This is a test of the 55/3.5 Micro Nikkor P. It's from the April 1972 Modern Photography. Over the years I have seen many tests of the 55/2.8 AIS.
One of the odd things about lens testing is that the standards of different testers are not identical. Different contrast levels will produce different resolution results from the same lens. Different testers use different magnification levels. When testing with film there are other factors. Years ago one magazine did the test shots on Panatomic-X and then examined the negatives with an Olympus Vanox microscope. High Contrast Copy (5069) was also used. Today I would use either Technical Pan or Imagelink HQ for 35mm stock. The fact that Technidol is no longer sold is not a big problem. There are many good substitutes. The 1:2 test results for the 55/2.8 are probably more impressive than the 1:49 results. Many standard non-macro lenses give excellent results at 1:49 but even macro lenses show much lower resolution numbers when you get down as far as 1:2. I have certain lenses which are optimized for specific ranges of magnification like the 12CM f/5.6 Macro Nikkor (for the Multiphot) or the 12.5/2 and 25/2.5 Minolta RMS mount bellows Rokkors. These lenses do not have either helical mounts or auto diaphragms so they are not as flexible for use "in the field" as a 55/2.8 AIS.
Other tests of the 55/2.8 AIS: http://coinimaging.com/nikon_55microais.html and http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showp...ct/1403/cat/12 and http://www.pixel-peeper.com/lenses/?lens=161
A more recent headache in reviewing these lenses is that today they are often judged by how well they work with digital cameras. They were originally designed for use with film.
One of the interesting things about a lens tester, MP for example, is that its test methods and standards of acceptable performance change over time. This makes comparisons of tests from different eras risky.
When I was in my macro lens phase I acquired (purchased, borrowed) a number of good macro lenses and tested 'em at a variety of magnifications. Centrally, a reversed 55/2.8 MicroNikkor AIS shot at f/4 beat two 63/4.5 Luminars shot wide open from 2:1 to 6:1, was roughly tied with two 40/4.5 Luminars around 6:1 and was a hair worse than one 45/4.5 CZJ Mikrotar and better than another. Had I known this going in I could have avoided some expense and work.
The Luminars lost resolution when stopped down from wide open. The reversed MicroNikkor lost resolution when stopped down below f/4. I mentioned all this to Brian Caldwell, who remarked that the MicroNikkor is diffraction limited centrally at f/4. The circle that's diffraction limited grows on stopping down farther.
I think there's a curse on 45/4.5 Mikrotars, back then Marc Small had one that wouldn't focus; turns out one of the lens elements was missing. Mine was markedly better than Charlie Barringer's. Used lenses ...
dynachrome's point about optimizations for ranges is dead on. The literature says it too, I saw it in my testing.
Last edited by Dan Fromm; 11-19-2013 at 09:04 PM. Click to view previous post history.
I'd like to add 2¢ about the "K" lenses
"K" Nikkors are generally referred to informally as there is nothing on any Nikkor lens to designate it as such....
"K" stands for COSMETIC, in my mind, referring to the black barrels rather than silver ones, and rubberized focusing barrels...
Some people refer to lenses with the black barrel AND SCALLOPED METAL focusing ring as "K" lenses, but I don't...
Some "K" lenses would retain the optical design of the previous version....e.g. the 50mm F2......though would get new coatings (in some cases being redesignated as such with a "C" after the letter designating the number of elements...)
Some "K" lenses would temporarily retain the optical design of the previous version before being replaced by a new optical design with the same specifications...the 135/2.8 Q became a Q.C (multicoated) before and AFTER getting the "K" treatment and prior to getting the optical upgrade IN "K" cosmetics as the new compact 135/2.8 "K" whose mount was NOT initially redesigned and designated as an AI/AIS lens, but would later become redesigned and so designated...The 105/2.5-P went through a series of similar upgrades/revisions, including the scalloped metal focusing barrel version.
Some lenses got the "K" treatment cosmetically before being discontinued/replaced by another "K" lens of the same FL but different aperture and mount with the AI/AIS designation...85/1.8-H became the 85/1.8 H.C and then got "K'd" (with an optional AI aperture ring) before it was replaced by the 85/2AIS
[AI/AIS lenses refer to the aperture rings, mounts, and speed indexing posts required by some F bodies, but not to the optics...some lenses were available with an optional factory AI aperture ring to allow mounting on bodies required a notch in the ring, but were not available with revised mount options]
...and still other "K" lenses retained the same FL/aperture designation when they got the cosmetic 'upgrade' along with a new OPTICAL formula of later AI or AIS mount lenses...an optical design that would be redesigned optically yet again after getting the "K" treatment...the 300/4.5-H became the 300/4.5-AI before getting a new optical formula with ED elements.... the 180/2.8 went through similar cosmetic and optical upgrades...
Last edited by kitanikon; 11-25-2013 at 12:18 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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If I can remember all of my K lenses they are: 28/3.5, 35/2.8, 50/2, 55/3.5, 50/1.4 1st Version, 50/1.4 2nd Version, 105/2.5, 135/2.8 1st Version, 200/4. In some cases I have more than one of each. The first 50/1.4 K may be my favorite of all the Ks. If you do not examine a lens closely it can be a K with a factory AI ring and be mistaken for an AI. The 35/2.8 K and early 35/2.8 AI have the 6 element/6 group formula and are very good. The first 50/1.4 K is probably sharper close down but not quite as sharp at or near wide open when compared to the second 50/1.4 K. I might also have a 135/3.5 K. The 28/3.5 K is a decent lens but not as good as the 28/3.5 AI with the larger rear element. I also like the C lenses. They make the most of the older formulas and more sturdy all metal outside construction.
The other thing of note re: the early K-version 50/1.4 versus the compact K version, is that it seems the compact lens has a little more contrast. It is sharper wide-open than the earlier version. One odd thing I've noticed with the 50/1.4 lenses, is that the F version (the one marked "NIKKOR-S") seems to have the same contrast as the compact lens, albeit with the soft focus effect wide-open. The C version (NIKKOR-S.C), however, tends to be a little less contrasty in situations.
Right now, I only have one K-version Nikkor. The 85/1.8. Has the factory AI ring on it, so it's what KEH calls an 85/1.8 AI. A misnomer, of course, since said lens doesn't have the lens speed sensing tab that all AI and newer Nikkors with an aperture ring have on them.
APUG: F4, F2AS, F, Nikomat FTn
Nikkors: 18-70/3.5-4.5G AF-S DX (f/D200), 24/2.8 AI, 50/1.4 AI, 85/1.8 K, 180/2.8 ED AIS, 300/4.5 ED AI
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