Nikon 300mm f/2.8 FL VR lens patent

I have been reporting for months now that Nikon will slowly update many of their current tele photo lenses with a fluorite (FL) element (see the difference between Nikon’s fluorite lens and fluorine coating). You can see the initial list of upgrade candidates that date back to 2014. There has been several patents in the past for new Nikon lenses with fluorite (FL) element and the latest filing in Japan point to a new Nikon 300mm f/2.8 FL lens. Here are the details:

  • Patent application: 2016-161641
  • Published on September 5th, 2016
  • Filing date: February 27th, 2015
  • f: 294.00 (focal length)
  • FNO: 2.91 (aperture)
  • 2ω: 8.32 (angle of view)
  • Y: 21.60 (image height)
  • TL: 305.39 (total length)
  • BF 67.25 (backfocus)
  • Internal focus (IF)
  • Vibration Reduction (VF

Note: Nikon 1mm f/1.8 VR lens patent

Another, a rather unusual Nikon patent was also recently filed in Japan: 1mm f/1.8 VR lens designed for a camera with a really small sensor. Please note that this is not a 43mm lens like being reported by several websites, but a 43mm equivalent lens (in 35mm format). This is a specialty lens, not designed for a "regular" photography camera.

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  • The 300mm f4 PF is portable. At 2.8, even with f-magic, I wonder how it will be…

    • waterengineer

      It will be no less than stellar. The problem is it will break the bank.

      • bobd111

        If not your back.

    • Probably around 1.5kg

      • Yoan

        I expect more. The 400mm F/2.8 FL is at 3.88kg

        • Plusalpha

          It’s true that it is a range of lenses for a really close kind of photography but I don’t know… We call technology something with that weight? I think that now the quality shouldn’t be the problem, they have to do something about weight and size! I do portrait photography and street, and when I can my first option is MFT, after something like 5 years I found again the desire to go out and take pictures! 🙂

      • a.almeida

        The new 400 FL got a 16% weight reduction from its previous model. If the new 300 FL gets the same will leave it weighing at around 2435 grams.

    • saywhatuwill

      This 300mm f/2.8 isn’t going to be a PF lens though.

      • Ash you are right, I misread it …

      • Kiboko

        And … it will have VR.

    • T.I.M

      Excellent lens, make a great ultra sharp 420mm f/5.6 (630mm on DX).
      Full moon tonight.

  • Adam Fo

    Unless Nikon have found a new formulation, fluorite elements can cause problems after many years.
    I’ve got a Canon FL lens which predates FD and is the first 300 f2.8 fluorite lens. Converted to motion picture use many years ago it has lead a hard life and been apart many time for cleaning. The glass is fine but the fluorite cloudy and blooming after 30 years of use.

    • It only lasted 30 years?! Outrageous!

    • MB

      Nikon used fluorite and quartz elements in 105 mm f/4.5 UV lens introduced back in 80’s and they seam in good health these days …

      • Yeah. . . Sir Richard Hadlee used one to great effect

  • VERY interesting lens. I was wondering when they were going to update the 300 2.8. Hopefully with the patent filed, it’ll be sooner rather than later. A lighter version would get my attention for sure.

    • Considering the patent was originally filed in February of 2015, I’d say it could be announced any day now.

      Also, is it even possible to use PF technology in an f/2.8 300mm? Cuz the 300 f/4 PF seems to have been a huge hit…

      • ITN

        Nikon says basically that the use of PF would not have quite as much impact on the weight of a 300/2.8, if PF were used in such a lens, compared to the dramatic weight savings in a more moderate f/4 variant. Also the 300/2.8 is made with the highest optical quality in mind and while a PF lens can be good, Nikon can do a better lens using a non-PF design.

        Thus they are likely to go with an FL design in the next iteration as it can lead to some weight savings even while improving optical quality further.

        • KnightPhoto

          Genuine question: what about Nikon’s 600 f/4E FL? Canon showed a prototype 600 f/4 DO that appears to be physically smaller, although likely badly front-heavy.
          I may get a 600E FL, but nagging thought is would Nikon ever offer a PF variant?

