Camera Geekery: The ultra rare 17.3mm Fisheye Nikkor
Something very special indeed has appeared online. And as I know the owner I decided to get the skinny on this ultra rare Nikon lens.
I have a bit of a thing for rare Nikon lenses. I have found several very special pieces in the past, like the 6mm, the other 6mm, the 13mm, the Nocf and the fisheye trio. But in all my travels I have not come across one of these lenses. Until my friend Fatali shared with me one from his personal vault.
In Fatali’s words:
It is believed that this 17mm lens is the only one to have ever surfaced for sale!
This is more rare then the Holy Grail Nikon 6mm 2.8. So, I guess there is a “New” Holy Grail!
This lens has even stumped the most renowned lens collectors (*it certainly stumped me)*. That is how rare this lens is. This is what I can tell you about this treasure. Back in the 80’s when Nikon made their masterpiece 6mm f/2.8 fisheye lens for 35mm film cameras, they also made only a few of the ultra rare 17mm Nikkors for larger cameras and projectors for Imax size film. I know, because I have both versions.
They are identical lens designs. Back then, there was a world traveling giant screen roadshow for Imax and they used these two rare 17mm lenses for the camera and projector for special expos. (See the Picture of the 70mm Camera in the listing with a 17mm Nikkor lens on it. The giant 200 pound Camera not included in this sale)
The lens has no iris as the huge camera does. At a fast f4, and being a 220 degree fisheye, there is really no need as the depth of field is already very great with inches to infinity all in focus at f/4. If the light is to bright you simply use a Neutral Density filter.
The lens has the same complex glass design structure of many elements in the 6mm, except this lens remarkably can cover a larger film area of 6x6cm. The 17mm lens is also physically bigger then the 6mm.
I was told by a very reputable lens expert that another very rare Nikon fisheye lens, the 6.2mm 5.6 SAP lens that covers 35mm film, made a few of them, sold for over $500,000 Euros. If there is a more rare Nikon fisheye lens, then why can no one find a 17mm Nikkor lens anywhere? Because this is it!
The 17.3mm f/4 NIKON 220° FISHEYE NIKKOR Still or Cine from the Fatali Lens Vault. Although this lens has the same glass design as the 6mm 2.8 Nikkor Fisheye, this 17mm is physically much larger and throws a larger image circle, more coverage for Medium Format 6x6cm film size.
This lens is a museum piece of Nikon history!
This huge lens is about 14 inches wide. It has a special made lens support to carry the load of the weight of this giant. Over 20 lbs! Your camera will not hold the lens, the lens will hold your camera. You will mount the lens to a head on a tripod. There is an image posted to refer the scale of the large 17mm Nikkor lens next to a Nikon Noct 58mm.
Another great use for this lens would be to make a lens mount for a large digital sensor camera. This lens throws a bright image in a 6x6cm area. For example, this could look amazing on a Hasselblad X1D-50c, Leica S2 camera, or other large sensor still and cine cameras.
What a lens, I would love to have a play around with this one.