Unboxing the Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S

With apologies to Mr. Holga

Yes, it’s the venerable Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S, a lens I’ve looked at, but never had the courage (or bucks) to pick up. Thanks to multiple reminders from @MrHolga, I started watching the ‘bay, and after a few days noticed one that appeared to be in decent condition with a Buy It Now price that couldn’t be beat. I kinda wanted an Ai version, for the longer focus throw, but this Ai-S was cheaper than most of the Ai’s were going for, so I pulled the trigger.

I’m not sure why it was so cheap. Sure, it was in Japan, but other Japanese models were going for at least 1/3 more, and models in the US were going for even more via auctions. Other than a bit of scuff on the front of the focus ring, I don’t see any issues with it at all: no dust or fungus, no discoloration of any sort. It smells a bit musty, but that’s it.

I quickly threw a reversing ring on it, and mounted it on the D7000 for some quick test shots, all at f/1.2.

First, minimum focus distance:

The wind was blowing like crazy, so the intended subject is not quite in focus, but I get a pretty good indication of the potential of this lens. Sure, the blur can be a bit busy and I’ll need to watch backgrounds, but there is potential for some mouthwatering bokeh.

Next up, how about reversed?

If you zoom in close, theres some chromatic aberration, which is expected, and there’s a fair amount of coma, but it’s really very pleasant to my eye.

And last up, at near-maximum focus distance:

Sharp where it needs to be, creamy where it needs to be. Who could ask for more?

One problem I’m going to have is getting fast-enough shutter speeds. Thankfully, the FM3a has a maximum speed of 1/4000th. I’m going to need it in bright sunlight, even with slow film. The D7000 hit 1/8000th on every shot I took outside, with its extended low ISO too. This is a BRIGHT lens, MashaAllah.

I might write up a proper review later, but only after I put it through its paces. This was just a quicky test and some early observations.

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