Nikon has always been at the forefront of flash technology. This high power close-up lens with built-in automatic ring flash is just another example of how Nikon sets herself apart from the competition. It reduced many of the problems encountered in macro photography to routine simplicity. The first version of this lens, as shown above, was released back in Nov 1962. It was an invaluable tool to the surgeon and dentist alike. (They were probably the only people who could afford it anyway!)

The Medical-Nikkor consists of a Master lens and 6 Auxiliary lenses. The master lens alone, a 4-element optics in 3 groups, is capable of 1/15x magnification. When it is used in combination with one or two Auxilliary lenses, it can provide a range of reproduction ratios from 1/15x to 3x in 11 steps. (see table below)

The advantage of using Auxiliary lenses instead of conventional focusing is to avoid the unwieldy extension of the lens at high magnification. Fixing the lens-to-object distance for each reprodcution ratio also made automatic flash control possible with the technology available at the time. The tricky part is to nail the focus by moving the lens back and forth. The shallow depth of field at 3x magnification can be very unforgiving! When the object is in focus, it would also automatically be in the correct distance for the flash calculation by design.

The built-in ring flash provides shadowless illumination for the exposure. It even contains 4 seperate modelling light bulbs to aid viewing and focusing in the dark. The unit can be powered by either AC or DC cells. The operation of the lens is fairly simple. You attach the Auxiliary lenses required for the reproduction ratio, and then set the reproduction value and the film speed on the lens barrel. That's all you need to do! The aperture would be automatically chosen to achieve the correct exposure. No more table reading, no more guess work. You just focus, fire and forget! You can even imprint figures from 1 to 39 to indicate film number, date OR reproduction ratios from 1/15x to 3x. The selected figures will appear in the lower right hand corner of the photo. This was a very thoughtful feature that would certainly ease the works of many. Imagine you were a dentist trying to indentify which photo of a tooth belonging to which patient! (Don't forget it was 1962, electronic data backs were still decades away!)

The Nomenclature above is reproduced from the original manual for your reference.

The system is designed to use only up to 2 Auxiliary lenses at a time, probably just to ensure the high optical quality is maintained throughout. Well! I am curious to find out how far I can push it. By stacking ALL 6 Auxiliary lenses together, I managed to unleash the full 4x magnification power of this lens!

We all know stacking so many filters together is bound to produce inferior results in most cases. Let's see what happens!


The red box approximates the full picture frame of my D200 in this experiment. It is even much smaller than the size of a finger nail!

This is a resized version of the full picture frame of the D200 photo. The red box represents the area of the 100% crop shown in the next picture below.

The extreme closeup of the banknote at 100% crop!
WOW!! You can pretty much count the individual fibric thread on the banknote! Not bad for a 45 years old lens! The "eyeball" on that banknote is really not much bigger than a PIN HEAD, so you can imagine how much details this lens is capable of revealing on a real human eyeball!
There is a design fault with the Nikon F. If you connect this flash to the Nikon F via the sync terminal, the flash contact on the rewind knob will also become live. It is possible to get an electrical shock if you touch this flash contact when the flash fires. For this reason, a safety cover is also supplied with this lens to cover up the entire rewind knob. This cover is often lost or broken though.
It came in this brown carrying case which can accommodate not only the lens but also with the camera attached, the power pack and all the other accessories.
Updated on 25 Sep 2008