View Full Version : Lens choice Fuji 300mm f8.5 C vs Nikkor f9 M

17-Mar-2004, 19:38
For color work with a 4x5 camera, mainly lanscape subjects medium distance to infinity, I'm thinking of a modern 300mm light lens for 4x5 - the Fuji 8.5C or the Nikkor f9 M. A possible third to consider would be the 305 G-Claron, but it's about double the weight of the others (not that 1/2 pound is a big deal if that was the only difference) and it may not be available new at a good price if at all, and I don't plan on searching for a truly like-new used model (and while not multicoated and not optimized for infinity, in the past I've found that the results I got with a 270mm I no longer have were just fine).

While some may consider this question on the order of 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin', if I'm going to shell out the bucks for a lens, I might as well try to find what would fit my situation better : - )

Perhaps by some miracle, someone has had experiences with both lens, or maybe with a 300mm version of one and a 450mm version of another (M series Nikkor, C series Fuji).

Sharpness differences are probably very small, but there are other factors I'm interested in, for example, perhaps one lens has a smoother look than the other - perhaps one has slightly less contrast than the other, which translates to 'smoothness' for me. I know in theory since the Nikkor has one cemented element and the Fuji has all airspaced elements, there may be an opinion that therefore the Nikkor would have higher contrast, but my experience with other lenses has not yielded this result in many cases (medium/large/small format). Maybe contrast does not equate to my version of 'smoothness' however.

Another factor would be color balance - maybe one is 'warmer' than the other. Then there's smoothness of out-of-focus areas (bokeh or whatever the term is). Then perhaps one lens has truer marked apertures and shutter speeds (I once compared a relatively new Nikkor lens to a similar Fuji and the Fuji underexposed and had more light falloff compared to the Nikon, but I don't remember what the focal lengths were and it was a long time ago). It could have been due to just variations between even lenses of the same make and model perhaps, or maybe Fuji's specs tend to be optimistic. One last item is the mechanical quality of the lens/shutter/aperture scales- which will last longer with some abuse, or which is easier to use. I remember that the Nikkor M has aperture and shutter scales more the 'regular' plasmat versions of lenses including Rodenstock and Schneider lenses, whereas the Fuji C series seems to have cheaper stamping or engraving of the scales and such (I could be wrong on this however).

Thank you in advance for any input you could provide.

Gem Singer
17-Mar-2004, 20:49
Hi Dan,

I have owned and used both of these lenses. I sold the Nikon 300M, as well as all of my other Nikon lenses, and now have eleven Fujinon lenses, including the 300C.

I was a dedicated user, and supporter, of the Nikkor line of large format lenses for many years (a carry over from using Nikon 35mm equipment) . They were/are all excellent performers in the focal lengths I used for the 4X5 format.

I read Steve Simmons glowing reports about Fujinon lenses. I also read Kerry Thalmann's excellent recommendations for Fuji lenses. When I purchased a 4X5 Shen Hao camera, for my wife, from Jeff, at Badger Graphic. He just happened to have a previously owned Fuji 150 CM-W, and I bought it to use with the Shen Hao. I was so impressed with the Fuji 150, that I ended up selling all of my Nikon lenses, replacing them with Fujinons. Subsequently, I have purchased all of my Fujis (except the 150 CM-W) from Jim, at Midwest Photo Exchange.

When comparing the Nikkor 300M to the Fujinon 300C, the differences are so small that it only comes down to subjective personal preferrences. Both are 4 element Tessars. Both are mounted in the latest Copal 1 shutters (the question in your last paragraph refers to the shutter, not the lens). Both are extremely sharp. The difference in image circle size, maximum aperature, and the weight of the lenses, is too small to be concerned about.

I prefer the Fujinon 300C f8.5. However, you cannot go wrong with either of these lenses. Buy the one that you can get the best deal on the price.

Jim Galli
18-Mar-2004, 08:02
Theory only. I just got a 300M. I've not used it yet. Have had a G-Claron 305 for years. First, isn't the Fuji 4 elements, 4 groups? I have to believe the G-Claron, single coated, plasmat very similar to a Dagor but with the one air space, will be the nicest trade-off of smoothness and sharpness. Multi-coated Tessars and Dialyt's are sharp sharp! Brutally sharp. I bought the 300M to see if I would like it for the 4X5 backpack kit.

Kerry L. Thalmann
18-Mar-2004, 10:04

I've had the 300mm Nikkor M for many years and have always been extremely satisfied with its performance. In fact, I've probably had it longer than any other lens I currently own. I am so pleased with this lens that I have never felt the need to consider replacing it with anything else.

