‘Holy Grail’ Nikon 13mm f/5.6 Lens Sells for $50,000

Nikon 13mm f/5.6
The Nikon 13mm f/5.6 that sold for $50,000. | Houston Camera Exchange

A Nikon 13mm f/5.6 dubbed the “Holy Grail” of camera lenses has just sold for $50,000 on eBay.

The listing finished yesterday (December 21) when the bids jumped up by $25,000 in the final hour — proving how popular and in-demand the 20th-century lens is.

Sold by the Houston Camera Exchange, it was noted the rare glass is from “our personal collection” and said to be in “excellent” condition.

Houston Camera Exchange team member Brenda Uribe tells PetaPixel that it is a “very” rare lens.

“It is something that has been in our collection for decades now and we kept debating whether to put it up or not,” she says.

“You can try to do all the research in the world to see what the market value is for something like this, but you never know.

“We were happily surprised that it sold for as much as it did. It’s such a rare gem that we knew there were collectors out there who would want it. It really is a unique and beautiful lens.”

Nikon 13mm f/5.6

What Makes This Lens So Special?

There are estimated to be only 350 of these lenses in the entire world. Introduced by Nikon in 1977, it was discontinued in 1998 and is mostly lauded for having virtually no distortion — despite its ultra-wide field of view.

Ken Rockwell wrote a famous article about the lens in which he sang its praises ansd referred to it as the “Holy Grail.”

“It is Nikon’s, and perhaps photography’s, greatest lens because it lets us make photographs we can make no other way,” wrote Rockwell.

This is because despite being 13mm — ultra-wide — the lens has about as much distortion as a 50mm lens making it extremely useful to just about every kind of photographer.

“The Nikon 13mm is the world’s widest non-distorting professional SLR lens ever made, by anyone, in any format,” said Rockwell. “It allows us to get closer to our subjects, stretch distances, and create images from perspectives otherwise unimaginable.”

Example photo taken on the Nikon 13mm. The straight lines are near-perfect. | Edgy01

In 2018, PetaPixel ran an article by photographer Jim Sullivan about his experience buying and unboxing a Nikon 13mm f/5.6 after spotting it on B&H Photo for the bargain price of $8,499.

In July this year, an even rarer Nikon lens — a 6mm f/2.8 — was listed on eBay for $146,000. Less than 200 of those are estimated to have ever been manufactured.