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Mr. Mueller Sent Me An Email: Nikon is Toast


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#1 santo

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 09:26 PM

In a way it's mind-blowing. But what comes around, goes around. Welcome to reality, Nikon.

In the 50's Japanese camera manufacturers were poop. They only got anywhere because German patents were unfairly pronounced null and void. All of a sudden, Nikon produced Zeiss rip-offs while Canon took to ripping off Leica designs.

One time only, in the entire history of this nonsense, did Nikon ever beat Zeiss in anything. Back in the 50's they put their Zeiss rip-offs on the hands of a few Korean War photojournalists who were seeing their cameras regularly getting destroyed and those guys thought pretty well of what they saw. Those Nikons were pretty good compared to what they thought they'd get. So, when one of them got back, they put their Nikon into the hands of a guy from the New York Times, one of the biggest bullshit papers of all time, and he had a test done where the Nikon beat a Zeiss lens. Needless to say, Dr. Bauer, head of Zeiss USA was pissed because, well what a joke, the Zeiss lens tested was made in a rubble-strewn Soviet supervised "factory" back in '48! :rolleyes: He demanded a re-test, and, no surprise, a current real Zeiss lens was better than the Nikon rip-off.

Flash forward. It was too late, the damage was done. 1960's poseurs and phonies discover the Nikon F in swinging London (see BLOW UP for reference). The baby boomer gerneration embraces Nikon and Canon. DOESN'T MATTER if the cameras and lenses aren't as good as Zeiss and Leica. They swing, baby! - Austin Powers.

Present Day. Nikon rules with Canon. And yet... and yet... the best lenses are still made by Zeiss and Leica. Check out most Hollywood motion picture productions. Zeiss lenses. No Nikon around this most demanding of areas. No Canons. The best camcorders ... Leica lenses. No Canon around this most demanding of areas. In fact, their lenses on the xl2 need to be replaced with proper Zeiss lenses for decent results on all those miniDV features we've seen come into any popularity.

So now what happens? Now, out of nowhere, the Zeiss guys, tied with Leica as the best lenses in the world, as it has almost always been, bring out a Nikon F lens line. And they're going to be affordable! The only people saying they won't buy Zeiss lenses for their Nikon cameras when it comes time to buy a lens are clearly complete fools.

Welcome to the nightmare, Nikon fans. Expect endless horror show lens testing where your mediocre lenses are blow to kingdom come in disasterous test after disasterous test.

OH YEAH, BABY. WHAT COMES AROUND, GOES AROUND.

Check out Zeiss Lens News Issue 23.
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 10:13 PM

I'm not sure who you are trying to get into a fight with or even why, or why all the animosity towards Nikon.

Most professionals know that Zeiss lenses are better than Nikons; for one thing, photography isn't always about using the best lenses, and for another, Zeiss tends to be more expensive, so Nikon glass is deemed a good value, not that it's the best in the world. So I don't expect any Nikon owners to be surprised by a comparison test that reveals that a more expensive Zeiss lens outperforms a cheaper Nikon lens.

One reason why Nikons aren't used much on movie cameras, other than the adapted telephotos, is that unlike Zeiss, Nikon doesn't make lenses for 35mm movie cameras. Cine lenses have certain design requirements, which means that just putting a Nikon still camera lens on a 35mm movie camera will create certain difficulties. But why would anyone even think that a $500 Nikon lens is going to be comparable to a $10,000 Zeiss cine lens anyway?

Somehow the trend towards digital cameras (which Nikon will be making anyway) is retribution against Japanese camera makers for copying German designs in the 1950's? And who is it that makes a lot of the digital still and video camera technology -- oh yeah, the Japanese. Boy are they sorry for how the market is turning out. I'm sure they envy how the Germans and Zeiss are going to dominate the worldwide camera market from now on.
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#3 Tim J Durham

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 10:24 PM

So, when one of them got back, they put their Nikon into the hands of a guy from the New York Times, one of the biggest bullshit papers of all time, and he had a test done where the Nikon beat a Zeiss lens.


Are you quoting someone here, or is this YOUR ignorant comment about the NY Times?
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#4 Sam Wells

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:26 AM

One reason why Nikons aren't used much on movie cameras, other than the adapted telephotos, is that unlike Zeiss, Nikon doesn't make lenses for 35mm movie cameras.


