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Printing Nikkor vs Schneider Macro Varon?
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Davids



Joined: 31 Jan 2016
Posts: 142

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:05 pm    Post subject: Printing Nikkor vs Schneider Macro Varon? Reply with quote

Does anyone have experience with both of these lenses? I realize that the printing nikkors come in different focal lengths but am curious how they compare to a macro varon from .5x-1.5x .

Thanks!

David
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ray_parkhurst



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
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Location: Santa Clara, CA, USA

PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just recently purchased a 85mm Macro-Varon, and own both 105mm and 95mm Printing-Nikkors, but have not made any tests yet comparing them. I plan the tests but so far other priorities have stood in the way. Maybe will test them head to head within the next couple weeks.

A more true comparison may be the 150mm Printing-Nikkor, older version, with magnification optimization adjustment ring like the Macro-Varon, but I don't own one of these. I can say that in my limited testing so far, the mag adustment on the Macro-Varon does indeed have a strong effect in optimizing the lens, primarily for coverage. It seems quite sensitive to the adjustment.
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nathanm



Joined: 02 Jun 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The printing nikkor 105mm A version that I have is awesome within the range of magnification I use it at (roughly 0.75X to 1.5X)

... alas I don't have experience with the Macro-Varon.
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nathanm



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just curious - what does the macro varon cost? The web sites that I have seen are all of the "price on request" variety.

The specs seem quite spectacular https://www.schneideroptics.com/pdfs/industrial/MacroVaron%20Brochure.pdf.

Also, it seems that Schneider- Kreuznach also has a set of other lenses that are designed for 16K line scan sensors for machine vision. These have a range of focal lengths including the 50mm Micro-Symmar, and the 96mm or 97mm Xenon-Sapphire. Anybody know about these lenses?

While I still love the printing nikkor, the idea that there are modern lenses made for industrial purposes that might beat it is plausible. The macro varon sales literature claims it has a "continuous aberration suppression" system. One certainly should be able to design and manufacture better lenses today than in the 1960s-1970s when many of the greatest macro lenses seem to have been made.

I use a large sensor (PhaseOne) which has a 67 mm diagonal. All of these industrial SK lenses seem to have a 62 mm image circle, which probably means they are not for me in any event - I would lose the corners. On the other hand that might be SK being conservative. The MTF is so ridiculously flat out to 62mm compared to most lenses that the corners might be better than most other choices.
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Davids



Joined: 31 Jan 2016
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nathan,
I received a quote today from a distributor of this lens -the price is just as spectacular as the specs - $4,241. Sigh.

I know that it was offered on ebay at one point by one of the members on this forum, but I have a feeling it will be hard to come by used.
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nathanm



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, the 120mm SK macro lens for phase one is $6500 and is nowhere near as good as this one. The 120mm P1 lens is autofocus, which is useful primarily because of the built in stacking feature in the phase one body. Which is handy when on location.

I would still think more than twice myself, first because of the image circle and the fact that I already have a printing nikkor that is great in this same range of magnification.
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Lou Jost



Joined: 04 Sep 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My concern would be the aperture. It is more than a stop smaller than that of the Printing Nikkor, which should be sharp wide open. If both lenses are diffraction-limited wide open (or at one stop down), then the resolution of the PN should be significantly higher than that of the Macro Varon. Of course that's a big "if" which needs to be checked in real life.
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Last edited by Lou Jost on Mon Mar 20, 2017 9:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2017 8:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know of two forum members who have both a Macro Varon and a Printing Nikkor. Hopefully, one or both will weigh in, if they've had a chance to do side-by-side comparisons.

Recently, I had a shot at Macro Varon. I passed because, like Nathan, I'm very pleased with my Printing Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 in this magnification range. And in the absence of empirical testing, did not care to chance the money that the Macro Varon was better. While testing a Printing Nikkor for a forum member, the quality of this optic was obvious. I quickly saw that I "needed" one of my own, and soon after, bought one. For whatever it's worth, my specimen at 1x is best stopped-down half a stop from wide open.

Of course, if the Macro Varon tests significantly better than a Printing Nikkor, I'll regret this decision.

--Chris S.
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ray_parkhurst



Joined: 20 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris S. wrote:
I know of two forum members who have both a Macro Varon and a Printing Nikkor. Hopefully, one or both will weigh in, if they've had a chance to do side-by-side comparisons.

Recently, I had a shot at Macro Varon. I passed because, like Nathan, I'm very pleased with my Printing Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 in this magnification range. And in the absence of empirical testing, did not care to chance the money that the Macro Varon was better. While testing a Printing Nikkor for a forum member, the quality of this optic was obvious. I quickly saw that I "needed" one of my own, and soon after, bought one. For whatever it's worth, my specimen at 1x is best stopped-down half a stop from wide open.

Of course, if the Macro Varon tests significantly better than a Printing Nikkor, I'll regret this decision.

--Chris S.


Both my 105PN and 95PN (both A versions) are at their best at f3.3, so the 85MV can't beat them for performance at their optimum magnifications. However, their performance falls off outside their narrow range of optimization, so if you are shooting at 0.7 or 1.4, perhaps the 85MV can have a shot at them. In fact, this is precisely why I bought mine, since I shoot Cents at M=0.7 on APS-C, and I was hoping for a lens that could be optimized at that magnification.
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nathanm



Joined: 02 Jun 2016
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use my pn 105 A at 3.3 because of your tests, and it is wonderful.

I am very curious about how the macro veron compares at 0.5, 0.7 etc, so I hope you get a chance to post your observations.
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nathanm



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I contacted SK and they told me that they thought the Macro Varon would cover the 67mm needed for my sensor. So I bought one (with 30 day return).

