Additional Information on
Nikon Micro-Nikkor lenses for macro-photography - Part I


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Names preceding the word of a "Nikkor" lens indicate optics made for special purpose or applications. for an example, Fisheye-Nikkor lens show either with an extreme wideangle with distorted circular image or a full frame effect while a PC-Nikkor features perspective control ability, a Reflex-Nikkor employs a catadioptric (mirror-reflex) principle widely used in modern astronomical telescopes and so forth. Among all the special application Nikkor lenses designed and manufactured for general consumer applications, perhaps the Nikon's Micro-Nikkor lenses are easily the most popular special application lenses among all the few special range of optical 35mm lenses produced by Nikon.

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The Macro photography section is one of the strongest asset in the Nikon photographic system. The lens development in this field can be dated back to the rangefinder days where Nikon has already offered a RF 5cm f/3.5 Micro-Nikkor.C lens for their range of rangefinder cameras. The macro system was further spearheaded during the reflex Nikon F SLRs era and by the '70 as the superior advantage of direct viewing via reflex principle in a SLR camera has greatly enhanced the convenience in close-up photography.

UPDATE: The trade name "Micro-Nikkor" lenses popular used for 35mm general photography may also include other industrial usage, special series of Micro-NIKKOR 7cm 1:5, 150mm 1:5.6; series of Ultra-Micro-NIKKOR lenses; as well as the Macro-NIKKOR lenses, where all have been featured at another website extension.

Credit: Image shown at left ahnd side courtesy of Mr. Serhiy <>Copyright © 2002, All rights reserved.

Over the years, the Nikon Macrophotographic system has developed into a high comprehensive stand-alone system. Both Nikkor lens and Nikon camera development was synchronized and when TTL-OTF flash exposure control was finally deployed in Nikon SLR during the Nikon F3 era, the Nikon macro/close-up system was sophisticated enough to claim almost perfect in quality, varieties and ease in operation - except autofocusing.

Update: Comparing some early MACRO-Nikkor (not "Micro") lenses: MACRO Nikkor 12cm F6.3 (MACRO Nikkor 120mm F6.3; MACRO Nikkor 65mm F4.5; MACRO Nikkor 35mm F4.5 by Mr. Michio Akiyama, Japan. These old screw-mount lenses are also usable with Nikon SLRs via custom adapter(s) or lens board on Bellow-Unit.

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The single most important element in a macrophotographic system is the lense you used. As it has a commanding factor to influence the eventual quality of the images. Generally, ALL manual focus lenses travel along an internal thread in the lens barrel, called Helicoid and then the lens is extended along the Helicoid, and so thus the magnification increases. The limit is the end of the Helicoid of a lens because you cannot move any further by twist focus control via the distance ring on the lens. That is usually interpreted as the physical limit a lens can provide and the maximum magnification of any single lens without using additional devices to increase its magnification.

Copyright ©
-free Images collection. 2001, leofoo (150 K Jpeg) Malaysian Internet Resources

Technically, if the desired magnification ratio is not too high, attaching a close-up filter on to the front section of the lens may be the cheapest form of increasing magnification of a lens. However, if image quality and flexibility is highly desired, there are more ways to achieve similar objective. There are a number of Nikkor macro photographic close-up accessories that provide many ways to "move" the lens still further from the film plane physically to in order to increase the magnification of the lens. These devices, can be in the form of extension tubes/rings, bellow units or even an optical device like teleconverter etc. can be used to achieve such photographic objective. Extension tubes are the next form of good, cheap alternative, they are designed to fit easily between lens and camera to increase the effective lens to film distance or generally we summarized it as "Extension" to increase magnification of any given lens type.

For an example, without an addition of close-up accessories either close-up filters, lenses, extension tubes or a bellow unit, a standard Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens may have problem if you wish to focus closer than 45cm (18 in.) as it is the physical limit of the helicoid inside the lens has been designed to extend to. At such distance you can record an object measuring 160mm x 240mm (6-/2 x 9-/2 in.) on the standard 35mm's 24mm x 36mm image area; at this distance, the magnification ratio is 0.15X. Next, since most lenses are "optimized" and perform at their best when focuses at infinity. So when they are used at their closest focusing distance, uncorrected optical design may see the image quality deteriorates rapidly. Among the few alternatives to handle macrophotography; the best and easiest way is to use a kind of specialize lenses such as Micro-Nikkor lenses as these lenses are specially produced to ensure similar high performance of the lens is also be retained at their respective closest working distance. Other than using an superior optical design, they also have a built -in extension mechanism in its internal Helicoid to achieve extension which translate into not less than 1:2 life-size magnifications on film.

Other than what the lenses can offer, smart camera designs do contributed their positive aspect in Macrophotography. Nikon professional F-series, in particular provide an edge over other Nikon models because they offering 100% view field, mirror lock up capability and interchangeable focusing screens and choice of viewfinders to suit individual needs. Specialized finders such as Waist-Level, 6X Magnification Finder can be used facilitate easy focus and picture composition at low-or ground-level or when used on copy stand.

Copyright ©-free Images collection. 2001, leofoo (150 K Jpeg) Malaysian Internet Resources

Since virtually all Nikon manual focus SLRs have been equipped with a depth of field preview lever/button which helps a great deal to let you pre-visualize depth of field at working aperture. Next, many midrange Nikon SLRs do offer interchangeable focusing screens and you can select the right types of screen to best suit your own needs and improve convenience of focusing with your lens types. Lastly, another major factor that has made Nikon Macrophotographic system such an enjoyable system to use is: Many of the older Macro accessories (even older Bellow Units) within the Nikon system should still be usable and compatible with current Nikon SLR camera models (except some features found in newer series of camera models may affect the way of how to make use of them effectively). In many ways, over the years as some of the technologies introduced in cameras Modern such as TTL-OTF flash, Matrix metering, autofocusing or electronic rangefinder system have simplify process of macrophotography. It has been made more assuring with positive results and facilitates better handling in particular when photographing at outdoor.

