Pre-AI zooms,,, what was available, and how well did they really perform? The range I'm looking at is something along the 30-70mm range, or did they even have such a beast back when? I've got a nice collection of prime lenses, but for wandering around with one camera and no camera case, it'd be nice to have just a bit of flexibility.
Good morning, Keith;
Yes, there were zoom lenses in the early NIKKOR lenses, even in the original lens line-up back in 1959. The first one was the Auto NIKKOR Telephoto-Zoom 1:4-4.5 f=85-250mm which had a production run of only 18 months. Nippon Kogaku made some significant improvements to it fairly quickly in coming out with the one-touch version. The third version of this lens in 1969 was a 4.0/85-250mm with a larger front element that gave it a true constant 4.0 f-stop through the range. Oddly enough, there was an "improved" version of that lens that came out in late 1969; the Zoom NIKKOR 4.5/80-200mm. It used 52mm filters and was a very popular lens with a production run until 1980. There was one with very limited production in 1961; the Auto NIKKOR Wide-Zoom 1:2.8 f=35-85mm. It is considered rare. The one most people think of as the first Nikon zoom lens was the Zoom-NIKKOR Auto 1:3.5 f=43mm-86mm. This lens first appeared on the Nikkorex-Zoom camera in 1962, but it was improved and fitted with a Nikon F bayonet mount when presented in 1963 for the Nikon F. It had an impressive production run up into the early 1980s. In 1966 Nikon came out with their 6x zoom, a Zoom NIKKOR 4.5/50-300mm; an impressive lens. Its production run ended in 1979, but it first came out in the Non-AI Nikon F mount.
For your described use, probably the Zoom-NIKKOR Auto 1:3.5 f=43-86mm lens is the closest candidate. It is commonly available from KEH in the $50 to $100 range. I have heard some reports that it is a classical early zoom lens, and the quality of the images produced often demonstrated the compromises in early zoom lens design when compared with those from single focal length or prime lenses.
Does that help?
Latte Land, Washington
43-86 sounds like what I was looking for. I've got a Series I 70-200 in good shape (vivatar?). The little zoom and my plain F with Tri-X sounds the RetroAnswer ;-)
Well,,, I'm the proud owner of a 43-86 zoom in awsome shape. As soon as I can talk myself into putting down my creampuff Rollicord I'll give it a shot or two.