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Probably due to its popular focal length with a slightly wider angle of view, along
with the 50mm and others, the 35mm formed the basis of five core original lenses
introduced with the early Nikon rangefinder cameras. We can safely regarded the Nikkor 35mm focal length
easily has the most of lens updates and varieties in terms of lens selection. But
as we tracked back to the Company which started itself as an independent lens producer
prior to introducing their own label, Nikon has probably already had its 35mm lenses
produced either in LSM, Contax bayonet and even for Canon prior to introducing their
first bayonet mount, the Nikon I.
Generally, the Nikon W.Nikkor 35mm rangefinder lens group with Nikon's own S-bayonet
mount consists of a W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5 f=3.5cm (1948), W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm (1952), W-Nikkor.C 1:1.8 f=3.5cm (1956) and along with
debut of a Stereo-Nikkor 1:3.5 f=3.5cm, also in 1956. For a quick reference,
based on year of introduction, almost all the EARLY Nikon 35mm rangefinder 35mm wideangle
lenses in slightly different configurations, in particularly, the W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/3.5 were believed
to be only having a chrome on brass barrel outfit. Chrome and black finishing or
simply single colour design were available only at later years. While some information
may be accessible via references or on published journals but most may not be so
readily available, so one may has to use supplementary elements such as mount-type
design, serial number(s), Mark(s) /engraving(s) and even the packaging such as cases
or boxes in singularly or combine them as to offer some guide to determine with a
rough guess with the year of produce of the type of lens made.
As the market during the early days were still control by Leica and Contax, the Japanese
manufacturers had to produce various lenses also cater for the other German mount
as alternate choice for photographers. Leica LSM (Leica screw mount) lenses at 35mm
focal length may has been started to offer as early as 1930. Other than the popular
Elmar 1:3.5/35mm (1930~49), Leica had alternate Elmar 1:4.5/35mm (1933~34), Summaron
1:3.5/35mm (1948~60), a faster lens speed of Summaron 1:2.8/35mm (1958~63) and Summicron
1:2/35mm classic between 1958~63. The latter two version were offered both in screw
mount and bayonet. On the other hand, Contax, although had their bayonet mount design
as early as in 1920, but it was not until in 1932 that with the introduction of Contax
I that it deployed the lens mount into camera for commercial production. However,
Carl Zeiss did produced their lenses in LSM range. The 35mm lens group offered by
Contax in their own unique bayonet lens mount had no 35mm when Contax I was introduced,
instead, a Biotar 40mm f/2.0 was offered. The 35mm focal length later was added with
a Carl Zeiss Biogon 35mm f/2.8 (1:2.8/3.5cm) which came with an impressive lens speed
as starting 35mm wideangle lens; however, the Contax 35mm lens group did offered
an alternative and cheaper Orthometar 35mm f/4.5 (1:4.5/3.5cm) wideangle lens for
photographers to choose from. Both Jena and Oberkochen factories offered Biogon in
their official listings but may be in different optical designs, for an example,
the Jena direct mount Biogon 35mm f/2.8 (1949) used a 6E/4G design while the Oberkochen
Biogon 35mm f/2.8 in 1951 had a 7E/4G optically. Further, Jena factory also had offered
a Biometar 35mm f/2.8 but Oberkochen factory had a Carl Zeiss 35mm f3.5 Planar (1954) with both having
an equivalent maximum aperture of f/2.8. Anyway, although the lens designation may
remain identical, but prewar and post war period may see a same lens with identical
designation carried with different optical changes internally, for an example, Zeiss
Oberkochen had completely redesigned the Biogon optically. Note: Zeiss-Opton are
made in Oberkochen factory, with coated lenses stamped with a red T. After 1953, it dropped the red colored T at
the lens designation, and just had retained/marked with "Carl Zeiss".
On the other hand, another major Japanese manufacturer, Canon had quite a number
of offerings at the 35mm focal length, the
early Canon SERENAR series
comprised of 35mm f/3.2 (1951) and a 35mm f/3.5 (1950) wideangle
lenses. Newer series introduced at later stages include moderately improved lens
speed such as Canon 35mm f/2.8
a Canon 35mm f/2.0 (1962) but the Company also had fast lens speed
alternative like the Canon 35mm f/1.8
the Canon 35mm f/1.5 (1958).
