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September 2, 2009 @ 9:46 pm

1000mm Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor Reflex Mirror Lens

The 1000mm Nikkor reflex mirror lens, was at one time perhaps the most affordable exotic super telephoto available in the Nikon Manual Focus lineup. Designed to capture a very narrow 2˚30′ field of view over a full frame of 35mm film, it captures an incredible 1˚53′ (1500 mm equivalent on a Nikon SLR digital camera). Add a well matched Nikon TC-301 2x teleconverter to this lens and it it captures the astounding equivalent of a 0˚57′ field of view. That’s enough to identify people from 6.5 Km (4 miles) away. To put this into perspective: 

  • At 1000mm the magnification of the subject is 20x that a regular 50mm full frame lens. 
  • At 1500mm the magnification is 30x.
  • At 3000mm the magnification is 60x.

Of course, this kind of ultra telephoto photography can be so extreme that it requires extra consideration above and beyond good long lens technique. When shooting subject at such great distances, the air — along with any moisture, temperature variance, dust, and contaminants — acts as a natural aberration which is exaggerated at such extreme. As with all other super telephotos, thermal variance — or heat waves — will distort perspectives. What additional precautions are needed to handle these lenses at infinity? For greatest clarity:

  • Use only an extra sturdy tripod and head to secure the lens. Tighten all levers and clamps.
  • If possible, use another tripod or secondary support for the camera in addition to the lens mount.
  • Shoot from an ultra secure base or platform. If shooting from a balcony or building be weary of vibrations from shifting weight on your feet or local traffic.
  • Place a light reflective cloth (white) over the top of your lens to prevent disproportionate heating of your reflex lens.
  • Mornings and evenings, when the suns angle of incidence is naturally low, are best times to reduce light scatter from dust and particles.
  • Shooting after a cold front moves through results in the least amount of thermal distortion. It also clears the air of particulates.
  • Apertures of ƒ11 — or even ƒ22 when using a teleconverter — will require shutter speeds that are prone to detecting subject movement. If shooting moving subjects, compensate by timing the apex of a subjects turn, or shooting subjects that are moving directly toward you or away from you.
  • Use a viewfinder magnifier — such as  the current model Nikon right angle finder with 2x magnifier. This is mandatory for any critical focus at smaller apertures. Be weary of some third party magnifiers for they can underperform in the corners and require you to refocus the magnifier between 1x and 2x magnification. The consequence of using a budget magnifier is that you may need to re-calibrate your manual focus lens.
  • Use the manual focus handles that came with this lens, or build a substitute. They are absolutely necessary for achieving the best critical focus of your Nikon manual focus reflex lens.
  • Most of all, practice patience. Ultra telephoto photography cannot be practiced without it. Meditate, get control. There are bound to be any number of variables at one time which may compromise your efforts. It goes along with the territory. The rewards will only go to those who can master this technique.

For close ups, this is a great lens to take to the zoo. It cuts through most chain link fences — like a warm knife through butter — and brings you closer than you dare to possibly come under any other circumstance. There are many applications for this lens, such as infra-red photography on a Nikon SLR digital camera, astro-photography, wild animal portraiture, environmental monitoring, and security to name but a few. This lens, while scarcer than the more common 500mm Nikkor reflex, is still possible to find second hand. The Newshound recently acquired a specimen and had Nikon clean, lube, and restore it to it’s original specs.

Note: not all mirror reflex lenses were built to the same standards, and some take short cuts that negate the quality and performance of the Nikkor reflex design. Reflex lenses are also vulnerable to rapid fluctuations in temperature, or careless handling. Good long lens technique should always be applied. When purchasing a second hand specimen, buy from a reputable dealer that allows you to test the lens and return it if you are displeased with the results. Caveat emptor.

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August 23, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

Nikon News Revisited — The Day Nikon Prophesied the End of FIlm

For film enthusiasts, it could hardly have been any darker or colder that eleventh day of January … 2006. Word began to spread like wildfire in photo forums around the globe. What started with a low murmuring whisper rapidly escalated into a raging, unstoppable whirlwind of fire. Far and wide — people came together to discuss the news and comfort each other as if it were the day Don McLean sang to us about when he narrated his epic American Pie. It was the day that Nikon USA issued a routine press release with the deceptively bland title of: “Reshaping Nikon’s Film Camera Assortment”. It was a day for Trojan horses. It was a day that would reshape photography forever — and it was a day which read in part as follows:

With film cameras accounting for an ever smaller percentage of Nikon’s total sales volume, the company has decided to concentrate its vast resources toward those business categories that continue to demonstrate the strongest growth. Consequently, as Nikon focuses more on the digital camera business, the company must adopt appropriate measures to ensure its continued success. With that, the Nikon film camera lineup will be reshaped, allowing more of Nikon’s planning, engineering and manufacturing resources to be focused on the digital products that now drive our thriving industry. The measures that Nikon will adopt include discontinuing production of all large format Nikkor lenses and enlarging lenses, as well as several of our film camera bodies, manual focus Nikkor interchangeable lenses and related accessories. Sales of these products will cease as supplies are depleted.


Film advocates and Nikon manual focus enthusiasts everywhere — had postponed into the distant future a day which digital photography would sweep them aside — but today the big shoe dropped. It was a moment of historical proportions that would tip the course of the future. It was the day that 35mm would die. It wouldn’t be long now before the great yellow grandfather would take our Kodachrome away. Old school masters were stunned — perhaps more like blind sighted. Nikon’s revelation was discussed in the same somber tones as if our favorite celebrity had just passed away. It didn’t matter if it were James Dean, Elvis Presley, or Michael Jackson. If you were from any other generation but the present — each of us felt just a bit of the same.

… Nikon will continue to produce the manual focus 85mm f/2.8D PC Micro-Nikkor(R).


Only a single specialized tilt-shift lens for commercial product photography had won a temporary reprieve. This lens had proven itself extremely popular as a macro lens, and was the only modern tilt-shift still left in Nikons line up.

With the interests of its customers in mind, Nikon will offer continued post-sale service for products whose production has ceased for a period of 10 (ten) years from Nikon Inc.’s last date of sale.


Ten years? In just ten years all official memories of legacy Nikon Ais, Ai, the Nikon mirror lens, and most Nikon manual focus product would be but distant memories? Scrubbed from Nikon’s list of replacement parts? Nikon had broken the last barrier. A new era was about to start, and we had to jump onto this new train or be left behind. It was the old timers I felt sorry for the most. The ones that had taken that Photoshop course six times — only to quit in frustration at exactly the same place each time. The ones who knew how to work the knobs on their cameras, and roll there own reel of black and white. The same ones with dark developer stains on their fingers, and fixer splash onto their shirt. The ones that came out pie eyed after six hours in the darkroom to proudly show their latest one-of-a-kind production. The big dogs – they were in for the worst. Many would just fade away. There was no place left for them but on the forums, where they could reminisce and wax gloriously to younger audiences about the days when they could practice their lore. Old soldiers, whom if you still look hard today, are but on the cusp of fading away. Vivere disce, cogita mori … or … learn to live but remember death. If the subject of Nikon News, views and tips piques your interest, be sure to come back and visit the Nikon News Hound from time to time. Or bookmark our RSS feed. We’re not a rumor site, but we hope to add valuable, intelligible comment and analysis to new and old Nikon technologies and how they might apply to photographers today.

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