Komura 35mm f/2.8 in Nikon S mount – a Hidden Gem.

By Andrew

I have used film cameras for almost a decade, and I have found some interesting things over the years. Among the box of things I have kept is a very interesting lens with a somewhat mysterious origin. The Lens in question is a Komura 35mm f2.8 made in Nikon S mount, and it has become one of my favorites. While Komura 35mm lenses are not all that rare the f/2.8 version is less common and models in Nikon S mount are pretty rare. Sankyo Koki, the company behind the Komura brand is rather mysterious, with respectable selections of lenses made in almost every imaginable mount floating around.  The company its self seems to have disappeared around 1985, but luckily their lenses have stood the test of time.

Komura 35mm f/2.8 colour test shot an over grown building

I have been a big fan of the Nikon line of Rangefinders for years, but one of their down sides is that there are not many 3rd party lens options and most are very rare so I jumped on this lens when I saw it listed online with its original external finder. And I unlike many internet based impulse purchases I have not come to regret this one.

Now to the good part the lens itself! The lens has a nice quality to it, both in build and image rendering aesthetics.  If I had to sum it up in one word I suppose “vintage” would be the opportune word, but luckily I don’t have such a limit on what I can say about this lens. It has a nice depth of field when wide open especially if you get close. There is very little vignetting wide open, there is some vignetting when the lens is closed down, rather counter intuitive compared to most older lenses I have used, but still not the worst I have seen. The lens generally does not flare, but when it does it is one heck of a show with a pretty dramatic ‘Aurora’ style of flare. I am not a big fan of this flare, but I have only seen it on a couple of frames shot

Komura 35mm f/2.8 colour test shot with flare

As for color rendering, Black and white film looks great when shot in concert with this lens, with a nice contrast.  Color looks ok but is not especially accurate with exaggerated hues in most instances.  On a side note the samples were shot on long expired Kodak gold 400 I ran through the camera at 160 speed.  I think they look pretty good considering the film was less than an ideal vintage, but fresher films are likely to reveal different results.  Not necessarily better, but different.

A black and white portrait of a woman - Komura 35mm f/2.8 colour test shot Black and White powerlines.

One point of frustration I face when using the Komura is its aperture ring is reversed compared to the Nikon lenses I use on the same cameras and often side by side with the Komura.  Not a big deal if it is your only lens but if you already have some Nikon lenses like me and are used to the aperture running right-to-left  it can be irritating when you find yourself turning the aperture in the wrong direction.

A black and white image of a tractor - Komura 35mm f/2.8 colour test shot A black and white image of a tank under a tree.

I often shoot this odd ball lens on my Nikon S3 (pictured at the top of the post), a rather worn camera that I decided to reskin with actual snake skin. While I think the two make a great pair of off beat film kit, I recognize I  probably stand alone in my aesthetic admiration for the camera, but I personally like it and would not change anything about it. The two are a nice combo since the S3 has 35mm frame lines on the viewfinder, meaning the two can be paired without the need of an external finder or goggles. This means the matching Komura finder does not get much use, but it leaves the shoe mount open for a light meter – a small but nice bonus for a camera of this age.

A worn old building

My final thoughts on this lens are many, but in short I like it.  It looks nice when rendered on black and white film, and that is 90% of what I shoot.  The flare can be unappealing, but I have rarely encountered it and it appears greatly subdued on black and white film (I don’t know why). its depth of field is some what subdued compared to many higher end lenses, but it gets the job done and is more pronounced than on many Nikon produced rangefinder lenses I have compared it to. It’s not and easy lens to find, but I suspect it is not a lens every Nikon SP owner will be clamoring to get their hands on. If you have one of the classic Nikon rangefinders and want a solid 35mm lens this is one of a pretty limited pool of options, and it has enough character it brings something unique to the lineup that is very different from the native Nikon lenses.

a gazebo on a hill top with a path leading up to it. a tree in bloom in hte desert

See what else I have been up to on my blog or learn more about Nikon rangefinders and odd lenses on my YouTube channel.

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About The Author

By Andrew
I have been a photographer for a while shooting both digital and film. I travel a lot and love to photograph new places. I am a big fan of home development and classic Nikon cameras.
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Comments

Scott on Komura 35mm f/2.8 in Nikon S mount – a Hidden Gem.

Comment posted: 19/08/2023

I actually own one of these. In ancient times, when there were still " camera stores" I found one in the "Junk box" at my local store with the LTM screw mount. I believe they priced it at $20. At that price, I figured "Why not?", and bought it. It has become my favorite 35mm lens, better even than my (Much more expensive) Summicron. I don't have the "Art History" major language to describe the images I get from this 60-year-old lens, but I like them better. (I may sell the $1,200 Summicron). The images are not as "sharp" as the Summicron, but they have a kind of soft presence that the Summicron lacks. Moral of the story: if you find an ancient, cheap, lens in 35 or 50mm length, that fits your Leica, give it a try. Worst thing that can happen is, you buy it for $20, sell it for $25.
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Justin on Komura 35mm f/2.8 in Nikon S mount – a Hidden Gem.

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

I follow your youtube videos and always enjoy your straight-forward commentary. I was on the lookout for the same lens, but then I couldn't resist a mint 35mm 2.5 Nikkor when it popped up for sale. One plus for the Komura lens is that the aperture ring is more conventionally placed I believe, unlike the Nikon one, which is inset. I have gotten used to it on the latter though. I love the snakeskin. Did you cut and apply it yourself or buy it pre-cut? If so, where?
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Andrew replied:

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

Glad you like my YouTube videos! Hope you can pick up one of these lenses for yourself one day as it is a favorite of mine. As for the Snake skin I cut if my self and used a common adhesive to stick it on the camera.

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John F. on Komura 35mm f/2.8 in Nikon S mount – a Hidden Gem.

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

That's a really cool camera/lens combo. Have you tried a Jupiter 12 or Nikon 3.5/2.5? I'd be interested to see a comparison of you're up to it. Cheers!
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Andrew replied:

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

I haven had many Soviet lenses, but I would like to try some out if I can get my hands on them. I do have some of the Nikon made 35mm lenses in RF mount but have yet to put together a large scale comparison.

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Mark Ellerby on Komura 35mm f/2.8 in Nikon S mount – a Hidden Gem.

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

I like the look of the pictures with this lens. Vintage looking but clear with warm colours. The vintage look suits the portrait of the girl well. The camera itself looks delightfully old and battered. Love the actual snake skin!
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Andrew replied:

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

It is sort of my 'daily carry camera' not beautiful or valuable but well worn and a work horse of sorts. It say a lot of use before I ever picked, belonging to a journalist for decades, and I have continued the tradition.

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Aad Boer on Komura 35mm f/2.8 in Nikon S mount – a Hidden Gem.

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

Nice results, must be a pleasure to use the lens. Congrats with this find!
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Andrew replied:

Comment posted: 18/08/2023

It is an imperfect lens, but I really enjoy the images it produces and I think that is the best result you can get from a lens.

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