The latest Nikon patents: 1 Nikkor 9-30mm f/1.8-2.8, “build your own lens” and an adapter with a lens shutter

Nikon 1 Nikkor 9-30mm f:1.8-2.8 lens patent
Nikon filed a patent in Japan for a fast zoom for Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras: 1 Nikkor 9-30mm f/1.8-2.8.

Another interesting Nikon patent is for a "do-it-yourself" modular lens - you can pick the needed pieces from a pre-defined set and build your own Nikkor lens:

Nikon build your own lens patent 2

pre-defined lens set

Nikon build your own lens patent

several pieces from the set can be attached to each other and build a "custom" lens

Different lens combinations and attachment methods were described in the patent:

Nikon build your own lens patent 3Nikon build your own lens patent 5
Nikon build your own lens patent 6Nikon build your own lens patent 7
The third patent for today is a mount adapter with a built-in lens shutter:


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  • Thomas

    A modular lens? I wonder how they can get the tolerances close enough?

    • RMJ

      They can’t. It won’t be professional lens.

      • manhattanboy

        Maybe Nikon has just gotten lazy. I do not mind building my own lens if Nikon gave me the tools and support. I want a 400 5.6 VR with diffractive optics. I am even willing to travel to a Nikon repair center to build it. Let’s go.

      • MyrddinWilt

        I don’t see why not. Its exactly the same problem as making a teleconverter which is after all just a modular lens.

        The more interesting question is what market it would serve. I can’t see any advantage for regular studio or field work or for F-mount generally. And the pictures look like these are CX lenses.

        The only application I can see for this would be micro photography. Being able to custom configure an optic would be very useful. These would be an alternative to using extension rings, bellows, magnifying rings and the like.

        Even there, the utility might be limited as the sensor pitch on the CX cameras is already close to the optical resolution limit. No matter how good the lens is, you can’t do better than the wavelength of light. That means that 10x magnification is pretty much the limit. And that can be done comfortably with just one special purpose optic.

        • RMJ

          Because even the camera mount isn’t perfect. Every lens is different and needs adjustment. If you use same objective in two cameres, you most likely need different fine tune settings. If you add teleconverter to lens, you again need to fine tune the setup. Imagine 4 or 5 of such connections and how much it can throw the focus off ? Surely, it may result into perfect focus too… by chance. But the odds are highly against it.

          Objectives are very fine mechanics. The tolerances are very small between the lenses. I can’t even begin to imagine the errors caused by those lens elements not aligned perfectly or when they are not close enough or far enough from each other…

          It will be consumer lens if it ever becomes reality. A nice little toy to play with.

          I’m surely interested to see how they would manage to build it. Considering that each objective design is pretty much unique and needs unique lenses arranged in unique way. How will they manage to make all that modular? It can’t be very complex objective.

    • whisky

      in the past, nikon had released a similar “toy lens” set for the japanese market.

      • asdfasdfasdfasdfasdfasdf

        I could see this appealing to the “Lens Baby” crowd — especially if it came with a bunch of silly filters.

        • captaindash

          I’m definitely in the right place if I’m looking for people who think that gear trumps talent (I’m not saying you’re one of them, but your post leads me in that direction). It’s like wine. People swear that more expensive wine tastes better (even in blind tests where the prices were a lie). You can get looks with lensbaby optics that as of now can’t be perfectly recreated with software (almost though). Ipso facto, if you’re desiring a look a lensbaby can get you, it’s better to use one with a D3200 than a D800 and photoshop.

          For the record, I’m not even disagreeing with anything in your comment, so long as it’s meant exactly as you wrote it, and not with a broader message.

          • Carleton Foxx

            And as a former wine writer, I can tell you that people buy expensive wines for very complicated reasons, taste being only about No. 3 on the list.

            It’s more about intimidating others by showing you have money and “taste”; enjoying the fact you have enough disposable income to spend money on luxuries; long term investment; desire to make others feel special because you served them expensive wine; ego gratification; you have family in the wine business and need to show support; you like the fancy labels and heavy-weight bottles; you toured a winery and fell in love with it so you want to bring back those memories by drinking their wine, lots of reasons. Just like cameras.

