Nikon D800 is not compatible with Nikkor PC-E lenses?

One of our readers, Alex Abadi, contacted me about Nikon D800 compatibility with the Nikon 24mm PC-E (a.k.a. PC-E Nikkor 24mm f/3.5D ED). Apparently, Nikon indicated on the official lens page that the lens is NOT compatible with the D800, saying “Can not be used with shifting or tilting”. Here is a screenshot of the comment:

Nikon D800 compatibility with Nikon 24mm PC-E

First of all, Nikon needs to do something about their incompetent staff. In this context, “can not” should be spelled as “cannot”. They did not even bother to write a complete sentence. Second, why does Nikon allow staff members to provide answers without checking facts? The very first image from the Nikon D800E Sample Images was shot with the Nikon 45mm f/2.8D PC-E lens. Considering how sharp the image is, I am more than confident that the photographer tilted the lens. Third, tilt and shift lenses work perfectly fine with the Nikon D700 – it would be silly for Nikon to cripple the D800, considering that it will be a hot camera for landscape and macro photographers that heavily rely on PC-E lenses.

So if you are worried about Nikon D800 PC-E compatibility, do not be – it will surely work perfectly fine with all PC-E lenses, just like the Nikon D700 did.


  1. 1) ysphoto
    March 8, 2012 at 10:49 am

    I see that Nikon’s front-line is very unprofessional. They even have another answer that links to a support page on how to use a support page when the customer is asking a specific question.

    Very poor image.

    • March 8, 2012 at 11:19 am

      I agree – I checked some other answers and they are equally unprofessional and incompetent. This is very poor management of websites by Nikon…

  2. March 8, 2012 at 11:28 am
    • March 8, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Yes, I saw that Aaron. The video was only used in its Bangkok presentation, probably prepared by another incompetent Nikon employee or a PR company that had no idea what it was doing. Mistakes like this can really hurt the company in the long run…

      • 2.1.1) Chai
        September 27, 2012 at 8:40 am

        Seeing this and reminds me of how bad things operate here in Thailand. Being a Thai and working here in Design/Photographic field. I have experienced clients asking me to violate copyrights willingly to get their graphics/advertisement done with minimal budget. If you are here in Thailand you will find that all you see there, even when coming from a company like Nikon is very very very (can I add another very or would it be too many very?) very common. I even once offered to buy photos from stocks website when they refuse to put in more budget for photos to complete a project T-T. I am in a copyrights-free country LOL. I am glad to see the particular case got discovered and Nikon took action, and I hope the local executives got themselves a long lecture from Japanese executive team : )

  3. 3) Carl TightShooster
    March 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    Indeed not very friendly, not very detailed, not very true and not very professional
    thanks for posting this

  4. 4) Dean M.
    March 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    Nikon should be very glad they are bringing out the new bodies, 800 series, as a year or more ago I vowed to never touch Nikon again due to the extraordinarily incompetent and rude staff. I had called with a routine Q. , not recalled, perhaps about literature, at 5:10PM when the site was announced as “open till 5:30PM”. At 5:28PM a female picked up the phone after my lengthy wait, and in the middle of my Q. said these exact words: “We’re closed now.” And…hung up!
    Yet, reading these comments on ongoing incompetency and rudeness, I wonder if I should consider another line…
    Dean M.

  5. 5) Bill M.
    March 8, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    When will Nikon Support realize how many customers the make angry? Angry customers = former customers.
    Whenever I ask Support a question,I receive a reply pointing me to the FAQ, which is no way related to the question. When I resubmitted the question, Nikon’s reply is to cancel the question as being a repeat.

    All their support staff can do is give the “canned” answer. There is no knowledge at the minimum bid phone bank Nikon refers to as “Customer Support”. The D700 was also listed as non-compatible w/PC-E lenses, yet I used my 24mm PC-E on it w/o problems. I just rotated the lens so the knobs cleared the prism overhang.

    • 5.1) Greg W
      March 10, 2012 at 8:53 am

      “I just rotated the lens so the knobs cleared the prism overhang”

      I’m confused! Isn’t the whole point of rotation on a tilt/shift lens to be able to match the angle where you need the benefit of the extra actions? On my (much older) 35mm PC-Nikkor I rotate the lens so the direction of the shift matches what I need (e.g. horizontal or vertical). At full shift the top of the lens would hit the prism on my D700 – except that it’s far enough away from the camera body that this can’t ever happen.

