Now, this is a lens!

From the NikonRumors comment section - this is the Perkin Elmer 36" f/4.0 aerial camera lens. It's diameter is over 12" and it was once attached to the famous SR-71 Blackbird spy plane which supposedly took part in various CIA missions:

"These lenses were also used in the Samos satellite program and a modified version of these optics were later used in the lunar mapping programs. Designed by Dr. James Gilbert Baker, very few were made and they are one of the best optical systems ever manufactured. This one is #8. The lens overall dimensions: :21" x 21" x 35" the weight over 200 pounds."

Focus type is listed as manual 🙂 Yours for $5,000.

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  • wow

    Looks like it was used with 9″ x 18″ film – now that’s full format.

    • Anon

      Where did you read this? Just curious…seems weird to use a 1:2 image ratio when mapping when they could use the entire image circle of the lens, although I guess they must have had the film on a roll in order to change it between photos. I’m trying to imagine that “camera” – did it have a focal plane shutter? some kind of auto exposure? It must have been very difficult to plan an automatic ULF camera into a CIA spy plane.

  • Zep

    “Well hello there neighbors wife…. ;)”

    • Mike

      Lol. Wonder what me ex-girlfriend is doing…. 3 cities over…. Which astronaut didn’t get off the lunar landing module? You might be able to see his jock strap hanging in the flag pole on the moon!

      Okay, I’m done.

  • Sam

    So does it come in F mount?

    • Not Surprised

      $5,000 only?? That’s cheaper than most F-glass and defintely cheaper than the D4. Better to invest in glass than a disposable body!

  • pooh

    Nice, now I need only a Bird to mount it on.

  • Paul

    That’s a bargain for such a nice lens.
    I don’t think your regular Gitzo is going to cut it for support though.

  • Vince

    The pack of cigarettes in the first image is classy. Still, 916mm/4 – that’d be quite a safari lens! Wonder if Novoflex makes adapters for it :-p

  • Mike

    Imagine using that on a Nikon-1 with FT converter.
    Sounds ridiculous – but that’s a 2.7x crop!

    • Dan

      Throw in a 2x teleconverter in and you have a 4946mm equivalent focal length. Epic moon photos

  • I was going to order one…but then I saw it didn’t have image stabilisation. I need to use this puppy hand-held so IS is a must.

    What was Dr. James Gilbert Baker thinking????

    • Bondi Beach

      Go to the gym for a few hundred years, then with judicious use of Valium to calm the hands I think you might find that IS isn’t necessary, especially at f/4 🙂

    • Captain Obvious

      No image stabilization? Switching to Canon

  • leo+

    bad ass.

  • Richard R.

    What did the camera look like??

  • distanted

    Sure, the lens is only $5000, but that’s just how they suck you in…then there’s the SR-71 power supply, and the Area 51 storage fees, etc… before you know it, you’re out $30 million.

    FWIW: Regarding the roll film, I’m not certain but I think I read sometime ago that the SR-71 cameras worked by opening the shutter and rolling the film at a rate that matched the mach 3+ speed, so the entire roll was one continuous panaromic exposure.

    • NRO

      I read somewhere that digital scanners come from the ones that were first used in spy planes and satellites.

      And as an aside on the same subject has anyone hooked up a cheap scanner to a large format camera and saved plenty of dough over buying one of those (as a layman) rather overpriced large format scanning backs?

      • distanted

        That’s a real interesting idea…will have to google that one.

  • say_fuji

    Was once attached to a SR-71 blackbird, now that’s a serious lens.

  • Nau

    if its not F mount its rubbish 🙂

  • WantOne!

    Rough calculation:
    (couldn’t put the exact fil size in the calculator, so went with the closest: 8×10 film)

    Assuming they set the focus fixed to give the most depth of field)
    SR-71 Operational altitude: 80,000ft (distance to subject = 24,00om)
    Focal length: 916mm
    Aperture f/4
    Hyperfocal distance: 1,048.8m
    Near limit: 524m
    Far limit: infinity

    Who says large format lenses at f/4 have no DOF? 🙂

    But the all importan question… does it have decent bokeh?!

  • Does it come with a Pentax Q adapter?

  • Camaman

    How did you guys calculate focal length to 914mm?
    And is this 35mm film equivalent or than 9×18″ film equivalent?

    Anyway that is a nice price for 200 pounds of glass. 🙂

    • wpn

      (actual) focal length of 36 inches = 916 mm

  • Ben Y

    Manual focus?? Pff for $5,000 I’m expecting AF and weather sealing and 10 aspherical elements and red ring.

    • Art K.

      Yeah, especially the red (or gold) ring – crucial element

      • Ben Y

        At least it’s pro white though. They got that part right.

  • Boing Wronkwell

    With the addition of a nifty adapter it’ll work on my Nikon D7000 just perfect!

    Screw you, J1 user with a 2x tele converter… BRAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA….

  • peter

    still cheaper than a leica noctilux lens.

  • Art K.

    looks a bit like an elaborate toilet bowl…

    – actually, THIS is a lens!

  • At half the price of a Noctilux, this is a bargain!

  • At half the price of a Noctilux, what a steal!

  • Rajeev

    Someone might make an adaptor for nikon v1 and post some pictures

  • must be a bitch to carry this into the field

  • you could employ couple of sherpas to carry that thing

  • jg

    The data plate indicates that it is US property. I wonder if NASA will come after the new owner like it went after Jim Lovell for attempting to sell a notebook from Apollo 13

  • Stag

    Never flew in SR-71 was part of K-36 camera which pulled 18″ wide film
    had bonded dicroic yellow filter not very sharp

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