View Full Version : Legacy Lenses Nikkor S-C 55mm f1.2 on E-1

09-30-2007, 02:41 AM
I just got my Nikon→4/3 adapter in the mail, so a very quick report.

The adapter is Chinese brass, feels very solid (heavy) and fits the E-1 and Nikkor lenses well (perhaps a bit tight feel at first, but not excessive). Cost on e-bay site was AU$17.99 + 12.99 postage to Japan. The total AU$30.98 is roughly equivalent to US$27.43.

My purpose in getting the adapter was to make use of several old Nikkor lenses Iíve used on F2S and F3 cameras back in the 1980s. Most particularly, I wanted to try my Nikkor-SC 55mm f1.2 lens (35mm format equivalent 110mm) on the E-1 just to see how it would perform for low-light conditions. The SC 55mm f1.2 has never been considered a great lens, but I can't overlook it's low-light potential.

To a somewhat lesser degree I also wanted to try my Nikkor 20mm f3.5 as a ďnear-standardĒ (in 35mm format terms, 40mm). Iíve only done a cursory test on the 55mm 1.2 lens at this point, so Iíll post those pics here, and try the 20mm later as I have time (I have several other Nikkors but these two are the main ones I wanted to try).

The big objective on the f1.2:

It's almost as big as the 14-54m but not quite:

First offl, this is the first time Iíve used a non ZD lens on my E-1 (or E-300), so Iíve got a lot to learn, Iím sure. I set the camera to manual exposure and was using ESP metering, but Iím not sure whether thatís best. Results seemed to turn out pretty much per expectations, but if anyone has any better tips, I'm all ears. Second, as we all know, focusing is the beast on these manual lenses, especially once you start stopping them down, so I know that limits their usefulness. My hope is to be able to use the 55mm for candid portraits at parties and concerts under dim situations where the flavor it gives may even be a positive. Anyway, hereís some initial results from a tripod setup.

The tripod is set up 157cm from subject to focal plane. As a control, I used the ZD 14-54mm lens set at 54, and at its maximum aperture f3.5. ISO is set at 100 for all shots. Since this is warm halogen+candle light and both image and background are near white, the initial image naturally came out darker than normal; in ACR/CS3 I lowered the WB to 2900 and raised exposure by +.7 step. I did this uniformly for all exposures. Whatís important to me here are mostly characteristics of sharpness and contrast. Also, with both lenses I tried to focus on the same point: the tip of the nose; I first used auto focusing with the ZD, but finally settled on a frame that was manually focused for my control.

First, the ZD 14-54 control image, developed in ACR as noted above and resized with my normal CS3 action (which adds sharpening):
Olympus ZD 14-54mm (54mm), 4/10s @ f3.5 (manually focused on tip of nose):

Next, a center crop of the above without sharpening:

Next, the Nikkor 55mm f1.2. Exposure: 1/30s at f1.2 (manual focus on tip of nose); I know that it needs more EC, but I gave it the same +.7 as the ZD and others).

The same, center cropped, without sharpening:

I did a series all the way from f1.2 to f11, but here Iíll only put up the f5.6 version as a comparison

Nikkor 55mm f1.2. Exposure: 1/6s @ f5.6 (same conditions)

The same, center cropped, withoutsharpening:

So what can one say about these?
First off, the Nikkor 55mm is visibly soft at its wide-open f1.2 aperture, which is to be expected. At 5.6, however, the image is quite respectable; in fact, even at f4 (closest to the 14-54mmís f3.5), the Nikkor crop looks just about as good as the Oly, although I wonít jump to any conclusions on the basis of this very cursory test. (I should note that the E-1 produced a better automatic exposure than the manual lens.)

Finally, a real-life example of the Nikkor at f1.2. The softness doesnít detract from this kind of shot, and I think the bokeh looks very smooth (handheld at near minimum focusing distance).

E-1 + Nikkor SC 55mm f1.2, f1.2 @ 1/40s (ISO 100)

Whaddya think?

11-21-2007, 05:27 AM
Fantastic post. I also use old Nikon lenses on my Pany L1. Can't wait to hear your report on the 20mm.:wink:

11-21-2007, 03:11 PM
In many cases the softness just doesn't matter but f/1.2 darn sure might so I think it's a worthwhile addition to the lens bag. And that shot at f/5.6 was outstanding. Outdoors in day light where these lenses sometimes fall down due to internal reflections and poor contrast, but I suspect that's not what most people would want an f/1.2 lens for.

Both interesting and fun!


11-26-2007, 11:13 AM
Whaddya think?

I think those AU$30.98 were exceptionally well spent money!!!

Get a 50 mm Dandelion chip on that adapter and you will have a killer low light combo with your new E-3.

Did you try this lens for UA's concert? Wide open it could have saved you from applying your "glamour action" ;-)

Thanks for this test, the lens is definitely worth bringing along when light is low and subjects are moving. Also, this shows exactly one of the strengths with the 4/3 system.

