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  6. AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED Lens

AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor 12-24mm f/4G IF-ED Lens

Employing three aspherical lens elements and two ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass elements. This lens nicely integrates exclusive Nikkor technologies.

Besides exclusive use with digital cameras, what is the main feature of this lens?

Minimal distortion *3, above all.
When using a wideangle zoom lens, aren't users most dissatisfied about distortion? I often take pictures of buildings, and I especially hate the warped shape of what should be straight pillars and frames you get in the reproduction.
For a long time, it was said that distortion was unavoidable with wideangle zoom lenses, and particularly with ultra-wideangle lenses. So I thought that I should try to minimize distortion as much as possible in the new DX ultra-wideangle zoom lens.

Does this lens minimize distortion as much as possible?

Yes. For normal shooting, such as of landscapes, you would find little distortion. Generally, distortion will vary depending on the focusing distance, and that is true with this new lens, but I promise that users will never be uncomfortable with levels of distortion in general shooting. Of course distortion will appear at the smallest focus distance with the widest angle, but still, we believe that with DX Nikkor you can get a dynamic composition taking full advantage of the unique quality that this ultra-wideangle zoom lens offers.

Aspherical lenses are used in DX Nikkor 12-24mm. Three aspherical lens elements minimize the problem of distortion, which wideangle zoom lenses have had difficulty eliminating. In addition, the new DX Nikkor 12-24mm employs two ED glass elements, to properly correct chromatic aberration caused by divergence of the focal point.

How did you manage to minimize the distortion?

Well, through all sorts of trial and error, but the most successful idea was to use a newly-developed aspherical lens *4 in an effective way.
Such a large moulded *5 aspherical lens cannot be developed in a few years; this fruit of our technology was achieved after 15 to 20 years of effort. Even perfect design would be only like "a castle in the air" without technologies to realize such design. Nikon's long history in developing aspherical lenses gives it confidence to mass produce such components requiring superior technologies. Over many years, we've accumulated the necessary expertise to apply the fruits of our aspherical lens technologies to the new DX Nikkor lens.

Its quality is a function of great manufacturing process as well as great design, isn't it?

Oh, surely! For example, aspherical lens manufacturers have a very strict standard for margin of error. They take pride in controlling a part of the Nikkor development process. They have the enthusiasm and uncompromising standards of creators of fine art.

  • *3Distortion: A kind of aberration. A phenomenon in which images around a subject deform, curving like a barrel or a pincushion. Such distortion makes a person at the periphery of the picture look plumper. This will appear to some degree using any lens, but it is more apparent with a zoom lens. Fisheye lens are used to warp the image intentionally, which, in such a case is not referred to as distortion.
  • *4Aspherical lens: Normally, lenses are spherical in shape, but with this shape, the problem of lens aberration, such as spherical aberration, cannot be eliminated absolutely. To avoid this aberration, an aspherical lens is made in a shape other than spherical.
  • *5Mould: Some lenses including moulded glass lenses and moulded aspherical lenses are created by pouring molten materials into a mould.

Our ambition: to create lenses that never let customers down.
We accept every challenge to lens performance with utmost confidence.

What factors did you take into particular consideration in developing this new lens, Mr. SATO?

Well, in every lens we make, we aim to offer a Products that will never dissatisfy a customer, regardless of shooting situation. A user may feel that a lens is no good without a particular function, or performance is unsatisfactory unless it reaches a certain level, right? You can only make a good Products if you aim to consider and satisfy such demands. My wish is to introduce lenses which deliver all that customers could ask for.

"The superiority of the lens can be felt only after you've actually experienced using it. Please try it in a variety of shooting situations." Mr. SATO says.

So you design a lens based on the assumption that it will be used to shoot various kinds of scenes, is that correct?

Yes. Customers choose lenses according to specific scenes they have in mind, but it is difficult to find such specifically suitable optical performance by looking in the shop. A photographer can find out what lens is needed only by developing a feeling that comes after taking many shots with one lens, and comparing the results with those of other lenses. So I want customers to actively take many photos with this lens, as in a shooting test.

Shooting test?

As you often see in camera magazine articles, lens performance is tested on various subjects under many shooting conditions. Among them we sometimes find tough, exacting tests, as when a newspaper is on a desk and shot at close range, to make an evaluation like "Distortion is big!".

The point is that it is better to take a great variety of photos with this lens.

Exactly. I want customers to test the performance of this lens thoroughly, by taking a lot of photos and analyzing details. We never compromise when it comes to basic lens performance. We never cut corners in developing the lens by limiting optical performance to moderate expectations. That's our spirit in developing Nikkor Products. Furthermore, we do not pay a lot of attention to promoting superficial benefits and specifications. Consumers can find those out easily in brochures or at the store. Rather, we aim to share our enthusiasm for aspects of optical performance-the most distinctive feature of the Nikkor brand-that is not apparent on the outside. We never want to develop Products which are initially, superficially attractive, but ultimately disappointing. We think that those who purchase Nikon lenses are professional photographers or those who love cameras and shooting photos from the heart. We pursue the goal of making our lens the ones that these dedicated enthusiasts prefer.

