Review of the latest Nikon patents

Nikon filed a patent in Japan for a full frame 55-300mm f/2.8-4 lens:

  • Patent 2011-90185
  • Published: May 6th, 2011
  • Filed: October 23rd, 2009
  • Focal length: 56.5 - 291.995mm
  • Aperture: 2.880 - 4.143
  • Angle of view: 43.005 - 8.313 °
  • Image height: 21.6mm (full frame)
  • Inner Focus
  • Image stabilization (VR)
  • Some of the described designs are with aspherical element

Patent application 2009-153736 is for an artificial DOF/Bokeh achieved by comparing and analyzing several images taken at different apertures and creating a final photo with a shallower depth of field:

"It is difficult for an image sensor to photo a picture with shallow depth of field generally like the picture photoed with the large camera by the picture which the image sensor photoed with the small camera. For this reason, the technique of compounding both and adding digital Bokeh from the picture of two or more sheets from which a photographing condition differs, is known. The Japanese quince function of fields other than a major object is guessed from comparison of a picture from which depth of field differs, and the technique of creating a picture with the shallower depth of focus is also known."

Japanese patent application 2009-152153 is for a lens barrel with internal power supply (most likely intended for the Nikon mirrorless camera):

"Problem to be solved: To provide a photographic lens having a compact and light-weight lens barrel by reducing the size of a built-in electric power source part.

Solution: The photographic lens 2 detachable from a camera 12 includes: drive control parts 32, 34 for drive-controlling at least either a plurality of lens members 16, 18, 22 constituting the photographic lens, or the lens barrel 8 storing the lens members, to be located in a shooting position when imaging, and a reset position when not imaging; and a power storing part 30 to be charged from a power source part 40 provided in the camera when the photographic lens is mounted on the camera, and supplying electric power to the drive control parts when the photographic lens is removed from the camera. The power storing part stores the amount of charge required for driving at least once the lens members or the lens barrel to the reset position."

Patent application 20110096197 is for some kind of a "social media" camera where users can comunicate with each other wirelessly:

"In an electronic apparatus having a user identification function or in a user identification method, an electronic apparatus and an electronic instrument having stored therein user personal information communicate in wireless with each other so as to enable the electronic apparatus to automatically identify the electronic apparatus user."

Patent application 20110075102 is for a "Projector Device, Portable Telephone and Camera".

As aways I have to remind you that Nikon patent applications may or may not lead to a final production model.

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  • Geoff

    Sounds like a consumer lens to me. Maybe they are planning to release a consumer grade FF camera. I could skip super weather sealing as I dont plan to shoot in the rain, snow or sandstorms.

    • ShutterMonkey

      It does sound like a consumer lens — but I’d guess priced towards enthusiasts, like the 300mm f4 AF-S, and 80-400mm VR.

      I think it fits a need, although I’d rather see a 100-400 with a similar focal range or f/4. Sports shooters wanting AF-S are stuck jumping from 70-300mm VR to the 70-200mm f/2.8 — with nothing in the middle. Wildlife shooters are in the same boat — although the 300mm f/4 AF-S is an option.

      Thom’s lens survey (a while back) showed a positive response to “100-300mm f/4G VR AF-S” as a proposed lens. I think a 100-400mm f/4 would be more useful for a few reasons:
      i. They just released a 28-300mm FF superzoom last year
      ii. This lens is probably too large to be used in place of the 18-200 or 28-300 superzooms.
      iii. It comes short of the 80-400mm VR, so they’ll still have to update that lens to AF-S anyway.
      iv. If I want the benefits of f4 AF or DOF at 300mm, I’m probably not planning to spend much time at 55mm (eg. wildlife photography). That said, if I want f4 at 300mm, then I probably want as much reach that can fit in a small package.

      That said, if its optics match the 70-300mm VR and 300mm f/4, I’d ditch my zoom and my 300mm f4 AF for it. Unless of course, I had reason to expect the release of an f4 lens of the focal length I actually want :p

      • Jim Jones

        + 1
        Well concluded shutter monkey!

        • ‘Arry Garnt

          400mm @ F4 is going to be £4/5k , look at the 200-400mm we have now…..

          • Yes, 100-400 F 2.8-4 would be very expensive, Nice but very expensive. Frequent readers will recall this subject coming up a few months ago with the same conclusion.

      • Eric

        Have you seen the size of 200-400 f/4?
        Forget about 100-400 f/4. Way too expensive and unusable.

