempt surgery to fix the focus ring on the one I have.  This will be a goof foray into the next level of learning and owning these lenses.

The site here reminded me of its usefulness as I was able to go into the mechanics form and find the links to the tools I needed.  Of course I will share how this experiment goes when I get to that point.

Speaking of the site, its seems to be slowly coming to life with new members beginning to interact and do the heavy lifting of keeping the site interesting.  I am pleased to see that, it makes me smile to know that the time and resources invested into it are going to have an audience and some meaning.  I am tremendously grateful to the fine people who are helping here, my sincere thanks to you all!

I am on the edge of starting some reviews again.  I started with the 200 because I am going to sell it when I am done.  I’ll get it out and shoot it some this weekend for a final round of pictures to support the review and then place it up for sale.

I have started the comparisons on the group of 50-58mm lenses I own and that’s been enlightening.  It may have even caused a few eBay sales of the 50 F2 S!  :)  I hope those that bought one do not have regrets after I conduct the next series of tests.

I never seize to be amazed at how much fun all this old glass has turned out to be.  Its beyond crazy anymore and to a point where I can actually loose lenses amongst the other lenses on the shelf!  A clear sign its time to go into review and sell mode!

The review engine may be a weak link on this site.  People seem to do fine with the forum posting and maybe not interested in the reviews.  Perhaps when there is more to review and compare. 

Well, that’s it from the Nikon shack today!  Keep your eyes peeled for more 50’s tests, more on the 8.5-25CM, and the other cool lenses that have arrived!


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As the Earth Spins

StarTest Samyang14 NDF 9813

The title for this post seemed appropriate given the subjects I plan to cover today.  

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A Big Wedding this Weekend!

Well I could not find a sort of cover all category in the forum so I am going to try this...my first blog post ever.


As the title implies I am going to be in for a long weekend this weekend as my sister in law is getting married here on the farm.  Big bucks are being spent and there will be over 300 guests.  Usually I have to be a part in these sort of affairs on the farm but fortunately for me this time I am not a participant just a guest while my wife and two boys will have to take part in the deal.  This is good...I am solo...and left to my own pursuits...which naturally will mean photography.  There will be a team of pros there, there will be a TV special effects guy running a drone, and another relative doing the video stuff.  It is a big family of camera folks but most are not hardcore folks like us but rather dilettantes.  I am sure they will all be getting in the way of everything...lol


This is not my first experience with a camera at a wedding.  It will be my third.  I have to hand it to the wedding guys...it is no where near as easy as it looks and even harder if you like to shoot manual mode manual focus like me.  So I have learned a few things and I think this one I will get some cool stuff.  The idea is to shoot a bunch of images, show the bride and groom a few 'decent' culls, and hold back the money shots (assuming I get some!) and make an album for them as a surprise Christmas gift or something.  I intend to stay out of the way of the hired guns, who I have been told are journalistic stylers, and sort of fall back into stealth mode walking around getting the important folks they may miss and generally just walk around looking for interesting folks against cool backgrounds.  I don't think I will try any formal stuff or even shoot during the ceremony itself this time around...just after candids and maybe a few posed shots if I can find a spot or two to use that I like.  The main idea is to enjoy myself, be comfortable, be unobtrusive to the point where no one even realizes I am shooting away, and to try to get into the zone and make some cracking snaps!


I will be using the D7000 with 35-70 on it and my trusty FE loaded with Fuji 400 and in it's kit 28/50/85/105/135...I intend to pick one or two of those lenses not counting the 28 and use them primarily and I am just bringing the others along to see which ones feel most comfortable that day...in other words it will boil down to one digital unit with one lens and one film unit with one maybe two lenses.  I'm going to try to do the whole gig this way without much changing of lenses but it may end up being just a zone focused 28 on the FE and the D7K with 35-70 and one or two mflenses. 


I am going to shoot a test roll tomorrow to make sure the FE is hitting on all cylinders and the wedding is Saturday evening...so stay tuned!