Well, from a consumer's point of view, it does has some shortfall from perfection as many of the earlier MF Micro-Nikkor lenses provide life-size reproduction (1:1) only when used in conjunction with a matching Extension tube or via a teleconverter. It has taken many newer series of AF Micro-Nikkor lenses after 1989 like AF-D Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 EDIF, AF 60mm f/2.8 (1989) and AF-D Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 (Note: It was not entirely true to quote here, as Nikon did offered the early AF Micro-Nikkor 55mm f/2.8s with 1:1 as early as in 1986) to enable a built-in magnification power without any physical aid to reach life-size. Well, it is quite unfortunately for users of older Nikon cameras as virtually all Nikkor AF-lenses do not provide metering when older non-Ai F, F2, Nikkormat SLR bodies are used with these lenses. anyway, that is of course a hard fact of life within a commercial world as Nikon does have to survive on its own, right ?

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PERSONAL: Currently, I am using an AF-D Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 ED IF lens for my personal photography. Prior to this, I did owned a Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4.0 IF also a top rated lens and it is very versatile macro lens but I have given it away to a friend after I acquired my current favorite. Reason being the older version would need a Nikon TC-300 or TC-301 teleconverter in order to reach life size reproduction (Previously, I was using the PN-11 with my earlier MF Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 to be able to achieve 1:1). Huh ? Yes. I did owned a 105 version and in fact, I have been using a Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4.0 prior to the f/2.8 lens. Well, that is not all as previously, I was a firm user of the 55mm Micro-Nikkor lens. So, after all the years of soul searching, can I tell you the essence of all I have been through all these years in a single line ? Buy the longest focal length that you can afford !
Physically, all manual focus lenses travel along an internal thread in the lens barrel (Helicoid) and then the lens is extended along the Helicoid, and so thus the magnification increases. The limit is the end of the Helicoid of a lens because you cannot move any further by twist focus control via the distance ring on the lens. That is usually interpreted as the physical limit a lens can provide and the maximum magnification of any single lens without using additional devices to increase its magnification. Micro-Nikkor lenses are special because in one way, they have been designed in order to help you explore the world of microphotography, while at the same time, they are also a fine all rounder optic for general photography. They have remarkable ultra-close focusing ability, with highly corrected flatness of field at all subject distance from macro to infinity and thus, they provide a level of of versatility that is hard to match by using normal lenses with accessories to increase magnification. Further, these series of lenses retain full metering functions with the camera all at all focusing distance.

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For an example AF-D Micro-Nikkor 60mm f/2.8 lens can focuses as close as 21.9cm (8-3/4 ") without additional physical attachments between camera and lens to reach 1:1 Life-size reproduction. 1:1 means image is life-size, a term to describe the size of the object on film is equal to the object's actual size. This amazing macro range can extends up to 12X with other combinations in Nikon macro photographic system. Beyond that range - is where photomicrography which is only accomplished via microscope and/or adapter.

Copyright ©-free Images collection. 2001, leofoo (150 K Jpeg) Malaysian Internet Resources

Another important general feature provides by all Micro-Nikkor lenses is, they all provide a minimum aperture of f/32 (the newly introduced PC-Micro-Nikkor can even stopped down to an amazing f/45). This feature is crucial for extreme close up photography for maximum control of depth of field. We are discussing about the Manual focus series of Micro-Nikkor lenses here right now but if you have not been owning any of these lenses and IF budget is not a factor in a buying decision, always put an Autofocus version of the Micro-Nikkor lens on your priority list over the MF versions. With the intense development of digital imaging, those who have invested into the newer series of AF Nikkor may benefit from the change of direction and general user's interest in macrophotography in the future. And generally, they will have less incompatibilities with technologies employ in newer series of Nikon AF SLRs. So, it is always wiser to look at the AF range of lenses to preserve investment value. However, as not everyone is free of financial constraints and it does look stupid just to buy an AF lens when you only have a MF SLR camera so, the enormous number of used MF lenses come as a more logical investment, right ? Well, as I only have a sole 200mm Micro Nikkor lens right now and that may very likely will be my last Micro-Nikkor lens that I will be owning.

| NEXT| Segment 2 covers information on the 105mm, 200mm and handling metering with older non-Ai Nikon camera bodies 1/3

Micro-Nikkor lense Family: | 50mm | 55mm (AF) | 60mm (AF) | 85mm PC | MF-105mm (AF) | MF-200mm (AF) | 70-180mm (AF) |

| Back | Main Index Page of Micro-Nikkor Lenses
| Back | Main Index Page of Nikkor Resources

Personal Note: The Manual focus Nikon F2 and Nikon F3 represent two different generations with entire mechanical control to semi-automatic operation. The problem is, I did the Nikon F3 site first before I reverted back to take a look at Nikon F2 and did quite a comprehensive write-up on macrophotography to patch what is heavily missing in the Nikon F3 section on close-up photography. Because each of the F-series SLR bodies has a macrophotography section. You may also make use of them to refer the various stages of development for Nikon close-up photographic system, of particular interest is the older system close-up accessories. | Macro with Nikon F2 (11 parts) | Macro with Nikon F3 (3 parts) | Macro with Nikon F4/F5 (new)

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Nikon MF RF-Nikkor lenses for Rangefinder cameras:- Main Index Page
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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 |

Nikkor Link.jpg   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

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

Recommended Reading Reference on Nikon cameras and Nikkor lenses | about this photographic web site

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Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.