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Author Topic: The Printing Nikkors Compared  (Read 4025 times)

Michael Erlewine

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The Printing Nikkors Compared
« on: March 25, 2018, 05:01:34 am »

Iím sure this will interest few, but any is better than none. If we are looking into apochromatic (APO) lenses, then the Printing Nikkors canít be avoided as candidates because they were designed to copy motion-picture film at the highest resolutions. To do this, they had to be highly corrected or our movies would all be fringe-tainted. We canít have that.

These are largish, somewhat heavy (the 150mm), lenses that require special mounts, which are not too hard to find. Yes, these lenses are a pain in many ways, but they produce great photos, some of the best if you are looking for lenses that have really been corrected. The term APO is not a standard and has been used to label lenses that are hardly apochromatic, but the Printing Nikkors are highly corrected and they are expensive too!

One problem with obtaining the Printing Nikkors is their prices, which have been coming down as film companies abandon them in favor of all-digital projection. Still, they are said to have originally cost something like $12,000 apiece, so I have been told. Today, they sell on Ebay for much less, but still enough for my pocketbook. Anyway, we might want to know which of the Printing Nikkors (there are at least five varieties) does the most for us, so to speak, if we only buy one.

Thanks to the website CoinImaging.com, the coin-photo folks have been kind enough to compare some of these lenses and graph out the results. What I present here are some of those graphs and results, for which I thank them very much! I failed to find the name of whoever is doing all this testing, but I thank him or her. This site uses IMATEST to test out lenses, which gives us a base.

I am not going to spend time here on the history of the Printing Nikkors or their resale value, etc. You can find that on the web, if you look hard. The point of this article is to drill down on which of these lenses does what and the enclosed graphs will very much help with that. If you donít like reading graphs, here is a shortcut to the best of the points, but you really have to study the graphs. This is just the tip of the top, so to speak, a generalization.

Compared here are:

Printing Nikkor 95mm f/2.8
Printing Nikkor 105mm f/2.8
Printing Nikkor 150mm f/2.8 (150-1)
Printing Nikkor 150mm f/2.8 (150-2) [later]

[There is a 75mm Printing Nikkor, but I have never seen one, even for sale. And there is a 3rd version of the Printing Nikkor 150mm, but I donít have one, but it is a later version and I am told is similar to the later version of the 150mm, titled here ď150mm-2.Ē

QUICK RESULTS

Chromatic Aberration vs. Aperture
Note: All good, minimal, aberration, but the 95mm PN is best.

Chromatic Aberration vs. Magnification
Note: 95mm best at 0.5, 105mm best at 0.75-1.50
150-1 not so good.

Corner Resolution vs. Aperture
Note: All very good, but 95mm is outstanding.

Corner Resolution vs. Magnification
All fairly good, but the 95mm is outstanding at about 0.50

Corner Sharpness vs. Aperture
Note: All very good, but the 105 is best.

Corner Sharpness vs. Magnification
Note: The 95mm best at 0.50, but the 105mm best at around 1.0 to 1.25.

Resolving Power vs. Magnification
Note: The 150-2 mm is way better than the rest at 0.50.

Resolution vs. Aperture
Note: All good, but the 95mm is best.

Resolution vs. Effective Aperture
Note: The 150-1 is the best at f/5 to f/8. Rest also very good, with the 150-2mm only good at around f/5.6.

Resolution vs. Magnification
Note: All pretty good, but the 150-1mm is the best of the lot from 0.50 to beyond 1.5.

Sharpness vs. Aperture
Note: The 95mm is hands-down the best. All pretty good, with the 105mm the worst.

Sharpness vs. Effective Aperture
Note: All good within a particular range, with the 150-1mm the best of the lot from f/5 to f/8.

Sharpness vs. Magnification
Note: All good within their best range, but the 150-1mm the best of the lot from 0.50 through 1.25.

Working Distance and Magnification
Note: The 150.1 is the best of the lot.

TOTALS of ďBestsĒ
 
095mm = 7
150-1mm = 5
105mm = 3
150-2= 1

What this says is the 95mm is the best as an ďall-aroundĒ lens, followed by the 150-1mm. Of course, this could depend on what you are doing. For example, the 150-1mm is best for close-up work, but the 150-2 is best for macro, etc.

I hope this interests at least one other person! LOL.
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Re: The Printing Nikkors Compared
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2018, 05:48:40 am »

In working distance vs magnification, what would be considered optimal and why?
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degrub

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Re: The Printing Nikkors Compared
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2018, 09:04:32 am »

Michael,

I don't understand the conclusion on chromatic aberration versus magnification. The graph makes it appear that the 150-1 is best.

Frank
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Michael Erlewine

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Re: The Printing Nikkors Compared
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2018, 09:38:19 am »

Michael,

I don't understand the conclusion on chromatic aberration versus magnification. The graph makes it appear that the 150-1 is best.

Frank

It does indeed. I didn't make the tests. They all have very low CA. The first PN150 seems to have less than the others. That's how I understand it. I have four of these Printing Nikkors and they all are very highly corrected, but some are better than others for a specific purpose. For instance, the PN 150-1 is better for close up than the PN 150-2, which is better for macro. That idea.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2018, 02:22:07 am by Michael Erlewine »
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BernardLanguillier

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Re: The Printing Nikkors Compared
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2018, 11:59:15 pm »

Thanks Michael.

This also gives an interesting view of the depth and breadth if lens design expertize within Nikon.

Cheers,
Bernard

JSager

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Re: The Printing Nikkors Compared
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2019, 05:09:58 pm »

There is some confusion around the various 150mm Printing Nikkors. There are at least 3 versions that I have personally owned. A 150mm 1/4-4X version (30mm IC at 1X), a 150mm 1X version (30mm IC at 1X) and the "newest" a 150mm 1X version (88mm IC at 1X).

The one tested on coinimaging is not the same as the one that you own Michael. It's an intermediate model that spec wise is closer to the earlier 150mm 1/4-4X version but fixed at 1X. It has a 30mm image circle. I owned one briefly and sold it.

At the moment I own both the original 150mm Printing-Nikkor 1/4-4X and the newest 150mm 1X (w/ 88mm IC). I've personally confirmed with Fotokem that IMAX film for Dunkirk was printed on the newest 150mm Printing-Nikkor.

There is very little information about the newest 150mm Printing-Nikkor available. Michael and I are the only photographers that I know of that own one, the rest are probably still in film printing labs. It would seem they were only made for a brief time in the 1990's.
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