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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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