Nikon F mount (35mm) 50mm vs 55mm Macro for belows work?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Kino, Nov 8, 2007.

  1. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Hey all,

    For a number of reasons, I am going outside my normal system (Minolta) to purchase a Nikon system bellows and prime lens for macro work (1:1 or larger).

    Is there any advantage to buying the 55mm macro over a standard 50mm prime when being used on the bellows?

    I will be shooting frames from Super 8mm, Regular 8mm and 16mm film prints, color and b&w.

    Any opinions, or rather, what's your opinion?

    Camera body will be whatever cheap, manual Nikon body I can find to dedicate to the copy stand...

    (opinions, on APUG?)

    :D

    Frank
     
  2. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    In your shoes and assuming that you will be enlarging your copy negs I would go for the 55 as its supposed to be better for shooting flat stuff - better sharpness at the edges and corners. If you were shooting bugs and flowers and other 3D subjects you probably wouldn't know the difference.
     
  3. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Interesting. For flat stuff and greater than 1:1 reproduction, why not an enlarging lens mounted to the bellows? That would seem to be perfect for the job, and you can certainly hunt up a 39mm to Nikon F mount adapter somewhere.
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I have an old reflex focusing bellows (marked "Made in West-Berlin USA-Sektor Germany") that mounts to Leica thread mount bodies and takes Leica thread mount lenses, AKA the standard 39mm enlarger thread mount. I have a number of 39mm mount enlarging lenses from 40mm up to 150mm that I've used on it with very good results, plus a couple of older 39mm mount "heads" of 135mm rangefinder lenses unscrewed from focusing barrels. The enlarging lenses do a fine job... you're working within their design parameters.

    Lee
     
  5. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Hmm. So you're going to be shooting above 1:1. Hmm.

    Do you know that the 55/2.8 MicroNikkor AI/AIS is diffraction limited at and near the center of the frame at f/4? Well, it is. For what you want to do, if you can manage to get the extension needed there's nothing better than a reversed 55/2.8 MicroNikkor AI/AIS.

    Don't screw around with enlarging lenses, they're not as good. At the magnifications you need image quality at the edge of the frame is irrelevant.

    And don't bother shopping for a female M39-to-male Nikon F adapter, odds are it will cost more than a used 55/2.8 in good order.
     
  6. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I misread the "1:1 or larger", thinking you meant larger field rather than greater magnification. Dan is correct about reversed lenses in that case.

    You might also want to try stacking lenses, reversing one in front of the other with a double-threaded filter ring, although this is obviously an unmatched system and results are luck of the draw, and you have to watch for vignetting.

    There are also true macro lenses made for higher magnification and bellows mounting, but these aren't common and I have no clue about used prices. For a quick reference on how these appear look at http://www.macrolenses.de/objektive.php?lang&PHPSESSID=2fc30edf5f525d0608af26e989bd66b9

    Some people recommend using reversed C and D mount cine lenses for 8 and 16 mm movie cameras, but I don't have any experience with the results from that. I think you'd probably have a couple of those around to try given what I recall of your profession.

    Lee
     
  7. dslater

    dslater Member

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    I would definitely go with the Micro-Nikkor over the standard prime lens. Dan's right about the 55mm f/2.8. You can also get the older 55mm f/3.5 for even less money. There's an older Non-AI version of the 55mm - the 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor Auto - this lens is optimized for close-up work but doesn't perform as well at infinity. I picked mine up for $65.00. If you're interested, Here's some more info:

    http://www.naturfotograf.com/lens_spec.html

    Good luck with your project.
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Within the constraints the OP has imposed on himself, nothing beats the 55/2.8. In fact at f/4 my 55/2.8 is very competitive with my 63/4.5 Luminar at f/4.5. That said, I'm surprised that he saddled himself with another system.

    Stacking lenses gives fixed magnification. IIRC, focal length of rear lens/focal length of front lens. The OP needs variable magnification to deal with all of the formats he wants to copy from.

    I don't think the OP needs enough magnification to justify using a reversed cine lens.
     
  9. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Thank you all; you have given me a lot of great information.

    I have used a Rodenstock Enlarging lens with a bellows unit in the past on a 1:1 project and it worked out fine, but it tended to fall apart when I pushed in for higher magnifications.

    I REALLY would like a 105mm Printing Nikkor like we used to use on our motion picture optical printers, but the closest I can find at the moment is 1 150mm Printing Nikkor on FeeBay and starts at $1K bid with a buy it now $4K; my project can't justify that!

    Again, thanks to all.

    Frank
     
  10. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    If I already had a body and bellows, this old cheapskate might epoxy the rear mount from a junk-box extender to a 52mm filter (less glass) so that a reverse mounted Micro-Nikkor could be used on an existing system. Off-the-shelf Nikon components let you do the same without such effort. The Nikon Bellows PB-4, PB-5, or PB-6 let you focus by moving lens, body, or both together.
     