Someone tell ILM all the printing Nikkors they used were crap. :D

-Sam
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#5 Paul Bruening

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Posted 18 January 2006 - 11:01 PM

Gee Santo. It sounds like you were savaged by a Nikkor lens when you were a baby.
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#6 Josh Gannon

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 01:09 AM

I really don't understand why people come on to these forums and bash equipment.

As far as I know, most people use the equipment they can afford to the best of there abilities. I'm only a student but I couldn't imagine a professional wallking on set and saying.

"Whats this Nikkon crap, I'm not shooting this thing untill I get some Zeiss lenses in here"
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#7 Greg Gross

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 09:38 AM

Not even a $6000.00 or $8000.00 Nikon,Canon prime say f2.8 is going to compare to a
Zeiss cine lens. Of course as you increase focal length with these primes you're going to
be at f4.0,f5.6. These Canon's,Nikon's are no comparsion for the Zeiss cine lens. The last
time I used a Zeiss prime was on a 4X5 Linof and it did a real fine job,real performer. I,ve
seen some real nice Zeiss primes offered in rental packages for 16mm/16mm super. I don't
know if you all know that Canon was formed by a group that broke away from the Nikon co..
Originally Canon only manufactured lenses when they first started out. Nikon(Nippon Kogaku)
started manufacturing optics in 1925. Rare earth elements are used to their fullest to manufa-
cure glass for optics. Nikon actually performs this glass making process by utilizing platinum
lined crucibles which they manufacture themselves. The glass is then ground,polished,coated
and finished for mounting. The lens barrels,helicoid(houses lens) are manufactured by Nikon
just as precisely as the glass is. The idea is to provide a lens with maximum distortion free per-
formance. Maximum corner to corner sharpness without vignetting at full aperature. Of course
the autofocus lens of today utilizes more of a computer manufacturing process than the manual
lens. The actual surface elements of the lens in contact with air,reflect about 4 to 5% of the light
that strikes it. I'm speaking now of a lens that has been coated. When light enters a lens with a num-
ber of element surfaces, a significant amount of light is lost through reflection before it reaches the
film plane. Now,the more surfaces the greater the potential for problems. Reflection can cause flare
which reduces the contrast of the image. Lens coatings are designed to reduce the loss of light throu-
gh reflection. Generally a reflection loss of 1% is considered acceptable. Is it noticable at 1%? I give
up,you tell me. Lens surfaces are coated with a thin layer or multiple layers with varied refractive in-
dexes. The thickness of one layer of coating is equal to 1/4 the wavelength of light and varies accor-
ding to the type or usage of the lens. I do not know how the Zeiss manufacturing process varies from
the Nikon process. I do not believe though you can compare the Zeiss(cine,special purpose) to the Ni-
kon lens you are speaking about. The Zeiss lens I used with my mentor's Linhof was superb.I like the
few Panavision primes that I have peered through. I have never looked through a Zeiss cine lens. I
suppose I would choose a Zeiss cine lens if one was available to me for a shoot. It will be a bloody day
in hell before I use any Zoom!!,unless I absolutely have to. I personally think its a good idea to learn
how to frame with a prime and take the camera to the action,the subject. Now on the other hand I am
bright enough to know that you cannot always do that. It would be interesting to look into the various
manufacturing processes of the optics manufacture's and see how they really compare. The main coat-
ing used in a single layer is magnesium fluoride. One of my favorite Nikon lenses is a 55mm f1.2 from
1965. Its length is 2.5 inches with an aperture range of f1.2 to f16,angle of view 36 degrees. It weighs
14.8 oz.. This lens for example is known to be sharper in the center then at the edges. I have the one
that came out with a rubber focus ring. You can shoot wide open with this lens without any loss in image
quality. Well just some ideas here about qualities of a lens and purposes for lenses.

Greg Gross

Hey Santo,

I'm going to do some research and find out if Nikon manufactures any parts,glass,barrels,
helicoids, coatings for Zeiss. Hold your breath partner for I shall return. Heading for the telephone
right now!

Greg Gross
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#8 Dan Goulder

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 12:21 PM

Not even a $6000.00 or $8000.00 Nikon,Canon prime say f2.8 is going to compare to a
Zeiss cine lens.

