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  6. AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens

A brand new telephoto zoom lens featuring an internal Silent Wave Motor (SWM), extremely fast and extremely quiet autofocus operation, and the VR (Vibration Reduction) function to compensate for camera shake. We spoke with a member of the development team about this new lens.

2nd Design Section, 2nd Development Department,
Development Division,
Imaging Company
Nikon Corporation
Born in Ohta-ku, Tokyo in 1968, YAMAZAKI joined Nikon after graduating from college in 1992, in order to pursue his interest in design.
He has spent all of his 10 years+ with Nikon focusing on lens barrel design. According to YAMAZAKI, the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens lens stands out because "It is a very small and light zoom lens compared to its predecessors. It can quickly track even rapidly moving subjects, making it ideal for sports photography."

VR function dramatically enhances lens performance!
Neutralizes the effects of camera shake, even when shooting from a moving vehicle.

We were hoping you could give us some insights as you were involved in the development of the AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED lens.

YAMAZAKI, Satoshi:

I'd be happy to. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the new lens is its Silent Wave Motor, or SWM, an internal ultrasonic motor that enables extremely fast and quiet autofocusing.
This is the first Nikon product to combine SWM and VR technologies.

The heart of the Vibration Reduction (VR) function, which minimizes the effects of camera shake.
(The diameter of the coin is 26.5mm (1.05 in.))

Just how does the VR mechanism compensate for camera shake ?

It is impossible to avoid camera shake during hand-held shooting.
Here's where VR comes in - the lens detects motion on the X and Y, or vertical (V) and horizontal (H), axes using internal sensors. Then, when you press and hold the shutter release button down slightly, the mechanism in the lens automatically makes the necessary adjustment to eliminate the effects of camera shake.

Do all optical elements within the lens barrel move ?

No, only some of them. Lenses are generally comprised of composite lens groups -- in the case of this lens, there are 21 elements in 15 groups -- and only a few of them are used for image correction.

Even so, it must be pretty challenging to achieve the precise motions necessary to compensate for camera shake.

Yes, it is. While the mechanism itself is important, the key element is the optical design.
We had to be very careful in deciding which lenses would move to correct images, as there was the possibility of increased distortion and decreased overall optical performance, which would negate the benefits of the VR correction.
The combination of high optical performance, superior mechanism design and advanced calculation software is what makes the VR function work so well.

Having approx. three-step shutter-speed adjustment capability sounds like it'll be pretty useful.

It sure will. And since this lens features a maximum telephoto range of 200mm, the enhancement provided by VR is that much more important.
I think we can tell how far lens design has come by looking at how easy it has become to take good photographs. Autofocusing was the first major development in this regard, since the lens rapidly and accurately achieves proper focus instead of the photographer having to do it manually.
The next problem that had to be dealt with was camera shake. Sometimes a picture that is said to be "a little out of focus" may instead be slightly blurry because of vibration that occurred as the shot was taken. Eliminating this vibration allows us to take better pictures.
The VR function is a milestone in the evolution of the camera. When you switch the function "ON" and look through the viewfinder, you'll notice a distinct reduction in camera shake.

We'd hope all photographers would have the opportunity to have a look through the viewfinder and see the effect for themselves.

In addition to a VR Mode ON/OFF switch, there is also a switch for selecting [NORMAL] or [ACTIVE] Mode.

Yes, very much so. In addition to correcting camera shake, the AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED Lens can also compensate for vibrations that occur when shooting from a moving vehicle. All you have to do is switch VR to [ACTIVE] Mode (refer to note below).
The frequency of camera shake experienced during regular handheld shooting is different from that encountered when trying to shoot from a moving vehicle or vessel. We designed the VR function to be able to compensate for severe vibrations encountered when you're in a car, on a train or airplane, and even aboard a helicopter.
This is the first lens ever to incorporate [ACTIVE] Mode.

  • Note :[ACTIVE] Mode is the setting used to minimize the effects of vibration caused when shooting from a moving vehicle or vessel.

Ultrasonic Motor Enables Silent AF Operation Enjoy More Precise Control

Please tell us a little about the Silent Wave Motor employed in the AF drive.

Sure. Conventional AF lenses use something called a coupling drive. The DC motor inside the body serves as the drive source -- the body and lens are linked by gears, through which the force necessary to drive the autofocus mechanism are transmitted. The SWM, on the other hand, uses ultrasonic vibration to directly drive the lens.

How does the SWM work ?

YAMAZAKI using diagrams to explain the operation of the SWM.
He uses a surfing analogy in order to break a technical concept down into the simplest terms possible.

"Ultrasonic" describes frequencies of mechanical vibrations that are inaudible to the human ear. When people converse, as you and I are, we can hear each other because the sound causes the air to vibrate. These vibrations spread out, or propagate, through the air, and are called "traveling waves".
In the SWM, ultrasonic traveling waves move in a spiral pattern inside the lens barrel. The motor is positioned on top of the waves, and they drive it from below.
Think of it this way: in surfing, the waves drive or push the surfer provided he's balanced atop them. It's the same with the SWM -- the motor is driven by the ultrasonic waves from underneath.

What are some of the difficulties you encountered in working with ultrasonic motor technology ?

Well, just like surfing, the hardest part is staying balanced on the wave!
In order to keep the vibration caused by the ultrasonic traveling wave headed in a set direction, we needed technology that would allow the creation of regular waveforms.
Nikon has been using SWMs in its products for about five years now, and from the very beginning our motors have delivered highly precise operation. Now we are focusing our efforts on providing the same performance at a lower price, making the products accessible to a broader range of customers.

What are the major advantages of the Silent Wave Motor ?

Just like the name says -- the motor enables silent autofocus operation.
But it's more than just quiet -- the mechanism drives the motor very smoothly and steadily, enabling highly precise control. Furthermore, the motor is in the shape of a cylinder, which allows it to fit nicely within the lens barrel.