lens tests 105 VR, 85 PC on max bellows

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PaulFurman
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lens tests 105 VR, 85 PC on max bellows

Post by PaulFurman »

Edit: I added a quick test of the 105 at the same magnification of 2.5x. Apparently something went wrong, the lighting changed but still... The f/5.6 stopped down version may be closer to f/8, adjusting a G lens without an aperture ring is a guess.

Conclusion: the 105/2.8 VR Nikkor stinks, at least with excessive bellows extension. Test shots on the 105 are at 4x with about 250mm of extension, which to be fair is 4x what it was designed for. The competitor is a 85mm f/2.8 PC Micro-Nikkor, which is only designed for 1/2x and while it's a top of the line deluxe lens, it's also a medium format sized piece of glass designed for tilt/shift. This is not the newest version, I got it used for nearly half the price of that one. The contrast & colors are so rich, I love it, but still, not really designed for this much magnification. I had it mounted backwards because it gives a good bit more magnification (2.5x), considerably less than the 105 at 4x but still. Well, also the 105 has a very exposed front element and the 85 is deeply recessed at both ends, and somewhat shorter. Then I threw in an 80mm f/5.6 El-Nikkor at the same 2.5x magnification as the 85.

These are stacked from about a dozen frames each, some variation there.

Full Frame:

105 VR at f/5.6 (4x)
Image

85 PC at f/5.6 (2.5x)
Image

Full Crops (read header bar from PS for details):

105 at 4x
Image

105 at 4x
Image

105 at 2.5x
Image

85 & 80 at 2.5x
Image

PaulFurman
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Post by PaulFurman »

Update: I added a fair comparison at the same ratio. Basically the conclusion is regular macro lenses are only good to maybe 2x. More extension seems a good way of checking the center resolution of a lens, or maybe the whole thing wide open, to some extent. But it's clear that I'm beyond the lens' potential on all of these. Wasting pixels. There is occasionally a little bit of detail to be gleaned by oversampling but probably not worth the trouble versus cropping.

One macro lens I'm looking at is a Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 APO Lanthar. It's a discontinued 1990's Cosina/Zeiss offshoot.The 125mm f/2.5 is a cult lens now at $1300 but the 90/3.5 is available from $370 in screw mount. I don't know if the Nikon mount version actually has aperture control. Only one I could find with Nikon mount & a scratched rear element for almost twice that, no thanks. Photosone.de's tests show it as extremely sharp wide open in the center. The corners are darn good too, it's nearly flawless with negligible CA, lateral and longitudinal, except for a tendency for purple fringing, which the 125/2.5 lacks.

Even so, I doubt any ordinary 35mm macro lens can be worth all the pixels at much more than 2x. I've got another copy of the Canon 35mm f/2.8 Macrophoto bellows lens coming in the mail, it should give me a better feel for what's possible in the 2x to 4x range without breaking the bank, based on samples I've seen here.

links:
http://www.google.com/search?q=Voigtlan ... %20LAnthar
http://photozone.de/Reviews/266-voigtla ... rt?start=1
http://www.photozone.de/nikon--nikkor-a ... est-report
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rei_neyuki ... 896935123/
-there are lots of gorgeous crystal clear shots with this lens, I showed the worst case scenarios, as with the above tests

Chris S.
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Post by Chris S. »

Paul, if I understand your post, you reversed the 85mm but did not reverse the 105mm VR. Is this the case? If so, I'd suspect you might see dramatically better results from the 105mm if you reverse for those magnifications.

I have the Nikon 105mm f/2.8 AFD, which is the generation before yours and, bless it, has an aperture ring. It's also said to be a bit sharper than the newer VR, and I can attest that it is very sharp. Above 1:1, I invariably reverse mount it. I've never done comparison tests reversed and unreversed, but would bet that if I did so at the magnifications you're looking at, the difference would be substantial.

Best,

--Chris

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

I was going to ask myself if the lens was reversed and found Chris had just asked the same? Most conventional lenses should be reversed I believe once the lens to subject distance gets less than the lens to sensor distance since the rear end was computed to be used at a lesser distance than the front?

DaveW

PaulFurman
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Post by PaulFurman »

Thanks guys, I did figure out a way to mount it reversed now. The 85 was not further from the rear of the lens to the subject than the sensor would be, maybe twice or more as far, the main reason I reversed it is I couldn't get much magnification facing forward with the full bellows extension and it didn't seem to harm performance.

I'll post something with the 105 reversed. Fully focused for 1:1 and bellows closed, the working distance was inside the short E2 extension tube contraption used to open the aperture on this G lens. At infinity it gave very little magnification. The focal length changes a lot on this IF design and you can see the reported aperture corrects when mounted normally. It's quite awkward on a bellows for this reason.

