Nikon’s patent for a 32mm f/1.2 mirrorless lens

Nikon 32mm f1.2 mirrorless lens patent

Nikon filed patent 2012-185263 in Japan for a Nikon 32mm f/1.2 mirrorless lens (aprox. 85mm equivalent):

  • Patent filing date: March 4, 2011
  • F = 32.0mm (focal length)
  • Fno. = 1.24 (aperture)
  • 2ω = 25.87°  (half angle of view)
  • Y = 8.19mm (image height)
  • Lens length = 58.02mm
  • BF = 15.70 - 17.32mm (back focus)
  • Lens design: 9 elements in 7 groups

The patented 32mm f/1.2 lens will probably look like this fast prime lens prototype for portrait photography:


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  • Very cool. Lenses like these are exactly what the system needs.


    • jec6613

      I agree. A few more and it’ll be in very good shape. And for sanity’s sake, they’re all taking 40.5 mm filters and caps. Since this only needs a 27 mm front element, I assume this will continue that trend.

      • That was the very thing I was thinking, when I saw the prototype.

        Why has the lens barrel to be this thick? Is the AF system this large?
        Can anyone explain this?

        • jec6613

          That’s just a prototype, we’ll see how it comes out. My guess is that between the size of the glass for a fast prime, the AF system and possibly a VR system (which would be very nice to have on this lens, although I find it unlikely) would take up the space.

  • hunt

    can we talk it up to a f/1.0? just kidding I know it’s impossible.

    • Bryant

      not impossible. Canon had their 50 1.0L, and even check out the voigtlander nokton 25mm f0.95. it’s possible 😛

    • Michael

      Impossible is less than f/0.7

      • Theoretical limit is near ~f/0.5 figure.

        • wublili

          That limit is only for a simple spherical lens. A f/0.5 spherical lens would be a perfect sphere.

          A single aspherical lens has “no limit”. Only true limit is the contruction of such lens. When you go low enough, the thickness of the lens will sky rocket.

          Aspherical _lens_systems_ can go much lower, in theory, there is no limit (even a lens system with only spherical lenses can go below f/0.5). Below f/0.5 lens systems (and single lenses) are used in the world of microscopes, for example. f/0.2 or f/0.3 is nothing unheard over there.

    • Big J

      Might be impossible to afford :S it would be worth more than the camera itself.

      • RC

        That’s nothing new. I’ve been shooting with lenses that cost more than the body.

  • `/1nc3nt

    when can we buy it? that’s most important.

  • Rob

    Of course the depth of field is increased by a factor of ~2.7, so it’s around the equivalent of an 85mm F/3.2 lens on FX.

    • Jabs

      @Rob – If it is originally designed for a CX body, then the lens has NO DOF equivalence, as that’s an Internet myth.
      Focal length multiplication to get to 35mm but not DOF. You get depth of field calculations from the focal length and not the sensor size.
      F1.2 = F1.2!

      • benjamin

        dof is a function of the physical aperture which is dependent on fl and f-stop.

        32/1.2 = 26.67mm physical aperture

        f stop for eqv physical aperture on a 85mm lens:
        85/x = 26.67mm

        so in term of dof and field of view, it’ll perform like an 85mm f/3.2 would on a fullframe camera. not terrible considering the size difference.

      • Rob

        As benjamin explained, I was correct. You will get a similar DOF to an 85mm F/3.2 on FX.

        Please do not try to correct people without making sure they are wrong first.

        • Correction

          You are both correct, but you never state it as a f/3.2 lens as the “f/x.x” is a scientific evaluation/description.

          F-stop refers to the size of the opening and the amount of light gathering. It is static and is ALWAYS stated at it’s value (in this case f/1.2). The way you wrote it, that would mean the light gathering ability changed – Which it does not.

          You simply just state that the DOF like so: The DOF on a DX equiv would be near a 56mm lens at F2. The actual DOF is 0.26 feet.

