Nikkor 450M9: declining quality ? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm close to getting a Nikkor 450M9, I've combed the archives for info on this lens and one thing I read there bothers me and it is this statement.....'Those Nikkor M lenses produced in 80s might be better (Nikon cared about their LF lenses then)'.

Is there a difference in the build quality, workmanship, pride in their product between Nikon LF lenses, then and now? Maybe a better question would be has the build quality of the 450 Nikkor been of the same caliber throughout its manufacture?

Is it going to be necessary for me to find out when a particular lens has been manufactured or is the fact that it is a Nikon LF lens guarentee that it is well made?

-- Jonathan Brewer (, March 11, 2002


Response to Nikkor 450M9

I think the "uncaring" by Nikon is limited to some of the Nikon distributors, such as Nikon USA. These distributors are doing nothing to promote the lenses and don't put any information on their web sites. I don't know of any evidence that the Nikon manufacturing people have decreased the quality of their output. Nikon Japan has made decisions to market some lesser quality products (e.g., some 35 mm cameras and lenses), but the LF lens designs seem to be unchanged since their introduction. In short, I wouldn't worry about the year that a Nikon LF lens was made.

-- Michael Briggs (, March 11, 2002.

Ditto what Michael said. So Nikon made a decision a while back to not throw money at advertising their large format lenses here in the US. Folks say that is the equivelant to not caring. Not so. They came to the conclusion (probably rightfully so) that they have a niche in the large format community as evidenced by consistent sales numbers for which they are happy and for which they concluded a marketing campaign would not considerably grow their market share. I actually feel good about this situation because they are demonstrating their business savy and should be around for quite a while. Schneider seems to be the only major manufacturer that is doing any R&D along with advertising for which their US price is reflective of this condition. Schneider makes a great lens, but I have not been able to go that direction at the check out counter.

I have a brother in that works in downtown Tokyo and on my behalf he has been to several of the pro photo shops there. Literature from Nikon has been updated regularly and available freely upon request.

I have photographed with Nikon lenses of older vintage and of very recent purchase (and manufacture) and as far as I can tell, they are produced to the identical standards as they always have been. Sharp and contrasty. One final question. As much praise I can can spout for Nikon, you should have your sanity questioned for not looking long and hard at the Fuji 450 C in a Copal 1 that uses a 52mm filter. A Copal #3 is a big heavy bugger that should be avoided if at all possible. I have an f 5.6 300mm Nikon W that I though was the cats meow when I bought my first 8x10 and it gets about as much use as an expensive paper weight. The Fuji is not hard to focus even at f12.5 and you will find all kinds of glowing recommendations on it in this forums archives. I have said this before and I will say it again. You can never own to many film holders and light weight lenses in small shutters that have close to 500 mm of coverage are as valuable as gold to the large format photographer. Good Luck

-- Michael Kadillak (, March 11, 2002.

One could argue that many things have less build quality these days, but that's another story...

I bought mine in '84 and it has always performed well - sharp and very contrasty. The interesting thing I found out when I bought it was that the 14" Commercial Ektar I already had was as sharp or sharper, but not nearly as contrasty.

You won't be dissatisfied with the Nikkor M. I guess I also have an implicit trust of Nikon products, like the other folks commenting here. I always remember when I accidently stuck my thumb through the shutter of my F3, sent it to Nikon Pro Services, and they didn't even replace it - just straightened out, tested and timed it. That was nearly 20 years ago. My daughter is using that camera now.

If you buy the best, you'll never be disappointed.

Good luck,


-- Bill Marsh (, March 12, 2002.

Michael......Thank you for the valuable info, I respect your advice as always, the Nikkor will be the smallest lens I'll have in LF, and is positively 'itty bitty' compared to my other lenses, price and availability is the rest of the equation, and lastly on the portrait end, I can't resist the stop difference.

Thanks for putting my mind at ease as far as the build quality of these lenses are concerned, when you folks vouch for a lens, I know it is a good lens.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, March 12, 2002.


I've had my 450mm M of recent manufacture for a while now and am very happy with it, although I have neither an older version of the lens or either of the two Fuji's at this focal length to compare it with. Many others, like Michael, prefer the Fuji 450/12.5; maybe you've already seen Kerry's article on the Fuji LF line in the recent VC with its glowing review of this lens.

My 8x10 outfit with tripod is already pretty heavy, and since I don't backpack with this gear, the extra few ounces (don't have the specs here with me, but I think it's about an 8oz difference) was not a factor. But the Nikkor is almost a full stop faster, and that does make a difference to me. If there had been some comparative resolution specs out there on the two lenses, and one lens turned out to be appreciably sharper than the other I'd have gone with the sharper lens, but as it was I went with speed in combination with the manufacturer's general "Big Four" reputation. Nick. P.S. My most recent lens purchase was Rodenstock.

-- Nick Jones (, March 14, 2002.

P.S. That should be "neither ... nor." Time for another cup of coffee. NFJ

-- Nick Jones (, March 14, 2002.

Yes Nick, it was a toss up for a while as to which lens I would get the Nikkor or the Fuji, but Robert White had a Nikkor on clearance and it was cheaper than either lens anywhere else so I bit.

There is an outfit out in Riverside CA, Custom Packaging Design, that has a surplus of these humungous cases, they have approx. 300 of them according to the owner, and they're selling them for roughly if I remember correctly for $135. They're big, and for a nominal fee they cut outlines in the foam to fit all my LF gear in one case.

I'll be getting the dolly/cart from B&H and rolling this combo around from out of the trunk of my car, so total weight doesn't bother me, and the Toyo doesn't care about the weight of the lens. If the Fuji had been readily available, and way cheaper than I could get the Nikkor then I would've bit on that.

-- Jonathan Brewer (, March 14, 2002.

Hi Jonathan, I was wondering, have you considered the FUJI lenses? I can't remember the pricing off hand anymore, but I do recall them being slightly cheaper than the Nikkor. I have a FUJI lens and it is superb! may be an option....


-- Dave Anton (, March 15, 2002.

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