At KEH, we see a lot of rare gear. Sometimes a piece of equipment will be customized for a specific user and sometimes it's a limited release where only a few were ever manufactured.

This 1000mm f/6.3 lens is truly one of those rare pieces. We couldn't find an official record as to how many were really produced, but estimates say that only about 60 of them ever existed when they came off the Nikon lot back in 1959.

Let's take a look into what makes this lens just so special.

As I mentioned above, it's estimated that only 60 of these F-mount 1000mm reflex lenses were ever made. The serial number on the unit I was able to test out is 631027, which doesn't sound all that impressive at first. However, upon further investigation, it turns out that the latest reported serial number found on this model was 631054.

This means that if they began numbering the lenses at 631000 to indicate the f-stop of 6.3 and the focal length of 1000, not many of these were made in the first place. Take into account that the lens was produced over 60 years ago and the piece starts to feel a bit less like a lens and a bit more like something that belongs in a museum.

Made solidly out of metal and glass, this lens is neither compact nor lightweight. It does, however, show the Japanese skill and craftsmanship utilized in making this lens something unique.

Truly, even with modern designs, it's incredibly difficult to design a lens at 1000mm with a decently wide aperture. Not only is this aperture fixed at a relatively shocking f/6.3, this lens also utilizes a clever way around the problem of mirror reflex lenses having fixed apertures.

Within the lens body, there is a rotating turret system on each side, with built-in (and replaceable) filters. One side holds a series of ND filters to replicate exposure from f/6.3 to f/22, and the opposite holds a series of contrast filters for shooting in black and white.

On the rear of the lens is a smooth, rail-based bellows focusing system that can be adjusted for tension, or rotated for portrait-orientation shooting.

1.36 Miles from the Bank of America building
Uncropped screencap from the above setup

A truly stunning achievement, this lens must be seen to be believed. Take a closer look at this piece of history in the video below.

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