Is this patent for a new Nikon 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 lens?

This was sent in by a reader. The first picture is from a Nikon lens patent, the second is the existing AF VR Zoom-Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED lens. I am not an optical engineer, but the lens constructions diagram looks very similar:


Is there a new 80-400 lens in the pipeline, protected by this patent?


Existing 80-400mm Nikon lens

The patent was granted on February, 2008. The current 80-400mm lens was introduced back in August, 2002. Maybe there is a link, maybe not.

No rating here, since this is not really a rumor, just a speculation.

Update: few readers have commented that this patent is about a possible 70-300mm lens. For comparisson, here is the lens diagram of the current 70-300 model: the front element is smaller and different, if a comparisson can be drawn.

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  • This would be a VERY popular lens if revised to have AFS and improving its IQ, especially wide open at the long end!

  • I’m not an optical engineer either, but I see some significant design changes, starting with a reduction of optical groups from 8 to 6 while at the same time the G2 and G42 groups are reduced to fewer elements; all of which ought to contribute to faster focusing, less AC and reduced internal reflection. This might turn out to be a constant f/4 IMVHO.

    Anyway, I’m probably just another ignorant hick.

    • Eli

      Constant f/4 would be MASSIVE and super-expensive, wouldn’t it? Think about the 200-400 f4! I think that as long as it can focus as fast as the Canon 100-400L it will be a very worthy upgrade for many.

  • Close focus Distance 1.5 meters
    VR system Delta Angle 0.30 degree when wide and 0.15 degree when zoomed in (but at what focal length?)

    Stated Angle of view wide aprox. 22 or greater when zoomed out… (this puts us at about a 70-80mm on a DX lens or 120mm or so on a FX lens)

    Zoom about 4 times (4x) assume start at 70mmDX gives us about 240mm or for the 120mmFX we get 500mmFX

    So we could have a 70-240mm DX lens or a 120-500mmFX lens.

    I crunched some numbers quickly off the optics table and it looks like it will be around 75-300mm….

    My bets are that this lens is for a 75-300mm DX lens or (somewhere around that range) based mainly on my math, the stated angle of view and stated zoom range in the patent.

    I will sit down and plug in the numbers into my CAD software and do some playing round an see what I can get. More to follow when I have some free time

    • replacement for 50-200 FX f4 and i will jump happy

  • NikoDoby

    A new 80-400 would most definitely have AF-S. A constant f/4 aperture would be sweet! Maybe Nikon will introduce it along side the D300s? I’m still hoping for an updated f/1.4 85mm though.

  • Djonah

    google states in the abstract:”…Upon zooming from a wide-angle end state to a telephoto end state…”
    So we have a problem here…maybe another 18-??? lens we don’t need.

  • heartyfisher

    There is a table in the documents that shows that its 71.5 to 294. So its a 70-300 lens…

  • Astrophotographer

    Look at table 1 on page 74 of the patent. It shows a focal length of 70-300 f4-f5.6 (71.4-294 to be exact). So it doesn’t look like an 80-400. Also the diagram on page 1 is not the full lens, I suspect it’s the part relevant to the patent. Page t2 show the full lens. Or actually the 1st version. The patent shows 16 variations that I can find.

    • Anonymous

      Dear Admin, this reader did your job. If you want to build up any kind of serious reputation, for you and your site, start to act more like a journalist. In this case, read the source you use!

      If you pump up your investigations, you have the guns to become “enemy number one” for the marketing departments.

      About the lens, hopefully it’s not quite as soft as the current one above 200mm. But still, the updates comes fairly quickly!?

      • trust me, if I could make sense out of this 96 pages pattent, I would have done it and report back the details – since I cannot, I decided to post it and get the opinion of the readers.

        • Anonymous

          I seriously doubt that the reader that found out about the 70-300mm read every word, and for sure didn’t understand every single word in there.
          Scrolling through the thing, would have done the job.

          Don’t get me wrong. I really do like the site, and I’m grateful for what you do. I just think if you would put a little more professionalism into this, you could have a rock solid thing going on here.

          • no problem, I understand your point – there is always room for improvement

      • Astrophotographer

        I’ll defend the admin, this wasn’t easy to read. I have an advantage in I know a little about optical design (I’m not an engineer) so I knew what to look for.

