Nikon introduces OPTIA: new technology for the development of DSLR and Nikon 1 lenses

Nikon announced the development and deployment of OPTIA - a device that is able to measure all forms of lens aberration. The new system includes also a dedicated image simulator. This technology will help the company produce "high-performance lenses with unique characteristics" and "provide customers with interchangeable lenses that offer new forms of value never before seen":

"While the light used for exposure with IC steppers and scanners is of a very narrow band of wavelengths, light used by camera lenses covers a wide band of wavelengths that includes the entire visible range. What's more, the amount of aberration that occurs with camera lenses is significantly greater. OPTIA is equipped with a brand new aberration measurement sensor that responds to these characteristics of camera lenses, making it a ground-breaking device capable of measuring nearly all aspects of optical performance for a wide variety of camera lenses.

In addition to resolution, camera lens performance is indicated by such characteristics as blur (as known as "bokeh"), reproduction of textures, and sense of depth (these characteristics combined are referred to as "lens characteristics"). The application of OPTIA's aberration measurement to Nikon lenses, which have always had a very high reputation, enables clarification of the correspondence between lens characteristics and aberration.

The image simulator (software) developed alongside OPTIA enables simulation at the design stage that is equivalent to actual photography with lens prototypes. Therefore, by utilizing the correspondence relationship between lens characteristics and aberration clarified with OPTIA, lenses can be developed with greater control over not only resolution, but also a wide variety of lens characteristics.

Adoption of the new design concept formulated with the use of OPTIA and the image simulator will enable more effective development of high-performance lenses with unique characteristics, and allow Nikon to provide customers with interchangeable lenses that offer new forms of value never before seen."

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  • In other words, everybody will have to stick with currently owned gear till the new lenses will show up. good marketing move, Nikon?

    • TD

      I don’t understand why Nikon won’t sell me their top-of-the-line cameras & lenses from 2053 right now. Lazy, greedy corporate boot lickers cheating me out of my hard-earned money by selling me their junk. You’d think they’d realize I’m smart enough to wait until they play fair!

    • nick

      But the same time prevents you from buying Sigmarons.

  • saywhatuwill

    Sounds promising. Let’s hope it helps them get rid of CA in lenses that should have had an aspherical and/or ED lens element installed (i.e. 35mm f/1.4G and 85mm f/1.4G) instead of taking the easy way out (lazy) by making people use a software solution.

    • Drazen B

      There was an article posted on one of the photo forums just after these 2 lenses you mention were released to a surprise of most of the punters. The Nikon ‘representative’ stated the missing ED glass on 35mm f/1.4 and ED+Asph glass on their 85mm f/1.4 lenses were deliberately left out for the “benefit of higher resolving power and clarity”. Although I would like to spend less time in post fixing chroma and distortion, I tend to agree with that statement. Canon has followed a similar suit on their counterparts.
      I don’t believe it’s due to corner or cost cutting, at all.

      The discussion also included the 24mm f/1.4G, for which Nikon stated they HAD to use both the ED and Asph elements because if they weren’t the lens would perform very badly in general and wouldn’t pass as a Pro lens.

      • BroncoBro

        Thank you for this dose of reality. The fact is, we can now tune out many of a lens’ shortcomings with software. It’s SO easy (I have it set as part of my import adjustments) that to do anything other than what they’re doing would be upsetting. I worked at a major camera, lens and accessory distributor famous for their private-label products. We had products that were very good and others that were less so, but always had good value. I learned that the trade-offs for getting the extra 10% were often accompanied by a 90% increase in weight, or cost, or the reduction in performance of some other important factor. Nikon and Canon, these folks have a long history of excellent products and continuing innovation. What you see on the shelf or in an online catalog is the result of many hours of hard work, discussion between marketing and engineering and relentless effort in their manufacturing plants. If they produce something that’s less than perfect it’s not because that’s what they were trying to do. If you think it’s that easy, give it a go for yourself. Oh, and as for a Sigma 24-70 f/2 that has spectacular optical performance…I’ll believe it when I see it

      • Yeltsin

        Well, with 50/1.4G and 85/1.4G on my mind I’m asking myself how bad must a lens be, to not pass that mark …

  • Eric Calabos

    a DxO inside Nikon

    • regular

      DxO is already selling firmware code, as well hardware chips, which camera manufacturers use to post-process the picture.