        • ShutterMonkey

          Even if they made it f4 through 300mm, I’m sure people would welcome f5.6 at 400mm, since that’s what they’re getting with their TCs on a 300mm anyway. Look how popular the Canon 100-400 is, granted, it falls short of the mark with f4.5 min.

          I still don’t get why they would hang on to a wide end of 55mm for this lens — I think it would be too much of a compromise optically to extend the range this far. (Clearly, it *is* a popular range, I’d just rather see the tele end of it done well than have that added flexibility on the wide end)

          • I would happily plunk down for a 400 f/5.6 or 500 f/5.6…

    • I can’t say a consumer grade FX body is in the works. We are seeing sub pro FX lenses for D700 (and successor) users similar to what Canon has been doing all along. This goes in the line with the 24-120 f/4 and the new 28-300.

  • Global

    That would be foolish. There is already the 55-300DX, 28-300, 70-300, 300/2.8, 300/4, and wonderful 70-200VRII. Nikon does not need to waste time on their redundant lenses lengths.

    They need a pro 400-600/4, that accepts a teleconverter!

    And a magical 200-500 already.

    • gt

      there’s definitely no 55-300mm F2.8 – F4.

      That is one lens I actually don’t think is foolish. I wish they released that instead of the current 55-300mm

      • I also hope for 55-300 f/2.8-f/4, optimised for 300mm.

        • NRC

          Yup, I certainly like my 70-300VR, but it would be great to get those extra stops. And optimized for 300mm? That would be awesome.

    • mikils

      Hey! the 300 2.8 is wonderful too!

      • Franco DMD

        yeah but not all of us have the dough to buy it!

    • Smudger



      Want it.


    • Mike

      Global wrote: “That would be foolish. There is already the 55-300DX, 28-300, 70-300, 300/2.8, 300/4, and wonderful 70-200VRII. Nikon does not need to waste time on their redundant lenses lengths.”

      How many 18-xxx lenses did they spit out? Nikon is not shy about repeating themselves. But there is a big gap between the $600 70-300 VR and the $2000 70-200 II (as far as FX lenses go). The former is f/5.6 on the long end (and soft at that), and the latter doesn’t go to 300 mm without help. A 55-300 2.8-4 VR is something that interests me more than either.

  • Ben Hipple

    With prices going up more people will be buying simi-pro lenses because the 2.8 constant ones are too expensive.

    2.8-4 would be a good choice for a lot of people

    • Segura

      Pros will keep buying the 2.8s

      • Pros are a very small proportion of the buyer’s market.

  • Sounds like a good lens for hobbyist photographs who don’t want to spend too much money but at the same time need a bit more leeway, I’d imagine this lens will be $1400 or so?

    • WoutK89

      Seems like THE response to the Canon L 70-300.

      • busynbored

        Not a bad thought that….

  • Camaman

    f4 or f2.8-4 line up refresh with better glass than current enthusiast/consumer zooms is what would be awesome!
    Future cameras will demand it! 🙂

  • Mark

    if this lens would be affordable (~$1400) I would definitely buy it. For concerts, it obsoletes my 50mm f1.4 and 55-200DX.
    It would be great to have a lens that you can shoot at a standard focal length as well as tele, comined with a large aperture that can give you very nice low dof on every focal length.
    The 70-200 f2.8 is just too expensive for us D7000 shooters and we still want to have bigger apertures available

    • noexani

      Are you people kidding me? Consumer lens? What are we basing that on, the variable aperture?

      This lens is going to be MASSIVE! 77mm front filter (at least). Anyone looked at the size and price of the 300mm f/4? Hell, this lens even throws in free 70-200 and some. Unless it’s super crappy optics and build quality, think £2000/$3000 price point for this monster.

      • Mark

        Valid point

    • I bought a used 70-200 2.8 from my camera store. Sweet lens even though it’s not the VRII. I’d suggest you save your money up to buy the good glass. You’ll never regret it.

      However, ByThom always said: “Upgreade your technique before your upgrade your gear”

  • tere

    This only means one thing. A Full-frame D9000 is coming.

    • Bernd

      You’re sure it won’t be a medium format D128000i ?

  • FM-2 fan

    wait a minute – such zoom starting at 55mm … and what about the macro capabilities? If any “enthusiast” is to be attracte: allow real macros – the 150-300mm range make it really attractive. The 55-150 is not too important – is it? A 24-120 or 35-85 and the new lens design provide a nice overlap which reduces the need to changes lens too often.

