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Macro/close-ups Photography - Micro-Nikkor Lenses - Part I

 

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The period from mid '70 to early '80 was the best era for manual focus photographic equipment. Naturally, optical development was at also at its finest where many Nikon pioneered breakthrough in optical research such as IF (Internal-Focus), ED (extra Low dispersion), IF (internal Focusing mechanism) and CRC (Close Range Correction) optical innovations have been introduced.

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One of my early favorite, 200mm Micro Nikkor f4 IF which was introduced back in 1979 was the first Micro Nikkor lens that incorporated with an IF feature, CRC (Close range correction system), another Nikon exclusive technology was almost an standard feature on all the Micro-Nikkor lenses. But strangely, it took an AF 200mm Micro-Nikkor f/4.0 to incorporate an optically superior ED glass into the lens design.

Well, there is not short of complaint, especially from a consumer's point of view is: Many of the earlier MF Micro-Nikkor lenses will only able to reach life-size reproduction (1:1) when couple with a matching Extension tube or via a Tele-Converter. It took AF-Nikkors lenses such as the newer series of AF Micro-Nikkor lenses such as AF-D Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 EDIF, AF-D 60mm and AF-D 105mm to provide such a built-in magnification power without any additional lens to camera extension ! Unfortunately the new Nikkor AF-lenses may has to work without metering when used with older non-AI F, F2, Nikkormat SLR models.

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The longest reach Micro-Nikkor I have owned prior to my 200mm focal length macro lenses was only 105mm. I have owned many of the early versions, from Nikkor 105mm f/4.0, f/2.8 to current version of autofocus f2.8. The Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF was a top rated glass and highly versatile. I gave away the lens to a friend after I acquired my current favorite, the AF-D-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 EDIF. primarily because the OLDER version would need a TC-300 or TC-301 when you intend to reach life size reproduction (I was using the PN-11 with my earlier 105mm f2.8 to be able to achieve 1:1).

The famed Micro-Nikkor line of close focusing optic was originated from the rangefinder days back in 1957 where the sensational 50mm Micro-Nikkor f/3.5 was first introduced. The lens with a Nikon F-mount was virtually a replica of the original lens made for the rangefinder series camera with similar optical formula (no joke, even the rangefinder's version can be adapted to a Nikon F via a RF tube !).

Optical construction of one of the early 50mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor lens.

Nikon extended the Micro-Nikkor to both 105mm and 200mm focal length during the '70. The 50mm Micro Nikkor has a slight extension to 55mm and now the lens speed was a much brighter f/2.8 instead of f/3.5. The 55 mm Micro can actually be regarded as an ALL ROUND normal lens (it also has a "normal" picture coverage of 43° -which corresponding to any normal lens of 46°) , meaning it is neither telephoto or retrofocus. If you hold it at arms length to see the entrance and exit pupils, they are about the same size.

The Helicoid of the 55mm MICRO NIKKOR has an unusually long range of movement 27.5mm, which is half the lens focal length. When focused on the nearest possible subject, magnification is 0.5 with no extension other than that provided by the built-in Helicoid. The closest marked focusing distance is 0.241 meters or 9.5 ". Closer focusing and still higher magnification can be achieved with added lens extension using a bellows or extension tubes. It can create a lot of many combinations with varying magnifications when use with PK rings or extension tubes.

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Micro-Nikkor lenses have long been known for their superior optical quality. The Nikkor family's longer focal length at 200mm was joined recently by a new macro-zoom at AF-D 70-180mm EDIF.

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Auto Extension Ring PK- 13 is designed specifically for the Al 55 mm Micro-Nikkor, but usable with any Al lens, this is an extension ring which preserves both automatic aperture and full-aperture metering. It provides an extension of 27.5mm. When used with the 55mm Micro-Nikkor, the available range of magnifications starts at 0.5 when none of the lens Helicoid movement is used and goes up to 1.0 when all of the lens Helicoid movement is used.

The 55mm f/2.8 is brighter while has a good reputation for its optical quality. It has also benefited from Nikon's Close-Range Correction System which is used to maintain equally high close focusing performance even when used to shoo at the minimum focusing distance. This lens has a top rated built finishes too. The only draw back you can picked on is perhaps its restrictive working distance which at an magnification of 1X life size, the working distance is only about 57mm as compared to a more comfortable range of 0.47 m (1.55ft) for its 105mm counterpart.

