View Full Version : Best (sharp) 450mm 'Portable' lens for 8" x 10"?

Murray Fredericks
15-May-2005, 08:28
Hi All,

I need to purchase a 450mm 8" x 10" lens that is reasonably portable and sharp.

Any favourites or suggestions?



John Kasaian
15-May-2005, 08:46

I'm very happy with the 450 Nikkor M. You might also look at the 16-1/2" Artar.

Good Luck!

Ralph Barker
15-May-2005, 09:07
I like the Nikkor 450 M, too. But, I also have a 16" Red Dot Artar, which is only slightly less "portable" (Ilex #4 shutter vs a Copal 3 on the Nikkor). I haven't done any head-to-head comparisons between the two, however, as I need to have a CLA done on the Artar's shutter.

Donald Hutton
15-May-2005, 09:35
There can be no better lens for your purposes than the Fuji 450mm C - coverage is huge and it's in a Copal 1 shutter so it weighs considerably less than any other 450mm. I had a Nikkor 450 M which is a great lens, but it's in a Copal 3 shutter so heavy enough. I finally just bought the 450 Fuji. And as sharp as anything out there.

Michael Kadillak
15-May-2005, 10:51
I have both the Fuji and the Nikon and they are both great lenses. Yes, the Fuji is a sharp and compact lens at f12.5, but it is also more expensive. The Nikon is as sharp but has better contrast to my liking, has larger coverage and is a hell of a lot cheaper than the Fuji. I purchased two of the Nikon 450 M's (I use one for 8x10 and another for ULF) for the price I paid for the Fuji.

Come on - Copal #3's are not that big a deal. I also shoot the Fuji 600 that is in a Copal #3. Try carrying around a 42" Red Dot in an Ilex #5.

It is what the optics produce that should be the cominant criteria. If you are contacting 8x10, give me contrast every day of the week. Anything will be sharp enough. Weston used some pretty cheap glass (all he could afford at the time) and his images blow your mind with clarity. If you are enlarging 4x5, then sharpness becomes more of a concern.


Ted Harris
15-May-2005, 11:01
If weight and size are the prime consideration the go for the Fuji C. If not, then the Nikon 450 M. IMHO, the Nikon slightly outperforms the Fuji but YMMV. I do think that both of these lenses outperform any of the earlier designs. I used a late model Schneider 480 mm Apo Artar for some years and definitely prefer the Nikon or the Fuji.

Donald Hutton
15-May-2005, 14:27

The 450 C Fuji is a bit cheaper than the Nikkor - the Fuji retails for around $900; the Nikkor for over $1000.

Michael Kadillak
15-May-2005, 15:01
When I purchased my Fuji 450 C, it cost me $1,000. My two Nikon 450M's cost me about $1,100 for the both of them in the used market in like new condition. I am pleased that the Fuji is less expensive now, but I see very few used Fuji's in the used market relative to the Nikon M.

That either tells me that there are fewer Fuji lens in circulation or many pleased users. Probably a combination of both.

Thanks for the information Don.

Eric Leppanen
15-May-2005, 15:15
If you intend to use your 450mm lens on both 4x5 and 8x10 field cameras then the Fuji-C would be the better fit. A Copol 3 shutter in this focal length is not a big deal on 8x10 but becomes a factor on 4x5 (Dykinga uses a separate support arm when using his 400mm Copol 3 lens due to the added vibration of the Copol 3 shutter).

If you are exclusively using 8x10, then it comes down to your weight and coverage requirements. If the added weight and bulk of the Nikkor doesn't bother you then you might as well take the Nikkor's added coverage and slightly brighter focusing (Nikkor f/9 vs. Fuji f/12.5) and run. The Nikkor image circle spec is very conservative and actual coverage is greater than the Fuji.

Robert Skeoch
15-May-2005, 15:20
I'm very happy with my Fuji 450C, but have never owned/used the nikon.