      I think it is used in smartphones and compact cameras.

  • Achim

    Waiting for a 17mm PC-E and a 16-35 f/2.8 with filter thread.

  • tertius_decimus

    What an insulting move! Mark the difference: they’re introducing development of [whatever]. Perfect addition to trolly-patenting with no intention to release any of those inventions. Waste of human resources, labor time and engineering hive minds.

  • Drazen B

    Translated using Google translator:

    We need to do something about our future lens releases otherwise Sigma and the co will eat what’s left of our already half-eaten lunch.

    • Manolo

      Haha, so true.

      Which makes me feel a little uncomfortable about my current Nikon lenses, many of them pro-level – is Nikon now trying to tell us these are to become a second-class products?

      • TD

        Umm… you do realize today’s first-class anything will be tomorrow’s second-class product?

      • groucher

        They might try to tell us they’r second-class but that’s merely marketing. Nikon’s AI and H series primes have not been bettered by anybody – not by Zeiss or Sigma, not even by Nikon themselves.

        • neversink

          Although I have a ton of newer Nikon lenses, I still find myself using old manual Nikon lenses from time to time including the 50 f/1.2 Nocturnal (just becasue,) 180 f/2.8 (it’s sharp, probably sharper than my 70-200 f/2.8 VR2,) the 15mm f/3.5 (for fun and that wonderful rectilinear image although flare can be a headache), the 28 f/2.8 because it is damn sharp.
          However, I am excited about this new technology. Improvements in lenses are always exciting. We will see if this potential turns into reality.

    • NRA Advocate

      What a moronic comment.

      Sigma, Tamron and Tokina lenses are second-rate crap. Have been for the past 35 years.

      Save now, pay twice later.

      • Drazen B

        After a comment like that, not sure who should be called a moron here.

        Wake up.

        • neversink

          From my experience, Sigma lenses have great marketing but their IQ and their QC is questionable. I will never, ever buy a Sigma lens again.

          • Will

            Sigma’s lenses from the past 1-2 years have been good enough to have people selling their gold ring/L lenses, only to switch to the new Sigma line. Sigma has come a long way.

            • neversink

              Sigma has built a great marketing strategy and that is why they have sold more. I know of no professionals using Sigma lenses. I tried Sigma and the lens failed. Not only was it soft in much of its range its autofocus motor died on me within one month of purchase.
              Don’t believe the hype. And don’t believe DxO reviews.

            • Martin Beebee

              Um, well, I’m a professional and I use a Sigma lens for probably 75% of my work. Tack sharp and great color, holds up very well against (and even beats) some of my pro Nikon glass.

            • neversink

              Well I guess that makes you the lucky one. Or maybe you need to have your eyes checked. The salesman I have been dealing with would never sell me a Sigma. He might sell you one though.

            • Martin Beebee

              Might that be because he wants to sell you a higher-priced Nikon? 😉 Seriously, I’ve been using the Sigma 10-20mm for over six years (shooting daily), and I’ve never had a client complain about anything that was the fault of the lens. For me, that’s a pretty important consideration when choosing gear.

            • neversink

              I’m glad it works for you. I just can’t afford to take a chance after having a Sigma lens break down on a photo shoot in Africa one month after I purchased it. (That’s why my photo rep won’t sell me one — and he doesn’t work on commission.)
              Nikon has bee building quality glass for more than 70 years. It’s only since the Internet explosion and the creation of sites like this that photographers (and folks in all other industries) have become obsessed with patent info, rumors, potential new gear, and argued over DXO lens tests. Sheesh!,,. All this “info” is interesting, but even before the internet I always performed my own tests on lenses and other equipment and still do. Do I trust DXO. I”ve owned a slew of Nikon lenses over the last 40 years and only two ever had to be repaired and one was because one was a really beat up copy of a nocturnal 50mm f/1.2 that inpurchased at a fire sale and the other was. Nor have I had to

      • Graf Almassy

        Sure. Sigma has built great PRO and ART lenses from the past 1-2 years. The Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 is a great lens, the best (and fastest) zoom lens ever in terms of image quaility.

