The latest Nikon lens patents

Nikon patent application 20120182617 is for a 300mm f/4 with VR. The interesting part is that the overall length of the lens is relatively short ~ 190mm (around 7.5 in.) with back focus - so real length would be ~150 mm, much shorter than the existing 300/f4 (222.5mm/8.8 in):

Size comparison between the new Nikon patent with diffraction surface and the current 300mm f/4 lens

In the patent calculations one of the surfaces is marked as "Diffraction surface" which is probably the reason for the compact lens size. I believe this is the first full lens patent with diffraction. See also Canon's explanation of the Diffractive Optical (DO) element.

Nikon also filed a patent in Japan for a 100-230mm f/4.718-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 18-200mm f/3.5-6.7 lenses:

Nikon 100-230mm f/4.7 lens patent

Nikon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens patent

Nikon 18-200mm f/3.5-6.7 lens patent

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  • Plug

    Please, please,please!! Want!!

    • fjfjjj

      Nikon: Doing it 10 years after Canon, better.™

      • Dweeb

        That’s about it. Hope it goes into production before I die.

        • Kurgan

          Oh it’ll go into production before then, just forget about ever actually seeing it in the stores…

          • Not Suprised

            You never know — could be released with the D600 or D4S/X.

    • Kon_Head

      About bloody time Nikon upgrade the 300/4, but DO could be pricey

      • Richard

        Yea, that’s my thought. If the price is jacked up too much Nikon will have failed tp provide an affordable 300mm f4 replacement. That would be a disappointment.

        If the lens is at the prior price point it should be a smash hit…and in short supply.

  • Great news… 300mm f/4 VR is certainly one I’d think about if it’s not too pricey say sub 120,000yen. Good to see some real rumours again after a pretty quiet July.

    • Phil

      Add another ‘0’ to that and you’ll probably be closer.

  • tifkat

    So, what effect on price does a DO element have?

    • Davide

      They raise it significantly:

      Canon 400mm F/5.6 is 1,300 USD
      Canon 400mm DO F/4 is 5,000 USD

      One stop improvement in aperture makes for a 2x cost, not 4x… Then, I guess the DO element is responsible for the remaining 2x

      • Oh apparently by moving from the 85 1.8 to the 1.4 you pay 3x more and only get 2/3 of a stop. Maybe your logic is slightly wrong…

        My guess is 1800 bucks if the lens has a build quality similar to the 70-200.

        • Davide

          You do have a point…

          But extreme aperture, short telephotos are not the same as mid-aperture long telephotos…

          Anyway, your guess is as good as mine. Time has the answer

      • mike

        + the cheaper one is sharper (400 f5.6). Canon Do lenses have poor contrast and they are not that sharp.

    • Dave

      First think to do it compare apples to apples, a lot of the cost difference is related to moving from f5.6 to f4.0.

      I have used the Canon 400 f4.0 DO and I beg to differ on it not being sharp. At 400mm f5.6 it’s a lot sharper than my 100-400 at 400mm f8, it might not be as sharp as the Canon 400mm f2.8 but then I can hand hold the f4 DO.

    • Astrophotographer

      DO optics will add to the price, but how much is hard to say. Nikon recently had patents on manufacturing DO optics. So in those may be ways of making them cheaper.

  • Davide

    FINALLY!!!!!!! Closing the gap with Canon’s massive range of reasonably priced telephotos!!!

    Now, a 400mm F/4 too please! 🙂

    Not sure about the implications of DO elements, but as long as image quality is worthy of Nikon’s name, the lighter/smaller the better!!!!!!!!

    Well done Nikon people!

    • Plug

      If DO could make similar reductions in the size of the fastest telephotos then that would be amassive advance. Depends on being able to maintain image quality though.

      • Roger

        Canon DO lenses do N O T maintain image quality, for what it’s worth. It has a negative impact on IQ, at least on 400/4 DO it does, that’s the one I tried

    • Orb Emmel

      Shorter, yes.

