NIKKOR Lens Glossary
Meso Amorphous Coat
Meso Amorphous Coat suppresses ghost and flare caused by incident light from any direction, including those entering the lens diagonally and vertically, to the utmost limit, demonstrating the highest anti-reflection performance in NIKKOR history. With this coating system, amorphous particles are interconnected and overlapped randomly to create a large number of air gaps termed mesopores. The many gaps within the coating form an ultra-fine mesoporous structure, attaining an outstandingly low refractive index. Additionally, a higher-precision base coat is employed to further enhance the anti-refection effect.
Nano Crystal Coat
Originating from Nikon's work in semiconductor manufacturing technology, NIKKOR's Nano Crystal Coat is an antireflective coating that employs an extra-low refractive index coating featuring ultra-fine, nano-sized* crystal particles. These crystallized particles eliminate reflections inside the lens throughout the spectrum of visible light waves (380 to 780 nm) in ways that far exceed the limits of conventional antireflection coating systems. Nano Crystal Coat not only solves ghost effects caused by red light, which was incredibly difficult for previous systems. It also effectively reduces ghost and flare effects caused by light entering the lens diagonally. The result: clearer images. This advanced coating system is employed for higher-class F-mount lenses and all Z-mount S-Line lenses.
- *One nanometer equals one millionth of a millimeter.
ARNEO Coat is an anti-reflective coating system that achieves ultra-low reflectance for incident light reaching the lens surface from a vertical direction. Thanks to Nikon's original thin-layer manufacturing technology with its optimized algorithm, this system enables the capture of clear and crisp images with minimal ghost and flare effects even when a light source is located within the frame.
Vibration Reduction (VR)
With NIKKOR's Vibration Reduction system, camera shake information is detected by the VR sensor of the VR lens unit, which is continually in motion inside the lens, aligning the optical axis with your camera's imaging sensor, thereby reducing image blur. By providing the equivalent of shooting at shutter speeds up to 5.5 stops* faster, the system allows you to reliably focus on shutter opportunities even for telephoto shooting, night landscapes and low-light indoor shots.
Some VR lenses adopt "SPORT" mode as a VR mode option that is particularly effective when tracking subjects moving radically or erratically throughout the frame.
- *Based on CIPA Standard. The value is achieved when: DX-format lenses are attached to a DX-format digital SLR camera, FX-format compatible lenses are attached to an FX-format digital SLR camera, and zoom lenses are set at the maximum telephoto position.
Silky Swift VCM
Silky Swift VCM (SSVCM) is a new AF drive actuator that combines a VCM (voice coil motor) and a new guide mechanism developed by Nikon. The advanced guide mechanism incorporates guide parts between the lens chamber and where the guide bar touches to minimize gaps to the limit, effectively eliminating vibration within the AF drive. Utilizing advantageous features such as this, the superb AF drive system simultaneously delivers higher-speed, higher-accuracy and quieter AF operation, realizing unprecedented AF performance. Even heavy lenses can be controlled precisely at high speed and with minimum noise or vibration. This enables users to reliably capture sharply focused images of decisive moments while also contributing to extremely quiet shooting in both stills and video.
Motor operation is synchronized with pulse electric power, rotating one step per electric pulse. It offers high response and controllability for starting and stopping, and its simple mechanical structure allows for extremely quiet operation. Useful for video shooting and other times when operational noise from the lens is a concern.
[NOTE] The number of compatible cameras is limited. Even for compatible cameras, some models require firmware update.
Silent Wave Motor
Nikon's original Silent Wave Motor (SWM) converts "traveling waves" into rotational energy to drive the optics used for focusing. The two SWM lens types – ring type and compact type – are specifically chosen to match each lens's specs and design. Any AF-S NIKKOR lens featuring these SWMs delivers extremely smooth, quiet and comfortable auto focusing for both general shooting as well as extreme situations, such as sports and wildlife.
Nikon's fluorine coat effectively repels dust, water droplets, grease or dirt, ensuring easy removal even when they adhere to the lens surface. Thanks to Nikon's original technology, it delivers higher durability and is more peel-resistant. Compared to other manufacturers' coating of a similar kind, fluorine coat endures a higher frequency of lens surface wiping and provides longer-duration staying power. Its anti-reflective effect also contributes to the capture of clear images.
Nikon Super Integrated Coating
Nikon's exclusive multilayer lens coating achieves high transmittance in a wider wavelength range. Even for zoom lenses with a large number of glass elements, this coating system effectively reduces the ghost and flare effects that are likely to occur in backlit situations, helping you achieve high-contrast images with rich gradation. With outstanding color balance and reproduction capability, superb optical performance can be achieved. Ghost and flare effects caused by internal reflections particular to digital cameras are also effectively minimized. This coating system is applied to all current lenses in the NIKKOR lineup.
