A Site for Photographers by Photographers

Community > Forums > B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing > Lenses > older el-nikkor 50mm f4 vs...

older el-nikkor 50mm f4 vs newer el-nikkor 50mm f2.8

Pat Patteson , Sep 16, 2002; 08:32 a.m.

Hello, Does anyone have experience with these two enlarging lenses? How do they stack up against each other? Any significant differences? Thanks for the information. . .



    1   |   2     Next    Last

Pete Andrews , Sep 16, 2002; 09:59 a.m.

Both lenses are actually about the same age, I think. My recollection is that they were introduced about the same time, in the 1960s. The f/4 version was intended more as a 'budget' lens, with the f/2.8 being aimed at the professional market.<p>I actually preferred the printing qualities of the f/4 version, when I used them side by side in college. The f/2.8 I used seemed to lack a bit of contrast at the wider apertures, but that may have been down to sample variation, or the condition of those particular lenses.<br>Plus, that was all a long time ago now.<p>I'd say if you don't really need the wider aperture for focusing, then the f/4 El-Nikkor is a perfectly respectable lens, with a performance well above the average of mid-priced enlarging lenses.

Bob Finley , Sep 16, 2002; 10:37 a.m.

It was my understanding that the f4 was a 4 element lens while the f2.8 is a 6 element. Please correct me if I am wrong and I only have experience with the 2.8 which is a lot better than my old Comparon or Voss or .........

Pete Andrews , Sep 16, 2002; 11:16 a.m.

Most process lenses are only of 4 element construction too, but at their specicified working distance, in terms of colour-correction, resolution, flatness of field, and lack of geometrical distortion, they'll knock most general purpose 6 element camera lenses out of the arena.<br>There are good 4 element lenses, and bad 6 element lenses, and each lens has to be taken on its own merits.

Mark Farnsworth , Sep 16, 2002; 02:11 p.m.

The 50mm f/4.0 is a 4-element lens like the El-Nikkor 75mm. All other El-Nikkors (including the 50mm f/2.8) are 6 elements lenses (designated as the "N" series). I don't know when they were introduced, but both are "current" and can be purchased new, although the designs may have changed somewhat over the years.

The 4 element El-Nikkors are not process lenses. The 6 element lenses are considered to be superior to the 4 element versions, but since people are a bit touchy about stuff they own, I will leave it at that.

Barry Schmetter , Sep 16, 2002; 03:40 p.m.

I have both lenses, and at moderate print sizes (8x10, 11x14) there doesn't seem to be a big difference between the two. I have never done a direct comparison, but was happy for years with my 50mm f/4. The 50mm f/4 EL-Nikkor replaced the crappy Voss 50mm lens that came with my Bogen enlarger and was much better than the Voss. After I got the 50mm f/2.8 EL-Nikkor as part of a package deal, I did not notice any substantial improvement in my prints. I generally use enlarging lenses stopped down at least 2 stops from maximum aperture.

z z , Sep 16, 2002; 05:28 p.m.

I own the 2.8 version but not the 4.0. So my comments are a bit one sided, however I have found the 2.8 to be both sharp and contrasty. I also have one of those horrendously overpriced German APO's and find the Nikon lens to be every bit as good.

I enjoy the super bright image the 2.8 gives me for focusing and cropping. After spending countless hours in a darkroom it sure is nice.

If your enlarging 35mm negs you need all the help you can get.


Kelly Flanigan , Sep 16, 2002; 07:45 p.m.

The f4 model is a 4 element tessar; it is great on axis and 1/2 way out. The f2.8 is slightly better at the far corners; only noticeable with a good sharp negative. The f2.8 has at least two variants; the latest has slightly better illumination in the far corners. The front and rear elements are slightly larger in diameter. Both have 6 elements.

I bought a 50mm f4 nikkor 30 years ago new. It is a very good lens. My 50mm F2.8 Scheneider componon-S and 60mm F5.6 Scheneider Componon are better at the far edges; but rarely can one tell the difference in real world prints.

All my personal opinions are based on tests I have run with the lenses at : 50mm F4 @f8
50mm F2.8 @f5.6 to f8
60mm F5.6 @f11

Most all the lenses are great wide open on axis; the edges improve when stopped down about 2 stops.

Kelly Flanigan , Sep 16, 2002; 07:49 p.m.

Many of the new 50mm F2.8 6 element lenses are really good even wide open. Due to temperature; humidity; negative moement; I prefer the more consistant results I achieve at F8 to F11.

Conrad Hoffman , Sep 16, 2002; 10:49 p.m.

Agree with the above and can only add that enlarging lenses often have significant sample to sample variation. Also, watch out for separation of the elements. Hold the lens up to a bright light and look for subtle lines around the perimeter. My f/4 had this and was still an ok performer. After recementing it, the center performance was nearly as good as my f/2.8N, though the 4-element f/4 still isn't as good at the edges. On a typical 8x10, I can't see much difference.

    1   |   2     Next    Last

Back to top

Notify me of Responses