Nikon Rayfact VL 1.4x Line Scan Lens Test

Nikon Rayfact VL 1.4x lens L-OFM14060MN

Rayfact is a brand name for high-precision, high-quality industrial-use lenses made in Japan by the Tochigi Nikon Corporation since. Rayfact is not very well known outside of the macro photography world but they are probably most famous for producing the Eco-Glass versions of the very well known Printing Nikkor 105mm F2.8, and Printing Nikkor 95mm F2.8 lenses. 

This test of the Nikon Rayfact VL 1.4x lens contains everything I know about this lens. There are also 0.5x, 0.7x, 1.0x versions available, all rated for sensors down to 5μm pixel pitch and up to a 62mm image circle, with 0% distortion and 0% vignetting. Tochigi Nikon designed the VL lens for use with 12K line scan cameras that are used to identify flaws directly within the production process of semiconductor, FPD (flat panel display), and PCB (printed circuit board)

This page is not set-up to generate money using affiliate links, this is not a fan page, this product was not given to me, I was not paid to write this, nor did the manufacturer or distributor loan me this lens for this review. I purchased this lens on the used market for my own use.

IMAGE QUALITY

These are the first images shot with the Rayfact VL 1.4x lens on my Nikon D850 DSLR. For the best results I used the lens at 1.4x magnification at its maximum f/4.87 aperture with a D850 mounted on a Nikon MM-11 vertical stand.

Vintage Xerox wafer with crop area outlined in blue.

100% crop areas outlined in blue, center, edge, and corner.

Nikon Rayfact VL1.4x at 1.4x with a Nikon D850

The VL 1.4x did an excellent job with the smallest details on this disk, and was very consistent all the way across the frame, with no visible loss in sharpness from center to the far corners.

No issues with lateral chromatic aberration anywhere in the frame, and LoCAs were non existent.

The lens was designed for a 5 μm pixel pitch sensor and it seemed to perform perfectly with the D850s 4.35 μm sensor, even with the slow f/4.87 maximum aperture.

The test image above is a single image shot wide open and shows no detectable drop in image quality, even in the far corners, I even double checked to make sure the order was not a mistake, in any case there is zero fall off in image quality across the full frame D850 sensor. The D850 sensor is only 8,256 × 5,504 pixels, 35.9 mm x 23.9 mm across with a 43.3 mm diagonal, but this Rayfact VL lens is designed to cover the 64mm image circle of a 12,000 or 12K pixel, line scan sensor camera. So this lens should be able to cover medium format digital camera like the Fujifilm GFX 50S sensor ( 8256 x 6192 pixels,  43.8 x 32.9mm sensor with 5.3 μm pixels, and a 54.78mm diagonal) or the Phase one IQ3 50MP (8280 x 6208, 5.3 μm sensor with a 55mm diagonal) without any problems and maybe the Phase One IQ3 100MP (11608 x 8708 pixel, 53.7 x 40.4mm sensor, 4.63 μm sensor with a 67mm diagonal).

It will be really interesting to see this lens compared to a Minolta 5400 scanner lens, they should be very close but the faster Minolta might be able to resolve finer details a little better than this lens, since it is optimized to cover a much smaller sensor area.

test SET-UP 

Camera: Nikon D850
Sensor size: 35.9 mm x 23.9 mm full frame BSI CMOS sensor. 43.3 mm diagonal. 4.35 μm sensor pitch.
Flash: Godox TT350s wireless flash x 2 with one Godox X1s 2.4G wireless flash transmitter
Vertical stand: Nikon MM-11 with a Nikon focus block.

A series of images was shot with each lens in 10 micron steps, and the sharpest image was chosen at Photoshop at 100% view. The single RAW file was processed in PS CC with all noise reduction and lens correction turned off, all settings were zeroed out (true zero) and the same settings were used for all of the images. 

MECHANICAL QUALITY

This is a massive, heavy lens made for the industrial market and is and very well put together. No issues here mechanically. For the price of this lens, the Dymo type info decal is a little unusual, you would expect the lens info to be engraved but since it's for industrial use, it only needs to be handled one time for the installation and will never be handled again.

I have seen a few Rayfact lenses on the used market with custom private labels but these seem to be the same or at least very similar to the models that Rayfact sells to the public.

PRICE/PERFORMANCE

The image quality of this lens is so high, which is a few step above a normal consumer macro lens, that at used market prices, these lenses are a steal.

AVAILABILITY AND COST

Thanks to the fact the Rayfact brand is virtually unknown, these lenses sell for very reasonable prices on the used market, that is if you can find one. The Rayfact lenses that do show up on the used market are usually the Rayfact MJ series which I would not recommend since they are made for very old low-resolution sensors (see the lens series chart below). This lens is the first and only used VL Rayfact that I have seen online, and I wouldn't hesitate to buy another. Rayfact lenses are very expensive new, some are over $10,000.