          • Jabs

            Here is what people do NOT get – This is a CX format lens originally designed for a CX body only, so the stated value of the F-stop is always going to be F1.2 based upon the lens.
            Equivalence is a theoretical MYTH, as the focal length and aperture opening determine this FIXED F-stop value, hence nonsense!

          • Rob

            It’s a ratio. He was incorrect, I was correct. His ratio was wrong. Mine was right.

            “the depth of field is…around the equivalent of an 85mm F/3.2 lens on FX.”

            Nothing in my statement is wrong. Check for yourself on the calculator.

            “You get depth of field calculations from the focal length and not the sensor size.
            F1.2 = F1.2!”

            Both of those statements he said are wrong. Format (sensor size) AND focal length AND aperture AND distance determine DOF. And being a ratio, 1.2 changes as F changes for the same physical size aperture.

            • Jabs

              Answer this yourself – What is the depth of field of a 58mm F1.2 NOCT, a 55mm F2.8 Micro-Nikkor, a 60mm F2.8 Micro-Nikkor -vs- a 24mm F2.8 Nikkor, a 28mm F2.8 Nikkor and a DX 40mm F2.8 Micro-Nikkor plus a 45mm F2.8 Nikkor pancake lens?

              Focal length and F-stop are fixed yet the TYPE of lens also determines the DOF as the angle of view changes VIA the now sensor format, hence pointless discussion.

              Theories are not facts as that is why they call them theories = get real and last of my comments too. Use cameras and not push ignorant web sites!

          • El Aura

            So, suddenly f/x.x is a scientific description but 85 mm (equiv.) is ok? Since when is mm not a scientific description?

      • Michael

        The fact that larger sensors have better low light performance and greater amount of pixels have worse low light performance are also myths.

        You have to multiply the f number by the crop factor if you want to multiply the focal length by the crop factor. Ever wonder why the f number has a f in front? F stands for focal length.

      • blubbeli

        It’s nice to see people that fully understand the implications of sensor size, at least up to a very good approximation (technically, it only holds exactly at infinity focus).

        I’ve actually come to the conclusion that it’s a good idea to convert focal length, f/ratio AND ISO to full frame. Then the triangle works again and equivalent images have equivalent parameters.

        • True, but you need to multiply :
          focal length by x
          f-stop by x
          ISO by x**2

          to get the same exposure.

      • Well, this is always ends in an endless debate, because there are two equally valid approaches, though I find what you describe as “myth” a more practical one. In order to get the the same frame you do have to multiply the aperture value, for the simple reason that you will have to stand further away. And DoF increases as you move away from the subject.

        So for 35mm F1.2 on an FX you’ll stand 2 metres away and get a very shallow DoF. Put that lens on a crop camera, in this case 2.7 crop factor, and you will have to move away from the subject, increasing DoF. So in practice, taking exactly the same frame will yield more DoF on a crop camera than a 35mm equivalent sensor.

        • Jabs

          Actually DOF does not always increase as you move away. This depends on the type of lens being used PLUS the focal length AND whether or not there are any extension tubes on the lens for example. Some lenses have CRC or close ratio correction that disproves that clearly.

          My problem with the other posters has to do with their generalized statements not taking into account certain lens types and even focal lengths.

          For example answer this – a 55mm F2.8 Micro-Nikkor will get more or less DOF as you move closer or further away from the subject as you fill the frame in a Macro shot? Same with a 105mm and 200mm Micro-Nikkor.

          Basically it is too simple to make a statement that the DOF increases or decreases because of the sensor size and thus you should always multiply BOTH the focal length and now the F-stop, as that is preposterous and shows little understanding of what DOF really is. DOF varies even within each lens and lens type as one changes the focal length in a zoom lens, so let them explain that now. There are too many different lens designs to make such a general statement even if theoretically it was correct or even plausible.
          FOV or field of view is NOT the same as DOF (depth of field) and thus bogus information as one has to take into account the lens type and construction first as one can artificially manipulate the DOF in a fixed lens like Nikon does in its two DC lenses (105mm and 135mm DC).

          F- stop is also independent of sensor size so if you now require a comparable FOV to another sensor, then you might be able to approach getting some equivalence but again, the type of lens has to be taken into consideration. If a fixed lens is designed explicitly for a particular sensor, THEN the F-stop remains the same as this describes the light gathering quality of that particular lens on that body in that format. The lens does not change nor does its light gathering ability change that much in a fixed focal length lens, so there is nothing to calculate in equivalence. If you are trying to get an equivalent POV (point of view) then, maybe one can pontificate all day about some equivalence and then waste your own time.

          This is why I stated what lens are you talking about and what format was it originally designed for and is now mounted on. CX on CX sensor = no change while there is a change in mounting a DX lens on an FX sensor body or a FX lens on a DX sensor camera if it works. That is perhaps what they do not get!

          • EnPassant

            Do you really think anybody can follow your complicated reasoning?

            You are correct that many facts are involved deciding DOF. Like two different lenses with same focal length and opening can have slightly different DOF as they have different optical formula. Sensor resolution also affects DOF etcetera.

            What people basically want is a simple general rule to calculate differences in focal length and DOF between different sensor sizes.

            That it may be only 90% correct dosen’t matter. It’s only meant to get the grip about what lens it compare to with another format, usually full-frame, the 24-36 mm 135 film format most are accustomed with.

            The simple question people want an answer for is:

            What full-frame lens (focal length and f-stop/opening) would I (in theory) have to use on a full-fram camera to get the same framing and DOF if I take a photo from the same distance and make prints from both in same size?

            Now, what would your answer be for a 32 mm lens used wide open at 1.2 on the CX-format? What theoretical full-frame lens would produce the same image with the same DOF?

            • Jabs

              @En Passant

              Basically the only part of the question that I could answer without theorizing would be – 32mm X 2.7 (the CX factor as compared to FX) = 86.4 mm as the new focal length for comparison.

              F-stop is F-stop and since the two cameras have different lens to sensor distances, then I would thus be guessing at the equivalent DOF or an ‘equivalent’ F-stop and thus why bother lest I be like those whom I am responding to.

              The point is – it is a variable. You see, Depth of Field has always been from point A to B and often the average of this or the expected range is what is reported. To get equivalence, one would have to use the exact same lens on both bodies, hence nonsense.

              The F-stop is the same or about the same in both of these lenses but they are going on two different cameras with different focal plane settings as the CX format’s sensor is said to be closer to the lens for compactness. This changes everything and thus maybe a Nikon DX lens now mounted on a Nikon DX and then FX body would be more plausible as it is the same lens with an area of the same camera’s sensor now being used for a DX field or point of view PLUS the exact same lens to sensor distance and thus there is now something to compare, hence why I asked what lens on what format are you talking about.

              This 32mm F1.2 is a CX format lens with an equivalent focal length expressed in FX or 35mm format of 86.4mm while the F-stop has not changed as the sensor size is what changed and not the lens itself.

              Basically, go take some pictures and don’t worry about DOF as it is a range. The trying to explain this and then make an equivalence muddies the waters and then giving some formula means that someone is yanking your chain to seem scholarly – Time to leave this alone, as worthless dribble.

              What one needs to do is measure a FX lens on the Nikon adapter and see then what you get, as that would be a true measurement of equivalence to me as the lens to sensor distance is now the same as the FX bodies.

    • Sylvesterii

      The thing that people ALWAYS fail to point out about depth of field calculation equivalencies ( Especially by the Nikon 1 System / Sensor Size haters) is that the depth of field calculation is only true FOR THE SAME FRAMING BUT ADJUSTING FOR DISTANCE. That is a huge point that everyone leaves out.

      It is a silly thing that everyone who hates on the Nikon 1 system loves to talk about, but it is pointless and meaningless.

      • El Aura

        When I shoot a head-and-shoulder portrait, my distance and framing will be pretty much the same no matter what format I use.

  • carpeicthus

    Just the equivalent of an 87mm f/3.3.

