Three New Nikkor Lenses Introduced

bythom three nikkors

Nikon today introduced two new FX lenses, and one DX lens. Let’s work our way up in excitement by starting at the bottom…

The first lens is the 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6G AF-P DX lens with a suggested retail price of US$310. This wide-angle zoom seems to round out the AF-P line for the consumer DX cameras, with 10-20mm, 18-55m, and 70-300mm lenses with stepper motors in them now available. Which gives us 15-450mm effective coverage, with a small overlap and small gap. As I’ve noted in my reviews, the stepper motors seem to help Live View focus performance considerably, though they don’t seem to impact regular focus speeds much, if at all. 

The one surprise to this lens is the inclusion of VR, though Nikon did not specify initially how effective that was in CIPA tests.

It’s a little difficult to get excited by this new DX lens, as it’s not the DX lens most users have been hoping for, and the specs are all pretty low-end (e.g. f/4.5 maximum aperture). Moreover, it overlaps offerings already in Nikon’s lineup. 

Given the low price—and the recent discounting of the D3400—it seems that someone in Nikon is still chasing the entry-level user. Meanwhile, the higher end DX users are still all basically being ignored (buzz, buzz).

Okay, then, can we be more excited about the 28mm f/1.4E ED that was introduced for US$2000? Maybe. But again, we have some head-scratching to do. The new 28mm is the first E-type f/1.4 prime other than the 105mm. We have 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 58mm, and 85mm G-type f/1.4 primes, so are we now getting the f/1.4 line filled in or the start of a new sequence (E-types)? The answer seems to be yes. Yes the line is getting filled in, but yes new versions are transitioning to E. 

That’s not inconsequential. E-type lenses support the fewest number of legacy DSLR bodies, and aren’t supported by film SLRs. 

While US$2000 isn’t inexpensive, we’re talking less than half of Otus level prices, so the real issue here is well the new lens performs. If it gets close to the current Otus state-of-the-art, that price might be considered a bargain. If it has significant optical issues, then it might be expensive. How it fits in the continuum of f/1.8 Nikkor to Zeiss Otus is incredibly important, especially with Sigma Art lenses living in that same territory.

28mm certainly isn’t the most requested prime focal length (in wide angle, 24mm and 35mm are), so it’s not like Nikon is going to sell a flood of this new lens. Still, it’s nice to see the prime lineup getting attention. 

Note to Nikon: the 50mm primes really need updating, some would love a 20mm f/1.4 and a 135mm f/2 or faster, and the 14mm f/2.8 could use an update. So your work is not done here.

Finally, the most interesting lens in Nikon’s introduction today is the 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED Fish-eye zoom. This US$1250 lens matches up against the Canon 8-15mm f/4L. These full frame fisheye zooms replace the old 180° fisheye primes (e.g. Nikkor 16mm f/2.8) but provide more flexibility, as you can also zoom out to get a 180° circular fisheye image. In essence, two fisheye types in one, with some strange abilities in between.

Indeed, one of the strange abilities comes with DX. At about 11mm—there’s a marking on the lens—the 8-15mm becomes a DX 180° diagonal frame fisheye, but one that can also range to an effective barrel-distorted 20mm or so in a pinch. So my curiosity is this: can I replace three lenses in my gear closet with this one lens? (10.5mm DX, 8mm Sigma fisheye, 16mm Nikkor, if you were trying to figure that out.) It looks like I might. And, for Nikon, at a reasonable price (less than the Canon equivalent for a change). 

As with all the big wides with bulbous front elements, the 8-15mm has a push-on lens cap and doesn’t take filters up front (there’s a gel slot at the back, but is there anyone still using gels? One reader reminded me that some underwater photographers do). That said, it’s the first of that type of lens that Nikon supplies a removable lens hood for.

Expect new lens correction firmware for these lenses by the time they ship (current version is L2.015 when you look at the firmware number on your camera). 

All in all, Nikon’s announcements today aren’t going to move a lot of product or change people’s minds about anything. These are “business as usual” lens introductions as far as I can see: fill out the product line (28mm) and match Canon (lower cost crop-sensor wide angle, full frame fisheye zoom).  

The Nikon crowd probably won’t get too excited about these lenses, but they do fill some needs for some, so I expect them to sell decently, at least initially. 

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