        • neversink

          Brilliant marketing by Sigma — calling their so-called “high-end” glass names like “Pro” and “Art” on their products. It’s nothing but a marketing ploy by Sigma and I won’t fall for it. I’m glad Nikon doesn’t do that on their DSLR gear. Nor Canon for that matter….

          • Graf Almassy

            Have you ever used those lenses? Have your ever read reviews with sample photos?

            • neversink

              Yes i have used them and tried them out. I am not impressed, but others are, like DXO. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of buying one for a photo shoot in Africa and within one month of my purchase this lens crapped out on assignment.
              1. Sigma doesn’t have the same quality as the Nikon or Canon lenses. Some may have good optics, but Sigma AF motors are notorious for breaking down. Just do a search on “Sigma Lens Failure” in google. You will find all sorts of problems from lousy image quality to poor focusing to AF motor failure, to contacts not working, to all sorts of error messages in camera, and the list goes on.
              2. Sigma only gives you a lousy one year warranty. Nikon gives you a five year warranty.
              3. Many Sigma lenses from just a few years ago won’t work on Nikon or Canon as these camera makers tweak their priority AF systems which they don’t share with Sigma or any other lens makers. So buy your lens today but it may not work tomorrow.
              4. If you don’t take a third-party insurance policy, good luck getting good customer service from Sigma.
              5. I know that my Nikon lenses will last for decades, but I am rather unsure how long a Sigma lens will last; and unsure about how long it will be able to be used on future camera bodies.
              6. You can read about all sorts of horrors with Sigma lenses on line.
              Don’t forget to do your “Sigma Lens Failure” search on Google.
              But good luck with your Sigma lens. I am sure it will work for you for until it either breaks down or quickly becomes obsolete.

            • Graf Almassy

              I’m from Hungary. At here Sigma lenses has lower price tag (30-50%) than Nikon lenses. At here Nikon gives you 1 year warranty (for the lens, but bodies has 3 years), and Sigma gives you 4 years warranty.

          • Conguero

            Nikon uses the gold ring for that

      • Elvir Redzepovic

        Go back to sleep old geezer, times change.

        • BroncoBro

          Is that all you’re good for? Name calling? If you disagree with the opinion, then express your own and leave it at that. But coming on here and calling me and others names shows just what a shallow and insecure assho…oooops, now you got ME doing it!

  • babola

    “”provide customers with interchangeable lenses that offer new forms of value never before seen”

    Fire the marketing department Nikon, these bozos aren’t doing your company reputation much good at the moment.

    • groucher

      It’s the Dilbert Principle in full flow. If Nikon put their engineers and pet photographers in charge of marketing we might get plain English and they might stop putting gimmicks such as face recognition and scene selections in their professional products.

      • Robert

        Face recognition as implemented on the D800/E (and D4) in PDAF mode is actually a very useful feature when making portraits that I would like Nikon to keep. IMHO it is very far from a gimmick.

        • Homeros

          For street photography on the fly, it is a godsend.

        • Drazen B

          Oh yes, I agree. And it works very well. It requires you to be in matrix metering mode, but I don’t see that as a big issue.

        • face detection is also scary-good during party-time wedding reception dance moments. uncanny.

  • Cammece Capitalbrock

    The Sigma 24-70mm f2.0 will be the next nail in Canon & Nikon’s lens coffin. Tamron already embarrassed both Canon & Nikon with the excellent, new 24-70mm f2.8 VC & 70-200mm VC. Sigma has already rendered both Canon & Nikon 35mm lenses completely obsolete since releasing the far superior Sigma 35mm f1.4 Art lens.

    • babola

      24-70mm f/2.0 you say?

      That’s fine if you’re willing to bring a small suitcase with you for that “little” baby.

      Don’t believe the rumors…

      • Cammece Capitalbrock

        I don’t know, Babola.. Sigma & Tamron are really changing things up with their new top notch glass. I think a 24-70mm f2.0 is possible.

