Data Sheet: Nikkor F 50 mm f/2 (Nippon Kogaku Nikkor-H)

Pekka Buttler, 08/2022

Specifications

The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications:

Brand:Nikon (Nippon Kogaku)Lens nameNIKKOR-H 1:2 f=50mm
Focal length(s)150 mmAngle-of-view246°
Maximum Aperturef/2In Production1967–1971
Lens mountNikon FSubfamily (if applicable)Pre-Ai (F-type)
Length338,5 mmDiameter464,5 mm
Filter ring diameter52 mmWeight203 grams
Lens element count6Lens group count4
Aperture blades (S/R/C)56 SFocus throw180 °
Minimum focusing distance60 cmsMaximum magnification1:9,7
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:
• Nikon introduced its first 50 mm f/1.8 in 1978 (almost 20 years after the introduction of the Nikon F). Until then, the 50 mm f/2 was Nikkor’s more pedestrian standard lens.
• There are several versions of the early (F-type) Nikon 50 mm f/2:
• 1st version (1959–63): “Nippon Kogaku”, focal length in centimetres (5 cm), aperture ring ribbed.
• 2nd version (1964–7): “Nippon Kogaku”, focal length in mm (50 mm), aperture ring ribbed.
• 3rd version (1967–71): “Nippon Kogaku”, focal length in mm (50 mm), aperture ring knurled. (Pictured)
• 4th version (1971–72): “Nikon”, focal length in mm (50 mm), aperture ring knurled.
• While this lens harkens back to the time before Nikon decided to have uneven numbers of aperture blades on all their lenses, the 50/2 continued having 6 blades until the end of manufacture.
• Nikon has offered Ai kits for all those 50/2’s that have had knurled aperture rings.
• On early Nikkor lenses, the letter following “Nikkor-” denotes the number of lens elements. In this case the H stands for ‘Hexa’ (six).
• Nikon offered two alternative dedicated lens hoods: the HN-5 and HS-2. Both are mounted on the filter threads.

History (when relevant)

Nikon is undoubtedly one of the great names in 35 mm SLR photography. The Nikon F mount has been in continuous production since 1959. During that time, the mount has developed/changed in some detail, however without ever fully sacrificing compatibility.

In short (a longer version is here), the development of Nikon’s SLR lenses can be traced as follows:
• 1959–1977: Pre-Ai. Manual focus lenses that use ‘rabbit ears’ to communicate selected aperture with the camera body. Pre-Ai lenses can further be subdivided into
• F-type (1959–early 1970s: metal focus ring and single-coated),
• C-type (early 1970s–mid 1970s: metal focus ring and multicoated), and
• K-type (mid 1970s to 1977: rubber focus ring and multicoated).
A significant share of remaining Pre-Ai lenses have since been converted to Ai-spec (Ai’d)
• 1977–1986: Ai and Ai-s. Manual focus lenses that may have ‘rabbit ears’ for backward compatibility, but are designed to communicate selected aperture with the camera body through indentations in base of aperture control ring.
• 1986–today: AF and AF-D. Autofocus lenses that do not have a focusing motor within the lens, but rely on the focus motor within the camera. All AF and AF-D lenses are simultaneously Ai-s lenses (they are Ai-s lenses extended with AF) 6
• 1996–today AF-S and AF-P. Autofocus lenses that have an internal focusing motor and do not rely on the body having a focusing motor.

Nikon offered a nifty fifty with an f/2 maximum aperture from the 1959 launch of the Nikon F system until 1979. During that time, relatively minor changes were done:
• 1959–1963 5 cm f/2 (7 elements in 5 groups, 6 or 9 blades, 0,6 m MFD, “Nippon Kogaku”) (F-type)
• 1964–1967 50 mm f/2 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 0,6 m MFD, “Nippon Kogaku”) (F-type)
• 1967–1972 50 mm f/2 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 0,6 m MFD, “Nippon Kogaku” and “Nikon) (F-type) (this lens)
• 1972–1974 50 mm f/2 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 0,6 m MFD) (C-type)
• 1974–1977 50 mm f/2 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (K-type) [data sheet]
• 1977–1979 50 mm f/2 (6 elements in 4 groups, 6 blades, 0,45 m MFD) (Ai)

Adapting

There are good chances this lens can still be used natively:
• If the lens has been AI’d, this lens can be used natively on all current high-end Nikon dSLRs and several earlier medium-to-high-end older Nikon dSLRs7 as well as all post-1977 Nikon Film cameras.
• If it is in its original Pre-Ai form, it can be used natively on the Nikon Df and on all Nikon F-mount film cameras produced before 1977.

Thanks to being a fully manual lens (manual aperture, manual focus), the lens can be adapted to all mirrorless cameras using a suitable dumb adapter (and such adapters are easy to find). Moreover, a large range of special adapters (helicoid adapters, tilt/shift adapters, speed boosters) for using Nikon F lenses on most mirrorless systems are available.

Using Nikon F lenses on non-Nikon SLRs and dSLRs is likewise a distinct possibility. Thanks to the relatively generous flange focal distance of the Nikon F mount (46,5 mm), adapter rings for all dSLR mounts are available as well as for a goodly portion of film-era SLR mounts. Such rings may not allow for auto aperture, but even then the lenses can be used in stop-down metering mode.

Footnotes

1 Focal length is (unless stated otherwise) given in absolute terms, and not in Full-frame equivalent. For an understanding of whether the lens is wide/tele, see ‘Angle-of-view’.

2 Picture angle is given in degrees and concerns the diagonal picture angle. Rule of thumb:
> 90 ° ==> Ultra-wide-angle
70–90 ° ==> Wide-angle
50–70 ° ==> Moderate wide-angle
40–50 ° ==> ‘Standard’ or ‘normal’ lens
20–40 ° ==> Short tele lens
10-20 ° ==> Tele lens
5-10 ° ==> Long tele lens
< 5 ° ==> Ultra-tele lens

3 Length is given from the mount flange to the front of lens at infinity.

4 Diameter excludes protrusions such as rabbit ears or stop-down levers.

5 S=straight; R=rounded; C=(almost)circular at all apertures.

6 There is a further sub-class of AF-D lenses called AF-I lenses that are otherwise AF-D lenses (meaning, fully Ai-s compatible), but have an internal focus motor. Only long tele lenses were made in AF-I variants.

7 As of this writing, the following Nikon dSLRs fully support Aperture priority and manual metered modes on Nikkor Ai lenses: D2, D3, D4, D5, D6, D200, D300, D300s, D500, D600, D610, D700, D750, D780, D800, D800E, D810, D850, D7000, D7100, D7200

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