      • Dmitry Anisimov

        can you please share a link about it?

    • modular will be the future!!!

      • neonspark

        said the maker of the modular car.

    • neonspark

      think lens baby.

  • whisky

    i can see some uses for this. i like that nikon is still innovating for the N1.

    • Doug Henry

      agree, but I find it strange that they have a completely new platform to build on, but most of the lenses seem to be focal length copies of stuff that exists. This 24-80-ish lens, I doubt there is any market research that N1 owners want that. Typically the 24-85 or 28-80 type lenses are marketed as “kit” lenses on full frame (its the first thing I sold from my D600 kit). I imagine they are just recycling optical algorithms, it would be interesting to hear from an optics person to see if there is a reason for it. Its just a patent, but if produced as spec’d, the 1.8-2.8 exposure speed is nice. Put VR on it and goodbye 6.7-13 and probably the 18. Even though they are great little lenses.

      • Eric Calabros

        Before 24-70, there was 28-70 f/2.8D
        However I think its designed for RX100 kind if camera

      • Christobella

        This would in no way replace the excellent 6.7-13. 18mm equivalent is a lot wider than 24mm in real use.

        • Doug Henry

          The 9-30 would cover about 2/3 of the focal range on the 6.7-13. But if you need wider, your right, the 6.7-13 is the only place to get it. Obviously, N1’s crop factor doesn’t scale well on the wide end, but something like a 4-9mm or 5-10mm would have been great to see instead of the 6.7-13. Too many overlapping focal lengths on the N1 already. I’m a huge fan of N1, but a lineup more like 5-10, 10-50, 50-150 would have been interesting. Maybe all at f2.

          • Christobella

            Agreed – the only gotcha there might be the size of those lenses at f2. But hey, if I want a pocketable camera, there are about 500 Coolpix models!

            • Doug Henry

              They could also produce the same lenses in size optimized f4 versions. Then instead of the dumb idea of modular lenses, you could have a modular system of f2 and f4 that can be mix-n-matched to create a system of size/speed that you desire. While they are at it, they should create f4 versions of all the f2.8 stuff they have for FX.

      • Christobella

        This would in no way replace the excellent 6.7-13. 18mm equivalent is a lot wider than 24mm in real use.

      • Nikon1isAwesome!

        There is probably something to this. Perhaps it’s simply because people like these perspectives in other lens formats. It also might be that, like the old e-series manual focus lenses, there are certain focal lengths that are simply easier to achieve with great results.

      • It’s a way to match the Panasonic LX100

    • neonspark

      it’s just a patent. I’m hoping they kill the n1 since the market has all but killed the n1.

  • It may be intended as an educational product and they could achieve very precise tolerances with clever design and good materials (think Lego)

    The products are all interesting. The adapter would allow a mirrorless body to use fmount lenses with a leaf shutter perhaps.

    But the 1 series lens seems awesome 24-80 and decently fast. If it’s small enough and Nikon can manage a decent body to go with it.

    • Espen4u

      Yes, that adapter could mean that N has a fuji x clone in prototype, I can see no other reason for it. The 1-lens looks tempting but my guess it’ll be to costly to really fit in the system, and a bit clumsy too. About the lego-lens, well it’s a toy and therefore can’t be priced too high.

  • Nikon1isAwesome!

    It’s hard to imagine how expensive the 1 Nikkor 9-30mm f/1.8-2.8 lens would be; if it even makes it to production. I have been wanting a fast-normal zoom and this would be wider and faster than I had hoped. But, I’ve settled nicely into carrying the 6.7-13mm wide-zoom, 18.5mm prime and 32mm prime.
    It would be nice…

    • DaveR43

      Pricing seems likely to be $800-$1k or more.

