Nikon is Developing a Portable Super Telephoto 500mm Lens

Nikon 300mm f:4E PF VR AF-S .png
(The Nikon 300mm f/4E PF VR AF-S is pictured above to reference how the new 500mm might look)


Nikon just announced that they're in development on a new Super-Telephoto lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR. They're promising a 500mm lens that is small and light enough to use handheld. That's pure insanity. Here's an example of 500mm lens Nikon currently makes the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR. 

Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f:4G ED VR .png
(the new 500mm should be much smaller than the massive Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR pictured above)


Look at how massive that is. Your camera mount might not even be strong enough to hold that for a handheld image. So, how are they going to do it? They're going to use technology from their AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens, which was introduced in January 2015. That lens broke new ground with Nikon's Phase Fresnel lens Elements that made the 300mm half the weight of the previous version. 

This is how they explain the Phase Fresnel Lens Elements:

"The Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element developed by Nikon effectively compensates for chromatic aberration utilizing the photo diffraction phenomenon. Compared to many general camera lenses that employ an optical system using the photorefractive phenomenon, a remarkably compact and lightweight body can be attained with fewer lens elements."
 
That makes sense, right? The Phase Fresnel lens is based on same Fresnel lens element that lighthouses use to send a focused beam of light out. Instead of being perfectly curved and smooth the lenses have perfectly cut ridges in them that bend light rays in a very specific way. I layman terms a regular refractive lens takes white light and focuses the Red, Green and Blue light at different focal points, the same as a Phase Fresnel lens element would, but when you combine the two, creating a Phase Fresnel lens, all three colors of light are focused at the exact same distance. This makes for shorter lenses with a fewer number of elements in them. 

Phase Fresnel by moose peterson.jpg
(image by Moose Peterson)

This new way of making lenses has the potential to change the long lens market and hopefully trickle down to smaller cameras in point and shoots and even smartphones at some point. There's no release date or price point on the new AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, but hopefully one day it ends up on your camera.  

The full press release is below:


NIKON ANNOUNCES DEVELOPMENT OF AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, A PORTABLE SUPER-TELEPHOTO FX-FORMAT LENS

 

The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Will Deliver Exceptional Agility and Optical Performance in an Incredibly Compact and Lightweight Package

 

MELVILLE, NY (JUNE 14, 2018 at 12:01 A.M. EDT) - Today, Nikon Inc. announces the development of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, an FX-format fixed focal length super-telephoto lens, which will offer a compelling combination of portability and performance.

 

The AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR will be a high-performance super-telephoto lens that is significantly smaller and lighter than comparable predecessors due to the adoption of the same type of Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element found in the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR lens, introduced in January 2015. Despite its 500mm focal length, the lens is small and light enough to use hand-held in a wide variety of situations where a photographer must capture unpredictable and fast-moving subjects, including sporting events and wildlife photography.

 

Phase Fresnel Lens Elements

The Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element developed by Nikon effectively compensates for chromatic aberration utilizing the photo diffraction phenomenon*. Compared to many general camera lenses that employ an optical system using the photorefractive phenomenon, a remarkably compact and lightweight body can be attained with fewer lens elements.

 

Price and Availability

Information regarding the release of the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR lens, including final specifications and pricing, will be announced later this year. For more information on the latest Nikon products, please visit www.nikonusa.com.

 

Nikon 100th Year Anniversary

Since the company was established in 1917, Nikon has cultivated its status as a pioneer of optical technologies around the world. Guided by a corporate philosophy of "Trustworthiness and Creativity," Nikon provides a wide range of products and services globally by harnessing advanced opto-electronics and precision technologies. Nikon is proud to celebrate their 100th anniversary from July 2017 to July 2018.

 

About Nikon

Nikon Inc. is a world leader in digital imaging, precision optics and photo and video capture technologies; globally recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance for an award-winning array of equipment that enable visual storytelling and content creation. In 2017, Nikon celebrated a legacy of innovation with its 100-year anniversary celebration. Nikon Inc. distributes consumer and professional digital SLR cameras, NIKKOR optics, Speedlights and system accessories, Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras and Nikon software products. Nikon Corporation, the parent company of Nikon Inc., announced the production of 100 million NIKKOR lenses, creating a new milestone in Nikon's heritage of superior optics. For more information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit www.nikonusa.com, which links all levels of photographers and visual storytellers to the Web's most comprehensive learning and sharing communities. Connect with Nikon on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, Flickr and Snapchat (@NikonUSASnap).