Nikon Rayfact VL 1.4x lens L-OFM14060MN

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Nikon Rayfact VL1.4x
Part Number: L-OFM14060MN
Type: Industrial Large format 12K Line-scan
Focal length: 122mm
Maximum aperture: f/4.87
Sharpest Aperture: f/4.87
Coverage: 62mm image circle
Optical Design: 10 elements in 6 groups + 2 protective lenses
Manufacturers recommended magnification range: 1.35x - 1.45x
Working distance: More info coming soon
Aperture range: f/4.87 - f/11
Lens mount: M55 P= 0.75mm
Filter thread: M55 P= 0.75mm
Lens hood: More info coming soon

Wide open Nikon Rayfact VL 1.4x lens L-OFM14060MN Octagon shaped Iris

The Iris

The VL 1.4x iris is a little unusual  in that the iris is still closed down even with the aperture ring at the wide-open setting. This is unusual but not unheard of.

PROS AND CONS

What I really like:
Super easy installation, thanks to standard M55 P= 0.75mm threads
Good fit and finish
Large image circle

What I dislike:

Almost impossible to find
Slow f/4.87 maximum aperture
Octagon shaped Iris
Iris is not wide open at maximum aperture

SETting UP Rayfact VL lens FOR MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY

Setting up the Rayfact VL lens is extremely easy, thankfully Togichi Nikon used standard M55 threads in designing this lens, so with only a M55 to M52 step-up adapter installed, the lens bolted-on to my standard M52 Studio setup. More details on the Thorlabs M52 studio setup is available here on Closeuphotography.com: https://www.closeuphotography.com/52mm-setup

THE BOTTOM LINE

The Nikon Rayfact VL1.4x L-OFM14060MN delivers excellent sharpness, good suppression of chromatic aberrations, zero distortion, zero vignetting with a medium format sized image circle, and a solid recommended solid buy.

The VL lens in the Rayfact lineup

This chart gives you information of the sensor pixel size requirements vs subject side lens resolution at a glance. Tochigi Nikon lists the VL series for industrial inspection of display, and printed circuit board manufacturing designed to be used with sensors in the 5μm - 7μm range, the same range as the Rayfact Series 1x and 2x, also know as the Eco-Glass Printing Nikkor 105mm and Printing Nikkor 95mm lenses.

The MJ, and IL series are designed for general inspection and not for high resolution imaging purposes, so I would avoid these two series of lenses.

 

Rayfact VL Compared to the Printing Nikkor and Scanner Nikkor ED

The information below is different than some of the info on the Tochigi Nikon website and comes from Japan. I am lucky to have this info, thanks to a friend in Japan.

Optical Design Protective Glass Image Circle Sensor Resolution APO Correction Distortion Vignetting Lens Mount Filter Mount
Nikon Rayfact 105mm F2.8 1x 14 elements, 6 groups Yes, + 2 Lenses 60mm 5μm 3.7μm 400nm to 800nm 0.019% 0% @ f/4 M45 P= 0.75mm M43 P= 0.5mm
Nikon Printing Nikkor 105 1x 12 elements, 4 groups Yes 54mm Unknown Unknown 400nm to 800nm 0% 0% @ f/4 M45 P= 0.75mm M43 P= 0.5mm
Nikon Rayfact VL 1x 14 elements, 6 groups Yes, + 2 Lenses 62mm 5μm 6.5μm 400nm to 700nm 0.020% 0% @ f/4.9 M55 P= 0.75mm M55 P= 0.75mm
Nikon Rayfact VL 1.4x 10 elements, 6 groups Yes, + 2 Lenses 62mm 5μm 5.6μm 400nm to 700nm 0% 0% @ f/4.9 M55 P= 0.75mm M55 P= 0.75mm
Nikon Scanner Nikkor ED 14 elements, 6 groups Yes 60mm Unknown Unknown 400nm to 850nm 0% 0% None None
Nikon Rayfact 95mm F2.8 2x 14 elements, 6 groups Yes, + 2 Lenses 32mm 5μm 2.8μm 400nm to 800nm 0.001% 0% @ f/4 M45 P= 0.75mm M43 P= 0.5mm
Nikon Rayfact 95mm Reversed 14 elements, 6 groups Yes, + 2 Lenses 64mm 5μm 5.6μm 400nm to 800nm 0.001% 0% @ f/4 M45 P= 0.75mm M43 P= 0.5mm

The Nikon Rayfact 105mm f/2.8 1x is the eco-glass version of  the Printing-Nikkor 105mm F2.8, the Nikon Rayfact 95mm F2.8 2x is the eco-glass version of  the Printing-Nikkor 95mm F2.8.

Tochigi Nikon

Tochigi Nikon is a Japanese company that develops, designs, and markets optical devices for semiconductor/FPD lithography systems. In 2017 all functions related to the manufacturing technology of optical components, which were previously owned by Nikon Corporation and subsidiaries, have now been brought together as the Tochigi Nikon Corporation. More on the Nikon Group Companies: https://www.nikon.com/about/corporate/profile/group/

The full Nikon Rayfact VL Line

LINKS FOR MORE INFO

VL lens info on the Tochigi Nikon site:

http://www.tochigi-nikon.co.jp/en/products/lens/vl.htm#vl

VL series PDF on the the Tochigi Nikon site:

http://www.tochigi-nikon.co.jp/en/products/lens/NikonRayfactVLSeries_Ver3.2.pdf

VL lens page on the North Americn Rayfact distributors site:

https://www.daitron.com/nikon-rayfact-vl0.5x_0.7x_1.0x_1.4x