View Full Version : Nikkor-M 450mm Lens Question

Jeff Morfit
12-Jan-2005, 11:39
Has anyone ever tried using a Nikkor-M 450mm F9 lens with their 4x5 camera? If so, what kinds of results can one expect from such a large lens.

Thanks in advance.


Donald Hutton
12-Jan-2005, 11:58
It's an outstanding optic. However, you will need a camera with a very rigid front standard assembly (as well as a lot of bellows). This lens is mounted in a Copal 3 shutter so it really is a big item. A lightweight field camera will likely not be sturdy enough for it. I have used one quite extensively on an Ebony and it worked fine. Most would opt for the Fuji 450mm instead, based on much lighter weight (it's in a Copal 1) and similar performance. There will always be issues around wind with long lenses like this - 450mm of bellows is a long way out and the wind always blows when you want to use them. I actually ended up selling my 450 and buying a Nikkor 360T/500T combination - they are more managable and give good results too.

Ken Lee
12-Jan-2005, 12:14
All things being equal, lenses in this length deliver less overall resolution than shorter lenses. For example, if a top-notch 150mm lens gives 75 lpm, a 450 will give 50. I don't know if this is inherent in the physics of longer lenses, or a matter of manufacturing and cost issues.

An important factor to consider is camera vibration. Make sure you minimize it, or it will be hard to get the best performance out of longer lenses.

If you search for the Nikor450M lens on this forum (and others) you will find many comments about it. It's close companion is the Fujinon 450C, and to my recollection, some discriminating users have written that when used for Ultra Large Format, the Nikor lens performs better at the exremes of its coverage. For 4x5, this consideration may be irrelevant.

I have a Fujinon, and use it on 5x7 and 8x10. It's wonderful. I appreciate the C designation: it's a "compact" design, and despite its length, it is smaller than many shorter lenses with similar performance.

Gem Singer
12-Jan-2005, 12:21
Hi Jeff,

A lens mounted in a Copal 3 shutter is quite a challenge for any 4X5 camera. The size and weight really stresses the front standard. However, if larger format camera is in your future, and you can get a good deal on the 450 NikkorM, by all means don't hesitate.

I have a Fujinon 450C, mounted on an extension lensboard. It is compact (that's what the "C" stands for) and light weight, even with the additional weight of the extension board. It makes an awesome image on the 4X5 format. It has more coverage than my former Fujinon 400T
(tele) lens. I also use the 450C for the 5X7 and 8X10 formats.

Ted Harris
12-Jan-2005, 12:50
While I basically agree with all the preceding comments I would a few things. I use the 450M on a Walker Titan SF in the field and, while it is clearly less stable than a shorter lens and bellows extension would be, it seems reasonably rigid to me, this of course, will vary by the particular camera you are using. I was using a few days ago setup in the snow with some light wind and had no trouble at all, even with a herd of snowmobiles going by (another story for sure). Much of this is the stability of the Walker which I find to be among the most rigid, if not the most rigid folding flatbed cameras I have ever used.

Using the lens on a monorail in the studio is on different than any other lens. I do use an additional bellows support on my Horseman LS sometimes when I am using long bellows extensions but that doesn't generally happen unless I am using the 1000mm rail and two bellows.

Jeff Morfit
12-Jan-2005, 13:27
I will measure the bellows on my Cambo SC this evening when I get home to see if it has the 17+ inches of bellows necessary to handle a 450mm lens. I guess that the monorail should be able to support the weight of such a camera/lens combination.


Stephen Willard
12-Jan-2005, 14:13

I have not observed that behavior with my Nikon telephoto lens. I have the 360-500-720mm combination, and they all do very well. At first I was never able to get a sharp image with my 720mm lens until I switched to a massive tripod head that was designed for LF cameras. After that my 720mm images are just as sharp as any other lens I have.

