- Produced Novoflex, braunschweig (?) Germany
- Mount varies (here Nikon)
- Focal length 240mm
- Aperture range f4.5-22
- Focal range about 9′ (3m) to infinity
- Filter thread 58mm plus bayonet
- Aperture blades 20 (!)
Funny story – I was up in Santa Rosa at the Photographer’s Supply place getting a couple of archival negative binders, and barely resisting the temptation to buy some film knowing I had a fridgeful at home. On my way out I was passing some guys who were rifling through the ‘free’ box when this odd pistol-looking thing on the counter caught my eye. ‘What in the world is this thing?’ I asked. It’s a zoom lens for an old Nikon, I was told. Do you have an old Nikon? ‘Why, as a matter of fact I do…’ You want it? It’s yours. I’ve been trying to get rid of it for a while. Woo! Freebie!
So I got it home and put it on the old FM2 and it fits like a glove. I’d never heard of anything like this lens and so did a quick internet search… turns out it and its series siblings were pretty popular in their day as fast follow-focus lenses, and even qualify as cult classics according to the great Medium Format page. I can see that the connector is an adapter of some type, it says NIKLEI-P, which I assume is a Nikon-Leica adapter. I can’t see how it’s connected but it’s consistent with the info I found that this is technically a lens head (probably Leica SLR mount? dunno…) and adapts to other mounts like Nikon, Exacta, Minolta and who knows what else, with adapters that are apparently semi-permanently attached with set screws. Also came with a bayonet mount lens hood. I swear the thing looks like a ray gun from Logan’s Run. I dare you to take this and your Photosnaiper to shoot pics of local government buildings….
Novoflex has a long history of innovative third party designs to match existing camera systems, including bellows, lenses, and prisms. According to their website, they made their first rapid-focus lenses back in 1955. This one looks more like it dates from the late 70s or early 80s.
Fun to use, it’s a little counter-intuitive in that it starts at near focus (about 9 feet from what I can tell) and goes to infinity as you squeeze the handle. I can see that it would be perfect for wildlife on the hoof or kids on the ball. Other lengths were/are available as well, notably 400mm and 640mm. Even cooler: there is a 90° detent on the mount, to turn the camera vertical for portrait framing.
The handle actually has a tripod thread, it’s 3/8″ so you’ll need an adapter, seems kind of silly, the whole point is to handhold it, no? Also there is a focus lock knob on either side of the lens, and a couple of other knobs that may be infinity adjustment, I’m not actualy sure. No auto-diaphragm, sorry. Strictly stop-down.