      B&H prices for comparison:

      Fujifilm XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR Lens: $1,199.95

      Samsung 16-50mm f/2-2.8 S ED OIS Lens: $1,149.99

      Olympus M. Zuiko Digital ED 12-40mm f/2.8 PRO Lens: $999.99 ($899.99 with $100 instant saving)

      Panasonic Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f/2.8 Asph. Lens for Micro 4/3: $997.99

      • Shaun V.

        All those lenses you listed really make the Sigma 18-35mm 1.8 at $799 look like a steal!

      • SimenO1

        None of theese are relevant to 1″ sensor size. Building a lens for a smaller sensor is cheaper, even if focal length and aperture is the same.

        • The 70-300 CX costs way more than the 70-300 VR for full frame. The 32/1.2 is not exactly a bargain either.

          The V3 costs as much as the D5300 although it is certainly less expensive to manufacture

          I doubt that a 9-30/1.8-2.8 would be much less than $1000.

          • SimenO1

            Production cost is one thing. What they price it in the market is another. If they can sell resonable ammounts of a product with 200% profit, they will do that. Other lenses face hard competition and low profit margins. I was talking about production cost.

        • Dmitry Anisimov

          The price of lens depends on area of glass, not area of sensor — of course, these are connected but once you see optical diagram (in the patent), statement about sensor size disappears.
          The lens dimensions seem to be almost as large as for 17-55/2.8 DX, so there is no reason for it to be cheaper; likely it will be more expensive because of smaller market.

          • KnightPhoto

            Ouch if it’s as big and expensive as the 17-55. I like the N1 system because it’s not big and I can still have creative fun with it. I’d hope a N1 lens has to be smaller than the equivalent DX lens.

    • Doug Henry

      yup, thats a great lineup, I love the 32. I’m waiting for the 74mm/f1.4 macro with 32-style focus ring (but wider). I doubt they will make it, but if they could translate that old 200/f4 to N1 it would be pretty sweet.

    • Randy

      I’d like to see Nikon design a few more lens out at the edges. A fast zoom and a wide angle with 110 degree field of view would have a better chance of finding their way into my bag than this lens. They already have 4 zooms in this range. (two 10-30s and two 11-27.5s) granted one is weather proof. 4 of their primes fall in this range also. The other thing that the Nikon 1 line needs is a better flash.

    • SimenO1

      Probably not that expensive. The largest aperture is just 30/2,8 = 1,07 cm, and focal length (theoretical lenght of a 1 glass lens) is just 3 cm.

      My guess is 8 cm long and 6 cm wide.

      Fast lenses is not that large or expensive when its made for small sensors. My 8-48mm f/1,0 for 1/3″ sensor is just 10 cm long and 6 cm wide.

      • DaveR43

        It would be great if the price of this lens is reasonable.

        However, it seems likely to be larger than you are suggesting. The patent information at the link shows that the lens will be 95.9 mm long. A printout of the lens schematic measured 72mm from the front to the rear of the lens elements, and the front objective on the printout measured 33mm.

        So scaling up for a 95.9mm length, the front objective will be around 43mm diameter.

        (I know the length may include the mount, so the front objective will scale down slightly, but it is still going to be 40mm or greater)

    • neonspark

      nikon’s pricing is brutal. basically they sell you an inferior product to m4/3 but charge about the same. the sensor is simply too small to make m4/3 run for its money but it is too big to make cheaper lenses.

    • YS

      What I do know is that it’ll be overpriced in the USA again. 😛

    • MonkeySpanner

      I hope it does make it to production. This is a badly needed lens for the 1 system. This sensor needs lots of light to perform.

      • Nikon1isAwesome!

        I would overpay for this lens, as well as the V4 if it’s all I hope it’ll be.

  • John

    These look like good ideas for various reasons. That nikon 1 lens could make their CX mount competitive with the sony rx 100 [though not if the lens costs $1000 and the body $500]

    A build it your self looks fun, though I suspect there will be some odd marketing dancing around the quality. People should not expect that what ever they make will be amazing.

    Perhaps someone can help me here, I don’t understand the advantage of a shutter in a lens mount adaptor?