Most of the early Serenar series by Canon had chrome finishing while lenses introduced
later mostly were dressed mostly in black/chrome outfits or with a few exception,
in chrome. Similarly,
due to extensive market predominated by Leica and Contax, most of the early Canon
35mm wideangles also offered in respective mount in either LSM or Contax bayonet
mount. But as a whole, if we use options offered by comparing competitions, the W-Nikkor
lens group by Nikon were more or less considered to be as moderate in terms of lens
choice as well as in their respective specification individually.
Part I Basic
information on Nippon Kogaku K.K. W-Nikkor.C
(35mm f/3.5) wideangle lens Year Introduced: March, 1948;
Discontinued: No info
The W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5
f=3.5cm was the only wideangle available debut of the original Nikkor lens group
designed for the rangefinder Nikon bodies. The first version uses the popular
heavy chrome finishes with brass mount and comes with a grooved ring for at the front
section for aperture control. The lens is solidly built and weighs considerably heavy
for a wideangle lens.
|Most of the early
series bear "TOKYO" after the Company name (short for "NKT")
and at the base section of the lens, it had been stamped with :MADE IN OCCUPIED
JAPAN", hence that was how the popular quote of classification of "MIOJ"
was referred to lenses produced during the post war period. Some of these are stamping
while some were printed and there are reference whether which were produced earlier.
In both Peter Braczko's Nikon Handbook and Robert Rotoloni's Nikon Rangefinder Guide,
approx. 20,000 units of the early series were being produced with 2,400 units bear
MIOJ engraving. Possibly due to this reason, MIOJ would generally demand a higher
premium than comparing version.
it remains the same (4 elements in 3 groups) throughout its entire product cycle,
the lens had generally gone through three stages in cosmetic design and/or changes
in designation used. The early batch of the W.Nikkor 1:3.5 f-3.5cm was only available
in chrome finishing only, no black version was known in existence thus far. Seemingly,
all batches were produced with W.Nikkor.C
which suggests lens produced are coated from the beginning (if any of you have a
version that doesn't bear the "C", please help
to furnish and/or rectify correctness of this remark, Thanks ).
A main difference that separates the
early series with the second version is simply by identifying the minimum aperture
of f/16, while the second update, it retains the grooved ring (1)
for aperture control, but minimum
aperture scale has been extended to f/22
(3), while inscription of MIOJ is not used at all in this
update; further, the "Nippon Kogaku Tokyo" has been replaced with "Nippon
(2)" but optically, the update seemingly has retained
identical optical formula with the earliest series. Somehow, the leather lens case
for this series has a deeper tone than earlier ones which is light brownish in colour.
Approx. 8,000 units of this version may had been produced.
|The last version of the W-Nikkor
35mm f/3.5 had gone though some design changes in some major way, although internally,
the optical formula seemingly was not being altered from previous models with its
4G/4E arrangement. First, the wide grooved ring for aperture control has been eliminated
(1) and replaced with conventional ring control as used in modern manual
lenses. In fact, during this period, Nikon has started to offer other alternative
such as the W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm where the lens also went through
similar upgrade in similar fashion was aimed to improve lens handling as well as
reducing its weight (The early series model weighs approx. 190g while the late version
weighs considerably lighter at 100g only due to combination in design as well as
reduction is use of brass). Further, use of filter is much easier in this update
as its provides a 43mm filter thread for direct mounting onto lens for creative filter
usage. Naturally, this update extends the minimum aperture of f/22 from previous
upgrade while on the other hand, the lens retains standard designation marked as
Nippon Kogaku Japan.