  11. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Good idea, Jim! Might give that a whirl...
     
  12. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Frank, a real metal reversing ring (you want male 52 mm-to-male Nikon F bayonet) is not very expensive and more secure. Nikon's own are BR-2 and BR-2A.

    What have you bought so far?
     
  13. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Hi Dan,
    Bjørn Rørslett seems to rate the 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor Auto a little better than the 55mm f/2.8 - though it is hard to tell from his review if that's due to an optical difference or because of the mechanical difficulties he ran into with the f/2.8.
    Dan
     
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  15. Kino

    Kino Member

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    Nothing; I was posting this in between doing several thing - I need to stop and give it some real thought -- just responding off the top of my head.

    Sorry for the confusion!
     
  16. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Well, if you haven't bought any Nikon gear and are invested in MD mount, why not get a Minolta macro lens? I know what the 55/2.8 MicroNikkor will do because I've tested, have no idea about the equivalent MD mount lens. But I doubt that Minolta would be far behind Nikon.

    Dan S., I haven't tried a 55/3.5 reversed, although I could since my wife has one. But I do know that the 55/2.8 will do what's needed and doubt the f/3.5 is interestingly better.

    Interesting fact about the 55/3.5 MicroNikkor. Modern Photography never published a test of one. Two possible explanations, they never tried one or they did and it flunked. Remember that they chose not to publish tests of lenses than failed test. Years ago, but after MP had folded, I ran into Norman Rothschild and asked him why MP hadn't published a test of the 55/3.5. He told me that they'd tested several versions and than none was good enough at infinity at at least one marked aperture to pass.
     
  17. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    The 55mm F3.5 is optimized for 1:10 reproduction; the 55/2.8 has a floating element. I have those two, and the 60mm F2.8. The 55/3.5 is listed as being "even better" reversed on the bellows, suitable for objects from 14mm x 22mm to 6mm x 9mm.

    For your work, reversing the lenses is worthwhile. Using "retro-Focus" lenses in reversed mode is also a thought. The 24mm F2.8 is excellent in reversed mode. In reverse mode on a PB-4 or PB-5 bellows, it is listed as suitable for 5mm x 8mm to 2mm x 3mm. Optimum performance in reversed mode is F8.

    I neat trick that a friend of mine used is to use an E2 ring in reversed mode to operate the aperture for focussing.

    Data from the Nikon/Nikkormat Handbook by Joseph Cooper. This book lists repro tables and authors comments.

    K series rings, Reverse rings, and E2 rings are common. The L-> F adapter is "uncommon" but is really nice...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 9, 2007
  18. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    My personal experience with the Rokkor X 50mm Macro was awful. It may have just been that individual lens but it was horrible. Also, though it irked them to use their competitor's product, the Forox Camera at Minolta HQ used the standard Micro Nikkor 55mm although I was told anecdotally that they had tried to use the Minolta equivalent for a while. Not exactly sure of why they went back to using the Nikkor.

    I've shot miles of film in Forox and Oxberry cameras using the Micro Nikkor and consider it a professional standard for flat art and dupe work.
     
  19. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Frank, look for an old FM body. Cheap, rugged, homely, built in light meter and oh yes, very cheap now on the used market. Wonderful camera. Best, tim
     
  20. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    The only downside with the original FM for extreme close-up work is the inability to put in different focus screens. The split image can black-out as you focus very close. An E-Screen or B-Screen are worth looking at. An FM-2 has interchangeable screens.
     
  21. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I use the Nikon 55mm f/3.5 macro lens when I need to focus from infinity to a reproduction ratio of 1:1 with an extension tube. When I need reproduction ratios between 1:1 and 4:1, I attach this lens to a bellows unit.

    I use the Nikon 28mm f/3.5 in reverse position on bellows and/or extension tubes when I need 4:1 to 12:1 reproduction ratios.
     
  22. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    I use the 55mm f3.5 Nikkor with M2 extension tube to shoot up to 1:1. I prefer a B screen with either the F or F2.
     
  23. ITD

    ITD Subscriber

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    I have the 55mm f/3.5. Used with bellows without reversing it can be tricky, since the front element of the lens is recessed by about 3cm. Some of the enlargement ranges with the Nikon bellows that I have therefore require a distance from subject to the end of the lens barrel of only 1.5cm - doesn't leave a lot of space to get any light in.
     
  24. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Don't you just love thread drift? The original poster asked a question that few of the responses bear on.
     
  25. dslater

    dslater Member

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    true - but I think he question was answered - i.e. the 55 macro is better for his application than a standard 50mm

    Dan
     
  26. ITD

    ITD Subscriber

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    I think that if every response stuck rigidly to the OP's questions, then there would be far less to learn from them. In this case I think the OP's question was answered a while back - for my part I posted because nobody had mentioned a limitation that I'd encountered with the favoured option.