    • Brian Richards

      To cut down the size of a camera body, Nikon eliminates the mechanical shutter and goes straight electronic shutter. This would work with a CMOS sensor with a rolling shutter and fairly fast readout time — fast enough for general photography, excellent for landscape and macro photography, but not fast enough for sports and other fast-moving subjects. For the fast stuff, you add the adapter with the shutter and your longer legacy lenses. It’s something you might see in an extremely lightweight, mirrorless trail camera for landscape photographers — one that can be easily adapted for sports use. Perhaps a D300 replacement?

    • heartyfisher

      if its a leaf shutter you can get high speed flash leaf shutters typically can sync flash to 1/500 of a second.

  • what would be the use case for the mount adapter with a built-in lens shutter?

    • Potentially allows flash synch at all speeds

    • A future V4 could be made without mechanical shutter. When a shutter is desired, then an adapter could be used. It also makes sense for doing video, in that the mechanical shutter would help minimize rolling shutter effects. Overall this looks like a Nikon 1 addition that some film makers may find useful, especially if Nikon embrace 4K.

  • captaindash

    On the build-yer-own set, I bet if they could make the mechanism that attaches them together to be solid enough they could make a lens with a quality that could surprise people, especially if you managed to get parts all with the tolerances off on the same side of the test, unlike in a normal lens where you get what you get and have to use your body to adjust focus. Either way, it’s interesting and at least it might take cameras in a new direction (because boy do they need it).

  • Carleton Foxx

    I can totally see the modular lens happening. It would be akin to their Fun Fun Lens set that was a Japan-only novelty thing…there’s one on ebay right now…

    • Interesting, thanks. I will share this online.

    • actually this Fun Lens set consists of 3 different lenses, not exactly a modular system

      • Carleton Foxx

        What I was trying to say is that Nikon sometimes does cool stuff that’s just for fun or novelty and that perhaps the modular lens idea was one of those. Making modular lenses sounds like something that they could sell to schools and parents as a way to get kids into the love of optics and of photography/videography. Rather than it being a new lens system for professionals.

  • neonspark

    the adapter could be bad news for Thom Hogan who very 3 articles on the past year have been dedicated to a DX revival which he keeps chanting about in 20 different ways, as if somehow the more he argues for it the more nikon will listen. Clearly nikon is looking at adapters. Not because of this patent but because that is the only logical choice and everybody including canon, nikon and sony have gone new mount when they go mirrorless. Quite smiply DX is going mirror-less the proper way: new mount. good bye legacy F nonsense.

    • Eric Calabros

      Good luck having lenses you need on that new mount

    • I don’t agree with everything Thom is saying, but he certainly knows what he is talking about.

      A new mount would allow Nikon to make a new mirrorless camera a bit thiner because of the smaller flang distance. Thom argues that this is not really that relevant because you need a thick grip to comfortably hold the camera anyway. Look at the V2. It is quite thin except of the grip.

    • I have to disagree that DX is going mirror-less the proper way. In fact, I disagree both that is happening as well as that it would be the right way. The reason it is not happening is that, from all Nikon has (not) done about DX lately, the only certainty is that they are NOT abandoning the F-mount for it. That they keep producing consumer lenses for it is a clear indication that DX falls behind FX in terms of intended audience. It is also clear that DX is conceived as an F mount system. Put these two together, and we could have what I’ve always claimed Nikon should have done: a prosumer/pro FX line (mirrored of course), and a consumer mirrorless DX line (with F mount, still). The Nikon 1 was a mistake, IMO. Sure, they’re small and cute, but they’re just too expensive and underwhelming. A D3300-style body without the mirror would be significantly smaller, not as small as the Nikon 1, but probably “small enough”. With the image quality it has, it would sell like hot cakes.

    • He kinda contradicts himself there a bit. On one hand, he’s complaining about the lack of DX lenses – rightly so, and I’m 100% with him on this. The only DX lens worth mentioning right now is the 35mm F/1.8 G. The FF 50mm is still small enough to be easily adapted, but there are no fast wide angle options optimized for DX size. And the 85mm F/1.8 isn’t a DX lens either. Albeit heavier, Fuji has an F/1.2 lens at the FoV at roughly the same size.

