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Back in 1994, I think a lot of us weren’t paying attention to photos Nat Geo posted on the web. Sure, their website was a convenient way to get their articles, but nothing could touch the quality of their magazine. And we’d like to believe that optics like the vintage Nikon 500mm f4 D Nikkor ED AF-I lens shot those iconic photos. Launched in 1994, this vintage Nikon lens has held its value surprisingly well. And we shouldn’t expect anything less from the Rare Camera Store collaboration.
Welcome to the Rare Camera Store: a joint initiative of The Phoblographer and the wonderful folks at Blue Moon Camera. We work to bring you some of the coolest and rarest items for a great price.
This lens was one of the first generations of super-telephoto lenses with autofocus. That means photographers used it for sports, birding, wildlife, and more. As much as some folks will insist that digital was taking off then, it’s not the case. In 1994, most folks were still shooting film. As such, most photo gear from back in the day was also pretty heavy. In fact, this vintage Nikon lens is just under 10lbs. So if you’re going to go shooting with it, get ready to deal with a lot of weight.
The Rare Camera Store is selling this lens in great condition for $1,800. Here’s what the Blue Moon camera listing is saying about it:
“This Nikon 500mm f4 D may be just the lens you need for excellent telephoto bird or sports photography work. With outstanding reach and a fast f4 maximum aperture, this lens gets you into the thick of it from quite a distance while maintaining faster shutter speeds. It features Nikon’s ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass for improved image performance and has a reputation for being sharp and crisp in its images. It makes use of 39mm drop-in filters, has its own tripod foot on a rotating collar, and heavy duty strap lugs attached to the lens barrel.”
There’s a lot you can do with a lens like this. Nikon loves to push the fact that you can adapt their F mount lenses to the Z camera system. So you can obviously do that. However, you can also put it on a bunch of other camera systems. I’d personally stick it on a Fujifilm XT4 with a Nikon F to Fuji X adapter. Combine this with the Classic Chrome film simulation, and you’ve got a winner. We did this with Fuji’s own 200mm f2 lens a while back and adored the look.
The Nikon 500mm f4 D Nikkor ED AF-I Lens will become a 750mm f6 basically. That’s incredible, right? In fact, we took to Flickr to see what that would look like. This image was shot with a Nikon D500, which has an APS-C sensor the same size as Fuji’s. Now imagine that with the Fuji Classic Chrome look. It’s quite irresistible, especially since Fuji doesn’t have the glass available.
Also, for what it’s worth, this lens wasn’t made for many years. That’s what makes it even more appealing.