dante stella stories photographs technical guestbook

Talk about your circular references
 
8mm f/8 Nikkor (MLU)
 

Above: with a Nikon F3

What it was: The 8mm f/8 Nikkor is a non-retrofocus 8mm fisheye for the F series cameras.  It was released in 1962 and replaced by the 7.5mm f/5.6 in 1966.  This lens works best with the F or F2 series cameras, particularly since its accessory finder fits their flash shoes perfectly.  You can mount it on an F3, F4 or F5 provided that you find an appropriate adapter to mount the separate viewfinder.

What it is: To say that this lens is tiny is an understatement. It sticks out about as far as a 50mm lens.  Nikon more recently made an 8mm f/2.8 that pulls in more light, actually focuses, looks like a bazooka, weighs a ton, meters through the lens, and fits any camera.

What it shall be: fun! The field of view is a circular 180mm projected 24mm diameter on the film - so keep your fingers and hair out of the frame.

– The 8mm f/8 has no focusing mechanism - because at 8mm just about everything from 1m to infinity is in focus.

– The lens has four apertures: f/8, f/11, f/16, and f/22. If you can't use those, use faster film (I would counsel TX pushed to 1,600). 

– Bring a handheld meter (or your best guess) - because in this Mutara Nebula, your viewfinder will be clouded and your TTL metering will be useless.

– Filtration is provided by turret filters inside the lens: orange, yellow, red, 80A tungsten, and skylight.

– Fortunately, you need not worry about having the camera tilted around the optical axis - since the on-film frame is circular.  Up-and-down tilt, however, is a different story.

 Performance: this lens is amazingly sharp when you consider that it has very few glass elements in it.  Sun and brightspots in the middle 2/3s of the frame are well controlled (see image above for example); sun in frame at the edges will create octagonal flare across the frame.  Performance overall seems to be similar regardless of the aperture.

Caveats: First, watch dust on the rear element.  You will see dust spots on your negatives - and they look just like dust spots on a digital sensor!  Second, you must have true mirror lockup on your camera for this lens to work - since the rear barrel of the lens almost touches the shutter. It is also best to use this on cameras whose AI coupling can be disconnected.  I have heard of people using these on Nikon digitals by flipping up the reflex mirrors manually and then inserting the lens.  Do this at your own risk. And don't bother with DX cameras - they will cut off a lot of the field of view.

Conclusion: Rare, underrated, and entertaining.

DAST