Nikon micro lens 55/f2.8 vs 55/f 3.5

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by joseph_smith|3, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. I am thinking of buying either of these two lenses and would like
    your opinion as to which one might be a better purchase for
    traditional macro work and for duplicating slides with a ChromaPro
    slide duplicator. If this lens is not suitable for slide duplication
    please let me know. Much thanks. Joe Smith
  2. I have the old f/3.5 and it's a very good lens, presumably can be had cheaper than the f/2.8. I think it would be fine for slide duplication, but it won't go to 1:1 unless you have a 25mm extension tube for it. If I were wanting to use it for slide duplication I'd get more than 25mm so I could crop a bit if desired. With two 25mm tubes, your magnification starts at 1:1 and goes bigger from there. The lens is not really optimized for magnifications beyond 1:1, but it will probably perform okay if you don't push it too far.

  3. I also have the older f/3.5 version of this lens. It was made for flat field copy work and perfect for slide duplication. I don't own a sharper lens. All my copy work is done with this lens. When I got the first slides back from shooting with it I was astounded by the quality...I thought I was looking at 3-D images.

    Couldn't say how it matches up with the newer f2.8 version because I've never needed to know. For what they are going for these days if I were you I'd grab the f/3.5. You won't need the extra stop for copy work. It's an incredible bargain.
  4. I have both. You would be hard pressed to find a difference in sharpness. Speed; yes- 2/3 of a stop. BUILD QUALITY: The F3.5 is built better and will have less problems with oil on the shutter blades than the EARLY AIS 55mm F2.8. Be careful if you go for the F2.8; there was a real problem with the oil that Nikon used when the AIS lenses appeard in the early-mid '80s.
  5. I have the factory AI 55/3.5 and I agree its a stunner for sharpness. Both are flat field and designed for copy work. I don't care about the 2/3 stop because I either use it with a tripod or flash. The f/2.8 might be a bit better to focus, expecially as extension is added through tubes or the focusing helicoid. Its smaller than the AIS f/2.8 and both require the PK-13 extension tube to get to 1:1.

    Which camera are you planning on using with it?
  6. Weren't there constant aperture versions of these lenses-so that as you focused closer,
    each f/stop held its value?????????
  7. Great answers everyone! Thanks! Mike, I am planning on using the lens on a N90s or a 8008s. I also plan to use either or both of these camera bodies with the ChromaPro slide duplicator made by Mangum Sickles Industries. Joe Smith
  8. I've used 55/3.5 a lot, and while I have noted impressive consensus that it is better than the 55/2.8, a professional photographer and photo teacher whom I know liked the 55/2.8 better. If I'm not mistaken, the 55/3.5 peaks in image quality at a distance at which an object approx. 14" across fills the frame. Not sure where I read about that...Probably hard to go wrong with either...
  9. The early "Micro-NIKKOR Auto 1:3.5 f=55mm Nippon Kogaku" with compensating aperture was more heavily weighted towards macro than later variants. It is known as something of a dog at infinity. This lens was made between 1963 and 1968 or 1968. It has metal focus ring with scalloped machining. The aperture ring is either smooth or scalloped. It can be distinguished by a curve plate with a diagonal slot adjacent to the notch in the bayonet for locking the lens on the camera (look inside the bayonet when focust to 1:2) and a small secondary access mark on the rabbit ears for the secondary aperture scale on the standard accessory M tube. This is a pre-AI lens best left non-AI. It does not fit many cameras like the FM2n, FE2 and F5 with a non-retractable aperture coupling lever but the 27.5mm M tube clears by about 1mm and the user is free to use this lens from 1/2 to full life size on these and similar bodies. These lenses can be pickup for about $100.00 to $160.00 dollars. I currently own the first and third variant of this lens.

    The next optical formula was modified to give better performance at infinity with some loss at 1:1. This was my first Nikkor lens when I bought my first SLR back in 1970. It had a rubber diamond checkered pattern on the focus ring and first came as non-AI and single coated ending with a Multi-coated AI version. The first was bagged "Micro-Nikkor-P Auto 1:3.5 f=55mm Nippon Kogaku" and the last as "Micro-Nikkor 55mm 1:3.5" and "Nikon." The early variant came standard with an accessory M2 tube while the last came without the optional accessory PK-13 tube. In between there was a PK-3 tube that probably was optional. All these tubes were 27.5mm. I currently own the last or AI version.

    The first and only AIS version was the "Micro-NIKKOR 55mm 1:2.8 Nikon." This lens features CRC (Close Range Correction) or floating elements and produces extremely sharp images at infinity. This lens is graded down for close up work as the CRC will be in the infinity position when the optional accessory PK-13 tube is used at 1:2 and until the lens is near 1:1. This can be over come by using a PK-12 tube before using the PK-13 tube to keep the floating elements close to the macro setting. This is the second sharpest lens I've test and well ahead of everthing buy my 50/1.8 AI. Even the mighty 105/2.5 AIS Nikkor doesn't touch these two. The test was at 2m. It is noted as a problematic lens for lube contamination by Bjørn Rørslett though I have had two of these lenses and have my first now and have had no problems with either.

    If a lens has been cooked in a car or truck it many need two cleanings before it’s free of lube contamination. I have a 50/1.4 AIS that has needed two cleanings and may end up needing another as some kind person baked it in a glove box or trunk. There was an AF version of the 55/2.8 that I’ve never owned.

    The best reviews of these lens on the net that I’ve seen are found at...

    Nærfoto Bjørn Rørslett

    Look for "Lenses" on the left after entering the site.

    I recommend the early (compensating aperture) version for Macro and copy work and the 55/2.8 for a general purpose normal lens including Macro and copy work. These are all flat field lenses suitable for copy work but the early compensating version is the best for this type of work.