      Looking at images of the 24mm PC-E the shift mechanism is much closer to the lens mount. So I can easily see that the range would be limited (the shifted lens looks like it would hit the pentaprism). If that’s the case then surely Nikon are right to say it’s not compatible with the D700/800? I accept that rotating would solve the problem – but only for “side-shifting”. I would mainly use my 35mm for correcting converging verticals in buildings – that needs “top-shifting” (not sure that’s the right term – but you know what I mean!). It looks like this isn’t fully possible with the D800. So aren’t Nikon support correct to say it’s not compatible (not fully anyway)?

      • 5.1.1) Dominik
        March 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

        The issue here is horizontal shift however it makes no difference whether the shift knob is positioned facing up or facing down, you get the same result.

        All it means in practical terms is you rotate the lens to the left to allow horizontal shift and shift adjustments are performed from underneath the lens rather than from above it. A D3/D3s simply allows you to rotate it either way.

        The bottom line is the D800 will be no different to the D700 in this regard and that means the PC-E is fully functional and allows maximum shift and tilt movements. Nikon would never release a 36mp camera specifically targeting landscape and architectural photographers that wouldn’t work with this lens.

  6. 6) Dean M.
    March 8, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Let me add to my prior re rudeness, one example of incompetency or simply poor and insufficient training.
    I called tech support to ask if the Zeiss lenses with a Nikon mount could be ordered directly from Nikon. The tech party was totally baffled, knew nothing about Zeiss lenses for Nikon (As most readers know they are also made in Canon mounts and some for Sony) and told me I would have to call the manufacturer direct to get any such information.
    Total ignorance of their own system. NO excuse for this.

    • 6.1) Marcus
      March 9, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      “I called tech support to ask if the Zeiss lenses with a Nikon mount could be ordered directly from Nikon.”

      Are you serious?

      • 6.1.1) Dean M.
        March 9, 2012 at 7:20 pm

        Mr. Marcus;
        Kindly see my response to a prior writer as Number 14

        • Marcus
          March 10, 2012 at 9:14 am

          I’m not upset but puzzled.

          Apparently Sony went the extra mile by offering other manufacturer’s lenses to give their customers some more options because their lens selection isn’t as broad.
          But motivation aside: This is an absolute exception and you can’t criticize the majority of manufacturers for not doing things like this.

          • David
            March 10, 2012 at 10:03 am


            No. The Sony/Zeiss lenses are made in a contracted partnership between Sony and Zeiss. They’re not “offering other manufacturer’s lenses” at all.

            Those lenses are all new designs with autofocus, designed by Zeiss and built to their specifications and QC for the Sony dSLR lineup. They’re a totally different product to the manual focus primes that you are referring to. And they will never come to Canon, Nikon or any other mount. Sony have exclusivity, which is a shame because some of them like the 135/1.8 are unrivalled.

            • Dean M.
              March 10, 2012 at 2:17 pm

              Thank you for sharing this knowledge, which I obviously did not have.
              And for being polite instead of…

            • Marcus
              March 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm


              “Sony have exclusivity, which is a shame because some of them like the 135/1.8 are unrivalled.”

              Let’s see how this will eventually turn out:

    • 6.2) AM
      March 10, 2012 at 11:46 am

      I have to disagree. It is not total ignorance of Nikon’s systems, but acceptable ignorance of third-party accessories/lenses. What would you expect from Nikon? To see what other companies are manufacturing and validate those products to see if they are fully compatible with Nikon systems?
      Nikon representative was spot-on with his response, you should contact Zeiss to find out if an specific product is compatible with a Nikon system.

  7. 7) Chuck
    March 8, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    Dean, so you called Nikon to ask about a Zeiss lens? Really? Why would you expect their support staff to know anything about third-party gear?

    Your anger is seriously misplaced.

    • 7.1) Dean M.
      March 9, 2012 at 7:19 pm

      I am so sorry that I caused you to feel misplaced anger, Mr. Chuck.
      By way of explanation, I myself own a Sony Alpha and have purchased two Sony lenses directly from Sony. On their homepage under lenses it lists both their own line and a full listing of the Zeiss glass for Sony. I did not feel or even remotely suspect that I would be asking an improper Q. of Nikon if they offered the same. As a leader in the Field (I have 3 Nikons myself and perhaps a half dozen Nikon lenses) i felt they very well might offer this on their sales site. I was quite surprised that someone purporting to have Nikon information apparently neither knew this nor had been advised by a field trainer that this option existed.

      I do not work for a camera firm yet I have seen this in multiple places and seen it also written up as having had numerous tests by both professional sites and by users. I deeply regret having upset you and causing you to claim that I was expressing anger. No, sorry, just surprise.
      Thank you for your helpful, friendly and authorative comments.

