Better nikon lenses for B & W...are there any?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by fixbones, Apr 5, 2009.

  1. fixbones

    fixbones Member

    Messages:
    11
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I was just wondering if there are any particular nikon mount lenses for SLRs that works particularly well with B & W film photography?

    It seems that with the rangefinders, there are lenses that works better with B & W imagery.
     
  2. Lukas_87

    Lukas_87 Member

    Messages:
    114
    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Location:
    Prague, Czec
    Shooter:
    35mm
    every nikkor / nikon lens works well with B&W film :smile:

    talking about lenses - high quality coatings is important (and makes difference) in colour photography
    as opposite - single coated or uncoated lens aren't so contrasty and therefore they are _sometimes_ better for taking BW pictures under extremely contrast lighting (but they are very prone to strong flare).

    so maybe you should look for older nikkor lens (single coated ones).
     
  3. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    What makes you say that? I only ask this because I'm wondering if it may not be the lenses themselves that you're talking about, but rather a genre of B&W and practitioners of it that you admire.

    I'm a fan of a lot of Ralph Gibson's work and in looking at his work I decided that I just had to have a Leica RF. What I discovered was that what I really needed was Tri-X and Rodinal!

    Bob H
     
  4. fixbones

    fixbones Member

    Messages:
    11
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, reason i asked is because i have been reading about rangefinders and found the design of the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm f1.5 creates a particularly pleasing B & W image akin to the photojournalistic image taken in the 50s 60s perhaps.

    i am aware that single coated lenses provides a better tone for B & W image but slightly less contrast. However, most nikon lenses are multicoated no?

    Also, i raised this question because rangefinder shooters seems to discuss a bit about lenses and their effects in B & W. So was just wondering if the same exists for 35mm SLRs.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,744
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bob,

    This is a great point.

    I remember the seventies when I got my first "real" camera, a Canon AE1. I remember thinking "If I just had a Nikon", silly me.

    When I look for ideas on Flickr I'll search by Leica, Bessa, FM2, Rodinal, xtol and other terms that indicate "someone who cared" was the shooter.

    If I see something fun I try the easy stuff, film etcetera, and generally find that I'm close with out buying new lenses or a new system.
     
  6. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    OK - I get you. It's the retro look that you want to recreate. I'm pretty sure that there aren't any Nikon SLR lenses that are single coated. I'm not sure that I'd agree that single coated lenses provide a better tone for B&W - they're far more prone to flair and hence reduced contrast and when I think of the old PJ images I think high contrast and punch - something the single coatings are not as good at.

    Make sure you're thinking of 35mm images too. In the fifties and into the sixties a lot of photojournalism was done with 4x5 speed graphics and the smooth tonal "flow" you get from a 4x5 can't be recreated in 35mm. One of my favorite "street shooting" rigs is an old FE with the 35mm f2.8. It's multicoated though - but I love it with Tri-X and Rodinal. I've also started using a new 17-35 AF on that same body which looks promising.

    You may well be right, the current, or even available range of SLR lenses won't give you the look you're after.

    Bob H

    P.S. - this was a response to fishbones - mark posted while I was "pondering" Just FYI
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 5, 2009
  7. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

    Messages:
    1,067
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Location:
    Long Island,
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Yeah, kind of like "it's not the car - it's the nut behind the wheel"!!

    We're all informed by the work of others and some people just get a "feel" in their work that attracts us. There's a natural tendency to assume it's in the taking equipment, but more often than not it's the technique they use with their materials.

    Bob H
     
  8. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

    Messages:
    1,504
    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2005
    Location:
    Westminster,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Japanese lenses tend to be better tuned for color, in my opinion, and the German optics by Leica tend to be better for B&W. Leica glass has a way of rendering contrast better than the 'Rosy' character I find in Nikkor lenses.

    That said, I never hesitate shooting B&W with any Nikkor lens. But when I compare a B&W image from the Nikkor to my Leica rangefinder images, I prefer the was the Leica lens creates a distinct contrast look.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,462
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    North East U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nikon SLR lenses from before sometime in the mid to late 70's, perhaps early 80's will not be multicoated. Probably someone here can quote or point you to the exact dates. If you're using a recent body, however, it will need to support stopdown metering, or you will need to use a hand-held meter. Most of those lenses are from prior to the Auto Indexing (AI) system.

    That magic look you may be searching for comes from more than just the lens contrast, it's really a matter of the entire character of the lens, not to mention the film. One advantage that rangfinder shooters have is that you can take a brand-new Bessa, and put a Germain optic from the 30's on it, for example, and have a much more direct path to that look.

    Not something that's very feasible with any SLR.
     
  10. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Regina, SK,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are lots of single-coated lenses, but they are all pre-about 1975. The way to identify them is that they will be labelled NIKKOR-x where x is a single or pair of letters. e.g. the single-coated 50/2 is labelled NIKKOR-H.

    Exception: if the lens is labelled NIKKOR-xC then it is multicoated. The 50/2 multicoated lens, before 1977, is labelled Nikkor-HC.

    These are all non-AI lenses. Some may have been converted to AI (and all of the rest can be, if you like). So ensure that if you get one of these, that it's AI-converted, or that your body can take non-AI lenses. (Some post-1977 bodies can take them, but you have to flip the meter coupling tab out of the way to avoid damaging it.)
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Check out the Zeiss ZF lenses for Nikon F mount if you want more contrast. As others have mentioned, there is a vast repertoire of ordinary Nikon F lenses that work very well for b&w.
     
  12. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,470
    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Montgomery,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I believe what you're referring to are some of the Cosina lenses where you have a choice of single or multi-coating. Many folks find the single coated lenses more pleasing for B&W. Also many of the older lenses were uncoated too.
    The older Nikon lenses were single coated, newer ones MC.
    If you're not sure look at the reflections in the lens, if they're all one color they're single coated and if several colors multicoated.
     
  13. Steve Bellayr

    Steve Bellayr Member

    Messages:
    106
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I have a Zeiss Sonnar 1.5/50mm. It is outstanding in black and white. I highly recommend that lens. There has been some discussion concerning that lens at miniumum focal distance but how ofter are you at minimum focal distance at f1.5? Mostly I am at narrower f-stops. When I am at f1.4 & f2.0 I am not at minimum focus distance. With ASA 400 B&W the range is terrific. I shot it with ASA 1600 again excellent results.
     
  14. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    "I was just wondering if there are any particular nikon mount lenses for SLRs that works particularly well with B & W film photography?"

    Lenses that are used by particularly good black and white photographers seem to work best.

    "It seems that with the rangefinders, there are lenses that works better with B & W imagery."

    There are no such things.
     
  15. nicefor88

    nicefor88 Member

    Messages:
    249
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2009
    Location:
    Bruxelles, B
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi,

    My Nikkor 50 f1,4 from 1972 gives excellent results. Actually, it is very hard to tell the difference in terms of sharpness with my Summicron (Leica). This is quite puzzling as leica prices are outrageous... I would never give up that old lens.

    A previous comment about coatings was very true. Multi-coated lens appeared in the 1960s-1970s (depending on the make) because color photography bacame widespread then. All quality lenses will give good results in B/W, paper has its importance for sure.

    :smile: