Nikon f/0.95 Lenses
July 2008 More Nikon Reviews
Rumors occasionally surface that Nikon couldn't possibly make an f/0.95 lens for their SLRs because the Nikon lens mount is a little too small.
Let's examine this.
Can Nikon Make a Full Frame DSLR?
We heard that same well-intentioned, but irrelevant argument back before Nikon introduced a full-frame DSLR. Innocent bystanders thought "gosh, Nikon's lens mount is smaller than Canon's, so that must be why Nikon will only be able to introduce a 1.1x crop factor DSLR, if anything, ever."
With digital, it's amazing how fast people forget anything more than a year or two old. Camera makers love this because it lets them resell you the same stuff you already bought! Does anyone remember film? If you don't, ask your grandfather, and he'll explain that Nikon SLRs were shooting full-frame film since 1959 — with the same lens mount as today! Of course Nikon can, and now does, make a full-frame DSLR. Amazing!
It's amazing how fast we forget our own history. FUD masters at Canon really had people believing in 2007 that Nikon couldn't possibly do full-frame, yet in 2008, the only full-frame pro sports camera is the Nikon D3, while Canon has no pro news or sports full-frame camera.
Can Nikon make an f/0.95 Lens for a DSLR?
In 2008, more impressionable people are now wondering if Nikon ever could make an f/1.2 lens for their SLRs, again worrying about the irrelevant issue of the lens mount diameter
Of course Nikon could make an f/1.2 lens. People have forgotten that Nikon has already made several f/1.2 lenses for their SLRs. But wait: Nikon still makes the 50mm f/1.2 AI-s manual-focus lens, and you can buy them brand-new today!
The diameter of a lens mount never limits a lens' maximum aperture. With various optical tricks, you can jam any f/stop through just about any sized rear hole. The front of the lens needs to be big enough, but the back can be any size. Having a big back element makes it easier for lens designers, but smaller back elements just make it tougher, not impossible.
Can Nikon make an f/0.95 lens for the D3 and D700? If they wanted to, sure. How do we know? Because they did tougher things back in the 1960s.
In 1950, the world's fastest lens for 35mm cameras was the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 seen above. It fit their rangefinder cameras. The hole in Nikon's "S" rangefinder lens mount is only 33.3mm in diameter, and the back element of this f/1.4 lens is only 23.7mm in diameter.
How does Nikon do it? It's easy for Nikon, since they have real lens designers who know how to converge and diverge light.
If you want to let online experts in chat rooms at D-preview design your lenses and limit your outlook, fine, but I prefer to buy lenses designed by lens designers.
Will Nikon introduce the 50mm f/0.95 AF-S and 85mm f/1.2 AF-S? I have no idea, but I hope if the 85mm comes out, it will focus more quickly than Canons incredible, but slow focusing, EF 85mm f/1.2 L.
Nikon's 50mm f/1.0 lens
Nikon sold a 50mm f/1.1 lens for its rangefinder cameras since 1956.
In 1962, Nikon designed and built a prototype 50mm f/1.0 NIKKOR-O lens for their rangefinder cameras (Rotoloni 2007, page 287). It was never sold because the rangefinder cameras had gone obsolete in favor of the SLRs we all shoot today.
Even if lens mounts had anything to do with lens speed, anyone in any online forum can calculate if Nikon can make a 50mm f/1.0 lens work through a 33.3mm hole, then one could jam a 50mm f/0.7 lens through the 43.8mm hole in Nikon's SLR lens mount.
f/0.7 is two stops faster than f/1.4, four stops faster than f/2.8, and six stops faster than f/5.6. f/0.7 is as far away from f/4 as f/4 is from f/22!
Lens mount diameters don't limit maximum apertures. Markets, dollars, size, weight and practical performance limitations of optics and AF systems are what limit maximum apertures.
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