Leica Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.5 in Leica Mount, 1949

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
This is rare lens, about 300 made in Leica mount and maybe 500 made in Nikon S-Mount. This lens was replaced within a year by the Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.4. As per Pete Dechert's "Canon Rangefinder Camera"- the 5cm F1.5 was designed in 1937 for the Hansa Canon. It never made it into production before the war. I am guessing that Nikon needed a Super-Speed lens on the market while the F1.4 was being designed. It also may be possible that Nikon had a small supply of the glass used in the design, enough to do the small run.

David Duncan Douglas used a Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.5 for most of the pictures in his book "This is War".
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Raid

All-Pro
Dec 15, 2011
Thank you for this very interesting write-up on the elusive Nikkor Sonnar 5cm/1.5, Brian.
If you had to pick one lens, would it be the new 50/1.5 Zeiss or this Nikkor 50/1.5 and why?

Raid
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
I would pick the Nikkor because of it's history. Even if it was not as rare. Well made, beautiful heavy chrome over brass, as is the F1.4 version. "But" this lens was the first Super-Speed lens out of Japan. The Simlar 5cm F1.5 is close in age, and is an original/unique formulation of a double-Gauss (1-3-2-1). The Nikkor 5cm F1.5 is the lens that David Douglas Duncan used, and the rest is history.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
I have that lens, keep it on a Nikon F2Sb. It is probably the fastest lens in terms of transmission of light that Nikon ever made. It is 7 elements in 5 groups, the later 58/1.2 and 50/1.2 went to 7 elements in 6 groups. The 55/1.2 is also sharp across the center 2/3rds of the image- works well on a crop sensor. But, 55mm is too far from the Leica standard to easily adapt to RF coupled M-Mount. The 50/1.2 would be easier.
 

BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
Welcome to Leicaplace! I too searched for my lens for 20 years before getting one at a reasonable price, ie bought it instead of a 50/1.1 Sonnetar...

My opinion- this is the most important lens that a Nikon collector could own. I would not trade it for any other nor sell it for any amount.

I bought a copy of "This is War" by David Douglas Duncan, another Ebay find. I have a 1951 US Camera with many of the pictures published earlier than the book. My lens is from the 905 batch, #189- just a few under DDD's lens. It came on a Canon III. Canon did not yet have an F1.5 lens, I suspect the military officer that bought the Canon wanted the fastest lens that he could get. I cleaned up the Canon III, popped the top, cleaned the viewfinder of haze and put a 50mm F1.9 Serenar on it.

Nikkor 5cm F1.5 and 13.5cm F4 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

Nikkor 5cm F1.5 and 13.5cm F4 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

I added a 13.5cm F4 in Leica Mount to go with the 5cm F1.5.

The Marine Corp Museum in Quantico, Virginia has a tribute to DDD- a Marine in WW-II.

Marine Museum, Quantico by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

More pictures with the lens here:

Nikkor 5cm F1.5 in Leica Mount

I've compared this lens with the early 5cm F1.4 Nikkor-SC. Anyone saying the F1.5 lens is not as good is just trying to keep prices down!

I did a write-up on this lens, but the pictures were lost with a change in Forum software. I will upload the pictures and correct the links. This ls the lens that put the Japanese Optics industry on the map.

Also- I'm not sure how much it would be to mail a book to the UK, but "This is War" comes up at reasonable prices on Ebay. I just bought a 1st edition for $20, have the 1990 reprint. It is a book that should sit next to this lens.
 
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BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
It's interesting that the 8.5cm F2 Nikkor is the lens that got DDD's attention, and to ask for a tour of the factory. He bought the 5cm F1.5 and the 13.5cm F4. I also read somewhere he preferred the Leica 3.5cm F3.5 to the Nikkor 3.5cm F3.5. I ended up with an early 1949 batch 3.5cm F3.5 and 1949 batch 8.5cm F2, the latter bought from Robert Rotoloni. All of these lenses are very good, the 3.5cm F3.5 surprised me with how good it is. It is clear from these lenses that Nikon had superb quality control.

The 13.5cm F4 is sharp- every bit as good as the F3.5 lens. I picked up an early 13.5cm F3.5 as well.

I look forward to seeing your pictures posted, not many people actually use these lenses. They were made to be used, not just kept in a cabinet.
 
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Bar8barian

Rookie
Jan 23, 2016
"Sceptred Isle"
Hello Brian,
Due to illness I have not been active on the forum for a long time.
I have recently been reading up your very informative postings about this lens.
I also have a copy of this very rare lens. My lens comes from the second 907 batch and its serial number is 9076XX and it is in Leica thread mount like your lens. I understand that very few Leica thread mount lenses were made in this second ( final batch) most were in Nikon 'S' bayonet mount.
Fortunately it is also in superb condition for it's age.
I will try to post some photo's of my lens as soon as I can.
 
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BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
I am very happy to see you posting again, and hope the illness is behind you.

I'd very much like to see pictures of your Nikkor, and those taken with it.

I've read that David Douglas Duncan was provided with an early Nikkor-SC 5cm F1.4, but did not like it as much as the F1.5. Shooting with the 5cm F1.5, early 5cm F1.4, and late 5cm F1.4- I understand his opinion, and see that Nikon took the criticism to heart and recomputed the optics.

The Sonnar World has been active in the last few years. The Jupiter-3+, 7Artisans 50/1.1, and now the Skyllaney 50/2 have been introduced.
I've shot comparisons of the Nikkor 5cm F1.5, Nikkor 5cm F1.4 (early), with the Jupiter-3+ and Canon 50/1.5- hope you look at them.


 
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Bar8barian

Rookie
Jan 23, 2016
"Sceptred Isle"
My 5cm f1.5 Nikkor from the Second and last batch.
I believe the second batch where mostly Nikon S bayonet lenses and only a very few Leica thread examples.
Sorry that it took so long to provide photo's, but it was due to ill health.
Lens came fitted with a Black early Nikkor cap.
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BrianS

Legend
Jul 7, 2010
I'm sorry to hear about the health problems, that takes precedence over pictures of lenses.

No matter how rare and beautiful that lens might be! Like this one.
 

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