Don't be so sure. You may not have ever used a Canon or Nikon that has been rehoused for cinematography. They are more prevalent in Europe than the U.S. In fact, I'll bet you've even seen them intercut with Zeiss in some motion pictures without being aware of it. I've used all three. They all have a different look...different, but definitely not inferior. The 35mm motion picture market is tiny compared to that of still photography, which is why only a few companies have devoted their resources to it.
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#9 Greg Gross

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 05:22 PM

Yes sir,
Your point is well taken here. I have complete faith in Nikon glass believe me! I was speaking
here of lenses not re-mounted/re-housed. From the stand point of the purpose of one lens com-
pared to the purpose of another. I love Canon lenses also,unfortuately for me,as I get torn be-
tween the two at times and its makes me miserable. I am still researching to see if the major
lens manufacture's are making parts for each other-barrels,helicoids,coatings etc.,and have not
found out anything yet. This is due to a curiosity of my own and I have a feeling some of them are.
I only have the experience of looking through a few Panavision lenses on a Panaflex and a few Zeiss
through Arri 16mm/16mm super cameras. In both experiences I was impressed but lack the experi-
ence to make a judgement. There is just something about Panavision equipment that just grabs me
and I can't let go. It might be from the stand-point of studio cameras. I plan on getting experienced
with them. I've never had much of a problem operating any kind of camera really or utilizing lenses,
focal length,dop etc.. I was the kid who skipped school to play with cameras and hung out in the dark
room. You can tell by my lousy grammar! Thank you for your post. Actually this spring I plan on re-
nting a Panaflex and doing some work with it. I want to shoot some shorts,some commercials and I'm
hoping to obtain some short ends if I can trust the source. I will be teaching myself to operate the cam-
era,so its going to be the hard way. I will have some good advice,instructions from rental facility along
with an orientation.

Greg Gross
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#10 Greg Gross

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 06:07 PM

On Lighter Side,

Ever since I saw Mr. Eastwood wearing a Panavision t-shirt, I had to get one. So now I have the
cap and the t-shirt. I feel like superman everytime I put my Panavision t-shirt on. I wonder if
David Mullen ASC has a Panavision t-shirt? I've seen pictures of him standing close to a Panaflex.
I think I'll always wear it if I'm working with Panavision equipment, you know from a good-luck
stand point. Is there anyone else out there that is made crazy by Panavision equipment? My girl-
friend is an aspiring DP(film school) and she likes that Arri stuff(I do also) so anyway she tells me
to get the Panavision t-shirt off all the time. I always wear my Panavision t-shirt when I go to view
a new film at the cinema,wore it to see "Hostel." Well I guess we were talking about lenses and got
off the track. Well anyway I'm going to continue my quest to see if lens manufacture's are making
parts for each other,barrels,helicoids,coatings etc.. I will post when I complete the research.

Greg Gross
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#11 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 10:48 PM

I've got quite a collection of Panavision tee-shirts. :) Tak Miyagishima and I serve on several standards committees together. B)
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#12 Paul Bruening

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Posted 19 January 2006 - 11:43 PM

Hello Gents,

I have talked to quite a few lens techs in the last week or so about Nikon lens peformance on cine cams. The opinions, averaged, weigh in at about half and half. The reason I did this research is because I am the proud owner of a set of eight, from 20mm to 180mm, brand spankin' new Nikon lenses in the fastest possible speeds. I heard the news about Nikon's bail out and jumped on them before they disappeared. Given that they are a middling grade cine lens, I hope they are a value at less than $5,000.00 for the whole set. Visual Products will gear them for $100.00 each. My Fries 35R3 already has the mount. I'll see if my lens decision is stupid when the cam comes back from Aranda in Australia.

Wish me luck!
Paul
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#13 Paul Bruening

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 01:15 AM

By the way,

Much thanks to Stephen Williams for PMing with me on Nikon technical factors.
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#14 Greg Gross

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 08:04 AM

Thank you dgoulder for your report on the Nikon cine lenses. Mr. Pytlak you lucky guy! I
would give up all my Nikon lenses to speak to Tak for 5 minutes and I'd probably make a
fool out of myself. Mr. Bruening whats the aperture range on the Nikon 180mm? Angle of
view? I'll bet the glass is real beautiful. Can you open up full with the whole set for a sharp
image? Does anyone lens of the Nikon set tend to be slightly soft or soft? Thank you for all
of your posts.Mr. Pytlak thank you for all your posts and the time you spend on the forum
helping us to learn the heart breaking business of filmmaking.

