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Can I use a Nikon 50mm f/2 pre-AI on my Nikon D5100? Will it cause any damage to my camera?

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The manuals for every Nikon DSLR since the D1 have had a section listing the lenses that can be physically attached to the camera and what features work with them. (I know that sounds like I'm saying RTFM, but the table is very useful.) –  Blrfl Feb 4 '13 at 13:26
    
The F/2 was a low end lens when new. If it were the F1.4, it might have some value/interest. I'd simply buy a current F1.8, they are very very inexpensive. Some modern bodies won't mount a pre-AI lens, because the coupling prong interferes with the pentaprism. Converting some pre-AI lenses may make sense, but not the F2 –  Pat Farrell Feb 4 '13 at 17:18

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Yes, you're okay on an D5100. Higher-level Nikon bodies (like the D7000) can be damaged when used with pre-1977 lenses, but the D5100 and other bodies with electronic-only coupling will work fine with pretty much any Nikon-mount lens ever.

The D7000 and up have a tab used for metering with the newer lenses, and aren't safe — but that same tab means that you can get proper metering when using newer 20th century lenses.

See http://www.aiconversions.com/compatibilitytable.htm for more; that site also offers conversions so the lenses will work on higher-end bodies, and while the prices look pretty reasonable I've never used them so I can't make an endorsement.

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About the conversion - given the fact that the lens is a 50mm f2, in case it's needed for upgrading to a D7000, I would try to do the conversion myself or buy the 1.8/AF-D version (which is very cheap) and not pay for converting an old f2 MF lens. –  Marco Mp Feb 4 '13 at 9:06
    
I like this compatibility chart: http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/compatibility-lens.htm –  daalbert Feb 5 '13 at 22:12

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