Nikkor M 450/f9 vs. Fuginon C 450/f12.5 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Greetings everybody,

Previous posts have briefly compared the similarly priced Nikkor M 450/9 and Fugi C 450/12.5 (note, not the faster and more expensive CM-W 450/8). Posters observe that the Fuji has a more convenient filter size than the Nikkor (52mm vs. 67 mm.), is fitted with a copal 1 rather than the Nikkor's copal 3 shutter, and (at least in part as a consequence of the shutter) weighs far less (270 vs. 640 grams). Coverage is comparable (Fuji 486 mm., Nikkor 440), in both cases more than adequate for my 8x10 landscapes, etc.

Filter size and weight (since I'm using a big, relatively heavy system not prone to shake) are not factors in my particular case. My question concerns optical quality, esp. contrast and sharpness. Does anyone have experience with both lenses, if not at 8x10, then at 5x7 or 4x5 (apparently an important consideration since the Nikkor M is a Tessar and therefore allegedly loses sharpness towards the edges of the image circle)? Can anyone give an informed opinion of the relative optical qualities of the two lenses? Lines per mm. would be nice but I value subjective impressions too. Cheers, Nick

-- Nick Jones (, August 10, 2001


I just placed two negatives on the light table both of the identical scene at about the same time. The first is with a Canham 5x7 and a 300mm Nikon M. I feel that it is not a stretch to compare the qualities of the 450 M Nikon with the 300 M Nikon because they are identical designs. The second is on a Kodak Master 8x10 with a Fuji 450C 12.5. The coverages are very close to identical. Results - The Nikon is a bit sharper than the Fuji, but the Fuji has more contrast than the Nikon. I am equally pleased with each image although I find noticably different - with my film/developer/aggitation combination. I have concluded that both will print to a very high degree of quality.

A couple of further comments - If you are truly stating that you are indifferent to a #3 shutter versus a #1 shutter, you must be shooting out of the back of your car. Because if you are even taking a short hike, the extra weight and volume of the shutter and filters for the Nikon is unnecessary. I have a 250mm Kodak Ektar that I love, but with that #5 Ilex, it does not get used anywhere as often as I hoped when I acquired it. Quite honestly I like the look of the Fuji, but even if that was not the case and I liked the Nikon better, I would probably still opt for the Fuji because of the flexibility it affords. I can use it on my 5x7 when I backpack because it is as light as a feather with better coverage.

In my opinion. looking at resolution specifications will not improve (or detract) from how pleasing the image is to the eye. Ultimately, that is the only quality that matters. Because the laws of physics and the associated requirements to correct for optical aberations predicated by the decisions of each manufacturer, it is the epitomy of compromise on the part of the consumer. For me, since I am also shooting 8x10, sharpness is not the dominant criteria - contrast is.

I am sure that there is someone in your area that will let you make several photographs with each of these lenses as a test. When you look at the results, your decision will be very easy. I will bet you a cold beer if you ever get to Colorado that you will purchase the Fuji. I have also never had a unique and unusual problem with fall off with the Nikon design over other lenses designs even when I employ a fair amount of camera movements.

Good Luck

-- Michael Kadillak (, August 10, 2001.

Hi Nick

If sharpness is really your point then you should have a look at the following webside: LFlenses.html And maybe your lens would be the Apo Ronar 480mm circle 396mm or the Apo Sironar N with a circle of about 500mm if only the best is good for you! Good luck;-)

-- Armin Seeholzer (, August 10, 2001.

I used to have a 450 M and sold it to get a 450 C. I did not notice any change in optical quality. This was judged on 5x7 with a 4x lupe on different scenes. I highly doubt the difference (if any) would matter in 8x10.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, August 10, 2001.

Nick, I have owned and used both of these lenses, but unfortunately, not at the same time. So, I never did a direct side by side comparison (same subject, same lighting at the same time, etc.).

