View Full Version : Nikon 90mm f/4.5

13-Mar-2007, 10:50
Does anyone here have much experience with the Nikon 90mm f/4.5? So far all I have been able to dig up is that it's pretty big and heavy, but moving from an RB67 where the 90mm weighs in at 900g the weight really doesn't bother me!

I'm trying to go for the most medium format like LF experience as I can since I'm just after tilt movement. Camera is Ebony RSW45 (simple, affordable and option of 4x5 in the future) with format reducer to use RB67 backs. My favourite lens for the RB is the 90mm f/3.8, I figure the nikon will be the closest LF equivalent. I also wish to avoid the dark cloth when I can.

Since it will be used primarily for roll film, what is the performance like at wider apertures like f/8? Will it stack up well against my RB's 90mm KL?

13-Mar-2007, 11:06
I know that you have suggested that you will use the camera mainly for 6 X 7 cm, but if you do decide to use the camera for 4 X 5, the lens closest in equivalence for using the 90mm on the RB67 would be a 135mm focal length.

See the table linked below:



Diane Maher
13-Mar-2007, 11:13
90 mm on 4x5 does not equal 90 mm on MF. As for the Nikon lens, yes it is large (filter thread 82 mm) and heavy. I have no roll film back, so can't say how well it does.

What sort of subjects do you photograph?

Eric Brody
13-Mar-2007, 11:57
If you want just tilt in MF, consider a Rollei 66, unless you already have the LF camera. If you already have the Ebony, a 90 is a 90. If you are using the lens for 6x7 on the RB, and want a 90 for the Ebony, the f/8 Nikkor is a legendary lens, sharp, contrasty and considerably smaller and a bit less expensive. No one I know shoots at f/4.5 anyway except for special effects.


13-Mar-2007, 14:03
Thanks for the replies.

I shoot landscapes, almost exclusively seascapes and shots of lakes. I like 'normal' focal lengths: I use the 90mm 75% of the time and the 50mm only 25% with the RB. With normal lenses in 6x7 the lack of dof is such a huge limitation which has led me to field cameras since tilt is pretty much ideal for flat planes like beaches/sea/lakes.

The sl66 is out of the question unfortunately since I just cannot deal with square format, the 6x7 or 4x5 is the aspect ratio I work best with. An RB67 with tilt would be close to my idea camera but the tilt/shift lenses are crazy money and have serious limitations.

I imagine I will transition from roll film to shoot 4x5 sheet film at some point in the future and then I will buy a 135 or 150mm keeping the 90mm as a wide. Right now I don't think I'm quite ready for it though, I appreciate the convenience of roll film for developing at home and low cost to try out ideas.

I often shoot in low light (8min exposures are not unusual) and lots of people have said that f/8 lenses get really hard to focus in those conditions. Will the f/8 90mm be as sharp at f/8 as the f/4.5?

David Rees
13-Mar-2007, 14:22
I went the 4x5 camera route for pretty much the same reasons as yourself -- to get tilt, and therefore more of the subject in near/far focus, than I could get with my Mamiya 7 lenses. I bought a Wista DX, and a Calumet C2 6x9 back. I started with a 180mm lens, added a 90mm later, and have purchased more since -- LF is addictive!

However, though I do use my 6x9 back now and then, I found that in practice I wasn't able to use apertures like f8 or f11 very often. I find that however carefully one focuses on the ground glass, it pays to stop down a little further than appears sharp on the ground glass. To some extent this is due to my poor eyesight, but other factors come into play:

a) light leaks when under the dark cloth
b) granularity of the ground/glass / fresnel screen, making it hard to tell what is truely in focus
c) lack of skill in assessing where to check -- one tilts are introduced, the movement of the plane of focus is non-intuitive, at least to a newcomer to lens movements.

Not to say that using MF adapter on 5x4 is a bad idea -- far from it. It is far cheaper, more convenient w.r.t. film loading/unloading, and encourages experimentation. Just be prepared to be shooting at f16, f22, etc!

On your point re quality of an LF optic at wide apertures. It is my understanding that usually the manufacturer assumes the lens will not be used wide open, and therefore designs a lens to be "best" several stops below the maximum aperture -- say f16, for an f5.6 optic. Whilst one can use these lenses wide-open, or close to it, it is unlikely to the "sweet spot".

If you are the type of photographer who uses filters, you may want to investigate the cost of filters for a 90mm f4.5 optic. Not likely to be cheap -- and if you decide to use a centre graduated filter with your 90mm (may be worthwhile with transparency film), the cost is pretty steep.

13-Mar-2007, 15:27
I have both Nikkor 90mm lenses, the f8 and the f4.5. They both have the same IC, 235mm, while the f8 takes 67mm filters, the f4.5 uses 82mm. The f8 weighs 360gr vs 600gr for the f4.5. Both lenses are fine performers, contrasty with good color rendition. At f22 I doubt you could tell the difference in performance between them-I can't. Either my photography is not that great or my eyes are going, maybe some of each. Probably individual lens to lens variations are greater than any possible differences in performance at f22. However at f8, there will be a big difference. The f4.5 will be almost two stops closed from its maximum aperture while the f8 is wide open. Wide open all of the lens is being used, not just the sweet spot in the center and no lens I know of is at its best there. If you really want to take images at f8, I suggest the f4.5. However, DOF almost always suggests that you use f16-32 for landscape images as even the most featureless scenes have enough bumps and rocks that you need some DOF to keep everything in focus, even with tilt. The f4.5 is a wonder to use while focusing and composing-it's image on the GG is so bright you need sunglasses. However it is car lens. The f8 is the lens I'll take for a walk. Bottom line, I like both, however for different applications. Good luck,
Dave B.

David Karp
13-Mar-2007, 15:34
It won't work for 4x5, but if you are looking for a lighter normal 6x7 lens, Nikon made a 105mm f/5.6 that would probably work well, as would a 105mm f/5.6 Fujinon NW. The Fujinon has, I think, a bit more coverage, and will work with 4x5 (no movements though). I think you would appreciate the larger maximum lens opening of these lenses.

I have a 90mm f/4.5 Rodenstock Grandagon N that I use for photographing architecture or interiors. It's about the same size as the Nikon you are asking about. It was my first wide angle for 4x5. Later, I purchased a 90mm f/8 Fujinon SW because I just stopped carrying the big heavy Rodenstock unless I really, really needed the extra coverage.

David Karp
13-Mar-2007, 15:42
I know you have a camera, but you might be interested in this if you want something as close to an RB as possible: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=24072

13-Mar-2007, 15:46
4x5 is pretty square to me. Not perfectly square but it sure is close.

Go 5x7 if you don't like square.