Thanks for sharing this. I'm off to get a Nikon adapter now...:D


11-26-2007, 05:42 PM
I think those AU$30.98 were exceptionally well spent money!!!
Get a 50 mm Dandelion chip on that adapter and you will have a killer low light combo with your new E-3.
Did you try this lens for UA's concert? Wide open it could have saved you from applying your "glamour action" ;-)

Thanks, Jen. I've been thinking of that Dandelion, but haven't gotten it yet. For the UA concert, I was all set to take along the 55 1.2 mounted on the E-1 as an alternative to the E-3 with 50-200, but decided not to since I realized it was too much "experimental" stuff to be doing for a single night. It was only the second time I'd used the E-3, and I'd used the 55 1.2 on the E-1 only for this test and still haven't gotten all the bugs worked out in focusing and exposure, so decided to wait a bit more before jumping into a serious gig with it.

11-27-2007, 02:29 PM
By the way Norman,

I'm interested if your lens at f/1.2 really is f/1.2 or rather f/1.4?

The reason is that, according to optical theory, the flange-back distance and the size of the lens mount of the 4/3 system should give a maximum limit to aperture opening of f/1.4.

So, in other words: Does f/1.2 and f/1.4 give different exposure values or are both f/1.4?

Cheers, Jens.

11-27-2007, 11:53 PM
I know nothing about optical theory :nerd: so I wouldn't know much how to start, but I'll do some checking. If shutter speeds were continuously variable, it might be possible to see if the shutter speed changed when stopping down from 1.2 to 1.4, but there's so little difference between the two I'll probably have to arrange a very delicate lighting setup to produce an EV right at the border of 1.2 to see if the shutter changed at 1.4--or do you have another testing method you could suggest?

11-28-2007, 01:39 AM
Hi Norman,

No, I don't have any advanced method to suggest. Just see what happens to the exposure time when changing the lens from f/1.2 to f/1.4 in A-mode and don't forget to also take some shots as the metering accuracy may be varying with f/#. I'd even suggest that you continue to f/2.0, f/2.8, etc. since you will learn something about metering issues with the particular lens. A useful light source, which isn't sensitive to the exact composition and doesn't vary in intensity is a fully white computer screen. (An easy way to achieve that is to open a dummy document in Powerpoint and then, in presentation mode, press the key "W" which will make the entire screen white. You can also use an Expodisc and a constant intensity light source.) If there is no metering variation with f/#, all images of such a white screen should yield a very narrow but centered histogram.

Cheers, Jens.

11-28-2007, 11:50 AM
Jens, although you say you have no advanced method, you gave it to me anyway! :D Thanks! I'll try and see what I find out.

11-29-2007, 09:52 PM
Jens, I don't know what kind of monitor screen (LCD?) you use that allows it, but I should have guessed that with my CRT, the frequency flickering played havoc with metering. The E-1's meter kept cycling through a range of speeds in response to the flicker of the monitor, making accurate metering impossible. I should have foreseen that.
Instead, I taped a piece of white paper to an outdoor window on an overcast day (today), and shot several series of shots covering the entire f-stop range of the 55mm f1.2.

What I discovered is this: metering works best on ESP, and is almost worthless using spot (the meter tends to stay at the same value no matter what f-stop you set the lens to).
Metering wasn't consistent between f1.2 and f1.4 (without a sun rheostat ;) , it's rather difficult to set up a consistent amount of light to make the shutter speed change given the speed steps available), but I could tell a definite difference between f1.2 and f1.4. On those occasions I got the shutter speed to change (e.g., 1/250→1/200) in response to stopping down f1.2→f1.4, the histograms came out in identical places, so the lens is definitely letting in more light at f1.2. And above f1.4, the exposure values changed in expected steps.
Hope this helps.

One other thing--perhaps this is common knowledge, sorry if it is, but when mounted on the adapter, I've found that these lenses consistently back focus vis a vis the focusing distances printed on the lens barrel. I haven't done any rigorous tests, but the amount seems to be about 10-20%. When I mount the camera exactly 60cm from the target (target surface to sensor plane), the lens barrel has to be set to about 0.4 meters rather than 0.6 meters in order to get proper focus. I noticed this first with the Nikkor 20mm lens, where I would have to "under focus" the lens in order to get proper focus on what I was estimating my distances to be (and I later confirmed by measuring). Just something else that has to be taken into consideration if you're trying to rely on lens barrel distances.

11-30-2007, 12:56 AM
Thanks Norman, that's exactly the information I was curious to get.

Cheers, Jens.

PS. I'm using a flat Samsung TFT screen which obviously doesn't flicker. I should have foreseen your trouble as well...

03-20-2008, 09:53 AM
Hokuto (http://www.fourthirdsphoto.com/vbb/member.php?u=522)

pls test bohe with Nikkor S-C 55mm f1.2 on E-1