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The razor sharp Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 has a simple and straight forward optical design of 5 elements in 3 groups and it was always been many photographer's favorite. PN-11 enables this lens and the newer version Micro-Nikkor 105mmf4.0 to reach 1:1.

The basic idea of the 105mm micro lens is the same as the 55mm micro. It has magnifications up to 0.5 (1/2 life size) without any accessories and uses a dedicated extension ring that gives magnifications from 0.5 to 1.0 (1:1 life size). The free working distance between the front of the lens barrel and the subject is longer with the 105mm as compared with the 55mm counterpart. This sometimes makes the 105mm lens more convenient to use because you can get light on the subject more easily (like flash or ambient light) when there is greater distance between lens and subject. A disadvantage is that you need nearly twice as much extension to get the same magnification with the 105mm lens, compared to the 55mm micro. With the lenses not reversed, and installed on a bellows, full bellows extension with the 105mm lens gives magnification of about 1.75 whereas full bellows extension with the 55mm micro gives magnification of about 3.4.

Both older 105mm f/4.0 versions are confined to cosmetic changes rather than optically. See the rubberized focusing grips of the above two illustrations with the latter more compact than earlier ones. It has a slight upgraded cosmetically during early '80 and also an AI-S version was introduced later stage. The Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF introduced back in 1979 was the first close focus lens from Nikkor family to incorporate an internal focusing optical mechanism.

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One of the earliest 55mm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor-P which even has the extension range, magnification also engraved on the lens barrel.

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Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon
Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:- Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

During the early '80, the micro Nikkor family again evolved with a speed pump and each of these lenses of varying focal length were given almost a full f-stop increase in lens speed. Even the Medical Nikkor was upgraded with a entire redesigned lens other than the speed gained. Apart from that, the Nikkor lens family upgraded many of the optic to AI-S where a notch was added to provide additional information on focal length to newer SLRs that would utilize such info for programmed AE and a newly introduced Matrix Metering system (However, only two manual focus SLRs have benefited from such an "upgrade", the Nikon FA and F301). While the 200mm Micro-Nikkor remained unchanged, the Micro-Nikkor 105mm came with a new optical design and a full stop brighter at f/2.8 from the earlier f/4.0 !

The speed gain of one full stop in Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 also changed its optical design from a direct, straight forward of 5 elements in 3 groups to a more complex formulation of 9 elements in 8 groups. The lens can be easily identify because it has a distance lock knob on the lens barrel. Although it is a good all round substitute especially for those who owns both classic 105mm f/2.5 & earlier Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 but some how, I decided to drop the combinations after a while and opt for the Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.5 IF while retaining the ultra-sharp telephoto 105mm f/2.5. I missed the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 but used prices are ridiculously high for a an excellent unit.

The Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 would need a dedicated Auto Extension Ring PN- I I to enable it reaching life-size reproduction (1:1). Although it was designed specifically for the Al 105mm Micro-Nikkor, but usable with any AI lens, it has an extension of 52.5mm. It preserves automatic aperture and full-aperture metering capability. When used with the 105mm micro lens, the range of magnifications available by adjustment of the lens focusing control is 0.5 to 1.0 life-size. This extension ring has a tripod socket built into a collar around the ring. By using the tripod socket on the extension ring instead of the one on the camera base, you can get a more balanced arrangement on a tripod and not stress the camera tripod mount. The collar rotates on the extension ring, with detents every 90'. It has a locking adjustment to hold any rotation so you can position the camera for a vertical shot, horizontal, or any angle. There is also an older Auto Extension Ring PN-1 which is identical to the PN-11 in function, but this ring fits non-Al lenses and preserves both automatic aperture and full aperture metering.


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However, Micro-Nikkor 200mm f4.5 was remained unchanged until the AF version.

The next range of Micro-Nikkor is at 200mm focal length. I bought my Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF after Michael's strong recommendation which I find them very relevant at the field work. The luxurious free working distance of 0.71m (2.34ft) is especially handy to use this lens for nature photography. The lens has a 9 elements in 6 groups design and has a narrow field view of 12° 20'. It is famed for its exceptional flatness of field, a built-in removable tripod collar and a built-in telescopic lens hood is also provided. The non-rotating lens barrel during focusing benefited from the use of IF (internal focus) is smooth and in particularly useful in copying or photography which demands calculation of lens to subject distance. Further the free working distance is useful to set up photography which demand artificial illumination such as the using flash.