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The F3 Experience Part 1

The F3 issue seems to be on the way to being resolved. The seller will refund me half the price and I will buy a mint finder off eBay to replace the dented one for it to look like the advertised pictures the seller used in his add. Net net will be an E+ F3 with an extra beater finder to use until I sell it some day.

Going through the checklist I posted the camera seems to be in good shape. I got some batteries today to make sure the electronics are in tact. All looks good!

Wow, what a camera! With it arriving in unexpected condition I hardly had time to even acknowledge getting such a fine camera. It's built like a tank and a bit of a brick with the 18 F/3.5 Ais mounted. Of course I will run a roll of film through it and send it off with the FGs first roll for processing in a week or two. I'll drive over to the local lab maybe the weekend after next. MI don't go over that way much anymore so I will plan it with another task that takes to me to the that area of town.

I expected this camera to have some grassing, but it doesn't so I will look for some rubber eyelet guards to help preserve this gorgeous photographic machine. I think it will get a black leather case as well. It's interesting to compare the F3 to the FG as well, with the F3 being more refined, seemingly better built and obviously much more professional.

One has to understand I don't have the extensive film background that others have had. My first SLR as I said was and FG. I think after that I ended up with a P&S Ricoch for several years while overseas. Then life had me start over again moving back to the states with no cameras for several years until I was in my mid thirties where I got an N80, then a Rebel, and then went digital with a coolpix and then into the several DSLR's.

The F4, F5 were but dreams I would fantasize about when I started lusting after cameras again. The F3 probably never crossed my mind as I was preoccupied in those times.

So now I really have more active user time on DSLRs than I ever did on film. We are talking some orders of magnitude if we consider the number of exposures. I'll guess maybe 8000-10000 frames on film with likely well over a half million on DSLRs.

With all that said it's absolutely a hoot to handle and use film cameras again. It's even more awing when I look at the features an F3 had for film. Mirror Lockup makes me chuckle because there is literally a lever to lock of the mirror! I got a similar wow thought when I thought about my Nikkormat having a motor drive option and actually going on eBay to hunt for used ones. Cool things I didn't expect was the F-stop scale on the top and the type of meter display, just different than I imagined.

It's a real reminder of the industrial revolution of what now is becoming many decades past and how mechanically smart we started to get. Frankly, it's so well made I wished there were a sensor one could pop into the film compartment and get modern Nikon digital results using a classic body! I know, weird right? I mean why would anyone really want to do that! :)

The fact that the finder comes off and that there are other finder options for waist shooting and action are just cool. Wish we had some of those options for today's cameras! We have foregone such perks for more plastic lighter weight more ergonomic models. The question is, did we win or loose or probably more appropriate what did we gain and sacrifice?

So I did a little Rocket Blower cleaning of what little dust I found. The finder that came with it looks a bit dirty or gritty inside so I will have to see if the bulb blower will help.

Then it will time to try a little time traveling and shoot a roll through it.

Why 3 film cameras? Well, honestly, I didn't invest much in the all said and done. I bought them mostly as collectors items, hence why I wanted them in minty condition and honestly they are really attractive accessories to my Manual Focus lens collection. But that aside, there were films I never tried or got to experience that the digital age stole me away from and fortunately there is still time to experience some of them! And if I like it, I can see stocking up some film and shooting it for special projects where it makes sense!

Well, that's it for today on the F3 and film adventure, more to follow as this part of Project NIKKOR unfolds!

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Project Nikkor

Project Nikkor

75thStreetB 16F28Ais NDF 9334

What is Project Nikkor?  I am not really sure yet to be honest, it’s a bit of a distorted vision like the fisheye shot above.  I think it will crystalize in this post as I think through it.

I have a bunch of classic Nikkor MF lenses and some cameras.  I’ll be using all this gear and I have built NikkorGlass to be a playground for other folks who enjoy using Manual Focus Glass. 

tREES 50 300F45Ais NDF 9219

Maybe that is Project Nikkor or maybe it’s me working methodically through these lenses carrying one or two a day or some number of them in a given week.  In trying the One a Day I made it through about 14 days and got stuck.  Life happens and not every day is a great photo day.  Also, testing some of these lenses for the first time can have hiccups and not all glass works the way you use it.  That’s all likely part of Project Nikkor, understanding when each lens has merit in its usage.

