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Nikon Announces New Long Focal Length Prime Lens Development

By Kishore Sawh on June 13th 2018

In a move similar to what we saw with the announcement of the D850, Nikon has is announcing an announcement, of sorts. They are announcing a new lens but not revealing it. It’s called the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR,  and like with the development announcement of the D850, the rest of it is bathed in obscurity. We neither know the dimensions, feature set, price nor release date. Nikon has said they will reveal specifications and pricing later this year.

What we do know is that it will incorporate Nikon’s Phase Fresnel (PF) lens element, and Nikon seems to be putting priority on portability. We know that part of the PF lens attraction is that lenses can be made with fewer elements whilst reducing CA, according to Nikon, so this may have something to do with the smaller size promised.

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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.”

It’s a curious move by Nikon to make a dedicated 500mm 5.6 prime given the success of the very good AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, which is one of 4 lenses Nikon has at 500mm and above, and it’s competitively priced at $1,399. Can we really expect the new 500 5.6 prime to be around that price?  This is purely speculation, but that seems unlikely. Still, we’ll be interested to see the final product reveal. For now, if you’re looking for glass for your Nikon with that reach we recommend the following:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR

Sigma 500mm f/4 DG OS HSM

 

Press Release:

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

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Matthew Saville

    Yeah, I’m going to assume that it’ll be somewhere between the price of the 200-500, and half the price of the existing 500 f/4. So, it could still cost a fortune. Based on the price of the 300 PF versus the 300 2.8, and the existing 500 f/4, I’d say the 500 PF will be around $3-4K.

    The Canon 400 f/4 DO, however, might indicate that such a “compact -but-still-flagship” lens might cost $6-8K, unfortunately.

    Here’s to hoping Nikon isn’t as out of touch as when they tried to cash in on Canon’s $8,000 flagship party train, (with the D3X) …even though that ship had already sailed and Canon themselves had no more $8,000 bodies in the pipeline…

    The times they are a-changin’…

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Matthew Saville I agree that that’s ‘all’ CaNikon have to do, but it’s also more complex because of the shift not just in terms of mirrorless (Especially for Nikon) but in terms of changing dynamics between users and equipment. The fact is, there just isn’t likely a need for all those options. And Sony’s upcoming 400mm f2 is going to be a serious player. At f2 they can use a 2x tele and get 800mm f4…. 

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    • Matthew Saville

      Indeed, saying “all they have to do” is an incredibly gross oversimplification. Like Kodak, Nikon and Canon have a lot more on their to-do list than simply changing a system mount. (And even that is a monumental milestone in any decades-old camera company!)

      The vast, vast majority of Nikon and Canon users will never even hold a lens worth over $3K, let alone own one. (BTW, I think you mean Sony’s 400 f/2.8?)

      The truth is, the bulk of the market has usually been in beginner and amateur bodies and lenses, and that market is definitely a shrinking / changing one.

      Having said that, Canon and Nikon do both of those things quite well, if we look closely at the various options available. CaNikon “kit” 18-55mm, 10-20mm, and 55-200mm lenses are much sharper than Sony’s offerings, and that will undoubtedly carry over to mirrorless quite easily considering the already diminutive size of those “collapsible” AF-P DX lenses from Nikon.

      Still, it’s very possible that the transition will be very bumpy. They’ve got to worry about good EVFs, hybrid AF, and all sorts of other MILC-related technologies that neither has yet demonstrated full mastery of. 

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    • adam sanford

      Yeah, a 400 f/2 would be size of Rhode Island.

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  2. adam sanford

    Wow!  This is a submarine surfacing deep in Canon territory with eyes to do some damage.   One way to flip the lifelong Canon guys is to save their back and let them fit long glass into a carry on backpack.

    This could be a bigger deal than the 200-500 f/5.6 VR — honestly.  The 400 f/5.6L was that awesome starter prime for the budding wildlifer that few had an answer for.  This would certainly change that.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      It very well could. We knew the potential was there with PF lens elements but Nikon has taken its time with them. Nikon also doesn’t have a 100-400 -5.6 which, frankly, I feel would’ve better served them. But we’ll have to wait and see just how good this is. And quite a while too it seems.

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    • Matthew Saville

      I think between the 80-400 and 200-500, plus let’s not discount the impressively sharp current model 70-300’s, …Nikon has covered the “slow super-tele zoom” base quite well. Not to mention the insanely priced 180-400 TC, of course.

      What Nikon definitely needs right now are lenses that pull from their decades of optical design experience, which as of yet Sony cannot touch.

      I added it up a while ago, Sony has $50,000 worth of lenses to develop before they have as complete a line of “exotic big guns” (from the 200 f/2 to the 800 f/5.5) as Nikon has.

      Sure, Sony has infinite R&D money to throw at the problem, but it’s still going to take many, many years to complete such a lineup. Meanwhile, “all” Nikon and Canon have to do is, take their existing experience with amazing ergonomics and user interfaces, and “get a few things right” with mirrorless.

      My money is on Nikon, still. They might fall into the 3rd spot, that is a very real possibility at this point. However, my money is on them at least “surviving”, and continuing to produce a system that I prefer over others.

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