I am an amateur photographer and I am currently using a Nikon D5100 with the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8G lens.

I have been thinking of getting an old manual focus lens like a 50mm or an 85mm, because they sell pretty cheap on eBay and I do not have a lot of budget to play around with.

Since I have never used a manual lens before, I wanted to know a couple of things:

  1. What kind of manual lens should i get for my D5100? AI or AI-S?

  2. Is there a way for me to control the aperture through the camera itself? I have heard something about setting the aperture ring to f/22 before attaching the lens to the body and it should sync but I am not too sure about it. I have tried searching on youtube to find a related video on this but so far haven't found one.

So I was wondering if someone could kindly advise me on how to go about this

Many thanks

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not get a second body that is good with manual lenses - the older Dxxx series bodies sell very cheap these days. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 18, 2019 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


1) I don't think that AI versus AI-S matters, as far as lens compatibility goes. The S was an extra mechanical feature that was developed just before electronic communication between lens and body was developed, so few bodies (maybe just one film body?) do anything with the feature.

2) It doesn't appear to be the case. From my own experience and other sources on the web Nikon DSLRs will not automatically control the aperture of an AI/AI-S lens.

NOTE -- Also, it seems that with an AI/AI-S lens mounted on a D5100 you would loose the ability to use the in-camera light meter.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct. "AI" stands for "Aperture Indicator", which was a means to tell the body what the aperture setting of the lens is. D5100 bodies cannot read the lens's aperture setting, so they can't control it (set it). Because the body doesn't know the aperture setting, it can't meter correctly, so also metering won't work: you have to shoot full Manual (you can't shoot Aperture-priority mode, and certainly not P or S). \$\endgroup\$
    – scottbb
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks David and Scott. So would you guys recommend the AIS lens at all? I have seen reviews which praises these lenses highly and since they come off cheap (used) I was thinking of picking one up. I don't mind the manual focusing but I think the lack of in camera light metering could be an issue. What do you think? Thanks \$\endgroup\$
    – pb_ng
    Feb 3, 2017 at 17:38

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