      Lighter: in your dreams! Twice the glass, so it won’t be light.

      • Plug

        According to Canon their 400 f4 DO lens is 26% shorter and 36% lighter than a conventional equivalent lens, so I am not so sure about your assertion.

  • Brendon

    What is the new 18-55 for?

    • AM

      To replace the existing one and charge more for it.

    • Josh

      It is probably an updated DX kit lens that will preform better with the high res bodies Nikon is moving to. The D3200 is already showing the limits of the current kit lens.

      • Orb Emmel

        Definitely the replacement of the current 18-55mm kit lens. As for the 18-200, considering apertures, it COULD be a cheaper and less capable version of the current 18-200 (aimed at the D3xxx / D5xxx crowd), which could be phased out for the 18-300mm (price points are too close between the two, currently, though there’s no comparison if size matters, as the 18-300 is quite larger and heavier than the 18-200).

      • badboy

        For the D800? Maybe it will be an intentionally modified lens to compensate the left lack of focus – LOL

  • Looks brillant a replacement to the already excellent 300 F4 Afs and with a compact design and Do element – probably knock the price up to £2000 / $3000 same as the Nikon 70-200 Afs VR f2.8 upon release with price following back to £1500 I would guest’emate.

    Hopefully be announced in a few weeks time…

  • clemens

    Somewhere I’ve read that in 2013 some new lenses for the 36mp of the D800 will be released . Does anybode know more?

    • Orb Emmel

      Do you really think that the 14-24mm, 24-70mm, 70-200mm, and the all the exotics are not worthy of a D800?

      So, appart from a smaller f/2.8 versions for the new wide primes, and updates to the 180mm f/2.8 and possibly 200mm f/4 macro, I don’t really see any huge need for an update.

      • Greg

        How about the PC-E line including a new 17mm???
        How about a 80-400 successor and a 70-200/4.0 – if you have to carry all the stuff around weight matters!
        And IMHO a 24-70/2.8 update with VR and internal zoom would be great too.

        • nuno santacana

          24-70 f/2.8 is ridiculously large, huge, big. You know what I mean.

          • karl

            Heavy is good, heavy is reliable. If it doesn’t work you can always hit them with it.

            • Joe


      • RK

        The 14-24 isn’t worthy of the d800 the edge of the frame is decidedly dodgy at 14mm.

      • clemens

        Oh no! I owe both, the 2,8/14-24mm and the 2,8/14-70mm and I know what they can. Somewhere I have read a test where the midrange lens had not the full solution for a D800. As far as I remember has the lens had about 150 pixels/mm where the D800 has about 200.
        My question was not critics, I just have read somewhere in the web that next year some lenses shall come with higher solution like the D800.

  • Pat Mann

    Based on Canon’s DO lens prices ($6400 for the 400 f/4, $1400 for the 70-300 f/5.6 zoom), I’d peg this at $US 3500, with a 400 f/5.6 possible at about the same price point.

    For an exceptional lens, ultra-compact for its focal length, snappy AF, this could be the must-have birder’s lens on DX. If there’s a new matched 1.4 extender, and it works well with the TC20E3, a real winner for the next generation of DX DSLRs with f/8 AF capability!

    Definitely on my wish list.

  • Orb Emmel

    Doesn’t the 100-230mm f/4.7 make you think that this is a intermediate design for a cheap and light 70-200mm f/4?

    It would need to be way cheaper and lighter to make me ditch the f/2.8, though, but it would make sense.

    • Tonio

      I think 100-230mm seems bizarre, unless it’s for the Nikon 1-system (super long telephoto in compact form — 270-620mm equivalent; 100mm happens to be the top end of the range for Nikon 1 atm)

      • Not Surprised

        Too dark. I have no idea why it would be this. Seems ridiculous.

    • karl
  • Looks like a nice update to the 300mm f/4. I bet it will be the “pro” version and the older model will exist (perhaps only for a while) as the “prosumer” version.

