105mm f3.5 nikor-m

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

hi does anyone know about this lens? also any idea where to find one? i want to use it with a 6x9 set-up. thank yo

-- robert (ralfoto@aol.com), January 23, 2002


I can't think of seeing this lens listed in the new offerings of any retailer. Perhaps Nikon dropped it. You probably should call your favorite Nikon full-line dealer to find out. If it is not available new, it will probably be very hard to find used. Much more common used are the Xenars, Xenotars, Planars, .... The modern offerings are Plasmat designs with maximum aperture of f5.6.

Nikon rates the image circle as 100 mm diameter at f3.5 and 110 mm at f22. I took some test photos and found that the variation in image quality and image circle was much greater than indicated by those numbers.

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@earthlink.net), January 23, 2002.


If you are searching for a fast lens for the 6X9 format donít forget the Schneider Xenotar 100mm f2.8 and the Rodenschtok Technicar 100mm f3.5. May be you will find these sooner than the Nikkor 105mm f3.5.

-- Victor Randin (ved@enran.com.ua), January 24, 2002.

Hi Robert

Check that:http://cgi.ebay.com/aw-cgi/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item= 1323757135 I`m not conected to thad guy in any way! Just an idea it could be okay for you. Good luck.

-- Armin Seeholzer (armin.seeholzer@smile.ch), January 24, 2002.

I've used the 105mm for many years and it is a superb lens. I picked one up used at my local camera shop. There is a great after-market for Nikor lens since a lot of folks have moved to autofocus.

-- c skiscim (cskiscim@megisto.com), January 24, 2002.


Based on my modest collection of Nikon literature, the 105mm f3.5 Nikkor M was discontinued sometime between April, 1986 and August, 1989. So, it hasn't been avilable new for over a decade. It also appears it wasn't made very long (my earliest reference to it is May, 1982 and it is not listed in my Nikon brochure from December 1978).

I've never personally used the 105mm Nikkor M, but I've used all of it's brethern (200mm M, 300mm M and 450mm M). I think the 200mm Nikor M is a great little lens for backpacking with 4x5 and the 300mm Nikkor M is an excellent long lens general purpose 4x5 or 5x7 shooting (even hits the corners of 8x10 with a smidge to spare). Based on my experience, the Nikkor M series is an outstanding modern excecution of the classic tessar design, with the added benefits of multicoating and a modern, reliable shutter. I've occasionally seen them for sale used (typically in the $275 - $350 range). I don't know of anybody who currently has a 105mm Nikkor M in stock, but I'd recommend the usual used LF dealers (Midwest Photo Exchange, KEH, Quality Camera, etc.).

The 105mm tessar used to be a VERY common lens variation for the old 6x9 folders of the 1940s and 1950s. The Voightlander Color Skopar, Agfa Solinar, Schneider Xenar and of course, Zeiss Tessar are all implementations of this type of design. Of course, these were all single coated (or even uncoated for pre-WWII samples). Horseman also made a single coated 105mm f3.5 tessar type for their 6x9 technical cameras. As far as I know, the 105mm Nikkor M is the only tessar type large format lens in this focal length to be offered with multicoating.

If you can't locate one of these at a reasonable price, you might also want to consider a 100mm APO Symmar, 100mm Symmar-S, 100mm APO Sironar-N, 100mm Sironar-N or 100mm Nikkor W. These are all modern, multicoated plasmats that offer substantially more coverage than the 105mm Nikkor M (albeit at the slower maximum aperture of f5.6 rather than f3.5). Physically, these are all very close to the 105mm Nikkor M (all these lenses take 40.5mm filters and are in Copal #0 shutters). Other than the 100mm f5.6 Nikkor W (which was replaced with the 105mm f5.6 Nikkor W with the 52mm filter size), these are quite common used or new. Used prices seem to be in about the same range as the 105mm Nikkor M. So, if you can't locate a used 105mm Nikkor M and can live with the slower max. aperture, one of these f5.6 lenses might be easier to locate - and with the added bonus of greater coverage. I'm not knocking the 105mm Nikkor M, just suggesting possible alternatives.


-- Kerry Thalmann (largeformat@thalmann.com), January 24, 2002.

I have the 105 nikkor M lens and agree it is a nice lens. I located mine in the classifieds of shutterbug a couple years ago and paid $275 it had the original box and looked new. It replaced my horseman 105 3.5 lens which I still have if you are interested. But if you want the nikkor one will like surface. Ray Fenio rfenio@indiana.edu

-- Raymond Fenio (rfenio@indiana.edu), January 26, 2002.