    The real interesting news is the “artificial boceh” – generally speaking: an application to manage DOF is really interesting – to lower or to enhace DOF – Nikon should take some effort to enhave their software for a major release (anyone listening?)

    capture NX is diferent – some may say strange – but works nicely – please enhance it Nikon…

    • PaintedRays

      Artificial bokeh will be aimed for the point and shoot market. DSLR’s can achieve the blur they desire already.

      ShutterMonkey has it right. A 100-400 f4 VR is what is missing. Focus Nikon, focus!

  • Astrophotographer

    The 55-300 appears to be a 21/16 design. That’s as much glass as the 70-200 2.8. So likely a similar price.

    • kaze kaze

      +1 to being closely resemble the 70-200 from a CS view

      IMO I see it like a counter thing to C-camp recently release of the 70-300 4-5.6 L IS, variable aparture (non IZ), weather sealed, IS (c-camp VR) and oh, tat red ring thingy.

    • iamlucky13

      I concur based on the basic specs: Greater zoom range offset by a slower aperture at the long end. Over $2000 sounds likely.

      As someone else pointed out, the front element has to be big – 77mm as a minimum. This will be a relatively large and heavy lens.

      If its sharpness is close to that of the 70-200 and it plays well with TC’s, it could be an interesting alternative.

  • danpe

    “Image height: 21.6mm (full frame)”
    36×24 mm is normal 35 mm film (FX), 21.6 seems more like Canon APS-H (1.3 crop)?

    • Astrophotographer

      Image height refers to the distance from the optical center to the edge. So double it for the diagonal, 43.2, the diagonal of the 35mm frame.

      • danpe

        Thanks, that makees much more sense!
        So we’re looking at the child of 70-200/2.8 and 300/4. Makes me wonder if the guy who designed it has kids playing soccer. 🙂

  • cdemo

    Looks like a great kit lens, possible bundled with the new generation Dxx and Dxxx series of cameras.

    Possibly a full frame or near full frame camera upgrade kit option.

    I say a sub $1000 lens build with a new focusing motor option to reduce price.

    • cdemo

      This lens would make for a good entry all in one lens for the DSLR video market, indie film market type all in one kit. Also used on EVIL camera as well.

    • Bernd

      Certainly NOT a full-frame lens – the image height of 21.6 mm indicates that it’s a DX lens.

      Not sure about the kit lens idea either – they have the 55-300 f/4.5-5.6 which is the affordable option that is included in ‘extended’ kits together with the 18-55. This new design will be a much more expensive lens so I don’t think it will be included in a lot of camera kits (maybe only the high-end ones). It’s more likely that both 55-300’s will live side-by-side.

      • Chris Lilley

        Radius, not diameter. 21.6mm is 35mm full frame (24x36mm). Look at the x-axis of any full-frame MTF chart.

  • cdemo

    Hey, NR admin,

    Have you done a Nikon patent time line, have all these patents come recently or is this a normal patent filing cycle for Nikon?

    • In the US the patents are updated every Thursday, I scan them every few weeks plus I have few readers that also send me interesting finds.

  • Brian

    Very interested! I hope it’s affordable…

  • busynbored

    This lens could be great for wildlife photoghraphers, especially if
    1> if it had good performance with TC14
    2> if it did not have significant focus breathing……

    The 55mm lower end is useful, i do use the 70 mm end of my 70-300VR for landscape details etc, but find it constricting. 55 would’nt be bad there….

    • plug

      I do lots of wildlife and disagree. 24-70 f2.8+ 70-200 f2.8 + 300 f2.8 + TC17 is what I use with a D700 and a D7000. Expensive, yes, but picture quality is assured, there is huge flexibility on angle of view and all is portable in a backpack. I would prefer a 300 f4 with VR to lighten the load somewhat and I don’t think the lost stop would matter too much.

      • Well, the quality on this is unknown!
        IF IT WORKS WELL, putting this on a camera…
        with a 18-55 for wider end grab shots stopped down…
        TC14 for reach, and a
        +3 two element diopter for macro (if filter size is upto 77mm)
        completes my kit with camera in hand, and all the rest in pockets!

        I don’t dispute your decision to go with quality…. I merely point out that this approoach may also work for some. I’d love a 300/4 vr too…. tried to buy the current one used twice but deals didn’t come off… so decided that I won’t buy non VR… wait it out.

  • Mikko

    Somehow it looks like Nikon is trying to develop a really good replacement for the old 80-400 VR. You just can’t know how good the lens could be before prototype can be tested. If it fails to be good they still file a patent for it.

