Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3? Zeiss Planar T* f/1.4 vs Nikkor f.1.2 or f/1.4?

Started 4 months ago | Discussions
Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Ken Seals wrote:

Gesture wrote:

I think you are on track.

I understand the appeal of the 50mm f/1.4, but for years I had only an FM and the 50mm f/1.8, which is also a great lens.

I know you want a lens with good maximum aperture, but I think one great appeal of this era are the 55mm Nikon micro (macro) lenses, f/2.8 or f/3.5. It's not that I am doing real macro, but these lenses really shine when you are shooting in that 9 inches to 2 foot range.

Excellent points! In addition, the 55mm MicroNikkors can be used on a Nikon DSLR with the ES-2 film copy adapter to negate the need for a scanner. This system relies on using Lightroom Classic with the plugin Negative Lab Pro for both color and B&W conversion to positives. It works very well.

You don’t need NLP for black and white. For colour there are other options - colorperfect (which I use), a new one called Grain2Pixel, which I’ve not used, or there are various guides to inverting in Photoshop by dividing by a fill layer of the negative colour and then tweaking the colours to suit.  I imagine in Linux you could build a tool gain using ImageMagick to do the same automatically.

Ken Seals
Ken Seals Senior Member • Posts: 1,333
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

Overrank wrote:

You don’t need NLP for black and white. For colour there are other options - colorperfect (which I use), a new one called Grain2Pixel, which I’ve not used, or there are various guides to inverting in Photoshop by dividing by a fill layer of the negative colour and then tweaking the colours to suit. I imagine in Linux you could build a tool gain using ImageMagick to do the same automatically.

Yes, there are many ways to invert copies of B&W negatives. I like the speed of NLP. Over the last few weeks I did about 1,000 copies images on Tri-X film that were more than 50 years old. Just zipped through them.

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Regards,
Ken - LR ACE
FAA Remote Pilot Certificate, ATP ASMEL
Mizzou PJ '66
www.kenseals.com

 Ken Seals's gear list:Ken Seals's gear list
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Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Overrank wrote:

Ken Seals wrote:

Gesture wrote:

I think you are on track.

I understand the appeal of the 50mm f/1.4, but for years I had only an FM and the 50mm f/1.8, which is also a great lens.

I know you want a lens with good maximum aperture, but I think one great appeal of this era are the 55mm Nikon micro (macro) lenses, f/2.8 or f/3.5. It's not that I am doing real macro, but these lenses really shine when you are shooting in that 9 inches to 2 foot range.

Excellent points! In addition, the 55mm MicroNikkors can be used on a Nikon DSLR with the ES-2 film copy adapter to negate the need for a scanner. This system relies on using Lightroom Classic with the plugin Negative Lab Pro for both color and B&W conversion to positives. It works very well.

You don’t need NLP for black and white. For colour there are other options - colorperfect (which I use), a new one called Grain2Pixel, which I’ve not used, or there are various guides to inverting in Photoshop by dividing by a fill layer of the negative colour and then tweaking the colours to suit. I imagine in Linux you could build a tool gain using ImageMagick to do the same automatically.

Someone (Fred Weinhaus) already done this for ImageMagick http://www.fmwconcepts.com/imagemagick/negative2positive/index.php

fulano Regular Member • Posts: 190
Re: Nikon FM3 50mm
1

Tomm111 wrote:

Nikon macros are excellent but most manual focus were f3.5 the f2.8 manual focus is rare and they went to AF soon after that, but I would bet an f2.8 would still be inexpensive.

The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 AI-s manual focus is still listed on the Nikon website and is in stock at B&H for $399 brand new:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/36984-USA/Nikon_1442_Macro_55mm_f_2_8_Micro.html).

The fact that it's been in production for over 40 years tells you something about how good it is.

LenneMc Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: Nikon FM3 50mm

fulano wrote:

Tomm111 wrote:

Nikon macros are excellent but most manual focus were f3.5 the f2.8 manual focus is rare and they went to AF soon after that, but I would bet an f2.8 would still be inexpensive.

The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 AI-s manual focus is still listed on the Nikon website and is in stock at B&H for $399 brand new:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/36984-USA/Nikon_1442_Macro_55mm_f_2_8_Micro.html).

The fact that it's been in production for over 40 years tells you something about how good it is.

The Nikkor 50mm f1.2 is also being sold.

Ken Seals
Ken Seals Senior Member • Posts: 1,333
Re: Nikon FM3 50mm

fulano wrote:

Tomm111 wrote:

Nikon macros are excellent but most manual focus were f3.5 the f2.8 manual focus is rare and they went to AF soon after that, but I would bet an f2.8 would still be inexpensive.

