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#1 Paul Bruening

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 08:24 AM

Hey good folks,

While I have defended Nikons for cine here before, I am on the verge of buying a set of seven new Nikons for my Fries 35R3 and am wondering about other's experiences with Nikons. I know about all the color and focus issues. What I want to know is your opinion about their visual qualities. Do you find them too harsh? Anything that goes into the category of asthetic and artistic judgement is most welcome.

Thanks,
Paul
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#2 Tim J Durham

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Posted 26 December 2005 - 11:10 AM

Hey good folks,

While I have defended Nikons for cine here before, I am on the verge of buying a set of seven new Nikons for my Fries 35R3 and am wondering about other's experiences with Nikons. I know about all the color and focus issues. What I want to know is your opinion about their visual qualities. Do you find them too harsh? Anything that goes into the category of asthetic and artistic judgement is most welcome.

Thanks,
Paul

I used a pair of Nikon FM-2's for many years. The last set of lenses I had were a 24 f2.0, 50 f1.2, 105 f2.5 and a 180 f2.8ED. I probably sorted through a dozen others over the years and kept the best ones which were these.

Unfortunately, I sold the whole set and trying to be stylish, bought a bunch of Leica gear. Hated it- sold it. Then went to Contax G-2 system which I quite liked. I don't know if I'd point to anything about the Nikon lenses in particular, but most of my best photos were taken with my Nikon ( and Hasselblad) gear. If you want to get into bokeh and esoteric stuff like that, skip this but in printing, I always knew that I could print negs shot with the Nikon gear straight. No burning, dodging, etc. And the contrast settings (I had a polycontrast color enlarger head) were always in the same ballpark.

You need to get used to the backward focus direction, though. For the money, I can't imagine how you could go wrong with the Nikons. You could probably buy my old set for under $1200 now and they were the sharpest, smoothest lenses I ever owned.
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#3 Mike Rizos

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 02:24 AM

I use Nikkors for still photography, but have no experience in 35mm cine, so I can only compare them between each other. I am assuming you are refering to AI or AIs non autofocus Nikkors. These were manufactured from about 1960 and on. In 1977 Nikon made a modification to the mount for Auto Indexing (AI). And in the early eighties added the S (AI-S)for shutter. The early lenses, now called non-AI can be modified, but are of general lower optical quality. But not by much.
Besides what you mention, other negative points to consider are severe focus breathing, lower quality construction as they get newer(but better optically), wide angles flare easily, and forget about the zooms.

The 20mm/4, I was very happy with, because of low distortion and flare. Contrast and sharpness were lower than other Nikkors.

At 24mm I would choose the f2.8 over the f2. I think they are equal in sharpness, but the f2 has better contrast, probably because it doesn't flare as easily. Both of these are a little sharper than the 20mm.

At 35mm the f1.4 and f2 are pretty close. The f1.4 is newer but the f2 has an outstanding reputation.

At 50mm go for the f1.8 or f2. They are sharper that the f1.4 which is a dog and so is the f1.2. If you want speed here go for the 58/1.2, probably the snappiest Nikon lens, but expensive, or if you want more speed go for the 50/1.1 made for their rangefinder cameras. This is a different mount altogehter though, and is a very poor performer. If you prefer sharpness over speed get a 55/3.5, or 2.8 micro. Either of these will astound you with their sharpness if you never used them. Plus they focus rack about 360. They also breath badly.

At 85mm there are three choices f2, f1.8, f1.4. I only used the f2 which was dissapointing. The f1.4 has
the best reputation.

At 105mm we have the f1.8 which is better, but the f2.5 is not far behind, and is usually found for about $100. Wide open, both of these lenses make the subject pop out. Definetly get one of these.

The 135 f2.8 is a lens no one uses, it seems. There is also an expensive f2 here.

At 180mm the only choice is f2.8. It has a very pleasing out of focus background. The later ED version of this lens sells for more, but rumor has it that the early non-ED, performs the same, and that in fact has ED glass, it just wasn't marked. There is also a 200/4 here, which is average.

Two exotic lenses here 200/2 and 300/2, I have no experience with. I remember reading somewhere that there is demand for them in the motion picture business.

At 300mm you can go for the 2.8 if you can afford it, but the f4 is the same performer, except one speed lower when you really need it. I personally would get the 400/3.5, which is a little snappier and goes for less than the 300/2.8.

To sum it up you have limited choices in the wide angles, improving at the normal focal lenghts, and very high quality telephotos.
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#4 Tim J Durham

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 10:19 AM

At 24mm I would choose the f2.8 over the f2. I think they are equal in sharpness, but the f2 has better contrast, probably because it doesn't flare as easily. Both of these are a little sharper than the 20mm.

