a plethora of Nikon bodies, a dearth of normal Nikon lenses

Discussion in 'Camera Building, Repairs & Modification' started by David Lyga, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    This posting is purposely placed into this forum because it asks the readers to express alternative ways of doing things: namely putting lenses on Nikons that have no right to be on Nikons.

    Nikon film bodies abound. Getting a normal lens for them is something else. This Nikon '50 - 58', in any configuration, be it pre-AI or post-AI, is a big problem with cost, as it is, in too many cases, more expensive than the body! (Other off-market focal lengths like 135 and 28 abound.) So I ask (and will expect some annoyance with the 'fact' that 'it cannot be done, so why even ask?'): can it be done effectively?

    Most SLR systems offer their respective 50s at very modest prices: Minolta MC/MD, M42 in many variations, even Pentax and the other manufacturers like Ricoh, et al. But with Nikon you are largely stuck with Nikon (although Russia made a Nikon mount camera and their normal lens works fine on Nikons). So, I ask, has anyone ever tried to 'modify' another's normal lens and place it on a Nikon? Of course this would be manual aperture only, we understand. But I ask this because many lenses, if you take them apart, can be modified to give a slight increase in infinity focus, so that they would give that needed ability to the Nikon mount (which has a film plane to mount distance slightly longer than most SLRs). Of course, the mount has to be modified to allow it to fit securely onto extant Nikons: but would you change the mount on the lens or on the Nikon body?

    These are seemingly stupid questions to ask but maybe someone out there has tried to perform such modification. - David Lyga
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've never had any trouble finding 50 - 55mm standard Nikkors. Prices - 50/2 H for 25 to 35 dollars. 55 Micro Nikkor /3.5 for $85, still in the bubble. You just have to look.

    The only SLR lenses that can be easily and properly adapted to Nikon bodies (without unacceptable kludging) are Leica R lenses, there is/was a conversion mount which replaced the mount on the lens available for around $100. I've always wanted a Summicron for my F.:wink:
     
  3. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Yes, they certainly are around, E, but when Nikkormats can be gotten for as little as 10 bucks, the 35 bucks for a normal lens seems outrageous. Digital caused this because of the lens transferability. Minolta and M42 normals can be gotten for even as low as 5 bucks each, sometimes even less. - David Lyga
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So buy bodies with Minolta or M42 mounts. I like Nikons, so I pay what Nikon equipment costs and I don't complain about it. That's really all there is to it. :wink:
     
  5. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

    Messages:
    678
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Nikon normal lenses are incredibly inexpensive; the fact that bodies are worth next to nothing because they take film and were produced in huge quantities doesn't make the lens price any higher. And check prices on other good 50's, Nikon is toward the lower end of prices. As a matter of fact, I adapted my 55 Micro Nikkor to Sony Alpha because I would be unlikely to get more than $65 for it, while a Minolta or Sony macro would be several times as much.

    You are paying less for a body and lens than ever before. Not much to worry about.
     
  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    6,689
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The Nikon mount is the magic. The old lenses can easily be adapted many of the late model cameras so they hold their value.

    Other manufacturers who changed their mounts doomed all their old lenses to irrelevance.
     
  7. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

    Messages:
    2,245
    Joined:
    May 10, 2006
    Location:
    Aurora, IL
    Shooter:
    35mm
    No except that with a bellow I use several different enlarging lenses on my Nikon.
     
  8. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not to mention the fact that changing mounts and modifying lenses requires machine work, which is very expensive (unless you do it yourself)
    and completely swamps the cost of the lens. Say you spend several hundred dollars at the local machine shop (assuming you have one, and it can make things like lens mounts...) to save thirty dollars on a lens to go on a camera that, whether you like it or not, is obsolete and nearly worthless.

    Top quality, professional grade bodies and glass have never been a better bargain for those who like to use them. I'm using equipment I never could have justified buying 25 years ago, and it cost peanuts - some of it (Nice clean Nikkormat FtN with a 50/2) was free, some so cheap as to be nearly free - a very clean Pentax H1a with lens for $15.

    What do you want here?
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,134
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    Live Free or
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There are many circumstances in which the lens cost is more, and sometimes quite a lot more than the camera body, even for "normal" lenses, the situation with Nikon is nowhere near special.
     
  10. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

    Messages:
    678
    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2009
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    David,

    To answer your actual question, which I did not in my earlier post, Nikon is not a platform that is very amenable to adapting other lenses. Do a Google search for Nikon flange distance and you'll get a bunch of info on why this is so. It can be done in some cases, but not as easily or often as with Canon.
     
  11. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Flange focus distances -

    Nikon F - 46.5mm
    Pentax K and m42 - 45.46mm
    Leica R - 47.0mm
    Olympus OM - 46.0mm
    Canon FD/FL - 42.0mm
    ConYash - 45.5mm
    Minolta SR - 43.5mm
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 5, 2013
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,250
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think most people would be GLAD that Nikon lenses hold values reasonably well. Buy an old fully depreciated Nikkor for 35 to 50 dollars and you will likely be able to sell it for just about the same.

    Buy a body for 10 dollars and it makes no sense to sell it because you can get so little and not worth the trouble.

    I think this is a non-issue.
     
