Photographica Pages

An online guide to collectable cameras and related stuff

50/1.4 Nikkor for Rangefinder

The 50/1.4 in chrome.

The 50/1.4 Nikkor, in black and chrome, shown with a late plastic version of the scarce rear cap for internal mount lens.

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, lens speed sold cameras. Competing against the 50/1.5 Sonnar for the Contax, and the 50/1.5 Summarit for the Leica, Nikon wanted something faster. They had introduced their 50/1.5 Nikkor earlier in 1950, it was superceded in December by the 50/1.4.

The first 50/1.4 lenses were heavy chrome over brass, and were marked "Tokyo" on the beauty ring, later changed to "Japan". Like most of the long running lenses, it's construction changed over the years, gradually losing weight, and then receiving the black and chrome finish.

Amongst the 50/1.4 you can find some interesting variations. Small batches of them were finished completely in black (except for the mount). These are referred to as "All Black" lenses, and may have been experiments in lens design using lighter weight materials and black finish, or may have been produced for the few black S2 cameras that were made. About the same time, a batch of silver finish lenses with aluminum barrels were built. Serial numbers run from 358100-358400, just following a batch of the "All Black" lenses. The final version of the 50/1.4 lens is referred to as the "Olympic", as it is most often seen on examples of a late batch of black Nikon S3 cameras produced for the 1964 Olympic games held in Japan. This lens is larger, and of a different optical design than the normal 50/1.4. These were the last rangefinder lenses until the release of the Millenium S3 in 2000, which uses lenses of this design.

Serial numbers start at 5005001, and run through 50051987+, then proceed from 316xxx through 417xxx, indicating that a staggering number were produced, perhaps as many as 100,000. The "Olympic" lenses used a totally different range of serial numbers, running from 140001 upwards.

A chrome 50/1.4, unusual in that it is boxed separately and not sold with a camera

The rare 50/1.4 all black lens.

The 50/1.4 Nikkor "Olympic" version, with the shade used on all of the black and chrome lenses.

The 50/1.4 "Olympic" lens, compared to a normal chrome lens. Notice the difference in size.

The same two lenses, showing the difference in rear element size and mount construction.

The 50/1.4 Nikkor in Leica thread, with box and bakelight can. Earlier, these were also sold in a aluminum can.

The rear of the thread mount lens.

The shade for the 50/1.4 chrome, with its case.

The shade for the all black 50/1.4 lens, with its case and box.