Nikon Nikkor-O Auto 58mm f/1 lens
Image courtesy: Wetzlar Camera Auctions

A Nikkor lens has been sold at auction in Germany, setting a new price record for a Nikon lens.

Nikkor-O Auto 58 mm

The lens in question is a Nikon Nikkor-O Auto 58mm f/1 lens, which was created around 1970 and is the only lens of its kind. The auction details stated that it was the only lens of that type known to date. It was also believed to be a prototype. The lens’ serial number is 580101, which the auction house believed was the combination of focal length and maximum aperture values. The “1” at the end of the number shows that this was the first lens in this series.

CRT photography

The Nikkor-O Auto 58mm lens was developed for Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) photography. As such, it had an engraved magnification scale instead of the usual distance scale on the focus ring. The lens was also supplied with an original blue rear cap, which is typical for experimental Nikon lenses. In addition, it came with an adapter so that the lens could be used with a Leica L-mount camera.

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Record price

The Nikkor-O Auto 58mm lens was sold at auction by Wetzlar Camera Auctions GmbH in Germany on October 8th. Before the sale, the lens was listed with an estimated value of 15,000 to 20,000 euros — around $14,500 to $19,400. However, it eventually sold for a hammer price of 150,000 euros — over $145,600. In addition, auction fees were added after the sale, taking the total price paid to over 180,000 euros — more than $175,000.

Prototype camera

The Nikkor lens wasn’t the only high-value piece of camera equipment sold at the auction. A Leica M camera sold with an incredible hammer price of 687,500 euros — nearly $670,000. The camera was also a prototype and lacked a viewfinder or rangefinder. As with the Nikkor lens, the Leica M camera far exceeded its guide price. Prior to the sale, the auction house had estimated the camera’s value at 8,000 to 10,000 euros — $7,700 to $9,700.

Rarity leads to higher prices

As prototypes, the Nikkor lens and Leica M cameras were extremely rare, which is why they sold for such high prices. However, it might be worth hanging on to your old lenses, just in case.

Pete Tomkies is a freelance cinematographer and camera operator from Manchester, UK. He also produces and directs short films as Duck66 Films. Pete's latest short Once Bitten... won 15 awards and was selected for 105 film festivals around the world.