Oh my god is this an awesome lens!

It covers the PhaseOne sensor very well - even wide open at f/4.5 (wide open), and even at 0.5X.

The special thing about the lens is a ring called the beta ring which compensates for lens aberrations at a specific magnification. You dial the ring to any mag between 0.5X and 2X and it does the aberration correction. The ring is in 0.1 mag increments.

It works incredibly well. Here are crops from the corners (of PhaseOne frame) of a Thorlabs test target with white paper behind it.

Macro Varon at 0.5X f/4.5


Printing Nikkor 105A at 0.5X f/3.3


Macro Varon at 1X, f/4.5


Printing Nikkor 105A at 1X, f/3.3


Macro Varon at 1.5X f/4.5


Printing Nikkor 105A at 1.5X f/3.3


In all cases the f-stop is the lens setting - obviously effective f-number depends on mag. In all cases the shots were stacked with Zerene, PMAX.

I also tried a series of shots putting the beta ring at the WRONG position, and it certainly makes a difference.

Obviously the simple shots above are no substitute for Ray's awesome test suite, but it is enough for me to conclude that:

1. At the 1X sweet spot of the Printing Nikkor, the Macro Varon is as good or arguably better.

2. At 0.5X and 1.5X, there is no contest at all - the Macro Varon wins.

3. I am going to keep it! Yes it is expensive ($3850 as I recall) but for what I do it is worth it.

It might be the case that these results are biased by being at the corners of the frame - it's quite important for me, but with a FF or APS-C sensor the Printing Nikkor might hold its own a bit better.

The PN was intended to cover an image circle this big - the 105mm was made in part for copying movie film up to 70mm.

One awkward part is that for thick subjects with deep stacks the beta ring will need to be adjusted during the stack. I plan to do this with a stepper motor - a bit like follow focus. SK must have thought this might happen because the beta ring has an edge like a gear.

My guess is that for a subject like coins - i.e. the cents that Ray shoots at 0.7X mentioned above - one would not need to adjust the beta ring during a stack.
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ray_parkhurst



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice test report Nathan. I agree that the 85MV is an exceptional performer based on my testing so far, which has been too piecemeal to publish.

The 105PN performance is as expected, with coverage suffering at other than 1:1 at large apertures. In my tests I found the 85MV also suffers at the corners even for APS-C when the beta adjustment is not optimized, but that it is very flat and sharp when beta is correct. Only drawback I saw here is that the beta optimization seemed very sensitive. I would assume you saw this to an even greater extent with the large format imaging, correct?

This large format data is something I can't do so I'm very glad to see the results are good.

You made a statement about adjusting beta during a stack. I am curious why this would be required? Perhaps I don't understand the function of the adjustment.
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Lou Jost



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nathan, great test. What a difference! For your purposes the results are very clear.

You said "The PN was intended to cover an image circle this big - the 105mm was made in part for copying movie film up to 70mm." Are you sure about that? I had read that it was designed for copying 35mm film. I just now looked up the size of the image circle of its modern equivalent on the Nikon Rayfact site, and it gives 60mm as the image circle size, too small to copy 70mm film.

So for ordinary FF or smaller sensors, the PN may still win at 1:1 or thereabouts, as it should with that wider aperture. Hope someone can look at that...

Edit: The website with the Rayfact data is

https://www.daitron.co.jp/image/item/1946/1-en.pdf

Check out the 7x Rayfact---6 kilograms!!!!!
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Last edited by Lou Jost on Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:25 pm; edited 1 time in total
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nathanm



Joined: 02 Jun 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, the beta adjustment is pretty important. When it is off you get CA and fuzziness.

The SK manual suggests that for the intended machine vision applications of the MV you focus (maximizing contrast), then you adjust beta ring looking at the image also maximizing contrast.

The reason to adjust beta during a stack is that each shot is at a different magnification, because I stack by moving the sensor, at least in this magnification range.

This results in the least perspective distortion, and it allows making stitched panoramas. Another forum member (elf) uses a similar approach.

I routinely shoot images where range of magnifications is large. So, to get the high quality of the MV I need to change the ring during the stack.

But that does not look too hard. The SK documentation say that it was designed to be automated - which is why it has a gear on it. If I use a stepper motor with a rotary encoder and controller it will do closed loop control on getting it to the right place. It appears that there is about 270 degrees of travel for the full range of the MV beta ring. Since we wrote the software for moving the sensor (on a linear stage) we know the exact magnification for each frame, and it should be pretty easy to calculate the necessary gear position.

When I shoot stacks at higher mag - say with Mitutoyo objectives and a tube lens - I move the objective, lens and sensor as a unit. This is what Rik calls stacking "by rail" on the Zerene web site. If you do that with the MV, then you would not need to change the beta ring, but you would need to be accurate about where to set it over all.
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nathanm



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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Enrico Savazzi's web site has a PDF of an original Printing Nikkor brochure http://savazzi.net/download/manuals/Printing-Nikkor.pdf.

On the first page after the cover there is a table saying that the 105mm is the choice for copying 70mm film to 70mm film.

On the next page are detailed specs - it says that the 105mm is usable from 0.75X to 1.5X.

It also says that the lens has a 54mm image circle, which is quite a bit less than the 67mm diagonal that I am using.

However the 54mm circle is confusing because Wikipedia claims that standard 70mm movie film has a frame size of 52.63 mm x 23.01 mm which has a diagonal of 57.44 mm. So I am not sure where 54mm comes from.

My frame on the PhaseOne is 53.7mm x 40.4mm, so very close to the same width as 70mm movie film, but much taller.

Regardless of that, you are right that the situation may be better near the center than my tests.
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