Author Topic: Lens "porn" with the Df: 35 mm f/3.5 PC-Nikkor (pre-AI)  (Read 3038 times)

Bjørn Rørslett

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[ Posted 09 January 2014 - 19:05 Reposted and edited by agreement ]

During the first decade after the Nikon F appeared, Nikon released a number of exciting optical designs. Amongst these innovations, the PC-Nikkor  35 mm f/3.5 stands out. It was the first shift optic for the 35 mm format and an optical milestone in its days. Later the faster f/2.8 model followed suit and in due time, a wider 28 mm f/4 appeared on the scene to be the harbinger of an extensive series of shift- and later also tilt-enabled optics. So let us take a look at the forerunner of these specialist lenses.

The first version of the 35/3.5 is not common and can be hard to locate in a decent shape today. I searched several years to find a good sample of it. Its rear flange extends beyond the mounting surface of the bayonet itself and this prevents the lens from mounting on modern cameras. However, the overhang is no obstacle if you have the inclination to improve this and holds a Dremel in your hand :D. If collecting such old lenses is your interest, you might cringe at conducting such heresy, but I'm only looking at this and other oldies as tools.

Adding a CPU completes the transition of this old-timer into a useful tool for photography in the modern times. As the lens lacks an aperture linkage it has to be set up as a pure "G" lens and you employ the preset aperture ring to switch from metering position (at  wide open ) to the taking aperture. The CPU adds improved metering response as you meter wide open, not at shooting aperture, by the way. Just determine what aperture you require, f/11 say, and set the preset click to f/11 and read out the meter setting for the same aperture, then flick the preset ring in order to shoot. This process occurs much faster than reading the instructions how to do it and exposures are spot on. Obviously the camera itself has to operate in "M" mode, but for the Df that is considered the default mode anyway so brings no added concerns.

Sharpness and bokeh of this old lens both are good to excellent. Its only practical drawback is the lack of a lockable shift control. So extracting the most out of this old-timer requires nimble fingers but is a technique to become easier with practice.

Evidenced in the picture above is my use, again, of a "longer" than recommended lens hood. The hood depicted is the HN-3 (old type with engraved lens data) whilst Nikon suggests HN-2. The HN-3 works well if no filter is attached to the lens, and you avoid the most extreme shifitng.