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Nikon's logo. Click here to visit the Nikon website! Nikon announces development of D-series digital lenses
(Thursday, December 12, 2002 - 09:00 EST)

Nikon Inc. has today announced that it is developing a new category of F-Mount autofocus DX-Nikkor interchangeable lenses designed specifically for use with its D-series digital cameras.

This announcement is something we've long expected and hoped for, and we're pleased to see Nikon indicating how seriously it takes its digital SLR business with this move. Nikon's D-series SLRs all share a 1.5x focal multiplier (similar to most other SLRs) - which means that since the camera's sensor is smaller than a 35mm film frame, the field of view of a digital SLR image is a smaller crop of the view you'd get with the same lens on a 35mm film camera. This focal length multiplier has made it difficult for digital SLR owners to get truly wide-angle images from their lenses - but with lenses designed specifically for these smaller sensors, DSLR owners can look forward to taking up wide-angle photography once more.

Perhaps even more important though, with lens designs unencumbered by the need to produce a large enough image circle for 35mm film, the lenses themselves should be able to be made more practical in terms of size and weight. Anybody who's tried some of the wide variety of lenses available for 35mm film cameras will know just how big and heavy some of these lenses can be - making them difficult or impossible to hand-hold.

There's a lot to be said for designing lenses specifically for digital camera sensors, rather than making larger 35mm-sized sensors (which are significantly more expensive due to the exponentially reduced yields). Olympus, Kodak and Fuji have gone as far as to partner in suggesting a new lens format dubbed the "Four Thirds System", and it seems Nikon too has seen the potential advantages of making lenses with smaller image circles for digital sensors.

The first new product following this announcement will apparently be a DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G lens, which would be equivalent to an 18-36mm lens on a 35mm camera. This new lens will feature Extra-low Dispersion (ED) glass, Nikon Super Integrated Coating, Silent Wave Motor technology and a G-Type design for compatibility with the built-in Command Dial aperture control found on all of Nikon's D-series digital cameras. More details are to be announced next spring...

Nikon's DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G lens. Courtesy of Nikon Europe, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins.

Original Source Press Release:


MELVILLE, NY, December 12, 2002 - Nikon (www.nikonusa.com), the world leader in photography, announced plans today to develop a new F-Mount autofocus DX-Nikkor interchangeable lens category that will be dedicated to Nikon D-Series digital SLR models and designed to address the market's need for wider angle-of-view high-performance optics for digital SLR photography. The DX Nikkor lenses will be designed to operate exclusively with Nikon D-Series digital SLR cameras to enable a combination of wider angle-of-view with optical characteristics that are optimized for Nikon digital SLR camera sensors.

The DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G lens, the first lens designed exclusively for the Nikon D-series digital SLR cameras, will be compact and lightweight and will have a wider angle-of-view designed for digital SLR photography. The lens will incorporate Nikon advanced technology features including Nikon Super Integrated Coating, Silent Wave Motor Technology (SWM), Extra Low Dispersion Optical Glass (ED) and a G-Type design for compatibility with each camera model's built-in Command Dial aperture control.

The lens' 12-24mm Zoom focal length range will provide a 2X Zoom ratio and variable angle-of-view from 61o at 24mm to 99 o at 12mm. This range of angle-of-view is comparable to that of an 18-36mm lens on the 35mm format.

Nikon designers determined that by reducing the diameter of the lens' Image Circle (the image that it projects on the sensor), that a lens of practical size and excellent performance could be developed. Using the reduced-size Image Circle as the starting point, the lens will also incorporate Nikon's high-performance Super Integrated Coating for superior color reproduction and minimized ghost and flare, and will also feature newly developed compact Silent Wave Motor technology, making the SWM auto focus fast and virtually silent, complimenting the System's overall operation.

To ensure excellent optical performance the new optical design also includes Extra-Low Dispersion (ED) glass to control chromatic aberrations, aspheric optics to enable a more compact optical design, and internal focusing to maintain superior handling, all to optimize the lens for Nikon's digital sensor format, and making the lens with a smaller diameter, lighter weight and surpassing image quality from center-to edge-to-corner on the image. This DX Nikkor wide-angle optic has the shortest available focal length of 12mm, and has been optimized for the Nikon Digital Sensor Format.

With the G-type Nikkor, DX Nikkor optic's lens aperture control is accomplished exclusively with each Nikon Digital SLR model's built-in Command Dial aperture control. Compatible Nikon models include all current Nikon Digital SLR cameras (D1X, D1H and D100) and the original Nikon D1, the first among the D-Series cameras. While the DX Nikkor lenses will incorporate the Nikon F-Mount, its optical design is specifically for use with a Nikon Digital Sensor and therefore is not designed for use with cameras that incorporate the Nikon F lens mount and either a larger digital sensor or 35mm film.

More detailed specifications about the DX Nikkor 12-24 f/4G lens will be available in Spring 2003.

D-Series Upgrades and the DX-Nikkor lenses
The DX-Nikkor lens category will compliment other recent developments of Nikon firmware upgrades and service enhancements including firmware upgrades for the D1X, D1H and D100 Digital SLR models, service buffer memory upgrade for the D1X and Capture 3 software upgrades that will benefit all Nikon digital SLR models.

Nikon's D1X professional digital SLR, with its new combination of upgrades and DX Nikkor compatibility, will offer a significant alternative to recently announced full-size sensor digital SLR models. The D1X firmware upgrade, now available to D1X owners at no charge, plus the newly released Capture 3.5 Upgrader will provide the following three advances:

  • Faster Write Speed: Access to Write Acceleration Technology offered in Lexar's new WA CompactFlash cards. With WA technology, the write-to-card speed is increased by approx. 30%.
  • Higher Buffer Capacity: Nikon Service buffer upgrade that will increase the D1X buffer capacity to 21 JPEG/TIF and 14 NEF (Nikon Electronic Format) files.
  • Higher Image Quality: Capture 3.5 Upgrader that enables the conversion of a D1X NEF file to a 10 Mega Pixel Interpolation.
With the added advantage of the planned DX Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G lens, the D1X will assume a newly advanced level of performance.

Nikon Digital SLR models that will benefit from the Nikon upgrade system and the DX Nikkor lens development include:

D1X: optimized for high resolution and total image quality with interpolated resolution of 10 mega pixels.
D1H: optimized for high speed action/sports performance.
D100: the ideal digital SLR for any photographer that is ready to add digital to their system.
D1: the original professional Nikon digital SLR will also accept DX Nikkor optics.

All Nikon D-Series digital SLR camera models will continue to accept all autofocus Nikkor and many manual focusing Nikkor optics, as well as the DX Nikkor currently under development. All Nikon digital SLR models are extensively compatible within the Nikon Total Imaging System family of products, and feature a wide selection of Nikkor optics, Speedlights, Close-up, Remote and many other optional accessories

About Nikon
Nikon Inc., the world leader in precision optics, 35mm and digital imaging technology, is recognized for setting new standards in product design and performance in consumer and professional photographic equipment. Nikon Inc. distributes Nikon's Total Imaging System of consumer and professional 35mm film and digital SLR cameras, Nikkor optics, Speedlights and System Accessories; 35mm compact cameras; Coolpix® compact digital cameras; Coolscan® digital film scanners; Nikonos® underwater photographic systems; and Nikon sports and recreational optics. The company plays an active role in supporting aspiring, advanced and professional photographers through a variety of organizations, educational programs, events and workshops. For product information, contact Nikon at (800) NIKON-US or visit www.nikonusa.com, which links all levels of photographers to the web's most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities.

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