    • 7.2) Carl TightShooster
      March 10, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      > Dean, so you called Nikon to ask about a Zeiss lens? Really? Why would you expect their support staff to
      > know anything about third-party gear?

      Yes indeed they should know about Zeiss and be really happy that Carl Zeiss is producing for their F-Mount.

  8. March 9, 2012 at 12:51 am

    Hi Nasim,

    First, both “cannot” and “can not” are acceptable spellings, but the first is much more usual. You would mostly use “can not” when the ‘not’ forms part of another construction such as “not only”.

    Then, as you may already know PC-E lenses are not 100% usable with the D700. The limitations are due to the fact that the built-in flash gets in the way of some movements.

    Nikon probably didn’t want to get complains from angry customers disappointed by those limitations…

    My two cents.



  9. 9) John Richardson
    March 9, 2012 at 6:40 am

    Try asking Nikon Russia for information. It drives me crazy, even when I have a local draft up a correct e-mail and I send it…never an answer. I would ask outside of “my area” except I keep getting referred back to Russia, it’s enough to drive me back to a pinhole camera. —The D4 is listed for $11,000 USD here in Ukraine! Insane. I was trying to get a cleared answer on actual pricing, it’s not like it is some old Cold War secret document declassification

    It is refreshing to know that I am not having problems of because of where I live! WOOT!

  10. Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin 10) Romanas Naryškin
    March 9, 2012 at 10:34 am

    I’m glad we have Nasim to clear things up for us. :)

  11. 11) Robert Disney
    March 10, 2012 at 2:36 am

    It’s sad to see such response from a Nikon staff member. My experience with Nikon Canada’s online service has been different, with articulate and well thought out responses.

  12. 12) vincent
    March 10, 2012 at 5:12 am

    Hello, Nasim

    I am hesitating for purchasing a used D3 or brand new D800. They are at the same price level. I also want to choose 24-70 or 24120vr for my first FX camera. I will use the final combo for traveling and some life style shooting. Could you help me deal with these two questions? Thank you.

  13. 13) Vijayakumar
    March 10, 2012 at 9:13 am

    Nasim : Nikon has not thought of changing the design of rubber grip below the front thumb wheel.
    They should have thought of giving more plastic surrounding the wheel and lowered the height of the rubber grip, till where it is required more. Now, with constant use of the thumb wheel, some cameras seems to have developed a stretched rubber below the wheel and the rubber eventually comes off. And this results in the red portion of rubber cracking mid way horizontally. This has happened to my D200 which is not that used. Is there any forum where Nikon accepts feedback. They have changed many things in their DSLR after they introduced D200, but even now with D4 this particular place remains the same. Hope they will listen to people like you.

  14. March 11, 2012 at 3:41 am

    A friend of mine has both 24mm and 45mm PC-E lenses. Earlier today we tested both on my D700, and the 45mm cleared the prism nub by quite a lot. While the 24mm’s adjustment screw bumped up against the prism at one angle, it still rotated nearly all the way around. I’m not too familiar with the tilt/shift lenses, but as a professional landscape and architectural photographer he is, and he wasn’t worried at all about operating the 24mm PC-E lens with the D800/E if the body’s proportions are similar or identical to the D700 in that area.

  15. 15) Bata
    March 11, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    D800 does work with PC-E 24mm, and do so as well as D3 as can be verified here:
    With tilt and shift it only works in manual mode on any Nikon camera (D3 too).
    The guy from support is just someone who probably never actually used PC-E 24mm.

    • 15.1) Leon
      March 11, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks. I am using D3 + PC-E 45mm, so I quite care about D800 with PC-E lenses.

      It says ‘Can not be used with shifting or tilting.’ with P/S/M/A modes. This looks scary, because normally it should work in M mode. None of them? What is that supposed to mean??

      I could not find the equivalent table for D3, but when I use D3 + PC-E 45mm, after shifting or tilting, the exposure will be a bit off so you have to do some compensation. If it is the same situation with D800, it should be fine.

      • 15.1.1) bata
        March 12, 2012 at 10:20 am

        Here is the Lens Compatibility list for D3s (it is the same for D3):
        As you can see it is the same as D800and it means that you can use PC-E NIKKOR lenses in manual exposure mode only when tilting and shifting and that metering does not work but you probably know that already.

        • Leon
          March 12, 2012 at 7:37 pm

          Cheers. So basically D800/D4 will work in the same style as D3 with PC-E lenses.

          I think the wording is a bit confusing from them. It should have been ‘metering does not work with shift or tilting’ or at least ‘Manual exposure mode only but no metering during shifting and tilting’.

          Anyway it is working. Another bad example is PC-E with D200, for example, where the rotating of the lens is impossible due to the block of internal flash unit.