    Please Nikon – put a solid tripod mount on it. The existing model’s performance is compromised by the poor mount.

    • Pat Mann

      Yes, and with an Arca dovetail so we don’t have to buy a another expensive 3rd-party adapter. Why do we have to spend $200-300 more to get a solid mount for these Nikkor?

      • @Pat Mann…just buy the RRS collar and foot. I also agree with your statement about why Nikon doesn’t make a solid mount for the Nikkors; I think Nikon should just license the RRS products for their lens lineup so we don’t have to buy 3rd party adapters, they would just be included.

        • Pat Mann

          Nikon could certainly design their own without licensing anything from RRS.

          I’d not buy an RRS product if an alternate brand were available. I don’t want the profits on my purchases to support their politics.

          • Scott M

            Interesting about RRS politics. Are they leaning Ben and Jerry’s or Chik-Fil-A?

          • Pablo Ricaso

            I think he wants some leaning left stuff.

  • Landscape Photo

    Can we please have a compact & quality 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 VR for D800 !

    24-xxx lenses need lots of compromise, while 28-xxx lenses are inherently easier to design. 28mm is still wide for a walkaround lens, but you gain a lot of reach in a compact package. If you need really wide 24mm won’t cut anyway, and you’d likely resort to an ultra-wide lens in the bag.

    Btw, I mostly use a 28-200mm G which is fantastic (for outdoors), but it lacks VR. 28-300mm VR is a monster, clearly out of walkaround range.

    All we need is a 28-135mm VR about the size of the new 24-85mm VR, but with less distortion.

    • Jason

      There are so many mid range zoom f/3.5-5.6 why on earth do we need more? I hope Nikon never make another although rockwell seems to like them. The do all swiss army knife. The trouble is they do it all “Badly”

      Back to this thread and the prospect of a 3mm f4 is very exciting. I use the 500VR on the D4 and it allows me to use extenders so if this is the same it would be super for wildlife at a shorter range. it would be a very welcome lens. I hope they go ahead and make it soon.

  • Zoot

    Looks like a winner.

    Hope, and trust, that there will be rear lens element. The current lens is a very fine performer, but the open-ended rear dust collector makes me feel uncomfortable – which is one reason why the TC-14 stays semi-permanently in place on mine.

    Hope and trust, moreover, that it repeats the current lens’ near miraculous performance with the TC-14, and (joy of joys) produces something similar in performance with the TC20eIII. 600mm f8, with AFS and VR on a D800, all in a relatively inexpensive and portable package… Enticing

  • Smudger

    Diffraction optics = $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • dbltax

    Compact 300mm f/4 VR? Now there’s a tele lens I’d buy!

  • nuno santacana

    Why we can see patents about lenses and not a patent of D600 or D400? Or D900?

    • Funduro

      FIY: It’s called patents for a reason. The rumored D400 or D600 will not have patents if they do not have new electronic components, chips or electrical/mechanical patentable parts. Nikon will trademark the D400 and D600 names. Some of the parts are patented by the companies Nikon sources them from. Which is the answer why you see patents on lenses since each is designed by Nikon and do not want the 3rd party lens makers from stealing their designs easily.

    • Jabs


      Nikon patents lenses as an item and bodies as both individual parts that they make and the finished design or product plus its name.

  • nuno santacana

    Many of us are so hungry for D600 and D400 that we would appreciate a post about a post about the rumor of the next rumor concerning those cameras. Photokina is very close. Why we don’t have new rumors about new cameras?

    • +1.


    • Pat Mann

      There will be a rumor about the D400 before Photokina. The rumor will indicate whether or not it will be upgradable to 4k video and include a microphone array that points at the focus point.

  • Now, see. I was all ready to pounce on a 300/4 VR. Now, they add a diffraction optic and are going to double or triple the price. While it’s a great addition, I really wasn’t intending on spending $3500 on a 300/4. In that case, I’d rather pick up the incredible Sigma 120-300/2.8OS. (I know, that’s a monster at 6lbs and like 9″ though)


  • Interesting, but..

