New Nikkor Speed King making a D810 look wee.
Sorry the picture is slightly cut off, but it wouldn't quite fit*.
Now that's a handful of camera!
With Sony going "big" with its new FF lenses, Nikon is not backing down. We'll see your Dodge Ram 3500 and raise you a Ford F650!
The lens of course is the new Nikkor 105mm ƒ/1.4 that has just been announced.
The guy who sold me my house has his own bulldozer. Now that's macho. If you aren't willing to commit that far, this might be the next coolest thing.
Ansel Adams used to answer the question "what camera do you use?" by saying, "the biggest one I can carry!" If you're made of the same stern stuff, the new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 105mm ƒ/1.4E ED lens should rock your world. (I almost said "float your boat" but rock has more accurate connotations here than float. Okay, I kid. Ignore me.) It has a dazzling array of tech benefits: 14 elements in 9 groups, three extra low dispersion ED glass elements, Nikon's Nano coating, weather sealing, internal focusing, fluorine coating on the outer elements for smudge resistance, Nikon's SWM Silent Wave Motor, full-time manual focus override, and 9 rounded aperture blades. (It also has an electromagnetic aperture, so check compatibility on older cameras.)
And it takes 82mm filters (!), is 3.75 inches in diameter, and weighs 985g (35 oz.)(!!). It focuses to 1 meter.
The 105mm focal length used to be known as the shortest lens that you could use as a general-purpose short telephoto but with which you could also do full headshots (an 85mm or 90mm had a little too much distortion that close). Nikon, of course, is famous for its 105mm lenses, going way, way back to the four-element rangefinder lens of the 1950s. It's identified with them. In 1982 there came the previous speed king, the awesome and heavy Ai-S 105mm ƒ/1.8. I knew a guy who owned one once, but he said he never carried it because it was too heavy. (He had the 135mm ƒ/2 as well.) That 105mm ƒ/1.8 only weighed a measly 580 grams, though. Nikon's all-time champ was the legendary 105mm ƒ/2.5, which went through many updates. There were others. 105mm is a central focal length in the Nikon lineup, and for Nikon heritage. This new one is the fastest ever.
And remember, size and cost are the two biggest design constraints limiting the performance of lenses. Relax one or both, and you are likely to get better performance. That is, if very good isn't good enough.
And guys 'n' gals, this will most likely be a lens for those times when very good isn't good enough.
*I've used this joke before. Am I predictable, or what?
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Featured Comments from:
Hugh Crawford: "Big?
"You must be kidding. it's probably the smallest 105mm ƒ/1.4 lens you could make.
"Aperture is bit more than 75.7 mm and the filter ring is only 82mm. That leaves less than 2mm around the front of the front lens element, which doesn't seem like enough to prevent vignetting wide open on full frame. Those aperture blades need to go someplace when they are wide open, and there is some focusing mechanism and motor in there too.
"I'll bet this is not a telephoto design but is in fact a slightly retrofocus design or is maybe like those famous Kubrick/NASA high speed Zeiss lenses that were essentially a pretty fast medium telephoto with what we now call a speed booster/focal reducer in back of it. Maybe a 210mm ƒ/2 design with a .5 focal reducer added. In a perfect world with unicorns and free ice cream this would have twice the resolving power of the 200mm ƒ/2 which is pretty sharp to start with.
"But how'd they make it so darn small?"
Steve G: "Sigh. Yes, I remember the 105mm ƒ/2.5 'chrome front ring'. As I've said before, that was the lens that taught me that some lenses have something going for them that doesn't show up on the spec sheet. Steve (Currently in Kronberg, Germany, with the Zeiss 24–200mm-e on the Sony RX-10)."
Mani Sitaraman: "I'm a little puzzled when I try to figure out the point of these very wide-aperture portrait lenses, in this day and age. Surely,the availability of very high ISO settings in cameras these days means that the wide maximum aperture is not needed for available light situations? And an ƒ/1.4 is useful only if you wish to do portraits in which just one eye is in focus in three-quarter profile shots, or portraits in which just the plane of the face is in focus, but not the nose. Is there a real demand for lenses that will make such pictures possible? Aside from the fact that major lens makers make these lenses simply to assert that they can, is there any market for these lenses? I suppose a lens like this one does impress clients...."
Mike replies: Don't look at me, I'm an 85mm (and equivalent) kind of guy.