    • Jabs

      An 86.4mm F1.2 lens in 35mm terms

      • Rob

        Incorrect. Please read up on depth of field calculations. There will be math:

        • Zen

          It depends if you interpret the f-number as DOF value or as light gathering value.
          This 32mm f/1.2 lens is equivalent with a 85mm, still capable of gathering light like f/1.2, but with a DOF equivalent of f/3.2 at 85mm.

          If you use the same ISO and shutterspeed on a 85 f/1.2 full frame and on this 32 f/1.2 crop factor, the scene will be equally exposed, but the DOF will be smaller on the full frame picture.

          If you use a 85mm f/1.2 full frame and this lens 32mm at f/3.2, you will now get the same DOF, but the exposure will have a 2.66 stop difference.32

          That’s why I think we should be careful when talking about crop factor / full frame lens equivalence, because it may give a wrong idea to some people.
          For me, a 32mm f/1.2 lens is equivalent to a 85mm f/1.2 lens but the DOF is still the DOF of the 32mm f/1.2.

          • blubbeli

            Just scale the ISO value as well (by 2.7*2.7) and the exposure problem disappears.
            And as a bonus, the SNR will be the same as well (same total amount of photons hitting the sensor).

            It’s awkward though and I’d never actually recommend this to a photographer ^^

          • Rob

            We were ALWAYS talking ONLY about DOF. Read my first post. Then read Jabs’. He claims there’s no DOF equivalent, and I say he’s wrong.

            He’s a troll. He’s been banned before, and will be banned again. He knows what he’s typing is false, but that’s the point. He’s 12 years old and this is the high point of his life.

            Type the numbers in the calculator yourself. Argue more with the troll if you like. I’m outta here.

            • Jabs

              Sorry – neither a troll or 12 years old and have never been banned at this web site.

              Ignorance is NOT bliss.

              Equivalence does NOT make it a fact.

              Equivalence is a theory that can be disproved by the lens TYPE and thus nonsense.

            • El Aura

              Newton’s laws of motion are also a theory that can be disproved. For most practical questions it still gives very accurate results.

    • Michael

      If we get more precise, it’s actually 87mm f/3.4

  • Troll Prozac

    Silly NR guy. Lenses don’t have mirrors.

    • Troll Prozac

      Well apart from Mirror-Lenses that is. 😛

      • karl

        see ? it IS a mirrorless lens after all ! 😛

      • Jabs

        Well, the Headline was a little off. It should have been a new Lens for the Nikon Mirrorless System.

        Yes, there are lenses with mirrors in them – Nikon made several.

        500mm F8.o mirror
        1000mm F11.0 mirror
        2000mm F11.0 (I think) mirror

        Many telescopes are mirror lenses.

        The Heading should have been then:
        Nikon’s patent for a 32mm f/1.2 lens for its mirrorless Nikon 1 System

    • meaning for a mirrorless cameras, DSLR lenses don’t have a DSLR either

      • Jabs

        Nikon’s patent for a 32mm f/1.2 lens for their mirrorless Nikon 1 System – probably would have been clearer though I got you before.

  • Poof troll


    And the D400 is due when exactly?

  • It’s nice, but with such a small sensor, the depth of field will not be that narrow. I wish they’d come up with a 85mm f/1.2 FX lens.

    • Meinrad

      Any lens with an opening of f/1.2 is an extreme challenge for Nikon’s F-mount, as the rear element is limited in size. The furthest back a lens surface is allowed to be without being scraped by the mirror is 38.05mm. If the opening were 1.2, this would dictate a rear lens diameter of about 35.5mm. This is just possible, but it does not allow for VR, nor is it conducive to a design that reduces vignetting.

      • jec6613

        This is incorrect – the front element must be a certain size, but not the rear, thanks to the use of retrofocal designs. It wouldn’t be easy, but it’s not at all impossible, to say the least – just look at the clear apertures required for the long lenses, for instance.

