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  • Nikon Celebrates 80 Years of NIKKOR Lenses

    80 Years of NIKKOR Lenses

    80 Years and 80 Million Lenses--That's a lot of Glass

    We recently received an email with a link to a very interesting infographic about the history of NIKKOR lenses. Apparently this year marks the 80th anniversary of the NIKKOR brand. In addition to it being 80 years of producing NIKKOR lenses, Nikon recently manufactured their 80 millionth lens. When you figure it out, on average, Nikon has produced 1 million lenses a year. Break that down even further, that averages out to 2,739 lenses a day. Yep, a day. That number seems pretty impressive, and quite unbelievable. Keep in mind too that that's an average, spread out over the last 80 years. I'm sure in the early years of Nikon lens production it was much more difficult to produce lenses in mass quantities, so the output now must be much greater.

    Nikon Aero-NIKKOR Lens Example of Aero-NIKKOR Lens

    In 1933, Nikon marketed its first camera lenses under the NIKKOR brand name. The first lenses were Aero-NIKKOR, for aerial photography. The first orders came from the Japanese Army Air Force for the 70cm F5 (700mm), as well as for the 18cm F4.5 (180mm) NIKKOR lens for small-scale aerial photography. The lenses were also exhibited at an exposition held that year, and sale of the lenses began.

    The NIKKOR brand of lenses became famous in the 1950s by David Douglas Duncan whose photography appeared in LIFE magazine. Duncan used a NIKKOR lens attached to a Leica camera body, and this brought the brand a lot of recognition. The legend goes that a Japanese photographer showed Duncan some photographs that he had taken using a NIKKOR lens. The photographs had come out clearly despite the fact that they had been taken indoors, in poor light. Duncan was impressed, so he went out and bought two NIKKOR lenses the very next day.

    In 1971, NIKKOR lenses and Nikon cameras went up with the Apollo 15 space mission. NIKKOR lenses have been going into space ever since, and have been subjected to some rough physical conditions. Space walks will subject these lenses to temperatures of negative 150 degrees Celsius or less.

    Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens

    There are currently over 80 types of lenses still in production today (I guess everything has to be 80 for Nikon this year). Included in this count are 17 DX format (crop sensor) lenses, and 62 FX format (full frame sensor) lenses. The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8 VR II Lens has the most lens elements. Most people would probably assume that something like the heaviest lens (600mm f/4), or the longest lens (800mm f/5.6) would have the most elements. But, no, the 70-200mm has 21 lens elements in 16 groups.

    Nikon's NIKKOR brand is now also being used with the Nikon 1 camera system. In addition, Coolpix cameras feature built-in (not interchangeable) NIKKOR lenses. Nikon has been producing great NIKKOR lenses for 80 years now. It will be interesting to see what the next 80 years will hold.

     

  • Two New Nikon Lenses: AF-S 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED DX VR and AF-S 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED FX VR

    Today Nikon introduces two new lenses to their line-up of NIKKOR glass: one for DX (crop sensor) cameras, and the other for FX (full-frame sensor) cameras.

    Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens

    AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR

    The new Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens from Nikon is their longest reach zoom lens ever with an impressive 16.7x zoom range. This new 18-300mm lens is surprisingly compact for its long zoom range, and is designed for DX format cameras. These "crop sensor" cameras include the D3100, D3200, D5100, D7000, etc.. Like any lens mounted on a DX format camera there is an effective 1.5x multiplication to the focal length giving an equivalent 35mm focal length of 27-450mm. The 18-300mm gives the photographer a great amount of versatility, allowing her to shoot wide-angle to super-telephoto, and without having to change lenses. This new lens features VR II technology to keep images sharp, even when zoomed out to the maximum 300mm setting. In addition, this lens has a close-focusing distance of only 1.48 feet at the 300mm setting, allowing for a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:3.2x.