          • ITN

            Nikon just recently introduced a 600/4 FL; I think it will be about 6-7 years before another update is issued. It’s unlikely Nikon would make a competing PF lens with the same aperture and focal length; what is more likely they may introduce one with different specifications. I personally think that long lenses should be made with the utmost optical quality because their practical use is often hampered by atmospheric degradation so the image quality of the lens needs to be as high as possible to get good overall results in the presence of these other factors that degrade image quality. In any case if such a lens were issued, the FL would still command a premium in the first and second hand markets because of its extremely high optical quality.

    • outkasted

      i thought you had love for the 400|2.8 FL

      • Not me, although I’d be willing to give it a go 🙂 I like the 500 / 600 F4 and the 300 PF (and the 300 2.8). The 400 has always been interesting to me, just never tried one (other lenses seem to be a better fit most of the time).

  • Yes, but will it move from “G” to “E” on the aperture? Nikon desperately needs to get away from that clunky old mechanical aperture too. It will be mission-critical to a smooth transition to a mirrorless mount, whether Nikon opts to do so with the same F-mount and flange distance, or opts to shorten the flange distance and include an adapter for existing F-mount lenses. Putting a mechanical aperture tab in either design would be terrible.

    • It will surely be an E lens.

    • ITN

      Adapters already exist which actuate F mount apertures without problems. Sony has similar solutions for their lenses as well. The G aperture control is not a problem. In any case it makes little sense to use DSLR lenses on mirrorless cameras except for a temporary solution. The handling is terrible. DSLR lenses are best used on DSLR bodies.

      E apertures are useful for PC lenses, very long lenses etc. where the mechanical aperture control is problematic but the vast majority of F mount lenses are G and may be for decades to come.

      Of course, the 300/2.8 is a long lens and a premium sports tool so it will get the E aperture control in the next generation. I’m actually waiting for it.

      • 1.) Yes, adapters exist that can activate the mechanical aperture. But that’s just such an ancient technology at this point, it’s dumb. The mechanical aperture is already a major source of headache and break-down, it would be only worse in an adapter I suspect. (inconsistent stopping down when shooting timelapse is a chronic problem)

        Nikon is much better off just making as many E lenses as they can between now and whenever they make a mirrorless mount, period.

        2.) Unfortunately, just take a look at all of the high-end Sony FE lenses- they’re as big, or bigger than, similar competition from Nikon, Canon, and Sigma. If you think that full-frame mirrorless Nikon lenses are magically going to be tiny, yet maintain the same apertures and overall image quality, then you’ve been duped by the biggest lie of all mirrorless myths.

        Simply put, Nikon’s best choice is to either offer a mirrorless system that sticks with the F-mount natively, yet without AF-D or G aperture support in the more affordable versions, …or at least is able to seamlessly adapt to the F-mount with as little hassle as possible. (Meaning, at least one simple adapter should be available that lacks both an AF-D motor and a G aperture coupling. Even if a more advanced / nostalgic adapter does add one or both of those functions.

        In case you haven’t noticed, “E” has been popping up in more lenses than just the exotic telephotos and tilt-shift lenses; it’s also present in both the 24-70 VR and the 16-80 VR. IMO this is a strong indication that Nikon is going to push away from the mechanical aperture altogether in a future generation of camera bodies, just like they made the painful transition to SWM autofocus in their beginner DSLRs, after the D70 era…

        • ITN

          All the current Nikon DSLRs which can be remotely taken seriously, support Ai lenses, Ai-S lenses, AF Nikkors, AF D Nikkors, AF-I Nikkors, AF-S Nikkors etc. There is no part of the lens lineup that was left behind. G lenses constitute the vast majority of Nikon lenses ever made, so they’re the least likely to be not supported by future cameras. However, mirrorless cameras benefit from stepper motors in the lenses to focus properly these will be used in any such system. AF with AF-S lenses will be prone to hunting a lot in low light if coupled with a mirrorless camera. Thus it is pointless to try, unless it is for a specific temporary use. I didn’t say anything about lens size or flange distance. However, now I will say: wide angles for mirrorless cameras do tend to be more compact given equal level of performance, than their DSLR equivalents. But the real problem is that mirrorless cameras require a different AF solution in the lens than DSLRs, for optimal performance. Dual pixel AF may change this when Canon’s patents expire a couple of decades from now. That’s the only PDAF solution for mirrorless that functions in a useful way in low light as it uses all the light to measure distance or focus offset. It just isn’t likely to be something Nikon can use for the time being. CDAF totally blows with SWM lenses if the subject is moving, it is like shooting in the dark.

