Nikkor Process lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have seen alot of nikkor process camera lenses for sale recently. I know they need an auxillary shutter and I can adapt them to be in front of a Sinar Auto Shutter. THE QUESTION IS: how good are these for use for portraiture and landscsape. They stop down to f128, and they are marked APO. I know they will take a picture but am I better off with a RODENSTOCK or other modern view camera lense made for a shutter? I would like to hear from a person who actually uses these lenses.

-- Edward Burlew (, March 24, 2002


My experience is very limited, but...I just started using a Apo-Nikkor 760mm on an 8X20 camera and it is a very fine lens. I can see little practical difference in prints (Azo) between it and the Schneider Super Symmar XL 210mm, the 355 Schneider G Claron or the Nikkor 450 M. I don't use a shutter but rather the flap on the front of the lens. It isn't as convenient but is workable. Good luck.

-- David Flockhart (, March 24, 2002.

There are many happy LF process lens users and the number is growing. I cant recall anyone saying they ditched their process lens because it was inferior, but I've heard many exclaim how good they can be. They may not be as good for some critical applications, but thats the exception I think. I've used my 305 G-Claron for many closeups and a very few full-length portraits. I've shot color and B&W. No problems that I can see (some like the G-C are only single-coated, something to be aware of). Many (Most?) process lenses are good taking lenses at small apertures. In fact I've spent the last few years building a collection for 8x10 use. Right now I've only got the G-C in shutter, but I've also got a 14inch Goerz Trigor and just bagged a 480 Apo-Nikkor that I'm very excited about. I havent used the latter 2 year but form what I've heard I'll be more than happy (I'm certain they beat my old Turner Reich). I hope to round it out with a 16 inch Brown that I'll be getting soon, which is a no-name process lens thats probably as good as all the rest. Since they cost so little you've got little to lose by getting one cheap, in barrel, and doing a few long exposures with no shutter to see for yourself.

-- Wayne (, March 24, 2002.

I use a Nikkor-M 300/9 with a Copal shutter for 4x5" copywork It is my undersanding that the M series are short process lenses with a shutter and multicoating. My only concern with a traditional process lens would be that many (most?) process lenses aren't coated or having multicoatings, which is fine in the studio UNLESS you have a high key background (I did a side by side test with my old [not multicoated] and new [multi-coated] 210/5.6 once) Another issue to consider is resolution. If the lens is designed to cover 20x24" and you are only using 4x5" the lines per mm or final resolution may not be as good as a lens designed for a smaller format. That is why I went with the 300 Nikkor instead of the Schneider or Rodenstock "process lens with shutter" lens. They cover too much and my believe is that a lens that only covers 8x10 would give my primo sharpness for 4x5.

-- Richard Stum (, March 24, 2002.

A process lens is incredibly sharp.

It is intended for color separation work where it needs to be able to turn a continues tone image into up to 300 line screens per inch. This means perfectly forming each dot that is part of the color separation. The lenses are undervalued but terrific. Some tend to get rather heavy but if weight is not a problem it would be difficult to find a lens that offers a sharper and more saturated image than an Apo process lens. Personally I use (on a regular basis) an 180 Apo Nikkor, a 240mm Apo Nikkor, a 305 Apo Nikkor, a 460mm Zeiss Apo (a brass lens (single coated with a wonderful feel of light and sharp as a tack) that a friend gave to me about 40 years ago...) and a 480mm Apo Nikkor (the last one is heavy = stretches across my Sinar lens board edge to edge). As these lenses don't come with shutters you are in luck if you have a Sinar behind the lens shutter, although a hat with a black interior does quite well when using time exposures...

-- Per Volquartz (, March 24, 2002.

I regularly use Nikkor 600mm and 760mm, specially adapted to boards so they don't protrude through too far to be used in front of a Sinar shutter. I use them as long lenses for picking off details in architecture and on bridges. They are astounding. I sometimes use them on 7x17 too, and they have huge movement even with this format. I can't say enough good about them. Most of my longer lenses are process barrels of many various brands and ages and I use all in front of the Sinar shutter and I am very happy and much richer for it.

-- Rob Tucher (, March 25, 2002.

I shoot the occasional landscape with a Nikkor 480 APO on my home made 12x20 camera. The camera has a Packard Shutter permanently installed behind the lensboard holder. As far as quality, I am extremely happy with the results, and even when tilting the rear, the lens covers the format adequately. I have purchased two Nikkors on eBay, the 480 and a 305 (which I havenít used yet), and both look brand new. Certainly an advantage of the used Nikkors is that they seem to have been well cared for.

-- Bill Underwood (, March 26, 2002.

I use a 240mm f/10 Process Nikkor as my main lens on my 8x10 and it is phenomenally sharp....excellent for landscapes and worked well for the few 8x10 portraits I've done. I had it mounted into shutter by SK Grimes, which cost a pretty penny, but it's a great piece of glass and I'm glad I bought it. Works great at infinity and is excellent for macro type stuff as well. Once I get my hands on an 8x10 enlarger, I'll probably use it as an enlarging lens, too.

-- David Munson (, March 26, 2002.

Unbelievably Cheap, Dazzlingly sharp focus with a 160 fax-nikkor(no shutter, one pop in the dark)on what used to be a Polaroid MP-4. The 8x10 chromes of subjects at 1:2 are simlpy incredible. However, focused at infinity is somthing I can't wait to try as well. If not for this forum and e-bay I'm not sure I would have ever heard of the lense. Thanks & Praises to all the powers that be!! I have a bloop sheet on fax-nikkor specs if you're interested.

-- John Forrest Grunke (, March 27, 2002.

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