Computar f/1.2 12-75mm c-mount lens on Nikon 1 J2 camera

I recently acquired a used Nikon 1 J1 and a Nikon 1 J2 camera for use in my 3D photography and 3D video photography. I also bought a used Computar f/1.2 12-75mm c-mount lens, originally intended for us on “Super 16mm” film cameras. These can be adapted well for use on the Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras as the sensor is essentially the same size as a “Super 16mm” frame.

Here is what the lens looks like – it has a 55mm filter diameter but came with a 55 to 58mm step up ring:

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At wide angle (12mm) and telephoto (75mm), there is minimal vignetting. At some of the in between range, there is very noticeable vignetting.

To make the lens work on a Nikon 1, I used a Fotodiox c-mount to Nikon 1 adapter ring. I quickly found this ring puts the lens too far forward from the sensor focus plane. I ended up using a Dremel cutting bit on my shop drill and did a lot of grinding to push the lens almost 1/8″ of inch deeper into the camera. (Later I bought a different and thinner adapter ring that seems to work without modifications but I have not yet done much testing with this adapter ring.)

Here are some results – shot using the Computer f/1.2 12-75mm cine lens on a Nikon 1 J2 using a modified Fotodiox adapter. All images were shot in RAW mode and contrast or exposure adjusted slightly in Lightroom. The first photo used the “anti-vignetting” feature to lighten the upper left and right corners slightly. None of the photos are cropped. All photos are shot with the camera in full manual exposure mode.

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The focus point on this handheld shot is the pond frond located just to the right of center.  At f/1.2, the depth of field is so narrow that none of the other plants are actually in focus!
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This last photo was intended to test deep focus. However, when shot at f/1.2, the depth of field was still so shallow that te actual focus point ended up being near the back of the trees in the background. I need to go do more tests on the infinity focus but I am not too worried about infinity focus since I do not expect to use the lens for that type of shot. Plus stopping down just a little expands the depth of field.

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Overall, I am very pleased with the c-mount lens and Nikon 1 combination. The J1 and J2 do not have electronic viewfinders – only LCD back panels. For 3D shooting, that is fine as I want to see both cameras at the same time. However, if I were to use the Nikon 1 for 2D still shooting, I would probably prefer the V1, V2 or the said to be coming soon, V3 cameras. The V series is like the J series but with EVF and hot shoe, and slightly larger body.

It is amazing to be able to shoot photos like this with such a tiny camera and lens combination compared to shooting FF cameras. I prefer small cameras. Since I mostly shoot 3D, I am often carrying 2 or 3 pairs of cameras and the weight gets old after a while!

For more examples of what c-mount lenses can do for mirrorless cameras, check out this web site. Once upon a time, c-mount lenses were very inexpensive. But since the popularity of mirrorless cameras – micro 4/3ds, Nikon 1, Sony NEX and the Blackmagic Cinema pocket camera (4k video!) – the market for c-mount lenses has taken off. Bargains are tougher to find now but they can be found if patient. Still, a $100-$200 c-mount lens is a lot cheaper than a new $1500 m43 lens that does about the same thing 🙂

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