Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.5 in Leica Mount, 1949

Discussion in 'Leica M and LTM Lenses' started by Brian, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    This is rare lens, about 300 made in Leica mount and maybe 500 made in Nikon S-Mount. This lens was replaced within a year by the Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.4. As per Pete Dechert's "Canon Rangefinder Camera"- the 5cm F1.5 was designed in 1937 for the Hansa Canon. It never made it into production before the war. I am guessing that Nikon needed a Super-Speed lens on the market while the F1.4 was being designed. It also may be possible that Nikon had a small supply of the glass used in the design, enough to do the small run.

    David Duncan Douglas used a Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.5 for most of the pictures in his book "This is War".
     

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  2. raid

    raid Leica Place All-Pro

    Apr 12, 2013
    USA
    Raid
    Thank you for this very interesting write-up on the elusive Nikkor Sonnar 5cm/1.5, Brian.
    If you had to pick one lens, would it be the new 50/1.5 Zeiss or this Nikkor 50/1.5 and why?

    Raid
     
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  3. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    I would pick the Nikkor because of it's history. Even if it was not as rare. Well made, beautiful heavy chrome over brass, as is the F1.4 version. "But" this lens was the first Super-Speed lens out of Japan. The Simlar 5cm F1.5 is close in age, and is an original/unique formulation of a double-Gauss (1-3-2-1). The Nikkor 5cm F1.5 is the lens that David Douglas Duncan used, and the rest is history.
     
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  4. foxnumber

    foxnumber Leica Place Rookie

    10
    Jul 10, 2013
    The Nikon s.c. 55 1.2 does some really beautiful flares!!
     
  5. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    I have that lens, keep it on a Nikon F2Sb. It is probably the fastest lens in terms of transmission of light that Nikon ever made. It is 7 elements in 5 groups, the later 58/1.2 and 50/1.2 went to 7 elements in 6 groups. The 55/1.2 is also sharp across the center 2/3rds of the image- works well on a crop sensor. But, 55mm is too far from the Leica standard to easily adapt to RF coupled M-Mount. The 50/1.2 would be easier.
     
  6. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    Welcome to Leicaplace! I too searched for my lens for 20 years before getting one at a reasonable price, ie bought it instead of a 50/1.1 Sonnetar...

    My opinion- this is the most important lens that a Nikon collector could own. I would not trade it for any other nor sell it for any amount.

    I bought a copy of "This is War" by David Douglas Duncan, another Ebay find. I have a 1951 US Camera with many of the pictures published earlier than the book. My lens is from the 905 batch, #189- just a few under DDD's lens. It came on a Canon III. Canon did not yet have an F1.5 lens, I suspect the military officer that bought the Canon wanted the fastest lens that he could get. I cleaned up the Canon III, popped the top, cleaned the viewfinder of haze and put a 50mm F1.9 Serenar on it.

    15220362182_e6d404da69_o. Nikkor 5cm F1.5 and 13.5cm F4 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    15197717566_4b06382b06_o. Nikkor 5cm F1.5 and 13.5cm F4 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    I added a 13.5cm F4 in Leica Mount to go with the 5cm F1.5.

    The Marine Corp Museum in Quantico, Virginia has a tribute to DDD- a Marine in WW-II.

    16149594372_b9d5687a55_o. Marine Museum, Quantico by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    More pictures with the lens here:

    Nikkor 5cm F1.5 in Leica Mount

    I've compared this lens with the early 5cm F1.4 Nikkor-SC. Anyone saying the F1.5 lens is not as good is just trying to keep prices down!

    I did a write-up on this lens, but the pictures were lost with a change in Forum software. I will upload the pictures and correct the links. This ls the lens that put the Japanese Optics industry on the map.

    Also- I'm not sure how much it would be to mail a book to the UK, but "This is War" comes up at reasonable prices on Ebay. I just bought a 1st edition for $20, have the 1990 reprint. It is a book that should sit next to this lens.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
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  7. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
    It's interesting that the 8.5cm F2 Nikkor is the lens that got DDD's attention, and to ask for a tour of the factory. He bought the 5cm F1.5 and the 13.5cm F4. I also read somewhere he preferred the Leica 3.5cm F3.5 to the Nikkor 3.5cm F3.5. I ended up with an early 1949 batch 3.5cm F3.5 and 1949 batch 8.5cm F2, the latter bought from Robert Rotoloni. All of these lenses are very good, the 3.5cm F3.5 surprised me with how good it is. It is clear from these lenses that Nikon had superb quality control.

    The 13.5cm F4 is sharp- every bit as good as the F3.5 lens. I picked up an early 13.5cm F3.5 as well.

    I look forward to seeing your pictures posted, not many people actually use these lenses. They were made to be used, not just kept in a cabinet.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2016
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  8. Brian

    Brian Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Apr 3, 2013
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