M/A (manual-priority auto) mode
Simply by rotating a focus ring, M/A mode allows you to switch from autofocus to manual with virtually no time lag. This makes it possible to seamlessly switch to fine manual focusing while looking through the viewfinder.
A/M (auto-priority manual) mode
This mode also enables an easy transition from autofocus to manual during AF operation. However, mode switch sensitivity has been altered to reduce the possibility of sudden unintentional switching to manual focus while shooting.
A-M mode ring/lever/switch
Thanks to a mechanism incorporated in the lens barrel, smooth focusing operation in Manual focus mode is realized in the same way as users have become accustomed to with conventional manual-focus lenses by adding an appropriate torque to the focus ring.
All-element Focusing system
This is a system by which all lens elements move with focusing. The total length of the lens changes with focusing. This system helps to make the lens barrel smaller as there is no need to create space for movement inside the lens.
Front Focusing system
This is a system by which lens elements are divided into multiple groups, and the front group moves with focusing. The total length of the lens changes with focusing. This system helps to make the lens barrel smaller as there is no need to create space for movement inside the lens. In addition, AF lens focusing speed can be increased because the weight of the focusing group can be reduced.
Internal Focusing system
This is a system by which lens elements are divided into front, middle, and rear groups, and only the middle group moves with focusing. The total length of the lens does not change with focusing. AF speed can be increased for zoom lenses and telephoto lenses because the weight of the focusing group can be reduced.
Rear Focusing system
This is a system by which lens elements are divided into multiple groups, and the rear group moves with focusing. The total length of the lens does not change with focusing. AF lens focusing speed can be increased because the weight of the focus group can be reduced. This system also helps to make wide-angle and standard lenses smaller.
In 1967, Nikon developed the world's first focusing system that effectively suppressed aberrations by moving multiple lens groups (Close-Range Correction System). The multi-focusing system is the evolution of that AF system with which the positions of multiple focusing groups are very precisely controlled, each by its own focusing unit, all of which work together. This system effectively suppresses various types of aberration, even with scenes captured at close distances where aberrations are generally more likely to occur. This enables superior image-formation performance from maximum aperture, regardless of the focal length or shooting distance. It also contributes to faster AF. The multi-focusing system is effective even with fast lenses.
Aspherical ED glass
Using ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass that successfully minimizes color fringing as a material, this type of lens features non-spherical surfaces on one or both sides of the glass. It provides superior rendering capability by maximizing the advantages of both ED glass and an aspherical lens – effectively correcting various lens aberrations such as lateral chromatic aberration, coma flare at the periphery, as well as distortion and spherical aberration. It achieves aberration correction of ED glass and aspherical lens in one element, contributing to lens compactness.
Nikon was the world's first camera maker to develop ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass that could minimize prism-caused color dispersion. This low-dispersion ED glass also offers anomalous dispersion characteristics like calcium fluoride crystals, which consequently minimize the secondary spectrum. For lenses using normal optical glass, the longer the focal length, the more difficult it is to correct the chromatic aberration that causes color fringing. Nikon's ED glass, which effectively compensates for this kind of chromatic aberration, is employed in a wide range of NIKKOR telephoto lenses for superior reproduction.
Super ED glass
Nikon has also developed Super ED glass featuring even lower dispersion properties and extremely high performance in reducing the secondary spectrum, to minimize chromatic aberration even further, as well as other lens aberrations.
This type of lens utilizes non-spherical surfaces on either one or both sides of the glass in order to eliminate certain types of lens aberration. These aspherical elements are particularly useful for correcting the distortion in wide-angle lenses. Such distortions are caused by variations in the magnification of the image, depending on its distance from the optical axis. Aspherical lens elements correct these distortions by continuously changing the refractive index from the center of the lens.
Since the 1960s, Nikon engineers have established design theories and lens-processing techniques to refine the aspherical lens. In 1968, the OP Fisheye-Nikkor 10mm f/5.6 became the first interchangeable SLR lens incorporating aspherical lens elements. Since then, aspherical lenses have been an important part of the NIKKOR lens family, with every new addition to the lineup providing a new level of contrast, resolution and compact design.
Hybrid aspherical lenses: made of a special plastic molded onto optical glass.
Molded glass aspherical lenses: manufactured by directly pressing optical glass into a high-precision aspherical mold.
High Refractive Index lens
With a refractive index of more than 2.0, one HRI lens can offer effects equivalent to those obtained with several normal glass elements and can compensate for both field curvature and spherical aberrations. Therefore, HRI lenses achieve great optical performance in an even more compact body.