        • Meinrad

          I am quite positive that the rear lens must allow a cone (tip of the cone on the focal plane, opening defined by the rear lens) that is commensurate with opening ratio, in this case therefore f/1.2. As the rear lens must be at least 38.05mm from the focal plane, the f/1.2 does indeed define the diameter of the rear-most element. I can’t give a link here, but google for Pierre Toscani’s website, then click on the “Appendix” in English. It is explained in great detail under item 04.

  • Alfonso

    So the announced (from some experts in forums like this) death of Nikon 1 is a little bit premature.

  • Aris

    Yay, can’t wait….. We are getting there! Having f1.2 aperture will be a God send for low light photography, and the f3.4 equivalence from a DoF point of view is absolutely perfect for background separation. Using a wider aperture for portrait or any other application I can think of is just fashionable madness. In fact this combination of small size, low light/ higher shutter speed capability and manageable DoF hits an absolute sweet spot, and could be the silver bullet pushing the Nikon 1 right up at the head of the rat race. I want it NOW.

  • Jonas (from SWEDEN)

    A quick production for this lens and the V2 (with speed light commander capabilities – my wish list, a new flash that can controll Nikons Spedligts SB600 -> SB910) … and I might consider buying Nikon 1 system!

  • AC

    I think the upcoming 18.5mm will give us a very good indication on what kind of quality we can expect. I personally am very much looking forward to it.

    As for this 32mm… Unfortunately I am also a Oly M4/3 user and love my 45mm f1.8, this 32mm is not for me. But I am very happy Nikon is breathing some life into the 1 System and I am rather emotionally attached to my V1 (love it despite its imperfections).

  • Timo

    f 1.2? Oh, wonderful. But I still won’t buy into this system!

    The Fuji X system is far more versatile! With the exception of the AF-speed (I tried the X Pro1 with the h the 60mm and the new firmware) this system delivers much more usability and much more IQ (I’ve seen large prints, even with 6400 ISO from this camera)
    I wish Nikon would pursue this avenue!!!

    • ageha

      Thanks god, that won’t happen!

    • AC

      To be fair I don think the X system and the 1 system are direct competitors. The V1 has lightning fast AF, small size, rugged build, etc. the X system has very high IQ and lots of physical controls. Price wise also very different. They are made for different purposes.

      I think your comment was so subjective it wasn’t really contributing to anything.

  • Photo-Jack

    Another lens patent. Great.

    After all these patents Nikon hast to eventually start to set them into practice. 2013 should be the Year of the lenses!!! after gaps and update necessities have grown to the sky:
    80 – 400
    the PC-E series + a 17mm PC
    135 /1.8
    70 – 200 / 4.0 with no focus breathing!
    16 – 35 / 2.8
    300 / 4.0
    400 / 4.0
    24 – 70 / 2.8 with internal zoom and VRII
    24 / 1.8 (in the quality range of the 50 / 1.8 and the 85 / 1.8)
    35 / 1.8 (in the quality range of the 50 / 1.8 and the 85 / 1.8)
    all FX of course
    etc. etc

  • ageha

    Awesome, more 1 Nikkor lenses please!

  • I feel that this lens is going to be insanely expensive.

  • Vin

    I find this Dof conversation on fx vs to be very interesting. My only real life reference is to my 8×10 camera that has a 8×10. 5X7. And 4×5 film backs. If i use a 300mm f5.6 lens. Set at f5.6 It has a very shallow dof at 8×10 image circle. Which is a pertty standard fild of view., equivalent to about 50mm in 35mm film, or fx in Nikon. When i change down to 5×7 or 4×5 film tbe dof does not change only the angle of view. I do agree that there is some lenses that are designed to produce a very shallow dof, and some are made allow the most amount of light to hit the sensor or film. So in some cases these to things are mute points, in this case and

    • Vin

      I am not sure what Nikon is designing for Dof, low light, or both. Maybe it will be more clear when the do actually make the lenses.

      • Vin

        I too wish Nikon would go a little more retro on a new 1 V2 camera, but I kinda think they will not. Even silver with rangefinder and full size hot shoe would be good.

  • gregorylent

    sell that big glass while you can .. in ten years current dslrs and associated lenses will be as weird as 1995 cellphones are today

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