    All of these lenses can be used at 1/2 to life size with all metering modes on all film and digital Nikons if a chipped M2 or PK-13 tube is used. Please see...

    The Circle is Closed: Chips to the Rescue

    You can find photos to identify these lenses at Roland Vink’s site...

    Nikon Lens Serial Numbers

    Hope this helps. Donning my "Flak Jacket" as some bristle at the implication that their version may not be the best at everything. There are 10 variants of the 55mm Micro Nikkor and an f=5.5cm 1:3.5 preset version I’ve never seen or don't remember.


    Dave Hartman.
  10. Here is a scan of the 55/3.5 Micro Nikkor (compensating aperture version). Please not there is an error at Photography in Malaysia. The standard accessory extension tube for the compensating aperture version was not the M2 tube but rather the M tube. I e-mailed Leo Foo regarding this buy never received an answer. I guess I’ll try again.
  11. Here is a PDF copy of the 55/3.5 Micro-Nikkor (compensating
    aperture version) instruction manual.<br>
    Warning: 4MB file!
  12. Mine is an early, AI'd 55/3.5 (tho' not the compensating aperture type, which is probably just as well). Excellent performer. If cost is a factor there's no need to feel that you'd be sacrificing performance.

    I haven't found the f/3.5 maximum aperture to be a limiting factor in any way. It's easy enough to focus in any reasonable light - I've used it in very late afternoon/early evening light several times. And how often does anyone shoot a macro lens at or near maximum aperture?
  13. Does anyone have a scalloped aluminum focus control Micro-Nikkor that was factory AI(ed)?

    I&#146;m really curious if anyone knows if Nikon officially AI(ed) the early compensating aperture Micro-Nikkors. The lens would have the scalloped aluminum focus control and the aperture ring would be scalloped also. The serial number would probably be between 238011 and 273153 according to Roland Vink&#146;s site. Such a lens would also have two more aperture scales on the chrome barrel. The one on the left shows f/4, f/4.5 and f/5 for use when the lens is wide open and the M tube is not used. The one on the right shows f/5.6, f/6.3 and f/7.1, this is for use when the lens is wide open and the M tube is used.

    Looking in my 55/3.5 AI Micro I think the curved plate with the diagonal slot found in the compensating aperture version could be replaced with the one with a straight slot found in the AI version. The curved plate is connected to the aperture control ring and controls the aperture setting. There is another curved plate that controls the auto aperture function and another that is just for the proper function of the focus helicoid.


    Dave Hartman.
  14. "The lens would have the scalloped aluminum focus control and the aperture ring would be scalloped also." --DHH

    Oops! If it’s AI(ed) by Nikon the aperture control ring should be aggressively checkered not scalloped.
  15. Joseph I guess you know that you need an AI lens to use with those cameras? Of course, some of your metering and exposure features will be crippled with a manual focus lens. Have you considered the AF 60/2.8?

    Honestly, compensating 55/3.5 non-AI type aside, I think we're splitting hairs on the performance difference for use in slide duplication. Both are flat field and top in sharpness.
  16. Again great answers and information from everyone. I am trying to keep my costs down and that is why I was looking for the MF version of the 55mm lens. I already own a Nikon MF 200mm f 4.0 micro so I know about the need for an AI lens. Personally, I prefer the MF versions of Nikon's macro lenses--especially the 200mm, in that you can use teleconverters with it (and you cannot with the 200mm AF. Joe Smith
  17. Joe:

    My first autofocus camera was the Nikon 8008. My first autofocus lens was the 55/f 2.8. The lens was, as the saying goes, tack sharp. It was also large and rather ungainly to use. It was discontinued after a few years and was replaced by the current 60mm lens.

    I don't see too many of the 55 auto focus lenses available for sale. Perhaps they are resonably priced. Why don't you take a look.

    By the way, I finally sold the 55 in favor of a Tamron 90mm lens. I use a 50/f1.4 as my normal lens - it is lighter. Enjoy.
  18. For a general purpose normal and macro lens I usually pick the 55/2.8 AIS Micro. When I bought my first AF camera, an F4s, I bought an AF 60/2.8 Micro. These are both fine lenses.

    The 55/3.5 compensating can be very inexpensive. Before trying one for the N90s you need to know if that camera has DOF preview that does not interrupt the meter system. What you need to try is press the DOF preview button and see if the meter is still working. Any lens will do as you are not taking a real reading only checking to see if the system read something.

    The 55/3.5 compensating aperture micro is a lens you might buy and just leave on the slide copier or use on a bellows. On a bellow you don’t need a camera that meters while the DOF button is pressed. Instead you would use a BR-4 or for AF lenses a BR-6 auto-aperture ring. The 55/3.5 CA is almost systematical and works very well reversed. This lens can even be reversed and used as a macro lens for 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 and 4x5. I wish I still had my Pentax 6x7.

    For the N90s I’d go with the 55/2.8 or 60/2.8 depending on how important AF is to you. AF will not be used for macro (or you might loose your mind) but I used my AF 60/2.8 for night flash on the F4s and with an SB-24 with its near IR focus assist.

    I’m sorry folks, the only reason I have a 55/3.5 AI Nikkor is I sold mine to my mom years ago and she is 88 and can’t use anything but a point & shoot due to memory loss. It’s not a bad lens in fact it was better for most users than the 55/3.5 CA version.

  19. Thanks again everyone. I am going to try and get a good used 55mm f 2.8. Joe Smith
  20. I have the 3.5 version and I like it very much.
    I would like to clean the inside of the front element though: there's a small metal shaving in he center of the lens. I've
    been trying to take it apart and got quite far but couldn't get to the front lens.
    Has anyone ever taken the 3.5 version apart and want to share their knowledge please? I've been searching for
    instructions but couldn't find any.

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