Nikkor Q and Nikkor M lenses : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Anyone know what the difference is with a 450 Nikkor Q and a 450 Nikkor M lens? Both are in Copal 3 shutters and look to be almost the same. Any info would be appreciated... such as performance comparison, coatings, usable image circle, minimum apertures, etc.

-- Dan Smith (, June 01, 2002


Being an older Nikkor lens, I wonder if it follows the same identification as the Nikkor lenses designed for the Bronica S series. If so, as a Nikkor-Q, it should be a four element, three group lens. This seems reasonable.

-- neil poulsen (, June 01, 2002.

The 450mm f/9 Nikkor M is an infinity-corrected camera lens. It comes from the factory in a Copal 3 shutter with aperture scale down to f/128, has image circles of 420mm at f/9 and 440mm at f/22, is multicoated, and consists of 4 element in 3 groups. Weight is listed as 640g (22.6 oz.).

My Nikon photoengraving lens brochure (from around 1982) contains no information on a 450 Nikkor, either Apo-Nikkor or Process-Nikkor. The only "Q" designated lens is a 260 f/10 Process Nikkor. It is described as having a focal length of 267mm, minimum aperture of f/32, standard magnification of 1X, usable magnification range of 1/2X - 2X, picture angle of 68 degrees at f/10 and 74 degrees at f/22, corrected wavelength range of 400 - 650 nanometers, subject area (image circle) of 720mm at f/10 and 800mm at f/22 (at 1X magnification), weight of 930g (no shutter) and consisting of 4 elements in 4 groups. There is no mention of coating, but, if consistent with Apo-Nikkors of the period - I own two - it's likely single coated.

Whether data for a 450 Nikkor Q can be assumed to scale up from that for a 260 Nikkor Q is a question for which I have no answer. Perhaps someone else can offer insight in this area.

-- Sal Santamaura (, June 02, 2002.

You know, there's a book currently on bookstore shelves that documents all the Nikon products. For example, it covers the Nikkor Bronica lenses of the 60's and 70's. It also covers process lenses.

I wonder if the 450 Nikkor-Q might be included.

-- neil poulsen (, June 02, 2002.

There is currently a 450mm Nikkor Q up for auction on eBay. See:

The seller has included some fairly high res jpegs to accompany the auction. If you click on "supersize this picture", you can read the text around the front trim ring, including the serial number (452358). Does anyone have a reference for dating Nikkor lenses based on serial numbers?

From the pictures, the lens appears to be single coated, and based on the shutter style it (assuming the shutter is original - perhaps an erroneous assumption) probably from the early to mid-1970s (or perhaps very late 1960s). It appears to be similar in size and shape to the 450mm f9 Nikkor M. The lettering is engraved into the retaining ring that holds the front element in place ("inner lettering"). Current Nikkor LF lenses use "outer lettering" (around the outside of the front barrel).

I have a brochure titled "EL Nikkor Enlarging Lenses & Nikkor Large Format Lenses" from December 1978 that lists "Long Focal Length Nikkors" in 300mm and 450mm focal lengths. Unfortunately, the photos of these lenses were taken at an oblique angle, so the entire front ring is not visible. However, from what I can see, these lenses have the same style of "inner lettering" as the Nikkor-Q currently for sale on eBay and the same chrome ring Copal No. shutter. In fact, they look identical except for one thing - the -Q following Nikkor is defintiely not present (that part of the ring is visible in the photo). The specs given (coverage, filter size, elements/groups, etc.) are indentical to the current Nikkor M series, execept for small differences in weight (22.9 oz. vs 22.6 oz. for the 450mm). It appears that these "Long Focal Length Nikkors" were a transitional model between the Nikkor-Q and Nikkor M series (at least in the 450mm focal length). My next Nikkor LF reference (from May, 1982) lists the Nikkor M series in focal lengths of 105mm, 300mm and 450mm. The photo of the 450 M clearly shows the "outer lettering" and all black Copal No. 3 shutter identical to the current 450 Nikkor M. The serial number is also visible (760152).

So, tyhe evidence is not 100% conclusive, but appears that the 450mm Nikkor-Q (at least the one for sale on eBay) is likely a 4/3 (tessar) design that was a predecessor to the current 450mm Nikkor M. Specs are likely similar (Image Circle = 420mm @f9, 440mm @f22). The one on eBay appears to be single coated and likely pre-dates the 450mm "Long Focal Length Nikkor" from 1978.

Hope that helps. If anyone has any references material on Nikkor LF lenses pre-dating my December, 1978 brochure, please let me know. It is a subject of interest to me (similar to my quest for knowledge of the history and lineage of the LF Fujinon lenses). Any additional info would be greatly appreciated.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, June 02, 2002.

For the future, when the photo linked to from ebay is gone, the writing around the front of the glass says "NIKKOR-Q 1:9 f=450mm Nippon Kogaku Japan No.452368". It is in a Copal 3 shutter (clearly labeled as such) with aperture settings that are closer together for the small apertures (larger f-numbers). It is an older style Copal 3 shutter with a chrome outer rim and painted colored dots inside the finials on the end of each control lever.

I book I have about Nikon 35 mm cameras that states that Nikon stopped using letter codes to designate the number of lens elements in 1974. "Nikkor-Q" is "Q" for "quad", meaning four elements. The code doesn't tell the number of groups, but it seems likely that this is an early version of the current Nikkor-M, which has four elements in three groups (the Tessar design).

I think Nikon started using multicoating in 1974, so this lens is very likely to be single coated. That is probably the greatest difference from the current Nikkor-M.

The photo (not known to an earlier poster) shows that the lens on ebay is not a Process Nikkor. The Process Nikkors have highly curved, convex outer elements, were f10, and were not sold in a shutter.

I have noticed one or two other lenses like this on ebay, perhaps also of 300 mm focal length. They seem to be rare in the US. Were they were not officially imported? Or were they unpopular at the time compared to German brands?

-- Michael Briggs (, June 07, 2002.

I have two Nikkor-Q lenses for Bronica (135/3.5 and 105/3.5 Leaf Shutter), and they're both great lenses, probably of the same optical design as the 450 for large format. Check this page for info on the Bronica Nikkors, much of which will apply to other Nikkor lenses of that era:

-- David Goldfarb (, June 07, 2002.

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