Fluorite is a monocrystal optical material that features a high transmission rate within both the infrared and ultraviolet zones.
With its superb anomalous dispersion properties, fluorite intensely blocks the secondary spectrum in order to effectively correct chromatic aberration within the visible light spectrum – something that is more difficult to achieve at longer focal lengths. It is also significantly lighter than optical glass, giving you a more effective lens with less weight.
Nikon's original SR (Short-wavelength Refractive) lens is a high- and specialized-dispersion glass lens featuring characteristics to greatly refract light with wavelengths shorter than that of blue. By controlling short-wavelength light that is difficult to compensate, light of various specific wavelengths can be more effectively collected achieving highly precise chromatic aberration compensation. Because this lens can be used in the same way as normal glass lenses, more flexible optical design is attained without limitations in lens layout. While realizing high optical performance, a compact and light lens can be designed.
The PF (Phase Fresnel) lens, developed by Nikon, effectively compensates chromatic aberration utilizing the photo diffraction phenomenon*. It provides superior chromatic aberration compensation performance when combined with a normal glass lens. Compared to many general camera lenses that employ an optical system using the photorefractive phenomenon, a remarkably compact and lightweight body can be attained with less number of lens elements.
- *Diffraction phenomenon: Light has characteristics as a waveform. When a waveform faces an obstacle, it attempts to go around and behind it, and this characteristic is referred to as diffraction. Diffraction causes chromatic dispersion in the reverse order of refraction.
Lenses with an electromagnetic diaphragm mechanism
Thanks to a diaphragm blade unit with driving mechanism incorporated in the lens body, the camera can accurately control aperture via electronic signals. This delivers stable aperture control (AE) constantly, even during continuous shooting*.
- *Some limitations apply.
Internal zoom mechanism
With the internal zoom mechanism, the frontmost lens element does not move and the total length of the lens barrel is fixed. This keeps the lens’ center of gravity almost constant even during zooming.
The power zoom* has been designed in pursuit of light and responsive operational feel. This function achieves smooth zooming at a constant speed and various options for zoom operation including via remote-control capabilities. That ensures comfortable photo shooting and video recording.
- *With some cameras, this function is supported only via firmware update.
Lenses without aperture rings
For this type of lenses including G-type F-mount lenses, apertures are always selected from the camera body, as there is no aperture ring on the lens itself. Through the powerful control of diaphragm blades, stable high-speed continuous shooting is enabled, even at smaller apertures*.
- *Some limitations apply.
All AF lenses, and PC and PC-E-series lenses provide the distance information output capability. Subject-to-camera distance information, obtained with an internal encoder, is transmitted to the camera body for the high-precision exposure control such as 3D Color Matrix Metering and i-TTL Balanced Fill-Flash.
AF DC-NIKKOR lenses
AF DC-NIKKOR lenses feature exclusive Nikon Defocus-image Control technology. This allows photographers to control the degree of spherical aberration in the foreground or background by rotating the lens' DC ring. This will create a rounded out-of-focus blur that is ideal for portrait photography. No other lenses in the world offer this special technique.
Meniscus Protective Glass
NIKKOR's exclusive protective glass for lenses comes attached to the front of fast super-telephoto lenses. Normal flat protective glass lets incoming light reflect off the surface of the image sensor or film, especially under a strong light source such as a spotlight. This then reflects again off the protective glass, resulting in a ghost effect. NIKKOR's curved meniscus glass dramatically reduces this re-reflected light, realizing clearer images with less ghosting.
When shooting with an ordinary diaphragm, blurry, polygon-shaped spots are likely to appear in images of scenes that include point light sources such as street lamps or holiday lighting at night. A rounded diaphragm is achieved by using specialized blades for a beautiful and naturally round shape for out-of-focus objects.
MTF (Modulation Transfer Function) is one of the measurements that evaluate a lens' performance; it shows contrast reproducibility of the lens using characteristic spatial frequencies. Spatial frequencies indicate the number of lines per mm.
In the MTF chart of this website, the horizontal axis is in millimeters and shows the distance from the center of the image toward the edges, and contrast value (highest value is 1) is shown in the vertical axis, with fixed spatial frequencies of 10 lines/mm and 30 lines/mm.
The MTF chart for each lens is based on the value at the maximum aperture of the lens; the red line shows the spatial frequency of 10 lines/mm and the blue line, 30 lines/mm.
In the off-axis field, contrast reproducibility of the lens for sagittal direction and meridional direction varies with astigmatic affection. The path of 10 lines/mm indicates the contrast reproducibility of the lens (the higher and straighter is better). The higher and straighter the 30 lines/mm-path is, the higher the resolution of the lens.
Note that the lens performance can not be measured only with MTF chart. Softening or blurring of color also governs measurement.