The 85 PC Micro has a nice clean image and resists flare beautifully but is also beyond it's resolution here, I should do a test at it's limits facing forward too, about 1.5x as I recall. I like that it doesn't get all the crazy flare & OOF circles with harsh ringed edges that messed up the stacking for the 105 wide open. The 85 is almost as sharp wide open as 2 stops down.

I went ahead & ordered one of those 90/3.5 Voightlanders with Leica screwmount. It looks completely different from the ones built for SLR mount (though I'm pretty sure it's the same optics from the same time) and will be without infinity focus, and the purple fringing might be worse than I think but I'm looking forward to playing. I expect it'll hold up well with a 1.4x teleconverter plus maybe a little extension tube, we'll see.

I've also got a second copy of the Canon 35/2.8 coming this week to try.

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Post by ChrisR »

Paul, I'm after a 100 ish macro so watching intently.
Are these using ZS? It doesn't usually give halos like the pic 105 2.5x (left)
The nasty flary specular features are a common problem I don't think I've seen fully explained. If you diffuse the light more, they reduce, eventually to nothing. See NikonUser's posts on diffusion tactics (amongst others).

The obvious non-bank-breaking line of lenses to try would be enlarging lenses, reversed. The 50/2.8 or 63/2.8 El Nikkors would be fine. Going a bit longer, avoid the Nikon 75/4.0 but the 80/5.6 is ok, see AndrewC's pics. There are various enlarger lenses designed for medium format film which is still used of course, so things like 90mm f4 apos can be expensive. There's a 105, 135, etc.
Rodenstock Rodagons - (avoid Rogonars) are good, there's a 75f4 Apo optimised for 1:1, which seems fine for 2x, 3x,...
Schneider - avoid anything not Componon, such as Componar or Comparon. Componon-S are good, HM apos very good.

The El Nikon 50/2.8 has become a forum benchmark, it seems. It's always at least "very good"! You shouldn't need to pay more than $50 or so, even if you're impatient. There are two versions; the earlier with chrome and black metal construction, and the later "E" which is all plastic. I don't remember seeing either being criticised.

Reversed lenses often need hoods - tubes can be OK though conical snoots are easy to make and probably better.

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

ChrisR wrote:Are these using ZS? It doesn't usually give halos like the pic 105 2.5x (left)
They're not common, but I have seen these around bright features in ZS with lenses whose bokeh gives a hard-edged blur circle, like #1 and #2 in Figure 6 HERE. What happens is that one focus step has a hard edge at one radius, then another focus step has a hard edge at another radius, and so on for several different radii. All these hard edges get merged by PMax to give something a lot like what I see here.

--Rik

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Post by NikonUser »

Paul:
I'm not arguing with the conclusion ("stinks"), based on your images, about the 105/2.8 VR Nikkor. I have no way to independently 'check out' this lens.

I do however take issue with your "Basically the conclusion is regular macro lenses are only good to maybe 2x"

For magnification from about 1-4x the older 105/2.8 mm manual focus (to 1:2) is an excellent lens when used non-reversed.
Images of a wasp head at 3.4x, i.e., 6.8x that it was designed for, can be seen on this page:
HERE

Many of my fly images on this site are taken with the 105mm MF.
NU.
student of entomology
Quote – Holmes on ‘Entomology’
” I suppose you are an entomologist ? “
” Not quite so ambitious as that, sir. I should like to put my eyes on the individual entitled to that name.
No man can be truly called an entomologist,
sir; the subject is too vast for any single human intelligence to grasp.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
The Poet at the Breakfast Table.

Nikon camera, lenses and objectives
Olympus microscope and objectives

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

I suppose the old "Kiss" (Keep It Simple Stupid) comment applies to lens manufacture for ultimate quality of a beyond 1:1 macro image. The old manual macro lenses simply focused by moving the lens elements bodily nearer or further away from the sensor/film plane, and no elements usually changed their position in relation to each other.

With the advent of autofocus, moving all of the lens elements bodily together put a big strain on the battery since it meant large power hungry autofocus motors. Therefore the moving element method was borrowed from zoom lenses to focus, which meant less of the lens needed moving, so smaller less battery hungry focusing motors could be used.

Obviously it is harder to optically correct a lens where elements move in relation to each other than if the whole of the lens elements retain a fixed relationship with each other and all move together.

Many claim therefore that many modern macro lenses are not quite as good optically as the old manual ones, since manufacturers have to make some optical compromises in their increased complexity with moving elements to bring them out at a sensible price.

Then if you add on to this, in Nikon's case, moving the focusing motor out of the body into the lens itself, as with Canon, plus later adding VR you add even more complexity and cost of lens manufacture, but yet still need to bring it out at a reasonable price.

Whilst most general photographers may not notice any difference between the old "simple" lens constructions and newer more "modern" ones, when you are pushing the lenses to their limits outside their original design parameters, we macro photographers may find modern complex lenses don't work as well above 1:1 as their old simple better optically corrected forerunners did?