A good illustration of the three late
versions of W-Nikkor 1:3.5 f=3.5cm wideangle lenses found on a Japanese collector's
brochure where I scanned for reference only. 1) first version with update (Non-MIOJ);
2 & 3, last version in chrome and black finishing.
|Some lenses appeared during this period
may bear an "EP" sign engraved into the barrel, just like the lens shown
above with an EP (2). Note:
"EP" marked optical or hardware item was just to differentiate mechanize
/ goods that sold during the post war Japan era. EP engraved items were distributed
via military "duty-free" outlets or sometimes referred as PX distribution
system during the period. Technically, you can refer them as the same with "MIOJ"
(Made in Occupied Japan) products except EP extends longer period for the US troops
in Japan after quoted "MIOJ" on products were expired.
|Probably during its introduction, the
prevailing comparing labels were mostly offered products in typically chrome /brass
finishes, thus Nikon first started in designing most of their early generation of
original Nikkor lenses only with chrome finishing but at later stage, it began producing
black version to supplement some f the black bodied Nikon cameras as alternative
for photographers. The black paint W-Nikkor 1:3.5 f=3.5cm lens is very similar to
the chrome version in many aspect in its construction. This model also click stops
to f/22, focuses at minimum distance of 3 feet; the lens probably was introduced
after the black W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm lens which estimates to be from 1954 onwards.
In line with the introduction of the black finish lens, some of the accessories such
as lens cap, optical finder has added with matching black finishing. According to
some Guru collectors, there are approx. 9,000 units of the black finish W-Nikkor.C
1:3.5 f=3.5cm lens had been produced.
|Another reason is being, some of the
Nikkor lenses were also available in Leica Screw Mount and/or Contax bayonet mount
and obviously Nikon was trying to extend its market appeal in order to supplement
respective labels in a less distinguishable manner. It was not known if Nikon had produced
any black finish W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5 f=3.5cm lens in LSM or Contax bayonet mount. If
anyone of you has such a rare collection in possession, do consider please help to
furnish some of the photos to patch this unanswered question. Thanks.
A rare early MIOJ W-Nikkor.C 3.5cm f/3.5 in
Leica Screw Mount.
Credit: Image courtesy of Camron8888 @ Ebay Store . Image Copyright
W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5 f=3.5cm w/M39 screw
mount (LSM) with an inscription MIOJ/Nippon Kogaku Tokyo were scarce in number. Some
earliest models have f/16 while some of them may bear updated/extended f/22. However,
in a brochure published in early '50 could suggest the lens may exist in other configurations
(even the suggestive coated "C" alphabet used after the lens designation
may also being eliminated at some stage). While the later Nikon W-Nikkor.C 35mm f/3.5
model was provided with has lens accessory size of 43mm (Snap-On or screw-in or Series
VII (50.8mm); on the other hand, the LSM version's filter thread is 34.5mm to accommodate
either Snap-On or Screw-in type and/or Series VI (41.3mm) lens accessories Further,
in some comparison, the published figure states the LSM Nikkor weighs heavier at
4-1/4 oz as compare to 3-1/2 oz on the Nikon bayonet version.
version like these shown at left and below are produced in 1955.
|Other than the standard lens which sold
with the camera, early Nikon rangefinder camera models did not have provision for
many other focal lengths lenses within the camera as picture composing aid and would
require optional accessories such as sport Frame
to provide photographer a rough visual guide on composition. Probably between 1949/50,
Nikon started to introduce specific optical finder for specific focal length, there
are three types of finders being produced so far with one additional special 35mm
Stereo Finder for 17 x 24mm picture format and it was delivered as companion accessory
for the Stereo-Nikkor. As these Finders were small accessories, so most are not serialized
to record in production series, thus we can only use estimation or other references
such as inscription to determine their rough production period. Generally, we would
assume "Nippon Kogaku Japan" would be later version while those with "Nippon
Kogaku Tokyo" be produce during occupation period (very similar to how we differentiate
the lenses) BUT sometimes this general reference can not be established as shown
by some examples below.
The chrome-finish 3.5cm optical finder uses helical adjustment wheel with parallax
dial around the eyepiece. It can be mounted directly onto camera's accessory shoe.
It is more solid than the Black Aluminum version introduced at later stage but the
latter has some improvement over the earlier chrome finish model as it provides parallax
mark with the frame line and eliminate the dial design used in the chrome model.