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The Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF is a very well built lens, highly versatile for its purpose. The short fall, perhaps is its inability to go life size (1:1) while it would need to make use of a Nikon Teleconverter TC-300/301 to reach that magnification ratio !

When Nikon eventually introduced a new series of AF-Nikkor to supplement the early AF bodies of F-501(1986), F-401 (1987) and F-801/Nikon F4 later in 1988 (Although the first batch of AF-Nikkor 80mm f/2.8 and AF-Nikkor 200mm f/3.5 EDIF were intended for Nikon F3 AF of 1983 which incidentally, was the first Autofocus Nikon SLR), these early AF-Nikkor have a different appearance and cosmetic from models introduced in later stages.

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The AF Micro-Nikkor lenses are featured in the next section because F2 bodies comprised a mixture of AI and non-AI metered prisms and NOT ALL F2 models can used AF Nikkor lenses !

Although all Nikon AF are AI-S lenses in nature but they have one problem in its features that has affected its easy compatibility with older non-AI cameras, i.e. AF Nikkor lenses has removed the meter couplng shoe on the lens ! See the illustration of the AF-D Fisheye-Nikkor 16mm f/2.8, there is NO meter coupling shoe on the aperture ring which is essential for non-AI F2 models to couple with the metering mechanism under the any of the metered prism.

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W A R N I N G: For other non-AI Nikon SLRs such as the Nikkormat, the protruding meter coupling pin is used to mate with the Meter Coupling shoe on the lens. The removal of that feature indirectly means older Nikkor bodies cannot be used with newer AF lenses. The Nikon Series-E lenses introduced along with Nikon EM were the ONLY manual focus lenses from Nikon that do not provide with a Mter coupling shoe on the lens. these lenses are also NOT usable with Non-AI Nikon Bodies.

Close-up Accessories for Manual Focus Nikkor lenses

Although specialize lenses which are designed to perform its best at close focuses have a wider scope of application and greater versatility. With careful selection and a little creative thinking, some of the accessories present in the Nikon Photographic system can also be make use to enhance and extend capabilities of the lenses without bursting your wallet. It is always good to remind yourself Macro photography is all about extending the physical distance between lens and camera body in order to achieve higher magnification ratio, so think of using the wide array of close-up accessories that are designed with cheaper, simpler to use and provide high portability. First on the list is actually the much discarded attachment lenses.

There could be too many compatibility issue between the AI/Non-AI - in particularly when associated to AF Nikkors and also accessories that built around the newer AF Nikkor lenses. To avoid confusion which may lead to wrong investment of proper accessories with your Nikon F2 camera models, it is always safer to refer back to accessories that built around the manual focus Nikon bodies.

11/11 For macro Photography with nikon F2 Series Bodies

The NEXT chapter, touching on various AF Micro-Nikkor lenses that followed, are merely prepare for reading references and should NOT be used in any way as a absolute buying guide.

| Extension Rings & Tubes Part I & Part II | Bellow Units Part I, Part II, Part III | Close-Up Attachment lenses | Microscope Adaptors | Copy Stands | Medical / Bellows Nikkor | Cable Releases | Cases & compartments | Eyepiece Accessories | DH-1 Charger | Miscellaneous | Micro-Nikkor Lenses | Macro flash Units |

| Back | Main Index Page of Macro/Micro/Close-Ups Photography

System Accessories: Motor Drives / Prisms / Screens / Macro / Film Backs / Flash Other Accessories: DS-1 / DS-2 / DS-12 / eyepiece / DH-1 / cases / Cable releases / Miscellaneous
| History & Background | Semi-FAQ | Various Features and Functions - 6 Parts |

| Message Board | for your favourite Nikon F2 Series SLR model(s)
| Message Board | for your Nikon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Nikon/Nikkor Photographic Equipment

| Back | to Main Index Page of Nikon F2 Series SLR models
| Back | Main Index Page of Pictorial History of Nikon SLRs

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The Eyes of Nikon:-
Nippon Kogaku KK Rangefinder RF-Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor lenses- Main Index Page

Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm |
Standard
Lenses -
45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm |
Super-Telephoto
Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |
Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm
MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm |
35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm |
100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/nikonfmount/lens2.htm
http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

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