Need technical Nikon lens for scientific use
I am looking for a 35mm format Nikon lens, preferably manual focus. A search of the archives uncovered several candidates, but, perhaps, a better option may be suggested. This is to be used for primarily technical/scientific purposes and not general picture taking or photography, so the exact focal length (35-50-85-105mm all fine) does not matter as long as the following criteria are met:
1. reasonably sharp, but, importantly, uniformly sharp over the entire
negative, including edges and no softness in the corners;
2. can be a slow lens, but must have zero shape distortions of any kind,
including no distortions around the edges;
3. has to have at least one aperture that has zero light fall off or vignetting,
and this aperture does not have to be fast;
4. must maintain these properties when focused at oo through 1 or 2 meters,
with close focusing a plus, but, not an absolute requirement;
5. must maintain these properties when used with either B&W or slide film;
6. must be durable enough to survive time lapse photography, i.e. hundreds
of continuous aperture activations at 3.5 fps with no focus creep or
unexplained image quality variance from picture or picture;
7. must be reasonably available, i.e., not one-off ancient museum glass, and
compatible with AI or AIS (better) mount.
Get a Nikkor 60mm macro (Nikon for some reason calls them 'Micro') lenses.
Turn off auto-focus and tape lens so focus can't move.
Why not an enlarging lens or a process lens?
Per Nikon's propaganda, the 105/5.6 El Nikkor is optimized for 2x - 10x enlargements (as a taking lens, at magnifications from 1:2 to 1:10) and on 35 mm film will give no distortion, is apochromatic, and should suffer minimal vignetting. Manual aperture, so no issues with framing rate. But probably not the best taking lens at infinity. Rodenstock offers Rodagon-G enlarging lenses that would be better for use at infinity.
Process lenses, e.g., Apo-Nikkor, Apo-Ronar, Apo-Artar, Apo-Saphir, have very low distortion, are highly corrected for color, are very sharp, and most work well at all distances. The ones I named are used by demanding large format photographers at all distances. In most lines the shortest is 150/9 or f/10 but if you need 135 mm or even 100 mm those Apo Saphirs will cover 35 mm. Manual apertures, again. Of these lenses, only Apo-Saphirs are hard to find.
It is possible to make a lens with absolutely no, even less than no, falloff of illumination off-axis, but most readily available lenses lose illumination as cos^4(theta). The longer the lens, relative to the format covered, the smaller theta. If that's what you mean by vignetting, you want the longest lens you can use.
If you want good performance at distance, an Apo-Nikkor or Apo-Ronar will do you very well.
About fitting a Nikon body. Why do you insist on AI or later mount? Adapters from, e.g., M39x1 to Nikon F exist but are scarce. They can, though, be cobbled up, and www.skgrimes.com are fine cobblers. If the lens is long enough -- why are you willing to use such a wide range of focal lengths? -- using a bellows for focusing is a viable option.
About framing rate concerns. Silly. The diaphragm actuation linkage can always be disconnected. Nikon and Canon lenses made for 35 mm SLRs are used by "Hollywood;" as adapted to cine cameras have manual diaphragms.
Finally, what are you trying to accomplish? Not to be impolite, but your requirements read like something dreamed up by a physicist that thinks it has unlimited funding. In other words, its a pretty silly wish list.
You could look around for a used 55 or 105 micro nikkor, 70's or 80's vintage. I have a 105, and I think it satisfies your requirements. They have extended helical focusing mechanisms to allow up to 1:1, I believe. (It's been a while since I used mine for close up.) I bought mine used and never had the instructions, so I am not that knowledgable about this function. As I recall, metering is a bit more complicated when used this close, but it is a very good lens.
Back in the 70's, working in the Collins Radio Microelectronic lab,
we used the 105mm Micro-Nikor lens for reducing the masks for the
micro- circuit chips. Seemed to work very well for that application.
It also made me a Nikon user.
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