Further, it is lighter and composition is much easier for photographers as it is
a much brighter finder.
|Although it was widely accepted the
chrome-type was the early model produced during the late '40 ~early '50 period, while
the bright-line BL black Finder was only made available after 1956, but here is a
BL Finder in black which has inscription as "Nippon Kogaku Tokyo" which
may push the time of produce of such finder much earlier than we assume it was. Incidentally,
the BL Bright Frame-lines Finder has similar appearance with the Special BL Finder designed for the STEREO-Nikkor 3.5cm , except the latter has a printed "Stereo"
as well as a tiny eatched lines at the front of the finder.
|One of the most interesting optical finder available
for 3.5cm W-Nikkor is a Mini-Finder but it was produced not as a standard accessory,
instead, it was supposed t be an optional companion accessory delivered along with
the NIKON S2 camera. The
interesting part of this finder is its design as well as compactness. The finder
is actually designed as side mounting, which can be slip onto the accessory shoe
on the camera and maintain overall compactness; the position of the finder after
mounted is almost placed adjacent above the rangefinder window.
alternatives: Nikon actually had designed many types of finders as visual aid for
their lenses. While the few outlined above are focal length specific, but within
the optical finder group, you may also find the Universal / Variframes Finder and/or Varifocal
which has 3.5cm focal length covered.
The W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5 f=3.5cm wideangle
had remained in the W-Nikkor lens group for much of time Nikon rangefinder cameras
were offered to photographers and despite Nikon has started providing faster lens
speed version of W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm in 1952 and the W-Nikkor.C 1:1.8 f=3.5cm
in 1956 for general photography. Affordability probably was the main factor, and
it is a standard wideangle with moderately sufficient speed for all round purpose
usage. It has a proven design and had recomputed for maximum correction and with
its maximum aperture probably at its near upper limit for the simple, straight forward
optical formula used.
Basic Specification for Nikon (Nippon
Kogaku K.K.) rangefinder W-Nikkor-C 1:3.5 f=3.5cm (35mm
f/3.5) wideangle lens:-
Nikon S-mount for RF Nikon or LEICA M39 Screw Mount
Focal Length: 35mm (3.5cm); Picture Angle: 63° (37° x 53° ); Maximum
/ Minimum Aperture: f/3.5 ~ f/16 (early model) ; f/22 (late models)
Optical Construction: 4 elements in 3 groups;
Minimum Focusing Distance: approx. 3 ft ~OO
Filter Attachment Size: Series VII (43mm) screw-in / Snap-on Type (depends
on period introduced)
Lens Hood: 43mm Screw-in Type; Diaphragm: Manual
55.8 mm dia. x 32.4 mm
Weight (lens only): approx. 190g/6.5oz for early chrome / brass model; 5.5oz
for late version chrome, 100g / 3.5 oz for Black model; Screw Mount (Leica Thread):-
no info but approx. 4-1/4 oz for LSM second version.
Optical Finder (3.5cm model, BL black, Variframe finders, 3.5cm Mini Finder or Sport
frame finder etc.); rear lens cap. early model slip on type, late models snap-on;
Optional: Screw-in type filters for M39 version; Lens hood: no info;
Lens accessories: 43mm / Series VII (50.8mm) for Nikon S-Mount model; 34.5mm /Series
VI (41.3mm) for Leica M39 LSM model.
Quantity Approx. 2,400 MIOJ; 8,000 for early model(s); 9,000 units late versions
in chrome or black finishing. Ref: Robert Rotoloni's An Illustrated History on Nikon
|Above: An interesting note is a blue velvet covered
container box marked the lens as US aperture scale standard "Nikkor Coated
Lens 35mm f3.5" instead of the usual European Aperture Scale Standard.
<<<--- Bottom: original
lens hood for the RF 35mm f/3.5 Nikkor. The hood is plastic, not metal and
this particular unit is marked "Snap-On Lens Hood 3.5cm f/2.5 for LEICA"
(see comparing Metal
A few years after initial acceptance by photographers
worldwide on the Nikon rangefinder system, it was natural trend to serve gradual
growing demand for wider options available in the lens system; Nikon has expanded
its wideangle in 1952 with two new wideangle lenses at both 28mm, with a W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5 f=2.8cm as well as improve the popular moderate 35mm with a faster
speed in the W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm alternative.
| previous | Next | - Part II - W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm
(35mm f/2.5) wideangle rangefinder lens 1/4
W-Nikkor.C 1:3.5 f=3.5cm | W-Nikkor.C 1:2.5 f=3.5cm
| W-Nikkor.C 1:1.8 f=3.5cm | Stereo-Nikkor f=3.5cm 1:3.5
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