OLD LENS DIE HARD: Recommendation for old Nikkor PC lens


One day I read an article about old PC Nikkor.
The article about PC-Nikkor 28mm F4, which was released in 1961, as the world first DLSR’s “shift” lens. Since my favorite lens is “PC-E NIKKOR 24mm F3.5D ED” , the story of of the original PC lens intrigued my curiosity so much.

If you were curious about the article, you can read with “Google Translate”.

Nikon (Japan) : The history of nikkor: Vol.017

<New>PC-Nikkor 28mm F4

There is a lens, it has history.
I was so impressed knowing about the behind story of the development.

So I didn’t need these old lens particularly, but was so curious how they perform on the latest Nikon’s Z6. And good new is they were so cheep in the used market.
Then I got them both historical “PC-Nikkor 35mm F2.8 and “PC-Nikkor 28mm F3.5“.

Do they still good? or just the lenses of the past?

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PC-NIKKOR 35mm f/2.8

PC-NIKKOR 35mm attached wtih Z6 (via FTZ)

The first try is pc 35mm.

I found one sold at only $120 in ebay, so I just got it without hesitation.
The condition was pretty good, and the function worked perfect.
Here are some sample pictures I shot by this old lens.

Mounted on Z6, manual focus, all f5.6-f8.
(Sorry since it did not rocord exif)

PC-NIKKOR 35mm f/2.8 | Cityscapes hand held samples

What do you think?
Honestly, I did not expect very much before I actually shot by this lens.
But the image quality was so good that I had to know how an old nikkor lens has a strong potential can be used for today’s DSLR.

Not as a PC lens, but just using as a 35mm f2.8 prime lens was just fine since it is pretty light and small, best fit to the small mirror-less camera. Plus Z6 body VR support for the handheld shooting. This small one is a great companion for the city snapper.

PC-NIKKOR 35mm f/2.8 | Daytime long exposure :sample

OK, how about using this old for a serious long exposure shooting?
I tested with D810 at a cloudy morning by the Yodogawa-river riverside:
Firecrest ND3.9 (13 stops), having 210 seconds long exposure.

What do you think?
There was no harsh light, very calm morning, which was a pretty gentle condition for the old lens, and also for long exposure photography.
Seeing those captured images, I was pretty impressive how the lens was sharply captured lines and details of the architectures.

Even with the 36 mp camera D810, the small lens could produce the great result at an early morning for the day time long exposure.

Comparison with PC-E 24mm, 45mm

Comparison with pc-e 24mm

Here is the comparison with my go-to lens, pc-e 24mm.

The angle view is difference between 35mm and 24mm, but I can’t see clear quality defference between both. Both images are crispy sharp.

Comparison with pc-e 45mm

Here is the comparison wtih pc-e 45mm.

PC-NIKKOR 35mm captured so well, even compared with current PC-E lenses, 24mm and 45mm. It was sharp, really sharp. Though to get the ideal sharpness you need to stop down to around F8, but in the day time long exposure around F8 is generally used, and
seems no problem at all.

PC Nikkor 28mm F3.5

This 28mm is slightly bigger and heavier than pc nikkor 35mm. But the balance is perfectelly fit the Z6, and more importantly, this looks so beautiful.

I have not shoot with 28mm a lot so far, then here are a few samples of pc 28mm.
I think the image quality pretty close to current pc-e 24mm.

PC Nikkor 28mm F3.5: Samples

PC Nikkor 28mm F3.5, 15 seconds/ no shift

Generally old lenses capture image less contrasty against strong light, compare to current well multi coated lenses. In my opinion, this is not a “disadvantage”, this is just a “character” of the lenses.

captured at wide open f3.5. The Bokeh is also beautiful.

Here are some long exposure sample.
Camera: Z6
Lens: PC Nikkor 28mm F3.5/ F8, 300 seconds
ND Filter: Firecrest 4.8 (16 stops)


Camera manufactures never advertise their old lenses, since they don’t produce their main revenue. They advertise their current line-ups only.
However you don’t need to buy the new stuff always, since you have the right to choose the right gears. Don’t chose the product what they want to sell, but chose what you really need.
Sometimes your desired image can “only” be captured by the newest gears, (though this is pretty rare case) in many cases you can get the same, or even better result by old gears.
I really feel so while I was shooting by these old lenses at an early morning by the Yodogawa-riverside.