        • Ke

          It’s possible. But it’ll be gigantic.

        • babola

          I never said it’s impossible, it may be impractical what the purpose 24-70 lens is meant for, that’s all.

    • Fred Flintstone

      I can’t really see Nikon or Canon becoming body-only manufacturers, with no Nikon or Canon who are Sigma gonna sell the lens to I wonder?

    • NRA Advocate

      Tamron, Tokina, Sigma, Sun, Vivitar, Soligor, Kiron et al have been around for years.

      Their lenses cost less because typically they’re not made to the same exacting tolerances mechanically as Nikon or Canon pro glass. Quality control is also spottier. Yes, occasionally a few lenses stand out (e.g. Sigma Art, Vivitar Series 1), but by and large, they’re made for a price-point in the market.

      Bottom line: da shit just craps out faster and is more prone to failure under stressful conditions. You get what you pay for; there are no free lunches.

    • Duncan Dimanche

      yeah I’m on your side here!
      Can’t wait to get my hands on the sigma 35mm !!

      And their 18-35 1.8 is crazy good too so I wouln’t mind even having an amazing 24-70 2.8 lens with IS at half the price of the Nikon Canon 🙂

      And maybe make it a 28-70 or even 60 if we can get F2….. and keeping it at a decent size weight


  • Wally in Austin

    Lost in translation? What is it? Currently using a Nikon D7000 and V1. I am plunking down my cash for a Sigma 2.8 zoom cause Nikon can’t!

  • BroncoBro

    What is most interesting about this is what parameters Nikon is talking about. Defining lens “quality” is difficult when trying to communicate it to the user base. On the one hand you have DxO who test for some criteria that is fairly useful, but much of which is, in a word, useless. They toss around a lot of technical jargon, but in the end don’t really tell us much about how a lens performs in the “real world”. As an example, they test for t-stops. I can’t imagine a more useless number for all but the most dyed-in-the-wool, old school macro and copy shooters. Other than them, who gives a sh*t? But, I applaud them for exploiting the vast number of people out there who think their information means something and pay money to obtain it along with the equally pointless products they sell. I’m jealous of the boats these guys are able to buy.
    Nikon, on the other hand, has been designing and building quality glass for well over half a century. They’ve forgotten more than the folks at DxO will ever know. I’m hopeful that, in the process of trying to convince to buy their products, they share some of these criteria with us users in order to establish a contemporary language as regards tangible lens performance that we can all use to help us talk about how fine optics can assist in making great images.

    • Elvir Redzepovic

      “As an example, they test for t-stops. I can’t imagine a more useless number for all but the most dyed-in-the-wool, old school macro and copy shooters”
      Ignorant much ?
      What about EVERY SINGLE video shooter out there, and there are many hence video functions on your camera. Also T stops is a mathematically CORRECT way of describing how much light gets to that sensor/film and not an approximation as it is the case with F numbers.. You do know what “light” is right ? It is that “photo” part of word “photography.”

      • BroncoBro

        You need to get a hold of yourself…then let go; you’re rather taken up with yourself, don’t you think? Call me what you want, in practical terms t-stops is a useless criteria in the contemporary world of lens engineering. As for how much light is getting to the sensor, whatever it is is being measured by your camera’s meter, so it’s accounted for automatically. Not to mention the myriad opportunities most cameras offer to compensate for that and a host of other things like focus, white balance, et al. If you’re worried about t-stops, you’re worrying about the wrong thing. But hey, who am I to tell you or anyone else what to do?

    • I disagree about t stops being useless. it’s an efficiency indicator and impacts the exposure triangle more precisely than just f stop, which is a precise indicator of DoF. having t stops for various brands of the same zoom lens is valuable for comparison purposes.

      As far as the the new language I think this is an attempt to quantify that special golden nikkor look, so things the 1.4 vs 1.8 decision can be a bit more informed. many folks think that 2/3rds of a stop is all you get for spending 300% more cash, which is simply not the case.

  • Dirty Fingers

    Sure Nikon, lets ask computers and software if it’s a good photograph. You sure aren’t listening to your customers. What do we know?
    I could care less about OPTIGRAB.

