Nikkor-O 35mm f/2 lens

A superb 35mm optic for pennies.

35mm Nikkor-O f/2, with period hood. The CPU is visible on the rear baffle.

The manual focus 35mm f/2 Nikkor-O, from the ‘all metal’ era whose construction quality has never been surpassed, shows moderate vignetting at f/2 and f/2.8 with a small amount of barrel distortion at all apertures. Full resolution is reached at f/4. Contrast is very high. The 8 elements in 6 groups design appears to have remained unchanged in the pre-Ai, Ai and Ai-S versions, spanning December 1965 through August 1981, and testifying to the excellence of the design. Later models, named ‘O.C’, were multicoated; mine is single coated. This lens is fully the equal of any Leitz or Leica 35mm Summicron on a Leica M, regarded by many as the standard at this focal length. Having owned and used 8 element and 6 element spherical Summicrons and the Aspherical model, I can testify to this.

Mine is 1971 vintage and there is one huge difference compared to the Leica optic. The latter will run you $3,200 new and not much less used. My Nikkor was $175 with hood for a near mint version. Another $25 was spent on an Ai conversion and the CPU ran $30 more. The CPU is easily installed with epoxy, directly on the rear baffle. More on CPU installation here. I see very minor diffraction loss at f/16, and slight red fringing at all apertures (you really have to pixel peep to divine that) easily corrected in LR4 by checking the ‘Remove Chromatic Aberration’ box, which I have done in creating my import setup. This means the lens is perfectly useable – and will render huge prints – at any aperture.

I have made a tailored lens profile to correct the minor aberrations in this lens and you can download it here. It works with PS or LR.

Pictures will follow when I have had a chance to wring the lens out. Look here.

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