  • doge

    Unless i’m reading this wrong, this lens is listed as longer as the one it’s replacing. That doesn’t seem to be the case with either the 500mm or the 600mm

    • Eric Calabros

      305-(f mount flang)=almost same size as current lens.

  • Photobug

    Not surprised with this rumor for the F2.8. The F4 is a jewel and the size and weight reduction for the 2.8 will be significant. However, the cost will be steep and buyers will order it for the size and weight advantage.

    • El Aura

      You are confusing fluorite lens elements (and the FL label) with phase fresnel lens element (labelled PF). The former improves IQ and makes the lens noticeably lighter, whereas the latter allows for a significantly more compact lens (partly because fresnel elements suffer from less chromatic aberrations and thus need less elements correcting for those).

      When the 400, 500 and 600 mm lenses were updated with fluorite lens elements their length hardly changed (decrease between 1-3%) while their weight changed noticeably (minus 18-25%). The 300 mm f/4 lens using phase fresnel elements got 34% shorter and 42% lighter (comparing the weight without tripod collar).

  • Clubber Lang

    Is there any remote possibility that Nikon would ever think about updating their 2.8D primes? Might be a nice affordable lens series.

    • Clubber Lang

      I meant to say G version of the 2.8D primes such as the 24mm, 20mm etc.

      • I would say yes. And I think they are the 1.8 series now. 1.4 for the high end. 1.8 for the cheaper lighter but still excellent version.

        • Thom Hogan

          I would say no. There’s been virtually no design activity that I know of in the f/2.8 prime space for Nikon. Such lenses would also have to sell for less than the f/1.8 lenses, so the only place where it would even make sense is in DX lenses.

          • David Peterson

            Ultra compact f2.8 DX primes would be nice 🙂

            • Thom Hogan

              I’m not saying they wouldn’t be. What I’m saying is that Nikon doesn’t see that as producing more income for them, so they won’t spend money to produce them.

              Personally, I think that’s incorrect. Moreover, I often wonder why the f/1.8 primes are so big (bigger than they have to be). But the point is this: Nikon isn’t spending money investigating compact/pancake primes that I know of.

            • I am already happy with the voigtlander 40/2 but any fast 35 to 50 mm pancake lens with AF would make me extremely happy!!

            • HF

              I don’t find the 1.8 primes that big at all. The 50/1.8g is quite small. The 85 similar to the Canon 85/1.8, Batis 85, lighter than Tamrons 85/1.8 and Fujis 56/1.2 (similar aperture diameter). Pancakes are often a compromise. Even Canon 40/2.8 was tested to have vignetting of the order of -2ev.

            • MyrddinWilt

              More useful than new f/2.8 primes for F-mount would be some wide lenses for mirrorless.

              I find the lack of those lenses inexplicable because the only area in which mirrorless has a major advantage over DSLR is the ability to make wide lenses that are not retro-focus designs. Those enormous front elements cost a lot of $$ to make and impose real constraints on the lens designer.

              The area where CX offers most is in ultra-wide and fisheye. But so far we haven’t seen either appear. Where is the 14-28mm equivalent? It should be possible to make a really good 5-10mm f.1.4 CX lens and sell it for $200. It isn’t much different from making the 10mm lens.

          • Clubber Lang

            I kind of figured that much. I realize the 1.8 lenses are most likely the replacement but it sure would be nice to see an equivalent to Canon’s 24mm and 40mm type of lenses. These are super cheap, compact and seem to be very nice lenses.

    • KnightPhoto

      How about DigLloyd’s idea of REFERENCE GRADE f/2.8 lenses or even f/3.5? That is OTUS level performance, but slower Aperture. So not cheap, but super high quality, with weight/size/price savings due to a middling max aperture. Leica recently released a slower lens like this, IIRC a wide angle f/3.3 or some such. Any interest?
      (for me not much interest, I like the f/1.4 and f/1.8 lines myself plus the f/2.8 zooms)

    • ITN

      They have. They are the f/1.8G primes.

