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W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 - vintage vs. reissue comparison
Old 06-07-2010   #1
jonmanjiro
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W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 - vintage vs. reissue comparison

Finally had a chance to shoot a few frames to compare the multicoated reissue W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 lens (sold as part of the Nikon SP Limited Edition kit released in 2005) with a single coated vintage W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8.

Here's the lenses I used. The vintage lens is on the left and the reissue lens is on the right.


reassembled - W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr



Here's some of the shots, all taken on expired Kodak E100VS.

Vintage W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

bokeh - vintage Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Reissue W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

bokeh - reissue Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Vintage W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/2.5 @ f/2.5 (just threw this one in for another comparison reference)

bokeh - vintage Nikkor 3.5cm f2.5 @ f2.5 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Vintage W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

colour1 - vintage Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Reissue W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

colour1 - reissue Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Vintage W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/2

colour2 - vintage Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f2 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Reissue W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/2

colour2 - reissue Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f2 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Vintage W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

flare - vintage Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr


Reissue W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 @ f/1.8

flare - reissue Nikkor 3.5cm f1.8 @ f1.8 by jonmanjiro, on Flickr

Last edited by jonmanjiro : 02-05-2011 at 17:53.
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Old 06-07-2010   #2
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As can be seen in the last two photos, as expected, the reissue lens handles flare better. Bokeh is similar. The reissue lens has the edge when it comes to sharpness and contrast (no surprises there). The oddest thing was the huge difference in colour balance. The colours from the vintage lens are much warmer than either the reissue 3.5cm f/1.8 or the vintage 3.5cm f/2.5 (4th photo from the top). Makes me wonder if the elements in the vintage 3.5cm f/1.8 have yellowed somewhat with age?! Or maybe something to do with the lanthanum glass in the vintage 3.5cm f/1.8?

Last edited by jonmanjiro : 06-07-2010 at 03:58.
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Old 06-07-2010   #3
Juan Valdenebro
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Thanks for sharing, Jon!

Personally I prefer the warmer (vintage) lens rendering... It makes images that are closer to real vision (mine), but this can be very personal...

Cheers,

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Old 06-07-2010   #4
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I certainly don't mind the warmer colour rendering, Juan

But I am surprised that the colour of the vintage 3.5cm f/1.8 and vintage 3.5cm f/2.5 are so different! The vintage 3.5cm f/2.5 is suprisingly similar to the reissue 3.5cm f/1.8!
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Old 06-07-2010   #5
elshaneo
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Thanks Jon for the photo comparisons. I also prefer the warmer tone of the vintage 35mm f/1.8 lens
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Old 06-07-2010   #6
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Very interesting! This is what I really want to know. I tested two lenses before. The result showed same with your test, Vintage one showed more warm color and it has almost same sharpness, similar bokeh. But as you pointed, common Nikon RF lenses's color is more resemble to reissue 3.5cm F1.8. Thanks for the sharing : )
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Old 06-07-2010   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
I certainly don't mind the warmer colour rendering, Juan

But I am surprised that the colour of the vintage 3.5cm f/1.8 and vintage 3.5cm f/2.5 are so different! The vintage 3.5cm f/2.5 is suprisingly similar to the reissue 3.5cm f/1.8!
Indeed surprising! The difference is not small... No (clear to me) reason for that difference between both vintage lenses...

Cheers,

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Last edited by Juan Valdenebro : 06-07-2010 at 04:37.
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Old 06-07-2010   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goliathus View Post
Very interesting! This is what I really want to know. I tested two lenses before. The result showed same with your test, Vintage one showed more warm color and it has almost same sharpness, similar bokeh. But as you pointed, common Nikon RF lenses's color is more resemble to reissue 3.5cm F1.8. Thanks for the sharing : )
It's reassuring to hear your got similar results, Park. I was beginning to wonder if it was just my lens. Good to know its not
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Old 06-07-2010   #9
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Thanks, Jon !

Would be interesting to see if the color rendition of the vintage 1.8 lens gets more similar to the more modern look of the re-issued lens when closed down a bit.

