Nikon rangefinder lenses

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Nikon began the production of cameras with a line of Nikon rangefinder models. The first one was the Nikon I launched just after World War II. On this camera, Nikon copied the Contax rangefinder mount designed before the war by Zeiss Ikon and introduced with the Contax I.

Whether related to patents, differing initial engineering decisions, or by mistake, the rangefinder coupling of its lens mount was slightly different than that of the Contax. The result is that the wide angle lenses, because of their wider depth of field, can interchange between the two types of bodies, but the standard and tele lenses cannot. There are Nikon versions and Contax versions of all focal lengths above normal. This proves that there was, indeed, an acknowledged difference in coupling. Nikon apparently made an engineering decision that the disparity was not significant at wider focal lengths. However, there is some discussion as to whether the problem is also apparent for normal lenses at close distances, as discussed by Dr. Bruce E. Sirovich in a Nikon Historical Society Article. The main difference seems to arise from a 0.31mm difference in the thickness of the cameras, having a difference in inner mounted lenses such that the film to lens distance at infinity is 26.51 mm for Nikon and 26.82 for Contax. [1]

Nikon used that same mount on all its rangefinder bodies until and including the Nikon SP, and on the recent revivals Nikon S3 2000 and Nikon SP 2005.

Surprisingly, in 2002 Voigtländer launched a new rangefinder body using the Nikon RF mount, called Bessa R2S.


The original lenses for the Nikon rangefinder models.

Nikon also made some these lenses for the original Contax mount. They are marked with a C on the barrel, unrelated to the red C on the front ring of the coated lenses.

Other lenses


  • Fujinon 5cm f/1.2



Made by Sankyo Koki.

  • 35/2.8 W-Komura, black with wide chrome stripes, N on lens barrel
  • 80/1.8 Komura, black with wide chrome stripes, finder, N on lens barrel
  • 135/3.5 Komura, black, chrome nose and mount


  • 135/3.5, black and chrome


See the main article on Tanar lenses.

  • W Tanar 35mm f/2.8, black and chrome, external finder
  • Tele-Tanar 13.5cm f/3.5, black and chrome, external finder (also made in Contax mount; the Nikon edition has a small N at the rear end)

Taylor & Hobson

A Taylor, Taylor & Hobson Cooke Amotal Anastigmat 2in f/2 was sold mounted on a Nikon S body at Christies 8/6/1995, it is unknown if it was original.


The range of lenses launched together with the Voigtländer Bessa R2S.


Teikoku Kogaku, better known as Zunow, made some lenses in Nikon RF mount. Some had spectacular characteristics, and all are very rare.

  • 50/1.1, all chrome

Reflex housings

Nippon Kōgaku made its own reflex housing for the rangefinder cameras, in two main versions.

The reflex housings made in Contax mount should be compatible with the Nikon rangefinder bodies, notably all the Zeiss Ikon models, and the Mirax-B by Orion Seiki and later Miranda Camera.


In English:

  • Zeisscamera article about Nikon to Contax differences by Henry Scherer