Your thoughts on Nikkor 50/1.8 AI-S Japanese pancake version
I recently bought one of these lenses from a Japanese seller on eBay as I desired a compact set up for traveling. Having read the thoughts of Ren Kockwell, who heralds it at Nikons best manual focus 50mm lens of all time, I believed him (for once) and shelled out for a copy.
To clarify, this is the version that was produced between 1980-82 for the Japanese market only. It can be identified by the fact that it has MFD of 0.45m (all other 50 pancakes are 0.6m), serial number starts with a 2 (not 3 or 4), and is full metal construction for the barrel. It is not the regular AI-S version (plastic barrel, MFD 0.6m), nor the Series E, nor the so-called long nose 50/1.8.
It arrived and I have run a few rolls of colour and B&W using it. It really is remarkable. Comparison shots against my Zeiss 50/1.4 Planar ZF.2 show that the Planar is a wee bit better in microcontrast and colour rendition, but not by much. Based on scans from my V600, it is hard to distinguish images between the two lenses. I have yet to wet print B&W from the negs, however.
My point being that I am blown away by the quality of the so-called Japanese pancake. The Zeiss by comparison seems like a beast of a lens now and I can not imagine taking it on a trip over the pancake. So enamoured am I that I scoured eBay for another copy but could not find one. So, for the first time, I have used the Buyee/Yahoo site which allows non-Japan based buyers to purchase items from Japan that otherwise are not always listed on eBay. They currently have about a dozen copies of this pancake available and I purchased a minty one for under US$100, less than the first copy I bought.
Having never used any other Nikon 50mm lens, I am interested in any thoughts or opinions RFF users may have on this lens from first hand experience.