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Nikkor 55mm f1.2 Comments?

John Liu , Aug 18, 2005; 12:00 a.m.

I just bought a Nikkor 55mm f1.2 in pretty decent condition. I feel a little silly, since it's only 1/2 stop faster than the Ai'd 50mm f1.4s that are practically free. Does anyone else have this lens? Do you find it useful, or something that should be used to help fund a different lens?

Responses

Jim Hudspeth , Aug 18, 2005; 04:52 a.m.

Hi John, I got one. Mine's a Nikkor-s serial 191893 and has the AI ring on it. I have used it a lot on my F3 but only once on my D2hs. The lens is OK but not near as good as my 35 1.4. But in all fairness i have not really rung it out on the new body.

Brian Caldwell , Aug 18, 2005; 08:00 a.m.

The 55/1.2 definitely has a different look than the 50/1.2 or 58/1.2 Noct, and for certain images that look might be preferable. Wide-open the contrast is low, but corner resolution is higher than the Noct since it has a flatter field. This latter characteristic makes it a better general purpose lens than the Noct IMO, since it will give sharper images at f/8.

Just use the lens. If you like it, then keep it. I've never been tempted to sell mine.

Michael Bradtke , Aug 18, 2005; 08:39 a.m.

Hi John

I have one and like it very much. I have a bunch of lenses in that range and use them all for different purposes.

The only problem I have had with my 55 1.2 is that it will flair easily. But put a lens shade on it and that problem goes away.

I use it mostly on my D2h but I also use it on my F3?s and on my F. Shoot it and have fun.

Michael

Albert Smith , Aug 18, 2005; 08:46 a.m.

I had one some years back. It had pristine glass and was mechanically perfect, and when I saw it at a camera swap meet, I had to to have it. That large front element and that f/1.2 on the ring had me envisioning some great low-light potential. I took two FE2 bodies and mounted my 1970s 50mm f/1.4 AI lens on one and the 55mm f/1.2 on the other. I used the FE2s on aperture priority since the step-less shutter would allow the fraction of a stop to be compensated for, and I shot a roll of slide film in each camera with each lens set for the maximum aperture. Every subject was the same, and I could lay the matching slides side-by-side on my light table and with a loupe, compare the results.

There was no contest. The 50mm f/1.4 had so much more contrast and edge to edge sharpness than the 55mm f/1.2. It really was a big surprise considering how much less the f/1.4 lens had cost me new than the f/1.2 lens did used. In the end, my "grass is greener" experiment ended and I learned to be happy with f/1.4. The 55mm f/1.2 made its way back to the next swap meet.

FWIW... there was someone here a while back that used one on his digital camera with good success. On my film cameras, the weakest points (for me) were the soft corners and the low contrast. Digital can make those two problems less of an issue because the lens' weak image edges are well outside of the capture area of the sensor, and the contrast can be tweaked after the shooting via software.

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