      On the other hand, he insists on retaining the F-mount. For what? In terms of DX, that 35mm prime doesn’t have that much “gravity” to use one of his terms. Check this out:

      He has a list of lenses DX needs, and I’m totally with him on this. However, there is only 1 lens from that list that actually exists. And no, the ability to use smaller, older Nikkor glass is only attractive to a very small niche. Mirrorless DX needs to be mass market if it going to replace the current flippy mirror cash cows. So Nikon might as well start anew.

  • nikoment

    9-30mm f/1.8-2.8: How cool would this be if it were a DX lens?

    • Kynikos

      “9-30mm f/1.8-2.8: How bloody huge would this be if it were a DX lens?”

      There. I fixed it for you.

      • nikoment

        So tired of this response. Okay, 2.8 max, freznel glass, and boom, probably not much bigger than the Tokina 11-20 2.8.
        Come on, stop with the “it can’t be done” and give DXers something interesting.

        • Kynikos

          Yeah, physics is such a nuisance.

  • OttoVonSchriek

    Mount adapter with shutter has implications.

    Imagine Nikons eventual (inevitable?) full frame mirrorless system uses shutters in the lenses. This was not done in traditional SLR’s because of the problems of mechanical couplings. In a mechatronic world this is no longer an issue.

    But you would not be able to use legacy lenses. But as legacy lenses need an adapter to fill the flange back distance, that space could be used for a ‘legacy’ shutter.

    Makes a lot of sense, and kudos to Nikon if it’s true.

    • Piotr Kosewski

      Based on how late Nikon is coming to the game, they might try making cameras without a mechanical shutter. A Dx replacement would be expensive enough to make it possible ($5000+). Electronic shutters are too expensive or too slow for cheaper cameras.

      Leaf shutter is expensive. It would add a lot of cost (and size/weight) to photo equipment.
      It is acceptable in medium format, when you already pay a lot.
      But even there it is still a lot of money.

      Schneider Kreuznach makes few leaf shutter (LS) lenses. A 150/3.5 LS costs as much as 120/5.6 tilt-shift.
      Look at prices of FF tilt-shift lenses. I don’t think many people would like to pay so much for normal primes.

      • OttoVonSchriek

        Many rangefinders had Copal shutters, including economic models.

        • Piotr Kosewski

          And most of them were good for 1/500. 🙂

          Sony RX1 (so hardly a cheap camera) uses a Copal LS and it is maxes out at 1/4000.

          • OttoVonSchriek

            There are situations where 1/4000 is not enough.

            One example is using fill flash on a bright day on large aperture lenses. But in this case the required max shutter speed is dependent on min ISO, if the sensor is capable of ISO25 this would not seem to be a great drawback.

            Shooting sports with long lenses; but then long lenses have plenty of room for a higher performance shutter.

  • peevee

    9-30mm f/1.8-2.8 – that has to be a cheap kit lens to compete with G7X and RX100 – otherwise Nikon 1 cameras make no sense.

    • Cannot change the lens on the RX100.

      In the m4/3 system, a similar lens would be the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8

      or the Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8

      Neither of those is a “cheap kit lens”. 😉

      Both of those are also substantial in size. The one advantage that the Nikon 1 has over other mirrorless systems is that the lenses are quite small and light. If Nikon can bring this lens in under $700, I would think there are some buyers out there.

      • KnightPhoto

        And some hope for weight then too, those m4/3 lenses are only 385 and 305g.

        • Half the weight on a Nikon 1 lens of this patent, would be a good level, though even near 200g would be quite light.

      • peevee

        Pana 12-35/2.8 is not big, and neither is Oly 12-40/2.8, and so far Nikon has nothing similar for 1.


          Looks big in comparison.

          This makes the Panasonic LX100 appear to be an even better choice, especially when the cost is near that of just the Olympus or Panasonic f2,8 lenses.