Christopher Burkett shoots primarily the Nikon 600-800-1200mm Nikon version, and one of the main characteristics of his work his how sharp his stuff is. These observations seem to contradict your statement.

Is your statement based on theory or observation? If the latter, then I would recommend a real briefly tripod and head. That will fix it.

Ken Lee
12-Jan-2005, 15:21
Stephen -

I base my comments on a general comparison of the
100mm thru 163mm (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html#100mm_thru_163mm" target="_blank) and
300mm and longer (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html#300mm_and_longer" target="_blank) sections of the
Large Format Lens Tests (http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/testing.html" target="_blank) page - and on personal conversations with Christopher Perez.

As I said, I don't know why this appears to be so. Optics ? Economics ? Perhaps a more knowledgeable forum member can shed some light on this. I am no expert.

Perhaps more people buy medium length lenses, so manufacturers compete more in that space, with better product quality, value, etc.

12-Jan-2005, 15:30
Only two 450mm Fujis got tested. The difference between the two is about equal to the difference between the best 450mm and the 150mm Fuji NSW f/5.6. Glancing at the other 150mm the Rodenstock seem to have worse edges and the Scheinders seem even worse overall. When comparing all the lenses at F/22.

David Karp
12-Jan-2005, 16:53

I have used a 450mm Nikkor M with a very close relative to your Cambo SC, a Calumet 45NX. My 45NX has enough bellows and rail to use that lens, unless you want to focus very closely. I never took the measurement, but since I only use a 450mm when I can't (or am too lazy) to get closer to my subject and need the longer length, there has not been any reason to try close focusing.

My 450mm Nikkor M was an excellent lens. I made some nice photographs with it, including one of my all time favorites. It is quite heavy, even when used with the 4x5 monorail. With the bellows racked all the way out on the 45NX, the tripod mounting block does not hold the camera as steady as it does at shorter extensions, so you have to make sure that the camera is not moving after you pull the darkslide out of the holder. I tried to make some compensation for the weight by sliding the camera back on the block a bit to try to balance the camera a little better.

I later purchased a Cambo 45SF, which has a much more stable mounting block, but never used the Nikon 450 with that camera. By that time, I had sold the Nikon (for what I paid for it-it was used when I bought it) to someone who wanted to use it on his 8x10 Deardorff, and purchased a used Fujinon C 450mm from Midwest Photo. I also like the Fujinon C 450mm very much. I would not pick one over the other based on image quality. The Fujinon is much lighter and smaller, and uses 52mm filters, just like most of my other lenses. It has plenty of coverage. I have borrowed a friend's 8x10 Calumet C-1, and the Fujinon covers 8x10, with room for movements, just fine.

So the short version of my long winded answer is: Yes I have tried it and it works just fine. Be careful of camera movement due to the weight. Your camera's front standard will hold the lens up just fine. I used to worry about camera movement all the time with the Nikon, even though it was rarely a problem in practice. The lighter Fujinon does not present that problem, so I no longer worry at all. Note that the long extension required for a 450mm does turn your camera into somewhat of a sail, so camera movement due to wind is still an issue with the Fuji.

Hope this helps.

John Kasaian
12-Jan-2005, 19:10
I have a 450 mm M. Wonderful optics. If your camera has the bellows and front standard to support it it should work out nicely. I've got a soft focus Cooke in the #5 Betax on my 4x5/5x7 Agfa Ansco---the lens is far neavier than my 450 M---and the old woody handles it just fine. Assuming camera construction has improved over the years and you've got a newer camera(mine's cicra 1920-1930's) I can't think of why it would be a problem(if you've got the bellows length that is!)

Good Luck!

Kevin M Bourque
13-Jan-2005, 06:30
I use the 450M on a Canham 4x5. It will focus to about twenty feet, as I recall.

Yes, it's big and heavy, but the camera seems to handle it well. I am frequently surprised by how sharp the lens is.

I don't use it all the time, but it's a "keeper".