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100mm lens shootout

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I did a shootout/comparison of 75mm lenses a while back (see here: http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=98494&SearchTerms=75mm). I chose 75mm because it is just long enough to make work with most bellows on Dollar size coins, and short enough to keep the setups compact. It is my preferred size for use on the small microscope stand setups I favor. But some folks prefer larger setups, and some bellows have minimum extensions that are too long to work with Dollars. Both these situations require longer lenses.

I am an avid El-Cheapo enthusiast, and have watched eBay for deals on various lenses for a long while (see here: http://www.coincommunity.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=102384). I also have picked up other more expensive but interesting lenses along the way. Many are in the range of 100mm so I decided it would be good to compare them. Keeping in the 86mm-110mm range, I have 22 lenses to compare. I did not include the 95mm or 105mm Printing-Nikkors although I may add them later.

The lenses included in this shootout range from 86mm to 110mm; from Japan, Germany, France, and Russia; from enlarging, duplication, and macro applications; and from $15 to $250 on the used market. Many are seen regularly on eBay, while others come around only infrequently. The list includes, in order of increasing focal length:

86mm f5.6 Tomioka E36C duplication lens (fixed-aperture)
86mm f4 Tomioka E36 duplication lens
89mm f5 Rodenstock Scitex S-2 duplication lens
90mm f4.5 Perfex Anastigmat enlarging lens
90mm f4.5 Wollensak Enlarging Raptar enlarging lens
90mm f4.5 Elgeet Colorstigmat enlarging lens
90mm f4 Tomioka E36 duplication lens
90mm f6.3 Perfex Anastigmat enlarging lens
90mm f4.5 Roussel Trylor enlarging lens
90mm f4.5 Lens Made In Japan (no brand) enlarging lens
94.1mm f4 Tomioka E66 duplication lens
100mm f4.5 Lomo Mikroplanar macro lens
100mm f4.5 Kodak Enlarging Ektar enlarging lens
101mm f4.5 Wollensak Enlarging Raptar enlarging lens
105mm f4.5 Vivitar enlarging lens
105mm f4.5 Tomioka Tominon macro lens
105mm f5.6 Rodenstock Rodagon enlarging lens
105mm f5.6 Nikon EL-Nikkor enlarging lens
108mm f5.6 Rodenstock LFOV duplication lens (fixed aperture)
110mm f4 Industar N-100-Y enlarging lens
110mm f5.6 Rodenstock Scitex S-2 duplication lens
110mm f5 Rodenstock Scitex S-3 duplication lens (fixed aperture)

I used a 1954-S Lincoln Cent as subject for the shootout. I took overall photos using each lens, with white balance set for Tungsten, so that the color presentation differences of the lenses can be seen. No sharpening was done in-camera or in post-processing. Levels were adjusted equally on all images.

Lighting was kept constant for all shots. Of course the lighting will appear different for different focal lengths due to perspective changes, but only slightly within this narrow range.

Aperture was held constant at f5.6, or at either the minimum aperture (eg f6.3 for Perfex) or at the fixed aperture of the lens (eg f5.0 on Scitex). This is a wider aperture than I used for the 75mm shootout, where I chose f8. The wider aperture exposes more issues for each lens, and allows a better comparison. The f8 in 75mm shootout somewhat equalized the lens performance, while f5.6 will show more of the differences. In some cases f5.6 is the maximum aperture, while in others it is stopped-down by 1 stop.

Critical focus was performed on the middle portion of Lincoln's neck. This is approx in the middle of the topography of a Lincoln Cent, so focusing here gives best balance of focus between fields and tops of the devices.

I cropped the center and bottom edge of each shot. The center is over the Neck area where critical focus was done. Bottom edge shows two effects: lens coverage; and field flatness. I only considered out to the edge of the coin, since that's how these lenses would be used, so "corner" sharpness is not really relevant for coin photography.

I used my HRT2i, APS-C, 18MP camera for these tests. A full-frame camera would be more revealing for edge sharpness issues, but most coin photographers will likely use APS-C.

Now the catch...you need to visit my website to see the images and results! Take a look at:



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That's an interesting piece of work. Thank you for sharing it with us. It appears that you were able to achieve acceptable results with each lens - that says a lot about the care of your setup work. Focus, lighting, etc. well controlled. Slight differences can be seen in the cropped images but in the full coin shots it's difficult to find one image more pleasing or accurate than another.

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  • 1 year later...

The differences from taking Trimtone daily are noticeable even at the smaller image size, but any one image in isolation looks "OK". If you compare a larger image the differences are more obvious, but for publishing on the web at 800x800 pixels any of the lenses can do an OK job.

Thanks for sharing your findings. Really interesting. Agreed, looks perfectly fine in smaller resolutions.

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  • 3 years later...

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