Nikon D3x compatibility with rare 5cm Nikkor lenses


Nikon D3x with 5cm f/2 second version & 'tick-marked' (first) version (right)

I've a Nikon D3x in for some reviews I'm writing, and I happened to have a couple of early Nikkor lenses out of storage (headed for eBay). For some time I've wanted to see if the rare 'tick-marked' (i.e. first version) 5cm (50mm) f/2.0 Nikkor, from 1959, would fit Nikon's latest flagship.

The design of the aperture ring has changed many times over the years (and has now completely disappeared with the introduction of the G-series AF-S lenses). Manual focus Ai-S and modern AF lenses reveal the chrome-mount when fitted, necessitating the addition of a rubber seal (AF-S only) to prevent the ingress of dust and moisture. But this wasn't the case when Nikon announced their first SLR, the Nikon F in 1959.

Five lenses were introduced with the Nikon F initially; a 2.8cm f/3.5, 3.5cm f/2.8, the 5cm f/2.0 mentioned herewith, 10.5cm f/2.5 and 13.5cm f/3.5. Each one was 'tick-marked', like all the preceding S-series rangefinder lenses. Only a couple of hundred or so of each focal length featured the 'tick marks' (look at the distance and aperture scale, and you'll see white indicators), before it was removed. The example below has the distance scale marked in feet, a few were made in meters too.

Nippon Kogaku Nikkor-S 5cm f/2.0, first version

Sad to say, the 'tick-marked' 5cm f/2 doesn't fit, but I didn't think it would. It wasn't even close. You can't quite see in this photo but the aperture ring is raised by about 4mm (0.157-inch) above the bayonet mount. This stops the lens from mounting, not the plastic AI lever on the D3x body, which happens to slide over the aperture ring.

Somewhat surprisingly, the second version, another very early and still quite rare lens, with 'Pat. Pending' inscribed on the chrome barrel, fits as easily as a modern AF-S lens. That's because the aperture ring protrudes around 2mm, providing enough clearance for the three-claw bayonet to rotate and lock on the body mount. In most other respects the two lenses are very similar.

I took a few snaps with it too, in the office, and not only did it all work without a hitch , the quality looked fine. If I get chance, I'll post something more attractive than the items on my desk.

Incidentally, the 5cm f/2 'tick marked' lens was the first SLR lens Nikon ever made.

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