Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Nikkor 18cm f/2.5 short-mount telephoto lens for Nikon Rangefinder system - Part 1

This is a kind of "pre-review" for a lens I've just gotten a hold of, the rare Nikkor 18cm f/2.5. This lens is the fastest 180mm lens Nikon has ever produced. It was one of the varying long telephotos made for the Nikon rangefinder system, to be used with the Visoflex adapter, or later, on the Nikon F SLR with suitable N-F adapter. Like many of the more expensive, professional lenses made during this era, these lenses are fairly hard to come by and generally cost a pretty penny due to their collectible nature.

I was able to procure not just one but two of these beautiful lenses through a liquidation sale of old photojournalism equipment. They were not kept well and needed a complete refurbishment. Sadly one still has some slight damage to the rear element, but I am glad it was at least salvageable.

It's a big, heavy, all-metal lens, the likes of which is not seen in the pro photo gear market these days. This lens itself is much heavier than my 80-200mm f/2.8 AF-S. As such, great care must be taken to ensure a stable mount, or just really strong arms!

I will get more into the specifics of this lens in a future post, but my initial observations are that the lens is extremely sharp, with a bit of spherical aberration from f/2.5 to f/5 (and consequently lower contrast) but absolutely stunning images beyond. It also has that elusive "plasticity" to the images, likely due to its classic Sonnar design and 12 aperture blades.

Here is a couple of portraits done with this lens of Meagan, with a simple 3-point lighting setup. Both were shot wide-open on my D800E, ISO 50:

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