  • Anonymous Coward

    Value for customers or value for shareholders?

  • j v

    Strange… Why would Nikon announce that they have a new tool that allows them to better judge lenses?

    In the end, consumers don’t care *how* a manufacturer makes the products, as long as they are good. It is a bit similar to how some camera manufacturers started advertising that there is a new processor in the camera with this or that technicality. (trend seem to have passed a bit) Who cares, as long as the camera processing is good and fast?

  • Chris Weller

    Holy crap they are stupid. All kinds of products that Nikonians want and they announce this? Stuff that can easily be handled by lightroom? Why even announce this? Just come out with the lenses. All this does is delay their customers purchases. This doesn’t make anyone say “hey, I need the Nikon system because of this feature”

    Plus, this is so poorly positioned. What does this even mean. Millions on R and D and $10 on Press releases and marketing strategy. It’s almost as if someone just transalated a Japanese press release.

    Nikon…Want to sell a ton of product before the end of the year?…..Give us a freaking D400, 300 f/4 with VR, a 400 f/4 with VR and a high quality Nikon V3 with 4k video. All these other announcements are nonsense.

    It’s will have been at least 8 DX camera announcments since the d300 – We don’t need more tiny differences in low end consumer dx. We need innovation.

  • Marketfan

    “lenses that offer new forms of value never before seen.”

    Nikon makes what he wants…
    Less marketing and more engeneering would be better…

    • Sahaja

      They should put some engineers in charge of the company. Engineers are good at solving problems.

  • Jon Ingram

    Am I the only one that is excited about this? The one thing Nikon has been pretty good about over the years is lens design. Now I hear that they have developed a way to significantly speed up the process for designing ultra high quality lenses. I, for one, am not complaining. This may mean a series of even better quality lenses in the future.

    • Chris Weller

      I suppose that could be true. But this press release is written so poorly. It does not effectively communicate the true, real life benefits of this technology. It’s the old sales saying “People care about benefits, not features”. Give us some examples of how this feature would translate to our photographs.

      Having said that, the more effectively they sell these benefits, the more likely customers would be to hold off purchasing any new lenses. Why would I purchase something now, knowing that new lenses will have some incredible new technology. It’s a loose/loose proposition for Nikon.

    • Thom Hogan

      Nikon traditionally has been an “optics company.” Virtually everything they have ever done touches on optics in some meaningful way. Thus, I suppose it is good that Nikon has issued a statement which seems to indicate that they still care about camera optics.

      But unfortunately, this press release is FUD, clear and simple. Sigma has introduced a lens that is reviewing well and beyond what Nikon has been able to design. The common marketing reaction in situations like that is to use FUD to make people think that something better is coming.

      This press release isn’t even “good” FUD. It’s entirely vague and unspecific as to what will result, and when that will happen. So while Nikon may think that they’ve done something to stem the tide, they haven’t. Most people won’t believe that something has changed until they’ve seen the changes and they can be measured and described in ways they understand.

      Press releases aren’t action. Products are action.

      • Jon Ingram

        Thom, I agree this is
        fud-ish, but this is lame FUD. If you’re going to do FUD right, you’ve got to
        go all the way. As in, “Recent marketing research has shown that third party
        competitor’s lenses, even new designs, fail 65% more than Nikon lenses. In
        light of this, we at Nikon cooperation are cementing our reputation for high
        quality lenses by developing new innovations in virtual testing technology that
        will allow us to not only create the highest quality lenses on earth, but also
        ensure that these lenses last for years to come. I am innovation and durability.
        Discerning photographers choose Nikon.” I thought all this this up in 30
        seconds, and it’s certainly better FUD than the press release. It’s better
        marketing too. The press release wasn’t good marketing or good FUD, but I still
        hope there is some truth behind it.

        • Thom Hogan

          Agree. FUD. And poor FUD at that.

  • longzoom

    Nikon has developed technological tool for inner using. It’s OK, just give me good glass, no interest in details. Needless to post abusive things, call names. What I really need, is way better QC.

  • Just_me

    I don´t know If you all have read the Nikon announcement carefully or just the first comment and expressed your frustration…

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