I finally located the negatives of the tests of the Nikkor-M 105 mm f3.5 that I made several years ago. The test was very simple: I arranged the camera as level and plumb, and as perpendicular to a brick wall, as I could. I then made two exposures onto 4x5 Ilford Delta 100, one at f5.6 and the other at f16. Of course, this lens is sold by Nikon for roll film use (6 x 9 cm), so I didn't expect the lens to cover the 4x5 sheet. Nikon rates the lens for a 100 mm diameter circle of coverage at f3.5 and 110 mm at f22 while the sheet film has a diagonal of 155 mm.

The accuracy of the test of the lens is limited by the accuracy of the pointing of the camera perpendicular to the wall, of focusing, and of film flatness. I have tested the focusing of my camera, a Linhof, to be extremely accurate, and since I stopped down by 1 and 1/3 and 4 and 1/3 stops from the focusing aperture (=maximum aperture), I don't think focusing accuracy was a limiting factor in image quality. There is a possibility that focusing inaccuracy effected the f5.6 results.

My analysis of the test negatives consisted of examining them on a light table without optical aid, with a x5.5 Pentax loupe and with a x9 Edmund Scientific loupe.

First, the lens delivered a circle of even illumination with a diameter of about 130 mm. There was no significant difference between the two apertures.

Next, I judged sharpness and the visibility of detail. The f16 negative was better over the entire image, including the center. The difference was fairly noticeable with the x5.5 loupe and easily noticeable at x9. Examining the f5.6 negative in isolation with the x5.5 loupe, one would probably say that it was sharp, but in comparison the f16 negative is clearly sharper. Using the x9 loupe, examining the f5.6 negative in isolation, most photographers would describe it as a bit soft. The f16 negative maintained its sharp appearance even at x9.

My next step was to try to determine the diameter of the circle for which the negatives were sharp. This was simply done by visual examination and judgment. At some distance from the center, the sharpness starts to falloff gradually and it is hard to set an exact position where the sharpness becomes too much worse than the in the central part of the image. I think the numbers that I give are meaningful to about 5 or 10 mm.

With unaided examination of the f5.6 negative, the diameter of sharpness appeared to be about 110 mm. Using the x5.5 and x9 loupes, the diameter of the circle of sharpness fell to 95 and 80 mm, respectively. The last number is less certain--the value was particularly difficult to estimate because the image wasn't especially sharp anywhere when examined at x9. For the f16 negative, the diameters of sharpness are 115 mm (x1), 105 mm (x5.5) and 95 mm (x9).


1) the lens delivers better sharpness at all image radii at f16 than at f5.6. It is not diffraction limited at f5.6.

2) For a sharp print, one would be limited to roughly x6 enlargement from the f5.6 negative. Enlargement of the f16 negative is probably more limited by one's attitude towards grain than the sharpness of the image.

3) The diameter of the circle of sharpness is about 10 mm greater at f16 than a f5.6.

4) I had expected the image quality to slowly fall from the center, but this wasn't the case--from the center almost to the diameters I list above, the image quality appears to be close to uniform.

5) While an exact comparison isn't possible because of the differing apertures used (Nikon: f3.5 and f22, me: f5.6 and f16), it does seem, using my judgment of sharpness, that Nikon is slightly optimistic on the diameter of the circle of coverage. If your image has non-detailed subjects in the corners, such as the sky or out-of-focus foreground or background, the image circle could be extended by 10 mm or more in diameter. This may be the reasoning behind Nikon's figures.

6) My figures indicate that the lens would just work for 6x9 cm and permit modest movements for 6x7. If you want to use large movements, a Tessar-design lens like the Nikkor-M isn't a good choice.

7) If modest movements for 6x7 cm, a fast aperture for focusing and light weight are wanted, this lens is an excellent choice.

8) Unfortunately this lens seems to have been discontinued by Nikon and turns up on the used market only rarely. It will be easier to find similar Tessar-design lens on the used market, such as the Schneider Xenar. The heyday of these lenses was before the production of the Nikkor-M. I am not aware of any other shutter-mounted (vs a lens with a mount for a specific MF camera) 105 mm Tessar-design lens other than the Nikkor-M with multicoating. I have never used a Schneider Xenar or other MF Tessar-design lens, so the next statements are educated guesses. I would expect the performance in terms of resolution and sharpness to be very similar for all well made Tessar-design lenses. The lack of multicoating on the other versions probably doesn't greatly matter because the Tessar has only 6 air-to-glass surfaces. Very old versions lacking even single-coating would be less contrasty.

-- Michael Briggs (MichaelBriggs@earthlink.net), February 10, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