The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 AI-s manual focus is still listed on the Nikon website and is in stock at B&H for $399 brand new:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/36984-USA/Nikon_1442_Macro_55mm_f_2_8_Micro.html).

The fact that it's been in production for over 40 years tells you something about how good it is.

I'm using that very lens. It will only focus to 1:2 however. It needs a 27mm extension tube for 1:1. The matching Nikon extension tube is the PK-13. It is $99 new at B&H or about $30 used at KEH. I just ordered a used one. Until now, I have been using the basic extension tube that came with the MicroNikkor 55mm f:3.5.

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Regards,
Ken - LR ACE
FAA Remote Pilot Certificate, ATP ASMEL
Mizzou PJ '66
www.kenseals.com

 Ken Seals's gear list:Ken Seals's gear list
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Tomm111 Contributing Member • Posts: 850
Re: Nikon FM3 50mm

Ken Seals wrote:

fulano wrote:

Tomm111 wrote:

Nikon macros are excellent but most manual focus were f3.5 the f2.8 manual focus is rare and they went to AF soon after that, but I would bet an f2.8 would still be inexpensive.

The Micro-Nikkor 55mm f2.8 AI-s manual focus is still listed on the Nikon website and is in stock at B&H for $399 brand new:

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/36984-USA/Nikon_1442_Macro_55mm_f_2_8_Micro.html).

The fact that it's been in production for over 40 years tells you something about how good it is.

I'm using that very lens. It will only focus to 1:2 however. It needs a 27mm extension tube for 1:1. The matching Nikon extension tube is the PK-13. It is $99 new at B&H or about $30 used at KEH. I just ordered a used one. Until now, I have been using the basic extension tube that came with the MicroNikkor 55mm f:3.5.

If you need 1:1, I do a lot of macro but generally 1:2 is enough magnification, the extension tubes often sit in a drawer, then again they aren't a big investment. The AF version of the 55 f2.8 will focus to 1:1 with out an extension. All that said I am going upstairs to get my Nikon extension tube for my 105 micro. Above 1:2 I do prefer the 105 as I have more working distance, 1:1 with a 55 you often have lighting problems as the front element will only be 55mm from the subject, and the front element is very recessed on the lens.

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CortoPA
CortoPA Forum Member • Posts: 67
Re: Nikon FM3 50mm

I'd get a Nikon 35-70mm f/3.5 AI-s

Great IQ and versatility. I really like short Zooms for street photography where I mostly don't go faster than f/4 anyhow.

Short Zooms are great for walking around, and can be had at very decent prices.

Speedy primes have their uses, but I hardly ever go f/1.2 on my FL Canon's.

All depends on what you really use the lens for of course, what kind of photography you do.

robot vulture New Member • Posts: 3
Re: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

Hi,

I am an owner / big fan of the FM3A and have tried most of the lenses on your list. I've been shooting with it for the last 5 years. My thoughts on the lenses:

Nikon 50/1.4 AIS:

This was the one I started with. I shot a lot of early rolls with this lens and took many beautiful shots i was happy with. I found it too soft at 1.4, but it's fantastic from F2 onwards. It's a nice compact size too, it pairs well with the camera.

I haven't been shooting much with it in the last 2 years. The main reason is that after shooting some zeiss lenses, the colour of this nikon lens doesn't seem that great. Also the bokeh can be nervous at times.

Zeiss 35/2 ZF2

This wasn't on your list but it pairs great with FM3a. The image quality on another level to the nikon AIS lenses. The only thing issue with it though is it's slightly long and heavy for the FM3A. Not an issue if it's going in a bag, but might be annoying around the neck.

Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron

I picked this up a few months ago, and imho it is overall the best to pair with the fm3a. I love the colour rendition (slightly muted compared to zeiss), sharpness and bokeh. Form factor is very small, and it's a stop faster than the nikon 45/2.8P.

Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF2

Picked up one of these recently. Haven't properly tested it out on film yet, but from digital tests and what i've seen on the web i'm expecting good things. It's not up to the level of the milvus 50/1.4 but i think it'll be a big step up from the 50/1.4 AIS nikon. This lens does apparently have focus shift though, so something to be careful of.

Zeiss 50/1.4 Milvus

Amazing colour rendition and detail on film. Shoot a roll of portra 400, scan it well and you'll be amazed at the detail you get out of it. Too big for FM3a though, but it's fine on larger bodies like F5/F6/F100.