        I think what everyone is missing is this is not for a specific lens but a general concept in zoom lenses. That why there are several different designs. And the figure on page 1 is representative of the patent and not a specific lens, none of the lens tables match it or refer it it.

        That said, Nikon may base future lenses off this patent.

        Look at patent 7,242,532 (which this one refers to) fig.1 to see the 70-300

  • heartyfisher

    Looked a bit more and it looks like a new 70-300 VR Constant F4 !! Cool !

  • heartyfisher

    Nope my bad …its F4 – 5.6

  • Zograf

    The “reader” who sent this info didn’t read the patent entirely — this is Nikkor 70-300 f4-5.6G. Look at the calculated examples (16 of them )at the end of the patent (96 pages in total),

    Nikon does not publish the patent of a lens before the product is out on the market. All Nikon patents I’ve seen is for products already on the market….

    A short-lived hope

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t a patent published by the time it gets approved?

    • then it must be a new 70-300, because the lens diagram on the current 70-300 is different – this front element is huge

      • mike

        Look at figure 61 on page 64. It’s the same as the current 70-300VR.

  • I would like to know whether the new Nikon focusing lens, if not, I intend to sell Nikon, Canon cameras and then buy

    • Hans

      your comment, any sense, doesn’t make

  • funny

    another 70-300mm? as if that’s what people were asking for…

  • Markus

    Please keep in mind, taht a patent application will be published about 18 months after the priority date which is the date when the first application was recieved by the national patent office.

    Since the Nikon patents most probably were first applied in Japan, there will be a interbnational phase (PCT) which has tio be initiated within 30 months after the priority date. After this PCT phase national patents (e.g. in the USA) are applied. So it could take many years (in my case the priority was April 2004 and the US patent was granted in early 2009) from priority date until you will se an US patent application published by the USPTO. Have a look on the priority date written on the first page of the patent/patent application. There can be even more than one priority date!

  • Neil

    I doubt it will relate to a new 70-300. No reason for them to do that. Besides, just because a patent is filed doesn’t mean that an actual product is following. Many patents are created for things that will never see the light of day.

  • Anonymous

    Well, actually I guess this is about the current 70-300mm VR, if you look at page 3 Fig. 1 and compare that to this picture from Nikon Germany, you’ll see some nasty parallels.

    • Djonah

      indeed, allmost exactly as de 70-300
      nicely seen!

  • Anon

    I think it’s just the old patent for the old 80-400 coming through. Patents take a long time, but the important bit is that if granted your patent is effective from the date you applied, so you can put it into production. Why would Nikon replace the 70-300 with this – the big front group is just going to make it cost more, and the 70-300 fills a cheaper/lighter market segment than the 80-400. To update the 80-400 with AFS would not require a new optical design (unless redesigned to allow movement of less glass for focusing).

    Worth considering is that if the 80-400 or 70-300 were any faster, the 80-400/4 would be a monster and expensive (100mm+ front element, that’s the same as a 200/2 or a 300/2.8) , and the 70-300/4 would cannibalise sales of the 300/4. And it’d be more expensive, removing its utility as the affordable zoom tele.

  • Marty mcfly

    U should hire a fulltime optical engineer. Do it. Do it

  • gsvrg

    well, i am not an optical engineer too, but, looking at the graphics in Nikon website the 70-200 (G) and 200-400 (G too) doesn’t have the last lens element (near the bayonet) (70-200 G) (200-700 G)

    since the 80-400 doesn’t have a G model, maybe it is!!

    *sorry if this information is wrong, as i said, i am not an optical engineer too

  • P

    I think is a new 70-200mm lens. This lens is on sale in DK alon with D300, and the optical layout looks more like the old 70-200.

  • I posted this already in another forum:

    Regarding the 70-300 patent: you can see from the main lens diagram that it is not obvious that this is the old 70-300 lens – the main patent diagram looks much more like the 80-400. Or let’s put it this way – it may be obvious to some, but it was not obvious to me. I did go through the patent and as you can see it contains multiple diagrams – for example the one on page 47 (diag 45) is different than the diagram on the first page. Also, if you have noticed, my post had a question mark – I was asking my readers for an opinion since I am not an optical engineer/expert and patents in general are difficult to read/understand. The post ratings shows that this was worth posting to my audience.

