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.