50 years of Nikon F-mount – Nikkor-S 5 cm f/2 vs. Nikkor AF 50 mm f/1.8D
The second part of our duels of the oldest and the youngest lenses, equipped with an F bayonet mount, will still revolve around 50 mm focal lengths so those, which are the equivalent of a classic, full frame standard. This time, though, it’s time for a confrontation between two low-cost lenses, slower than f/1.4. We will test a Nikkor-S 5 cm f/2.0 and a Nikkor AF 50 mm f/1.8D.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The Nikkor-S 5 cm f/2.0 is one of the oldest F system lenses. It’s official launch took place exactly the same day as the F mount launch - in March 1959, during the IPEX (International Photo Exhibition) fair in Chicago. A Nikon F, the first reflex camera from Nippon Kogaku, was presented there as well. Next to the Nikkor-S 5 cm f/2.0 lens other instruments were shown too - a wide-angle Nikkor 3.5 cm f/2.8 and two short telephoto lenses: a Nikkor-P 10.5 cm f/2.5 and a Nikkor-Q 13.5 cm f/3.5.
The lens was in production from June 1959 (during the IPEX fair two prototype models were presented, both manufactured in February 1959) to the end of 1964, when it was replaced by a Nikkor-H 5 cm f/2.0, an optically simpler lens. Serial numbers of the Nikkor-S 5 cm f/2.0 were in the 520115 - 584394 bracket but models, manufactured in that time, had several differences. The specimen from our test had the 540082 number, which means that it was produced near 1963. It was different from the very first models because it had a bit narrower, differently ribbed ring and a caption “LENS MADE IN JAPAN”. Its aperture had six diaphragm blades, not nine as some other models.
Its modern rival,- the Nikkor AF 50 MM F/1.8 – had its official premiere in 2002.The specimen from the test was bought as a part of our office equipment in 2007. Its serial number indicates that it was manufactured in 2006. As you see, the production dates of the lenses, being compared here, are over 40 years apart.
We would like to thank the Nikon Poland company and Marcin Górko for lending lenses to our tests.
Information about our review method can be read in our article “How do we test lenses?"