Nikonos Lenses on Nikon dSLR?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jay_hemdal, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. All,
    This summer, on a whim, I amassed a Nikonos system with a Nik V, IV, SB-105 strobe and four lenses. I soon decided that I cannot go back to film. Short of selling this gear off and potnetially taking a bath on it, I tried to find an adapter to let me use the Nikonos lenses on my D300. I've found adapters for Nikonos to other cameras, but not to the Nikon f mount. Any ideas?
  2. The flange distance (lens mount to film plane) on Nikonos viewfinder cameras is 28mm. The flange distance on all Nikon F-mount cameras is 46.5mm. This means that a Nikonos lens mounted via an adapter on an F-mount camera would be at least 18.5mm (probably a bit more) too far away from the film plane. The effect would be pretty much the same as putting an 18.5mm extension tube on a Nikonos camera. You would lose infinity focus, and in fact you probably wouldn't be able to focus very far away at all. Also, the best Nikonos lenses are designed for use underwater exclusively, so to use them with an F-mount camera, you'd need an underwater housing, at which point you may as well just use native F-mount lenses.
    I don't see why you should have to "take a bath" on the Nikonos equipment. You bought it used to begin with; try selling it at the same prices you paid. I doubt its value has dropped much since last summer.
  3. Craig,
    Thanks very much for the definitive answer! I was just trying to validate a reason to keep the gear. If I could use the Nikonos lenses, I could put a bag around the D300 and use it in the rain....
  4. The other thing is that the Nikonos lenses are computed for use underwater, and won't give the best quality when used in air. It might be possible to adapt the lenses to a 4/3rds camera though, if you're willing to get below-par quality on dry land.
  5. Actually, the 35mm and 80mm lenses can give decent results "in the air." My Nikonos with the 35mm F2.5 lens was useful for many years as a weatherproof camera. That lens supposedly shared the same optical design as the one for Nikon rangefinder cameras, as well the Nikon series E optic.
  6. Hello, Jay,
    I also decided to not go back to film (much, anyway).
    Even with the crop factor, I am going to attempt to use my Nikonos 15mm with a Sony NEX-3, and eventually an NEX 5n, as well.
    And, Thank you Craig... RE: the 28mm... flange distance for Nikonos lenses.
    Apparently, I needed to make adjustments, so that my old style 15mm will focus with my NEX-3. The rear lens segment is just too long! It goes way into the camera. (I know that the newer 15's are shorter, but I am determined to make this one work.)
    So, I took a soldering iron and melted away the outermost plastic (that has the electronic lens contacts on it) just where I need my lens to get closer to the shutter/ sensor. I think I am far enough in, now... for proper underwater focusing. Previously, the lens Did act as if on an extension tube.
    Your comment was very helpful... I will keep you all posted, here... (make a new post at some point).
    I am re-configuring an old Ikelite housing to accommodate my lenses... literally sawing the front off of an old Nikonos, as well... for the Nikonos mount. I found a good epoxy, that I have used on GoPro cams. Wish me luck!
    And, Jay, unless you want to also try your hand at 'making' your own housing, I would follow Craig's advice!

    And, thank you for the forum... First time posting, -Scott.
  7. I just ran across this article, giving the possibility of a window to future usefulness for Nikonos glass - (
    I'm wondering if anyone has heard word of an adapter to mount them on the Nikon 1 cameras?
  8. Hi Craig
    I am wondering where you got the Nikonos film plane flange distance of 28mm from. Measuring my Nikonos 4 & 5 with a set of electronic verniers produces a totally different dimension.
    From the front lens flange to the film plane, in this case the film pressure plate gives a dimension of 39.35mm Allowing for film thickness this would give a film plane distance of 39mm not 28mm.
    This is a significant difference when it comes to back focus and if a nikonos lens was set at a flange distance of 28mm everything would be out of focus according to lens focus settings, sure visual focusing on an LCD screen would overcome this, but you would get a significant loss in overall focusing range. If you tried to use macro tubes or a Nikonos Close Up kit, you would probably never get focus. 11mm difference is massive in optical distances.
  9. I, too, would love to see a way to adapt Nikonos lenses to my DSLR for underwater use but so far there's no real solution.

    I measured using a ruler the flange distance on my NikonosV and it was close to Hugh Scarlett's 39mm (above).

    To make a Nikonos lens compatible with a Nikon-F mount (46.5 mm; ref: wikipedia Flange Focal Distance) you would
    need a 7.5mm spacer adapter. I haven't found such an adapter. Even if i did, it would be useless on the NIkonos 15mm
    lens since it is meant to be in contact with water and does not work in open air. Maybe, someone knows the mm to add or
    subtract to compensate for density of water. Then the challenge is to fit the 15mm in a housing and still have access to
    the focus and aperture controls - this getting messy real fast.

    There is an existing adapter for the Nauticam underwater housing for the Nex5 (mentioned in this thread). That's great
    and exciting until you find out the crop factor is 1.5 (not sure of this - I thought I read higher), the amazing 15mm becomes
    an ordinary 20mm. Plus you have to go manual controls. Nope, not there just yet but it's encouraging that there is one
    adapter. Hopefully, one will become available for Nikon.
  10. The nikonos 15mm lens will never work behind a port, the lens optics are designed to work with the refractive indexes of water, the whole principal of using nikonos lenses is to them as wet lenses.

    Since all the nikonos lenses were designed for film, the image circle conforms to a 36 x 24mm image frame which matches the Nikon D700 and D3 and gives an image circle of 43.27mm, if used on a DSLR with a sensor having a smaller frame there will always be a crop factor. A super 35 sensor on cameras such as the Sony NEX range is 23.6 x 13.3mm with an image circle of 27.1mm
    Probably the ideal wet lens for adapting is the Sea & Sea 12mm which will provide a very wide image even considering the crop, also having access to the optics and framing of the close up kit and macro systems. With any adaption being able to have the option of going back to dry lenses and ports as well creates the ideal situation, one just can't change underwater, but that's the price of exceptional optics.

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