    • I agree, seems like this would be a logical and long overdue replacement for the 80-400. Seems Canon’s 100-400 IS has sold well for them. Makes sense to me that Nikon might follow suit.

      Personally, I’d prefer a constant F4, but I think the size, weight, and cost would limit sales. Thus my bet would be variable aperture such as F4 – 5.6 ect. Would bet AFS is almost a given, and if we’re lucky they’ll throw in at least some Nano coating.

      • Forget my previous. Clearly didn’t pay attention to the specs in article. Will just say 55-300 2.8 sounds interesting if heavy and pricey.

  • Discontinued

    Many of the comments suggest that a 55-300 2.8-4.0 can’t be aimed at professionals in any way, whereas a 70-200 2.8 would be pro in itself. Grow up …

    …and guess what:
    If this lens materializes to the same standards and quality it will give you much more possibilities and better IQ on a D700 or D800 than a 70-200 2.8 on a D2 has ever given to anyone.

    Nikon can count me in for both, the D800 and this lens, if they turn out to be targeted at demanding togs.

  • inginerul

    This sounds like a really expensive lens. You can’t design a tele zoom with FX coverage, make it 2.8-4, and call it enthusiast, cause no enthusiast could afford it. It will definitely be expensive and the reason it is 2.8-4 is the fact that only sigma took the gamble and designed a zoom with 2,8 at 300 mm, with a weight next to 3 kilograms at 2500 $, imagine a nikon branded alternative.. probably 4k $.

    My prediction is that if this lens turns out to be true, it will cost the best part of 1800$.

  • Chris P

    F4 at the 300 mm end would indicate a 77mm filter thread being possible, and being variable aperture it should be no bigger physically than the 70-200 f2.8, with a zoom range over 50% larger. If it is optically of a standard approaching the pro f2.8 zooms I would be very tempted. Paired with the 16-35 f4 it would make a nice two lenses travel outfit.

  • broxibear

    Patents are boring, so here’s Marilyn Monroe with a Nikon F…

  • wongsimage

    wow…what a lens….well…I hope nikon one day will release zoom lens for small studio…something like AF-S 35-105/2.8G ED or even 35-1o5/2G :D….with build quality of 24-70/2.8 rather than 24-120/4…

    • Chris P

      A 35-105 f2.8 would be top of my shopping list.

      I was hoping that instead of the 24-120 f4, actually 26-116, “never mind the quality, feel the width” f4 that we got, Nikon were going to introduce a f4 update of the old 28-105 f3.5-4.5 with internal focussing like the 16-35 f4, although that also should have been an update of the 18-35 f3.5-4.5. It also appears to suffer from “never mind the quality feel the width” syndrome, most reviews seem to have found that it is not that good between 16-18 & 32-35mm

      • wongsimage

        yeah…I do mostly portrait these days…35-105/2.8 would be glued on my D700. or maybe AF-S 50-135/2G ED 😀

  • To me, producing this would just be another of Nikon’s moves that fall into the category of throwing a quiver of arrows at the same target and then wondering why so few of them hit the mark.

    Think about it: one of the best sellers in the lineup is the 70-200mm f/2.8, and it’s a damned fine lens. If you’re already into that range, you’ve probably got it. Meanwhile, if you’re new to FX and looking for the one-lens solution, we’ve got the 28-300mm. So who exactly is going to buy this lens, and for what reason?

    Well, the person who has the 70-200mm and 300mm f/4 might, as it means they don’t have to change lenses. And the person who buys the 28-300mm and discovers they need more horsepower might, say, buy the 16-35mm and 55-300mm set as an “upgrade” (an expensive and heavy upgrade at that). It might appeal to a DX user who bought the DX 55-300mm and is looking for faster. But who else would buy it and for what reason?

    There’s no particular demand for this lens. It doesn’t target the semi-popular 100-300mm f/2.8 Sigma, which might be a better solution for those 70-200+300 owners as a one-lens solution.

    Meanwhile, lenses that would be in high demand still don’t seem to be in the process of design at Nikon.

    • Trevor

      Uh, well, it is just a patent, filed in 2009 no less. I think what Nikon has time to engineer and patent far exceeds what they have time or want to produce and market. Plus, it’s always a sound business decision to patent something you design, even if you have no intention of ever producing it.

      I can’t find the 55-300DX patent date, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it and this coincide, but the DX is what we got.

      More interesting to me is the digital bokeh patent. If that could work, small sensor just became a lot more attractive (literally and figuratively).

