50mm Macro Lens Choices for Slide/Neg Digitization

Discussion in 'Macro' started by michael_matsil, Nov 17, 2021.

  1. Hi All,
    I use a Nikon Z7 body and I'm looking for a high quality macro lens to digitize slides & negatives, utilizing Nikon's ES-2 Film Digitizing Adapter. I'm surveying the market for a lens that fits my description. I've come up with the following:

    1] A plug & play option would be to get the Nikkor Z Micro 50mm. 1:1 reproduction. I think a bit pricey at $600 US for a dedicated digitizing only lens. It seems to be highly rated, but outsourced manufacturing to China seems to have left the build quality and tactile qualities lacking for some. Also, no "Nano Crystal" coating on the elements which is a feature on many Nikkor F & Z lenses. For reproduction work at macro distance, I will be focusing manually and there have been some complaints regarding the movement and feel of the ring on the lens.

    2] I have the Canon lens to Z mount adapter, so I'm also looking at the Canon EF 50mm 2.5 Compact. This lens only reproduces to half life size, so it requires Canon's Life Size Converter EF which gets reproduction to 1:1, which is what I need for duplicating film. It is not a simple extension tube but has 4 elements of optics within, which Canon says optimizes super close up image quality.

    3] Nikon 60mm 2.8 Micro Nikkor AF-D. 1:1 reproduction.

    I'm not really concerned about AF performance or if any lens I choose has AF at all because this is a dedicated digitizing lens and I probably will not use it in the field. All of these lenses seem to get thumbs up from most users for the critical needs of macro: distortion & sharpness.

    Any comments on these choices, especially if you have experience using any of them? Any other candidates I should consider?

    Thanks! Mike
  2. I bought the ES2 for use with my z6ii. I used the Micro Nikkor 55mm 3.5 with a PK-3 for 1:1. It worked OK but it is a flimsy setup. Any micro Nikkor is plenty sharp, and pre AI cost next to nothing.
    Shortly after I bought the ES-2, I found an old Nikon slide duplicator bellows kit for the same price as the ES-2 - including a Micro Nikkor! and copying is now a pleasure rather than a chore.
    Btw - be aware that the ES-2 slide holder only takes thin commercially mounted slides. The slid was too narrow to accept my glass-less Gepe mounted slides.
  3. SCL


    Any good macro lens, even much older ones will do an excellent job. If you have Z7 adapters for other manufacturer's lenses your choices are really varied. IMHO the critical issues are:
    1. ensuring the negative or slide is flat,
    2. providing a consistent color corrected lighting system,
    3. a support system to ensure there is no camera movement during exposure (I use a modified enlarger which is rock steady,
    4. and that the sensor is parallel in all planes to the slide or negative.
  4. Yes to all of that! Thanks.
  5. Thanks, regarding using an old Nikkor Micro! I happen to have a K3 extension ring from the Nikkor F Extension Ring Model K set which I also have. Is this the same PK-3 that you speak of? I've attached a picture of the ring. The kit appears to have rings/tubes K1, K2, K3, K4 & K5 for various extensions.

  6. Just to add to my previous post: The PK-3 offers 27.5 mm of extension and you're saying that will give the 55mm 3.5 a 1:1 reproduction size. It appears that my set of five K rings can be combined as follows to come close to that 27.5.

    1] K3 + K4 + K2 + K1 would give 26.6mm
    2] K3 + K5 + K2 would give 30.8mm

    Would one of those provide 1:1 with the 55mm 3.5?

    These numbers are according to the following source: Extension Tubes - Nikon F2 Macro-photography
  7. 30.8mm and lens not entirely cranked out should work?
  8. Extension rings will do the same job as the PK-3 (or 13) - the prong or Ai coupling is irrelevant for your purpose.

    There is no real advantage to the newer AiS 55/2.8 (I own one) unless you will use it on a F-mount body with Ai coupling for other purposes.
    I prefer the older non-Ai 55/3.5 for reasons I don't recall anymore. In any case, the older tend to be very cheap yet exceptionally good.

    Unless you have already purchased the ES-2 I will advise you to at least look for a slide copy bellows solution - (below is a photo of mine).
    It is a much more solid setup and faster to use than the Z7+adapter+extension ring+lens+ES-2 tube/holder.

    If you go the ES-2/Micro-Nikkor route, I'd advice you to add a glassless filtering to the 52mm tube that is included in the ES-2 kit - that will give you a few millimeters extra to move the slideholder/diffuser back and forth - at least I found that useful.

    Finally, for input on camera settings image conversion etc, I suggest you take a look at https://www.valoi.co gear and technique guides.

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
  9. The old 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkors are hard to beat. The under-loved 40/2.8g Micro Nikkor is my go-to for scanning b&w negs with a D7200. Old Manfrotto copy stand and a light box does the trick.
  10. NHSN.... thanks for your advice and thanks to the rest of you too. I do like those Valoi products, but for now, I have the Nikon ES-2 already. I also purchased the 2.8 55mm I saw on eBay along with the PK-13 tube. I'll work with that system for a while and see how the workflow feels. But I can definitely see the advantages of the Valoi system in terms of efficiency and certainly a bellows/rail system is the best for flexibility. In fact, somewhere in the gear closet, I believe I have an old Nikon bellows unit. For now, I really just have one 35mm BW neg project to work on and it is of a limited nature, so I'll find my workflow on that project and will consider different gear set ups if I have more film to digital projects come up.
  11. No no! I don’t recommend Valoi, but most of their advice applies to any type of camera scanning. You don’t need to use their product to use their advice.
  12. Got it...
    NHSN likes this.
  13. There are lots of very good copy lenses that have almost flat focus.

    I often use a Nikkor enlarger lens when copying with a Universal Repronar.

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