In my experience it doesn't, the vintage 35/1.8 has very unique color rendering (which is why I love it). Maybe the glass they used ?

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Old 06-07-2010   #10
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Nice comparison, Jon.

I have played around with both the reissue and vintage lenses, and got the same results as Jonmanjiro- warmer colors on the vintage lens. Also, I think that the colors are a bit more saturated on the reissue lens (due to better coatings, I guess).


Roland, most of the pics that I have made with these lenses are at middling apertures of 4, 5.6 or 8. I don't think that the colors change very much in the stopped down condition from what Jon has posted. Now, where did I archive those pictures?
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Old 06-07-2010   #11
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Great test!

Would the colour cast have anything to do with how the single coating has aged perhaps?

Because they both should be the same design, and the fact that the other Nikkor's produce the same colours as the reissue...
Either way, the vintage is much nicer on the eyes =D
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Old 06-07-2010   #12
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Thanks, Marc, this is my experience too.

Jon: if you have a light table, could you please take both vintage and re-issued lens wide open and put them on. Does the glass have a different color ? My vintage lens looks slightly yellow. I'm convinced the tone difference has little to do with cement and/or coating. The Sonnars from the same era are heavily cemented and do not have this color effect.

From Nikkor - The 1001 Nights:

Quote:
The external appearance up to this point is similar to other Xenotar-type lenses, but the design utilized the totally new Lanthanum (La) -based glass convex lenses to improve spherical aberration and curvature of field, significantly enhancing both sharpness and image flatness.
Maybe some Thorium, too ?

Quote:
Development of eight new types of optical glass made with rare-earth elements such as lanthanum (La) and thorium (Th) in Japan (Nippon) began in June 1951, a joint effort by the five Japanese companies : Chiyoda Optical (now Minolta Co., Ltd.), Fuji Photo Film Co. Ltd., Konishiroku Photo Industries (now Konika Corporation) Ohara Optical Glass (now Ohara Inc.), and Nippon Kogaku K.K. (now Nikon Corporation).

In September 1951, Nippon Kogaku received a grant of 10.5 million Japanese Yen for industrial testing related to the manufacture of these new types of optical glass. By November 1953, tests by Nippon Kogaku were completed for LaK1 (lanthanum crown); LaK3 and KF8 (crown flint); LLF (ultra-light flint); F16 (flint); and FK6 (chlorine-silicon crown). Ohara Optical Glass had concluded tests on LaK2 (lanthanum crown), as had Fuji Photo Film on BaSF8 (barium flint).

Contributing engineers met a total of 29 times. After testing was finished, a variety of new photographic lenses using the newly developed glasses were introduced by these manufacturers, demonstrating the significance of this wide-ranging R&D effort.
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Last edited by ferider : 06-07-2010 at 06:31.
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Old 06-07-2010   #13
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By "heavily cemented", I mean nr. of cemented surfaces in for example 50/1.4 and 85/2, that do not have the warming effect Jon observed.

I am suggesting that the vintage lens has yellow'ed over time, did not behave like this when new, can possibly be cured in UV light, or, conversely, be emulated with a warming filter and the re-issued lens, all possibly relevant also to a photographer

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Old 06-07-2010   #14
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My 1951 (?) 50/1.4 is cooler than my younger (1956?) 35/1.8, which has less cemented surfaces, Fred. This is why I am suggesting that the 35's glass (not the cement) is yellowing.
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Old 06-07-2010   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ferider View Post
Jon: if you have a light table, could you please take both vintage and re-issued lens wide open and put them on. Does the glass have a different color ? My vintage lens looks slightly yellow. I'm convinced the tone difference has little to do with cement and/or coating. The Sonnars from the same era are heavily cemented and do not have this color effect.

From Nikkor - The 1001 Nights:

Maybe some Thorium, too ?

Roland.
Roland, I have a light table and will take a look at the lenses tonight when I get home.