    The Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR will retail for $1000 and is expected to start shipping in late June.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR Lens

    AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR

    The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR is the new standard lens for FX (full-frame) cameras. Full-frame cameras include the D700, D800, D800E, D4, etc.. This new lens will be marketed as an every day, walkabout lens for FX format cameras, especially considering its compact and lightweight design. We wouldn't be surprised if we start seeing full-frame camera kits including this lens. In addition to the VR II technology featured in the 24-85mm, this lens also offers  Auto Tripod detection for specialized VR correction for both still and video shooting. The 24-85mm has a close focusing distance of just 1.25 feet at any focal length. The 24-85mm is compatible with DX format cameras and has a 35mm equivalent focal length of 36-127.5mm.

    The Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-85mm f/3.5-4.5G ED VR will retail for $600 and is expected to start shipping in late June.

  • First Impressions of the New Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Nikon has been going through some of their most popular lenses and updating them with enhanced features like, but not limited to, SWM (silent wave motor, designated by the AF-S), the addition of an aspheric lens element (to help correct spherical and optical abberations), and full-time manual focus override (allowed by the SWM). The AF-S 85mm f/1.4 and AF-S 50mm f/1.4 are a couple of other lenses that I can quickly think of that have also gone through this type of updating. The latest to this updating is the very popular Nikon 50mm f/1.8. We recently received the new Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens, and were curious how it stacked up.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    The older version Nikon 50mm f/1.8 was considered a must-have lens, if for no other reason than the $134 price tag. The new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is over 60% more expensive, but still very reasonably priced at $219. There aren't many quality lenses out there in this price range. We've been seeing a lot of more modern, inexpensively priced lenses being made with plastic lens mounts. Although this will not hinder the image-making performance of the lens, we've seen a lot of broken lenses having to go out for repair due to the plastic mounts cracking, snapping, or wearing over time to a state of being loose from mounting and unmounting the lens to camera bodies. The new 50mm f/1.8 to our excitement has a shiny, all-metal mount:

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G LensWhile staying on the topic of build quality, the build quality of this updated lens is great. The focus ring is larger and more burly than the previous version, making for an easy grip for manual focusing, and the overall design and finish of the lens is clean. This lens even has a rubberized gasket around the metal mount to help keep out dust and moisture when mounted to a camera body.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G LensThis Father's Day weekend, I had my nephew's birthday party to attend, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to take the new 50mm f/1.8 for a stroll. I gave the lens a test drive with the Nikon D7000. I was extremely impressed with the results.

    The first thing I noticed with this lens is that it was still very sharp wide open, especially for a lens in its price range, and provided an excellent overall wide-open image quality with the D7000. This lens is compatible with FX cameras (full frame digital and film cameras), and it would be interesting to see how the corners look there. But, on a DX (crop) camera, I was impressed.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Lens set at maximum aperture: f/1.8

     

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Same image with 100% crop on in-focus area

    The silent wave motor was fast and silent. I was able to pop off several shots of my 6 year old nephew (who, like any 6 year old, changes his expression every fraction of a moment), and I couldn't even hear the lens working. Although I did not test the video much, anyone shooting video with the autofocus engaged will appreciate the silence of this lens, instead of hearing the whir-clink-whir-clink-whir-clink of a more noisy, non-SWM lens.

    Stopping down the lens to f/5.6 made for some extremely sharp images. In a couple of cases (do I dare say it?), the images were so sharp I felt it detracted from the photograph. Sometimes seeing every nook and cranny is not the most aesthetically pleasing experience for a photograph.

    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Lens

    Lens set to f/5.6, 100% crop of portrait

    Overall I was very pleased with my experience over the weekend of using this lens. Compact, quick, silent, sharp, overall pleasing bokeh, with minimal aberrations for my lighting conditions, and good build quality...all at an affordable price.  Throughout the day I kept looking at my images and thinking, these look really good, which, to me, makes for a worthwhile lens. Please see some more examples below to get a better overall feel for the lens:

    For the money, I really don't see how you could go wrong with this lens. For full-frame users, it might be a different story, if the edges fall completely apart. All of the images shown in this article are unaltered, except for the 100% crops, which were cropped...of course. I didn't need to apply any unsharp mask, etc., although I was using the D7000 saving to JPG, so there was some sharpening going on there. In conclusion, I would recommend this lens to a friend.

    If you have any questions about the lens, please feel free to comment on this post. If you are interested in purchasing this lens, please visit our website by clicking on this text.

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