Additional Information on
Nikkor Zoom 50-300mm f/4.5 lenses - Part I

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Telephoto lenses give the "reach" for the photographer, if you're close to the action, lenses at normal focal length will give you pictures that show you in the thick of the activities with normal perspective as what our eyes normally perceives in seeing. However when involves with quick action, it often makes framing difficult. For instance, in sports you can concentrate on getting only the most photographic moment without being bothered by framing but when the action is so quick or when individual close-ups and the game as a whole are to be shot alternately, as in a soccer game, using telephotos can sometimes be quite inconvenient. This is where the Nikkor telephoto zooms come in. In comparison, framing with a zoom lense is always much easier to handle, and they are also especially suitable if you haven't got elbow room. Without removing your eye from the viewfinder, you can vary the focal length from one focal length to another to meet your framing composition. If you think that a single zoom will amply compensate for a number of lenses of various focal lengths, you have realized only half of its worth. Its real value is that you can see through the viewfinder the most effective framing throughout the zooming range without changing the camera position.

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Nikon was not only the first to design practical zoom lenses for 35mm still photography but also the first to craft them with acceptable quality and performance.

Credit: A shot taken at the official opening of the South East Asian Games. Image courtesy of Mr. John Ishii®<website:> Image Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

An advantage in the design of these original series of Nikkor zooms over its rivalries was, once you snapped the subject in focus, it will remain in sharp focus throughout their zoom range to allow you to zoom clearly from far distant scenes to a near view and vice versa without changing your camera position. Although this might sound too common to you but during those early days, many users were quite receptive to use zoom lenses but eventually, the acceptance of zoom lenses in both their quality and performance have a lot to do with the untiring effort Nikon put into their research and lens development which eventually saw birth of a few distinctive Nikkor zooms to change general negative perception towards these series of Nikkor. In fact as early as we can traced back to mid of the sixties, the Company has already offered an array of zoom lenses covered from medium wideangle to super-telephoto with a total 14-power zoom range. Among them, one of the most interesting optic is the high power 50-300mm Nikkor zoom.

Non-Ai 50-300mm f/4.5~f/22 Zoom-Nikkor Auto

Debuted in 1966. This was the first zoom lense in the world that offers a magnificent 5X zoom ratio. The lens has a two-ring rotating type design with an automatic diaphragm, a meter coupling prong as well as a rotating tripod mount with loops for a carrying strap. Like other Nikkor tele-zooms design (see picture below), the early version also has a metallic silver front ring with the lens data engraving on the outer rim. A total of nine focal length markings (50, 60, 70, 85, 105, 135, 200, 250 and 300mm) are printed on the zoom rotating ring.

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This zoom lense covers the most frequently used focal lengths from 50mm (normal) to 300mm (telephoto). The introduction of this lense did caused a sensation in the photographic community as its extraordinary 6X zooming ratio makes it the most versatile zoom lens designed for still cameras. Its ingenious lens design helps maintain quite an outstanding resolution, high contrast images and faithful color rendition throughout its extra-wide range of focal lengths and chromatic aberrations, generally present at longer focal lengths, have been well tamed.

Zooming and focusing operations are done with two separate rings. The tripod socket on a rotatable collar allows the camera to be changed rapidly from vertical to horizontal picture format or vice versa whenever necessary. All these features make this zoom lens a favorite for action and sports events and wildlife photography at the time. The lense is only 290mm long despite its maximum focal length of 300mm and the early version could be having a strating number of 740101. The lense went through its first round of facelift sometime in 1968 where from here onwards, the customary silver-coloured front ring as replaced with black finish. Most of the used lenses surfaced on and off at auction sales were from this version onwards.

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Credit: Images (w/blue background) courtesy of Mr. Graham Law®, President, Seawood Photo Inc. <website:>. All images Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.

The was once a status lense for Nikon to showcase their advancement and capability in lens design. In no way that the lense was designed for weekend photographers as, first, at the time of its introduction, it was not a cheap optic and next, despite it has a highly desirable zoom range, this lens is both massive in size and weight (weighing almost 2.3kg !) and it can be very demanding for the photographer to carry around and/or for handheld shooting (probably why the rotating tripod has a loops for a carrying strap). Its 46° (50mm) to 8°10'(300mm) angle of view can change a normal shooting scene in quite a dramatic fashion, and when during shooting, it is always advisable to focus first and make use of the separate zoom ring for framing and/or composing the shots.

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The aperture ring of the earlier few Pre-Ai version was supplied with an Nikkor design flat but ridged type. The various aperture scales were not coloured coded yet (as with other old zoom such as the first wideangle-zoom Zoom-Nikkor 28-45mm).