On the topic of lanthanum, thorium, and other now prohibited substances used to create exotic glass, Nikon recently did a big cleanup of the soil where the glass furnace used to be located at the Ohi Plant. Here's a shot of the bubble house (well kind of a bubble house) used to prevent the spread of contamination during the clean up. The white building behind the bubble house is Building 101 where all Nikon cameras up to an including the F2 (and maybe even the early F3s) were assembled.


Last edited by jonmanjiro : 06-07-2010 at 17:19. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-07-2010   #16
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Jon, was the E100VS as expected? I hope so, it looks good to me! I am very surprised by the difference, I do like the warmer look, but I am sure a 81A filter on the reissue will rectify the difference in color.
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Old 06-07-2010   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister E View Post
Jon, was the E100VS as expected? I hope so, it looks good to me! I am very surprised by the difference, I do like the warmer look, but I am sure a 81A filter on the reissue will rectify the difference in color.
The E100VS is great (and as expected)!! Thanks again for all the film.

I think both colour renditions have their place. A good excuse to keep both lenses anyway
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Old 06-07-2010   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
Roland, I have a light table and will take a look at the lenses tonight when I get home.

On the topic of lanthanum, thorium, and other now prohibited substances used to create exotic glass, Nikon recently did a big cleanup of the soil where the glass furnace used to be located at the Ohi Plant. Here's a shot of the bubble house (well kind of a bubble house) used to prevent the spread of contamination during the clean up. The white building behind the bubble house is Building 101 where all Nikon cameras up to an including the F2 (and maybe even the early F3s) were assembled.

(Konica) Minolta did the same thing with their Sakai plant when they sold their camera division to Sony. There are some nasty stuff used in glass making beyond radioactive material--cadmium and arsenic come to mind. It is surprising the workforce stayed healthy. You start to wonder about the water table.
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Old 06-07-2010   #19
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It's too bad we could not go back in time to see the vintage when it was younger to see if it became warmer over the years.

Are there other lenses from Nikon (or others) that could be compared?

Is it the glass, is it the age, is it just the design?

Enquiring Minds want to know!

B2 (;->
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Old 06-07-2010   #20
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Something similar to the Pentax 50mm SMC? There's no doubt mine has yellowed, even after setting it in the sun.
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Old 06-07-2010   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen-shooter View Post
Jon, apologies for highjacking, but I noticed in your photo that the type face used on the rings are different. Look at the letters 'a' & 'g'.

I checked mine out have the same thing going on. Wonder what gives.
Well spotted Akira. I hadn't noticed that before. I guess Nikon changed to a simpler font at some point. No idea why though ...
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Old 06-07-2010   #22
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Originally Posted by digitalintrigue View Post
Nice comparison, Jon. How about I send you a 35/1.8 in LTM to add to the mix?
That would be very cool

For testing purposes only, right?
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Old 06-07-2010   #23
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If the vintage 35/1.8 used glass similar to the first issue Nikkor 35/1.4, the glass will definitely 'yellow' with age, more of an amber than yellow actually. I have to set my Nikkor-N 35mm f1.4 in the sun for a few days every few years to clear it up. My 35/1.4 is actually in the sun on the veranda as I type this.
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Old 06-07-2010   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
Well spotted Akira. I hadn't noticed that before. I guess Nikon changed to a simpler font at some point. No idea why though ...
I just checked some lens photos Akira, and my guess is that the font was changed when Nikon dropped the red "C" for coated. Here's pics of two 5cm f/1.4 lenses with close serial numbers, but No. 394255 has the red "C" and old font and No. 399428 no longer has the red "C" and has a simplified font. For this lens, the switchover was around No. 396000.



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Old 06-07-2010   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zen-shooter View Post
That makes sense to me too. So sometime in the early 60's then?
So you ever see the newer font with the red C or the old font without the C, it might be one of those rate transitional lenses.
Not exactly sure, but I think 1958 or 1959 at the latest (at the introduction of the Nikon F).

I don't remember seeing the newer font with the red C or the older font without the red C. Something to keep an eye out for

Last edited by jonmanjiro : 06-07-2010 at 19:43.
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