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TL;DR Best Lenses

From Scan-o-Rama

(Taken from Richard's post in Digital Film Scan Tools )

For the latest updated on the list see here

Here is what Richard Karash ( ), authority on lenses for camera scanning, has to say:

I have tested a lot of lenses at 1x; here are the best in resolution & contrast at 1x to a 50MPx sensor:

Top shelf lenses[edit | edit source]

50mm f/2.8 Sigma EX DG macro

50mm f/4.5 Tominon

55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AI or AIS

70mm f/2.8 Sigma Macro ART

75mm f/4 APO Rodagon-D 1x Copy Lens

75mm f/4.5 APO Rodagon-D 2x Copy Lens, Normal Orientation

90mm f/2.8 Sony Macro

Second Tier Lenses[edit | edit source]

And here is the next tier, a little less in tests, you won't see a difference in actual cam-scan results:

50mm f/3.5 Canon FD Macro

60mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AF

75mm f/4.5 Enlarging Ektar

80mm f/4 Olympus Bellows Macro

80mm f/4 APO Rodagon-N

80mm f/5.6 Rodagon Fixed Aperture

80mm f/5.6 Componon

80mm f/4 Componon-S

90mm f/2.5 Vivitar Macro w/1x Extender

105mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor AF-D, with manual focus on Sony

Conclusion for Tier 1 and 2[edit | edit source]

All the above will produce excellent cam-scans at 1x at 50MPx and lower. Have not tested anything at higher resolutions (e.g. Pixel Shift).

Test conditions: USAF 1951 Glass target, well away from center, at 1x to a 50MPx sensor, careful manual focus, flash illumination.


Hope this is helpful.

Third Tier Lenses[edit | edit source]

New report from Richard Karash as of 1/9/2022. :

Friends, back in July I posted a listing of results of my lens testing at 1x, ranking tested lenses in five groups, posted here and on the NLP group. (Link in first comment.) Since then, I have questions... Such as, "What about lens X which is below your first two groups?"

Quick recap: I can see real differences at 1x, off-axis, to a 50MPx sensor, using a very high quality glass USAF test target. My groupings may help if you're looking for the very best result, but what's the cutoff for "good enough"?

Comparing the third group to the best lenses: Hard to find any differences in center. Good for say 2/3 of the image area. May be hard to find differences at 2000 pixels. In larger prints or pixel peeping you'll find smearing and maybe CAs at the periphery.

I find I make good, usable camera scans from my third group of lenses. Especially at 24MPx on APS or FF bodies. But, if you want the very best, all across the frame, with your higher res body, there are better lenses.

Group 1 and 2 lenses are listed above. Here my Group 3 lenses.

50mm f/1.8 Olympus Zuiko (on Vivitar Macro Focusing Teleconverter, low contrast, some CA)

50mm f/2.8 El-Nikkor (Old style, metal body, huge numerals) Some CA

50mm f/3.5 Olympus Zuiko Macro

50mm f/4 Componon (old, small lens, less contrast)

50mm f/4 El-Nikkor

50mm f/4.5 Enlarging Ektar

55mm f/2.8 Industar (s/n 92xxx from 1992; some CA, removed in LR)

55mm f/2.8 Panagor Macro (also sold as Vivitar, Komine)

55mm f/2.8 Yashica ML Macro

55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor (s/n 899x, late model, some CA)

55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor (s/n 899x, late model; on Vivitar Macro Focusing Teleconverter, some CA)

55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor (s/n 748x, mid model, some CA)

55mm f/3.5 Micro Nikkor (s/n 204x, early, compensating aperture, some CA)

75mm f/4 El-Nikkor

75mm f/4.5 Enlarging Ektar

75mm f/4.5 Tominon

90mm f/5.6 Komura Enlarging lens (less contrast)

100mm f/4 Canon FD Macro (some CA)

100mm f/2.8 Canon EF L Macro on 5DSR or Sony (considerable CA)

100mm f/4 Pentax Bellows (some CA)

100mm f/4 Leica Bellows Elmar

Other resources on lenses for scanning[edit | edit source]

the last word site