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I happened to see that a copy of the very rare Nikon 13 mm f/5.6 lens was for sale here. Both the design and price tag are pretty extreme. This article seems to suggest that it really is one-of-a-kind being that wide a rectilinear lens, but there are plenty of wider counterparts to be found today (for example the Sigma 12-24), even with larger apertures.

What's the thing I'm missing here? Was it the first 13-mm rectilinear lens to be produced? Or is it made for larger format than 35 mm?

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There aren't wider lenses that are as rectilinear. This is the reason it is as expensive as it is. The price hasn't even really gone up from what it originally cost. Adjusted for inflation, the lens, when new, was around $20,000. It now has additional value as a collectors item, so one in good condition with papers and box and such sells for more than the original price.

  • How about this one? Or by "as rectilinear", do you mean that the distorsion is kept very low on the holy grail lens? – Daniel R Oct 14 '14 at 18:38
  • It is presumably kept very low. I don't know Nikon's lens line up particularly well, but from what I can gather, the 13mm has very, very low level of distortion. Certainly less distortion than it would be possible for a lens with such a small entrance pupil to maintain as the 12-24 has. – AJ Henderson Oct 14 '14 at 19:14
  • Right, it appears that the 13mm lens doesn't have any aspherical elements, as opposed to the more recently introduced 14/2.8. The latter thus became smaller, lighter and cheaper compared to the giant blob of glass of the holy grail. But this construction may also have introduced more distorsion. It's not easy to verify though, dxomark seems to have forgotten to test this one. :) – Daniel R Oct 14 '14 at 20:25
  • I guess my own conclusion would be that you are right, it probably adds less distorsion, but the most important issue is the timeline; it was made before aspherical elements were standard components. – Daniel R Oct 14 '14 at 20:27
  • The Nikon lens is basically known to be distortion free and also very rare, only 350 of them made. – John Cavan Oct 15 '14 at 11:16

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