Lenses - old vs new / AF vs AF-S


I have a Nikon D3400 for taking pictures of my own products. I have used the included 18-55mm kit lens so far. I wanted to upgrade my product photography a bit and am now looking to buy a used 60mm prime lens.

There are two lenses that I think are interesting for me. the “Nikon AF Micro Nikkor 60mm f2,8D” and the “Nikon AF-S Micro Nikkor 60mm f2.8G”. As I understand the “AF” is older and I would not be able to auto focus on my D3400. Since I now use a tripod and the object is always at the same distance, I think I would be fine with manual focus. The used AF lenses are cheaper compared to the AF-S equivalents, so I’m leaning to just AF.

Are there any differences in terms of quality between the two mentioned lenses? Are there other important factors that I should consider? What does the “D” and “G” stand for at the end of the lenses names?

Sorry if my English isn’t that good, I’m from Germany and this forum appeared to be a good place.


Claes in Lund, Schweden


GUDE and thanks for the two reviews!
Your second link just pointed to the main page, here is a direct link to the review from Ming Thein. The two conclusions are a bit contradicting. I think the differences in quality of the two won’t be noticeable for my use case.

My conclusion for now is that I will get the older AF when I can get it for a noticeable lower price.

Further input about things to consider are welcomed. Might there be other 60mm lenses I should consider? The 60mm with crop would result in 90mm on the D3400, which I like very much.

Nikon “G” lenses are “Gelded”, from the English verb “geld”, meaning “remove the testicles of a male horse”. For the lenses, this means they don’t have an aperture ring. The aperture is controlled by a dial on the camera body.

Personally, I don’t like not having an aperture ring on the lens. I have only one “G”, the 105mm macro (an a full-frame D800), and I always forget how to change the aperture.

For macro work and stationary subjects, I wouldn’t worry about autofocus. I find that moving the camera backwards and forwards gives more precision.


I use some manual focus lenses (50 ais and 70-200) on my d750. I find it quite hard to manual focus. I have a 105 macro and find it quite hard to focus manualy, but that is mostly for macro shots. So i would suggest to get a lens with af. I can not say anithyng about quality between those two lenses. Maybe you could try to use mf on our kit lens to see if you would be happy to do all images in mf.


OK thanks, I just read a bit more about D vs G lenses. Now I’m leaning more towards a newer “G” lens. I have the camera tethered to a computer nearby and I assume that I would not be able to control the aperture via the computer when using an older “D” lens.

@jjbraun - testing, good idea. I have very old Leica R-mount lenses (inherited). An adapter is on its way to me. When it’s here, I’ll see how working completely manual with a lens will fit for me.

I was wondering do you really need macro capabilities or would a other prime better suit you needs. Say 50 58 or 85mm?


I have very old Leica R-mount lenses (inherited).

:slight_smile: What range of lenses?

Perhaps you do not even need to buy a new Nikkor?
After all, Leica-R has a very good reputation…

Claes in Lund, Schweden

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The old AF lenses are really hard to focus manually because the mechanics had to be rather wobbly so the screwdriver AF would work fast. AF-S are much better in that regard.

The G “elded” thing is one of those Ken R. mantras that by now is just as stupid as if saying a plane/car/boat that is fly-by-wire is not a real plane/car/boat. I mean the man shoots oversaturated oversharpened JPGs so I would not take advise from him.

On a D3400 you either want to use pre-AI lenses or AF-S, everything inbetween is just a nuisance in my unhumble opinion.

And on the topic of Micro/Macro lenses: unless you constantly run into the close-range limits of your lens they are not really any better. Since you will have to close the aperture anyway, that f2.8 is not giving you much, especially in a studio scenario.

For table-top work consider a focus rail, that makes life so much easier.

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Good question. With the kit lens I shot between 40-50mm. haven’t tried anything above 50mm with this camera so far. I do a lot of renderings from my CAD models and there I often use a focal length between 70 and 90 and that makes a look that I like for the product. With a 60mm lens on the cropped sensor it would be the equivalent to my renderings at 90mm. I just hope I won’t have to back off too far. If not 60mm then it can only be smaller like 50 or 40mm. Above would get difficult to shoot, i think.

  • Elmarit-R 1:2.8/28
  • Summicron-R 1:2/50
  • Elmarit-R 1:2.8/135

I’m very much looking forward to the arrival of the adapter I ordered :smiley:
But until it arrives next week, I probably won’t be able to hold myself back at bidding on ebay for a Nikkor AF-S :sweat_smile:

The 135mm won’t be of use for me in that scenario. I’d probably back out of the window if I tried to get the product completely into the frame.

Yes, I don’t like to have just a thin layer of the product to be in focus. I probably won’t shoot under f4.8
But maybe f2.8 would get interesting when I just want to focus on a specific detail of the product. I think I’ll just have to try that.

This rabbit hole gets more and more expensive.

If you insist on buying a rail from a highend manufacturer, sure. Which is really the right choice (pun intended) if you do it professionally - aka, the customer pays for the gear - or you know you will be using it so much, that any lesser option will get on your nerves very soon.

Otherwise, there are a lot of cheap options, I bought mine for 15 euros “direct from factory” (aka Ali) and it works rather well, but it sure is no engineering marvel. Still better than sliding the tripod around.

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I’ve been using Nikkor AF-S 60mm macro to photograph the 3D printed-parts for my HO steam locomotive model, and I find that focal length lacking for good magnification. Would much rather have the 105mm…

For now the lens will be the last addition for the setup. I’ll see how far this gets me and then may add things later on after I got more feel for it.

There are already many parts that I need to control now. Probably the single most important piece was the strobe light. Before I got that I made the mistake to buy a continuous light, thinking it would be enough. I was wrong about that.

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