Sunday, 11 March 2012

Nikkor pancake lens - a user or collector?

A big thanks to near-neighbour Tomek, who kindly offered me the chance to test his Nikkor 45mm f2.8P pancake lens. A rare item, much sought after by collectors, it is based on the classic Zeiss Tessar design (four elements in three groups) which allows it to be as compact as a lens possibly can be on a DSLR. Here it is below, in silver.

So - enough drooling over its Hasselblad lens-like looks - time to get it out and about, fastened to my D40 for lightness of weight. Eddie and I decide to visit the new Lidl supermarket which has opened on ul. Puławska, on the corner of ul. Cymbalistów. (Incidentally, the store was built at an amazing tempo.)

Above: corner of ul. Trombity and Karczunkowska. The 45mm lens gives the equivalent field of view of 67.5mm on a 35mm or full-frame FX-format camera. On my DX-format camera, it brings objects nearer; I find myself having to take a few steps back to compose, being used to working at the wide end of my zooms. If you have an FX camera, the angle of view is very similar to the human eye.

Above: house on ul. Cymbalistów. The setting sun and darkening sky create dramatic lighting, which the lens captures nicely. Converging verticals not such a problem as on wider-angle lenses. It's a manual focus lens, though unlike my old manual focus Nikkors (28mm f2.8, 55mm f3.5 macro and 105mm f1.8), the metering works and you can alter the aperture through the camera.

Having been to Lidl (not a patch on Auchan, I must say), Eddie and I march home. The sun is about to set over the far end of ul. Karczunkowska (above). To early to say what I think of the lens, but seeing the prices on eBay (around $600 which works out at 2,000 złotys) I can see that collectors prize it over users, a lens to lay down like a vintage wine and watch its value appreciate.

Also - the fabled sharpness of the lens is not something I can see on the 6 megapixel sensor of my D40. It needs a 24 megapixel sensor (as on the rumoured Nikon D3200) to do the lens justice!

This time last year:
Old Town, another prospect

This time two years ago:
W-wa Śródmieście - commuters' staging post

This time three years ago:
Filthy ul. Poloneza
[Three years on, nothing's changed...]

This time four years ago:
A sight that heralds the coming of spring


Tomek said...

Pierwszy :-)

I have bought this lens in Stodoła three or four years ago, knowing that this is something special. And it is, indeed.
I have taken some of my best photos with zenit 12XP full manual and Helios 58mm on film, and this lens brings me memories of long walking on Podgórze Przemyskie, from one cerkiew to another, in 1987.
The Zenit then, and 45mm Nikkor now, make me THINK about a photograph. They are manual, so everything takes longer, urging you to THINK. Is the scene in the viewfinder worth pressing the shutter? Or maybe re-compose? Or quit?

This is the slow-food of photography. Even better would be with 36 frames on a roll of film.
I used to attend a photography course in Dom Kultury in Ochota, long time ago. And the guy who ran it said, go buy a weekend issue of Życie Warszawy, find a shor article about old Warsaw architecture (published every weekend), go and take JUST ONE photograph of the place.

That was really an exercise.

Cameras that are currently available, release most of those who take photos from THINKING, through the auto-everything mode.

That's why it's worth to have one of those lenses :-)

Michael, please take more. I am waiting to see what you can do with this "słoiczek" :-)

Best regards,

Anonymous said...

Like the new picture - much more user friendly and fits the real you