Extremely rare Nikon lens hits almost $200k at auction!

Nikkor-O Auto 58 mm f/1
(Image credit: Wetzlar Camera Auction)

A rare and sought-after Nikon lens has just sold for almost €200,000 at a Wetzlar camera auction in Germany. It managed to fetch such a staggeringly high amount due to the fact it’s likely a one-of-a-kind but regardless, anyone with that kind of cash to splash on a lens must have a seriously impressive camera collection.

Wetzlar Camera Auctions are no stranger to making some pretty monumental sales so this is not new territory. It recently sold a replica of a Leica camera from the NASA skylab missions (opens in new tab) for half a million pounds after expecting it to go for between £60K and $80K (perhaps they need to start giving higher estimates).

The best Nikon lenses (opens in new tab) you can buy today for mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are generally more affordable. However, when it comes to old lenses, anything hoes. The Nikkor-O Auto 58mm f/1 (opens in new tab) lens dates back to the 1970s and now holds the record for the most expensive lens ever sold at auction fetching an unbelievable €187,500 (roughly £164,516) at Wetzlar (opens in new tab). Printed with the serial number 580101 (which is believed to be a combination of the focal length, maximum aperture, and series number) it’s likely to have been the first and possibly only lens like it made. 

It was originally estimated the lens would go for anywhere between €15,000-€20,000. No one could’ve imagined it would sell for so much but in the end, it came down to “two customers who connected by phone and engaged in an exciting bidding war” according to a spokesperson for the auction house. 

Two other extremely rare lenses bear a very similar serial number (58111x) so it is assumed that the lens sold at auction was in fact a prototype. It was originally developed for Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) photography and has an engraved magnification scale rather than a distance scale.

The lens was sold with an original blue rear cap which is very common for experimental Nikon lenses as well a Leica L mount adapter for focusing to infinity - for that price you'd hope it came with a box or carry case too! I'm sure wherever this lens has ended up it’s in good hands - after all - you’ve got to have a serious love for photography if you’re gonna spend as much as a small house on a single lens. 

You might also like the best Nikon Z lenses (opens in new tab) and our best Nikon camera (opens in new tab) guide if you're a fan of the brand.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.