          Obviously Nikon1 has nothing like that … yet. That’s why this is a new item about a patent. When it appears, we will know. I would bet it will be smaller than a similar m4/3 f2.8 lens.

          • peevee

            In comparison to what, Nikkor 9-30 f/1.8-2.8? You don’t know its size yet.

            • 11.9mm longer than that Olympus

              Did you even look at the link I posted?

            • peevee

              camerasize? There is no 9-30/1.8-2.8 there. And if it is longer, why bother?

            • Look at the original patent link. You will see the lens length at three working zoom focal lengths. Also, that gap between lens groups would allow the lens to collapse, much like other Nikon 1 lenses. Some like that feature, while others (Thom Hogan) do not. There is enough room to go about 26mm (or more) shorter, which would make it more compact than either the Olympus or Panansonic.

            • peevee

              Patent pictures do not reflect the end result.

            • LOL

              Keep trying. 😉

        • I’ll give you another set to view and compare.


          Many say m4/3 over Nikon 1 due to sensor size, but why not just go to APS-C or Sony full frame?

          I’ve placed these side by side using lens weight added to camera weight. I would use your argument that “otherwise Nikon 1 cameras make no sense”, and apply that to m4/3 too. If the goal is bigger sensor, and reasonable weight, then it makes little sense to choose something other than Sony A7 series, especially if you’re going to have the camera for a while, and buy more lenses.

          • peevee

            Sony APS-C have no weather-sealed bodies or lenses or f/2.8 zooms or IBIS. And even mildly interesting lenses, like 16-70/4 and 24/1.8, are grossly overpriced. Sony FF is too expensive with lenses too big, and no real workaround kit zoom (no, 28-70 is not even close to a minimally adequate).

            • We should be seeing weather sealed bodies from Sony in the future, though we should expect those cameras to weigh more. At the moment Olympus offers some good choices, at reasonable prices. I’m curious what cameras you are using currently?

          • KnightPhoto

            Appreciate these comparisons you have been posting Gordon. I’ll take you one step further and over to the right add a D750 and you realize:
            – Oly, Panny, and Fuji should be afraid.
            – The D750 is not an order of magnitude bigger so I’d rather have that over the Sony given it’s AF performance.
            – agreed with Thom, we now need a 24-70 f/4 to go head to head with Sony and Canon.
            – I’m sticking to mirrored FX.

            • I’ve looked at that comparison too. The way Nikon arranged internal components on the D750 makes it a thinner camera. I’m still waiting to see what develops with the flare repair program, though it would not be a surprise for me to get a D750 at some point in the future.

  • MonkeySpanner

    The 1 Nikkor 9-30mm f/1.8-2.8 looks pretty interesting. I might not have sold all of my Nikon 1 gear if that lens had been available and not astronomically priced. This system needs some serious light to help that little sensor preform well.

  • MonkeySpanner

    Wish Nikon would just give up on Aptina and buy the Sony 1″ sensor already. They may lose a little AF speed, but they would gain so much in IQ.

    • KnightPhoto

      And lose the USP of the 1-series? Thom says 1/3-stop DR difference, or IIRC maybe 1/2-stop. The V3 / J4 sensor isn’t all that bad. Agreed it doesn’t have the DR of Nikon FX but who does?

      • MonkeySpanner

        Well to be honest I have not shot the 1 system since I sold all of my N1 gear – which was over a year ago and both bodies I had has the original 10MP sensor. But my understand is that the IQ has not increased much since that sensor.

        • KnightPhoto

          It’s hard to beat the 10mp sensor’s noise control, but the 18mp sensor has a much more detailed look that I like better. I would like more DR which yes the Sony is rated better at that.

  • wallybrooks

    A shutter separated from the lens is doable, 4×5 view cameras from Sinar had a shutter that also served as a lens mount! If it’s a leaf shutter that makes it interesting for flash to over power the sun!

  • Nikon1isAwesome!

    Still hoping to hear more about the 9-30 f/1.8-2.8 lens…

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