Report: Nikkor Prototypes (Part 3)

Hello, everybody! I just woke up from a nap and I had a dream about Nikon giving me an important lens for custody, a prototype 55/3.5 Mirco-Nikkor that’s compact because it has no deeply-recessed front element like what they usually have. My wife woke me up so we can have lunch together and I realized that it’s just my subconscious trying to tell me that I need to write part 3 of our Nikkor Prototypes series. Please enjoy part 3.

IMG_9858Here’s a small preview of what you’re going to see in part 3. This part focuses on normal lenses with focal lengths from 40mm to 60mm or so and the odd Micro-Nikkors thrown-in to the mix to add variety despite not being normal lenses at all. This part of the exhibit is the most interesting for me since most of my lenses fall into this category.

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This is the bellow-only Macro-Nikkor 65mm f/5.6, I am not sure if the ring attached to it is an actual part of the lens or not because it has what looks like a pin that you can depress to unlock it. I have never seen anything like this in Nikkor land, we’ll know for sure once we get the chance to examine the lens. It has what looks to be a bayonet at its front so it’s possible for you to mount in in-reverse without the need to use attachments.

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Here’s another lens for use with bellows, the Nikkor-P 105mm f/4 went into production in around 1970 and this is its prototype. Note that it also has a bayonet at the front which is absent on the production variant. This lens sold successfully and a version that can focus independently was produced in the form of the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4 K in 1975 which was upgraded to the Micro-Nikkor 105mm f/4 Ai in a few years.

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This is the Nikkor-Q 5cm f/2.5 Auto, a design that never saw production. It’s about half the size of the Nikkor-S 5cm f/2 Auto and is very compact and cute. I don’t think this would be a good seller unless the price is really cheap. I suspect that this is a Tessar-style because it has 4 elements, compact, slow and cheap. If it’s indeed a Tessar-derivative then I will be a big fan of this lens if it was ever produced because I love Tessars!.

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This is the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.2 Auto, an early variant of what would become the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai in 1978 and later upgraded to the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S in 1981. It has the old Nikkor look and this would certainly be ground-breaking if released in 1972. Making this lens is a huge challenge because of its fast speed so Nikon probably held it for a few more years to refine its design. I love how it looks to be honest.

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This is the prototype of the Nikkor-S 55mm f/1.2 Auto. Notice that the lens barrel isn’t the same as the production model and it has a silver front ring. One more interesting thing is the filter size looks bigger from the production model which uses a standard 52mm size.

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This is the Nikkor-S 58mm f/1.2 Auto, an early prototype of what would be the legendary Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai of 1977 which the became the Noct-Nikkor 58mm f/1.2 Ai-S in 1981. I am not sure if it has a 52mm thread but it sure looks closer to 58mm. I don’t know if it has an aspherical front element incorporated at this point but it sure looks different from what came out about 5 years later.

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This is a Nikkor-S 60mm f/1.2 Auto, I’m not sure if this prototype is related to the Nikkor-S 55mm f/1.2 Auto of 1965 but Nikon (and everybody else) had trouble designing super-fast lenses for SLRs specially in the 50mm lens class so many settled for a slightly-longer focal length to circumvent this problem until technology caught-up in the 1970s. I suppose this is just one of those lenses that were made to test the possibilities of what the engineers or designers can do to push the boundaries of what they had back then.

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This is the prototype of the Nikkor-S 5cm f/2 Auto, a lens that would be part of the first 4 lenses that were sold at the same time as the Nikon F when it debuted in 1959. They have a different styling going on with “tick-marks” on the rings and the construction reminds me of older Nikkors that were made for rangefinders. Oddly enough, this lens has a feet and meter distance scale instead of the usual meter OR feet for the said “tick-mark” line. I don’t know why this was made like this but it is what it is.

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This Nikkor-S 5cm f/1.4 Auto is a late prototype of the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto. It’s a very popular lens and it has a cult following to this day because of its unique characteristics in terms of picture rendering. It’s the world’s first 50/1.4 for SLRs and was considered to be an important milestone in SLR photography. The only visible difference we can see is the use of cm instead of mm for its name but I suppose that there are small differences in the internal construction of the lens, we will only know more once somebody overhauled it.

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This is the prototype of the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto (late), it was supposed to replace the old Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 Auto and it has a new barrel design to make it look in-line with a newer generation of Nikkors that have rubber on the focusing ring. I don’t know why this never went into production and they released the Nikkor-S.C 50mm f/1.4 Auto instead. It’s probably due to cost-cutting since the latter is identical to the older lens except for newer coatings. The next “refresh” of this popular design would come in 1974 as the short-lived (and obscure) New-Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 (version 1).

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This lens is related to the previous one. The Nikkor-S.C 50mm f/1.4 Auto would have been similar to this if this was ever released. I will admit that I kind of like how it looks.

That’s it for part 3. I will publish part 4 later in the coming week so please come back and check it out. The next 2 parts are long and it will take me some time to edit and research. I intend to finish this series within the month so we can continue with our repair/reveiw articles that people come here to read about. Thanks for following and supporting this, it is made possible because of your efforts. See you again in the next article, Ric.

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