Nikon Lenses: The Year in Review, 2018


Nikon dazzled this year with huge announcement after huge announcement. Clearly focusing on the high-end market for 2018, Nikon impressed photographers with a pair of sophisticated telephoto lenses for its F-mount SLR system, along with a solid foundation for the company’s exciting new mirrorless system.

Nikon F Lenses

Clearly not letting its SLR cameras wane in the light of mirrorless cameras, Nikon released two exciting and extremely innovative telephoto options this year. At the beginning of 2018, the company unveiled what could possibly be thought of as the flagship lens of its portfolio, with the AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR. Incorporating nearly all lens technologies in Nikon’s arsenal, this medium-to-super telephoto lens really separates itself with its built-in 1.4x teleconverter, allowing for on-the-fly switching to an effective 252-560mm f/5.6 with just the flip of a switch. Optically, the lens has one fluorite element and eight extra-low dispersion elements to present a well-corrected image, and Nano Crystal, Super Integrated, and fluorine coatings are all present. Additionally, four-stop-effective Vibration Reduction benefits handling, while a Silent Wave Motor provides fast and accurate autofocus.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 180-400mm f/4E TC1.4 FL ED VR Lens

For something a bit more modest, but nevertheless equally exciting, Nikon announced its second PF lens with the AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR. Characterized by a unique PF, or Phase Fresnel, element, this 500mm f/5.6 prime is less than half the weight of its 500mm f/4 sibling and its dimensions are roughly the same as a 70-200mm f/2.8. Beyond the PF element, this super tele also has three extra-low dispersion elements, Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings, and a fluorine-coated front element. Additionally, contributing to its handy ergonomics, Vibration Reduction is incorporated to minimize the appearance of camera shake by four stops.

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR Lens

Nikon Z Lenses

The announcement of the Z7 and Z6 was definitely one of the show-stealers of photokina 2018, and in conjunction with Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless debut were a trio of lenses serving as the foundation for what’s sure, eventually, to be a well-rounded optical system. Before getting into the lenses themselves, it should also be pointed out that Nikon made a big point about the Z lens mount itself. Having a large diameter of 55mm, compared to the narrower 44mm of the existing F mount, along with a short 16mm flange distance, gives lens designers greater flexibility to design faster lenses eventually, such as the forthcoming NIKKOR Z 58mm f/0.95 S Noct.

Nikon Z7 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 24-70mm Lens

The first zoom for the new Z-system, the NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S covers a favorable wide-angle to portrait-length range and offers a constant f/4 maximum aperture to find the balance between a compact, lightweight design and being bright enough for use in difficult lighting conditions. The optical design employs one aspherical extra-low dispersion element, along with three additional aspherical elements, to reduce aberrations greatly throughout the zoom range and realize a high degree of sharpness and clarity. As with other Z-system lenses, this 24-70mm f/4 uses a stepping autofocus motor for quick and quiet performance and has a programmable Control Ring that can be set to adjust a variety of exposure settings.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 24-70mm f/4 S Lens

Alongside the 24-70mm f/4, Nikon announced a pair of primes: the NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S and the NIKKOR Z 50mm f/1.8 S. Wide angle and normal length, respectively, both lenses have an f/1.8 maximum aperture to, again, strike a balance between size, weight, and speed. The two lenses also have similar optical layouts, with both using aspherical and low dispersion elements to produce well-corrected imagery. And, like the 24-70mm, these primes have Nano Crystal and Super Integrated Coatings along with a weather-sealed design for working in inclement weather.

Nikon NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8 S Lens

As a Nikon shooter, are you pleased with the new lenses of 2018? What would you like to see for 2019? Let us know!