    • decisivemoment

      If Nikon would simply improve their execution on the 1.8 lenses, I’d be happy. You know, more advanced focus motors like the ones in Canon consumer grade lenses (possibilities for video plus speeding up AF), better quality control (to make sure the very good designs are actually always realized), smoother and more precise manual focus action and so on.

  • purenupe1

    Why not make it an E lens while they are at it?

    • KnightPhoto

      Well yes it will be an E lens

  • Yoan

    No way they update the 200mm F/2.0… I just bought it 🙁

    • You shouldn’t regret your recent purchase of that lens even if they announce an update. It’s not that your lens will perform less significantly compared to the new one. Keep in mind, lenses such as the 200m f2 is a beast of a performer.
      If ever a successor to your lens comes, it’ll definitely just be lighter, more expensive, and a few tweaks to make it better than the previous one.

    • I’ve come close to pulling the trigger on that lens a few times but as I get older the weight issue becomes more and more important so I’ve been holding out for the FL version. If it helps any there’ve been a number of times I’ve wished I’d bought it so while I’m left waiting you’re getting to enjoy a great lens.

    • Neopulse

      Anything better than the current 200mm is quite difficult, in all honesty, maybe they’ll just make it an E-class lens with fluorine coating and that’s about it. It’s superb the current one.

  • bgbs

    If there is any company that ever invents a light pancake telephoto lens, will sweep the market.

  • Very glad to see this. Hopefully this means imminent availability as I’ve been waiting a couple of years for it.

    Has anyone taken the time so see how this differs from the previous 300/f2.8 FL in Nov 2014?

  • ITN

    The 10 just means it contains materials to be recycled with other type 10 plastics. Nothing at all to do with how long it will last. Not all lead free soldier is problematic.

    • Adam Fo

      Why are critical electronics in things like medical equipment exempt ?

      • ITN

        I looked the symbol up. The recycling information I gave above may be incorrect or at least not quite the gist of it (I read it in two sources one of which was responses on Nikon’s website). I am sorry for that. The 10 means environmentally friendly use life has been determined to be at least 10 years (next higher symbol is 25 years so what the 10 really means that they know it is safe for 10 years but cannot guarantee 25 years of safe use). After that it may leak one of a set of hazardous substances that may be unhealthy or harmful to the environment. The symbol is required if the product contains one of these hazardous substances and if it is sold in the Chinese market. I would guess that that medical equipment either is not sold in China, is somehow exempt, or does not contain too much of those hazardous materials to be considered harmful.

        Now, here is the interesting part. If a product contains at least one of those hazardous substances above the limits allowed by Chinese regulations, the symbol indicating environmentally friendly life must be present on the on the product along with a table listing which substances are present in the product in the Chinese documentation accompanying the product. I looked up the manuals of three recent Nikon lenses and the offending substance that these products may leak after ten years is Pb (lead). So it is because lead content in the product that this symbol is required by Chinese rules. I would assume it is not exceeding EU limits nor in the soldier! However, it contains too much of it to be considered safe by Chinese regulations and may leak it after 10 years. I find it a little ironic considering the Chinese toy lead scandal.

        Anyway, if the recycling by plastic type is correct then that would suggest the offending lead is in the plastic exterior. Otherwise it does not seem plausible that the product would leak the lead into the environment somewhere between 10 and 25 years. Since so many products contain this 10 symbol perhaps they contain the same kind of exterior plastic material. I can certainly understand that Nikon would not want to say that their lens may cause unhealthy exposure to lead after 10 years! But essentially this is what the Chinese part of the manual implies. Of course it may be that they are overly cautious.

  • Adnan

    The present lens is fantastic.
    I’d prefer a 100-300 F4 VRIII in 2.5K to under 3K USD range zoom.
    Just my opinion.

  • G Fedor

    Any thoughts on when the new 300mm 2.8 FL would actually be announced and when it would be available? I’m curious in the timeframe from patent filing to consumer ready. Any guesses on how much more the new one will be versus the current model? Thanks.

  • Adam Fo

    Nice article about the use of fluorite optics here. Translated from French

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