Nikon 45/2.8P

Haven't had a chance to properly test this on film, but seems ok on digital. Initial impression is that i prefer the voigtlander- faster, nicer colour rendition, better ergonomics.

Nikon 50/1.2 AIS

I've seriously looked at this lens a few times. imho if you go for this over the 1.4, it's because of the better bokeh and focus transitions rather than the extra speed. If you really want 50mm, it's worth serious consideration vs the zeiss 50/1.4.

Whichever lenses you go with though, scanning process is really important. I gave up on labs a long time ago - I hate the frontier colour rendition (too cyan/yellow, auto colour is terrible, needs lots of corrections just gross overall). Honestly if you want good output, just buy a coolscan 5000 and be done with it (you can feed the scans into NLP this way too if you desire). Scanning is a big topic in itself..

A few random shots taken with the voigtlander lens recently:

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MoreorLess Veteran Member • Posts: 4,761
Zeiss 50mm Makro?

robot vulture wrote:

Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron

I picked this up a few months ago, and imho it is overall the best to pair with the fm3a. I love the colour rendition (slightly muted compared to zeiss), sharpness and bokeh. Form factor is very small, and it's a stop faster than the nikon 45/2.8P.

Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF2

Picked up one of these recently. Haven't properly tested it out on film yet, but from digital tests and what i've seen on the web i'm expecting good things. It's not up to the level of the milvus 50/1.4 but i think it'll be a big step up from the 50/1.4 AIS nikon. This lens does apparently have focus shift though, so something to be careful of.

Zeiss 50/1.4 Milvus

Amazing colour rendition and detail on film. Shoot a roll of portra 400, scan it well and you'll be amazed at the detail you get out of it. Too big for FM3a though, but it's fine on larger bodies like F5/F6/F100.

I'm with you on the Voightlander, performance wise its perhaps not up their with the absolute best, the boarder are a bit softer wide open mostly but compared to older Nikon's it certainly holds its own very nicely plus as you say colour and bokey are very neutral. The older pancake designs especially make for a very compact pocketable setup on an Fm3a, personally I match it up with a 20mm Voiightlander Pancake as a lightweight travel setup.

One other Zeiss option I'd suggest is the 50mm F/2  Makro, again its a slower lens but performance wise I think it holds its own against pretty much anything at equivalent apertures plus gives you a pretty decent macro option. Its still a little on the heavy side I spose but not to the degree it would massively unbalance something like an Fm3a.

LenneMc Junior Member • Posts: 29
Re: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

You forgot the Nikkor 50mm f1.8, f2. and the Series E 50mm 1.8. I have the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, and I am disappointed with the bokeh at 1.2. Rather nervous, lots of onion rings. I am starting to be impressed with the lowly 50mm f1.8 Series E (silver ring). The bokeh seems very smooth at 1.8, sharp enough, and extremely well balanced on my FM2.

robot vulture wrote:

Optical1 wrote:

Hi all,

I am planning to return to film photography after spending the last several years solely shooting with digital cameras. I'm planning on purchasing a Nikon FM3 and a high quality 50mm(ish) normal prime lens to start.

I think I've narrowed down my list of lenses to the following:

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.4 Lens

ZEISS Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF.2 Lens for Nikon F

Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Lens

I'd like a decently fast lens, but I'm not caught up in the speed difference between F1.2 and 1.4 (or even f/2 for that matter). I'm also open to a slightly wide lens and have even considered the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f/2 SL IIS Aspherical Lens for that matter, but I do gravitate toward something a bit tighter than 35mm.

Does anyone have recommendations on the above in a normal prime lens for the FM3?

Thanks!

Optical1

Hi,

I am an owner / big fan of the FM3A and have tried most of the lenses on your list. I've been shooting with it for the last 5 years. My thoughts on the lenses:

Nikon 50/1.4 AIS:

This was the one I started with. I shot a lot of early rolls with this lens and took many beautiful shots i was happy with. I found it too soft at 1.4, but it's fantastic from F2 onwards. It's a nice compact size too, it pairs well with the camera.

I haven't been shooting much with it in the last 2 years. The main reason is that after shooting some zeiss lenses, the colour of this nikon lens doesn't seem that great. Also the bokeh can be nervous at times.

Zeiss 35/2 ZF2

This wasn't on your list but it pairs great with FM3a. The image quality on another level to the nikon AIS lenses. The only thing issue with it though is it's slightly long and heavy for the FM3A. Not an issue if it's going in a bag, but might be annoying around the neck.