  • DrB

    It’s worth noting that the priority data on the US patent refers to Japanese patent applications filed back in 2004 & 2005 – don’t be fooled by the recent grant date, this is something Nikon invented some years ago, most likely sometime in 2003.

    The claims relate to a VR system for a particular grouping of lens elements – most likely for use in a specific lens. Based on the focal lengths mentioned in Tables 1, 2 and 3 in the specification (e.g. see the top of column 16 of the text), I’d say this is pretty conclusively the 70-300mm VR.

  • MB

    The patent is just a concept and not and actual lens design.

    • DrB

      Not true, the patent includes data relating to specific lens parameters. Look at the tables. The claims are also pretty narrow (as patent claims go), and were clearly framed with a specific lens in mind.

  • Narna

    Oh please tell me its a 70-210 F4 or a new zoom micro. Either or both in one would make me VERY happy.

  • Anonymous

    I hope it is 70-200/4

  • Judging on what Nikon has released in the recent past, I say this is a new AF-S 70-300VR f/4 G DX. We have the 10-24mm DX and possibly now a 70-300VR f/4 DX which puts a 24-70 f/4 DX also on the table. Release the new “DX Trinity” in conjunction with a D300s and for me it’s plausible. The f/2.8 lenses would be the “Pro” line, the f/4 would be the advanced amateur / semi-pro and then you have the consumer grade multi-aperature line.

    I honestly don’t see Nikon overlapping the 200-400mm f/4 with a AF-S 80-400VR f/4. With Nikon releasing models to compete directly with Canon (D5000, etc.) I’m not seeing a FX lens.

    I hope I’m wrong on this one.

  • Ivan

    If it’s an f/4 constant lens, then I’m pretty much sold! As much as I’d love a 70-200 it’s too damn expensive. Then again, there’s always the 80-200 AF-D, though if this 70-300 has VR.. augh, I don’t know, I love me that f/2.8.

  • Chris

    So I read through the patent and thought I’d offer my opinions. The lens diagrammed in Fig. 13 and described on page 77 (column 21 and 22) and table 4 seems to be the existing 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR. The optical designs are nearly identical (just compare the diagrams) and table 4 lists some key data:

    -focal length range 71.4mm-294mm
    -f-stop: 4.64-5.88.

    These values are rounded, like they often are when going from actual optical designs to labeling products for the market.

    The diagram also shows all groups moving forward when zooming towards the telephoto end of the range. This would correlate with the extending barrel on the 70-300.

    The diagram shows the front element (G1A or L11 for those following the diagram) as stationary when focusing, so this design is an IF (internal focusing) lens, as is the 70-300 VR.

    It’s also mildly interesting to note that the abberations (fig. 14) show almost no LCA at the wide end, and some coming in at the long end. That corresponds with the lens reviews I’ve read.

    The patent text also mentions an aperture stop mounted in front of and moved with the third lens group when zooming. I don’t have one of these lenses, but if someone reading this does, would they mind checking and reporting back? It would really be all we’d need to make this definite and call this a busted rumor.

    Regardless, I’m fairly certain this isn’t a patent for a new 80-400, nor any f/4 zooms. All of the optical designs discussed are of a similar form, and are (approx.) 70-300mm zoom ranges. Also, as others have pointed out, a US patent would not be issued until long after the lens was invented and sent to market.

    • Jeff

      wow. Someone actually read the post and used logic instead of jumping to irrational concussions. Kudos Chris.

  • Peter

    then what is it ?

  • Robb Mann

    My guess is this is likely the replacement for the 300 f4. Given the additional glass my guess is it will be a 300 f3.5. The only Nikon lenses w/o a rear element see the big telephotos, and the only big tele w/o a rear filter holder is the current 300 f4.0. I also remember a rumor about Nikon coming out with some semi-pro f3.5 glass, so it fits.

  • Kickmatic23

    New 70-300 or 80-400.. i’ll buy it as long as its reasonable and its DX. I was just going to buy the 70-300 VR but I’ll hold out until they announce a new lens

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