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The crinkle-finished tripod collar has an interesting design, probably first of the series being deployed in a Nikkor zoom lense, other than it has two eyelets for a carrying strap, it can be rotated equipped with click stops at each 90°. This has greatly facilitate responsive changing of format from horizontal to vertical shooting.

The lens extension from the aperture ring to the tripod collar mount is quite long (check with the optical construction map below)

The optical design comprises of a very complex 20 elements in 13 groups design which is not unusual fro such a lens type (take a comparing Zoom-Nikkor 35-200mm f/3.5~f/4.5s MACRO introduced almost 20 years later (1986) may still demand a massive 17 elements in 13 groups optical composition). Its close focus capability is a fair performance at 2.5m (8.5ft.) primarily because it was not being designed to shine at close focus distance. The front lens element is quite a large piece of optic glass, due to the lense has a rather large diameter with its front filter attachment size of 95mm. It was essentially attributed to the constant aperture of f/4.5 which demands it to have a larger light gathering power with its dimension. The secondary zoom ring on the lense has various reference markings for 50mm, 60mm, 70mm, 85mm, 105mm, 135mm, 200mm, 250mm and 300mm and the distance scales are quite close where I think Nikon has specifically designed focusing ring with a shorter rotation for quick focusing. Based on Peter Brazco's Nikon Hand Book, the second version of this lense could be having a starting serial number from 750101 onwards.

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Peter also addressed a subsequent version of this lense has a all matte finish version which may has occured in 1975/6. Well, I cannot distinguish the diffiference as I scanned from a 1976's Nikkor Sales leaflet which shows a picture almost identical to earlier ones. However, his book mentioned the version has a starting serial number that begin with 770401. A more viable expnation could be the lense could have been treated with NIC at this stage.


Focal Length:
Maximum aperture: 1:4.5; Lens construction: 20 elements in 13 groups
Picture angle: 46° (f=50mm) - 8°10'(f=300mm); Distance scale: Graduated in meters or feet up to 2.5m (8.5 ft.) to infinity (

50300mmzoomring.jpg 50300mmfocusring.jpg
Both the zoom and focusing rings uses diamond shapes which provides a very positve grip. The design was eventually updated with another rectangular shape rubberized grip design in the next version.
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The lens elements exhibits a amber colour and I think Nikon NIC was not being applied to this version yet.

Credit: All four images courtesy of Mr. Joe Cabebe "Neekon®" <> <website: Ebay Store>. All images Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved.

Aperture scale: f/4.5- f/22; Aperture diaphragm: Fully automatic
Meter coupling prong: Integrated (fully open exposure metering)
Focusing: By turning the focusing ring; Zooming: By turning the zooming ring (reference markings for 50, 60, 70, 85, 105, 135, 200, 250 and 300mm)
Attachment size: 95mm (P=1.00); Filter: 95mm screw-in

NASA Zoom Nikkor 50-300mm long view NASA Zoom Nikkor 50-300mm
NASA property of the Nikko 50-300mm. Credit: Image courtesy of camera$@EBAY®. He also operates a popular Ebay Store where he often lists many used RARE pieces of Nikon, Leica and other old classic photo equipment, Images are also well taken for visual confirmation for buyers - he is also one of my favourite bookmarked Ebay dealer. Image copyright © 2006. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.
50300mmanual.jpg 50300mmf45f45.gif
Tripod Socket: Rotatable (equipped. with click stops at each 90°)
Dimension: 98mm dia. x 292mm length (3-27/32 in. x 11-1/2 in.)

<<< --- Download a PDF file (43k) in relation to illustration of its optical construction.

Weight: 2.3kg (5.1 lb), 2.27kg (80.2 oz) for updated version. Accessories: 95mm screw-in front cap (108-05-401), rear cap type F (108-00-401), 95mm screw-in lens hood (108-05-201), leather camera-lens case (108-05-301); Nikon Product Code No.for this lens: 108-05-105; Note: Serial Numbers (Please referred to content written above).

| NEXT | The Ai-version and the revised Zoom-Nikkor 50-300mm f/4.5 ED 1/2

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" ... I wish I knew more about this lens, but frankly I have not been able to find much out about who modified these lenses to fit on TV studio cameras in the '60s. This one is set up for cable controls, for focus and zoom, like later Canon lenses..." - Fred Krughoff - <> creator of the | Nikon Historical Society |

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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Credit: MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites; Lars Holst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; Ted Wengelaar, Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; Hiura Shinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. Lastly, to all the good people who has contributed their own expeience, resources or kind enough granted permission to use their images of their respective optic in this site. It is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets & brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification. "Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.