Digitizer is right - again
With regard to Sony’s fine macro lens, it depends on your definition of ‘meaningful’ field curvature. What might not be meaningful to the reviewer of a lens intended for general macro photography is likely to be very meaningful when trying to achieve edge to edge sharpness when photographing a very thin, very flat object viz film.
With respect, folks who claim that scanner lenses are “not that much better” either don’t own one and/or are struggling with the cognitive dissonance of having invested is something else Many are perfectly happy with the results they get from a reversed zoom lens and that’s fine - for them. It all boils down to what standard one is working to.
Scanner lenses are optimised for this particular task and no other. General purpose macro lenses, no matter how good, simply are not.
Scanner lenses not only have extremely high resolving power but also virtually zero field curvature and perhaps more importantly, negligible chromatic aberration.
Ranking lenses is a bit of a mugs game as prices range from about £300 to well beyond £8000. You pays your money and you takes your choice.
My personal short list (depending on budget) would be:
Minolta Dimage Elite 5400 Scanner Lens
Nikon Scanner-Nikkor ED 100mm Scanner Lens
Schneider Kreuznach Macro Varon CAS 85mm f/4.5
Nikon Printing-Nikkor 105mm f/2.8A or any other of the Printing Nikkors by Rayfact.
The Minolta Dimage 5400 scanner lens (see the tests) was my choice based on cost/benefit ratio. Although it’s tiny and looks insignificant (to put it mildly!), its performance is outstanding and it’s relatively cheap. It behaves like a super-achromat and makes my other macro lenses look inadequate by comparison.
Balancing that, it should be borne in mind that scanner lenses, while brilliant for this task, are pretty much useless for anything else (fixed aperture, fixed focus, wafer thin DoF and a limited range of usable magnification). So, if you need your macro lens for anything other than flat field photography you will need two lenses. If that’s not an option, you might be better off sticking with a top quality camera lens and accepting its limitations.