At 35mm the f1.4 and f2 are pretty close. The f1.4 is newer but the f2 has an outstanding reputation.

At 50mm go for the f1.8 or f2. They are sharper that the f1.4 which is a dog and so is the f1.2. If you want speed here go for the 58/1.2, probably the snappiest Nikon lens, but expensive, or if you want more speed go for the 50/1.1 made for their rangefinder cameras. This is a different mount altogehter though, and is a very poor performer. If you prefer sharpness over speed get a 55/3.5, or 2.8 micro. Either of these will astound you with their sharpness if you never used them. Plus they focus rack about 360. They also breath badly.

At 85mm there are three choices f2, f1.8, f1.4. I only used the f2 which was dissapointing. The f1.4 has
the best reputation.

At 105mm we have the f1.8 which is better, but the f2.5 is not far behind, and is usually found for about $100. Wide open, both of these lenses make the subject pop out. Definetly get one of these.

The 135 f2.8 is a lens no one uses, it seems. There is also an expensive f2 here.

At 180mm the only choice is f2.8. It has a very pleasing out of focus background. The later ED version of this lens sells for more, but rumor has it that the early non-ED, performs the same, and that in fact has ED glass, it just wasn't marked. There is also a 200/4 here, which is average.


It sounds like you copied this off of somebodies website. What "you" said about the 24mm and the 50mm runs counter to my ACTUAL EXPERIENCE with the lenses (that means I actually owned and used them- the 24f2.0, 105f2.5 and 50f1.2 for MANY years).
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#5 Stephen Williams

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Posted 27 December 2005 - 01:05 PM

Hey good folks,

While I have defended Nikons for cine here before, I am on the verge of buying a set of seven new Nikons for my Fries 35R3 and am wondering about other's experiences with Nikons. I know about all the color and focus issues. What I want to know is your opinion about their visual qualities. Do you find them too harsh? Anything that goes into the category of asthetic and artistic judgement is most welcome.

Thanks,
Paul



Paul,

I have used Nikon lenses with a Fries AF35R on a motion control for over 10 years. They work very well. Since I bought my Zeiss Superspeeds I have noticed that the Nikon's seem sharper than they actually are, as they have more contrast. They also seem to have more DOF! I always used to shoot close-ups of watches @ f4 or slightly wider. With the Zeiss lenses I need to work nearer T8. The Zeiss lenses do look better but are harder to work with as the front element's are much bigger.

Cheers,

Stephen
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#6 Paul Bruening

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 02:23 AM

Hey Stephen and Tim,

Thanks for the info. I still have to get the estimates back on 2-perf conversion on the 35R3. If I can arrive at a cost saving method to solve that cam gear cost then I'll have enough left over for the lenses. I've used my FM2 for years but didn't know if there were any cine/asthetic issues with Nikons. I'm very happy to hear that they can serve me well especially in the speed and DOF categories.

Thanks again,
Paul

Edited by Paul Bruening, 02 January 2006 - 02:24 AM.

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#7 Stephen Williams

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 07:48 AM

Hey Stephen and Tim,

Thanks for the info. I still have to get the estimates back on 2-perf conversion on the 35R3. If I can arrive at a cost saving method to solve that cam gear cost then I'll have enough left over for the lenses. I've used my FM2 for years but didn't know if there were any cine/asthetic issues with Nikons. I'm very happy to hear that they can serve me well especially in the speed and DOF categories.

Thanks again,
Paul



Paul,

Out of interest who have you asked for the 2 perf conversion and how much?

Stephen
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#8 Greg Gross

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Posted 02 January 2006 - 09:14 AM

My favorite Nikon lens(I use it on my F4S) is the 85mm f1.4.1982. There is an autofocus 85mm f1.8 but
I prefer the manual lens and its really one sweet piece of glass. I really prefer Nikon primes and it takes
a hellova lot to get me to use a zoom.


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#9 Chris Fernando

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 11:31 AM

I really prefer Nikon primes and it takes
a hellova lot to get me to use a zoom.
Greg Gross


Maybe slightly off-topic here, although still 35 ;) , but does anyone here have any opinions on the old Nikkor-Q's; i.e. what is image quality/contrast/color like through these things, for either stills or motion pic? Thanks.
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#10 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 01:43 PM

Maybe slightly off-topic here, although still 35 ;) , but does anyone here have any opinions on the old Nikkor-Q's; i.e. what is image quality/contrast/color like through these things, for either stills or motion pic? Thanks.


The Q refers to the number of elements, not to a series of lenses.
Q is 5 elements Quint
H is 6, Hex-
S is 7, Sept-
O is 8, Oct-

You should get the gist. Look in some old Nikon lens book to find out the rest of the sequence.

While on Latin numerical prefixes. Why are the 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th months of the year named 7, 8. 9 7 10?