I will agree with other posters that both lenses offer excellent performance. The 450mm f12.5 Fujinon C is one of my all time favorite lenses, but then I put a higher premium on small size and light weight than you do (the size and weight of the Nikkor M due to the Copal #3 shutter was really my only complaint about that lens). I shot the 450mm Nikkor M on 4x5 and 4x10 and currently use the 450mm Fujinon C on 4x5 and 5x7, so I haven't come close to pushing the coverage of either lens (but I doubt if coverage would be a problem for either lens for 8x10 landscape shooting).

I'm really fond of my 450mm Fujinon C, but if weight weren't an issue and someone offered me a 450mm Nikkor M at an attractive price, I would not hesitate to take them up on their offer. The good news is you'll likely be quite pleased with the performance of either lens. So, there is no "wrong" choice. If I were in your shoes, I'd base my purchase on the prices and availability of the two lenses.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, August 10, 2001.


As previous posters suggested, get the Fujinon C lens. Late Nikkor M 450/9 is softer and lower in contrast. I believe Bill Glickman had the similar experience. Those Nikkor M lenses produced in 80s might be better (Nikon cared about their LF lenses then). I replaced my Nikkor M 450 with a Schneider apo-artar for greater tonal scale. Cheers,

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), August 10, 2001.

Thanks to all of your for your responses; they provide valuable information as I make my choice between these two equally (though differently) desirable lenses.

Michael, I couldn't agree more that the bottom line for a photographer is how pleasing an image is to the eye, but the question remains just what are the qualities that give pleasure. My Group f/64 sensibilities place a high value on sharpness, esp. in an image that by its subject, design, or place in the tradition clearly suggests that it is *trying* to be sharp. No, as you say, specs (resolution, lines per mm.) do not contribute to the viewing experience, but the quality(ies) represented by those specs in my estimation clearly do. Besides, while sharpness can't be added to a negative, contrast, as we all know, is a variable subject to all sorts of interventions.

We do work out of the trunk of our car. Camera and tripod alone weigh about 25 lbs, but there are always at least two of us and we can manage short walks with the outfit. The Nikon would add only about 8/10 of a pound; I put a UV filter on each lens anyway and make only very sparing use of other filters. My High Sierra backpacking days are behind me now, but as I look back on those long solo cache-less marches (including the high and rarely flat John Muir Trail), I realize that nothing on earth could have persuaded me to carry even the lightest LF outfit. My hat goes off to all of you backpacking shooters!

Special thanks to you, Michael, and to Tuan and Kerry, for providing some comparative evidence. The Nikkor M 450 may be "soft" or lacking in contrast against a larger background of LF lenses (including earlier Nikkors), Geoffrey, but I'm working here within a narrow range of possibilities. The Rodenstock lenses mentioned by Armin, as well as the Fuji CM-W 450/8 (520 mm. image circle) and Schneider APO- Symmar 480/8.4 (500 mm. image circle), fit my focal length requirements but they are also 2 to 3 times the cost of the Nikkor or Fuji C450.

Let me also emphasize for the benefit of later visitors to this thread a datum no far not mentioned, that the Nikkor is more than a full stop faster than the Fuji C450. In fact, at f/12.5, the Fuji is the slowest among the new lenses in this focal range, which all fall between f/8 and f/9. I don't expect my subjects will be confined to sunny landscapes; and the Nikkor 300/9 I work with now already gives me all the focusing headaches I can handle.

So, Michael, if you should ever make it to Pennsylvania or, next summer, California, I may be collecting on that cold (NA) beer. All the best, Nick.

-- Nick Jones (, August 11, 2001.

Sounds like you have accomplished your objective Nick, and that is great. The beauty of photography is that there is no single answer to a question. What one finds indifference to, another lives for.

Funny, but when I use the Nikon and the 450 Fuji on the same Canham camera, I do not notice the stop + loss of the Fuji when focusing at the same scene. The same can be said when I use the Fuji 450 on the Kodak Master 8x10. However, with the standard ground glass on the Linhof Technikardan 45S any lens is noticably dimmer on the glass with all of my lenses - even one rated at f5.6. I need to find a brightening screen of some sort to get this situation to improve.

I will gladly make good on a cold beverage of your choice the next time we are in either Colorado or California. Good Shooting!

-- Michael Kadillak (, August 11, 2001.

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