View Full Version : Legacy Lenses Nikkor P.C 400mm f5.6

Don Baldwinson
08-14-2006, 03:03 AM
http://oink.kiwiwebhost.biz/image/CoastcDSCN3667LR_rs.jpgNikkor 400mm P.C F5.6

I needed a telephoto with more reach than my ZD50-200 + EC-14. Handholding for action subjects remains the province of the 50-200, the Nikkor is mostly for the tripod. I considered the OM 300, and Nikkor 300's, but in the end they did not offer much more than the 50-200, and it turns out I have made the correct choice for my purpose. The range of Nikkor telephoto lenses is daunting to a non-Nikon person, but with some help from another enthusiast, who uses Nikon on Olympus, I made my choice. I wanted reach without a huge lens. An F2.8 would be great, but could not be justified for it's size or cost, given the limited use. The Nikkor I bought was made in 1973, and is now a rare, mysterious, but respected piece of equipment. I found it on the internet at Ritz Collectibles in Arizona, for us$399, and it arrived here in New Zealand 2 days later! The lens is close to immaculate, and my Nikon expert says it was a very good buy.

First Impression:
A large lens, but compact.

Old fashioned metal, built strong, but not as heavy as it looks. Beautiful build quality in fact, and everything works smoothly. It has a sturdy tripod mount, which rotates and can be secured firmly by a thumbscrew at any degree of rotation. There are positive stops at 90 degrees intervals.
The focus sleeve is large and well patterned.
A beautifully made aluminium front cap screws into place, unusual but secure and dustproof. This is a professional lens in every way.

A lot bigger than the ZD50-200, but somehow it seems just right on the E-1 body, balancing and handling very well.
Focus from go to whoa is 3/4 of a turn, quite a long way because of the large barrel. I wish it were less.
The aperture ring is close to the E-1 body. Any closer would be awkward, but I have got used to it, as is. The range is F5.6 to F32.
All in all, it's a largish lens, but not really that daunting, easier to carry and handle than you may think. It is neat, tight and gives great confidence. Later models are lighter and probably easier to handle, but the reports say they need a heavy tripod.

Primarily a tripod lense. Given good light, shooting slower action subjects is possible, but it will never get near the ZD50-200+EC-14 for this work.
I have a KatzEye screen with split image focus, and in conditions down to dull grey skies, focus is not a big issue. A standard Olympus screen will be more difficult. However, this lens is very sharp at F5.6, and there is no need to stop down except for DOF issues, meaning it is quite quick to operate for a manual lens. Much quicker than my OM 200mm. I focus by the split screen most often, but when this is not possible, the fine ground area around the central spot allows accurate alternative focus.

Image Quality:
Here the Nikkor really shines. Optically, it is at least as good as the best Olympus lenses I have used. My informant who owned a ZD300, says there is little difference optically. The color and contrast are excellent. Looking into the lens, the color of the coating is a rich magenta. The glass and coating must have been state of the art in 1973. Nikon have never disclosed whether the glass is ED or Fluorite, hence the mystery.

This extension works seamlessly with the Nikkor, but without auto functions, giving a very useful 1120mm reach. In bright conditions the combo can be handheld, and give good results, only if the subject is still. More practice will help here. There is no practical loss of image quality, just as with the ZD50-200, though microscopic examinations of both show there is a tiny loss.

Purple Fringing:
This was expected, but it needs provocation, and nothing like as much as the OM200, which purple fringes at the drop of a hat! I tested the Nikkor and the ZD50-200 on a severe subject, powerlines and tree branches against a bright overcast sky, and the fringing was very similar, not too bad at all.

Wonderful bokeh for subjects reasonably close. I wish this lens would focus closer than it's minimum 5 metres. Later models focus closer.

This is a great lens for limited purposes, though I will get more use out of it than I had expected, because it is possible to handhold. I imagine the later models which are readily available would be just as useful.
Here is a link for more information, and comparisons between Nikkor models.

I have a couple of images, and may add more later.
Don Baldwinson

The lovers. The gannets have arrived from Australia, and courting begins.
A softly low lit winter morning. The Nikkor and E-1 show a very accurate image of the conditions.
Tripod. F5.6. 1/1000. iso 200 Cropped

Grey day at the zoo. Handheld. F5.6. 1/250. iso 200. Cropped

Gannet on the wing, handheld



Bojan Volcansek
08-14-2006, 11:50 AM
To read more about this great but hard to find lens please check:

and about a lot of Nikon lenses and different Nikon things:

Yours Bojan

Don Baldwinson
08-14-2006, 12:47 PM
I found the points table very difficult, and nearly did not fill it in. Really I needed more detailed questions. The points given by me are based on my narrow interest in this lens, and will not be relevant to all.
Build is indisputable.
Price-in the end, the fact that good Nikon glass holds it's value made a 5. Function is tops for my use, but useless for an action photographer. Usefullness similar, but I dithered over this.
Recommendation, a great lens for someone like me.
Overall feeling, had to be 5 for me.

Bojan Volcansek
08-17-2006, 06:13 PM
Would you be so kind and put a message with the photo of this lens mounted on the camera?

Thanks in advance,
yours Bojan

Don Baldwinson
08-17-2006, 08:09 PM
Hi Bojan, is this what you wanted?.
The tripod connecter is screwed into the tripod bracket,

Bojan Volcansek
08-18-2006, 07:50 AM
Hi Bojan, is this what you wanted?.
The tripod connecter is screwed into the tripod bracket,

YES, that's what I wanted, great, thank you very much.

Very nice match between E1 and the lens.
What adapter you used? The one from cameraquest, or some cheaper? (and if cheaper, which one?)

Thanks in advance,
yours Bojan

Don Baldwinson
08-18-2006, 12:18 PM
I got a Cirrus adapter from China, on EBay. US$9.99 plus post.
It is quite well made in brass, but nowhere near as solid as my Olympus OM adapter. And I have found it has about .5mm rotational movement, which happens as I focus back and forth. The movement is in the adapter to camera connection, not the lens.
I have not seen a CameraQuest adapter, but from what I hear it is quite strong. Think I will have to bite the bullet and pay $175. I don't want the adapter wearing out my camera!

Don Baldwinson
08-30-2008, 02:10 AM