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Your thoughts on Nikkor 50/1.8 AI-S Japanese pancake version
Old 03-17-2018   #1
PunkFunkDunk
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Your thoughts on Nikkor 50/1.8 AI-S Japanese pancake version

Hi all

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.

Regards.
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Old 03-17-2018   #2
ptpdprinter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PunkFunkDunk View Post
Based on scans from my V600, it is hard to distinguish images between the two lenses.
Not surprising. The V600 only has an actual maximum resolution of 1560, and so will be the weakest link in the chain.
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Your thoughts on Nikkor 50/1.8 AI-S Japanese pancake version
Old 03-17-2018   #3
PunkFunkDunk
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Your thoughts on Nikkor 50/1.8 AI-S Japanese pancake version

Quote:
Originally Posted by ptpdprinter View Post
Not surprising. The V600 only has an actual maximum resolution of 1560, and so will be the weakest link in the chain.


Well, sure, but even with the V600 I can still see a difference in the way a lens renders, as in the scans between my CV 35/2.5 and Summicron ASPH, same goes for the difference between the Zeiss Planar and FD 50/1.4. The V600 is not so bad that one can not tell between high and lower quality glass, though of course with big limitations.
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Old 03-17-2018   #4
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I use this lens a lot. I shot with it today in fact.





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Old 03-17-2018   #5
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Curious - What's the difference supposed to be due to? Apart from closest focus specs are same and the AiS pancake version (not series E)?
TIA
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Old 03-17-2018   #6
Jamie Pillers
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I've had one of these for years. It's always produced super images. I use it adapted on a Fuji X-Pro1 these days. Great little lens.
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Old 03-17-2018   #7
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Quote:
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Curious - What's the difference supposed to be due to? Apart from closest focus specs are same and the AiS pancake version (not series E)?
TIA
I have never been able to really tell any difference between them. The E is less contrasty compared to the others. I think the New version is slighty thinner? Hard to screw up a 50/1.8.
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Old 03-17-2018   #8
kxl
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The Japan pancake also has a shorter focus throw than the 'new' pancake. I personally prefer the larger AIS long-nose version, which has the same focus throw and MFD as the Japan pancake version. My preference is entirely for ergonomic reasons -- the long nose just balances better in my hands. Wrt IQ, I can't really tell any difference in practical use.
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Old 03-18-2018   #9
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I have this version e series can't remember how much it cost but not much and have always been really impressed out of all the Nikon 50s I've tried the only one that has slightly disappointed is the 1.4D.
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Old 03-19-2018   #10
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I don't know if the formula is exactly the same or not, but I did own a 50/1.8 long-nose and found it to be one of the worst, most boring lenses I've ever used on B/W film. It seemed to render stark, flat, 2 dimensional images that lacked pleasing mid-tone gradation. I prefer the 50/1.4 and 50/2 over it any day (though ultimately I prefer an LTM 50 such as the Nikkor SC, Elmar or Summicron over any SLR lens for B/W). As the 50/1.8 is supposed to be a "perfect" lens, it would seem to lack the character which I find so important to good B/W images.

The only SLR lens I've come across that seems to bridge the "B/W gap" has been the Rollei QBM Planar HFT 50/1.8. I've yet to give a Leica-R Summicron a try, but that one is next on my list.
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