Author Topic: Nikkor-O 55mm f1.2 CRT High Resolution Lens  (Read 85 times)

Michael Erlewine

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Nikkor-O 55mm f1.2 CRT High Resolution Lens
« on: December 27, 2021, 18:12:15 »
Nikkor-O 55mm f1.2 CRT High Resolution Lens

$1300 plus shipping. Contact:

Comes with Nikon F-Mount, front and back caps, and is the later version, said to have better coatings.

Also comes with K-5 Hood, which fits this lens.

Couple photos taken with this lens.

This is a remarkable lens and I’m going to remark on it for a bit. The CRT or Oscilloscope Nikkor first appeared in the mid-1960s as an industrial lens designed for photographing oscilloscope displays and cathode-ray tubes, thus the nickname (‘CRT’ Nikkor). It was designed with a fixed focus and has no helicoid or focusing ring. It is very fast, with an aperture of f/1.2 wide-open.

The maximum sharpness is said to be f/4. The lens is not designed to be mounted on a standard Nikon DSLR, but rather uses the Leica M39 thread mount. The M39-to-Nikon F-mount adapters can be readily found on Ebay. Many people prefer to use an M39-to-T2, and then a T2-to-Nikon-F-mount adapter to mount the lens on a DSLR.

This works well for images and close-up work less than 1:1. For macro work above 1:1, use a 52mm reversing ring, but the 52mm thread is non-standard. There are two versions, with the only difference being that the second version is marked (red engraving) “M=1/5.” As mentioned, there is no focusing ring, but there is an aperture ring with 12 blades. The scalloped aperture ring has stops: 1.2, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, 5.6, 8, and 11, all measured at infinity.  I use this lens on a focus rail.

The lens components were designed for handling particular phosphorus colors, I am told. The CRT Nikkor can be used either on a DSLR and focus rail or attached to a bellows.

 As mentioned, this is a specialized lens, with all kinds of idiosyncrasies, but the results cand be extraordinary. The contrast is average, and there is definitely lateral chromatic aberration a-plenty, and even some amount of longitudinal chromatic aberration. That’s part of the unique style of this lens.  Since I usually only use APO lenses, why have one?

I love this lens because it forces me out-of-the-box despite myself. It is like a lens on an acid trip. The lens is very, very sharp when used correctly. As for myself, I tend to use it fairly wide open to record razor-thin depth-of-field, and I stack that depth of field (with many layers) to put the part of the image I want accented in high focus. Then, I let the rest of the image go wild with flare and bokeh. I happen to like that effec.

Perhaps the reason I like it is that it combines that part in me that wants to be exact, even scientific, with another part of me that has glimpses that this life we live is very ephemeral, like a dream we are having. So, the flaring, surprise colors and crazy bokeh represent the dreamer (and meditator) in me – something like that. Call it the Zen in me.

In summary, with the CRT Nikkor, wide open (and fast), I can layer just the tip-of-the-top of some object, pushing that into focus. Then I contrast this with the rest of the image with is all bokeh -- out of focus.

And there are two variants and I have had both, with the newer version having (engraved in RED) “M=1/5.” That is the one I am selling there. Some say that the later version has a different coating and some say a “better” coating, but I don’t really see much difference. As for using the lens, I almost always use it wide open in order to get the wild bokeh it is famous for.

Lens: Nikkor “O” 55mm, f/1.2 CRT Oscilloscope
Focal Length: 55mm
Widest Aperture: f/1.2
Narrowest Aperture: f/11
Aperture Blades: 12
Filter Size: Hood:
Close Focus Distance: 417.1mm
Overall working distance
Reproduction Ratio: 1/5x
Weight: 385g Color: Rear Mount: M39

Resolution: 250 lines/mm
Image Area: 24x36
Standard wavelength: 400 - 650 milli-micron Founder, (articles), (video tutorials), All-Music Guide, All-Movie Guide, Classic, Matrix Software,,