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.
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.
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.
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 lens_hacker; 11-09-2007 at 07:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
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.
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.