    ..yarh, right.. another patent that will not produce a material product that will actually see the light of day while I still breathe..

    Nowadays, Nikon seems more interested in producing useless hulking Behemoths than actually usable and affordable-to-mortals lenses.

  • While I REALLY want a 300 f4 with VR the current market price for the non VR is really cheap. If they add VR I know the price will go up, but adding DO as well? I think I that will take it out of the “budget telephoto” range and not really close the hole compared to Canons 300 f4 IS and 400 f5.6, which while old lenses have proven to be excellent.

    This has to weigh in under £1300 imo or else people will look to the Sigma 120-300 OS as that’s already down to £2000 and is 1 stop faster, zooms and reportedly excellent.

    • Jason

      Personally I hope they make the best lens that technology allows. Namely DO and VR. People will always look at the Sigma and others will want the best.

      • Those who want the best will be looking at the 300 2.8 VR surely?

        • Jason

          Well I for one would love a 300mm f4 with VR and DO. I hope they don’t compromise this solely budget reasons.

          • Funduro

            I got my 300mm f/4, it’s paid for and keeping it. TC-14 and gimbal head I’m done. Can’t afford the f/2.8, 400 and 500mm bazookas.

            That new lens will no doubt cost more because it’s a cutting edge design(compact/DO thingy) with VR also. I won’t be surprised if they use some lenses NOT made of glass to lower the weight and manufacturing cost. Yes that’s all speculation on my part.

            • While a lighter DO lens for say £2000-£2500 would be an awesome idea, I feel half the point of a f4 tele lens is the price is less than a 2.8 one.

              If you can’t afford a 2.8 then why pay for DO just for the wight saving when not having it would mean a far cheaper product with just as good image quality.

            • Mark

              I won’t be surprised if they use some lenses NOT made of glass to lower the weight and manufacturing cost. Yes that’s all speculation on my part.

              Good thought by the way …

        • Mike

          Those with deep pockets, and don’t call me Shirley. : )

  • Dave

    Any rumors on the D400 or D600?

    • fjfjjj

      Yes. The D400 will have a 54Mp DX sensor that shoots 14fps, and also does 4k video at up to 90fps. The D600 will have a 12Mp FX sensor, 5fps, and no video.

      • Victor Hassleblood

        LOL, good one.

      • Pat Mann

        That’s the D400x you’ve leaked. Now you’ve gone and done it. Nobody will buy a D400 waiting for this, and Nikon will go out of business after all their R&D on their most advanced product release ever goes down the toilet. We’ll be left with Canon and Sony, and of course for the one percent, blond ostrich-leather titanium Leicas with the matching belt. Where’s the joy in that?

        • Funduro

          That Leica’s flash unit will be made from Unobtanium.

  • I just sold my 300mm F/4 AF-S, but would be a VR version that was a bit smaller and hopefully lighter. I agree with the other comment about it needing a good tripod mount. If the price is not a killer, I’d get it.

    I wonder if they are going to update the 180mm f/2.8D. That is one of my favorite lenses. VR would be a welcome addition, but I would not want the lens too much larger or heavier.

  • Qweag

    100-230mm f/4.7 ? .. why bother with this lens ? short zoom lenght .. would have preferred it to be 100-300 like the older sigma. Absolutely no interest in this since I can toss a 1.4tc on my 70-200 and be at f4 with almost the same zoom (280 vs 300)

  • Is the 100-230mm lens for DX? If it is, then it’s effective focal length would be 150-345mm, which seems a bit less unusual, especially with a relatively slow speed.

  • Art

    What I would like to see is a tack sharp 200-400 f5.6 or perhaps a 200-500 f5.6 that is perhaps a tad slower than the current 200-400 f4.0 but more compact and more reasonably priced. I’d envision it being of similar size to the 80-400 or 70-200 making it more portable.