  16. 16) Patrik
    March 14, 2012 at 3:30 am

    When Nikon specifies that PC lenses are not compatible when tilted or shifted, they are talking about focusing and metering system incompatibility. The lenses are mechanicaly compatible but automatic exposure and focus confirmation will not work properly. This is clear in their compatibility table (a check mark, with the caveat ‘not when tilted or shifted’). This applies to all digital and film bodies.

  17. March 21, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    The Nikon 45 & 85mm PC-E lenses have a longer barrel than the 24mm, thus the shift controls and are closer to the lens mount on the 24mm.

    On my D7000 for example, it is very easy to scratch the flash housing when mounting or rotating the 24mm, but the other 2 lenses mount fine.

  18. 18) Cristian N. MORMOLOC
    March 26, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Thanks Nasim for the article. Would be nice if some NIKON senior management actually reads this article so they can do something about their incompetent staff (like training them on basic camera architecture stuff, or teaching them some general English at least).

  19. 19) Ibis
    August 6, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Hi Nasim
    I enjoy all your posts, your pictures and your great advice. If I have a “how to” question or want a lens review, I always check with your website first and encourage my friends to do so as well.
    I read this post when it it first came out and am on a waiting list for the D800. Now I have doubts and defer to your advice.
    About 2 years ago, while waiting for Nikon’s new camera, I asked you whether I should go ahead and purchase the D700. You were right on target as to the D800’s release date and encouraged me to get the D700 instead of waiting and enjoy my photography.
    Now I’m at a quandary – should I upgrade? Will I be able to get sharper images? Better image after cropping is definitely a great feature. I am not a professional photographer – just an enthusiast and appreciate your candid opinion.

  20. November 23, 2012 at 5:51 am

    Hi Nasim
    I stumbled across the above posts and your excellent review on the Nikon 24mm PC-E while doing a little research, trying to decide if the 45mm PC-E lens would be an advantage and compliment my current lenses.
    I only moved into the world of digital in Oct 2010, with the Nikon D700, and decided with this change I would try and discipline myself to just try and use prime lenses, but I did not have any, and the choice was extensive. I settled on the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f1.4G ED and the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.4G. The 85mm mainly resides on the D700, but I find I am often looking for a perspective between 35 – 50mm when travelling.
    I had thought the most sensible and economical option was to just buy a Nikon 50mm f1.4 or f1.8, but for some reason I am leaning toward the 45mm PC-E. Maybe its the combination of optical clarity, the 77mm filter size, and the challenge of straightening a few of those building perspectives, although the latter can to some degree be achieved in Lightroom 4.
    In a non tilt / swing position on the D700 or future D800E, am I correct in thinking the 45mm PC-E will work handheld just fine in aperture priority or full manual. I understand with the D800E, it is better to use apertures larger than f11 to minimise diffraction.

    I do make use of an RRS tripod for probably half of my landscape shots, but if I do head down the path of purchasing this lens, I would like to utilise it handheld as well as on a tripod.

    • November 23, 2012 at 7:52 am

      Incredible images Gregory! I took the other direction with my D700 and went with the three f/2.8 zooms instead of primes (mainly for the 14-24mm for landscapes and to keep up with my very active children with the other two!). I think my next lens will be a 105mm macro and then the 24mm f/1.4 for night timelapses and an 85mm f/1.4 for portraits. Primes make you slow down, plan, and try different positions/angles, and I think one can get a better image for it; not necessarily because of the lens quality but because of the creative process. You have proven it. :-)

      • November 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm

        Thanks Aaron. Like many that have moved to digital in recent times, I still have a lifetime of negatives and Provia slides to one day do something with. I wanted a way of sharing my images without the usual social media adds, links or attachments, as it is not my day job. For someone as commercially unskilled as I in areas of computer literacy and photography, it was a rewarding challenge to build the web domain from a bare framework.
        The decision to not jump in early, but wait a while before my first digital SLR was for me a good choice. I then just needed to marry that D700 with a couple of great lenses, that would now prove to be even more important when replacing the D700 or adding a D800E as a second body. I was considering the 45mm PC-E lens as a quality lens to bridge the gap between 24 and 85mm. I tripod a fair bit, manual focus is not an issue, and this lens could address converging verticals to some degree where moving further back or a higher perspective not possible. If this lens can also be comfortably used hand held without tilt / shift engaged, giving exemplary results, then I see no reason why I should not give it a go, not withstanding the cost as compared to the f1.4 or f1.8 50mm prime. No one seems to recommend this lens for Landscape, yet I often start the day with the 24mm fitted, but more often finish with the 85mm.

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