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Using Aperture Ring w/ D5200

Chip Chipowski , Jan 07, 2014; 11:45 a.m.

I have a question from a gentleman I met yesterday. He has a Nikon D5200 and would like to use it for a stop motion project. For this, he needs to use a lens with an aperture ring. I believe this is to ensure the same diaphragm opening for a series of shots.

I am involved because I was going to sell him my 18-35mm f/3.5-4.5 lens. We met up to try it out, but the D5200 gave an error message when trying to operate in manual mode and moving the lens aperture ring out of the f/22 position. I don't think we tried shutter priority.

Does anyone know if it is possible to use a D5200 in the way I described above? (In short, he just wants to control the lens aperture manually via the aperture ring, not via the camera)


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Phil Evans , Jan 07, 2014; 12:41 p.m.

You dictate whether to use the aperture ring or the sub command dial in the menu. I shouldn't answer this question because I do not know the D5200 or even if it has a sub command dial. You could not move the aperture from f22 without an error message because the camera menu is set to have the camera body dictate aperture. On my D800 it is F9.

But the real point here is that you do not have to have an aperture ring to dictate to the camera which aperture to use. Just put it in manual, with manual iso and select your settings.

Richard Driscoll , Jan 07, 2014; 12:42 p.m.

You can do that with a non-CPU lens but only in manual (M) mode and you will loose metering too.
With a CPU lens you have to have the lens set to min. aperture even in M mode and set the aperture using the command dial, though in M or A mode that will still give you a fixed aperture.

Chip Chipowski , Jan 07, 2014; 01:02 p.m.

Thanks Richard, I had a feeling the CPU was the issue.

Andrew Garrard , Jan 07, 2014; 01:21 p.m.

To clarify, for the benefit of other readers: Phil's D800 can use the aperture ring on the lens because it has an aperture follower ring around the lens mount. This is true of all the FX Nikons and the D7000 and up. The D5200 does not have this ring, meaning that it has no way to know what aperture the lens is set to (which is also why you can't meter with it - it doesn't know how far the aperture will move when the camera's aperture lever moves). With a CPU lens, the lens can tell the camera where to move the aperture lever electronically - but this only works if the aperture ring is not involved. There's a little detector switch on the D5200 (and other lower-end Nikons) that ensures that the lens's aperture ring is set to its minimum aperture, which ensures it's out of the way - if you move the aperture ring, the camera reports an error. Many lenses can have their aperture ring locked into the minimum aperture position, and G lenses have no alternative.

Phil Evans , Jan 07, 2014; 01:36 p.m.

Andrew, thanks for the information, makes sense. But isn't the real point that the aperture ring is a red herring here. All the OP's friend wants is a constant aperture through a series of photos which does not take an aperture ring to achieve on any Nikon DSLR.

Andrew Garrard , Jan 07, 2014; 02:04 p.m.

Correct, Phil, but only in theory, not in practice. Just to clarify, the aperture ring on the lens provides a hard stop for how far the aperture will open. When the aperture lever in the camera moves, the corresponding spring-loaded lever on the lens moves with it. If the camera is controlling the aperture, the lever moves to the desired location for the aperture you want - in which case, you don't want the aperture ring stopping the lens somewhere else. If the aperture ring is controlling the aperture, the lever just moves through its full extent, but has no idea where the aperture will stop moving - except on the higher-end Nikons, where the aperture follower ring independently detects where the lens aperture ring has been set. These systems should be equivalent, but the hard stop of the aperture ring will stop the lens's aperture at exactly the same position every time. The aperture lever in the camera, while pretty accurate, is not that precise, and therefore can cause slight fluctuations if used to shoot stop-motion video. Therefore, given the choice, you're better using the aperture ring to control the aperture if this is what you're doing.

In the absence of an expensive aperture-following ring, the D5200 had the choice of providing no metering, or requiring that the camera controls the aperture lever (so it knows where it is). With a CPU lens, the camera insists on controlling the aperture lever, and requires that the aperture ring be set to its minimum value. With a non-CPU lens, the camera just refuses to meter. Ironically, in this situation, the non-CPU option would be better.

As an aside, a better mystery is why you can't get a camera such as a D800 to control the aperture directly on an AI-S lens that's not a CPU lens... (AI-S means the aperture is linear, so it should be possible to control them with the aperture lever - unlike AI lenses, for which the relationship between the aperture lever position and the aperture is undefined. And you can already tell a D800 what non-CPU lens is attached, so you could tell it that the lens is AI-S. But no, aperture ring control only. Madness. Unless I'm missing something.)

Chip Chipowski , Jan 07, 2014; 02:07 p.m.

Phil - I appreciate your good intentions but I think you are mistaken. I am no expert on time lapse, but I believe there is an issue with slight aperture changes when controlled by the camera mechanism.

In any event, I do not intend to discuss time lapse photography in this thread. I welcome any additional responses to my original question. Thanks.

Edit - I see that Andrew responded already.

Andrew Garrard , Jan 07, 2014; 03:03 p.m.

Chip: This may not be the preferred solution, but have you tried putting masking tape over the electrical contacts on the lens? Letting tape fall into the mirror box would not be a brilliant idea, so I don't recommend this if you're changing the lens a lot, but if disabling the electrical connections would do the job then this might solve your problem (though cleaning the contacts afterwards might be a good idea). You'll still have no metering, but I wouldn't expect that to cause trouble here. Without the electrics, the lens should behave just as any AI-S lens does - it would work perfectly on an F3, for example. If permanently removing the electronics is an option, it should be possible to unscrew the holder for the AF pins, but that's quite an expensive bit of sabotage.

Otherwise, you're looking either at an older lens or a higher-end camera. A D7100 has the same sensor; is hiring one an option?

Chip Chipowski , Jan 07, 2014; 03:27 p.m.

Hey Andrew - I actually thought about tape as a possibility. Either that or removal of the CPU, as you noted. I think the owner of the D5200 may consider those options, or look at an old 18mm f/3.5 MF Nikkor.

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