    For landscape, I need the sharpness and portability more than I need the speed.

    • Davide

      You do landscape with 200-400?

  • C. Norris

    300 f/4 with VR? Come on Nikon, no one cares about this lens anymore. Adding VR to it is a gigantic waste. The patented DX lenses – NOW THOSE ARE EXCITING! New 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6?? wow sign me up! I also like how the new 18-200mm f/3.5-6.7 goes up to 6.7.. less light but more DOF. I hope Nikon adds tripod foot for the 18-55 and 18-200, these would be a dream wildlife lenses for sure!!!

    • lololol.


    • Cenk

      Your comment is really ridiculous… An updated version of 300 mm f/4 AFS lens is the most anticipated one at the moment…

  • Charlie Martin

    Yes. It’s about time. Will need to save up for this lens. Hopefully it will be better than my previous lens, which was stolen.

  • Other Greg

    Wait, diffraction is a good thing now? This is indeed a brave new world…

  • Nikonuser

    Nikon, if they come out with this lens, would be well advised to also keep the current 300/4 in production, much as they did with the 80-200/2.8 and 17-35/2.8 years ago even though they have the newer 70-200 VR II and 14-24/2.8 (which doesn’t take filters).

    • Pablo Ricasso

      I think that diffraction optics reduces the size, cost, and quality of the lens. Nikon’s 400 f3.5 cost more than it’s 300 f2.8 while Canon’s 400 f4 is smaller and cheaper than their overly expensive 300 f2.8. I looked at Canon’s sample image once and I have to wonder what they and their customers were thinking. Maybe the edges are sharp but I can’t tell because the image is so * flat that it looks like it was taken by a brand x lens that was made in the 1960s, kind of like someone tried to paint it in cheap watercolor. Of course, I imagine most of the people who are used to using Canon consumer gear probably don’t notice the difference…

      • Jabs


        Nikon stopped making the 400 F3.5 ages ago, so maybe you meant 400 F2.8?

        • Pablo Ricasso

          Nope. Each stop doubles the weight with those telephotos. I used the 3.5 because it is within 1/3 of a stop of the f4 Canon junk.
          The Nikon 400 f3.5 was longer, heavier, and more expensive than the superb manual focus 300 f2.8. The Canon 400 f4 is shorter, lighter, and cheaper than their expensive auto focus 300 f2.8. I would compare newer Nikon lenses IF Nikon had a current 400 f4 or f3.5 lens.

          • Jabs

            @Pablo – OK, I got you but many older lenses are larger than newer lenses while some newer ones are smaller.

            Old 80-200 F2.8 was a monster compared to newer 80-200 AF designs
            Old 35 F1.4 is small compared to new 35 F1.4 G
            Same with 55 F2.8 Micro-Nikkor compared to AF versions.

            Long time Nikon user from the F3 film days, so wondered what you were trying to state. Thanks for clearing that up.

            Now to compare old 300mm F2.0 AiS to any newer AF lens and then laugh.

      • Funduro

        Well stated Pablo. Just because the marketing people say to build a particular lens, with a given dimension does not mean it will match the performance of the older tried and true designs. Laws of unintended consequences and compromises have a way of stating the flaws of a product. Making lenses is an art form. Marketing Dodo brains and pencil geeks could care less of the final product. The “we got one too” is a flawed outdated model.

      • Jabs
  • Ray

    Looks like that back focus would break compatibility with teleconverters?

    So that 300mm will always be 300mm, never 450mm or 600mm…

  • C_QQ_C

    “18-200mm f/3.5-6.7 ”

    Surely not for a DSLR, since nikon always says they won’t AF whit lenses above 5.6 …??

    Or will there be a mirrorless APS-C camera that can AF on the main sensor ?

  • tnt

    Hope nikon will do a better job with their DO tech. Canon’s was a disaster!

