Your lens choice dictates how you tell your story. I tend to shoot with a wide-angle. A 35mm focal length suits my style of storytelling. I’d previously played with a Jupiter 12, the Soviet offering in this focal length. I didn’t care for that lens’ finicky performance. I went on the hunt for another lens in that focal length and happened across this one- the Nippon Kogaku W-Nikkor-C 35mm f/3.5.
I like lenses from this era. They’re not as sharp, but the sunlight we get up here is pretty harsh. A soft lens balances that out and gives you some nice images even around mid-day. The lens is coated (the C denotes coated) and doesn’t seem to flare much at all. The W denotes a wide-angle. It is a four element Tessar design, and goes a bit soft in the corners. I love Tessars, and the feeling they give an image. It’s performance is a bit lacking for modern glass, but is pretty good for the mid 50’s.
I enjoy shooting with this lens on my Canon 7 Rangefinder. Nippon Kogaku was the company that became Nikon. Using Nikon glass on a Canon body is an oddity that makes me smile a little. Of course, this is just the M39 mount serving as a standard that could be used by everyone. However, like it’s SLR equivalent the M42 mount, this got tossed by the wayside. Every manufacturer wanted their own mount they could license and make money off of. Still, it’s kind of nice to have the best of both manufacturers. I like Nikon glass, but their rangefinders are pricey. I’m finding that Canon RF glass is going for pretty high prices as well. Even the older, imperfect ones I like.
With this lens I have a 50 and a 35 for my M39 rangefinders. That’s really about all I ever need for a camera. I saw a cheap 135 lens the other day, but when you dial that in to the viewfinder on my Canon 7, the area you are focusing on is tiny.
When I first saw it, I wondered if this lens collapsed. It does not, but it’s pretty small. The focus lever took a moment to suss out. It locks at infinity and occasionally slows me down while I unlock it. That’s as big a complaint as I have about it.
This Nippon Kogaku W-Nikkor-C 35mm f/3.5 is probably going to be welded to my Canon 7 for a while. It’s a nice, compact walking around lens that gives me the result I want. Just a bit of character, just soft enough for the look I want, and cheaply priced. Perfect in its imperfections.