  13. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,357
    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2006
    Location:
    Bega N.S.W.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Look on the bright side, if the body is so cheap then that frees the extra dollars for the Nikkors. Ten dollars for a body and say 50 for a lens, $60.00 is an absolute bargain for such a quality shooter. I do have a non Nikkor 50, or 58 actually, and it is the 58mm 1.4 Auto Topcor which is the Topcor tribute built by Cosina in AIs mount. Not cheap though, but superb in every way.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. John Austin

    John Austin Member

    Messages:
    521
    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2010
    Location:
    Southern For
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Hang on, are truly complaining at $35 for a working 50ish mm Nikkor? Given the quality $35 is a gift
     
  16. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

    Messages:
    2,294
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2003
    Location:
    Floriduh
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Why hack a lens when there are adapters all over the bay to put various lenses on Nikon bodies. You may need an adapter with a lens but you can still do it. Of course with the advent of mirrorless, the old Nikon lenses are just as popular today although deals are still available.
     
  17. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,922
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What is outrageous about $35 for a normal lens? The value of a lens is not tied to the value of a camera body, so it's a false comparison. You're citing a rock-bottom price for a Nikkormat, and expecting a normal lens to cost less? Only if it's in the same condition as a $10 Nikkormat. And what about cheapie box cameras, which often cost less than a roll of 120 color film? Does that mean the film price is outrageous?
    Things are worth what they are worth, and $20 to $35 is what I expect to pay for a normal lens around f/2 in good shape from any major camera maker, though I might get one for less (and for some lenses, more). At any rate, the price of a normal lens in a long-abandoned mount of limited current popularity is not relevant to the price of a normal lens in a still-current mount of high popularity.
    When new, a Nikkor f/2 was probably around 25% the price of a new Nikkormat, maybe a little less. So, to extend your logic regarding a camera body/normal lens cost ratio, a good used f/2 Nikkor should be around $2.50, which isn't realistic.

    Besides, how in the world is it going to be worth it to convert a lens to Nikon mount, losing auto diaphragm function, when the most you can save is $35, and that's if the lens to be modified is free?
     
  18. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Well, telling comments!

    To those of you who say or infer that ALL normal lenses are in the $30 range today, I say NO!!! Normal Minolta MD or MC lenses as well as M42 and Konica and Yashica bayonet ones can be had for about 1/4 the price of a normal pre-AI Nikon lens. Canon normals and Pentax K normals can be had for about 1/2 the Nikon ones or less. Sorry, that is what I experience in the Philadelphia region.

    Why don't I simply avoid the Nikon bodies? Because the temptation is too strong with prices so low. About a year ago I bought eight Nikkormats for less than $100. They need lenses. 28mm and 135mm aftermarkets are NOT a problem. You see, I want to have my cake and EAT it too: dirty rotten spoiled, I am. And, somehow, someway, I WILL GET a bunch of normal Nikons and not spend much. Few know how persistent I can be in my enduring quest for frugality. But I wanted some feedback and I got it. Thank you all.

    As far as the most seemingly sensible answer "get a mount allowing M42s": we (most) already know that that 'solution' demands another lens element being introduced into the equation because Nikon bodies are so 'thick' (46.5mm distance between mount and film plane). I am sufficiently 'purist' to not allow that 'optical ignominy' to happen. - David Lyga
     
  19. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The adapters with optics remove any advantage to using Nikkor glass. They're pointless from that standpoint.
     
  20. LiamG

    LiamG Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    St. Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Off-brand Nikon mount variable aperture normal zooms from the early 90's. Problem solved.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not quite. The OP wants a) Nikkor lenses, b) prime lenses in the 50mm range, and c) good lenses.:wink:
     
  22. David Lyga

    David Lyga Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,670
    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2007
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    35mm
    LiamG: you have provided the BEST answer so far. At least with a 28-80mm you would get the normal 50. Surprisingly, von Hoegh, the modern zooms are VERY sharp; (but slow, true). Still, it is a bit of an answer. I would really like to put a Minolta MC on a Nikon, though. I could slightly increase its infinity to match the 46.5mm distance needed. - David Lyga
     
  23. lxdude

    lxdude Member

    Messages:
    6,922
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2009
    Location:
    Redlands, So
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Fine, but that does not make the Nikon lens price "outrageous". It just shows that they are worth more in the marketplace, therefore there is greater demand for them. Nikon is one of the current Big Two manufacturers, with a mount that will take old Nikkor glass. That is why there is more demand for them than for lenses in Canon FL/FD, Contax/Yashica, Minolta MD/MC, Konica, M42, etc, all of which are obsolete mounts requiring adapters to use on digital cameras. Pentax is less popular currently than the Big Two, with a large amount of K-mount normal lenses out there, so it follows that demand is lower, affecting prices.

    So, you want no other make of camera, even though you can find many of them for the same cost.

    Ok, so rationality isn't a strong consideration here.

    I expect you will, and good luck with it- I hope you find them soon. It is the best solution given what you want to accomplish. If you enjoy your quest for frugality, that's what counts most.
     
  24. LiamG

    LiamG Member

    Messages:
    115
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2012
    Location:
    St. Paul, MN
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Some examples of the 43-86 f3.5 are really cheap as well, on the other hand it has been called Nikon's worst lens.
     
  25. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Their sharpness may be comparable to some primes, but they are slower, bulkier, heavier, more expensive. To me they are a compromise at best. I don't like them and don't use them. YMMV.
     
  26. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    They're cheap for a reason. If I had one I'd give it away.