What’s the output of Project Nikkor?

  • Lots of reviews and forum posts on the lenses and cameras I am using.
  • Better pictures of the gear!
  • Introspect via these blog posts.
  • Sharing views and commentary on the lenses, this is already growing as you fine folks here and on the mother thread help me learn!
  • Expansion of my abilities, I have never had this sort of arsenal before!
  • A personal spreadsheet that lets me see my notes on this glass at a glance.

I have a blast using all this glass, and some of its is mind-blowingly awesome!  The DF is an easy carry cameras as is the D750.    And then there is the venture back into film.  I suddenly have 3 film cameras again, the most I ever had were two and none as capable as the F3 looks to be.

FGFilm D752989

I hope NikkorGlass turns out to be as much fun for you as it is for me.  Already we have tremendous international talent present and contributing on the site. 

My hope is we grow to be a small tight community of photographers passionate about Nikkor Manual Focus Glass.  I hope that this site truly does become an extension of the thread.  Reviews, comparisons, introspect, blogs and a resource that provides a safe place for others to visit, follow and yes, start their collections!

NikkorGlass is Project Nikkor and I believe we are ready to exit Beta and proceed forward now with confidence!  Yes, we covered a lot of distance in this post and I hope that the future brings us lots more for this site and its users.

Thanks as always for your time and commitment to contribute here, it far surpasses any monetary donation you could make to this cause!

Let Project Nikkor version 1.1 Begin and lets see what version 2.0 brings us!


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Thoughts on the Nikon D750

D75 0574 Corrected

Always a tuff pill to swallow, I had quite a few notes over time I took and entered into Draft status in my Blog that Godaddy.com lost and could not recover.  I’ll do my best to try to remember them all, however, I am certain that this loss will impact the quality of this journal entry.


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Of Time and Mind


This entry discusses two topics that come to the forefront of my thoughts these days, time and mind.

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The never ending quest for new toys, or "Will I ever be satisfied?"

I am not much of a (blog) writer, but I too have some thoughts that keep milling, some thoughts that develop and some that appear out of thin air.

I wanted to write something about film cameras but a stroke of inspiration (?) changed what I write into something slightly different.

I started creative photography when I was quite young. Without a job I could only dream of most cameras available at the time, and th eone camera I dreamed about most was the Nikon F5. Along with a AF 20-35mm f2,8D lens and AF 80-200 f2,8D lens that should be the setup that would keep me happy forever, or so I thought.

Instead I bought what my wallet allowed me. A Nikon FM with 80-200 f4 Ai-S and a Tamron 17mm. I used that camera for a decade and added some manual Nikkors, an MD-12 motordrive, speedlights and some other tidbits.

And then something terrible happened! Film was replaced with digital. And the full frame was replaced by something only 2/3rds the size. The Nikon F5 was no longer the most capable camera out there. 

I will save you all the full story on how I moved through a range of digital SLR's, but at a certain point in time the D300 was my main camera and I decided to finally pull the trigger and bought a "like new" Nikon F5 with MF-28 data back. I also owned the long coveted AF 80-200 f2,8D two ring zoom and finally, after almost 20 years, was able to hold and use that dream combination of camera and lens. Made for each other and used by professional sport photographers to capture the hottest sport action of the 90's.

The F5 mated to the AF 80-200 f2,8D is a dream to hold and use. Blazing fast and accurate AF at a level the D300 never even touched. The F5 feels so rock solid and well made that the gripped D300 feels inadequate. Flex between the grip and body became a nuisance which eventually led to the inevitable. I bought a Nikon D3 to bring that F5 feeling in to the digital realm.

