What does my camera do with the distance information?
February 5, 2014 3:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking at buying a used Nikkor lens to use on my D80 (and on whatever the next body I buy is when I finally retire that body). For many of the older lenses you can get a significant savings by buying the version of the lens that does not send distance info to the camera (non-D version). How much do I care?

From all I've been able to tell from searching online, the camera only ever uses this info when the flash is engaged. I almost never use a flash. I also understand there are certain lenses where the D version is really considered to be a step up from the earlier non-D version (e.g. the 28mm) Do I still care? Knowing that certain newer versions of lenses may be better as technology progresses, and there are other innovations (VR, AF-S, etc), this seems like a good place to save some money on my kit. I'm looking at the older 80-200 f2.8 if that helps inform the answer. Cost is absolutely an issue.
posted by mzurer to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (4 answers total)
Apparently, it helps regulate the flash brightness.
posted by uncaken at 3:36 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The level of illumination at the subject varies inversely with the square of the distance, so it is helpful for the flash unit to know the distance. Otherwise it has to monitor the amount of light coming back and guess (during the flash) when the subject has received enough photons, so it can quench the flash. Remember, the flash doesn't know if the subject is a black cat or a snowman, so it's a very rough guess. Doing it by distance is better.
posted by w0mbat at 4:09 PM on February 5, 2014

I've got a bag full of old 35mm non-D lenses along with a D kit lense that I use with my D80. Near as I can figure the D does nothing for non flash photos. Even for flash photos the TTL flash mode combined with matrix metering is pretty decent.

If the choice is no lense/some craptastic F4.5-5.5 80-200 with D and a f2.8 80-200 without D I'd go for the latter in a heartbeat.
posted by Mitheral at 6:15 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

You're looking at the push-pull, 1993-97 version? The 1997-on AF-D version is much better in terms of AF speed and zoom operation.
posted by a halcyon day at 9:47 PM on February 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

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