Data sheet: Topcon UV 53 mm f/2

Pekka Buttler, 03/2024

Pictured: Topcon UV TOPCOR 53 mm f/2

Specifications

The table below summarizes the lens’ key specifications (measurements based on pictured, last version of the lens):

Brand:Tokyo Kogaku (Topcon)Lens nameUV TOPCOR 1:2 f=53mm
Focal length(s)153 mmAngle-of-view244,4 °
Maximum Aperturef/2In Production1963–1969
Lens mount (this lens)Topcon UVGenerationn/a
Length327,1 mmDiameter459,2 mm
Filter ring diameter49 mmWeight146 grams
Lens element count6Lens group count4
Aperture blades (S/R/C)55 SFocus throw160 °
Minimum focusing distance70 cmsMaximum magnification1: ≈11
Has manual aperture ringYESHas Manual focus ringYES

Further notes:

• This lens was the initial nifty fifty for the Topcon UV system when it was introduced in 1963. Together with the 35 mm f/3.5 and 100 mm f/4 this lens made up the initial trio of lenses for the Topcon Wink Mirror S.
• This specific sample came attached to a Topcon Uni camera which my grandmother bought in Japan in the mid 60s.
• As with all Topcon UV lenses, this lens lacks an aperture ring (aperture was controlled on the camera). This has some implications for adapting (see below)
• While the mere measurements of the lens would indicate that we’re talking about a pancake lens, this is somewhat misleading as – thanks to the design of the Topcon UV system – all key controls (aperture, shutter speed, film sensitivity) are part of the lens mount. Hence, when mounted on a Topcon UV body, those rings add 13 mm to the perceived ‘length’ of the lens.
• The filter threads do not rotate on focusing.

Versions and variations

The 53 mm f/2 Topcon UV lens is the nifty fifty for the Topcon UV system and was introduced together with Wink Mirror S camera in 1963. The 53 mm f/2 design was replaced in 1969 by the Topcon UV 50 mm f/2 lens (introduced together with the Topcon Unirex), which in turn was replaced in 1976 with the Topcon HI 50 mm f/1.8

During the 6 years this lens remained in production it was manufactured primarily in a silver-black color scheme (see image above), but there also seem to exist some (rather rare) copies that are all-black.

Further, the Topcon UV 53 mm f/2 lens can be found both with a serial number prefix 53 (rare) and with a serial number prefix 54 (common). Whether this difference merely indicates lenses manufactured for sale with the Wink Mirror S camera and lenses manufactured for sale with the Topcon Uni camera, or whether the change in serial number prefix indicates a change in the optical design I cannot say with any certainty.

History of Topcon

Unless you know your camera lore, you might not know that Topcon was once – between 1957 and 1976 – one of the foremost camera companies in the world.

You can read more details in the Topcon company profile.

Adapting

Adapting Topcon UV lenses is not especially easy, but this is not so much due to the lens mount. Technically the Topcon UV mount is very much like the DKL mount, and adapters for the DKL mount have existed for ages. Moreover, the Topcon UV mount offers a generous flange focal distance, making it relatively easy to manufacture adapters, even to SLR mounts.

The real reason why adapting Topcon UV lenses is relatively difficult is the simple weak availability of suitable adapters. It seems practically no-one bothered manufacturing adapters to allow the use of Topcon UV lenses on SLRs, and even with today’s most popular mirrorless mounts, you have to dig deep into aliexpress to find a metal adapter from Topcon UV to Sony FE/NEX (eBay has some 3D printed adapters).

(Remember that because Topcon UV lenses lack an aperture ring, that is a functionality that the adapter must supply.)

With these limitations in mind, below are (in the current state of affairs) the situation for adapting Topcon UV lenses.

This lens cannot be used natively on any current SLR or dSLRs. To use it in its native environment, you will need a Topcon UV (Wink Mirror S, Uni, Unirex/Unirex EE, IC-1 auto or new IC-1 auto) film body. While these were never produced in immense numbers, they seem to have stood the test of time reasonably well, and can still be found in a functioning condition.

While Topcon UV lenses are manual focus lenses, they lack an aperture ring. Hence, to adapt a Topcon UV lens to a mirrorless camera, you need an adapter that not only offers the correct mounting system and flange focal distance, but also allows you to control the Topcon UV lens’ aperture mechanism. As noted above, such adapters are available, but their availability is surprisingly weak. No special adapters (helicoid adapterstilt/shift adapters) are currently available.

Using Topcon UV mount lenses on an SLR/dSLRs could be an option (there are no physical reasons why the mount could not be adapted), and Topcon themselves used to offer an adapter allowing the mounting of Topcon UV lenses on Topcon RE cameras. However, it seems that there are currently no adapters available. Moreover, as the rearmost element of many Topcon UV lenses protrudes significantly beyond the flange, it is not inconceivable that some Topcon UV lenses would (assuming there was an adapter) risk colliding with the mirrors on some dSLRs.

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 (based on manufacturers’ specs) 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. ↩︎

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