The Red Moon and the 12 Bladed Sun

I have come to terms with myself and the equipment that I will be using. At least for the time being. I have named this period the Sonnar Summer. It begun with the arrival of the Nikkor 50mm 1,4 in ltm mount. I acquired this lens after a long journey with the different 50mm I have used. The quest for the perfect 50mm lens is a long one and it may never end, there are too many options considering the different factors involved such as speed, manufacturer, size, coating, age, construction, etc. In the end I believe that the most important factor is the lens construction, since this will be the one that will provide the overall rendering of the lens. It is true that not all Double Gauss, Tessar, Sonnars, Biogons will provide the same image than their other similar counterparts, moreover even among these constructions are many derivations, however you may have an overall idea of the image it will generate.

I have tried many of these constructions, the Double Gauss Planar and its derivative Summicron, Color Skopar f2.5, and Nokton f1.5 and the triplet Heliar f2, all of them great performers but that have been passed on due to low speed (Color Skopar), big size and finder blockage (Nokton 50 1.5), coating blemishes (Summicron), or a moment of doubt (I wish I still had the Heliar).

But I still haven’t  found what I am looking for, until I finally found the Rollei Sonnar 40mm 2,8. I love this lens and the images it produce, this lead me to learn more about the Sonnar design and fell for it. You may read my short investigation of the Sonnar Design Here.

With that in mind I decided to sell my 50mm at the time – the sharp ZM Planar f2 – for something faster and able to produce images with a vintage 35mm film feeling (although a stellar performer, the Planar renders images that seems too digital to me), thus I acquired the Nikkor 50mm 1,4 in Leica Thread Mount. I chose Nikon because back in the day they were really committed with the Sonnar design and manufactured lenses in 50mm, 85mm, 105mm and 135mm with such lens construction.

Enter Nikkor 50mm 1,4

I sent the lens to Youxin Ye to have it CLA’d he removed the oil from the blades and cleaned the optics to the best. The lens has some cleaning marks on the front element and some separation in some inner element that it is visible when you open the lens up to f1,4 but it hasn’t affected the photos at all.

Dante Stella provides a shot description of the lens that is very useful, you may read it here.

The lens is based on the Zeiss Sonnar 50mm 1,5. It consist of seven elements in three groups, with a single positive lens in the first group, a cemented triplet in the second group formed by a positive lens in the second element a low-refractive-index lens in the third element and a negative lens in the fourth element, plus another cemented triplet in the third group consisting of two negative lenses and one positive lens in between.

Specifications: Nikkor 50mm f/1,4

Filter Size: 43mm
f/Stop Range: Full stops from 1,4 to 16 with a phantom stop for f/22
Minimum Focus Distance: Range finder coupling ends at 1 meter and continues up to 46cm
Angle of View: 46.8°
Elements/Groups: 7/3
Length: 41mm
Barrel is made of brass with a chrome finishing.
The diaphragm consist of 12 blades which provide an almost perfect circle at every aperture
This lens is optimized for wide open shots at close distances, it generates dreamy images with a creamy bokeh.

This lens will joint the Rollei Sonnar 40mm 2,8 which is on its way back from DAG after being CLA’d and the “legendary” Nikkor 105mm 2,5 that has just been sourced from Bellamy all the way from Japan. Thus I have the set of Sonnar lenses that will cover the semi wide angel 40mm, the standard 50mm and the short telephoto 105mm.

Join me in the next post with the pictures from the first film roll with the Nikkor.

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