Had a day recently using my three Nikon manual focus primes (24mm f/2, 50mm f/1.2 & 135mm f/2.8) on my Canon 5D Mk2.
Some people might ask - why do this? Don’t Canon make excellent lenses?
Well yes they do, but there are several reasons why I do this.
Nikon still make and sell MF lenses. Canon, with a few exceptions, don’t .
I like manual lenses. Maybe because I used them in my film days. I like the way they are constructed and handle. You can also get fast apertures in a compact lens. My 24mm f/2 is small and light.
Nikon MF lenses have aperture rings. I shoot a lot of video on the 5D Mk2 and need to select the aperture. As has been well discussed the 5D Mk2 sets apertures automatically on Canon AF lenses & restricts you to a few options.
I personally prefer Nikon lenses to Canon. Theres not a lot in it but my Nikon MF’s have a nicer bokeh and an overall smoother look. Canon lenses I find big and “clunky”
For example my Nikon MF f1.2 is sharper and lighter than my Canon AF f1.2. The Canon is a great lens but when I fit my Nikon on to the 5D Mk2 I can clearly see a difference. The Nikon is the best lens I’ve ever used & that includes MF and Zeiss lenses.
Obviously there are operational drawbacks to using MF lenses and I only use them when I have the time to set apertures and focus manually. They mainly get used for my landscape, location and architecture work.
The results from the day were impressive. The 50mm f/1.2 was the star performer as always, with some incredible images. I like to keep it on the camera as much as possible & will often shoot multi images for panoramic stitching rather than switch to a wide-angle lens.
To see what they can with a higher resolution sensor was eye-opening. All my MF lenses perform very well on my D700 & D3 but they definitely perform better with the extra pixels
on the 5D Mk2.
This difference in results, to my eyes, between Canon and Nikon lenses is not huge - as I said before Canon make excellent lenses. At this moment of writing the Canon 24-105 f/4 is the best zoom lens I’ve ever used. However, with the kinds of images I produce and the markets I sell to, I need every edge I can get. The clients who buy my images WILL blow them up on their monitors to 100% and more. Thats how they will make their decision as to whether to buy my image or one taken by another photographer. The difference when printed in a magazine, book or even for a gallery wall will be virtually impossible to spot, but on a good computer monitor there will be a difference and its in my interest to provide that.
On a personal level I enjoy using them. I love the look of these older lens designs. Cameras and lenses these days are excellent but tend to be big, black and plastic. I love the look and feel of smaller metal lenses & the more chrome the better!