Nikkor-P Nikon 105mm f/4 Macro Bellows NEX 3

Nikkor-P Nikon 105mm f/4 Macro Bellows NEX 3

How does this old bellows macro lens stack up with a modern camera?

These old bellows macro lenses were designed with no extension in the lens, so you must mount it on a bellows or an adjustable macro tube of some kind to focus the lens. An advantage to this is on a proper bellows the lens can focus from infinity all the way to close focus around 2:1 magnification, depending on lens focal length and bellows size. A traditional lens mounted on a bellows can only focus very closely since the extension is already built into the lens.

This lens is a solidly built pre-set style lens. It has two aperture adjustment rings, one controls the stop point, and the other open and closes the diaphragm. This allows nice precise adjustments and quickly open the lens to focus and close to take your photo.

The lens has a 12 bladed aperture with straight blades. The lens is 5 elements in 3 groups, and weighs approximately 230 g. It has 52mm filter threads and has f/stop settings from 4 to 32. It is small for a 105mm lens, but needs the macro bellows, making it a lens to use for tripod only.

Optical Performance

DSC06366__1-15 sec at f - 1.0_YBR52_18_multi_cpp
Please click on the tab you want to view. Only 1 tab may be active at a time. MTF, Distortion, and Lat CA data acquired using Imatest

Comments on the Results

This lens performs well enough, but there is a noticeable step up in contrast from f/4 to f/5.6. Sharpness and resolution are fairly flat across the field at all settings, with the largest occurring at f/4 in the corners. My data were no good for f/8 so I removed them. It performs about the same at f/8 as f/5.6 or f/11.

Distortion is negligible.

Lateral CA is very well controlled and improves on stopping down. Unfortunately, longitudinal CA is very visible at f/4 and only slightly better stopped down, and probably worse than average compared to a modern macro, but average for the time.

Purple fringing is visible mostly at f/4, and improves somewhat on stopping down.

Coma and astigmatism are pretty negligible.

Flare wasn’t tested, but being an older lens I imagine it isn’t great. I did notice issues with veiling glare by a large bright window.

I measured the focal length to be 110mm at 1:53 magnification.

Pros and Cons

Bottom Line

This is a nice macro lens, pretty average for the day. It will deliver good across the frame results in the f/5.6 to f/11 range. I recommend using focus stacking if you need more depth of field, rather than stopping down to f/22 or f/32. At f/16 the lens borders on decency levels (this is true for all lenses).

Understand that you need a macro bellows to use this lens effectively, but you do maintain infinity focus with the proper bellows, making it more convenient to use than a traditional lens on a bellows. I think a modern lens will be better matched to a new sensor, but this is a good value.

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