I am also a big fan of the Fujinon lenses. Surprisingly, I've never used a 300mm Fujinon C. I have it's big brother, the 450 C and like the 300mm Nikkor M have always been satisfied with the performance and would never consider replacing it.

When it comes to comparing these two lenses, you really are splitting hairs. Fuji claims the 300mm Fujinon C has more coverage (380mm IC vs. 325mm for the Nikkor M), but I've heard Nikon is more conservative than Fuji in their specs for these lenses. Since you are shooting 4x5 landscapes, I don't think you'll run out of coverage with either lens.

In terms of other factors, I haven't noticed any significant difference in the color balance between my 300mm Nikkor M and 450mm Fujinon C.

When I bought my 300mm Nikkor M, the decision was really a no brainer due to availability. I purchased it about 14 years ago. Back then, Fujinon lenses were hard to come by and relatively expensive. This was after D.O. Industries ceased being the official Fujinon distributor, and before companies like Badger Graphic and Midwest Photo Exchange started to import Fuji lenses at reasonable prices. There really wasn't a choice back then. If I was looking to buy today, I'd probably look long and hard at both lenses and buy based on price and availability. Right now, it looks like the Nikkor is about $100 less new, and it is also more plentiful on the used market. Ultimately, I think you would be happy with either lens. I know I would. There is no wrong answer to this question.


Scott Atkinson
18-Mar-2004, 10:35
This is a recurring query, and you'll find lots of other threads on the 300 question if you search. I've shot both the Fuji-C and Nikkor-M on 4x5, and for my purposes (landscapes), they're both EXCELLENT. I haven't shot them head-to-head, but as I currently have both, and am planning to pick one or the other, I hope to do a sheet-for-sheet comparison sometime in the next few weeks. If the results seem of interest, I'll post them.

Gem Singer
18-Mar-2004, 11:59
Hello again Dan,

At the present time, Jim, at Midwest Photo (www.mpex.com) has a previously owned Nikon 300M, in 9+ condition, listed at just under $500. He doesn't have a previously owned Fuji 300C listed. However, he has new ones in stock at very reasonable prices. Thursday is his day off. Call him tomorrow, or Saturday. Tell him you saw the recommendation on this forum, and he will offer you an excellent deal. He has never disappointed me.

David Karp
18-Mar-2004, 12:34

I have a 300mm Nikkor M and 450mm Fujinon C. I had a Nikkor M 450mm, but sold it after I purchased the Fujinon. The 450mm Nikkor M was an excellent lens. I was happy with the photographs I took with it, but not the size of the lens. If it was in a No. 1 shutter, I probably would still have it. The 450mm Fujinon is an excellent lens. I am very happy with the photographs I have taken with it so far. The lenses are of different design, with the Nikkor 4 elements in three groups. The Fujinon has all air spaced elements I believe.

The 300mm Nikkor M is also an excellent lens. I can't say it is any better or worse than the 450mm Fujinon. I like them both. After reading all of the "which lightweight 300mm lenses is better" threads on this site, I decided that I would probably be happy with either the Fujinon or the Nikkor. I bought the Nikkor because it was the first one I found used at an acceptable price. Based on my experience with the Nikkor 300 and Fujinon 450, I think you will be happy with either. Of course, lens preferences and other similar matters are questions of personal taste, so you or others may find you disagree.

Regarding shutters, since both companies use Copal No. 1 shutters, I don't think you will see a difference in quality. You may want to note that the aperture controls on the Fujinon and Nikkor Copal shutters are slightly different. Fujinon Copal shutters do not have the aperture adjustment lever on top, only on the bottom.

18-Mar-2004, 17:23
Thank you very much Eugene, Jim, Kerry, Scott, and Dave, for your thoughtful replies. My thinking right now is that if by the time I make my decision there's still a $100 difference between the 2 lenses I'll probably go with the less expensive (the Nikkor). Scott, I will probably buy my lens before you do your tests, but even so, it would be interesting to see your results, and that would contribute helpful info to others making decisions in the future.

David Karp
19-Mar-2004, 11:04

If you are thinking about the used 450mm at MPEX, I second Eugene's recommendation. Talk to Jim. He is great to deal with. I purchased my 450 C from him, along with another Fujinon lens and other items at various times, and was very happy with each purchase. Both lenses were used, but appeared to be untouched. Prices were excellent.

Good luck.