15-May-2005, 17:09
I have the 450C and 16 1/2 RD Artar and both are fine lenses. I wouldn't mind trying out the 450M because I've only read and heard fine things about that lens also. In a nutshell, I don't think you could go wrong with any of them for 8x10.

Michael Kadillak
15-May-2005, 17:59
The 450 Nikon M is the only lens I own two of. I got tired of swapping it out on lensboards as I invariably was using it each and every time I go out to the field.

I would go so far to say that it is absolutely required if you shoot 11x14 or larger. The coverage is far beyond what is listed by the manufacturer and the negatives that it produces are over the top.

John Z.
27-Dec-2005, 23:31
A question for Michael Kadillak. Michael, the Nikon 450 has a published image circle of 440mm, while the Fuji has an image circle listed at 486mm. Wouldn't this imply that both lenses are more than adequate as far as coverage for 11x14? What would you estimate the true image circle to be for the Nikon? It is said that Nikon is very conservative with its published image circle data; is Fuji also as conservative? Thanks.

Kerry L. Thalmann
28-Dec-2005, 00:02
I'll just echo what others have said about the 450mm Fujinon C and the 450mm Nikkor M. Both are excellent performers, multicoated and in modern Copal shutters. For compact size and lightweight, the Fuji wins hands down (Copal No. 1 shutter, 52mm filters, 270g vs. Copal No. 3 shutter, 67mm filters, 640g) . For coverage, in spite of the specs, the Nikkor wins. Both offer plenty of coverage for 8x10.

On pricing - new, the Fuji is a couple hundred cheaper. The Nikkor was recently discontinued, but it is still available new from some dealers (Midwest Photo Exchange had some in stock last time I checked). As Michael noted, the Nikkor is more plentiful on the used market. Now that it's been discontinued, prices for used samples seem to be creeping up. Fuji hasn't had an official North Aerican distributor for over 15 years. At one time, it was almost impossible to get their lenses in the US (which parially explains the lack of samples on teh used market). That changed around 1997 or 1998 when Badger Graphic began directly importing Fujinon large format lenses at very reasonable prices.

I think you will be happy with either lens. I've used both and have no complaints with either.


Walt Calahan
28-Dec-2005, 06:19
I own both Fujinon (W 180-mm) and Nikkor lenses (120-mm; 240-mm; 600-800-1200-mm convertible), and they've served me very very well. You won't go wrong buying either 450-mm.

But a new lens I got last August has really lightened the load, and that's the Cooke XVa. One lens gives me a 311-mm, a 476-mm and a 645-mm lens in one. All three combinations of this lens are sharp and contrasty. The Cooke is bigger than the Fujinon and Nikkor 450-mm, but not huge. I don't have to carry many other lenses with me when compared to going in the field with a 450-mm and other glass.





The biggest problem with this lens is the wait after ordering. Mine took 8 months to arrive.

Also, buying just a 450-mm is far cheaper if you already have the other focal lengths.

For my money, the Cooke XVa is a fabulous lens.

Michael Kadillak
28-Dec-2005, 08:45

Kerry hit the nail on the head in his post above.

A while back I decided that I had to see for myself how the Fuji and the Nikon 450 would perform side by side because of the conflicting manufacturers specs. I set up the 12x20 and put them on lensboards so I could go from one to the other and make some observations using identical camera movements.

My results demonstrated to me that the Nikon blew away the company specs and exceeeded the coverage of the Fuji. I would list the coverage numbers, but I have found that these are pretty subjective and I will just leave it at that. I will only tell you that I use the Nikon 450M on 12x20 and 8x20 regularly. The Fuji has been relegated to 8x10 and 5x7 where its weight and size really shine. Being completetly forthcoming on this subject I have heard that Bruce Rathburn had acquired a 450M lens that did not perform as graciously as my trials for one reason on another (still a subject of consternation for me) so if you acquire one, by all means get it on a lens board and run it through its paces ASAP to verify the coverage while you can do something about it.

We are all disappointed that the 450M is being discontinued, but they have been produced for years and should be available in the used market albeit at higher prices reflective of the current market condition for years to come.