    • Victor Hassleblood

      why don’t you just read through the comments? There is more than one answer and such lens obviously appreciated by some. None of the existing designs provides the same specs/is done for the very same purpose. Just because you don’t have a “particular demand” for such lens surely doesn’t mean there isn’t any.

      What if Nikon does not intend to ever provide a 4.0 300mm VR but the one contained in this zoom? Relatively slow primes could very well become a thing of the past and many of such lenses have already vanished: 85mm 2.0, 135mm 2.8, 200 4.0 …

      There have been much more arrows in the past than today. Think about it.

      • When I said “no demand” I didn’t mean me, I meant the tens of thousands of Nikon DSLR users I’ve surveyed. The number one demand is not another way to reach 300mm at f/4, it’s a way to reach 400mm affordably. The number one demand is not to extend the reach of the 70-200mm f/2.8, it’s to provide a smaller, lighter alternative.

        At the time I posted, there were 11 positive comments out of almost 60. However, most of those positive comments tended to think this was a consumer lens that will sell for US$1399. It’s not, it’s a prosumer/pro lens that will retail for over US$2000. And it’s a big lens, about the same length as the current 300mm f/4, but with a larger barrel and significantly heavier due to all the glass inside.

        • Victor Hassleblood


          why do you care so much about 11 negative or positive comments out of whatever, when you’ve established the one and only demand scientifically? And how could there possibly be two number one demands?
          What about the third, fourth, fifth and sixth (number one) demand?Ain’t it clever to meet them too?
          And how come you compare DX with FX, apples with pears and a mediocre 28-300 with the heavy and proish up to pro 2.8-4.0 55-300? And what is that “throwing a quiver of arrows” talking about, if these lenses target different purposes and photographers using different formats?
          Didn’t Nikon listen to your scientific survey? Not enough attention? I guess so, because it sounds all pretty bitter and contradictory to me.
          Cheer up, the lens will sell like hot cake.

          • tere

            Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, you don’t need to attack Thom personally.

  • looks interesting with the 1.5x factor it reaches up to 450 at f.4 at what price ??

    • John

      450 @ f/6

      • Trevor

        I believe he meant putting it on a DX body. So, it would still be f/4.

  • Chuck

    To me Nikon seems to be shotgunning (short barrel, no choke, scattergun) its lens lineup and development. No specific target, just flock shooting. Put enough BBs in the air and hoping something will fall out of the sky. I have to wonder who is driving things. I recall the riddle about the definition of a camel … a horse built by committee. Are any of the committee members real world photographers or just engineers (buried in theory and calculations) and bean counter (profit is the only concern?)

    That said, the 80-400 is ancient, has well known shortcomings, and is currently priced at $1,850. The only alternative in a zoom is the 200-400 at well over three times the price … if you can find one. I think Sigma has the right idea with their 150-500. I would put the money down right now for a Nikon 150-500 with AF-S, VR II, and decent IQ at the long end. I don’t think many people buy a long (XXX-300/500mm) zoom hoping it will be sharp in the middle of the zoom range. I would think that Nikon could build it for roughly twice the price of the Sigma.

  • SNRatio

    If this lens is not overly expensive, and good in the 200-300 range as well as with 1.4TC, it could sell really well. If it is as good as the 70-300 fully open in the short end, it could be useful for portraits, and a bigger reach alternative to the 70-200 is always welcome. I have both the older AF-S 80-200/2.8 and the 70-300 VR, but still, this lens would be very interesting for me. In particular if it takes a TC well and doubles as an 80-450/4-5.6.

    But it must be considerably better than the 70-300 in the long end to be really tempting.

    • plug

      Only primes really guarantee the highest quality. 300 f4 please Nikon. The long end of high-ratio zooms often suffers.

  • Mike

    a 55-300mm f/2.8-4 would just make me cream myself.

    I honestly hope they can magic it to be 2.8 all the way to 200. If so, I don’t even know. It just might replace the 70-200 in my bag.

    It better look badass though, none of the new looks the VRI looked way more badass.

  • Mike

    It will be priced around $1200-$1400 at release. (Of course depending on current yen trends of the day, and how well they’ve progressed from the earthquake, and of course no more earth shattering events happening there).

  • Mike

    If nikon ever releases a 14 or 15-55 f/2.8-3.5 VR, I’ll have gone to heaven with these two lenses.

  • opterown

    this would totally be a great counter to Canon’s 70-300L and 70-200/4L IS in one.

  • Qua Patet Orbis

    100-400 F4 and 100-500 F 5:6

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