I don’t write much about gear, absent intermittent posts on a few websites. And this isn’t a missive about image quality. I am a bit of a history buff when it comes to gear and for that reason this lens interested me. I purchased this copy of the classic Nikkor 105mm F 2.5 AIs lens on ebay. It is supposedly the lens used to make the famous National Geographic image of the Afghan Girl with the sterling blue eyes. Little did I know, the lens would have an impact on my own eyes.
From what I understand, the lens is a “double gauss” design. I have a vintage double gauss Exacta lens, the 58mm Biotar F2. I have only used it once with bad results. I don’t know if the failure was from the lens or the quizzical Exacta, a camera I despise even though it looks pretty.
I shlepped around the web trying to learn what the term “double gauss” means and got bored. Some people really get off on lens design. I suspect lots of the scientiphicphotographers have lots of nice lenses and don’t use them.
I did not want to pay a premium price for this lens, so I bought a cheap one on Flea Bay. The price on the 105 has a wide range there. The adage of getting what one pays for is true. The lens arrived today in a small box. I opened the box (admittedly excited) and the lens was covered (not wrapped) with a single layer of bubble wrap with no tape securing it. Hence, this Nikorrian legend shake-baked its way all the way from Japan. A shattered UV filter with shards of glass graced the front element. I shook off the broken glass and unscrewed the filter ring and gently cleaned the element with a fine brush after blowing on the lens to remove glass particles. One of the glass particles ended up in my eye. At least it was not a corona virus. That would suck even more.
I took the lens home and used a blower (no huff n’ puff this time) to remove the bulk of the glass (not in the direction of my already glassed eye) from the front element, and gave it a shake to get out other pieces lurking in the retractable lens hood. The shake emitted a rattlesnake sound.
After cleaning the grime from the barrel and elsewhere, I tightened the lens mount to stop its rattle and tightened the other loose screws smattered about. A lens shake now sounds like a few pennies rattling in my pocket after I take a leak and do that shake to shed the last few drops.
Being tired, I took an unremarkable image with the 105mm lens of another lens.
The good news is the lens appears to function well and the legend of its bokeh is a truth. The background melts to cream, at least as far as I can tell from my tear stained eye.