Lens: Nikon Printing-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8

Vintage: 1970's?

Lens Mount: M45 x 0.75mm.

Needed Adapters: Not an easy lens to adapt. I don't have a suitable adapter and had to create one. I started with a 52-46mm stepdown ring. That ring fits over the M45 thread. To tighten it up I used a couple layers of electrical tape. I could have screwed that directly into a reversing ring, but I want to extend the adapter a little farther. I added a 67-52mm step down ring. The female 52mm threads act like a female to female adapter. Into the other side I added a 52mm coupleing ring (male-male thread). To that added a 55-52mm stepdown ring and then added the nikon reversing ring.

Preferred Mounting: Normal, not reversed.

Filter Thread: 43 mm.

Street Price: $1000-$3000 in good used condition. Prices vary a lot online, shop around.

Controls: Aperture setting.

Aperture: 12 blades.

Basic Function: Requires a bellows to set focus and magnification

Extension Magnification Working Distance
5 cm 0.27 458 mm
9 cm 0.64 218 mm
12.8 cm 1.00 158 mm
19 cm 1.59 118 mm
Est. Focal Length: 105.7 mm


printing nikkor 105 top view printing nikkor 105 side view

back of lensRear Element Scratches:

There are significant scratches on the rear element of this lens. Scratches to the rear element are supposed to be the most significant. So, how did these scratches affect the performance? I can detect no significant drop in performance from these scratches compared to the other version that I have previously tested. I have another lens that has a bad fungal outbreak. I plan to compare to an unblemished version (Pentax 100mm bellows lens).

aperture graphResolution vs. Aperture:

This lens is at its sharpest at f/4. The performance wide-open is a little worse than the other, newer version that I have tested.

The most detailed aperture is f/4, comparable to the other version.

corner sharpness graphCorner Sharpness vs. Aperture:

The field is virtually flat across the aperture range at m=1.

resolution graphSharpness and Resolution vs. Magnification:

This lens produces its best work at 1:1 magnification as labelled, with very high resolution and sharpness. The performance is a little worse above and below this magnification.

The corner sharpness is extremely good at 1:1 and deteriorates above and below this magnification.

performance:sharpness graphPerformance: Sharpness vs. Magnification:

I have 4 lines that represent levels of performance from outstanding (top) to fair (bottom). This shows where this lens fits into the hierarchy that I have created.

The Printing-Nikkor 105mm shows sharpness performance that varies from outstanding above 0.5:1. Performance drops off below 0.5:1.

performance:resolution graphPerformance: Resolution vs. Magnification:

I have 4 lines that represent levels of performance from outstanding (top) to fair (bottom). This shows where this lens fits into the hierarchy that I have created.

The Printing-Nikkor 105mm shows resolution performance that varies from very good to outstanding.

resolving power graphResolving Power vs. Magnification:

This graph represents the smallest details that are able to be resolved by this lens at various magnificaitons. If the number doesn't get smaller as the magnification rises, there is little benefit to going up in magnificaiton with this lens. This situation is also called empty magnification.

Very good to outstanding resolution, no problems.

lateral CA graphChromatic Aberration:

There is minimal lateral chromatic aberration present at all magnifications (see adjacent graph).

There is minimal longitudinal CA on out-of focus details (see image below) as shown by a slight red fringe on the right and a slight green/cyan fringe on the left of the image.

Longitudinal CA:

axial CA

Image Contrast: Image contrast is very good.

Flare: This lens shows no significant flare during testing.

Distortion: This lens shows no significant distortion during testing.

Image Samples:

About 1:1 magnification, f/4, focus stack of 10 images, resized:

sample image

crop imagePixel level crop from the image above:

There is very good pixel level detail, no problems.


This is the second version of this lens that I have tested. This is the earlier non-A version. It has a different optical formula and can be identified by the portion of the lens behind the lens mount threads. In this version, that section is a little shorter than the A version. This is a lens that performs extremely well as long as you plan on shooting images at 1:1 magnification. It's OK above and below 1:1, just not stellar. This is because the lens is optimized for use at 1:1 magnification. It is quite expensive. The sharpness and resolution are extremely good at 1:1 and the performance drops off a little above and below 1:1. The field is extremely flat at 1:1 and OK above and below that. The lateral and longitudinal chromatic aberration is minimal across all magnifications. The contrast is very good.

Overall this lens performs well, but its optimization for 1:1 somewhat limits its utility for general use. It doesn't perform as well as the A version wide open, but once the aperture is clicked down a notch, the performance is very similar. Its lateral CA is a little better and the longitudinal CA is slightly worse than its newer brother. The scratched rear element doesn't seem to significantly impact the performance of this lens. I will have more on this subject in a future test of two Pentax 100mm bellows lenses, one with major fungus and one that is clean.