The answer is quite interesting, if you can find it.

---LV
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#11 Chris Fernando

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 02:55 PM

Interesting, Leo. So, pardon my ignorance, but when and why did they starting naming lenses in series (i.e. the E-series, as I've heard them called on many an ocassion). If the E-series is in fact not a series, what does E stand for? Also, do you have any experience with the Q's, I only ask cause they're usually dirt cheap on ebay. Thanks, in advance, for the history lesson. Cheers

Edited by CMPhern, 03 January 2006 - 02:55 PM.

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#12 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 03:51 PM

Interesting, Leo. So, pardon my ignorance, but when and why did they starting naming lenses in series (i.e. the E-series, as I've heard them called on many an ocassion). If the E-series is in fact not a series, what does E stand for? Also, do you have any experience with the Q's, I only ask cause they're usually dirt cheap on ebay. Thanks, in advance, for the history lesson. Cheers


I think I made a mistake with the -Q and -P.
P is the 5 element, being Penta-
Q is 4 element, being Quad- or Quatr-

I'm a Canon user, rather than aNikon. The Canons fit my hands better than Nikons.

However, the E-series was a cheapie series, well, budget. I think they came out in the late 70s as an alternative to Vivitars and Soligors. So there's alot of plastic in the bodies.

Other Nikkors series like the A and AI refer to the metering systems on the Cameras, thus the metering linkage is different than the older lenses.

Since the -Qs are four elements, they're similar to Tessars. So they're long and a bit slow, usually 135/3.5.
I have a 135/3.5 Canon of similar design, it gives sharp velvety images. Quite beautiful.
The Nikkor-Qs should be similar.
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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 03 January 2006 - 08:09 PM

Hey Stephen,

I flew out to L.A. before Christmas to buy the cam. I dropped it off at Fries (now, Ressurection Engineering). There's not much left of Fries, anymore. It's just Mark in the shop and Bob Doherty in front. They seem to be paying the bills by splitting rent with Aerocrane. Mark is cutting custom camera mounts for Aerocrane. Sadly, digital has carved up their market.

Mark was intersted in the job, but Bob turned it down. I'm emailing Cinema Engineering currently and they are interested in taking the job. We still have to work out the price and the engineering. I can't discuss the details of the conversion since they have patent value. If it all works out, C.E. may offer the conversion to the public based on the research done on this cam. That remains, yet, unknown.

Wish me luck!
Paul
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#14 Stephen Williams

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 03:48 AM

Mark was intersted in the job, but Bob turned it down. I'm emailing Cinema Engineering currently and they are interested in taking the job. We still have to work out the price and the engineering. I can't discuss the details of the conversion since they have patent value. If it all works out, C.E. may offer the conversion to the public based on the research done on this cam. That remains, yet, unknown.

Wish me luck!
Paul


Hi,

The engineering know should exist, Mitchell provided a 2 perf conversion kit. Ken Stone was selling the parts for a BNC a couple of years ago on EBay.
Bruce from Australia has done many 2 & 3 perf conversions.


If the E-series is in fact not a series, what does E stand for?



Econony?

Stephen
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#15 Tim J Durham

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 08:42 AM

However, the E-series was a cheapie series, well, budget. I think they came out in the late 70s as an alternative to Vivitars and Soligors. So there's alot of plastic in the bodies.

The other thing about Nikon-E lenses that film people would want to know is- in addition to the bodies being largely plastic- the bearings were teflon instead of brass, this was the biggest problem with them. This is the reason you won't find many good ones on the used market. The teflon bearings would start to disintegrate after a couple years of heavy use so Nikon stopped making them.

I'm suspect they might still use the teflon bearings in the cheapo auto-focus lenses these days.
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#16 Chris Fernando

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 11:03 AM

I'm suspect they might still use the teflon bearings in the cheapo auto-focus lenses these days.



Like the dumbed-down G's that don't even have aperture settings :blink: !!!
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#17 Paul Bruening

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Posted 04 January 2006 - 06:18 PM

Hey Stephen,

NC conversions can be bought by the dozen. GC is a different story.
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#18 Stephen Williams

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Posted 05 January 2006 - 03:52 AM

Hey Stephen,

NC conversions can be bought by the dozen. GC is a different story.


Thanks,

Interesting to know.

Stephen
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#19 Valeriu Campan

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 08:54 PM

A good source to start getting info about Nikon lenses is here:
http://www.naturfoto...com/index2.html
or
http://www.kenrockwe...n/nikkor.htm#mf
and for conversion a 35mm camera to 2 perf try this link:
http://www.2perf.arandafilm.com.au/
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#20 Valeriu Campan

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 10:18 PM

Also found this link that has tests and MTF data about a lot of other lenses as well:
http://www.photodo.c.../prodindex.html
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