Voigtlander 40/2 Ultron

I picked this up a few months ago, and imho it is overall the best to pair with the fm3a. I love the colour rendition (slightly muted compared to zeiss), sharpness and bokeh. Form factor is very small, and it's a stop faster than the nikon 45/2.8P.

Zeiss 50/1.4 ZF2

Picked up one of these recently. Haven't properly tested it out on film yet, but from digital tests and what i've seen on the web i'm expecting good things. It's not up to the level of the milvus 50/1.4 but i think it'll be a big step up from the 50/1.4 AIS nikon. This lens does apparently have focus shift though, so something to be careful of.

Zeiss 50/1.4 Milvus

Amazing colour rendition and detail on film. Shoot a roll of portra 400, scan it well and you'll be amazed at the detail you get out of it. Too big for FM3a though, but it's fine on larger bodies like F5/F6/F100.

Nikon 45/2.8P

Haven't had a chance to properly test this on film, but seems ok on digital. Initial impression is that i prefer the voigtlander- faster, nicer colour rendition, better ergonomics.

Nikon 50/1.2 AIS

I've seriously looked at this lens a few times. imho if you go for this over the 1.4, it's because of the better bokeh and focus transitions rather than the extra speed. If you really want 50mm, it's worth serious consideration vs the zeiss 50/1.4.

Whichever lenses you go with though, scanning process is really important. I gave up on labs a long time ago - I hate the frontier colour rendition (too cyan/yellow, auto colour is terrible, needs lots of corrections just gross overall). Honestly if you want good output, just buy a coolscan 5000 and be done with it (you can feed the scans into NLP this way too if you desire). Scanning is a big topic in itself..

A few random shots taken with the voigtlander lens recently:

Overrank Senior Member • Posts: 1,047
Re: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?
1

LenneMc wrote:

You forgot the Nikkor 50mm f1.8, f2. and the Series E 50mm 1.8. I have the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, and I am disappointed with the bokeh at 1.2. Rather nervous, lots of onion rings. I am starting to be impressed with the lowly 50mm f1.8 Series E (silver ring). The bokeh seems very smooth at 1.8, sharp enough, and extremely well balanced on my FM2.

+1 for the f/2. I often see people say for the f/1.4 (which I also own) that it’s nice at f/2. The f/2 is nice at f/2 and much smaller. I only have the f/1.4 because a smaller lens looks a bit silly on a Nikon F.

The E is nice too, the all black original version is tiny.

Steven Seven
Steven Seven Regular Member • Posts: 362
Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 AI-S
1

LenneMc wrote:

You forgot the Nikkor 50mm f1.8, f2. and the Series E 50mm 1.8. I have the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, and I am disappointed with the bokeh at 1.2. Rather nervous, lots of onion rings. I am starting to be impressed with the lowly 50mm f1.8 Series E (silver ring).

Agreed. People often forget about the weight. Nikkor 50mm AI-S f/1.8 is a gem, it weights nothing and it is perfect wide-open. It competes well with two other 50mm primes I have: Leica Summarit f/2.4 and Canon 50mm f/1.2L

By the way, there are three (!) versions of this lens. They all share the same optical formula, but differ in build quality. As much as I dislike Ken Rockwell, he covers it well here.

This lens came bundled with my FM3a, but I ordered the nicer-built version from Japan on eBay. It's fairly cheap and gives me the nice smooth & rubberized feel under my fingers

eggyolk Contributing Member • Posts: 609
Re: Returning to Film: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

Just get the 50mm f2 AI and don't look back.

robot vulture New Member • Posts: 3
Re: 50mm suggestions for Nikon FM3?

LenneMc wrote:

You forgot the Nikkor 50mm f1.8, f2. and the Series E 50mm 1.8. I have the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, and I am disappointed with the bokeh at 1.2. Rather nervous, lots of onion rings. I am starting to be impressed with the lowly 50mm f1.8 Series E (silver ring). The bokeh seems very smooth at 1.8, sharp enough, and extremely well balanced on my FM2.

Ah yes good point...  The 50/1.8 AIS is a nice lens too. Definitely worth considering. I don't have one in my kit since the 50/1.4 AIS is pretty close.

The series e i have to say i'm not a huge fan of. It didn't really seem up to the same standard as others around that focal length. Maybe i just had a bad copy.

Interesting feedback on the 50/1.2.. have you tried the 50/1.4? Any thoughts on it in comparison? There seems to be a lot of mixed reviews of the 1.2. I'm pretty happy with the zeiss 50/1.4 ZF2 so i'll just stick with that 

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