Repair: Nikkor-Q.C 5cm f/3.5

Hello, everybody! I just spent $8 on a small cup of coffee. It was exquisite and it’s smooth, rich and refined. It also doesn’t leave a harsh after-taste in your mouth or throat just like what many cheap instant coffees tend to do. I certainly appreciated it but I won’t drink it regularly because I can just use that amount to buy me a decent lunch. I will assume that many people will do the same and some people won’t even think of spending that much for coffee. I’m not an expert on coffee but I do appreciate a good cup. Today, I’m going to introduce to you a lens that’s only appreciated by people who know their lenses and the going price for these things today will turn many people off. It’s a very special lens and it has a special part in Nikon’s history. Please read the article to find out what that is.


This is the Nikkor-Q.C 5cm f/3.5, a rare lens that not many people knew about. It’s Nikon’s version of the then-popular Zeiss Tessar and its simple 4-elements-in-3-groups design is a near-identical copy of the Tessar design. This design is one of Nikon’s oldest lens designs, it was first used on the 1935 Hansa Kwanon if I am correct and it was popular until some time in the early 1950s as a cheaper alternative for shooters looking for a 50mm Nikkor. This is the later “rigid” version, the earlier one is collapsible and is considered to be rare. I would love to own one of those but they’re not cheap. Apart from the barrel design, you can consider both lenses to be the same since they share the same optics. This was made in the mid 1950s to “refresh” the older collapsible version’s design so Nikon can stretch its profits from this old but tested lens design. This particular version wasn’t made for long, it was only made for about a year or so compared to the collapsible version which saw a long production life since 1940 and sold in numerous versions. The unusual thing is that this is easier to find these days on the used market compared to the collapsible one and it costs much less, too.

IMG_9545The lens barrel design in unique amongst Nikkors, you can easily recognize it because of its pudgy look. The long post you see here is used for constraining the focusing ring so it’s not going to turn beyond the lens’ focusing range since it’s in the way of the infinity lock. The lens has a special feature in that it can extend beyond its focusing range wherein it’s now de-coupled from the camera’s rangefinder. This will allow it do “macro mode”, that’s something that it shares with other Nikkors like the Nikkor-H.C 5cm f/2 (L39). You cannot use the rangefinder to focus in this mode and you must focus by measuring the distance between your subject and your film plane which is conveniently indicated as a red dot or a black circle with a horizontal line slashed across it. I am not sure if other brands offer this feature as well but it’s certainly one of the things the LTM Nikkors are known for.



Study: Nikon’s Lens Making Procedures

Hello, everybody. I’d like to show you this interesting display that I saw on how a piece of optical glass is turned into a lens element, the finished item used on lenses, binoculars or glasses. Nikon (then Nippon Kogaku) was formed to make Japan self-reliant when it came to manufacturing optics for medical and scientific uses. Japan used to import lots of stuff from Germany and that’s draining the national reserve so a solution had to be made. The formation of Nikon not only gave Japan the ability to make her own optics, it also made it possible for Japan to make her own research and development. All of these happened in the years leading to the Great War (WW1) so you can say that Nikon has the heritage and experience in this field so you can even consider Nikon as the “Asian Zeiss”. I need to give you a short intoduction on Nikon’s heritage so you can appreciate that a company with a long history in optics is showing us how their lenses are made.

IMG_9383The vials to the left contain some of the materials used in creating optical glass. Its usual component is silica and rare earth elements or other additives are added to alter its base refractive index or other properties. Every manufacturer uses a different recipe for their glass and they even variations within their formulas for special purposes. The big slab of glass you see at the center was cut from a big ingot of cast glass. It’s then cut into smaller pieces like what we see to the right and it’s then ground-to-shape before it gets processed even further. This will be a constant process of refinement before we get to see the final product. It’s very time-consuming and labor-intensive to say the least.


Repair: Nikkor-S.C 5cm f/1.4

Hello, everybody! I just watched Rocky (1976) and that movie never gets old. Young ones these days probably have never heard of it, it’s all about an up-start boxer who proved to be more-than-a-match to the champ. He went the extra-mile and won with hardwork and dedication so he eventually succeeded and turned his life around. I’m going to show you this lens that helped made an “underdog” into one of history’s biggest optics company. It also has a very humble start just like the hero in Rocky and ended up being a legendary lens that’s still relevant after it debuted around 69 years ago.


The Nikkor-S.C 5cm f/1.4 is Nikon’s most popular rangefinder-era lens. This used to be the fastest lens for 35mm photography at one point and Nikon’s marketing capitalized on the hype while it lasted. The lens was made for about 12 years which is considered long since the Nikon rangefinder camera era only lasted for about 15 years. It was based on another famous (but rare) lens – the Nikkor-S 5cm f/1.5. It was replaced by another legendary (and rare) lens in 1964 with the same name but it’s a totally different lens – the Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4 “Olympic version”. That lens is very sharp and is still a great performer even when it is judged by modern standards.

IMG_4909The Nikkor-S.C 5cm f/1.4 is a compact lens but it feels dense in your hands. Lenses are not made like this anymore these days and you will wonder why you’re paying so much for a plastic electronic lens when you can have something like this for much-less. It’s a manual lens that cannot be focused by itself so you’ll need to mount in on a camera that supports it like the Nikon I/M/S, Nikon S2, Nikon S3 or the Nikon SP. The Contax rangefinders can be used with these as well but you will have to compensate a bit because the turning rate is a little different from Nikon’s S-mount despite the fact that it was copied from Zeiss Ikon’s Contax mount. More