DaveW

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Post by PaulFurman »

Here's a crop of two single frames of the worst area with the 105 at 2.8 & 4x showing how those funky rings came about.
Image

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Post by ChrisR »

I tried a Nikon BR-4 ring on the back of a "G" lens. It's the one with a lever, as well as a cable-release socket.
The lever travels a reasonable distance through the stopping-down movement, so it wouldn't be too difficult to calibrate it and mark a sticky label accordingly.
The ring is also quite slim.
The way it works:The lever is sprung so your lens is held wide open. WHen you push it against the spring, the lens goes down to its minimum aperture, then you can push it in, to lock it.
On a lens with an aperture ring, you'd be locking the aperture you'd set.

This means that on a G lens, to get a particular aperture, you'd have to use a cable release to close the ap until the lever lined up with your mark, then lock the cable release.

Did that make sense?

The current version if the BR-4 is the BR-6
shown here
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/ha ... macro2.htm

The BR-4 shouldn't be put on an AF camera, but I don't think you'd want to do that, and it would be cheaper s/h.
It'll still take a BR-3, which is a ring which goes on the subject side of the lens to be a hood, or take a 52mm filter

PaulFurman
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Post by PaulFurman »

Right, with a G lens, the aperture springs closed and these things can be used to get wider apertures. With 'normal' lenses, you can set the aperture on the lens and use the plunger to temporarily open up for focusing without having to twist the aperture ring again when taking the shot. It would be nice to have an easy click lock, it sounds like you are saying the BR-4 will do that though I don't understand the mechanism. Here's some pretty good photos & an explanation of how why & where the BR-6 won't damage AF contacts but the BR-4 will: http://photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Gnq9 -scroll down to the photos

Here's my setup:

Nikon E2 extension ring with aperture plunger, 14mm pre-Ai design, useful for G lenses on bellows since they lack an aperture ring.
Image

Makeshift Nikon E2 extension ring plunger adapter, the marks on that white tab allow approximate setting of f-stops for a G lens.
Image

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

Thanks for the link showing the electronic pin cut outs on the Nikon BR-6 ring Paul. What I have never been able to discover is why all the narrow macro rings like their reversing ring and thinnest extension tube PK-11A needed the "A" modification, yet their larger tubes PK-12, PK-13 and PN-11 are still the same unmodified ones without the "A" modification, yet still being produced by Nikon and presumably safe for electronic cameras?

DaveW

ChrisR
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Post by ChrisR »

Well, better buy a BR-6, then. :wink:
But I've tried my BR-4 on a few AF lenses, and there's definitely no contact with their AF contacts. There isn't a lot of clearance, though, so maybe some BR-4s do touch.
The "F mount" male bayonet on the other side, though, won't go onto anything "AI". It's OK on a BR4 bellows.
The ring is marked 9mm long.
It would be nice to have an easy click lock, it sounds like you are saying the BR-4 will do that
Not actually what I said:
The way it works: The lever is sprung so your lens is held wide open. WHen you push it against the spring, the lens goes down to its minimum aperture, then you can push it in, to lock it.
You can't push the lever in to lock a G lens at other than the minimum aperture.
It wouldn't be beyond the wit of a geezer with such a cool hat to adapt one, but unless you have excess life to use up, probably better to stick with the ring you have.

Dave-
Good question. Perhaps they made things chunkier on the skinny rings to begin with?
I have a "pre-AI" plastic Nikon Body Cap, which is just a bit too tight on anything late. Later Nikon bodies have a slightly wider flange which the old caps, and maybe some adapters, hit.
There's plenty on the net about mysterious messages of impending doom from Nikon unless you buy the latest kit. Can't inagine why, can you? :roll:

PaulFurman
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Post by PaulFurman »

Hey I'm not a geezer just yet, I'll be 46 in a couple weeks <g> but yeah kind of an odd solemn pic in my straw Mexican farmer's hat for working at the nursery growing plants.

BTW I fiddled around with the 105 reversed and maybe I was confused but all I could get was about 2x before the working distance got lost in the extension tube rig on the front, or at least began running into the support, etc. I figured it wasn't worth a test set as the others were at 2.5x or more.

I also received a replacement Canon 35mm f/2.8 and I'm pretty happy with the performance. The optimal aperture is a close tie between f/4 & f/5.6 and a heck of a lot better than the bargain grade one that peaked at f/8 and has been returned. I'm seeing some good opportunities now for the first time.

Canon Macro Photo 35mm f/2.8 at max bellows extension 6x stacked from about 30 frames each.
(35+200mm) * f/2.5 / 35mm = f/19
(35+200mm) * f/4 / 35mm = f/27
(35+200mm) * f/5.6 / 35mm = f/38
Image

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