So a few weeks after the F5 found it's way to my home, a D3 also arrived. The D3 feels light in comparison (when I first took it out of the box I put it back and looked at the ebay listing to see if that was for a REAL camera or a dummy!). But not less sturdy. Both the F5 and D3 feel like they are made to last forever. And that's when it happened. The D3 became everything I dreamed about when dreaming about the F5 back when I was unable to afford the F5. And the F5 became a fancy doorstop.

See, things like these happen in a way that can not always be explained by logic. I grew up with film, and an old used and battered Nikon FM. I grew to like, or even love the 3 LED lightmeter indicator. The clean and simple viewfinder. The sound of the shutter and mirror slap. The feel of the dial and aperture ring. Somehow these things became as much a part of analog photography as the film grain, the dynamic range and the unique look of Ilford FP4+ film that I got used to that much. The high tech F5 just did not fit in with that world, and it was not digital enough to replace the D3 for me. 

Some might say, get your film scanned. I own a film scanner and do use this hybrid workflow for film shots. But again, the F5 just does not fit in there. I can't wrap my mind around the idea that I hold a camera as blazing fast as the F5 and then have to wait for my film to be developed. I can't like the F5 as much anymore because it does everything my D3 does but I can not review my photos instantaniously. The D3 high ISO noise looks as pleasant as film noise. I have to admit that a dream got lost and the D3 replaced the F5 in my mind. 

Now where does that leave film? I like film. I like how I approach photography thinking, knowing that I have X exposures left and every one of them should count. I had a 25% keeper rate back when digital was not yet accessible for the general public. The eagerness to keep up that rate still exists the moment I load a film in my FM. But after 20 years of loyal service I decided the FM deserves to lead a protected life on my glass shelf, and I could do with even more "back to the roots" feeling.

I got adventerous and bought a 1964 Nikon F to match my collection of pre-Ai lenses. The F comes with a plain prism finder, which means, no lightmeter. I am not yet certain if the F shutter curtain sound will give me the same satisfaction as the titanium honeycomb sound of my trustworthy FM, but that is one of these things that time will tell. I might grow accustomed to it. If not, the F will sit on the shelf and perform it's role as "lens holder" and the FM will be back in active duty until either I or the FM stops working.

My next entry will be all about the Nikon F

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Why Video Didn't Kill Photography and Never Will

I had one of those moments last night when one randomly becomes enlightened on a topic. The topic in question was the reasoning of why video didn’t kill the photography star! It was actually that song Video killed the radio star lyrics that sent me sideways and into an illuminating thought.

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Finding The Zone on Demand

I'll apologize up front for this post, it may be a little mind bending for some of my readers.  I am going to talk a little bit about getting into the Zone for photography.


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A short walk

I had a chance to visit the west end of our Prarrie Center today.. mainly just spending time exploring 4 of the Ai-s lenses, the 18, 35, 105 and 180ED.


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A Week with the Nikon 50 F/1.2 Ai-s

The Ai-s collection continues to be fun and I am trying a little experiment where I carry the lens for a week on my Df and see what happens.

Cut me some slack on these samples, they are mostly made going to and from work, little time, lower light, its a story of the life and times of a photography enthusiasts fun over the course of a week.


2 Degrees


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Df at 6 Months


It's been about 6 months since I purchased my Nikon Df. I have had a blast with it in those span of months, reconnected with photography and created many pleasing photos for my own enjoyment.

This is one of my longer posts on this blog, so reader beware and and also sure to grab a beverage of choice before settling in to read through this.

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Grey Days At The Pier


Can you hear the gulls in the background?  They are a pack of 3, I was tempted to make a video of them earlier as they were perched atop a building wailing in corus like a siren in The Streets of San Francisco! I seriously wondered if this trio somehow was doing just that, mimicking a siren!

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It's a lazy Saturday morning, the kind where you roll around in bed, read on your iPad, nap a little more, get some coffee, then read more meaty content after you wake up a bit. Before I had gone to sleep after watching to Royals beat the Yankees (no, I wasn't dreaming, it really happened;), I had stumbled upon a thread about super gluing the exposure compensation lock button down on the Nikon DF to make it easier to use. I started looking for mods for the Nikon DF and came up with just that one.

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