The average person probably considers anything more than a couple of hundred bucks for a lens to be “a bit rich”. What these people don’t realise, is that the Lens is the most important factor when it comes to image quality. Unless you are printing images the size of a bus, the amount of megapixels you have really does not matter that much.
As a Photography buff, I am constantly amazed at how expensive high-end photographic equipment can be. Professional Photographers will think nothing of dropping many thousands of dollars to shoot with the best quality glass. There are even certain weird individuals (myself to an extent), who collect cameras and lenses in much the same way as some people who collect classic cars.
This is a list of 10 of the most expensive, rare and wacky camera lenses ever made. Even if you are a bit of a camera nerd, you probably will have never heard of some of these photographic odd-balls!
1. 1956-1962 Stereo-Nikkor 3.5cm f/3.5
The Stereo-Nikkor 3.5cm must surely be one of oddest looking camera lenses ever made.This lens is an example of a photographic fad that was invented as early as the 1840’s and continues to keep coming back; Stereoscopic Photography.
Basically, this lens was used to create 3 D images and was targeted at enthusiast and hobby photographers. The lens was actually two lenses that took two images from two slightly different perspectives that where then exposed onto one 35 mm frame of slide film. It was developed for Nikon’s excellent S series of rangefinders (equal to any 1950’s Leica IMO).
The lens had a focal length of 35 mm and an aperture range of f 3.5-f 16. The lens could be used by itself for distances between 3-10 ft. For the 3D effect to work at distances greater than 10 ft, a screw on mirror prism needed to be attached. A picture viewer had to be used to see the 3D Images. A Special lens could be ordered for projectors to project images on a large scale (I believe 3D glasses were required).
As a Product, the Stereo-Nikkor 3.5 cm f/3.5 was a complete flop. Nikon must have thought that they would cash in on the 3D movie craze of the 1950’s. Unfortunately the lens was only available as an extensive kit and this kit cost more than the ultra high-end 50 mm f 1.1! A hell of a lot of money for a lens that is essentially a gimmicky novelty. The price combined with the fact that Nikon was targeting a niche within a niche, meant that only about 200 lenses sold world-wide.
Today the novelty of this lens combined with its extreme rarity makes the Stereo-Nikkor 3.5 cm f/3.5 one of the most sort after lenses for Nikon collectors. The kit pictured above recently sold for an astonishing $55,000 USD!