Greg Gross
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#15 thor

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 08:21 AM

The 35mm motion picture market is tiny compared to that of still photography, which is why only a few companies have devoted their resources to it.

true. which is why not too many people make motion picture equipment, since not to many of them get sold anyway, keeping prices sooo high!
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#16 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 09:55 AM

Mr. Pytlak you lucky guy! I would give up all my Nikon lenses to speak to Tak for 5 minutes and I'd probably make a fool out of myself. Greg Gross


One way to "network" and work closely with industry leaders is to become involved in technical organizations like the SMPTE. You can join here:

http://www.smpte.org/membership/

The engineering committees of SMPTE welcome users knowledgeable in technology who can contribute to the writing of standards, recommended practices and engineering guidelines:

http://www.smpte.org...ing_committees/

I have been a member of the SMPTE since 1971, and have served on several technology committees. I was Chairman of the Theatrical Projection Technology Committee for a total of eight years.
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#17 Sam Wells

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 10:32 AM

Anyone wants to sell me a 200mm F2 Nikkor let me know and I'll relieve you of the burden of owning that "crappy" lens for a few bucks B)


-Sam
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#18 Paul Bruening

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 12:28 PM

Hey Greg,

Cine framing uses the center of SLR lenses. That's the "sweet spot", as techs have told me. So, cine uses only the sharpest part of the lens. There, there are the fewest abberation and other inage alteration issues. Especially, an issue is the reduction of linear warpage at the corners of the frame on very wide lenses.

Apparently, Nikons are notoriously contrasty. As Stephen says, you only notice that on chart tests. It doesn't show up so much on images. The contrasty character adds to a visual sense of clarity. I won't know exactly what that means asthetically until the camera comes back and I can shoot some rolls.

The 180mm uses ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass and muitiple coatings on its 5 elements. It stops from f/2.8 to f/32. Its picture angle is 13 degrees 40'. It focuses from 6 ft. to infinity. It has a built-in lens hood which I will have removed. Filter ring is 72mm. That's good because you can use step-up rings for the 52mm and 62mm ringed lenses and only buy 72mm filters.
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#19 Leo Anthony Vale

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 01:00 PM

Hey Greg,

Cine framing uses the center of SLR lenses. That's the "sweet spot", as techs have told me. So, cine uses only the sharpest part of the lens. There, there are the fewest abberation and other inage alteration issues. Especially, an issue is the reduction of linear warpage at the corners of the frame on very wide lenses.

Apparently, Nikons are notoriously contrasty. As Stephen says, you only notice that on chart tests. It doesn't show up so much on images. The contrasty character adds to a visual sense of clarity. I won't know exactly what that means asthetically until the camera comes back and I can shoot some rolls.


---There's something about the term 'sweetspot' that makes me cringe.

A 20mm that only covers the cine frame will probably be sharper in the center than a 20mm Nikkor, but exhibit more corner fall off. More so with coparing a 20mm for 16mm.

People will usually talk about how great the glass is in a hypothetical lens, but ignore that the barrel is cardboard.
the problem many pros have with Nikkors is the mechanics. They focus in the opposite direction than most cine lenses, not much space on the focusing scale and they're not as robust as a cine lens.

Great for shots where one doesn't have to rack focus, miniatures and second unit. But for some elaborate scene with lots of moves and focus changes...

As to being contrasty, older single coated Nikkors won't have that problem.

The Zeiss newsletter article mentions the ZF lens will be suitable for cine use in a rental setting.
Ouch on the price!!!


---LV
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#20 Paul Bruening

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Posted 20 January 2006 - 01:12 PM

Hey Leo,

Certainly, cine lenses are more robust. My Baltars are as heavy as a chunk of lead. You could fire those puppies out of a tank gun. However, combat photographers loved Nikkors, in part, because they could survive getting bashed around during combat. They're not quite at the cardboard status.

The focus problem is not too great a challenge. Direction is only a matter of hand-eye. The small degree increments can be overcome with a pulling rig. I have a CAD design using a double, right angle, reduction gearbox that can make the lenses pull at the same ratio as cine lenses. The rig represents about $200.00 in parts and some low grade fabrication. I agee, though, that pulling focus directly at the ring seems impossible at certain settings.
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