The future of Nikon DX

Canon has an EF-S lens series, which is roughly like Nikon’s DX lenses except they won’t mount on their full-frame or film cameras.1

  1. EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 USM
  2. EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM
  3. EF-S 17-85MM f4-5.6 IS USM

For comparison, here is Nikon’s DX line:

  1. 12-24mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
  2. 10.5mm f/2.8G ED AF DX Fisheye-Nikkor
  3. 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
  4. 18-70mm f3.5-4.5G ED-IF AF-S DX Zoom Nikkor
  5. 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor
  6. 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor

The overall superiority of the Nikon DX line makes sense when you realize that Nikon doesn’t make a full-frame digital body.

Nikon’s strategy seems to have been to be first fill in the gaps at wide-angle that the APS-C sensors create. Then they created a quality kit lens for the D70 market. Finally the latest two lenses are an attempt to go after the budget market with lenses that are similar to the lenses that are most popular to first-time film SLR users (35mm equiv: 28-70mm and 70-300mm).

Canon, on the other hand, with only three lenses has introduced one mid-range VR lens (IS in Canon-speak). The closest thing to it in the Nikon world is 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor which would be acceptable to me if wasn’t so slow, I was rolling in cash, and it didn’t use 72mm filter threads (what’s up with that?2).

Nikon has no such digital specific zoom nor have they really address the mid/high range zooms with a quality (yet cost saving) lens. While that is okay for those of us rich enough to afford the 70-200mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor, it would be nice if there were an mid and high range digital specific VR lens (preferably with a larger aperture than Canon’s one).

(Obviously, I’d like something like 28-70mm f/2.8 VR DX, since I already have the 70-200mm VR.3)

What I am curious however is where Nikon plans to go next with the DX series. It seems they got the budget lenses down minus a cheap wide angle zoom, if that is possible. Will they ever go into high quality zoom DX lenses, and, if so, how?

1 Also note that Canon’s APS-C sensor is 1.6x, Nikon’s is 1.5x.
2 Canon’s zooms are 72mm, as are Sony’s higher end HDV cameras. Time to borrow some filters from Caitlin?
3 Oh yeah, and a pony. (ObCarpeicthus)

12 thoughts on “The future of Nikon DX

  1. Most of Canon’s high-end stuff is 77mm. Both the mid-range and the high-end stuff, actually. Thier EF-S 10-22, the 2.8 and 4.0 mid-focal-range stuff (the 24-70 and the 28-105), and the 2.8 versions of the 70-200. There’s not much that’s 72.

    BTW, I have the 10-22 on a 1.6x camera and it’s pretty damn cool. It was an obvious hole in the lineup, since there was no way to get really wide on the 1.6x cameras until they came out with that.

  2. Sorry about the error concerning Canon. I guess I just assumed it was 72mm because of their video camera lenses.

    Like you said, wide-angle digital-specific zooms are very important and I’m glad Nikon addressed that quickly. Luckily, a lot of third party manufacturers have also stepped up to the plate. Finally, as you hint at, Canon has an excellent wide-angle zoom that I mentioned in passing above.

    The 10-22mm Canon and 12-24mm Nikon are the most useful digital specific lenses out there. The build quality of both are top notch. I suppose that is why they can command such a high price.

    (You have to purchase a lens shade separately for the Canon. Ironically, since I broke the one on my Nikon 12-24mm, so did I.)

  3. According to this thread it appears that Nikon is introducing a new “kit” lens to coincide with the release of the D200: a 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor. The aperture is too small @ 200mm to match the lens I use—f2.8 is two stops brighter than f5.6, which the maximum aperture of my lens at 400mm (with a TC-20E II 2x teleconverter).

    However, it would make it much more versatile than any other DX lens and a easily trump the Canon 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM. It would also obsolete the Nikon 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor.

    Also the 70-200mm VR lens isn’t exactly that portable.

    Still it would be nice if there were DX primes and large aperture mid range zooms.

  4. Nikon is saying about 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6G ED-IF AF-S VR DX Zoom-Nikkor that gains 4 stops in their test conditions. I know from the DOF perspective this lens won’t be competing with the other F2.8 zoom VRs it will be versatile and very convenient to use from a fair wide angle to a decent zoom(300mm=1.5×200)…

    Very appealing too me!

  5. Here is Nikon’s press release.


    I agree about the versatility and appeal. My total photo kit (everything but the computer) weighs in at 25 lbs which is unusable on a multiday hike or general walking around. This lens would satisfy that need. Unfortunately, I don’t have the $1000 it is going to cost.

    One thing I will warn is about the VR. I know Nikon is advertising that it is a new “VR II”, but it won’t give you 4 stops of light. Basically how much better it works varies from shot to shot—sometimes it will be none and sometimes it will be 4 stops (or more). That’s because the VR makes a decision on how much to compensate and it really depends a lot on the circumstances of how you hold it, the lighting, panning, and subject movement. But since we’re shooting digital anyways, a few lost shots doesn’t hurt much.

    One last obvious caveat: It doesn’t stop the subject. But it sure beats carrying a tripod or monopod around all the time. VR (or Image Stabilization or Anti-Shake) is one of the best new lens/camera technologies around and I’m glad they included it. It is the one feature I love about the Minolta Dynax 5D and the Panasonic Lumix bridge cameras. 🙂

  6. BTW, the new lens takes 72mm filter threads. Good think Caitlin has a awesome Hoya circ. polarizer for her HDV camera @ 72mm and I have a 72–77mm step up ring that came with my ND filter.

  7. If you visit Ken Rockwell’s website, he has a link to pre-order this lens at $669. I’m just making the switch to digital, so I picked up a D70 body for $750 at B&H, and an waiting on the release of this lens. $1400 in doesn’t seem so bad considering I will be unloading one heck of a lot of weight from my shoulders with one lensbody to lug around.

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