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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Nikkor vs. Zykkor

    In college I was an SLR enthusiast, partly because the Pretty Young Thing I was wooing was an SLR enthusiast. I purchased an Olympus OM-2s mostly because she had an Olympus (I think an OM-4), and I could use some of her nice lenses. But I also purchased a few lenses of my own, albeit cheaper ones necessitated by my starving college student budget.

    Well the girl is gone, but I still have that camera and all the lenses. I also have an OM-to-F-Mount adapter, which I purchased a few years ago when I only had one Nikkor lens (my 40mm Micro f/2.8) and wanted more choice in focal lengths without actually spending more on glass. Once I did buy some F-mount lenses though, the adapter went back on the shelf.

    But out of boredom today I opened the Olympus bag and pulled out one of my old favorite lenses for street photography: a Zykkor 28mm f/2.8 Macro. I remember really liking it back in the day, particularly for the price. I didn't really shoot much macro then, so I couldn't recall what I thought of how it handled that.

    Out of curiosity this morning I decided to see how that Zykkor 28mm compared to my Nikkor 18-55mm kit lens set at 28mm, both mounted on my D5500. I thought the results were interesting.

    The Zykkor is a manual focus lens, of course, and no EXIF data will show up (I assume). I used AF on the Nikkor. The settings were the same on both lenses: f/8, 1/3 sec, ISO 400, the Nikkor set to 28mm.

    These first two shots compare the apparent focal length between the two lenses. The front of the camera body is 13 inches from that yellow handle on the letter opener in both pictures. The only processing I did was to resized them, otherwise these are all OOC.

    Zykkor 28mm:

    Nikkor vs. Zykkor-zykkor-13-inches.jpg

    Nikkor at 28mm:

    Nikkor vs. Zykkor-nikkor-13-inches-28mm.jpg

    So the Zykkor apparent focal length is longer than the Nikkor's, though both are set to 28mm. I guess the added length of the adapter ring (almost exactly 1/2-inch) explains it.

    In order to get the approximate apparent size as the Zykkor I had to zoom the Nikkor in to 40mm:

    Nikkor vs. Zykkor-nikkor-13-inches-40mm.jpg

    Another thing you can see is that the white balance is slightly different between the two lenses, as is the light gathering (darker exposure with the Zykkor). I'm guessing again that it's the added glass in the adapter - and probably not as good as the glass in the Zykkor itself.

    Then I checked the macro.

    Here's the Zykkor at the closest it was able to grab focus, 7 inches exactly from the yellow handle. It looked 1:1 when I compared it at home. (f/2.8, 1/10th sec, ISO 400):

    Nikkor vs. Zykkor-zykkor-7-inches-f2.8.jpg

    And this is the Nikkor, which had a minimum focusing distance here of 8.5 inches (f/4.5, 1/10th sec, ISO 400):

    Nikkor vs. Zykkor-nikkor-8.5-inches-f4.5.jpg

    Looking at the images full size on my home monitor it's apparent the Nikkor is the better lens, which is no surprise. But that Zykkor is certainly is no slouch, which actually was a bit of a surprise. I don't know that I'll use it that much, but if for some reason I ever have to I'll be confident that it can take sharp pictures with good resolution and color, so long as I can manually focus.


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    Fiat lux. Fiat vox.



  2. #2
    Senior Member
    BF Hammer's Avatar

    Re: Nikkor vs. Zykkor

    Me, I had a chance purchase of an entire Minolta XD-11 kit from a sheriff auction in the mid 1990's as my first SLR purchase. My previous SLR experience was high school photography class (1982) with the usual Pentax full-manual SLR and only the 50mm prime to use. The Minolta had a flash, auto-winder, but only 1 lens, a Tokina push-pull zoom which I don't remember the specs on. As I remember adding a used 45mm prime was not expensive at all. Still have that kit, last used for photos about 10 years ago when I discovered some unused 35mm film stock in the bag.

    But my experience with using vintage F mount lenses is that the very best lenses of their time hold up good for image quality today, but only if you can control the lighting to prevent flaring. DSLR sensors have a way of reflecting light back to the rear lens glass in a way that film stock did not do. And mid-grade / low-grade lenses don't age as nicely compared to inexpensive lenses of today.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Re: Nikkor vs. Zykkor

    Quote Originally Posted by BF Hammer View Post
    Me, I had a chance purchase of an entire Minolta XD-11 kit from a sheriff auction in the mid 1990's as my first SLR purchase. My previous SLR experience was high school photography class (1982) with the usual Pentax full-manual SLR and only the 50mm prime to use. The Minolta had a flash, auto-winder, but only 1 lens, a Tokina push-pull zoom which I don't remember the specs on. As I remember adding a used 45mm prime was not expensive at all. Still have that kit, last used for photos about 10 years ago when I discovered some unused 35mm film stock in the bag.

    But my experience with using vintage F mount lenses is that the very best lenses of their time hold up good for image quality today, but only if you can control the lighting to prevent flaring. DSLR sensors have a way of reflecting light back to the rear lens glass in a way that film stock did not do. And mid-grade / low-grade lenses don't age as nicely compared to inexpensive lenses of today.
    Cool story! And thanks for the additional info
    Fiat lux. Fiat vox.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    BF Hammer's Avatar

    Re: Nikkor vs. Zykkor

    Something else I meant to comment on: The condition of the zoom lens not showing the same field of view as your prime Nykkor is named "focus creep". They should show nearly the same field of view if focused at infinity. Up close at macro distance is where they will diverge the most. I first learned of this when I bought my Tamron 18-270mm and was dismayed to discover that it was not even close to looking as zoomed-in as a Nikon 70-300mm set to 270mm. I think this winds up being a trade-off for lenses that do not extend in length when focusing.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Dangerspouse's Avatar

    Re: Nikkor vs. Zykkor

    Quote Originally Posted by BF Hammer View Post
    Something else I meant to comment on: The condition of the zoom lens not showing the same field of view as your prime Nykkor is named "focus creep". They should show nearly the same field of view if focused at infinity. Up close at macro distance is where they will diverge the most. I first learned of this when I bought my Tamron 18-270mm and was dismayed to discover that it was not even close to looking as zoomed-in as a Nikon 70-300mm set to 270mm. I think this winds up being a trade-off for lenses that do not extend in length when focusing.
    It's funny, I just watched a video on focus creep not too long ago but for some reason it never occurred to me that it would be a factor here. Do you think the added 1/2 inch from the adapter (effectively a 1/2 inch extension tube) played no part - or less of a part - in the apparent difference, then?

    Good catch on this - thanks for chiming back in with it
    Fiat lux. Fiat vox.





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