5 frames with...

5 frames with a Nikon Nikkor HC 5cm f/2 ltm on a Sony A7RII – By Aivaras

December 15, 2018

I bought this lens for my Sony A7RII in search of my own “best” 50mm lens. For my digital camera I use two fifties, a Zeiss Loxia 50mm – when I need to have maximum image quality, and Lomography Jupiter 3+ lens when I’m in the mood to extract a dreamlike, more lo-fi style of picture from the mighty 7RII sensor. 

I wanted to make my life simpler and to have one lens for both tasks – first world problems, eh… Taking into account the sometimes0-arising need to get high quality pictures, and at he same time keep the ability to obtain this beautiful bokeh, I started to investigate what lens could work. I eventually narrowed my target to the Nikkor H-C 50mm f/2 lens ltm. You see, this lens posses a set of unique features:

  • It’s very compact
  • It’s made beautifully with quality feel
  • It’s sonnar type lens 
  • It’s quite sharp 
  • It’s aperture ring has click-stops 
  • There is a infinity lock pin that also serves as some kind of focusing tab
  • It can focus very close for rangefinder lens – down to 45cm!
  • There’s a click stop at 1 meter

I will now give you few remarks about my experiences using it. Firstly, I found there to be little sense comparing it deitectly to Loxia – with this modern lens, sharpness and many other objective measures are just in different league.

But, this lens can be easily compared to Lomo Jupiter 3+. To kick off, sharpness at the centre of both lenses at f/2 is exactly the same – others may get different results as there will be variations in copies, but this is what I found. The Nikkor is noticeably sharper across the frame though. When I use Jupiter 3+, I can obtain sharp focus only close to centre, but with Nikkor I can focus at the edge of the frame. The Nikkor doesn’t create such noticeable smearing at the edges either, when Jupiter does. The Nikkor draws more neutral, and Jupiter gives deeper colours.  Finally, the Nikkor has less contrast than Jupiter does, especially in the centre of frame. 

After using this lens more than a half of year, I ended up in getting back to shooting two lenses for different tasks. You see, the problem with Nikkor for me was that it appeared to be a little average for my tastes. While the overall image quality is more balanced, and I dare to say better then Jupiter,  overall I found myself preferring the more “surreal” look the Jupiter gives when compared to the more “interesting” look I get with Nikkor. That said, I do I miss close focus, feel and the click-stoped aperture of the Nikkor. Well you can’t have it all in one package…

All the best,


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  • Reply
    December 15, 2018 at 10:12 am

    I love that lens, but then I only use it on my M4 with film. Analogue lens for an analogue camera.

    I did some quite extensive visual (not chart) testing between this and my recently sold latest version (non APO) 50mm Summicron, itself a beautiful renderer. At the time I also had an MP240, so I had the “benefit” of digital recording, and in all instances, I preferred the M4/Nikkor combo… I have recently acquired a Leitz 50mm Summitar the 10 bladed version, and I am not so sure now which I prefer, still assessing.

    But that Nikkor is a fine lens, don’t get rid Aivaras!

    • Reply
      December 15, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Well its not the case of “getting rid off”; its beautifull lens, but its for sale from JCH hands… I know that I would use it rarely and I dont like to posses lenses only to gather dust.

  • Reply
    Dan Stevenson
    December 19, 2018 at 2:45 am

    I am continually confused why people decide to use old lenses designed for film (and not modern film emulsions either) on a digital camera and then find themselves disappointed. If you enjoy digital then use lenses designed for digital. If you enjoy using film then use lenses designed for the film you enjoy working with.

    The Nikkor HC 50/2 is an amazing lens on film, particularly slower, finer grained film emulsions. I don’t think I would be happy with it on any digital camera I can think of.

    However, different strokes and all that.

    • Reply
      December 19, 2018 at 4:47 am

      Thanks for comment. Thats a good point! I agree that what I actually do – I downgrade my tech. Wrote an article about that some time ago. Thats a matter of taste, or if one prefer – my silliness. 🙂 Thing to note – I’m not disappointed in Nikkor – talking about IQ – its better overall than the lens I decided to use for such tasks – Jupiter3+, its just that the set of my personal preferences are different…
      I believe that Nikkor is better on film, but I don’t own any of film cameras that could use it. I’m fighting impulses to get into RF world – that potentially could open very very deep hole of GAS 🙂

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