  • John

    Admin –

    A better explanation of diffractive optics on the Canon website is here:

    • Donz

      Thanks, that’s a helpful article explaining it.
      From the comments above, it sounds like the actual DO lens didn’t live up to the hype.

  • Jabs

    Love the 300mm F4 AF as used it back in the film days with my F3HP, F4T, F3AF and F4s – great lens and looking forward to buying an updated version now for my D700.

  • If this performs better than the existing 300mm f/4 and and works very well with the TC-20E III, I want one.

  • T.I.M

    f/4 is to slow, I was shooting pool race this morning shutter speed was 1/500-1/1000 with the AF-s 200mm f/2 and ISO 800.
    I would have to push ISO to 3200 to get the same results with the 300mm f/4

  • Crud

    If the canon DO lenses are anything to go by, You get reduced Sharpness, poor bokeh and weird haze, all for over 2 times the price! Bargain!
    Let’s see if nikon can do any better.

    • Plug

      The Canon lenses, I suspect, were variable in quality and some were dogs. But the technology is now some years older and I hope that Nikon have the ability to give us a top order lens with DO. Interesting times, we should keep open minds.

  • Scales USA

    Canon has been patenting a lot of new diffraction technology, and lenses too, but has not yet announced a lens. It will indeed allow for a much shorter lens, and by having a diffraction lens bonded to a glass lens, it will not really be equivalent to the 12 year old lenses.

    It works by having particles dispersed in a resin matria and allows for diffraction that varies radially, which potentially allows for a short lens with CA unter control.

    The issue has been to make the diffraction element with tight and consistent control of the amount of diffraction for all colors.

    Apparently, producing them at a affordable price hasn’t happened yet. Tons of patents, but no products.

  • Don’t do the DO

    No need for DO. Also the canon 400 F/4 DO isn’t that good. My friend got one and returned/sold it soon after because of lack of sharpness. Maybe Nikon can do better though.

    I want them to make a 300f/4 replacement, VR is nice too (like the Canon one has IS) but DO just adds unnecessary cost IMHO.

    • Plug

      The Canon’s performance is not necessarily relevant. Most new technology in products has faults early on but then the advances give the edge. Early digital cameras were crap alongside film. Should we have stuck therefore with film? I don’t think so.


  • hey NIKON!! a 400mm f5.6 VR lens please!!!!

    • Susan


    • Mike Curtis

      Even a 400mm f4 with VR. The f2.8 asks a lot of bank for that extra stop.

  • WouterJ

    The current 300 f/4 is an amazing lens, because it is sharp, cheap and focuses closely.
    It will be very hard for Nikon to hit the sweep spot again, and that might be the reason why we haven’t seen an update yet.

    So this patent worries me a bit, because it definately won’t be cheap and probably a bridge to far for the prosumer market.

    Still, if IQ is amazing, it can be a nice lens for those unable/unwilling to handle the weight the weight of the 300 2.8 VR.

    • WouterJ

      Then again, it is just a patent.
      We have seen many patents, but few new lenses.

  • PAG

    When I saw the patent for the 300mm f/4, my credit card jumped out of my wallet under its own power. If they release that, a D400, and a replacement for the 80-400mm this year, my bank account is going to take a beating.

  • Pablo Ricasso

    If Nikon wishes to divert it’s excellent resources toward copying that which Canon does it should consider adopting the titanium/magnesium construction that has been used in the latest long telephotos and hopefully provide a less expensive implementation. I know that I truly dislike Canon, but I noted that the >>>>>13,000$$$$$+!<<<<< 600 f4IS is somewhat hand holdable and provides what appears in my eyes as amazing image quality.

  • Mike M

    Not sure how I missed this one, if they can improve on what Canon has achieved and keep the price reasonable this lens could be pretty legendary. If the costs get out of control I think a lot of people will be looking at second hand 300 2.8’s though… The specs suggest its similar in size to the venerable 180 f2.8 which is a GREAT form factor, I’m sure it’ll be fatter and heavier, but I can live with that.

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