It takes repeated trial and error to develop a new lens. The right design makes excellent use of advanced manufacturing technologies.

By the way, where do your ideas for optical design originate?

Idea? Well, I am sure that the very first moment the idea occurs is never during work. Most probably, ideas occur to me during actual photo shooting.
As an example, I think however good their tools, many users feel inadequate while shooting. They think, "I wish I could take this picture in such a style. Why can't I?". In such situations, I think about what kind of lenses would offer a solution to a given challenge. I sometimes take note, or elaborate on these ideas by working at a personal computer to give greater shape to the ideas.
At this stage, someone clever might proceed without any problems at all, but it is different for me. Before forming the idea into an actual plan, I make failures, feel resigned and recreate hypotheses through exhaustive trial and error. It is far from easy to form an idea through just one process.
The aspherical lens elements used in the new DX Nikkor also have been developed after endless consideration.

Progress in manufacturing greatly helps designers realize advanced Products that rely on higher technology, including aspherical lens' multiple elements.

Do you generate any number of ideas to create one lens?

The numbers of ideas are countless! It takes repeated simulation and examination. Optical design is different from mathematical processes which achieve solutions on the first try. Development takes a repetitious cycle of trial and error.
Other than actual development, I sometimes design lenses without ever anticipating that they will be realized as actual products. It's a hobby of mine, actually.

Do any marvelous lenses designs arise from that hobby?

Yes, they are really marvelous! Quite long ago, I showed an idea of mine to my boss at the time. He said "Who can buy such a lens? Is it possible for you?" Certainly, it would be prohibitively expensive, compared to other commodities in those days, and I could never purchase it even if it was on market.
But timed have changed. In those days we just mass produced an aspherical lens, although it was difficult to employ with actual Products and using one was far from a casual affair. When I think of those days, it sounds too good to be true that the day I could use no less than three aspherical lens elements for design come.

Does that signify that technologies have advanced dramatically?

Yes, this would never have been achieved without progress in aspherical lens manufacturing technologies, which have evolved to such an extent that they allow the lenses to be mass produced with sufficiently high precision.
Since we started successfully manufacturing hybrid ashperical lenses and moulded glass aspherical lenses, we have continued to meet frequently and regularly with manufacturing engineers and manufacturers. Such relationships are still going strong.

Regular meetings?

Yes. We designers relate our dreams for the future. At times, the discussions become heated.
Some say, "We would like to use aspherical lens more in the future. If it were possible to mass produce aspherical lenses more cheaply, we would develop such wonderful lenses." Or "The design idea we will propose next time requires very advanced manufacturing technologies, so please prepare an organization to realize the idea." These are just examples, but we have often relayed our dreams regarding aspherical lenses. We tried to convince manufacturing engineers and manufacturers of the fact that advanced performance lenses can never be realized without appropriate manufacturing technologies.

Then, they increasingly came around to our way of thinking more, with hopeful gleams in their eyes. This led to the current state of advanced technologies.
Enthusiasm among manufacturing people is also indispensable for lens development.

A succession of new lenses is planned for launch.
You can put your faith in the DX Nikkor series.

Now, I would like to return to your design of the new DX Nikkor lens. Who uses this lens? Under what conditions?

As always, Mr. SATO makes a strong statement: "I continue to design lenses delivering all that you could ask for, and never lose sight of the customer's viewpoint. Put your faith in the new DX Nikkor lineup being launched."

Well, it's just my personal feeling, but I want customers to use it freely without feeling any limitations. I don't have any idea that defines how this lens should be used.
But I dare say, I would recommend this lens to those who are dissatisfied with conventional ultra-wideangle zoom lenses, regarding distortion, for example, and those who have up to now given up on the idea of using an ultra-wideangle zoom lens.

Do you have any parting words for customers?

The first Products of the DX Nikkor series has just been launched, but we plan to introduce new lenses, one after another. It will be our pleasure if this series gives opportunity to those who have never used digital cameras to go beyond the way they are accustomed to shooting, and expand their world of photography.
Digital cameras are really easy and convenient to use. The fun is not only in shooting but also in image processing. You can explore and discover different things with digital camera than you can with a silver halide camera. In launching the growing DX Nikkor lineup, we hope to launch a fresh appreciation of what photography is. You can expect a lot from us in that regard. This lineup won't let you down.

We are certainly looking forward to the arrival of DX Nikkor lenses.